A Republic, If You Can Keep It
by TOM MCLAUGHLIN
July 9, 2012
So it's a tax law, huh? If it were a law forcing people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, it wouldn't be constitutional, but if it's a tax law, it is constitutional. But Obamacare didn't pass as a tax bill. Democrats in Congress who passed it (not a single Republican voted for it) insisted it wasn't a tax bill. It was signed by a Democrat president who insisted it wasn't a tax bill. It never would have passed if it were a tax bill, so they didn't call it that. Rather, they called it "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," though few call it that anymore. Everyone calls it Obamacare.
So the Roberts Court should have declared it unconstitutional and sent it back to the Congress, right? But they didn't do that. Instead, Roberts re-wrote Obamacare as a tax law and declared it constitutional! He did this with the four liberal justices who just wanted to move it along no matter how that was achieved. Even Justice Flipflopper - I mean Kennedy - was flabbergasted. Talk about legislating from the bench! Even my middle-school civics students knew it's the Congress that writes laws, not the Supreme Court.
And now government can tax us for what we don't do? How is that possible? To tax our income, they had to pass the 16th Amendment back in 1913. Why isn't the amendment process required this time?
Two more problems: the Constitution requires that tax bills originate in the House of Representatives, and it doesn't give the Supreme Court power to write law or re-write law. Obamacare originated in the Senate, then was re-written in the Supreme Court.
Article I empowers a legislative branch to write law. Article II empowers an executive branch to carry out the legislation. Article III empowers a judicial branch to ensure the Constitution is adhered to. Roberts overstepped. He's not empowered to rewrite legislation. So, is the United States a constitutional republic or isn't it? Are we governed under the rule of law or aren't we?
There are reports from both left and right that Roberts switched his vote at the last because he was worried about what media and Democrat criticism would do to the image of his court and to his legacy. If those reports are true, we're screwed. We have a chief justice whose decisions are not based on the Constitution. For as long as he is the fifth vote on vital constitutional issues, we will not be a constitutional republic. If government can do this, is there anything they cannot do?
Shrewd Democrats structured this penalty bill, I mean tax bill, I mean "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" so as to give people benefits first and penalties/taxes years later - so that makes it difficult to repeal. When has government ever taken away an entitlement? I cannot point to a single instance in our history, and I can see what's happening in Europe when "austerity" measures are proposed which would cut entitlements there। No wonder politicians fear this, but that doesn't stop them from promising more and more entitlements like Obamacare which they know we cannot afford to deliver for very long before we go bankrupt. Stockton, California just went belly-up and it looks like the whole state will soon follow. Then other states. Then . . . who knows?
It may be that in the wake of what Roberts did, the Tea Party will reinvigorate voters and elect a Republican Senate, a Republican president, and retain a Republican House. If all that happens, they may introduce a repeal. It's a long shot that it'll go all the way through the process though. It's more likely that government takeover of health care will continue.
And what would that look like? I have a pretty good idea. A few years ago, I was stopped every morning for ten days by a woman with one of those turn-around, stop/slow signs on Route 5 here in Lovell. I'd wait in a line of cars until she turned the sign. Then I'd proceed slowly past several orange, state trucks and a dozen or so men standing around talking while one of them occasionally operated a machine that was cleaning out the drainage ditch beside the highway. During two of those days, I watched a small, private, local business paving a driveway while I waited. It was a frenzy of activity as a few of my former students laid, graded, and packed a gravel base the first day - then put down a layer of pavement the second day. It looked great and it still does. The state government crew took almost two weeks on a job that should have taken a day - with half the "workers" and equipment.What's going to happen to our small, private hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, etc. when the federal government takes them over? You already know, don't you? Longer delays, increased costs, and poorer service. "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"? Talk about a misnomer.
Emerging from the Constitutional Convention back in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government the Founding Fathers created. His reply was: "A republic, if you can keep it."
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin is a (now retired) history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam. Email him at email@example.com.