On 28 June 2012, six days before she would have celebrated her 236th birthday, my country died. I don’t know how else to put it. Oh, there is still a nation called the United States of America in the world, and I still live in it. But it is not the country I remember growing up in, and it is certainly not the country our founding fathers established back in 1776.
The decision was made much earlier of course, but on Thursday, June 28, 2012; a day that in my mind will live in infamy, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision led by the supposedly conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that in this formerly free nation the federal government does have the power to force its citizens to purchase a product. This decision, which was rendered to uphold government mandated health care, marked the transition of the United States from a free market nation run by a free people to a socialist society run by the federal government. “Fundamental change,” as promised by Barack Obama, has arrived
As I refuse to fly the flag of a socialist country in front of my house, upon coming home I struck my colors and folded them for the last time. On July 4 this year, there will still be celebrations; fireworks will fly, there will be bar-be-que and parades. Politicians will give speeches. But the celebrations, in my mind, will be for a nation that has passed and more in the way of a memorial service than any celebration of a continuing legacy.
I can understand why the SCOTUS waited until Friday to break the news as this was totally opposite of what everyone, including the administration, was expecting. The reasoning behind the decision was “interesting” to say the least. According to Justice Roberts, he and the other judges who voted in favor viewed the insurance mandate as “a valid exercise of Congress’ authority to lay and collect taxes.” This despite the fact that the mandate was not passed as a tax, and was specifically stated to not be a tax; in fact, the President is on record as stating that it couldn’t be a tax, and his administration has argued that it isn’t a tax. He and they must be ecstatic to discover that it is.
They must also be ecstatic to discover that they can now mandate the American public to purchase anything they desire, and it will be considered as though they had levied a tax. As Chief Justice Roberts stated, “the court doesn’t want to get hung up on labels.” So why call anything a tax now? Call it what you like; it really doesn’t matter. Since the “payment” (penalty for not having health insurance) is collected solely by the IRS through normal means of taxation, it is therefore a tax, and constitutional according to the court.
What does this mean to the country? It means that ObamaCare is likely here to stay. It also means that quite possibly, we are looking at a two-term president instead of a one-term president. It means that the Romney campaign now will most likely refocus its efforts to attack the President not on the economy, but on repeal of ObamaCare; the battlefield has been successfully shifted away from a weak position held by the President to a much stronger one. It also means that the liberal/progressive base, which was expecting ObamaCare to be struck down is now re-energized and has something to fight for. Last week people were saying that the election was Mitt Romney’s to lose. Today it seems that the momentum has shifted dramatically.
There are other opinions. A very well written and reasoned article in The Blaze lists five reasons why the decision upholding ObamaCare may not be as bad as the gut punch it felt like when I heard it. The article stated that the number 1 reason why this ruling might not be a bad thing is because Mitt Romney will now have a much easier time defeating Barack Obama. I find this interesting because this conclusion is diametrically opposed to my initial take which was that the election is now over.
The Blaze article points out that Romney has just “been handed an issue where 60 percent of the voting public agree with him and told to run with it.” And indeed, the Romney campaign, in less than 24 hours after the ruling was announced, raised over $4.2 million. However, balanced against a re-energized base and a plethora of Americans who now perceive that they will be getting something for nothing – if they elect Democrats in November, will it be enough? Money is great but it doesn’t guarantee election. If it did, we would have seen President Perot, or President Forbes in decades past.
Make no mistake; the Democrats will now pull out all the stops. There will be a get-out-the-vote campaign like no other, and you won’t have to be a citizen of the United States to cast your ballot. Republicans had better hope it is not a close contest or you will see a legal battle that will make the first Bush election seem like a high-school debate.
As important as dethroning Obama is, it is not the entirety of what must be accomplished in this election cycle; equally important will be holding on to the House of Representatives and taking control of the Senate.
On my way in to work today I heard some interesting arguments being made concerning this ruling. In The Blaze article it was pointed out that the law was upheld not based on the Commerce Clause, but rather as based on the government’s power to tax, which is effectively unlimited anyway. This is key because although in theory the government has the unlimited ability to tax, in fact its taxation powers are extremely limited as long as the voting public takes an interest in the issues and gets involved. Elected officials all share one thing in common; they want to be re-elected. And imposing onerous taxes on the voting public is not a good way to accomplish that goal.
Barack Obama’s health care law has, in fact just been revealed as the largest tax increase in the history of the world. Couple this with his desire to let the Bush tax cuts lapse, which adds up to the second largest tax increase in the world, and that back to back double whammy might be something that voters will violently rebel against when they go to the polls.
By upholding the law as a tax rather than a stretching of the Commerce Clause to cover regulation of inactivity – the decision by a consumer not to purchase something – the decision left the Commerce Clause intact without expanding the government’s power to regulate. In effect, by ruling this way, the decision implicitly says that Congress does not have the power to regulate inactivity. The government can force you to do something using tax law, where it basically has unlimited authority anyway, but it is not granted unlimited authority to regulate your life as it would have been granted had the law been upheld via the Commerce Clause. George Will, in another excellent article, puts this much better than I.
There is another interesting part to this ruling as well. By casting the law as a tax, it will now not require a 60 vote Republican majority in the Senate to overturn; it can be done by a simple majority as part of the “reconciliation” process. This is the so-called “nuclear option” that Democrats were so vocally against during the Bush presidency, because it bypasses the normal filibuster rules that require 60 votes for cloture.
Ironically, Democrats used this very procedure to pass ObamaCare (it’s ok to do so when it is your bill; it’s only when the other party tries it that it becomes the “nuclear option”) and are certain to complain loudly again if it is used to repeal it. Too bad. This Supreme Court ruling means that it becomes in fact, the proper way of handling the legislation.
What this means is that this election is of vital importance to the nation. This is indeed a tipping point. If the Republicans can win the Presidency, hold the House, and gain the Senate, we have a chance of repealing ObamaCare and turning the economy around; a chance to put this nation back on the track it was on and reversing, for now anyway, it’s decent into the socialist abyss. At the same time we can have a sane health care debate and go about fixing the problems we have with free market solutions that work instead of government solutions that don’t.
Justice Robert’s ruling is clever. Let’s hope not too clever by half. For it is fraught with danger like a blind man negotiating a narrow boulder-strewn path with sheer precipices on either side. It depends on the perspicuity of the American voter to see the danger and act upon it; scary at any time but particularly when so many people might be tempted to put their perceived individual gain ahead of the good of the nation and, because the stakes are so high, when the probability of election fraud reaches certainty.
The bottom line is that what happens at the polls this November is vitally important. As of now, my country is dead. Can it arise from the ashes in November? I can only hope and pray that it will; and I will be putting forth every effort at my disposal to see to it that it does. I would very much like to be able to fly my flag in front of my house once more.