By Michael Baker
From a political standpoint, things seem simple enough: the Dem’s love it; the ‘publicans, not so much. But there’s always room for some old fashioned political slant, and conservatives – particularly the Romney Campaign – have plenty of leeway to use today’s decision to their benefit.
First, let’s not forget that the law is still relatively unpopular with the public at large. As I type this, my Facebook feed is flooded with the poorly-paraphrased rhetoric of friends who just learned what Congress’ Power to Tax is and are sure that whatever it permits, this ain’t it. Misguided or not, there’s a lot of political capital in a fired-up electorate, and you can bet that the Right will not miss this opportunity to cash in on that.
Second, it seems certain to me that Romney will get a whole lot more mileage out of this opinion than Big O will. The President is sure to lean on the fact that the crowning achievement of his first term has been upheld, but that’s not much of a talking point compared to what Mitt & Co. now have in their back pocket. For anyone who wants to see this law repealed, the only hope now is legislative action, and that’s not too likely to happen with Obama at the helm. Romney will have an easy time of arguing that if we are ever to do away with Obamacare, we’ll need a Republican President to do it.
Romney might also try to feed us the ol’ “SCOTUS is just too liberal and we need some Republican appointees to even things out” argument. But that’s a tough sell given that the swing vote in today’s decision was Chief Justice Roberts, a W appointee.
And while we’re on the subject of Chief Justice Roberts, the Right Wing spin machine has already churned out this fine tub of butter, arguing that Roberts’ opinion essentially strikes a deal in favor of small government conservatives – bargaining away the Healthcare Act on tax law grounds while also reversing the trend towards an expansive understanding of the Commerce Clause. There’s something to that in the sense that the opinion clearly states that the law would fail under the Commerce Clause. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call that a clean reversal of the Court’s Commerce Clause jurisprudence. Upholding Obamacare under the Commerce Clause would have gone one step beyond anything the Court has said in the past. This is more of a slowing than a reversal, and Congress’ power to regulate commerce remains formidable.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with a government death panel.