Voters will decide if they like paying what amounts to a new tax.
Now that the Supreme Court has given the green light, some governors seem eager to get Obamacare implemented. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, for example, says that not only will he push the legislature for quick action, he might even issue an executive order to get part of it done.
Some are more cautious. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, after calling President Obama’s health care law “dangerously misguided,” would say only that the next step would probably be up to the General Assembly. Don’t bother me about it, in other words.
And some governors seem downright hostile. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he is not going to phase in any part of the plan just now.
All things considered, we’d recommend something closer to Walker’s attitude than Quinn’s. The massive, complicated and expensive law has almost too many components to count, which are to be phased in over the next two years. But before that, there will be this tiny little event called a national election. Why get started on health care now if enough anti-Obamacare candidates (including GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney) get elected to repeal the law?
The fate of Obamacare is now exactly where it should be, in the hands of the American people. They will decide, by whom they vote for, whether they want this vehicle for health care reform to survive or perish. It had already become clear that this would be an election of stark choices for voters, vastly different visions of where the country should go. The addition of Obamacare to the mix just makes the contrast even sharper.
The Supreme Court did not make it easy for Obama to make his case. The individual mandate – the component that requires Americans to buy health insurance or face a fine – could not be justified by the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 5-4 majority last week. But it can be justified by the authority given Congress to tax.
Whoops! The administration had gone to great pains to say the mandate and the fines do not constitute a tax – because they it knew very well calling it a tax would kill the bill’s chances. Now here comes the Supreme Court to say it is, indeed a tax.
Constitutional scholars today are arguing whether the Obamacare ruling expands federal power even more or represents the beginning of a debate over limiting that power. Small-government conservatives are even beginning to be optimistic that it might be the latter. Most Americans don’t follow such debates closely. But they understand “new tax” when they hear it, and they will not like it.