By Dave Lindorff
Looking on the bright side, the Supreme Court has ruled that something that President Obama has done is definitively not unconstitutional.
That's probably the best that can be said of the 5-4 decision by the High Court today in upholding the ironically named Affordable Health Care Act.
On the downside for Obama, he goes into the final four months of the election campaign saddled with a decision that says he has raised taxes on some of the nation's poorest people -- for that is what the court said will be happening, 18 months from now, when the health insurance mandate part of the new Act takes effect, and people who have no employer-provided health plan, and no other kind of coverage, fail to buy a policy for themselves and their families. They will be socked with a bill by the IRS, and while the Obama administration and supporters of the act in Congress were at pains to say that the payment such people would be hit with would be a fine, the Justices in the majority were adamant that it would be a tax.
Also taking a hit were Republicans, who universally oppose what they have been deprecatingly calling "Obamacare." Republicans, including their presidential candidate- in-waiting Mitt Romney, have vowed to eliminate the act after the November election if they win, though unless they do surprisingly well in the Senate and come up with close to a 60-40 majority -- very unlikely -- they will in truth be unable to do that.
Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts launched a state health plan that included an insurance mandate with a fine for not having insurance, which was clearly the model for the federal law, is in the awkward position of another Massachusetts presidential contender, John Kerry, who went down to defeat in part because he voted for an $87-billion bill funding the Iraq War and then voted against it, leaving him lamely explaining to reporters that "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Now Mitt Romney will have to be saying, for the next four months, that "I was for an insurance mandate before I was against it."
Not an enviable position to be in as a candidate.
The real losers in the latest Supreme Court decision, however, are the people of the United States. Not those who will be required to go out and buy some over-priced, minimal coverage, rip-off insurance plan offered by the private insurance industry, or to pay a "tax" to the IRS for not doing so, but everyone...
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF, the author of "Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains" (Bantam, 1992), in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1217