ObamaCare is coercively used government power

When lawyers were arguing ObamaCare before the Supreme Court, Obama’s attorney’s claimed ObamaCare was a tax, while everyone else’s attorneys claimed that it was an unconstitutional penalty.  Justice Roberts, for reasons unknown but still deeply suspect, agreed with both arguments.  Things got exciting after that.

In the days since the opinion came down, both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign have been running away from the “tax” word.  Obama’s retreat is obvious:  no campaigning president wants to be known as the one who presided over the largest single middle-class tax increase in history.  Romney’s campaign ought to be making hay with that fact.

Except that, until yesterday, Romney’s campaign was also denying that ObamaCare is a tax and was claiming, instead, that it’s a penalty.  The reason seems to be that Romney’s advisors are worried that, because Romney presided over RomneyCare, he’s living in a glass house when it comes to imposing massive tax increases.  For him, the phrase “tax increase” is a dangerous tar baby.  Romney eventually decided that he couldn’t afford to be this cautious and, on July 4th, finally said that, if the Supreme Court calls it a tax, it’s a tax.

Whether ObamaCare is a tax matters tremendously for its Constitutionality.  By waving his magic tax wand, Chief Justice Roberts ensured that ObamaCare lives on under the government’s taxing power.  I would argue, though, that the average man in the street is tuning out as this semantic argument goes on.  He doesn’t care about the label.  He’s probably more interested in the on-the-ground reality:  ObamaCare authorizes the government to sic the IRS, with its full arsenal of scary, coercive powers, on people who don’t want to buy an expensive product.

If Romney and his guys could just cut the word play and get to the heart of the matter, they’d be able to make it clear to people that, whether it’s a tax or a penalty, they’re caught squarely in the government’s cross-hairs — and Romney promises to take away that big government gun.

I’ll leave this post with two popular culture moments that seem appropriate.  First, one of my favorite quotes from Through the Looking-Glass:

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – - that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

`Would you tell me, please,’ said Alice `what that means?`

`Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

`That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

`When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.’

And, second, a little music to remind us that, much as I love words, sometimes they are indeed sick-making:

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Comments

  1. Mike Devx says

    If Justice Roberts thinks he’s made friends among the Left, or has influenced them, then he is a sad fool.  Does he think that because he achieved broad consensus that ObamaCare would have violated the Commerce Clause had it been allowed to stand with the individual mandate as a penalty, that he’s won them to his side?

    Well, perhaps I am the one that is wrong.  Time will tell.  Roberts will probably be shocked the next time a decision on the Commerce Clause comes before the Court, and he has to fight like hell just to win it 5-4.  And all the liberals vote against him – and vote against the very position they took on ObamaCare.  He will be flabbergasted, but he shouldn’t be.

    Because for the liberal judges, ObamaCare was all about the WIN, and only about the WIN. “I’ll join you,” Roberts told them, but only on the condition that the individual mandate be seen as a tax, and would be a violation of the Commerce Clause.”

    The liberals put their heads together and counted.  They’re quite capable of counting to 5.  “You mean, we win, if it’s a tax,” they may have asked.

    “I wouldn’t put it that way,” Roberts might have said, a little uncomfortably.  “But yes, the Bill would survive 5-4.”

    “Ruth!” Elena chastised harshly. “Put that bottle of whiskey away! Stop chugging!”

    “We WIN! We WIN! We WIN!” Ruth chanted, dancing a jaunty jig.  “Taxes, schmaxes, who cares! We WIN!”  Breyer joined her in the jig.  “Ruthy, baby, you are so hot… when we WIN”, he whispered in her ear.

    It’s never about principles when the ends justify the means.  When winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.  And they won.  That’s all they’ll care about.  If Roberts thinks otherwise, if he thinks he’s gained ground on a principled fight for preserving a meaningful Commerce Clause, he is in for a rude awakening.  And soon.

     

  2. says

    I wouldn’t make any assumptions about Robert’s motivations at this point. Whether this is a Leftist subterfuge and spy coup or not will remain to be seen, or unsealed, later.

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