I’m still desperately trying to fully understand their ruling, but an executive summary, as I’m reading the info on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the PPACA:
- Congress has the power to enforce the individual mandate only if it is structured as a tax (not as a mandate with a penalty). In other words, they can’t make you buy broccoli directly, but they can tax the crap out of you to pay for broccoli for everyone. The only good news is that the commerce clause argument was struck down, meaning that Progressives have found some sort of limit on what they can argue falls within Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce. If they want to do something like this again, they can’t try to argue that it isn’t a tax.
- The medicaid expansion provision of the law, which includes penalties for states refusing to accept additional medicaid funds from the government, was ruled unconstitutional only in so much as the penalties for the states couldn’t be enforced. Congress has to the power to be an ATM, but not a thief. They can give states money, but states have a right to refuse it without penalty.
- The rest of the law is upheld for now (as the court has not entertained every question).
Several problems with this:
ObamaCare was sold to the American people by Congress as NOT raising taxes. For the millions of Americans who currently don’t have insurance by CHOICE (because they can’t afford it), they now have only the choice of being taxed or buying insurance. This ruling is, essentially, the end of any attempts by Conservatives to stop the spread of Congressional power in any way other than voting in a very Republican House AND Senate AND President (the confluence of which will be rare, no matter how well our ideas actually work). The amazing thing is that, although Verilli argued that the mandate could be viewed as a tax in court, the bill was passed by lying to the American people and claiming it was NOT a tax. Of course, you won’t be taxed if you buy insurance, but how is there any moral or ethical distinction between holding a gun at someone’s head and saying, “buy this or I’ll blow you away!” and holding out the same gun and saying “you have a choice…you can do what I tell you, you can take the gun and blow YOURSELF away, or I can do it for you?” I don’t see how taxing people for not doing what the government orders is any less evil than simply charging a fee. Are we really saying that this is actually a constitutional provision simply because we’ve been calling it the wrong thing all along? REALLY?
I also don’t see how that can’t be viewed as a huge win for Progressivism. After all, if all Congress has to do is call something a fee that is ruled by the courts as a tax to get us to buy anything they want, what’s next? Solar panel ‘mandates’? Democrat party donation ‘mandates’?
The medicaid thing will help…because there are still 28 red states who will be eager to turn down medicaid funds just to make a point about the Federal Government’s attempted power grab, but on the whole, this decision is disastrous from a legal perspective.
This gives Romney two huge gifts in the Presidential election. First, he can now say that the Dems were lying all along about this not raising your taxes by pointing out that there is now, on the books, a $4000 tax for every American family (less the ones whose employers happen to offer free insurance whose ranks will continue to drop as companies realize that they can’t afford rising premium costs) – they can either pay it by buying insurance or by writing a check to the IRS, but they’re paying it despite Congress telling them there was no tax. And second, he can now spend the rest of the campaign standing next to an issue and smiling, as they say in “politico” school. The American people don’t like ObamaCare…that isn’t going to change by November. Especially if Romney hammers away at it every chance he gets, running on a platform starting with “I’ll repeal this monstrosity!”
I now look forward to Presidential debates…because this issue will be front and center and if Romney can pick Obama apart, it could be a hilariously lopsided election win for Conservatives.
The problem is…even if we win in 2012…we lose the war. We can overturn laws and reap the rewards, but Progressives have no hard limits on their power to continue to push an agenda favoring gigantic government power and endless government intrusion. If this Supreme Court won’t stop them…no one will. I genuinely fear for the country today.