WASHINGTON, June 28, 2012 – According to a report just a few minutes ago on Washington DC’s all-news radio station WTOP-FM, Obamacare has essentially been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a bizarre, complex ruling, a divided majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the individual mandate employing what was to us at least, a convoluted yet understandable line of reasoning.
The MSM is already labeling this a “landmark” ruling, but it’s hardly that. It’s actually more a matter of the Court providing aggressive copy editing to the original legislative monstrosity.
According to an Associated Press report, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is labeling this ruling as “a dark day for American liberty” and an affront to the principle of limited federal government. Like the 26 states involved in the Supreme Court case, Cuccinelli believes the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty is unconstitutional.
The Obama administration had been arguing seemingly forever (as had the Democrats in Congress) that the individual mandate at the core of the Affordable Care Act wasn’t a tax. The reason they did this was to provide cover against Republican accusations that leftist Democrats were raising taxes which, in fact, they were, by employing their trademark verbal trickery to evade the consequences of the truth.
Unfortunately for this little ploy, if the individual mandate weren’t a tax reasoned the court as it deliberated, than it directly interfered with each individual citizen’s basic Constitutional freedom from government coercion. Ergo, if the legislation’s coercive non-tax threat hanging over each citizen was not a tax, it was, therefore, not under the jurisdiction of the commerce clause, which clearly defines Congress’ prerogative to tax. Attorneys will find our explanation here is oversimplified, perhaps, but it gets us to the key hair split in this ruling.
In any event, the Supremes, for reasons known only to themselves and God and probably due to some backroom dickering, essentially ruled that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is a duck. In other words, the individual mandate IS a tax no matter how the original legislation attempted to describe it. Thus, as a tax legally and lawfully imposed on citizens by Congress, the individual mandate is therefore constitutional.
The Maven is not an attorney, nor did he ever play one on TV. But rulings like this are at least part of the reason why the average American has lost faith in this country’s rule of law; namely, who but an egghead attorney or judge can even understand the law these days, so convoluted and twisted are the avenues laid out by each successive interpretation.
The flip side of the individual mandate ruling was a separate part of the opinion that struck down what was essentially the forced expansion of Medicaid. That was also a key part of the Obamacare package, one that forced this vast Federal expansion of Medicaid coverage down the individual states’ throats, again with a brutal carrot and stick approach. From preliminary reports, however, the wording of this part of the opinion apparently leaves enough wiggle room for interpretation as does the rest of the court’s opinion, so the devil remains in the details.
For this reason, although the Marxists seem to have won the day on this one, the Obamacare wrangle will continue, as much of the ruling remains to be parsed and interpreted.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans were not handed a victory by the Supreme Court today but a rather messy partial defeat. The silver lining is that they’ll have one heck of a campaign issue to run on this fall. The bad news is that even if Romney defeats Obama and the Republicans take back the Senate, it’s by no means certain that the numbers will be there to defeat the Obamacare fiscal monster in the next session of Congress.
The real “victors” today are actually Boomers, in the sense that they’ll have better and more secure health coverage forever at an allegedly better cost. The bad news for Boomers—which the Democrats never want Boomers to know about—is that a great deal of Obamacare’s cost will be reclaimed by means of significant cuts in Medicare coverage. One route for accomplishing this will be the job of the legislation’s already-on-duty death panel. This faceless committee will soon be telling elderly Americans whether their life-saving treatments are deemed to be cost effective under the Obamacare scheme of things, or whether mom and pop must die for the greater cause in order to save the taxpayers some money in the short run.
The real losers today are the current members of the younger generation whose votes the Democrats continue to court even as they pile massive quantities of debt on them, assuring a dismal future. Younger voters, whether they understand it or not, will be paying for a vast governmental expansion whether they want to or not. On top of being unemployed, unable to buy a house, and unable to pay back their massive student loans, the future doesn’t look to bright for these young, idealistic voters who massively supported The One in 2008. One wonders how many of them understand the truth and the consequences of that vote. I not, they’ll be finding out shortly.
The whole Obamacare wrangle was and is a mess of considerable proportion. It was monster legislation, rammed down the collective throats of the American people who have opposed it by a significant majority from the get-go, and still do. Obamacare is proof positive that, at least for now, the country is firmly in the hands of wealthy, dismissive elitists who fully intend to make the average American pay for their world view even as these elitists take care to exempt themselves from the consequences of their actions.
The markets may have smelled what was coming from Washington this morning as stocks tanked from the moment the starting bell was rung. This seems to offer at least anecdotal proof that inside traders knew what was coming before anyone else did and acted accordingly. Pros are well aware that this decision will lead to a continuing stagnation in hiring, which in the current economic climate is the worst thing of all. Smaller employers will cease to add jobs and grow, simply to be able to remain below the threshold where they’ll be forced to comply with the now officially constitutional Obamacare legislation.
Larger employers too will think twice about adding jobs here in the U.S. at least. Foreign hires, of course, won’t be subject to this law, so watch for a pickup in offshore hiring by large corporations for the rest of this year and beyond. It will now be too expensive to hire people here, something that Virginia’s current governor already recognizes. According to AP, “Gov. Bob McDonnell says the law will impair economic recovery, infringes on citizens’ liberties, will hurt small businesses and imposes unfunded mandates on states.”
Today’s Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare makes the battle lines for Election 2012 appear all that much clearer. Yet again, as we’ve already stated, even a total Republican victory this fall may not change things much unless the Republicans somehow manage not only to win the White House, but elect a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate as well—an unlikely scenario at least at this point.
We’ll update this report when we can as more information filters in. Meanwhile, we will also attempt to download and read as much of today’s decision as we can, since, as in many things, the devil may be in the details of this document. Details include whether there are any actual or implied answers to the following question: what happens to states like Virginia that have gone on record as wanting to opt out of Obamacare?
Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.
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