“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices, “so wrote Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in his stunning opinion on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
ObamaCare, or more precisely RomneyCare, acknowledging what Romney did as governor of Massachusetts, is the blueprint for ObamaCare, and is, for now, the law of the land.
Republicans, largely convinced that an ideologically conservative majority Supreme Court would easily strike down the act, were horrified. Democrats, who held modest hope that the Court would uphold the act, were elated.
Roberts’ clever solution may have initially outsmarted both sides. By breaking with his conservative brethren, Roberts has displaced the image of a partisan and political Court. The constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is a clear victory for liberals who believe that access to affordable health care is a basic human right in America. It is also a clear victory for conservatives, albeit a ‘left-handed’ one, who believe the act is nothing more than a gargantuan tax increase, something Obama and Democrats have publically and determinedly denied for years.
In his decision, Roberts demonstrated exquisite finesse in shielding the court from assaults on its politically conservative ideology, while preserving that ideology and securing his name to what will forever be known as “The Roberts Court.” He has accomplished this by his management of the most contemptible short word in the American lexicon: tax. Arguably, there is only one other three letter word in the American lexicon that evokes as much passion an argument as tax: gun.
That word is protected by the second amendment of the United States Constitution, giving “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Roberts’ opinion that the Affordable Care Act individual mandate compelling Americans to buy health insurance is constitutional because of the authority of Congress to impose taxes may hand Republicans a weapon almost as deadly as a gun; the paranoia that a big ideologically liberal government can tax Americans on anything and everything Congress wishes.
The conservative Supreme Court is preserved, yet not seen as partisan and political. Roberts has displayed pure genius.
Customarily, the Supreme Court is the ‘last word’ on matters of constitutional law. But not this time. The last word will be in November, spoken by the American voter, as it should be in the world’s foremost democracy. Moments after the courts’ announcement, Romney was on American television declaring that he would repeal ‘ObamaCare’ if he becomes President. Practically speaking, he can only do this if both houses of Congress have Republican majorities. That means Republicans will maintain their majority in the House of Representatives, which is likely, and gain a majority in the Senate which is uncertain.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on healthcare, Obama wants to move beyond that issue during the campaign. Indeed, Nevada U.S. Senator and Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Republicans to quit fighting that battle. “The matter is settled,” declared Reid. But Roberts’ opinion may rally Republicans around one of their favourite issues: taxes. Republican strategists will be challenged to shield Romney from attacks by Democrats on ‘RomneyCare.’ Democratic strategists will undoubtedly pound Romney on his ‘RomneyCare’ legislation while governor of Massachusetts.
So far, Romney has chosen to keep his focus on a struggling economy, and the job creation numbers for June, a paltry 80,000, the third straight month of anaemic job growth, is giving him plenty to talk about. But many Republicans are energized by interpreting Roberts’ decision as another tax on Americans.
How Democrats defend Republican attacks on an economy that refuses to break out of its stall, and another on a one trillion dollar tax increase supporting a ‘socialist’ program that polls show a majority of Americans don’t like, could decide not only who occupies the White House next January, but who occupies the Senate as well.
And the fate of Obama/Romney Care? Well, both sides are realizing that when it comes to the United States Supreme Court, you need to be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.