Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obamacare Upheld as a Tax

Believe me I am not happy about the mental gymnastics that Chief Justice Roberts did to reach this choice.  But as Ian's Wife below has pointed out, there is some silver lining to our misery.

I do agree with him that it isn't their job to deem something good or bad strictly on a policy basis.  I also agree that it is not their job to save us when we vote idiots into office.  Their only job is to deem something within the parameters of constitutional or not constitutional.

One of the most interesting things I have come across since the ruling is this:
Today’s conservatives frequently complain about the dangers of judicial activism. Perhaps now they’ll be more alert to the dangers of judicial restraint.
The argument being that Justice Roberts is a constructionist.  He believes in the written constitution and abides by stare decisis.  Therefore, he had no choice but to uphold the law.  The case-law is clear, in a tie the government wins.  The constitution was set up to give latitude to the legislators as they were voted in by the will of the people.  They also to go onto to explain that it is very possible that Bork would have voted exactly the same way, or at least would have felt compelled to by his own standards.

Does this mean that I accept the ruling?  Well no, but I also realize that this is the last word on the matter, at least in the manner that Obamacare was being fought out in the courts.  The litagation on this law is far from over.  We have a long way to go, especially when it comes to rights of Church and State.

One of the things that I have found most interesting in all of this is:
In those 5 percent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions or whether the commerce clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce,
Senator Barack Obama on why he vote against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts.  In a small way, Chief Justice Roberts flipped the president the bird.  He very clearly crafted his opinion to limit the use the commerce clause.  An issue that always appeared to be part of who he is.  Roberts was a member of The Federalist Society.  Much of his career was spent trying to limit the over-reach of the federal government and protect the rights of the states.  Which in many ways makes this decision even that much harder to take.

I, for the most part, expected to the law to be upheld.  I had hoped that the mandate would go, and the law would stay.  I too felt that they would leave it up to the legislature to deal with the aftermath of the mandate being gone.  I also must admit that I called it tax many times.

The strangest thing in all of this is that they can't mandate us to purchase a product and impose a fee.  But, they can tax us for not buying something that they want us to.  That is an oxymoron is it not?

I had read an article by some left leaning person that made a very compelling argument that it would be Scalia of all people that would uphold the law.  Sadly, I can't find the link to it.  But in this article it went through some case law that had Scalia normally siding to increase the use of the commerce clause.  Something that I had no idea about.  This same article also said that they had hopes that Roberts would vote on their side.  1 out of 2 is not so shabby.
Our job now is to educate the people in this country to what their choices mean.  When we go to the ballot box we are not voting for prom king/queen.  We are voting for people who will be handling very serious issues that do effect our everyday lives.  Obamacare may seem good to some on the surface.  After all they are getting all kinds of "free stuff".  But all these free things have a cost.  These costs will be seen in higher premiums, and entire new class of the uninsured.
CBO and JCT’s projections of health insurance coverage have also changed since last March. Fewer people are now expected to obtain health insurance coverage from their employer or in insurance exchanges; more are now expected to obtain coverage from Medicaid or CHIP or from nongroup or other sources. More are expected to be uninsured. The extent of the changes varies from year to year, but in 2016, for example, the ACA is now estimated to reduce the number of people receiving health insurance coverage through an employer by an additional 4 million enrollees relative to the March 2011 projections. In that year, CBO and JCT now estimate that there will be 2 million fewer enrollees in insurance exchanges. In the other direction, CBO and JCT now estimate that, in 2016, the ACA will increase enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP slightly more than previously estimated (but considerably more in 2014 and 2015), and it will reduce the number of people with nongroup or other coverage by 3 million less and the number of uninsured people by 2 million less than previously estimated.
To recap, the CBO now predicts that Obamacare: 1) will force millions more Americans out of their current employer coverage than originally advertised; 2) will force millions more Americans onto Medicaid than originally advertised; 3) will force millions more Americans to pay fines for not obtaining health care; 4) will force businesses to pay billions more in mandate fines; and 5) will leave millions more Americans without insurance than originally advertised.
So the goal of getting everyone insurance is a fantasy.  It is not going to happen.  It is going to be much more expensive than we were orginally told, and many people (myself included) who did have a policy that they really liked, will not be able to keep it.

Another clear irony of all this, Nanny Pelosi told us we had to pass it to find out what was in it.  Guess what?  It was a tax.  You own it.  It is a tax.  No spin will allow you to get past that.  No spin will allow you to say that you didn't raise taxes on people who made less than $250K, you did.  No spin is going to change the fact that your assurances that the mandate was constitutional were wrong.  No spin is going to change the fact that this is much more expensive than orginally packaged.

The law is still unpopular.  The supreme court decision is not all that much better.  This has become one of the most clear and concise issues of the presidential campaign.  When you vote in November do you vote Obama and keep Obamacare, or do you vote Romney and for any other republican running for a federal seat and to try and get a repeal?  That is the choice.  It is clear and it will decide which direction this country chooses to go.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Like you, I have mixed feelings about the ruling but accept it. I'm VERY pleased that Chief Justice Roberts reigned in the Commerce Clause, and even okay with the whole "tax" thing because this will force pols to say what their "mandates" actually are, and to explain to the American people that their newest stroke of socialist genius is going to actually TAX us for NOT buying something.

It's unclear to me, from what I've read, if we even have to pay the tax at all. It sounds rather like we cannot be fined, jailed, etc. for refusing to comply. But I wouldn't push that one :)

Anyway, raging against the Supremes is useless. Most people agreed the most likely thing would be the mandate being struck down, and as onerous and horrible as the mandate is, it's nowhere near as truly tyrannical as the rest of the bill. We'd be in the same place . . . we HAVE to win in November. There are no two ways about that.

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