Chief Justice John Roberts’ tie-breaking vote in favor of the individual mandate on the grounds that it’s an expression of the government’s powers to tax is proof that Americans can’t count on others to defend their liberty and must demand a repeal of Obamacare at the ballot-box in November, says an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
Roberts, a Republican, joined the court’s four liberals to uphold the key to the Affordable Care Act, the mandate to carry health insurance or face a penalty, which he argued was a "tax,’’ in a vote against the court’s four conservative justices.
Yet the court provided some consolation to the 26 largely Republican-led states by ruling the federal government couldn’t expel states from Medicaid if they declined to accept the expanded eligibility for the program for the poor and sick.
Obamacare is more unpopular now than when it was passed, and it’s a "great irony’’ that President Barack Obama in remarks Thursday avoided admitting that the purchase mandate was a "tax,’’ the Journal said. The bill would never have been passed if the Democrats had described it as a tax during the debate, it said.
The Obamacare penalty will now amount to the largest tax increase "in history’’ on the middle class, as individuals who don’t carry insurance will have to pony up "several hundred dollars,’’ the Journal argues.
The Congressional Budget Office says 76 percent of those who pay the mandate tax will make less than 500 percent of the federal poverty level of about $24,000 for a family of four. That means 76 percent of those paying the tax will make less than $120,000 a year, the Journal said. That throws out Obama’s campaign pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $200,000 a year.
And it soon will become clear the tax will need to be greater to finance the bill or compel individuals to buy insurance, the editorial says.
The law’s new rules are already taking effect, one reason private insurance rates rose by 9 percent last year, and will keep rising, the Journal says.
Meanwhile, the four justices who voted to strike down the individual mandate, write in a Journal op ed that case history shows a tax cannot be applied for violating the law, hence the mandate fine cannot be construed as a tax, but rather as a penalty.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who thought he could run solely on the weak economy, must now make repealing Obamacare his central plank, the Journal says in its editorial.
But Romney is at a disadvantage on the mandate tax because he supported a similar measure while governor of Massachusetts. But there are many other aspects of Obamacare he and his advisers can focus on – if "they have the wit and nerve," the Journal says.
Some mainly Republican-led states that were hoping to delay implementation of Obamacare now face the risk the federal government could take over some of their responsibilities, especially establishment of the healthcare exchanges, the New York Times reported.
Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin announced that in spite of the court ruling, we would continue to delay imposing the law to see whether Republicans gain control of the White House or Congress in November, the Times said.
“I am hopeful that political changes in Washington, D.C., later this year ultimately end the implementation of this law at the federal level,” said Walker.
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