By: Wayne Brown
The media wires have been all a-buzz for the past 24-hours since the Supreme Court’s decision was handed down on the constitutionality of certainly actions taken by the Federal Government under the authority of the Affordable Healthcare Act, otherwise lovingly referred to as “ObamaCare”. In general, the outcome is seen as a major victory for Obama and the Democrats who shaped the legislation and then got it passed in a closed-door backroom Saturday night session of arm-twisting. There are also those who speculate that the ruling by the Court may indeed spell the death of the law due to the explanation offered by the majority opinion of the court. While it is nice to hope, I am quite certain those who hold that hope are simply dazed and confused.
Essentially the Court said that ObamaCare passed the litmus test of Constitutionality. What they did not say is that such finding can easily be made if one just ignores the Constitution in the consideration. Specifically, the Court upheld the claim that Congress could levy a requirement for all Americans to buy insurance. The basis of that mandate in the law was cited as Congress’s powers to regulate commerce under the Commerce Clause in the pleadings by the government. The glimmer of hope comes forth when the Court stops short of upholding the mandate but states that Congress does have the power to create and institute taxes on the American people therefore, the requirement insurance premiums imposed, are simply a tax compelled by those who hold elected office…in effect, “the will of the people”. Roberts then pointed out that it was not the duty of the court to impose itself on the “will of the people”. That step would have to be taken by those “elected” to represent the people.
For some on the right, this perspective of the Court offers the hope that when the requirement to purchase insurance and the penalties associated with lack of conformance are applied, the whole thing, as proposed by the court, will be construed as a tax. In fact, as a tax, it is the largest tax ever conferred on the American public by Congress. Given that thinking, there are perspectives and conclusions being thrown about that Congress might want to reconsider the validity of the law in its intent to levy taxes on the American people. In other words, those in Congress who supported and voted for the legislation do not want to be looked upon as “taxmen” in their next election attempt. Anyone holding their breath and holding out serious hope of this happening may fall victim to oxygen deprivation as the only result.
Basically this song has been played at just the right moment as far as Obama is concerned. He pushed to get it before the Supreme Court as quickly as possible knowing full well that a ruling within 60 days of the election which went against the legislation would be damaging to his re-election chances. At the same time, he also anticipated that a ruling which supported his position would light off some fires of discontentment that would drive the electoral debate for some period of time. That outcome is taking place now and by election time, this will be old news, cold news, and no news. As an election strategy, it was likely a smart move. As a program which will benefit the majority of Americans, it was a very sad day when the court handed down such a stand.
Speaker of House, Boehner, has stated that the House will hold a repeal vote when the members return from their summer vacations in late July. This will keep some level of the story alive at least through the end of July but represents only a tokenistic step by the Republicans to save face with conservative constituents. Even if the House votes to repeal, you can bet Harry Reid is not going to throw the action up for a vote in the Senate between now and November. So action by the House is dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
But wait you say, what about all this psycho-babble over the “tax” aspect and the fears these politicians in Congress have of being looked upon as “tax mongers”? What about that, will it not be enough to sway hearts and minds to change their initial vote on the legislation and get it repealed? The answer is “no”, purely because those in the Senate will not get that opportunity as long as Reid and Biden are at the helm. A few of them may shed a few crocodile tears as they stand before media microphones and swear they had no idea that such an outcome would be forthcoming. They will be sad and offer apology but the law as passed will stand. The debate about tax or penalty is over…the Court has ruled that it is a tax and in upholding the law as constitutional have basically burdened the American public, specifically those in the middle class, with it. We can levy vengeance at the polls in the next election but the law will still stand long after you have voted out your representatives for their actions.
“Tax or not”, do you really believe that whether it is or isn’t that it sways the minds of that 30+ million people who stand to get “free healthcare” at the expense of the American taxpayer? Not in the least. In fact, if anything, it will cause those numbers to swell even greater. The burden of tax imposed will be on those middle class wage-earners and taxpayers and that burden will continue to grow with time. Much of the middle-class already opposes this law so the opposition to the law does not grow significantly on the basis of “taxation”.
There is one aspect of this “tax” outcome which is quite troubling. Assume that everyone embraces the concept that the law imposes a tax and thus that tax is collected in the same way that the Federal Government now collects payroll and Social Security taxes…taking it out of the paycheck. Those who don’t work automatically get a free ride since there is no paycheck to levy against…they get it free. The funds go to Washington just like the current taxes and fall right into that big pot of revenue. Get ready, get out those hankies, here comes the sad part…that’s right, the money gets spent on anything and everything but not applied directly to the cost of healthcare thus ObamaCare simply becomes yet another social program drain and only acts to support the ever growing pile of debt on the nation. This is what Obama describes as “debt-neutral”. This is the best outcome from the standpoint of the government and Obama because the funds do not have to be managed outside the normal revenue management process…that of posting red ink to the books.
You can bet that Justice Roberts stood with the liberal side of the Court on this outcome hoping to show that the Court was indeed an “objective entity” which gave due consideration to the Constitution and to the impact of the law upon the people of the nation. His strategy failed miserably as the outcome has and will cause more and more people to question the role of the Court as a member of the checks and balances triad designed into our government system from the start. If Roberts and company had done their job properly, the finding would have read along the lines of, “The Court rules in a 5-4 decision that the mandate for mandatory healthcare coverage which Congress has enacted under the powers of the Commerce Clause does not match those powers assigned to Congress under the Constitution. Therefore, while the Court will allow the law to stand with regard to the structure and definition of Affordable Healthcare, the method by which funding is provided in support of the program, its implementation, and sustainment cannot arise on the basis of the mandate under the Commerce Clause.” That did not happen thus the Court left the American people adrift in a boat without a paddle and at the same time allowed the law to stand on the basis of semantics and how that plays into the political process downstream. In the end, the last bastion of protection for the Constitution failed in its sworn role to protect the intent of that document. Whether a few Senators lose their seat in the next election matters little to Obama and his ilk in gaining this victory over Constitution governance in America.
The Court did find that the Federal Government could not impose penalties on States that failed to uphold the requirements of Affordable Healthcare Act by withholding Medicaid funding. On the one hand, this was a move in the right direction; on the other hand, this restriction will simply raise the cost of the law in terms of the ratio between participation revenue and cost of the care. Ultimately the care will be handed out and the costs will be tallied. Analysis of such costs will only yield one conclusion: middle tax income earners must pay more to support the financial needs of the law. Ironically, as the premiums go up, so will the frivolous spending on the part of the government. The welfare train continues down the track with more cars being added at each stop and the pace can now quicken thanks to the inability of the Supreme Court and its Chief Justice to take action to protect and defend the Constitution as expected to do as their duty.
©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.
29 June 2012