The Court's bombshell decision has sent me pondering and re-pondering. First and foremost -- nothing in this world will convince me that Roberts went the way he went for any reason other than politics. Cynicism may be cheap and unbecoming, but when a Bush appointee decides in favor of Obama in an election year -- well, cynicism is all I got.
How can this decision benefit Romney? There were several arguments in favor of the law's constitutionality, but Roberts chose to judge the matter based on the government's ability to levy taxes. So universal health care coverage is now defined, by our highest court, as a tax.
Romney is running on the basis of the perception that Obama is a tax-and-spend president. The trouble with that perception is that it does not match reality: Obama has, in fact, lowered taxes. A lot of people don't realize that the much-derided stimulus was largely a matter of tax cuts. That strangely unmentionable fact is bound to come out during the debates.
Now, Romney will be able to point to an Obama tax plan with a frightening price tag.
would disagree with this analysis...
First, today's Supreme Court decision will make it a lot harder to elect Mitt Romney. President Obama has just been handed a fearsome election weapon. 2012 is no longer exclusively a referendum on the president's economic management. 2012 is now also a referendum on Mitt Romney's healthcare plans. The president can now plausibly say that a vote for the Republicans is a vote to raise prescription drug costs on senior citizens and to empower insurance companies to deny coverage to children for pre-existing conditions. Those charges will hurt—and maybe hurt enough to sway the election.
I believe that Romney became more electable. It's all about taxes. Ask younger working people if they would countenance raising taxes to help seniors and people with pre-existing conditions, and you will see heads shake no
. Screw grandma and screw the cancer-ridden kids.
(In reality, what the American people want is some fantasyland solution in which the cancer-ridden kids get care while taxes go down. If Romney can convince people that he has such a plan, he's in.)
We have some indication that political considerations turned Roberts around
on this issue:
Back in May, there were rumors floating around relevant legal circles that a key vote was taking place, and that Roberts was feeling tremendous pressure from unidentified circles to vote to uphold the mandate. Did Roberts originally vote to invalidate the mandate on commerce clause grounds, and to invalidate the Medicaid expansion, and then decide later to accept the tax argument and essentially rewrite the Medicaid expansion (which, as I noted, citing Jonathan Cohn, was the sleeper issue in this case) to preserve it?
I'm not going to get into arguments about the merits of Obama's legislation per se
. What more is there to say?
Readers know that I have long favored socialized health insurance, which we are supposed to call single-payer. My great fear is that the Republicans will find some way to knock down Obamacare -- a constitutional amendment, perhaps? -- which will simultaneously destroy any chance to nationalize health insurance.