Hear that noise? It’s the sound of knees jerking all over the place from the news that the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
I have to admit, I was puzzled too when Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts sided with the transparently liberal judges on this one. I kept thinking, “there has to be more to this than meets the eye.” The reaction by many conservative pundits was to lament that Roberts caved in to the evil liberals, for any number of purported reasons. My knee started to twitch, but failed to fully jerk.
First of all, we want our judges and justices to be apolitical, so don’t go there. Second, there has never been any indication that Justice Roberts is wishy-washy on the Constitution. And third, back in 2009 when President Obama was vehemently denying that his “mandate” penalty was not a tax, I was thinking, “Of course it’s a tax. When you have to pay money to the IRS, for whatever purpose, it sure smells like a tax to me.”
Now that the smoke has cleared the battlefield, we can assess the extent of the damage. Or of victory. And I am leaning in the direction of the latter. By ruling that the ObamaCare mandate is a tax, Chief Justice Roberts took the whole “Commerce Clause” justification off the table. I was seriously concerned that a constitutional victory for the mandate could open the Pandora’s Box, allowing the government the tool to force citizens into anything. This would have set a dangerous precedent in Constitutional interpretation, but Roberts threw an extra padlock on the box.
The proponents of the Act act one time publicly insisted that the mandate is not a tax. Then the solicitor general insisted to the Supreme Court that it is, in fact, a tax. No one can know exactly what Roberts’ motivations were, but the result is the same. By labeling the mandate a tax, Roberts ensured that President Obama is the proud owner of an enormous tax increase, a deceptive one at that, and this will likely cost him a second term. The frosting on that cake is the fact that tax laws are easily repealed, requiring only 51 votes in the Senate, so ObamaCare will likely be tossed to the ash-heap of history anyway.
An excellent analysis was made by Timothy Dalrymple – he pulled together a number of “silver linings” for conservatives in the wake of the SCOTUS decision.
Still, knee-jerk exercises are in order for conservatives. We need to be in shape for some serious butt-kicking this fall.
Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
TAX MAN – the Beatles