Friday, June 29, 2012

The ObamaCare Ruling...

Watching SCOTUSblog yesterday as the ObamaCare decision was made public, I was as surprised as anyone.  Like many who aren't “progressive”, my first reactions were dismay and anger at the result (ObamaCare upheld!) and utter surprise at the deciding vote (Roberts).  My thoughts tended toward things like alcohol consumption and firearms acquisition.

After getting home from work last night, I set off on a reading junket to see what some smart people were saying – and I was more than a little surprised to see some positive and even optimistic interpretations of the decision from a libertarian or conservative perspective.  A few folks who were most definitely not of the “progressive” persuasion even went so far as to admire Justice Roberts' opinion – and a few “progressives” saw the same issues as dangers for their side.

At this point I can't tell whether these are after-the-fact rationalizations of a bitter decision (lipstick on a pig, so to speak), or if Roberts actually has done the non-progressive world a favor with this decision.  The ideas certainly are interesting, however.  At the end of this post is a collection of links to the original material I read through.  The main lines of hopeful thoughts I read about (in no particular order):
  • The part of the decision that struck down the mandate but turned it into a tax is the first Supreme Court ruling that sets a precedent for limiting Congress' powers under the commerce clause.
  • The mandate/tax has the effect of shifting a huge part of the cost of medical care to younger people, which you'd think would motivate younger folks to fight the law.
  • The ruling materially raises the probability that Obama will be defeated in November, both by boosting Romney's appeal and by re-energizing the Tea Party and other limited-government folks.
  • The ruling materially raises the probability that Republicans will have the Presidency, the House, and the Senate in January 2013 – and therefore materially raises the probability of an ObamaCare repeal.
  • Tax bills (which ObamaCare now is) can't be filibustered.  This vastly decreases the political difficulting of repealing ObamaCare: the Senate now needs just 51 votes instead of 60.
  • The transformation of the mandate into a tax means the ObamaCare bill is imposing a new tax.  The Constitution requires any such bill to originate in the House of Representatives; the ObamaCare bill originated in the Senate.  This presents the possibility of a Constitutional challenge on much firmer grounds than the challenge just ruled on.  Some are proposing that Roberts did this intentionally, so the law could be struck down in a bipartisan fashion.
  • The part of the decision ruling that terminating Medicaid funding to states that didn't participate in the Medicaid expansion is actually a significant reining in of federal power over states – and could lead to challenges of other laws that diminish state's rights.
Even in aggregate, the above are not as immediately satisfying as having ObamaCare struck down in its entirety would have been.  They may, however, be better than what many considered the likliest ruling: striking down the mandate, but allowing the rest of ObamaCare to stand.  While I'm no Republican, the prospect of defeating Obama and repealing ObamaCare is very attractive (even more so that a Supreme Court takedown), so I can take some solace in that...

The pile o'links:

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