The decision by the US Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act mandate as a tax was a stunning surprise to many. Probably no one was more surprised that President Obama. He has seemed apprehensive that his signature legislative accomplishment was about to be thrown out.
What was also surprising was that the swing vote in the 5-4 decision was Chief Justice John Roberts. Most speculation had focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy. And equally surprising was the realization that Roberts could have taken then entire health care act down 5-4 had he sided with the conservatives who, in their dissents, said flatly that the mandate was unconstitutional and the rest of the act had to fall with it as an unconstitutionally broad overreach in the commerce clause.
But why did Chief Justice Roberts side with the President in this case?
And did the Chief Justice just pin the target on the President’s chest instead of having it pinned to his own back?
The beauty of this decision is the ruthless efficiency with which the Chief Justice has made the Affordable Care Act the central political issues in the November 2012 election instead of taking the burden on the back of the Court for undermining the President and Congress. The decision protects the Supreme Court from being dragged into the political debate over the wisdom of the law while forcing the proponents of the law to defend it all over again in the court of public opinion.
The decision of the Chief Justice seems to follow the advice from two of the three Appeals Court decisions that were taken on review.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and the D.C. circuit Court of Appeals said in their decisions that while the law is intrusive it is within Congress’s power to enact. The Washington Post quoted from the opinion of Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, a Ronald Reagan appointee, who said:
“It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family.”
In deciding the case by upholding the law as a tax and limiting Congress’ power under the commerce clause, Chief Justice Roberts has sidestepped the political debate that will rage and fixed the accountability for the political wisdom of the act where it belongs—on the President and Congress.
- Politico Warns Chief Justice Roberts (rushlimbaugh.com)
- The Supreme Court’s unusual moment in the spotlight (theneteconomy.wordpress.com)
- The Real Affordable Care Act Battle: Constitutionalists vs. Confederates (theatlantic.com)
- Did Justice Roberts Trade Votes with Justice Kennedy? (americanthinker.com)
- Senator Leahy Threatens Justice Roberts In Advance of the Obamacare Decision (independentsentinel.com)
- Supreme Court decision on polarizing health care law looms (cnn.com)
- A Look Back at Court’s Arguments on Health Care, Laugh Count Included (nytimes.com)
The phrase made famous by Bill Clinton’s political campaign has a habit of creeping back into the conversation. It happened again when the former President made two statements to the press that appeared to undermine the sitting President. Clinton first said that he thought the US was now back in recession given the falling economic data. And then to add injury to the insult, they said he thought the ‘Bush era tax cuts’ should all be extended ‘for a little while’.
The views are contrary to President Obama’s so they seem almost deliberately off-message if the goal is to help the president in his struggle to be re-elected. Yet, just as the phrase rang true in the 1992 campaign against George Bush the elder, they have the added advantage of being the truth twenty years later in this 2012 campaign.
To be fair to the President’s lament too often repeated—-‘we inherited this mess’ we will all concede that digging out of the hole created by the great recession has not been easy. But the President’s policies and the hard left partisan way he won them and is implementing them have not helped make things better faster. So now he is being tormented and the gum of a gummed up economy is sticking to his shoes.
There are many ironies in this evolution of events:
- How’s that Hopey Changey Thing Working out? The President we voted for in 2008 because as historic a figure as he was, we also wanted to believe badly in the ‘Hope and Change’ he championed. It was the right message at the right time from the right person. But after the election hope and change turned into a nasty ‘I won’ persona that was NOT what we voted for.
- The World Still Wants the US to Lead. The world’s leaders may not have liked George W Bush but they did not doubt his resolve. Four years later America’s resolve seems in retreat conveniently responding to our war weariness. But we have watched this movie before and it didn’t turn out well. A weaker America makes for a more dangerous world where the bad boys in every neighborhood take advantage of the vacuum to occupy the turf. The same is true in global economics, a weak America can lead to pneumonia elsewhere. It is tough to lead from the bottom of the debt hole we have dug for ourselves, but lead we must especially if first Europe, now China and maybe America is slipping back into recession.
- We Still Want Hope and Change! Having put away his hope and change super-cape, it is tough for the president to argue now he had it on all the time. We are not THAT stupid. So while we once believed, and we still want to believe—-we no longer truly believe that the guy who brought us to the hope and change dance will dance with us if we renew his lease for another four years. The President has squandered his best opportunity.
And then there is this irony.
George W. Bush whom the president has spent the last four years blaming and vilifying has kept his mouth shut and taken the President’s abuse true to his word not to speak ill of his successor. Meanwhile the former President of the president’s own party appears by his side, expresses support for him even while periodically stabbing him in the back with his statements to remind him who the big dog in the Democrat party is.
- Where’s George W Bush? How a two-term president became the quiet man of US politics (telegraph.co.uk)
How is it that the New York Times is able to write elaborately detailed stories about the cyber-attacks on Iran from Stuxnet and Olympic Games, the code names for the computer viruses allegedly used to infect Iran’s nuclear enrichment program? The NYT even is able to produce a graphic that shows the detailed business process used to produce these virus attacks.
We’ve also been treated to detailed information about drone strikes on terrorists, on the campaign for targeting specific people, and even the president’s fingerprints on the “kill list”.
The answer to the question seems both obvious and disgusting.
The information is apparently being deliberately fed to favored reporters in order to bolster the President’s ‘war on terror’ credential in national defense. That seems to be the logical conclusion of analysts and journalists either amazed or drooling over the prospects that they would be leaked information for the next juicy story. There seems to be very little attempt by “administration officials” to hide what they are doing.
I thought national defense and security intelligence was supposed to be secret. Why would we tell Iran these things? Is this some giant ‘head fake’ to persuade Iran to give up their program and cut a deal before the worms start taking aim at other stuff in the Islamic Republic? Is this a reminder that Iran cannot procrastinate forever, that there are consequences short of air strikes, that there really isn’t that much distance between Israel and the US?
Is this a trial balloon to judge public reaction to war played by alternative means than sending in the Marines? Because cyber-attacks are, in fact, an act of war, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said so himself recently when discussing the issue of Chinese espionage.
If the president thinks that he is going to get ‘macho man’ credit for spamming Iran with computer viruses to make their centrifuges spin out of control, or deliberating targeting the terrorists of the world to demonstrate that there is no place the hide from American justice and self-defense—he will.
Until we realize that he put at risk the very successful tactics, intel and people in America’s defense forces by leaking it to the press for partisan political purposes without regard to the collateral damage it might do. And worse, the President risks an even more precipitous loss of public confidence as we realize his actions undermine the nation security he is sworn to uphold.
- Government role in Stuxnet could increase attacks against US firms – Computerworld (computerworld.com)
- Cyber-battles raise fears of cyber-blowback (msnbc.msn.com)
- Stuxnet x20: Massive cyber spy virus ‘Flame’ hits Iran, Israel (rt.com)
- Risks of boomerangs a reality in world of cyberwar – San Jose Mercury News (mercurynews.com)
- Obama order set off wave of cyberattacks against Iran (mysanantonio.com)
- You: Obama ‘sped up cyber-attacks’ on Iran’s nuclear programme (guardian.co.uk)
- Loose lips and the Obama national security ship (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- US ordered Stuxnet cyberattack against Iran before its ‘escape,’ says NYT (theverge.com)
- U.S. created Stuxnet worm to wage “cyber war” against Iran on Obama’s orders – paper (panarmenian.net)