Yes, the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health overhaul law is disappointing, but the final judgment on the law will be made by the voters in November.
The president now must spend the next four months defending a law that the majority of Americans dislike, and the more they learn about it, the more they dislike it. Worse, the part of the law that is the least popular – the individual mandate – has now been declared a tax.
That’s double jeopardy for the president: The unpopular mandate stands and now it is called a tax. And this is only one of the 20 new and higher taxes in the law.
In its decision, the Supreme Court has determined that Congress can compel otherwise free private citizens to purchase a private product with their own after-tax money – a product that would cost them $20,000 a year for a family – under penalty of federal law. The court decided that only those who refuse to comply with the mandate will be subject to the tax.
Importantly, the court did not base its ruling on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The government had argued that this provision should be used to compel private citizens to engage in commerce so the federal government could regulate it. The court said no. By calling the mandate a tax, they have actually put new limits on the Commerce Clause’s ever intrusive rule over our economy.
The first job for the American people is to demand that Congress repeal the law in its entirety. The focus of the November elections now will be fixed on health care and on the positions of candidates and incumbents on the law.
We all know there are problems in our health sector that must be fixed to get more affordable health care and coverage to millions more people. But the health overhaul law tries to do too much, too fast, and a strong majority of Americans have concluded it will limit their choices, lower the quality of care, increase health costs, and raise their taxes. While the Supreme Court has declared the law to be constitutional, Americans still overwhelmingly object to the approach that the Obama administration has taken with its law to put one-sixth of our economy under government control.
As an analogy, it may be constitutional to raise income tax rates to 100 percent, but that doesn’t mean it is right, and the voters will issue their final verdict at the ballot box in November.
The health law must be repealed so Congress can get a fresh start in addressing the problems the American people want fixed: protecting the most vulnerable, help for the uninsured, lower costs, more choices, and portability of insurance. Once the health law is repealed, the work can begin in forging targeted bills with bi-partisan support to build toward these objectives.
[[Updated 3 p.m. Thursday, June 28, 2012]]