Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Now that the dust has settled over the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) its time to discern where we stand and also ask how did reliably conservative justice John Roberts side with the consistently liberal wing of the court?  Roberts rejected the Obama administration’s interstate commerce arguement  but said instead it was still OK because it was a tax.  Under Article I Section 8 of the Constiitution, Congress has the power to tax (and Congress has perfected this art). Even though President Obama denied this in 2009, most knew it was  a tax all along. (This is another thing some politicians have perfected: calling a plan one thing, when it really means something else). So why did Roberts and four of his colleagues uphold the law? In a word: pragmatism. Health Insurance spending is out of control (the average family of four spends around $14,000/year on health insurance), premiums continue to skyrocket, and many Americans are left without coverage. 

In the short-term, it may seem like a fix, but in the long term federal government involvement with health care costs is unsustainable. Do you really think that an entity with $15 trillion in debt is going to somehow learn how to become an efficiency expert when it comes to health insurance? Of course, it can limit treatment and expenditures to save costs, but is this what the American people bargained for? The ACA ruling is just another line-in-the-sand fight over federal government control. It’s a line that keeps moving toward larger government and less personal freedom. The government can forcefully dip into your wallet and make you contribute to a retirment plan (its called social security). It can make you pay for health insurance when you retire (Medicare). And it can now penalize you if you do not carry health insurance (Obamacare). In light of the first two federal obligations and their massive and unfunded future obligations, why should we expect the third to succeed?

Expect this ruling to provide campaign fodder for conservatives this election season. If they win and it’s rescinded, chalk it up as a victory. However, if they win and ACA stays in place, it leaves you wondering who really won this fight?