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From The News-Enterprise
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was, in a word, ironic. Moreover, it provides the Obama administration, his Oval Office challenger Mitt Romney, and congressional politicians on both sides of the aisle what they wanted — at least for now.
First, the irony of the court’s ruling.
To the outcry of staunch conservatives and Obamacare opponents nationwide, Chief Justice John Roberts was not only the swing vote but crafted the high court’s majority opinion to uphold the act as constitutional. Recall during Roberts’ 2005 Senate confirmation hearings, it was a young and little known senator from Illinois named Barack Obama who joined other Democrats in opposition of then-President George W. Bush’s appointment of Roberts to the court. Since his confirmation, Roberts and Obama have agreed on little.
How ironic that what supporters of the health care reform act point to as the hallmark of President Obama’s term in office, his landmark legislation was breathed continued life by the very Supreme Court Justice he voted against. And in doing so, he, Democrats and other supporters of Obamacare were spared the embarrassment of it being struck down as unconstitutional.
At the same time, the ruling provides Romney the definition he and the GOP have sought regarding an important and controversial component of the act.
In his majority opinion for the court, Roberts defined the individual mandate to be a tax on those who choose not to purchase health care insurance. Because the court viewed and defined it to be a tax, it falls within Congress’ powers and authority to lay and collect taxes and duties and, therefore, is constitutional.
This must to be a bitter pill to swallow for Democrats who have stuck doggedly to Obama’s talking points that the legislation and the individual mandate isn’t a tax – especially on the middle class who Obama vowed not to impact with additional tax burden. Though disappointed with the upholding, the definition is certainly sweet as candy for Romney and fellow Republicans who now vow to double-down on their efforts to gain the White House and repeal it.
Yes, everyone seems to have gotten a little something through the decision. Obamacare stands, at least for now, leaving a feather in the president’s cap. Republicans can shine a bright new light of opposition on its taxation nature.
But the court’s decision only deemed Obamacare to be constitutional, not well planned legislation. The real long-term impact and outcome for the nation has yet to be determined. And for average Americans like us, the stakes are high. Deep and concerning questions remain on how the Affordable Health Care Act truly will impact the affordability, accessibility and quality of health care service; how it will effect employment security and opportunity; and how employers and health care providers will have to adjust their operating plans to deal with it.
This editorial is reprinted from the The News-Enterprise in Elizabethown, Ky. and is provided through the Kentucky Press News Service.