Friday, December 9th, 2016

Thoughts on today’s ruling by the Supreme Court on Obamacare

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Nancy Pelosi was right. We would have to pass Obamacare to know what was in it. Despite the repeated denials of President Obama, members of his administration, and various other Democrats, the individual mandate is a tax. Now we know.

It’s often hard to measure the impacts of various acts in Washington upon us personally. Usually the effects are at the margins and we’re slow to perceive them. The decision today by Chief Justice John Roberts to uphold the constitionality of Obamacare under the federal government’s taxing authority will have effects far more profound and obvious.

I’m reminded of the small businessman, a local lawyer with a small practice, who told me at the time of Obamacare’s passage that it was very likely that he would drop health coverage for his staff altogether. He said his staff would be left to fend for themselves, whether it’s through Medicaid or some other program. It would be too expensive not to make that decision, he said, and he warned his staff at the time.

I think of my own situation as someone who not only works for a living but maintains a small business, contract freelance writing, on the side. I may have to consult an accountant to see if either of my sources of income will do more harm than good for the Wigderson family.

Now that my health is a matter of communal concern, will a federal panel convene to determine if the salad I ate today is enough to justify a liver transplant tomorrow? Will congress decide if I can be allowed a Snickers bar? Will the local common council decide on the size of soda I’m allowed? (Oops, already there.) Will the First Lady decide if I can have ice cream or a cigarette?

Will we be taxed, mandated, by some future congress, or even some federal agency, to engage in supervised morning exercises?

‘Smith!’ screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. ‘6079 Smith W.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! THAT’S better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.’

A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston’s body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment! A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while the instructress raised her arms above her head and — one could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency — bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers under her toes.

‘THERE, comrades! THAT’S how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I’m thirty-nine and I’ve had four children. Now look.’ She bent over again. ‘You see MY knees aren’t bent. You can all do it if you want to,’ she added as she straightened herself up. ‘Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching his toes. We don’t all have the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what THEY have to put up with. Now try again. That’s better, comrade, that’s MUCH better,’ she added encouragingly as Winston, with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with knees unbent, for the first time in several years.

Those were the chilling words of George Orwell describing the future of English Socialism (IngSoc) in a totalitarian state where the concept of the individual would be crushed.

Of course, we’re not there yet. Yet. We know from polling the unpopularity of Obamacare. We know that had Obamacare been advertised as a massive tax increase on the middle class it would never have passed. We know that provisions of Obamacare are an offense to religious freedom. We know that despite promises at the time of Obamacare’s passage it’s a program that publicly funds abortion.

What may seem like a victory today for the Obama Administration may well be sowing the seeds of defeat for tomorrow. Former Governor Mitt Romney now can tie the Obamacare plan to the economy – the taxes, regulations and new government spending that will hurt the economy, limiting growth (if not send us back into a recession) and strangling the private sector.

We also know that because the mandate is considered a tax that it will only take 51 votes in the Senate, along with the majority in the House and the assent of a President Romney, to repeal much of this law. That’s not much to ask of the public.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in his decision that it was not up to the courts to save the public from bad policy, that it was up to the public to save itself. Perhaps he was right.

Roberts’ decision may be remembered along with the Dred Scott decision as a moment when the Supreme Court’s actions spurred a nascent political movement to transform the country. From the abolitionists and the birth of the Republican Party to the Tea Party and the rebirth of the Republican Party, the cry is for “Liberty!” and it must start this November.

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