WASHINGTON -- Republican congressional leaders said Sunday that voters, not the Supreme Court, will have the final word on President Barack Obama's healthcare law come November. And they bet that the law's unpopularity will be enough to drive Democrats from power.
The White House's response? Bring it on.
"We've got one last chance here to beat Obamacare, and we can do that in the November election," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling the law the "single worst piece of legislation" passed in modern times.
White House chief of staff Jack Lew said most Americans want to put the healthcare debate to rest.
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"I actually think the American people want us to focus on the economy, on creating jobs and moving forward," Lew said.
Republicans and Democrats have been wrangling for the upper hand in the healthcare debate since last week's Supreme Court ruling upholding the law's mandate that individuals buy health insurance or face a penalty. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, provided the pivotal vote in that decision by ruling that the penalty is legal under the government's taxing authority.
While technically handing a political victory to Obama, Roberts' ruling invigorated Republicans eager to cast the law as a new tax.
"The American people do not want to go down this path," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"They do not want the government telling them what kind of insurance policy they have to buy and how much they have to pay for it, and if you don't like it we're going to tax you."
Democrats dispute the characterization of the law. Lew said the mandate would affect only 1 percent of Americans -- those who can afford but don't buy health insurance.