WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday left standing the basic provisions of the health care overhaul, ruling that the government may use its taxation powers to push people to buy health insurance.
The narrowly delineated decision was a victory for President Obama and Congressional Democrats, with a 5-to-4 majority, including the conservative chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., affirming the central legislative pillar of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
Chief Justice Roberts, the author of the majority opinion, surprised observers by joining the court’s four more liberal members in the key finding and becoming the swing vote. Justices Anthony Kennedy, frequently the swing vote, joined three more conservative members in a dissent and read a statement in court that the minority viewed the law as “invalid in its entirety.”
The decision did significantly restrict one major portion of the law: the expansion of Medicaid, the government health-insurance program for low-income and sick people, giving states more flexibility.
The case is seen as the most significant before the court since Bush v. Gore ruling, which decided the 2000 presidential election.
In addition to its political reverberations, the decision allows sweeping policy changes affecting one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the economy, touching nearly everyone from the cradle to the grave.
In my recently published op-ed at the Daily Caller, I ask why we can’t just leave each other alone, and why we shouldn’t turn to the government to fix our problems:
…we are seeing the breakdown of our economy and our government. Millions of jobless Americans are not counted as unemployed because they’ve given up looking for work entirely. Congress, although always a bit of a joke, is no longer functioning at all. And last year (and the year before) thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest.
Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, whatever — they protest because they know what is going on is against human nature. It’s something we learn as children on the elementary school playground, the first time the big bully takes our lunch money and makes us prostrate before him for mercy. It’s something we naturally recoil at as teenagers when our parents tell us to be home by nine or we’ll get the belt (again). Deep down, we all recognize that it is human nature to want to be free.
Please share this as widely as possible. Everyone needs to hear this message: conservatives, liberals, socialists, even libertarians. (Make sure you read my line about the Yankees and the Red Sox, too. And the Raiders. Especially the Raiders.)
I do not understand why so many liberals are cheering and whooping and hollering over last week’s SCOTUS decision on Obamacare. Perhaps it’s because Chief Justice John Roberts more or less rewrote the law to change the penalty into a tax. As we all know, liberals love to “tax and spend” (as long as its other people’s money.) We also know that they absolutely loathe big corporations, as we saw during Occupy Wall Street, as well as all the tax arguments that have been bandied about in order to deal with the deficit (not with Obamacare; that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.)
Yet, last week, Ed Morrissey noted something that should have all liberals crying about this law, rather than hooraying it:
After months and months of focusing on Anthony Kennedy as the weak link in the conservative chain at the Supreme Court, it turns out that Chief Justice John Roberts was the one the Right needed to fear. With the more centrist Kennedy dissenting, Roberts signed off on the individual mandate in ObamaCare, not as part of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, or even the ludicrous reference to the “Good and Welfare Clause” from some Democrats, but from the more mundane and substantial power to tax. The opinion actually ruled that the mandate violatesthe Commerce Clause, but as a tax that no longer matters.
Politically active people, such as those who read blogs, usually have a lot of knowledge about pending legislation, Supreme Court cases, et cetera. I’m sure you’ve read blog post after blog post, analysis after analysis on today’s decision(s). Twitter basically exploded with meltdowns from the right, gloating from the left, and a lot of hand-wringing and predictions about the death of the Republic.
About an hour after the decision, and after lots of pleading and puppy-dog eyes from my 9-year-old, we headed to the health club where, guess what, no one was talking about ObamaCare or SCOTUS at all.
While commiserating with my one workout partner who is politically aware, she said the following:
“I think this sealed the deal on another election like 2010. A few weeks ago I was about 50/50 on whether Obama would be re-elected, but now I am thinking 60/40 on Romney. This ticked a lot of people off and put the fire under the butts of a lot of inactive conservatives. In 2010 I was so pissed off that I picked up 2 like-minded friends that wouldn’t have bothered to vote on my way to the polling station. I also manipulated my husband into getting off his butt. In other words, I multiplied my vote by 4. Given the amount of people that don’t vote, I think this is the way to really win an election. I’m sure every conservative can find at least 1 person to drag out to vote.”
Of all the commentary on the SCOTUS decision today, this one stood out to me. It’s from a post written by Erick Erickson over at RedState, titled “I’m Not Down on John Roberts.” (Really, at this point, who could be?) There’s one paragraph that got my attention. The italics are his; the bold is mine:
Fifth, the decision totally removes a growing left-wing talking point that suddenly they must vote for Obama because of judges. The Supreme Court as a November issue for the left is gone. For the right? That sound you hear is the marching of libertarians into Camp Romney, with noses held, knowing that the libertarian and conservative coalitions must unite to defeat Obama and Obamacare.
With all due respect, Mr. Erickson, that is balderdash.
As I have written, the entire reason that this decision was made, the entire reason that this abomination has passed, was because a conservative justice, appointed by a Republican president, made it so. In effect, Roberts pulled some random garbage out of left field with a Death Star’s tractor beam in order to make this work.
And so somehow, because a conservative had upheld this unrepetant bag of you-know-what, libertarians are going to jump to their side by electing the guy who created Obamacare’s prototype?
Excuse me, but just what in the name of the Father, Son, and the Unholy Ghost is Erick smoking?
Now that ObamaCare has been upheld, I look around and see a lot of reactions in the political spheres. The left is gloating. The right is rallying behind Romney. Libertarians such as myself are looking around and seeing exactly what the hell is wrong with this country.
First, to the conservatives. You’re idiots. Rallying behind Romney? He practically gift wrapped ObamaCare for the Democrats. He can say whatever the heck he wants to now about how he doesn’t support it, but the fact is that he does support individual mandates. He does support the law. In fact, he’s not actually saying he disagrees with the policy. He’s saying he thinks it should be at the state level. Really?
Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves. Why? Their whole schtick of “vote for anyone but a democrat” landed us with people who would appoint John Roberts to be Chief Justice. Nice freaking job there pals. Thanks for nothing. Our nation is screwed, but we got a Republican in the White House that day so it’s all peachy-keen.
To the progressives. Shut the hell up. Seriously. Yes, you won one. Nice freaking job. Now, the next time you lose, remember how you’re acting right now. When Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the DNC posts a tweet saying, “It’s constitutional. Bitches,” then you have zero justification in acting all hurt when salt gets rubbed in your wounds. NONE!
Of course, also remember this victory when the GOP passes some law that uses just this to justify its existence. Remeber it was your ideology that let it happen. Trust me on this, it will happen. And yet, I suspect you will all conveniently forget this moment and act indignant. Well, cry me a freaking river. I’m past caring anymore.
As we all know by now, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act today by relying upon an argument that most people had not been paying attention to:
First, as you’re probably already aware, the Supreme Court has ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, and that the individual mandate is also constitutional, but not as how it was argued in Congress, but rather as a tax. So instead of the extremely dangerous Commerce Clause (which is really, really badly written) we have it surviving under Congress’ taxing power.
This is really just as bad. Although now technically, they can’t “force” us to buy things with Commerce power, the federal government now has absolutely no limits on taxing us. This is going to be 1775 all over again, except we can’t say “No Taxation Without Representation!” (unless we live in DC.)
The one silver lining that some are bringing up is that, because Obama campaigned hard on Obamacare and the mandate not being a tax, and now with SCOTUS saying “it’s a tax,” he’s going to be royally screwed come November. I have to agree with the results; I’ll defer to one of my friends who has this down:
— George Scoville (@stackiii) June 28, 2012
That is pretty much going to ruin Obama’s chances of reelection, especially with so many already up in arms over this (something like 55-60% wanted this law overturned?)
However, as another friend of mine points out, this is no silver lining at all:
For nearly four years now I’ve heard, ad nauseum, some variation of the phrase “You should respect the office, if not the man,” when referring to criticism of President Barack Obama. While I agree with that sentiment in principle, I am weary of being told that any and all criticisms of the High Exalted Obamessiah can have no other motivation than the fact that he is a Melanin-Enriched American. Oppose the stimulus bill? Racist. Oppose government forcing you to buy health insurance? Racist. Oppose $5 trillion in new debt? Racist. Critical of an inept foreign policy? Racist. Oppose billions in tax dollars going to “green” energy companies who just happen to be big donors to Democrats? Racist. The list is endless. For those willing to look past the rhetoric to the truth, we now have ample proof that our president is nothing more than a typical Chicago political thug whose own agenda supersedes any allegiance to the rule of law. The man we are told we must respect because of the office he holds has shown nothing but contempt for the responsibilities of that office, the law he is charged with enforcing and the people he was elected to serve.
This charlatan’s enormous ego and his get-my-way-at-all-costs philosophy should be no surprise for those paying attention. We saw glimpses of it when Obama was campaigning, telling us he’d bankrupt coal companies through harsh regulations that would make it too expensive to operate. At his Democrat-nomination acceptance speech to a packed stadium in Denver, this Prince of Pompousness vainly declared that his nomination would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the Earth began to heal.” Good heavens, that fool actually believed his own hype! So did his minions, as we discovered when Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s current chief adviser, said in an interview prior to the inauguration that Obama would be “ready to take power and RULE day one.” Rule, not govern! Such arrogance!
The SCOTUS is set to rule this week on Obamacare, and that ruling will likely hinge on the individual mandate.
Conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and just about everyone anywhere close to the right wing, oppose the individual mandate. Their criticisms center on this belief: government should not be able to force anyone to purchase a good or service. Fair enough.
Accepting that belief, however, raises some questions for an honest intellect. What about Social Security?
Social Security, created by Congress in 1935, is essentially a compulsory retirement program. The money is automatically withdrawn from your paycheck. There isn’t an opt-in, and there isn’t an opt-out. There is no choice—it’s a mandate.
There are, however, a couple of differences between the ObamaCare mandate and that found in the Social Security program.
First, the government taxes people to pay for the program rather than mandating it and allowing them to shop around in the market place. Apart from the distortion of forcing people into the marketplace, Obamacare allows people to use the market to choose their insurance. You can choose plans that better fit your needs. Social Security doesn’t allow that luxury.
Second, Obamacare’s mandate doesn’t proscribe a specific amount that consumers must spend. Social Security isn’t so lax. It requires 4.2% of employees’ income, a matching 6.2% from employers, and, from the self-employed, 10.4%. You can’t compare rates between firms, and you can’t shop for a better price.
In other words, Social Security not only mandates that you buy a product—retirement savings—but it also mandates from whom and for how much you have to purchase the service.
Can any intelligent and consistent person oppose Obamacare’s individual mandate and simultaneously support compulsory participation in Social Security? It’s a hypocritical attitude, and it should be abandoned.
Or, Why Your Worries About Double-Dipping or A “Second” Recession Are Utterly Preposterous And Make You Seem Completely Out Of Touch With Reality
While doing some reading over the weekend, I came across this blog entry by Brad Plumer over at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog (the one headed by Ezra Klein) about the Bush tax cuts expiring and how that will affect the economy:
To put this in perspective, the Federal Reserve expects the economy to grow at a roughly 2.9 percent pace in 2013. If Congress does nothing at the end of this year, much of that growth could be wiped out, and there’s a strong possibility that the United States could lurch back into recession. (Granted, a lot could depend on how the Fed reacts in this situation.)
That bolding is my own emphasis. And it really irritates me.
I know that the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official decider of recessions and other economic forecasts, declared the Great Recession to be officially over in 2009. I know there is an official, academic definition of recession: two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth (otherwise known, in normal person English, as “GDP shrinking.”) I know this is what Brad is talking about when he says “lurch back into recession.”