Obamacare upheld: What it means now and in the future

Challenging Obamacare on constitutional grounds was never what anyone on the right wanted to rely on as a Plan A. “Repeal and replace,” the mantra of conservatives since Congress approved the health-insurance overhaul in 2010, is a high bar requiring the election of a president and congressional majorities dedicated to taking Obamacare off the books and passing more sensible reforms in its place. But persuading the Supreme Court to void the law by declaring it beyond Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce, while sincerely believed to be correct, was always a higher bar to clear.

The irony is that we cleared the higher bar, and have nothing to show for it.

Do not confuse this for spin: Barack Obama and the Democrats won a clear policy victory today in seeing the court uphold their health law. There’s no denying that. Any other outcome would have been a debacle for them. This is the opposite of a debacle. That would be a victory.

That said, five of the court’s nine justices just agreed that compelling individuals to enter the market for a private company’s product does not fall within Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. This is the very idea to which then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, when asked about it by a reporter two years ago, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” So, this is a remarkable moment given the last 80 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence and an important limit on federal power. In those terms, it looks like a legal win going forward for conservatives.

Unfortunately, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberal justices and bought the Obama administration’s tortuous argument that the consequence for failing to comply with the mandate to buy health insurance was a “tax” — even though the president himself, during the debate about the law, repeatedly denied it was a “tax”; even though, as noted in the main dissent to the ruling, Congress rejected a version of the law that called for a “tax” as a penalty; even though Congress chose to use the word “tax” elsewhere in the law but not in reference to the penalty for failure to meet the mandate; even though the court’s majority decided it wasn’t a “tax” for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act; and even though, again from the dissent, there are multiple instance of the federal government’s using its taxing apparatus to collect penalties that cannot possibly be considered “taxes.”

Judge for yourself whether it was judicially modest of the Roberts court to find any avenue possible to defer to the legislative branch, or judicially immodest to ignore Congress’ contradictory words and deeds in locating that avenue somewhere down a rabbit hole. No prizes for guessing where I stand.

My initial reaction to the taxing-power argument was that it pretty much offset any gain from the newly defined limit of Congress’ Commerce Clause powers. I am still not comforted by the court’s reasoning that Congress can tax someone for not buying something. And I am dismayed that Roberts not only justified this reasoning by comparing “not buying insurance” to “buying gasoline” or “earning income,” but also suggested a new tax Democrats could constitutionally try: a $50-per-household tax for not having energy-efficient windows. (Talk about getting kicked while you’re down.)

The more I think about it, however, all that is no more dismaying than knowing Congress can also decide to tax as much of a person’s income as it wants. The only thing standing in the way is the will of the people.

Which brings us to the biggest takeaway from today’s ruling. If Obamacare is to be reversed, it will have to be done by elected officials acting on the will of the people.

And that means it may not be a political victory for Obama.

It might be, of course. The prospects of re-electing Obama and/or keeping a majority in at least one chamber of Congress, and thereby keeping the law on the books, must be less daunting than trying to enact a new, similar (or even more far-reaching) health law. And while Obamacare is unpopular, there is a chance public opinion will shift in its favor now that the court has ruled. If so, that would boost Obama.

But there are other reasons it may hurt him: The intensity of Obamacare opponents will ratchet back up — remember how fired-up people were during the townhall meetings of 2009? If they have any political acumen whatsoever, Republicans will remind voters over and over again that Democrats sold the law as one thing (not a tax) only to win in court by saying something else (it’s a tax). Expect to see clips like this one and this one in GOP ads early and often.

Of course, the big question will be whether Mitt Romney is the one to capitalize on an issue like this, given his record on health reform (”Romneycare”) as governor of Massachusetts. I see two good ways for him to do it: First, frame the issue in part as an element of tax reform, and the need to get rid of a federal tax code that seeks to compel Americans to behave certain ways in exchange for one that gets government out of private individuals’ personal decisions and taxes only as much as it needs, without prejudice.

Second, to lend credibility to his promise to lead efforts to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better, Romney should choose a running mate who can speak credibly about the issue. And in my mind, no one fits that description better than Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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512 comments Add your comment

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
5:47 pm

Corporations providing a product that folks are desperate to buy (or to have taxpayers buy for them) aren’t parasites.

Folks who demand their fellow taxpayers pay their bills for them are parasites.

And da parasites jes’ loves gettin dat check in da mail!

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
5:48 pm

It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. ~Charles Krauthammer

ALL significant legislation in this country is passed by non-conservatives, Charles.

Going back to the Civil Rights movement…

Neocons DO NOT pass significant legislation.

They only try to obstruct it.

Aquagirl

June 28th, 2012
5:49 pm

If that’s not enough, here’s a 27-page document listing the health-related bills introduced since January 2011 alone.

I could only wade through the first few pages before the “repeal Obamacare” bills became so repetitive I couldn’t read for laughing. Is there anything beyond the Empowering Patients First Act (HR 105) that even approaches a real plan?

Bills for dog therapy with Veterans are great but saying that’s an alternative to Obamacare is silly.

Rafe Hollister, s avalancheuffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 28th, 2012
5:52 pm

never did have much respect for the law of the land.

I have to laugh, the guy you support Amvet, picks and chooses which law he supports. Is DOMA and the Immigration laws the law of the land. Another ridiculous statement posted by Amvet.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
5:52 pm

The neocon’s desired end game.

Corporations pay no taxes.

The super-rich pay no taxes.

The neocons themselves pay no taxes. (This is where the guppies are getting hammered though.)

The whole lot are parasites or parasite wannabes.

Rafe Hollister, s avalancheuffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 28th, 2012
5:53 pm

Which law he enforces, it should say.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
5:55 pm

AmTard, the non-ignorant know that the rich pay almost all the income taxes.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
5:55 pm

the guy you support Amvet…

I voted against him, you Republistooge.

And will do so again, in November.

You on the other hand voted (twice!) for Georgie and Dickie who wiped their azzes with the US Constitution and US law for eight straight years.

And do keep this one in mind, “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth (or use your keyboard) and remove all doubt.”

davetv

June 28th, 2012
5:56 pm

AmVet – A parasite is an organism that feeds off another without giving any benefit to the host. You tell us which entity/group fits that description.

John

June 28th, 2012
5:57 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward–Again)

“Parasites just loves gettin’ a check in the mail!”

Does parasites include people who get a tax refund? Or only individuals who receive a refund from private corporations?

DannyX

June 28th, 2012
5:58 pm

Roberts obviously never signed the Norquist no new taxes pledge.

You would have thought W would have made him sign it before nominating him.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

June 28th, 2012
5:58 pm

A parasite is an organism that feeds off another without giving any benefit to the host. You tell us which entity/group fits that description.

Insurance companies.

davetv

June 28th, 2012
5:58 pm

Will there be an outcry when Romney refuses to enforce the provisions of Obamacare?

davetv

June 28th, 2012
5:59 pm

Thug – If u believe Ins. Comps are parasites… then why are we now forced to give them our money?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:01 pm

John: Does parasites include people who get a tax refund? Or only individuals who receive a refund from private corporations?
———————

Ask a coherent question, please.

Your federal government spends more than $10,000 for every man, woman, and child. I’ll have to let you determine who the parasites are. As far as I’m concerned, it’s anyone who isn’t paying this fair share.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
6:01 pm

Bailout, I do love helping you meltdown. Gawd I miss you at Bookman’s. Too bad your foul mouth and endless childish insults got you canned. Even after you had been warned repeatedly. That is how little self-restraint you have

I suppose if I was really interested I could get you to implode so badly you would get canned from here too.

But I like watching you insult people like a nine year old when your arguments are challenged as weak.

And you LOVE picking up the corporate parasites tab, bailout.

Which is fine by me.

I wish you neocons got saddled with all of it…

Rafe Hollister, s avalancheuffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 28th, 2012
6:01 pm

“Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth (or use your keyboard) and remove all doubt.”

I know, I think that every time I see that you have once again brought your inane insights to this blog. Someone who votes neither one, is just part of the chaff at the bottom of the ballot box.

davetv

June 28th, 2012
6:01 pm

John – A parasite gets a tax refund after never paying taxes.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:02 pm

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes: Insurance companies.
—————————-

If you don’t find their product to be of value, don’t buy it. Simple.

Funny thing though–everybody DOES want it. They just want someone else to pay for it, and that’s what makes them parasites.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

June 28th, 2012
6:02 pm

… then why are we now forced to give them our money?

Because Obama wimped out and caved on the single payer thingie.

DannyX

June 28th, 2012
6:03 pm

“Will there be an outcry when Romney refuses to enforce the provisions of Obamacare?”

No, Romney is not well liked in Massachusetts, a second term as governor is out of the question.

John

June 28th, 2012
6:03 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward–Again)

ObamaCare is going to force millions of “parasites” to now be responsible and buy their own health insurance…you and other conservatives are against that? Isn’t that the conservative mantra…individual responsibility?

davetv

June 28th, 2012
6:04 pm

Parasite = tax$ funded green-energy companies. They suck up our money and provide no value in return.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

June 28th, 2012
6:05 pm

If you don’t find their product to be of value, don’t buy it. Simple.

Just try getting quality health care by paying cash, sport.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:05 pm

John: ObamaCare is going to force millions of “parasites” to now be responsible and buy their own health insurance
——————–

More ignorance on display.

How do you suppose a family with an income of $30,000 is going to afford that $12,000 a year premium?

You’re clueless.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
6:06 pm

davetv,

The 485,000 American households who make between $100,000 and $500,000 in any given year and who pay no federal withholding tax.

But if you want to know about super-parasites, I would reserve that definition for 18,000 American households who make $500,000 or more in any given year and don’t pay one single penny in federal withholding taxes.

Is that he answer you were looking for?

I thought so…

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:07 pm

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes: Just try getting quality health care by paying cash, sport.
——————

Well, which is it then? Is health insurance of value to you or not?

Democrats: Economic retards.

John

June 28th, 2012
6:07 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward–Again)

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s anyone who isn’t paying this fair share.”

And yet you’re against the individual mandate which forces people to pay their fair share when it come to healthcare.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
6:08 pm

John – A parasite gets a tax refund after never paying taxes.

Like the dozens and dozens of major corporations which are making RECORD PROFITS?

You boys sure do love your twisted, perverted capitalism…

davetv

June 28th, 2012
6:09 pm

John- you’re kidding yourself if you think there are millions of people out there who can afford health insurance and have simply chosen not to buy it. All responsible people (who can afford it) already buy insurance because they have too much to lose.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:09 pm

John: And yet you’re against the individual mandate which forces people to pay their fair share when it come to healthcare.
————————-

Yeah, I’m pretty much against forcing people to do anything. I like freedom. You liberal fascists don’t seem to have too much of a problem with forcing people to do all sorts of things though.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

June 28th, 2012
6:10 pm

Well, which is it then? Is health insurance of value to you or not?

Democrats: Economic retards.

How did you put it?

Oh yeah, You’re clueless.

John

June 28th, 2012
6:10 pm

davetv,

Does that include the large corporations that don’t pay taxes?

Rafe Hollister, s avalancheuffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 28th, 2012
6:10 pm

ObamaCare is going to force millions of “parasites” to now be responsible and buy their own health insurance

Will Food Stamps now cover insurance premiums? These people have no job and in an Obamaeconomy will not have anytime soon.

davetv

June 28th, 2012
6:12 pm

AmVet – I doubt your stated figures.

John

June 28th, 2012
6:13 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward–Again) ,

Where are your facts? Are you telling me the cheapest health insurance policy is $12,000? I can show you mine and it’s no where near that.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:13 pm

Kammy, don’t cry just ‘cuz I asked you a question that you don’t want to answer.

Coward.

Towncrier

June 28th, 2012
6:13 pm

“Unfortunately, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberal justices and bought the Obama administration’s tortuous argument that the consequence for failing to comply with the mandate to buy health insurance was a “tax” — even though the president himself, during the debate about the law, repeatedly denied it was a “tax”

I guess sort of like the time he confused the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, Kyle. I guess a JD from Harvard and a couple of bucks will get you a Starbucks coffee.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 28th, 2012
6:14 pm

But if you want to know about super-parasites, I would reserve that definition for 18,000 American households who make $500,000 or more in any given year and don’t pay one single penny in federal withholding taxes.

Amvet, I thought you supported people who obeyed and respected the law. Well, if these people are breaking the law, then report them to the IRS, they pay a rebate to the snitch, if they recover money.

If they are breaking no law, your problem should be addressed to Oblamer and the Congress, not these law abiding people.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 28th, 2012
6:15 pm

Go ahead and quibble over the exact number John. That way you won’t have to explain how a family making $30K a year is going to pay for an insurance policy.

The answer is…surprise…the taxpayer is going to be paying for these free riders, just like before.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
6:15 pm

These people have no job and in an Obamaeconomy will not have anytime soon.

The consequences of the corporate destruction of capitalism.

Or as Richard Fischer, the Dallas Federal Reserve chief called it, “the sustained orgy of excess and reckless behavior”.

The banksters and casino capitalists should have gotten jail time rather than getting bailed out…

Well done wall Street…

Thomas Heyward Jr.

June 28th, 2012
6:15 pm

From mittromney.org———————

“As president, Mitt will nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts…[Roberts] hold[s] dear what the great Chief Justice John Marshall called “the basis on which the whole American fabric has been erected”: a written Constitution, with real and determinate meaning. The judges that Mitt nominates will exhibit a genuine appreciation for the text, structure, and history of our Constitution and interpret the Constitution and the laws as they are written. And his nominees will possess a demonstrated record of adherence to these core principles.”
.
ha ha ha aha ahha ha aha ha .
.
Its not too late ………..Ron Paul.

davetv

June 28th, 2012
6:16 pm

If there truly are “large corporations who don’t pay taxes” then that is a problem with the tax code which should be fixed. At least those companies provide a good or service which people are willing to purchase.

Towncrier

June 28th, 2012
6:17 pm

“I could only wade through the first few pages before the “repeal Obamacare” bills became so repetitive I couldn’t read for laughing.”

I surely though you might have swam through them, “Aquagirl”. BTW, how long have you been all wet?

Towncrier

June 28th, 2012
6:18 pm

“And in my mind, no one fits that description better than Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.”

Is he being vetted, Kyle?

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

June 28th, 2012
6:18 pm

Lil BB Brain

I’ve been paying cash for my healthcare for years. The medical staff have been nothing but professional and caring.

The administration, however, have accused me of being a thief because they thought I wouldn’t pay before the procedure.

You’re clueless.

md

June 28th, 2012
6:18 pm

For those on the left trying to debate that it is not a tax, so Obama was not lying, unfortunately, today’s ruling says otherwise…….no matter what anyone says from here on out it IS a tax, so says the SC forever and ever.

It’s going to get old hearing how the dems lied to the country, but they wrote the law.

John

June 28th, 2012
6:18 pm

davetv,

“you’re kidding yourself if you think there are millions of people out there who can afford health insurance and have simply chosen not to buy it. All responsible people (who can afford it) already buy insurance because they have too much to lose.”

Even conservative Rebublicans would argue against you on that. That just goes against your “parasite” argument.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 28th, 2012
6:19 pm

John

Where are your facts? Are you telling me the cheapest health insurance policy is $12,000? I can show you mine and it’s no where near that.

Do you include the major portion your employer is paying? Your premium may go up, when your employer elects to just pay the fine.

AmVet

June 28th, 2012
6:19 pm

AmVet – I doubt your stated figures.

Of course, you do.

Because you have none of your own.

On this or any other matter.

It is my considerable experience on these forums that the overwhelming majority of you neocons do not do any research.

And to Rafe’s point, we have had 40,000,000 jobs in this country lost or sent overseas since 1973. But only since January 21, 2009 was that subject even on the GOP’s radar…

Thanks, Bain Capital…