"As I'm sure you've seen by now, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the individual mandate in President Obama's health care spending law is actually a multi-billion dollar tax on middle-class families. President Obama said just the opposite (http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?a=dvLQJ7NVLoJ4LkO8F&s=8fIGIVPuE7IMKXMAKrH&m=dsIRK6NJIdKRKgJ) when he was trying to sell this unaffordable, unpopular law to the American people two years ago.Regardless of the legal decision handed down yesterday, the fact remains that Washington-run health care is bad for patients and bad for the economic and fiscal health of our country.President Obama's one-size-fits-all law is the centerpiece of an agenda that has increased economic uncertainty, stalled job creation, and made record deficits even worse. It didn't need to come to this. When Congress and the President should have been focused on creating jobs, Democrats instead pushed through this partisan legislation without a single Republican vote that is increasing insurance premiums on families by $2,100 per year, increasing the deficit by billions of dollars, and killing thousands of jobs through new taxes.There was, and still is, a better way to improve our health care system without the heavy hand of government and massive new taxes. We need to repeal the President's healthcare law, and replace it with patient-centered health care that actually reduces costs and expands access. To do that, we need to elect a new President and a new Republican Majority in the U.S. Senate.And to get America back on track, we need to do more than just replace this misguided health care law. We also need to stop the reckless spending and get the economy moving by unleashing the forces of job creation and free enterprise in America. It's time to overhaul the tax code to cut rates and make the system more efficient, provide regulatory relief to help small businesses grow, and secure a reliable and affordable supply of American energy.It is time to change course and focus on growing jobs, instead of growing government. I hope you'll join me in these efforts to repeal and replace government-run health care and get America back on track."All best,Rob Portman
CONSERVATIVES' CONSOLATION PRIZEOpinion Writer
Conservatives won a substantial victory Thursday. The physics of American politics — actions provoking reactions — continues to move the crucial debate, about the nature of the American regime, toward conservatism. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has served this cause.
The health-care legislation’s expansion of the federal government’s purview has improved our civic health by rekindling interest in what this expansion threatens — the Framers’ design for limited government. Conservatives distraught about the survival of the individual mandate are missing the considerable consolation prize they won when the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional rationale for the mandate — Congress’s rationale — that was pregnant with rampant statism.
The case challenged the court to fashion a judicially administrable principle that limits Congress’s power to act on the mere pretense of regulating interstate commerce. At least Roberts got the court to embrace emphatic language rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale for penalizing the inactivity of not buying insurance:
“The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. . . . The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. . . . Allowing Congress to justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and — under the government’s theory — empower Congress to make those decisions for him.”
If the mandate had been upheld under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would have decisively construed this clause so permissively as to give Congress an essentially unlimited police power — the power to mandate, proscribe and regulate behavior for whatever Congress deems a public benefit. Instead, the court rejected the Obama administration’s Commerce Clause doctrine. The court remains clearly committed to this previous holding: “Under our written Constitution . . . the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace.”
The court held that the mandate is constitutional only because Congress could have identified its enforcement penalty as a tax. The court thereby guaranteed that the argument ignited by the mandate will continue as the principal fault line in our polity.
The mandate’s opponents favor a federal government as James Madison fashioned it, one limited by the constitutional enumeration of its powers. The mandate’s supporters favor government as Woodrow Wilson construed it, with limits as elastic as liberalism’s agenda, and powers acquiring derivative constitutionality by being necessary to, or efficient for, implementing government’s ambitions.
By persuading the court to reject a Commerce Clause rationale for a president’s signature act, the conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul. This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America’s political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution’s architecture of enumerated powers. By rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale, Thursday’s decision reaffirmed the Constitution’s foundational premise: Enumerated powers are necessarily limited because, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, “the enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.”
When Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), asked where the Constitution authorized the mandate, exclaimed, “Are you serious? Are you serious?,” she was utterly ingenuous. People steeped in Congress’s culture of unbridled power find it incomprehensible that the Framers fashioned the Constitution as a bridle. Now, Thursday’s episode in the continuing debate about the mandate will reverberate to conservatism’s advantage.
By sharpening many Americans’ constitutional consciousness, the debate has resuscitated the salutary practice of asking what was, until the mid-1960s, the threshold question regarding legislation. It concerned what James Q. Wilson called the “legitimacy barrier”: Is it proper for the federal government to do this? Conservatives can rekindle the public’s interest in this barrier by building upon the victory Roberts gave them in positioning the court for stricter scrutiny of congressional actions under the Commerce Clause.
Any democracy, even one with a written and revered constitution, ultimately rests on public opinion, which is shiftable sand. Conservatives understand the patience requisite for the politics of democracy — the politics of persuasion. Elections matter most; only they can end Obamacare. But in Roberts’s decision, conservatives can see that the court has been persuaded to think more as they do about the constitutional language that has most enabled the promiscuous expansion of government.
Chief Justice Roberts actually ruled the mandate, relative to the commerce clause, was unconstitutional. That’s how the Democrats got Obama-care going in the first place. This is critical. His ruling means Congress can’t compel American citizens to purchase anything. Ever. The notion is now officially and forever, unconstitutional. As it should be.Next, he stated that, because Congress doesn’t have the ability to mandate, it must, to fund Obama-care, rely on its power to tax. Therefore, the mechanism that funds Obama-care is a tax. This is also critical. Recall back during the initial Obama-care battles, the Democrats called it a penalty, Republicans called it a tax. Democrats consistently soft sold it as a penalty. It went to vote as a penalty. Obama declared endlessly, that it was not a tax, it was a penalty. But when the Democrats argued in front of the Supreme Court, they said ‘hey, a penalty or a tax, either way’. So, Roberts gave them a tax. It is now the official law of the land — beyond word-play and silly shenanigans. Obama-care is funded by tax dollars. Democrats now must defend a tax increase to justify the Obama-care law.Finally, he struck down as unconstitutional, the Obama-care idea that the federal government can bully states into complying by yanking their existing medicaid funding. Liberals, through Obama-care, basically said to the states — ‘comply with Obama-care or we will stop existing funding.’ Roberts ruled that is a no-no. If a state takes the money, fine, the Feds can tell the state how to run a program, but if the state refuses money, the federal government can’t penalize the state by yanking other funding.Therefore, a state can decline to participate in Obama-care without penalty. This is obviously a serious problem. Are we going to have 10, 12, 25 states not participating in “national” health-care? Suddenly, it’s not national, is it?
Ultimately, Roberts supported states rights by limiting the federal government’s coercive abilities. He ruled that the government cannot force the people to purchase products or services under the commerce clause and he forced liberals to have to come clean and admit that Obama-care is funded by tax increases.Although he didn’t guarantee Romney a win, he certainly did more than his part and should be applauded.
And he did this without creating a civil war or having bricks thrown threw his windshield. Oh, and he’ll be home in time for dinner. Brilliant.
To all my friends, particularly those conservatives who are despondent over the searing betrayal by Chief Justice John Roberts and the pending demise of our beloved country, I offer this perspective to convey some profound hope and evidence of the Almighty’s hand in the affairs of men in relation to the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare.
Iinitially thought we had cause for despondency when I only heard the results of the decision and not the reason or the make-up of the sides. I have now read a large portion of the decision and I believe that it was precisely the result that Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts and even Kennedy wanted and not a defeat for conservatism or the rule of law. I believe the conservatives on the court have run circles around the liberals and demonstrated that the libs are patently unqualified to be on the Supreme Court. Let me explain.
First let me assure you that John Roberts is a conservative and he is not dumb, mentally unstable, diabolical, a turncoat, a Souter or even just trying to be too nice. He is a genius along with the members of the Court in the dissent. The more of the decision I read the more remarkable it became. It is not obvious and it requires a passable understanding of Constitutional law but if it is explained anyone can see the beauty of it.
The decision was going to be a 5-4 decision no matter what, so the allegation that the decision was a partisan political decision was going to be made by the losing side and their supporters. If the bill was struck down completely with Roberts on the other side there would have been a national and media backlash against conservatives and probably strong motivation for Obama supporters to come out and vote in November. With today’s decision that dynamic is reversed and there is a groundswell of support for Romney and Republicans, even for people who were formerly lukewarm toward Romney before today, additionally Romney raised more than 3 million dollars today.
Next, merely striking the law without the support of Democrats and libs would have left the fight over the commerce clause and the “necessary and proper “ clause and the federal government’s role in general festering and heading the wrong way as it has since 1942. As a result of the decision the libs are saying great things about Roberts; how wise, fair and reasonable he is. They would never have said that without this decision even after the Arizona immigration decision on Monday. In the future when Roberts rules conservatively it will be harder for the left and the media to complain about the Robert’s Court’s fairness. That’s why he as Chief Justice went to the other side for this decision not Scalia, Alito, Thomas or Kennedy, all of whom I believe would have been willing to do it.
Next let’s look at the decision itself. Thankfully Roberts got to write it as Chief Justice and it is a masterpiece. (As I write this the libs don’t even know what has happened they just think Roberts is great and that they won and we are all going to have free, unlimited healthcare services and we are all going to live happily ever after.) He first emphatically states that Obamacare is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause saying you cannot make people buy stuff. Then he emphatically states that it is unconstitutional under the “necessary and proper” clause which only applies to “enumerated powers” in the US Constitution. Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan all went along with these statements. They never would have gone along with that sentiment if that was the basis for striking the law in total. This is huge because this means that the Court ruled 9-0 that Obamacare was unconstitutional under the Commerce clause which was Obama’s whole defense of the bill. They also ruled 9-0 on the “necessary and proper” clause. Even better both of these rulings were unnecessary to the decision so it is gravy that we got the libs to concede this and it will make it easier to pare away at both theories in the future, which we must do. Well done.
Roberts, through very tortured reasoning, goes on to find that the taxing law provides the Constitutionality for the law. Virtually everyone agrees that the Federal government has the power to do this as it does with the mortgage deduction for federal income taxes. This too is huge because Obama assiduously avoided using the term “tax” and now he has to admit this law is a tax and it is on everyone even the poor. That will hurt him hugely in the polls and will help Romney. More importantly though is the fact that this makes this a budgetary issue that can be voted on in the Senate by a mere majority instead of 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster. That means that if the Republicans can gain a majority in the Senate, it can vote to repeal Obamacare in total.
Finally the Court voted 7-2 to strike down the punitive rules that take away money from states that do not expand Medicare as required in Obamacare. This too is huge because we got Kagan and Breyer to join this decision and it can easily be applied to many other cases of extortion the Federal government uses to force states to do things they don’t want to. This is also amazing because Obamacare has no severability clause so by striking the Medicaid mandate portion as unconstitutional the whole bill should have been struck. If that happened none of these other benefits would have been accomplished. I haven’t read far enough to know how he did it but I am sure it is brilliant.
So to recap the Roberts court through a brilliant tactical maneuver has: strengthened the limitations of the commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause by a unanimous decision, made Obama raise taxes on the poor and middle classes, converted Obamacare into a tax program repealable with 51 votes in the Senate, enhanced Romney’s and Republican’s fundraising and likelihood of being elected in November, weakened federal extortion and got the left to love Roberts and sing his praises all without anyone even noticing. Even Obama is now espousing the rule of law just 2 weeks after violating it with his deportation executive order.
That is why I have decided this was a genius decision and that I did in fact get a great birthday present today not to mention U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt. What a day.
June 28, 2012
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