Published for www.commentarymagazine.com, June 29th, 2012
Having already written about the majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, what about the politics of the decision?
I have argued before that while overturning the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be a debilitating blow to the president, upholding it would create problems of its own. And that’s certainly the case.
For one thing, as others at ”Contentions” have pointed out, the president is now saddled with a huge middle class tax increase. Anchoring the Affordable Care Act in the Tax Clause is the only way it passed constitutional muster—and Republicans will do everything in their power to tether Obama to his tax increase. It doesn’t help the president that the argument that saved ObamaCare contradicted what Obama himself repeatedly said, which is (a) the individual mandate is “absolutely not a tax increase” and (b) he would never in a thousand years raise taxes on the middle class.
It was, and he has.
In addition, the decision by the Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act has once again thrust to center stage a historically unpopular law (one that is particularly unpopular in swing states).
The Supreme Court, then, has succeeded in once again inflaming the passions of the GOP base while reminding independents why they despise the ACA. The 2012 election may now take on a 2010 feel. And for those who might have forgotten, Democrats—thanks in large part to Obama’s health care law—sustained an epic defeat in that mid-term election.
As it was, so may it be.