In ruling ObamaCare constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed President Obama a major victory. After months of bad news on the economy that has essentially turned his effort to gain re-election into a dead heat, this is a huge boost for his administration. But the grounds on which it has been validated is a poison pill that may come back to haunt him. The president and the Democrats claimed the expansion of government power was permitted by the Commerce Clause, but it survives only as a tax, something the president denied back in 2010 when he and the then Democrat-controlled Congress passed it.
Conservative legal scholars may console themselves about the fact that a Court majority placed some limits on the way the Commerce Clause could be interpreted. But the majority’s approval for it on the grounds the government’s power to tax citizens is virtually unlimited is actually a far graver blow to individual liberty than had it said the individual mandate was permitted under the power to regulate interstate commerce. The ruling has made plain what many said when the legislation was passed: ObamaCare is the biggest tax increase in history, and far from being limited to the wealthy, it applies to everyone across the board. As much as this is a victory for the president, it hands Republicans an issue with which they can flay him until November. The Tea Party movement is now routinely dismissed as yesterday’s news, but the Court may have just brought it back from the dead.