Constitution, Congress, Supreme Court, and Voters

On Thursday this past week, the Supreme Court ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is a Constitutionally valid law, but only with an explanation that the individual mandate is actually a tax instead of a penalty.  This is after the Administration and Congress have repeatedly lied stated and continues to do so that the individual mandate is either a fee or a penalty depending on which side you fall upon.  From the New York Times:

…Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., joined by the Supreme Court’s four most liberal justices, wrote the majority opinion that upheld the individual mandate in President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, which requires Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. In an ironic twist, the chief justice simultaneously accepted the conservative argument that Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce did not include the power to regulate economic inactivity, like a decision not to purchase health care. The court ruled 5 to 4 on that point, with the chief justice joined by the court’s four other conservative justices.

But what Chief Justice Roberts took from Congress with one hand, he gave it with the other: a broad reading of the taxing power. In the majority opinion, he wrote that since paying a penalty for not obtaining insurance could be seen as a tax, and since “the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

The Supreme Court has now ruled that the Constitution does not prevent Congress from passing a bad law or lying about the purpose/method of the law to the public.  The bottom line – Congress and the President of the United States can lie to the American people in order to pass legislation that is, in fact, is a tax.  And the ultimate responsibility of the voters is to hold the elected accountable for their actions.  Chief Justice Roberts states:

“Members of this court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments.  Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

We have already seen some of the backlash in the last election cycle – many of the politicians up for reelection during the last cycle found themselves on the outside looking in.  With the Court’s ruling that the mandate is indeed a tax, more of the law’s supporters may find themselves unemployed after the next election.

This law remains unpopular with the people of this country.  Scott Rasmussen reports that 54% of the voters want this law repealed, and that was before the Supreme Court’s ruling that this law enacts a tax.  I fully expect that number to rise.  Scott Rasmussen also reports the following:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that President Obama’s health care law is constitutional keeps it alive for now. But it’s important to remember that the law has already lost in the court of public opinion. The Supreme Court ruling is a temporary reprieve more than anything else.

In March, I wrote that the health care law was doomed even if it survived the court. Looking at the data today, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion.

Fifty-four percent of voters nationwide still want to see the law repealed. That’s going to be a heavy burden for the Obama campaign to bear.

It’s hard to believe that public opinion will change between now and Election Day because opinion on the law hasn’t budged in two years. In fact, support for repeal now is exactly the same as it was when the law first passed.

Consistently, for the past two years, most voters have expressed the view that the law will hurt the quality of care, increase the cost of care and increase the federal deficit.

As a result, the fact that the law remains in place may end up hurting the president’s chances for re-election more than helping them. It gives Mitt Romney another easy target and one that can be tied directly into concerns about the economy.

If Romney wins, there is virtually no chance the existing health care law will survive.

If the president is re-elected, the law has a better chance of surviving, but it would still face an uphill struggle. Legislative battles to protect the law would most likely dominate his second term.

It is up to the People, the voters, to enact their will upon their elected representatives by writing and voting.  Yes, folks, it is up to US to hold the politician’s accountable for their actions, and to relieve them of their jobs for unsatisfactory performance.  And that is the true bottom line.

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About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
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3 Responses to Constitution, Congress, Supreme Court, and Voters

  1. The Griper says:

    the problem is tho, Tom, repeal of the law will not effect the decision of the Supreme Court. that ruling will remain and can be used as precidence for when the left regains power and wants to enact further laws of this nature.

  2. pete says:

    Tom,
    I sure hope that it can be repealed – and quickly. Once the massive funding stream begins, the harder it’s going to be to get rid of it. In the U.K. about one third of the country is directly or indirectly employed by the National Health Service, so they’re just not enough votes and political will to get rid of it. As we all know, bureaucracies tend to grow like an aggressive cancer. Once they pick up steam it’s hard to put the brakes on. The “Tea Party” will have a huge role to play in this.

  3. Tom says:

    Griper – Congress has always had the power to raise taxes and fees upon the citizens, and have done so in the guise of other things besides calling a tax a tax. This ruling might keep such actions in the public eye, but I somehow doubt it. And I will express disappointment that the Supreme Court chose to uphold the law by parsing words instead of actions.

    Pete – If it isn’t repealed before the election, then I hope that there are enough Conservatives elected to Congress to repeal the law, and if Obummer is elected, to overturn a veto.

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