Just got off a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference call with Chuck DeVore and Arlene Wohlgemuth on the effects of the Supreme Court ObamaCare decision. Just in case you hadn’t read anything on the Internet today, that ruling was 5-4 affirming ObamaCare as constitutional, majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, not on Commerce Clause grounds, but on congress’ ability to tax:
The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part. The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.
Here some no-doubt random bits of information I gleaned from the conference call:
Of all the possible scenarios experts looked at in a possible ObamaCare ruling, this wasn’t one of them.
All the cost drivers and massive increase in bureaucracy is still there.
Texas was already looking at a $5 billion Medicaid shortfall for the next biennium; ObamaCare will likely make that a $15 shortfall.
No one knows if Texas will undertake Medicaid expansion or not.
ObamaCare was a consequence of Republican losses in 2006 and 2008, and a cause of Republican victories in 2010.
As a tax, ObamaCare can be repealed with 51 Senate votes (no filibuster).
Roberts’ decision “built a fence” around the Commerce Clause, possibly preventing further expansion of federal powers under that guise. (This has lead to some observers to suggest that Roberts is playing the “long game” of constraining the growth of the federal government.)
The court did invalidate (7-2) Medicare/Medicaid penalties for non-compliance, in that states cannot be “dragooned” into post-facto changes with the threat of withdrawn funding for established programs. DeVore: “This is a victory for the 10th Amendment and Federalism.”
That change might offer challenges to a whole lot of legislation.
The politicized way in which the Obama Administration has granted waivers to the politically connected might also offer avenues for equal protection challenges.
This TPPF policycast also covers some of the same topics discussed on the conference call.
So: That’s my brief recap of the conference call. I’m still digesting the ruling itself, and reactions to the ruling. I might be doing that for some time…