"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." - Charles Dickens
Wake Up America by John McNaughton
Chief Justice Roberts would not have been improper, I believe, to have quoted dear Dickens in his majority opinion for the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to uphold President Obama's Affordable Care Act. While many believe the reasoning duplicitous in that it finds that the individual mandate was never really a mandate, but much to Congress' surprise, was in fact a tax, the decision serves to spotlight the duplicitous nature of President Obama and his administration.
While forming support for this legislation over many months and fighting to get it passed, the president and his party worked tirelessly to convince the American people that this was not a tax. When it came to light that the IRS would be involved in collecting the penalty, they still insisted that this was no tax. But this can now be seen for the bait and switch betrayal that it was.
As the case against the health care law and the individual mandate in particular made their way through the court system, a switch was made. The administration began quietly arguing that the mandate was constitutional because it was not a mandate, but simply a tax.
During arguments before the Supreme Court, the Commerce Clause was the primary focus. In truth, the court had done nothing to slowdown the ever expanding scope of the Federal government while acting under the Commerce Clause, but defense of the individual mandate seemed very weak under questioning from the justices, which gave hope that the mandate, if not the entire law would be ruled unconstitutional.
When it was time to defend Obamacare, the president's lawyers were happy to point out that the law that he signed really included a tax rather than a mandate anyway. As their seemingly inept lawyer might have said, "Don't worry about it. It's not really that anyway, it's this...so, ya know....it's all good."
So, while Roberts seemed to give Obama a victory, he simply said, "You're telling me you passed a huge tax increase and not a mandate. Well, that's not what you told the American people, but there's nothing that says this can't be considered a tax. So here ya go. You own it, now take it to the American people and explain to them how they were duped."
For Roberts, it doesn't matter how you sold the law, but only what the law does. Like many of us argued in the past, no matter how you dress it up, it's a tax. Under our Constitution, Congress can pass a tax, even when they're afraid to admit it.
The lesson to be learned in this Supreme Court ruling can be found in Robert's words of the opinion,
"It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."
For today, those words haunt us. But in the words of Dickens, we look toward tomorrow.
"We have everything before us or we have nothing before us."