COURTESY of the U.S. Supreme Court, the man who said the individual mandate was not a tax, the president who said he wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class, is responsible for what could be among the largest tax increases in history.
The court let stand the Affordable Care Act, ruling that Congress has the authority to mandate individual health care coverage under its ability to tax the populace. During the 2010 debate on Obamacare, the president repeatedly said the mandate wasn't a tax. In upholding the law, the court said it is indeed a tax. If it weren't, Obamacare would have effectively been nullified.
Importantly, the decision did not give future Congresses carte blanche to justify overreaching legislation based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
In one turn of the clock Thursday, the “conservative” Roberts court despised by Obama was beknighted if not canonized by the liberals who had wanted Congress to go further on health care reform than Obama was able to achieve. What was described as the most political Supreme Court in history by some liberal observers is now seen as a body of sage stewards of constitutional government.
Since this law was always more about politics than health care, it's apt to analyze the political implications. Conservatives feared that having the law struck down would empower Obama. The president's men know that the battle has shifted to the “repeal and replace” movement and that the Mitt Romney campaign could benefit mightily from this shift.
The Weekly Standard reacted to the ruling by declaring flatly that the Nov. 6 election now turns on the question of whether to keep Obamacare or repeal. The answer to that question “will go a long way toward determining the future course of this great nation.”
But repeal would come only if Romney wins and has enough votes in the Senate to advance repeal. Another complication is that Obamacare supporters can say that the law passed muster with a “conservative” high court so it must be kept. An intriguing sidebar is the effect on Obama's second-term chances due to younger, independent voters rebelling against the mandate and supporting the candidate who favors repeal.