A few minutes after the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision upholding President Obama’s health care law last summer, a senior adviser to Mitch McConnell walked into the Senate Republican leader’s office to gauge his reaction.

McConnell was clearly disappointed, and for good reason. For many conservatives, the decision was the death knell in a three-year fight to defeat reforms that epitomized everything they thought was wrong with Obama’s governing philosophy. But where some saw finality, McConnell saw opportunity — and still does.

Sitting at his desk a stone’s throw from the Senate chamber, McConnell turned to the aide and, with characteristic directness, said: “This decision is too cute. But I think we got something with this tax issue.”

He was referring to the court’s ruling that the heart of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the so-called individual mandate that requires everyone in the country to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, was a tax. And while McConnell thought calling the mandate a tax was “a rather creative way” to uphold the law, it also opened a new front in his battle to repeal it…

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