"This is a big f***ing deal."
That was the phrase Vice President Joe Biden used to describe the health care bill on the day it was signed into law in 2010. Over at the vice president's mansion Thursday, that sentiment may have been repeated after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, often dubbed Obamacare.
Elation was the word used to describe the mood inside the White House after the ruling came down, according to an administration official.
So it's White House 2, Republicans 0, right?
Well, not exactly.
What just happened?
If you take a closer look at the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, said the controversial individual mandate -- the provision requiring Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face a fine -- is valid as a tax, not a penalty.
"In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance," Roberts wrote. "Such legislation is within Congress's power to tax. ... The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. ... The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance."
Read More: Supreme Court says health mandate's a tax
As CNNMoney.com's Jeanne Sahadi bluntly points out, "It walks like a tax and talks like a tax. Therefore it is a tax."
The dreaded 'T' word
Shortly after the decision, congressional Republicans pivoted toward the talking point that Obamacare is simply an artfully conceived tax increase on Americans. When the law was being enacted, the president insisted it wasn't a tax but a penalty, they point out.
"The president of the United States himself promised up and down that this bill was not a tax," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday. "This is one of the Democrats' top selling points because they knew it would never have passed if they said it was a tax. Well the Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception."
In a previous interview with ABC, Obama said the various provisions of the law penalizing people who refused to join was not a tax.
"For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase," Obama said, noting that "right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs."
Skip ahead to Thursday, and Obama's point was: "I didn't do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people."
And for their part, Democratic leaders are pushing forward -- "T" word or not.
When asked if she considered the individual mandate a tax, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "Call it what you will, it is a step forward for America's families."
Who pays what?
When 2013 rolls around, those making more than $200,000 a year -- or $250,000 for married couples -- will pay more into Medicare. The law adds a surtax on wage income and a new tax on investment income.
Read More: Who would face higher taxes, fees?
In 2018, companies that self-insure their own plans will face an excise tax if it tops $10,200 (individual coverage) and $27,500 (family coverage).
"The theory is that the so-called 'Cadillac tax' will encourage companies to choose lower cost plans, and that will free up money to pay workers higher, taxable wages. That, in turn, boosts revenue paid into federal coffers," writes Sahadi.
About that election coming up ...
The high court ruling is, on the surface, a victory for Obama and his fellow Democrats. But he is now being forced to explain the fact that it's been ruled a tax, something Americans are certainly no fan of.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, said after the decision that if elected he would repeal the law on day one. "What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States, and that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare." He added, "Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion."
Romney's campaign reported there was a fundraising boon of $300,000 just after the high court's decision was announced. Clearly the decision isn't only a rallying cry -- it's a fundraising mechanism. You can undoubtedly expect the money to roll in for Obama and Democratic campaigns as well.
The president, meanwhile, wasted no time taking a shot at Romney, saying Massachusetts' health care law, which then-Gov. Romney signed, was the mold for the health care law -- especially the use of the mandate to purchase insurance coverage.
"Even though I knew it wouldn't be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so," Obama said. "In fact this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for president."
So will the decision give Obama the political capital needed to win over skeptical voters?
"I don't think there's an upside for the president here," Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told CNN. "(The ruling) energizes Republicans and the tea party."
So what do the people think?
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released Tuesday found that 28% of those surveyed said they'd be happy if the health care law was upheld; 35%, however, said they'd be disappointed with a constitutional ruling. But here's the caveat: Nearly four in 10 said they would have "mixed feelings" if the justices struck down the whole law, according to the poll of 1,000 adults sampled June 20-24.
iReporter Hillary Ohm, an Obama supporter, said she doesn't agree with the individual mandate because the uninsured can hardly afford to live as it is. Ohm, who is a small business owner with state-subsidized health insurance in Washington state, said she prefers a single-payer system because she thinks it would take the profit out of health care resulting in lower costs.
Another iReporter said his "prayers were answered."
"Finally, those who are sick will get the help they need and deserve," said Alan Mealey, whose wife has severe health problems.
So what happens next?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said Republicans will introduce a bill repealing the health care law on the House floor the week of July 9. The outcome, however, would be symbolic. Even if the bill passes in both chambers, it would be vetoed by the president.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that while the law is far from perfect, members of Congress will work to improve it.
"We know that when we come back here after the elections, there may be some things we need to do to improve the law and we'll do that working together," Reid said on the Senate floor.