Obama care decision hands Republicans major campaign issue
By Isaac Yetiv , Ph. D.
Isaac Yetiv, PhD
LA JOLLA, California — In June 2012 , the U.S. Supreme Court voted five to four to uphold the Obama Healthcare law , declaring it “constitutional.” It found that the “penalty” for not buying insurance ( which would have made the law “unconstitutional” ) is, in reality, a “tax” (which makes the law “constitutional.)
With this semantic leger-de-main , the paradise of prestidigitators, SCOTUS has given POTUS a total control on one sixth of the economy, and more power on taxation and regulation.
We have seen, in the past, many 5 to 4 decisions , made along political lines, liberals versus conservatives, but what is surprising this time is that the Chief Justice, a Conservative appointed by George W. Bush, after voting with the four Conservative justices that the law was unconstitutional, switched his vote at the last minute and rallied the other four liberal justices to make it constitutional . To do so, he had recourse to a flimsy distinction without a difference on which stands the whole edifice of this fateful decision. The result is a Supreme confusion, an enigma that only Justice Roberts, who is now vacationing in Malta, can unravel.
He said: “Penalty, I thee baptize tax,” threw the wrench, and fled the premises.
(To use a literary analogy : in the Greek tragedy, such an event is called a coup de theatre, when,usually in the third act , an unexpected extraordinary event of enormous importance is announced , that stuns the protagonists and the spectators, and reorients the plot.)
But the battle continues; it just moved from the “legal” arena to the “political” one where it belonged, in the first place. In my opinion, the 26 states plus others that have sued the federal government made a mistake in their choice of “cause of action:” Rather than “mandate etc.” they should have invoked the 10th amendment , which “enunerates” the prerogatives of the federal government (Security, safety, international treaties…) , and “health” is not one of them.
It was “left to the states…or to the people,” along with automotive licensing and air pollution, and other functions.
Now, the die is cast. Politicians and pundits are busy guessing what made the Justice act as he did:
One theory is that Justice Roberts, after witnessing , before the decision, the barrage of savage criticism of the Court (coming from Obama himself, Democratic leaders, and especially the media, with their expectation of the “horrible” five-to-four decision like the Bush-Gore decision and others), was “intimidated” and did not want his Court to be “demonized” by the Left . The proponents of this theory even accuse him of “currying favor with the media” and “worrying about his own reputation.”
At the other extreme, many observers see Roberts’ about-face as a “brilliant maneuver,” destined to give Obama and the Left “a short term victory but a long-term defeat,” meaning that, by naming the penalty a tax, he interjects a toxic element in the political battle , hated not only by Republicans, which will greatly endanger Obama’s re-election. It will, according to them, re-energize and re-invigorate, the dormant Republicans and the undecideds who hold the deciding vote.
It is difficult to accept either of these theories. They are so Machiavellian, so “end-justifies-the means”, so contrary to the duties of Justices, like not to be swayed by external influence, not to pre-judge and then search for an explanation–as he seems to be accused of –, not to be guided by political considerations. As I wrote above, only Justice Roberts can justify his action, and I am not holding my breath.
But whatever his motives, Justice Roberts’ coup de theatre has led, ironically, to a comedy of errors, or better, to the theater of the absurd. The Democrats applaud the decision of the Court but are apprehensive about its effect on the elections.Their propaganda machine has been mobilized . Their talking point, from the president to his chief-of-staff to other spokesmen, is now: “this is not a tax,” despite the fact that their solicitor general argued in Court that it was a tax.And the Republicans, although outraged by the decision and by the “betrayal” of the Chief Justice, welcome it as a formidable battle horse that will help them win the White House and the Senate, and make the repeal of the law easier. Their talking point,”it is a tax… the largest tax increase…a heavy burden on the middle-class etc.”
Let us see the numbers, as published by the non-partisan CBO (Congress Budgetary Office):
. 77% of taxpayers, who earn less than $ 120,000 a year will pay more taxes
.- About half of them earn between 25,000 and 75,000 dollars a year.
.- There are 21 taxes in the bill, totaling $500 billion which, added to the 500 billion taken from
Medicare (therefore reducing its programs and services) , make one full Trillion.
.- The implementation of the law in its entirety will cause a loss of 800,000 to one million jobs.
This bad news for the Obamacare is not easy to defend as an issue in the electoral debates.
What we learn from this chaotic episode is that the Supreme Court is not immune from politics. How could it be if the President (Executive) appoints the Justices, and the Senate (Legislative) confirms them? Maybe a different way of making a Justice (personal , not partisan,election OR a non-partisan panel of scholars as done in many democracies) should be devised. Also, Justices are appointed for life so that they will be impervious to political and other external influence. Maybe time has come to limit their tenure to a number of years and for no more than two terms.
For that, we need to amend the Constitution and , with the sharp divisions among the people and the parties,this is not an opportune time for the change.
Yetiv is a freelance writer based in La Jolla. He may be contacted at email@example.com
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=29604
Posted by admin
on Jul 6 2012. Filed under AAA--USA
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