In the wake of the Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, political conservatives have been debating among themselves whether they’ve been handed a ghastly defeat or a golden opportunity.
There’s truth in both assessments.
In voting with the court’s leftists, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that Obamacare met the letter of enough law to stand, strongly implied that he didn’t much care for it as policy and tossed back into the political arena the question of whether America should live by it.
The ruling was a ghastly short-term defeat for the cause of individual liberty and limited government.
Whether it actually establishes a limit for the elasticity of the Commerce Clause, only time and future court decisions will tell.
It certainly confirmed conservatives’ dire suspicions that Congress has unlimited power to affect the behavior of individuals through the use of coercive tax laws.
Coercive tax policy is what modern government does. That’s why the federal tax code is 75,000 pages long. Take out all of the rewards for government-approved behavior and the punishments for things the government discourages, and you could fit the whole thing on the back of an envelope.
But thanks to Roberts’ clarification, at least those who favor limited activity by a limited government know what they’re up against — and know that help won’t be coming from the judiciary.
There will be no Supreme Court shortcuts to fixing the tax code, just as there will be none to ridding the nation of Obamacare.
The two intersect, of course. Obamacare is a tax — actually, a very large, very coercive series of taxes that will grow only more coercive as federal bureaucrats and successive Congresses spin a denser, wider web of federal control.
Obamacare is also a lie — a series of cynical cons: Obamacare will reduce health care costs; it’s doing the opposite and will continue to. It will cover everyone; not until it inevitably morphs into single-payer. You can keep your doctor; oops, never mind. There won’t be rationing; yeah, right — a government that ran out of money $15.7 trillion ago will buy you whatever medical care you need.
But the judiciary is concerned with legalities, not lies.
And assuming Roberts actually believes his own ruling, all he could do was to tell us that the Constitution permits what Congress has done and leave it for us to decide whether to undo it.
The people’s decision on repeal will be indirect — this is a republic, not a democracy — but at least the issue as voters judge those running to represent them will be clear and the choice will be stark: No politician should be allowed to leave any doubt in the minds of voters about which way he or she will jump.
Important though health care policy may be, deeper issues are afoot, too.
One of those issues is purely political: If Obamacare is not repealed, the left’s dream comes true. Their political party gains a hold on the federal government that, until catastrophe strikes, could well prove unbreakable.
On the one hand, the Republicans can never be returned to power, the Democrats will say, because “they will take your health care away.”
On the other hand, if you want to keep your health care, you’ll have to live within the rules of personal behavior established by the state. And you will be monitored for compliance.
Another underlying issue speaks to the national character itself: Should we exchange our birthright of liberty for a promise of health care security that government cannot possibly keep?
Even assuming Republicans bent on repeal of Obamacare sweep November’s federal elections, the Democrats, who used every trick in the book to pass the law, will use every trick in the book to keep it in place.
There are no guarantees.
Obamacare is a time bomb. We have four months to elect people who are fully committed to defusing it.
What Roberts has handed the American people is no less than the mastery of their own fate, and that is a golden opportunity. If we blow it — if we fail to enact a change in the White House and in the control of the Senate — we will condemn future generations to an America sickly in body and spirit.
- McConnell: Guys Seriously, We’ll Repeal ObamaCare (minx.cc)
- Health Savings Accounts Under Attack (redstate.com)
- “It Is a Tax and It’s Constitutional” (wdednh.wordpress.com)
- Individual Mandate A Tax Or A Penalty (redstate.com)
- Five Big Ways Health Bill Unhealthy for Your Wallet (foxnews.com)
- ObamaCare and the Bigger Picture (txwclp.org)
- What happens if states turn down the Medicaid expansion money and decline to set up the health-insurance exchanges. (althouse.blogspot.com)
- Five major ObamaCare taxes that will hit your wallet in 2013 (investmentwatchblog.com)
- Poll: Young, Poor, Independents ‘Strongly’ Agree ObamaCare’s Got To Go (breitbart.com)
- Ghost of ObamaCare (politicalirony.com)