You may have seen the graph that shows the parallels between what is referred to as “Obamacare” and “Romneycare.” It has been making the rounds of Facebook of late.
The irony is, of course, that Mitt Romney as Republican candidate for President will be forced to argue against the very plan he supported while Governor of Massachusetts. This is only one of at least two ironies that have come on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision supporting the Affordable Care Act. The other has to do with the fact that Barack Obama, while Senator from Illinois, stood on the Senate floor and spoke against John Robert’s nomination for the Supreme Court, pointing out that Roberts was on record questioning “whether the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce.” That is to say, the so-called “commerce clause,” has been employed in the past to push forward legislation on the grounds that these laws involve more than one state and were therefore under the purview of the national government. This has been the grounds for many fundamental socially progressive acts of legislation in the past and has proven to be a way around the objections of “states’ rights” advocates who are still fighting the Civil War.
The recent decision on the Affordable Care Act was based, as I said in a recent blog, on the grounds that the law was allowable as a form of tax, thereby rejecting the government’s plea that it be allowed on the grounds of the familiar commerce clause. The irony was that it was John Roberts who substituted the rationale in his vote supporting the law and made the government’s case for the Affordable Care Act himself. Thus, the man whom Obama opposed on the Senate floor handed the sitting President his greatest triumph so far in his first term as President.
But, as I also mentioned in the previous blog, the victory may have been merely Pyrrhic since this Court’s decision to reject the commerce clause rationale will almost certainly handcuff the Congress in the future and make it far less effective in pushing through regulatory legislation — thereby simultaneously giving the Court itself extraordinary legislative power. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the future. In the meantime, we can be pleased that more Americans will have affordable health care while at the same time we keep a wary eye on the future machinations of the Supreme Court.
[Update 7/6/2012: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, , a possible candidate for Vice President and one who has sworn not to uphold the Affordable Care Act, recently said the following in ragging on the plan: “There’s only one candidate — Gov. Romney — who’s committed that he will repeal the Obamney — the Obamacare tax increase,” Jindal said. “He will repeal Obamacare as soon as he’s elected.” “Obamney Care.” Indeed. Is there any doubt?? Freud would have delighted at the slip of the tongue!]