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…A thought worth your time to contemplate…!

Chief Justice Roberts Has His Cake, Eats It, Feeds It To His Corporate Masters, Then Smears Delicious Frosting All Over Romney, by Upholding the ACA


Posted: 28 Jun 2012 08:12 PM PDT    By Michael Bryan

John Roberts has performed a brilliant political maneuver in his opinion crafted to uphold the ACA, though he’ll get little credit from the crazy wing of the GOP (which is most of it…). He allowed a deeply conservative policy, which the GOP has backed for a generation and the corporate health care complex essentially designed and will profit from richly, to become the basis of national health care policy for the next generation or more.

Score one for conservatives.

Preserving the ACA preserves much of the status quo in American health care markets and allows health insurers to survive and thrive. Were the ACA struck down, and the power to enact such a mandated private insurer system put beyond the reach of Congress, the only constitutionally sound route to broadening access to health care remaining would have been an expansion of government insurers, such as Medicare/Medicaid/TriCare. That is not a politically desirable outcome for conservatives and corporate America, and it has been avoided.

Score two for conservatives.   Striking down the mandate, and instead treating the penalties associated with refusing to buy insurance as a tax for constitutional analysis, allowed the Court to fashion a radical curtailment of Congressional Commerce Clause powers to regulate “inaction”. The practical application of such a limit is unforeseeable, and in practice may be cabined to the ACA only. Regardless, it creates the possibility of a fertile new arena for conservative activism from the bench.

Score three for conservatives.   Preserving the ACA, while striking down the idea of a mandate, allows conservatives to continue to campaign against Obamacare in the coming elections, and provides legalistic cover to their claim that the mandate represented an unconstitutional overreach by Obama. They get a deeply conservative health care policy, but get to continue to punish Obama politically for actually enacting it for them.

Score four for conservatives.   The Court categorizing the ACA’s penalties as a ‘tax’ allows conservatives to credibly frame their objections to the policy as a "tax increase". In fact, that has happened a lot faster than I ever contemplated. Romney is already claiming that the ACA represents a $500 billion tax increase on Americans (and a $500 billion cut to Medicare, and a job killer, and will cause people to lose coverage, and will add to the deficit, yada yada yada (all bullshit, of course)). He has to bend a lot of logic to reach those conclusions, but lying isn’t anything new to Romney, in fact, that seems to be basis of his entire campaign for the Presidency. Conservatives get to campaign against tax increases (and cuts to Medicare, and job killing)? You betcha.

Score five for conservatives.   Striking down the method of enforcing state compliance with the Medicaid expansion of the ACA satisfies those state governments held hostage by conservative majorities who will opt out of the expansion for political and local financial reasons. It undermines the most progressive aspect of the ACA by ensuring that some portion of those who would have to be covered on the states’ and federal government’s dime will now not qualify nor be mandated to purchase coverage because of their income. Essentially, this potentially perpetuates the worst of the health care crisis for millions of low income Americans and allows state governments to make political hay from denying this population coverage – and all at a much reduced political and fiscal cost. Screwing the poor and reducing the cost of defiance by grandstanding conservative state governments?

Score six for conservatives.   The headline on the Court upholding the ACA will be a big immediate win for Obama. It preserves his legacy on health care – flawed though it is – which prevents a major political embarrassment, but the actual long-term political effects are all positive for conservatives. Roberts was able to give victory to conservatives yet polish his credentials as a moderate voice on the Court, though he’s anything but. Given a bomb-throwing radical like Scalia in dissent, he can appear reasonable even as he pursues a deeply radical conservative agenda on the Court.

Roberts will take some immediate flack from the craziest of the GOP base for upholding the ACA, but all the political benefits accrue to conservatives.

I actually hoped that the Court would strike down the ACA. I figured that nothing would disorder the GOP more than their chosen straw man suddenly disappearing. They might actually have to run on something based in reality, rather than their bizarre 11th hour conversion to the view that their policy on health care for a generation was suddenly an Obama plot to pollute all our precious bodily fluids. In addition, the only constitutional path forward to solving the health care crisis would be universal coverage, giving a truly progressive policy another chance to become law. Finally, the ACA being struck down would have energized Democrats to fight back and take back the Congress and keep a Democratic President in office to make real reform possible. Roberts did progressives no favors today.


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