Mitt Romney said Thursday that the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's healthcare law would put an unprecedented burden on people, including raising their taxes.
"ObamaCare raises taxes on the American people by $500 billion," Romney said Thursday at a press conference across the street from the U.S. Capitol. "ObamaCare cuts Medicare — cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion. And even with those cuts and tax increases, ObamaCare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations onto coming generations."
Romney also argued electing him as president was the last chance to overturn Obama's law.
"Our mission is clear — if we want to get rid of ObamaCare, we're going to have to get rid of President Obama," Romney said, pledging that "what the Supreme Court did not do, I will do: repeal ObamaCare."
The presumptive GOP nominee said the Supreme Court did not rule on whether the president's healthcare law was good policy, but delivered a verdict simply on its constitutionality.
"What the court did today was say that ObamaCare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that ObamaCare is good law or that it's good policy," Romney said. "ObamaCare was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today. ObamaCare was bad law yesterday. It's bad law today."
Romney lobbed a laundry list of criticisms at the law, saying that in addition to the tax burden, the president's program would cut Medicare funding for seniors and give government bureaucrats a say in individual health decisions.
"You can choose whether you want to have a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life, separating you and your doctor, whether you're comfortable with more deficits, higher debt that we pass on to the coming generations, whether you're willing to have the government put in place a plan that potentially causes you to lose the insurance that you like, or whether instead you want to return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in healthcare, where consumers will be able to make their choices as to what kind of health insurance they want," Romney said.
The Republican hopeful also argued that the president's plan and surrounding uncertainty was hampering job growth.
"ObamaCare is a job-killer. Businesses across the country have been
asked what the impact is of ObamaCare. Three-quarters of those surveyed
by the Chamber of Commerce said ObamaCare makes it less likely for them
to hire people," Romney said. "[I]f we want good jobs and a bright economic future for ourselves and our kids, we must replace ObamaCare."
Romney spoke for about four minutes, standing at a podium affixed with a "Repeal and replace ObamaCare" sign and quickly departing once he finished speaking. A Romney spokesman said the presumptive nominee took no questions because of his "tight schedule."
The Romney campaign also said that within the first 90 minutes of the healthcare decision being announced, the campaign had received over $300,000 in donations. Romney watched the decision come down from his hotel room in Washington, D.C., with campaign staff.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement Thursday that November's election would become a referendum on the law.
"Today's Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now, the only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of healthcare is to elect a new president," said Priebus.
"Under President Obama's signature legislation, healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, and up to 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage. A panel of unelected bureaucrats now has the unprecedented authority to come between elderly patients and their doctors. Meanwhile, the rules and regulations placed on job creators and small businesses make it nearly impossible to hire new workers at a time when Americans desperately need jobs."
But healthcare reform could be a difficult issue for the former Massachusetts governor, who himself signed into law a universal healthcare measure — with individual mandate — during his time leading the state.
During the healthcare debate early in Obama's term, Romney praised the mandate as a preferable alternative to a single-payer government insurance plan that would mirror Medicare.
And Romney has frequently praised Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — the deciding vote in the 5-4 decision — as the model for the kind of judge he would want to appoint to the court. As of Thursday afternoon, Romney's website still heralded Roberts as a model justice.
"As president, Mitt will nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito. These justices hold dear what the great Chief Justice John Marshall called 'the basis on which the whole American fabric has been erected': a written Constitution, with real and determinate meaning. The judges that Mitt nominates will exhibit a genuine appreciation for the text, structure and history of our Constitution and interpret the Constitution and the laws as they are written. And his nominees will possess a demonstrated record of adherence to these core principles," the website read.
Roberts's was the swing vote upholding Obama's law.
Since initially voicing support for an individual mandate, especially relative to a single-payer-type system, Romney has said that he only intended his model to be implemented on the state level. And Romney has said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would issue waivers to all 50 states that would allow them to opt out of many of the bill's provisions in an attempt to gut the law from the Oval Office.
"So if the court upholds it, if they say, 'Look, it passes the Constitution,' it still is bad policy, and that'll mean if I'm elected, I'm going to repeal it and replace it," Romney said.
Romney has not outlined specifically how he would keep some of the legislation's most popular provisions without requiring an individual mandate, instead focusing his comments on characterizing the president's bill as an overstep. But on Thursday, Romney did say that his replacement proposal would prevent insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, a break with House Republicans.
"[We've] got to make sure that those people who have pre-existing conditions know that they will be able to be insured and they will not lose their insurance," Romney said.
On the campaign trail, Romney expected to continue hammering the president for focusing on healthcare early in his term as the economy continued to falter. On Wednesday, Romney called the emphasis on the Affordable Care Act a "moral failure" of the president.
"His policies were not focused on creating jobs, they were focused on implementing his liberal agenda," Romney said. "There's nothing wrong with people having an agenda, but when the country's in crisis, you have a moral responsibility to focus on helping people come out of that crisis. So it's not just bad policy, it was a moral failure to put forth a piece of legislation that wouldn't help Americans get back to work and to focus the energy of the White House on ObamaCare."
Cameron Joseph contributed.