Chief Justice John Roberts' crucial swing vote Thursday saved President Obama's signature piece of legislation mandated health care but the president and other Democrats should not be doing victory laps.
Many conservative pundits are saying that although Democrats won the battle in the Supreme Court, the 5-4 decision could very well propel Republicans to a bigger victory in November.
In his opinion that rescued Obamacare, Justice Roberts supplied Republicans with some strong ammunition for the fall election. The chief justice defined Obamacare as a tax, stating that Congress has the authority to "lay and collect taxes." This is a label which Democrats certainly do not want to be associated with in an election year but one which Republicans will eagerly play up until the November voting.
When Obama first introduced his massive health care bill, he vigorously maintained that it would require no tax hike from middle class Americans. In fact, he said taxes could actually be reduced. Count on Republicans to use Obama's words against him in a "read my lips" campaign video.
Ken Hoagland, chairman of Restore America's Voice Foundation, said "the Court threaded a Constitutional needle in redefining the individual mandate as a federal tax."
Along with better defining the election, the Supreme Court decision also unifies and ignites the Republican base. One of the first reaction statements we heard after the ruling came from Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who said the court "just woke up a sleeping giant." That original quote has been attributed (at least in films) to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after his attack on Pearl Harbor, which galvanized Americans to enter World War II and eventually led to the defeat of the Axis powers.
A large portion of the current "sleeping giant" is the Tea Party movement which showed its teeth in the 2010 midterm elections by unseating a host of liberal Democrats. Many of the grass roots patriots, who support smaller government, balancing the budget and individual liberties, were re-energized by Thursday's court ruling.
"Since its passage, ObamaCare has gone from serious to critical condition," said Teri Adams, President of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association. "This November we will hold accountable, at the ballot box, those politicians responsible for ignoring the majority of Americans who opposed ObamaCare and rammed ObamaCare down our collective throats."
Leo Knepper, executive director of the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization founded to raise the standard of living of all Pennsylvanians by restoring limited government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility, agrees that the court's decision represents the largest middle-class tax hike in history and the issue can galvanize Republicans.
"CAP believes that it will energize voters to elect candidates in November who are willing to fight for economic liberty, constitutionally limited government and federalist principles," he said.
Yaron Brook, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, said supporters of bigger government should think twice before celebrating the court decision.
"For those of us who believe that the Founding Fathers would have never stood for bringing medicine under the thumb of bureaucrats, the fight to limit government continues," Brook said. "Today will serve only to re-energize us."
With much of the nation now in the grips of a heat wave, we can expect some relief from our weather in the days ahead. With the presidential campaign season now in high gear, the political heat will also be scorching, fueled in large part by Thursday's Obamacare ruling, but we expect this pattern to continue right up until election day.
By Jim Zbick