Mitt Romney’s campaign disappointed Republicans on Monday when one of his advisors, Eric Fehrnstrom, said that they agreed with Barack Obama that the recently upheld individual mandate was not a tax. This is contrary to what the High Court had said in the opinion, where Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the mandate was only constitutional due to the Taxing Power of Congress.
In an interview with CBS News, Romney backed away from that statement, noting that the Supreme Court has the final word and ruled that it is a tax:
Mitt Romney says the Supreme Court has decided that President Barack Obama’s health care mandate is a tax, but he maintains that the high court has made clear it does not consider a Massachusetts health care mandate a tax.
The Republican presidential candidate told CBS News on Wednesday that the Supreme Court opinion makes clear that states have the power to put in place a mandate or a penalty and that it is constitutional.
The former Massachusetts governor said that the court’s opinion said states have the power to pass such a penalty, but the federal government does not. And he said for the court to find Obama’s plan constitutional they had to rule his mandate was a tax.
Therefore, Romney says: “Obamacare’s a tax.”
With the Supreme Court’s decision on ObamaCare in, some of the scholars at the Cato Institute — Roger Pilon, Ilya Shapiro, Michael Cannon, Michael Tanner, and Trevor Burrus — react and offer some insight on the outcome of the case:
And over at Reason, Peter Suderman also offered his thoughts on the case and what it means for the future of the law given the victory states received in being able to opt-out of Medicaid expansion:
The Supreme Court will hand down its ruling tomorrow in the case against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care (PPACA). As one might imagine, there is still a lot of speculation about where the ruling might fall. The latest poll on the matter, this coming from the Wall Street Journal and NBC, shows that a plurality of Americans would feel more comfortable if the High Court threw out the law. Republicans have already put together talking points on repeal of the law, anticipating that only the individual mandate will be tossed.
The law is indeed bad news, and not just from a legal perspective. Whether or not the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare, it’s not going to prevent health care costs from rising. And then, after the constitutional concerns, we have the more immediate fiscal issues with the law, such as the fact that it raises taxes and fees in tough economic times and is largely a fiscal boondoggle. While theses issues are certainly a big factor driving opposition to ObamaCare, they are not the concern of the Supreme Court, which is tasked the the constitutionality of the law and whether or not it is severable.
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.
With just days to go until the Supreme Court finally issues a decision on ObamaCare, perhaps the most important case to come before them in years, a new poll from the Associated Press shows that only a third of Americans back the health care law:
Just a third of Americans back President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul on which the Supreme Court is about to pass judgment, a new poll finds. But there is overwhelming support among both supporters and opponents for Congress and the president to begin work on a new bill if the high court strikes down the two-year-old law.
The overall level of support for the law is relatively unchanged in recent months, with 47 percent opposing it. But an Associated Press-GfK poll shows that only 21 percent of independents approve of the law, a new low in AP-GfK polling.
Large majorities of both opponents and backers of the law share the view that Congress and the president should start anew. The lowest level of support for new health care legislation comes from people who identify themselves as strong supporters of the tea party. Even in that group, though, nearly 60 percent favor work on a new bill.
Also, a separate poll shows that a majority of former Supreme Court law clerks believe that the individual mandate — the centerpiece of ObamaCare — will be struck down when the decision is finally issued.
The New York Times recently reported that President Barack Obama keeps a secret “kill list” of terror suspects. Given the uproar during the last several months over the NDAA, which allows for the indefinite detention of terror suspects, even those captured inside the United States, such a list is sure to send a chill down the spine of civil liberties advocates.
While apologists for Obama and neoconservatives will argue that this is part of the war on terrorism and claim legality for his actions due to the UAMF, Judge Andrew Napolitano recently explained that Obama’s “kill list” is blatanty unconstitutional:
We have known for some time that President Obama is waging a private war. By that I mean he is using the CIA on his own — and not the military after congressional authorization — to fire drones at thousands of persons in foreign lands, usually while they are riding in a car or a truck. He has done this both with the consent and over the objection of the governments of the countries in which he has killed. He doesn’t want to talk about this, but he doesn’t deny it. How chilling is it that David Axelrod — the president’s campaign manager — has periodically seen the secret kill list? Might this be to keep the killings politically correct?
Can the president legally do this? In a word: No.
On Wednesdays, I noted that Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the filibuster, a procedural tactic used in the Senate to stall legislation, is unconstitutional. This lawsuit was filed despite the fact that Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution allows each chamber of Congress the right to craft its own rules.
Despite that glaring fact, Politico quoted Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause, saying, “[The Senate] cannot adopt their own rules, and that’s an issue we think the courts should settle.” It’s a political point more than a lawsuit that they hope will result in any actual change in Senate rules.
But here is the kicker, and perhaps the most important point about Common Cause. Doug Mataconis notes that, when the filibuster was threatened by Senate Republicans over judicial nominees seven years, Common Cause defended use of the tactic:
Common Cause strongly opposes any effort by Senate leaders to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees to silence a vigorous debate about the qualifications of these nominees, short-circuiting the Senate’s historic role in the nomination approval process.
“The filibuster shouldn’t be jettisoned simply because it’s inconvenient to the majority party’s goals,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “That’s abuse of power.”
The filibuster has been brought back up in American politics. Frustrated by the failure to move the Import-Export bill out of his chamber (though it did pass last night), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has once again brought up the idea of the so-called “nuclear option” to get rid of the procedural tactic to stall legislation:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will not attempt to strip Republicans of their power to filibuster before the November election but is leaving open the possibility if Democrats hang on to the Senate.
The Democratic leader caused a stir on Thursday when he slammed a Republican objection to passing Export-Import Bank legislation without amendments and said he should have listened to colleagues who pushed for changes in Senate rules.
But Reid on Monday said he has no plans to attempt to limit Republicans’ ability to block legislation by a tactic known as the constitutional option — or, by critics, as the “nuclear option.”
“We’re not going to do it this Congress,” Reid told The Hill.
Democrats are leaving open the option of rewriting the filibuster rule if they keep their Senate majority. Republicans are unlikely to push for such reform if they capture the chamber because they are ideologically opposed to curtailing the power of the Senate minority.
If you listen to Sean Hannity and others in the conservative movement, it’s clear that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is their pick to serve as Mitt Romney’s running mate this fall. They say that he offers a contrast to Romney that will bring a needed balance and excitement to the ticket to help motivate Republicans to go to the polls this fall.
It may be true that Rubio is much more conservative than Romney, but there should be some hesitation on the part of conservatives due to recent comments by Rubio where he said that George W. Bush “did a fantastic job” as president.
I’m not naive enough to believe that Bush isn’t a hero to conservatives for various reasons, let alone that Barack Obama, who frequently blames his predecessor for many of his own failures, makes that easy to do. But from a fiscal perspective, Bush’s presidency was a disaster, and that isn’t limited to the 2008 financial crisis. While some would defend Bush’s big spending as a necessity due to the so-called “war on terror,” Veronique de Rugy noted in her analysis on spending under Bush, domestic spending alone went up by more than 20% in his first term. He expanded Medicare, adding more in unfunded liabilities to the already unsustainable government-run health insurance program.
Conor Friedersdorf also explains some of the problems with the statement made by Rubio in context of, not just fiscal issues, but also foreign policy:
If the Supreme Court decides to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they may make President Barack Obama angry, but according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Americans will be happy.
While the White House and Democrats continuing to claim that the public will benefit from ObamaCare, the poll, which is heavily skewed towards Democrats, shows that a majority of Americans oppose the law and two-thirds believing that the Supreme Court should throw out at least the individual mandate:
Fifty-three percent of Americans now oppose the law overall, while just 39 percent support it – the latter the lowest in more than a dozen ABC/Post polls since August 2009. “Strong” critics, at 40 percent, outnumber strong supporters by nearly a 2-1 margin in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
Two-thirds continue to say the high court should throw out either the entire law (38 percent) or at least the part that requires most individuals to obtain coverage (29 percent) or face a penalty; just a quarter want the court to uphold the law as is. Those numbers, like views on the law overall, are essentially unchanged from a month ago.
Again, this is a poll that is tilted toward Democrats and they still can’t find substantial support for ObamaCare, which is the most touted domestic achievement of the administration. Here’s hoping the Supreme Court does the right thing in overturning the law, regardless of the empty threats from Obama.