Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Left's Pyrrhic Victory

If the Supreme Court’s decision upholding ObamaCare was “a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure,” as Barack Obama chortled, then why have two thousand of his best friends and campaign contributors gotten exemptions?

The first indication that ObamaCare wasn’t going to live up to its billing was the bribe fest that was required to purchase enough Democratic votes to get it through the Senate in the first place. The second was the avalanche of waivers that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius handed out like party favors.

And since the law was enacted, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that increased costs could result in up to 20 million people being dropped from employer provided health insurance plans. And other CBO analyses predicted that ObamaCare will add to the deficit rather than reduce it as promised.

But it was the legacy that mattered, not substance: “Presidents have tried to pass health care for decades – this one got it done,” Obama boasted.

To uphold the law, the Supreme Court’s majority essentially had to rewrite it. It was an unconstitutional reach to claim that the Commerce Clause authorized the federal government to compel commerce. So they decided to substitute “tax” for “penalty.”

Shadow president Valerie Jarrett said that she would take victory regardless of the constitutional abuse: “We will take it any way we can get it.”

But the increased likelihood of a defeat at the polls this November might be the cheapest price Democrats might pay. According to pollster Scott Rassmussen, the fury unleashed by the Supreme Court’s decision surpasses that which ended the careers of so many Democrats in 2010. And hardly a day passes when another prominent elected Democrat announces that he or she won’t be attending the Democratic National Convention.

But the decision also cut out the heart of big, centralized government aficionados.

Left wing lawyer Pamela Karlan, writing in the New York Times predicted that the decision would, “come back to haunt liberals.”

The restrictions placed upon the Commerce Clause and the authority of the federal government to withhold funds from states as punishment for noncompliance with mandates will hobble future liberal initiatives.

In addition, the court’s contortions that twisted the penalty into a tax simply opened another and more promising avenue of court challenges.

While liberals have attempted to exploit vagaries in the Constitution previously, the origination clause is quite clear. New taxes must originate in the House of Representatives. The individual mandate, that the court’s majority upheld as a tax, originated in the Senate.

That’s unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution reads: “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

Here’s something else that should make everyone quake regardless of political leaning. If the Congress’s authority to tax is unlimited, then there is no limit upon the power that may be exercised through the tax code. We already have Congress attempting to manipulate individual behavior and economic activity with taxes.

For example, what’s to prevent a conservative Congress from imposing a $1,000,000 tax on each abortion?

Or, we could force everyone to choose between purchasing a firearm for personal protection or pay a punitive tax.

Everybody should find this sudden endorsement of an unlimited taxing power troubling. Especially since such unlimited power is not found in the Constitution. So limited was the federal government’s authority to tax that, when the federal government sought to impose our current income tax a century ago, it required a constitutional amendment.

Democrats should also be uncomfortable  because, by declaring ObamaCare a tax, the court made repeal just that much easier. Mitt Romney’s promise to repeal ObamaCare sounded hollow before, considering that repeal would require a supermajority in the Senate to overcome a certain filibuster. But repealing a tax can be achieved through the reconciliation process which requires only 51 votes.

So, a very plausible outcome of the court’s decision would be the repeal of ObamaCare, while stripping the federal government of its authority to punish states for noncompliance with mandates and leaving in place the restrictions upon the authority that the feds may exercise by abusing the commerce clause.

Whether through ineptitude and arrogance, or by design, by joining the court’s leftist minority, John Roberts may have dealt fatal blows to ObamaCare, federal mandates and 70 years of Commerce Clause abuse.


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