Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Thoughts on the SCOTUS ACA ruling

Before it became too late to do so, I wanted to post some brief comments about the SCOTUS decision on the ACA. I wrote much of this down the day of the ruling, but realize by now many of these thoughts have been conveyed on other blogs. Oh well, so be it.

  • You knew Roberts' "penalty = tax" semantics would be a gift to the right-wingers, and it didn't take long for them to respond in kind.

    However, it should be very easy for the Dems to knock down this attack (but then again, nothing ever seems easy for the Dems!). For one, they can turn around and say that if Obamacare increases taxes, then Romneycare did the same in MA. Secondly, when The Heritage Foundation and Republicans designed and supported this same health-care mandate from 1993 to 2009, they actually designed and supported a tax increase. Those two points alone are enough to completely negate this word-play issue.

    But ThinkProgress also reminds that whereas the ACA penalty/tax amounts to near $700 per affected household, the payroll tax extension Republicans were against late last year would've amounted to a cost of $1500 on average, or more than twice the ACA penalty figure. As per usual, Republicans are hypocritical and inconsistent, in this case arguing against a tax that costs half as much as the tax increase they were for late last year. And mind you, the payroll tax affects many more people than the ACA penalty.

  • The SCOTUS dissent wanted to strike down the entire ACA law, a very radical decision in light of past precedent. As it is three prominent legal conservatives (Silberman, Sutton and Fried) found nothing unconstitutional about the ACA. Going further, striking down the entire ACA law would've resulted in chaos in this country as many elements and components of the law are already fully functioning within our current health care system.

    Roberts knew all of this and along with his concern for how the Court would appear on the heels of GW vs. Gore and Citizens United, I believe he stepped in and uncharacteristically became a liberal, countering the dissent.

    But more so, when reading the dissent, it does make clear just how radical and extreme the right-wing contingent of the Court is and can be. They have no problem with handing down rulings sans of any past precedent -- in so doing, behaving in the activist manner that conservatives have repeatedly accused of liberal Justices. In effect, the Scalia wing offer up opinions about how they wish for the country to go, as opposed to what the Constitution would dictate.

    Get ready, for despite this save by Roberts, over the next 10+ years this Court is likely to reshape the country much more so than the gridlocked executive and legislative branches.

  • It may be true that Roberts purposefully threw the right-wing a bone by redefining the penalty as a tax, but the fact is by him doing so actually saved the ACA. Calling it a tax allowed for it to be constitutional as per the Court and thus upheld. In the end, Roberts' semantics saved the ACA from being struck down by Scalia et al. Also, it was encouraging to learn that Roberts will only go so far with the other right-wing Justices when it comes to radical rulings. A small victory, one not likely to be repeated anytime soon, but you take what you can get from this crew.

  • Regarding messaging, when polled, the ACA tends to lose because the GOP is very effective at demonizing words and phrases -- in this case, turning "Obamacare" into something perceived to be very bad. However, when individuals are polled on the actual details and policy of the ACA, people generally tend to love what they hear. The real message? Democrats are nowhere near as good as Republicans when it comes to conveying concise, effective word associations. For "Obamacare" to become more popular, this sad fact needs to change.
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