Today's Supreme Court decision is a game changer --not necessarily for the election, but for US politics in general. I want to talk about the election, though, and how the Supreme Court used the constitutional angle to try to influence this year's election results.
I claim Roberts' decision was written with the fall elections in mind. The decision was to find Obamacare constitutionally persmissable as kind of tax, acceptable under the constitutional authority of the feds to tax. The court seems to have rejected the idea that Obamacare is constitutional because it is consistent with legitimate federal power pursuant to the US Constitution's "commerce clause."
That, as Joe Biden would say, is "a big f****n' deal." Because during my fifty-three life time, one of the bases of creating the liberal state was the Court's use of the Commerce Clause.
In the 1960s, the court decided that public accommodations could be desegregated--pursuant to the federal government's legitimate constitutional authority derived from the Commerce Clause.
So if someone like Michele Bachmann were to come along and ask the feds "Where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government can come into a state and desegregate a private hotel?"...the Court would answer: "It doesn't say that anywhere in the Constitution, specifically, but we infer that the feds do have the power to do that--pursuant to a Commerce Clause in the constitution that gives the feds the right to regulate commerce among states."
As you can see from the "civil rights/segregation argument I just gave there: the fed courts applied commerce clause argument in all kinds of real life situation, to justify federal action. For decades, the Commerce Clause rationale for federal authority was like Superman--if the fed courts found that you had a good Commerce Clause argument, you won.
That's why conservatives hate the Commerce Clause, and that's why Chief Justice Roberts wanted to make sure that if Obamacare was found constitutional...it wasn't because of the alleged powers of federal government under the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause series of decisions make the liberal state possible and constitutionally permissible...Roberts, a conservative, doesn't want that to be so and is trying to roll back the Commerce Clause authority of the liberal state...
...so he authorizes Obamacare as a legitimate tax, not as a legitimate exercise of fed law pursuant to the Constitution's Commerce Clause.
Ideally, the conservatives on the Supreme Court want to roll back the legitimacy of the liberal state. Today's decision gives Roberts the latitude to reject the authority for the liberal state (supposed liberal authority under the Commerce Clause) while at the same time categorizing Obamacare as a "tax"...
...which will have anti-Dem and liberal repercussions at election time. ("MY GOD, IT'S A TAX!")
First example... the following appeared on Fox News today. The speaker is Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming:
It is now clear that the president's law broke his promises not to raise taxes on the middle class.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote: "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."
See? The victory for Obama and the working people of America is also the election time gift from Chief Justice Roberts to the Republican Party.
And now conservatives vow repeal of health care for fifty million more Americans, they tell people "it's the end of freedom," and they charge corruption.
For example: Michele Bachmann's been persuading conservatives that waivers to Obamacare were being granted to employers in Nancy Pelosi's district on the basis of political favoritism.
In a post circulated on right wing blogs (including the nationally popular Red State blog) Bachmann stated the following:
Under Obamacare, an even playing field doesn't exist for businesses. And President Obama must have recognized that, because he ordered his Health and Human Services Secretary to provide waivers from the healthcare overhaul. Unions, universities and restaurants in Nancy Pelosi's district received waivers so that they didn't have to comply with the law.
First of all: the waivers to Obamacare aren't permanent exemptions from the law's requirements. They're temporary waivers, and they are granted to so that workers with "mini-med" coverage, a form of minimum health care coverage found in northern California and Pelosi's district and other places.
The point of granting temporary waivers to Obamacare (waivers that will expire in 2014) is not political favoritism or "corruption." The point of the temporary waivers is to make sure that working Americans doon't lose their existing health plan. (Apparently Bachmann and other conservatives don't care that these working Americans would lose their health care if the temporary waivers weren't granted.)
When the provisions of Obamacare kick in in 2014, the waivers will expire and employees will have the right to buy affordable health care coverage on health exchanges. They won't be at the mercy of coverage limits imposed by insurance agencies that have been imposed upon them. And that's really what Obamacare's about: temporary waivers aren't "corruption," they're there to insure that Americans who have health care don't lose it.
Second, the business owners who requested the waivers say that they were in no way connected to Pelosi." The requests were "part of an annual request for businesses throughout the country, not just in Pelosi's congressional district."
Here's the White House, on why the conservative charge of Obamacare "corruption" is BS:
Richard Sorian, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at HHS:
Under the Affordable Care Act, we have implemented new rules that phase out, by 2014, health insurance companies' ability to slap restrictive annual dollar limits on the amount they will pay for your care.
But between now and 2014, we also want to make sure workers are able to maintain their existing insurance, because on their own they would likely be shut out of the individual market or face unaffordable options.
To do that, the Affordable Care Act allows the Department of Health and Human Services to issue temporary waivers from the annual limit provision of the law if it would disrupt access to existing insurance arrangements or adversely affect premiums, causing people to lose coverage. So far, we have granted 1,372 of these waivers to employers, health plans, and others in all 50 states, covering less than 2 percent of the insurance market and protecting coverage for more than 3.1 million Americans.
We have been completely transparent about this process, announcing the waiver process in a regulation last summer, publishing clear guidance on the application process on our website, and posting alist of waivers we have granted on our website.
These temporary waivers will not be available beginning in 2014 when annual limits are banned and all Americans will have affordable coverage options. And millions of Americans - including many small business owners - will be able to shop for affordable coverage in new competitive marketplaces.
Incredibly, Bachmann and other conservatives are opposed to temporary waivers that keep millions from losing existing, private sector health care coverage.
It's more important to them to smear Obama and the Democrats with false claims about corruption and political favoritism--than it is to protect the existing health coverage of working Americans and their families.
The White House Blog on the temporary waivers:
Media Matters on conservative efforts to lie about the temporary waivers: