The only legal peg on which Chief Justice Roberts was able to hang his hat in ruling Obamacare constitutional was a broad reading of the Taxing Clause. In order to do so, he had to deliberately misread the Obamacare law; had he not done so, the law would have been struck down as a violation of the Commerce Clause.
Nonetheless, the Obama administration insists that Obamacare isn’t a tax.
The latest Obama spokesperson to deny Roberts’ logic and essentially admit that Obamacare is unconstitutional is Jack Lew, the White House Chief of Staff. This morning, he appeared on CNN to explain:
First of all, the law is clear, it’s called a penalty. Second of all, what the Supreme Court ruled is that the law is constitutional. Actually, they didn’t call it a tax. They said it was using the power under the constitution that permits it. It was not labeled.
This is, simply put, a lie. Lew’s first two sentences are in direct conflict with one another. The law is clear – it’s called a penalty. But if the administration is going to stand by its original construction of the statute, they can’t then claim that the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional on their basis. The notion that the Supreme Court ruled the statute constitutional without any specific basis is simply false. Lew continued:
This is a penalty. It’s something that only 1 percent of people who can afford insurance and choose not to get it will pay. Everyone who has insurance, everyone who chooses to buy insurance will not pay it. What they’re going to get is security — they’re going to get lower premiums and better health care. That’s a good thing for the American people.
It’s also a lie that a tiny percentage of the population will pay the penalty. The fact is that under the new Obamacare regime, millions will opt for the penalty, simply because there’s no purpose to paying $1,500 per year for health insurance when you can pay a $750 penalty, wait to get sick, then jump on a federally-mandated health plan. And it’s also a lie that we’re all going to get lower premiums and better health care. Who’s going to pay for that? And how are we going to achieve that if the insurance companies are forced to bear the brunt of restrictions that force them to take those with pre-existing conditions, charge men and women equally, do away with coverage limits?
The key here is that the Obama administration is now caught between a rock and a hard place. They can either admit that this is an unconstitutional seizure of individual liberty (i.e. it’s a mandate) or they can admit that the statute is the single largest tax increase in world history. Neither position will be attractive to voters.