SCOTUS Exposes the ObamaCare Tax LieBy Perry Fisher
The United States Supreme Court reaffirmed the power of words and rhetoric. Take a bow, Progressives. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.
But beware the Pyrrhic victory, dear friends on the left -- the victory that cost too much. The Court has called you to account. This decision wraps and ribbons a gift to Republicans, the gift of a core issue that remains very unpopular with much of the voting public.
Lemons to lemonade, they say. This decision presents the opposition with a rallying cry. If intuition serves, the Supremes have re-irritated an already addled giant. Make hay when it shines, they say. Republicans can now, more than before, in unison, call for the repeal of the Mandate Tax on the grounds that it was sold as not a tax. It was sold as a bill of goods.
It was bait-and-switch, and the power-holders knew it all along. They knew all along that they had authority to mandate as a tax, but they also knew they couldn't call it a tax for getting re-elected reasons.
Which goes to account for the stunned progressive reaction to the challenge in the first place. How dare anyone question their authority?! But the Court today makes them look cowardly, for having the lust for their convictions but not the courage of them.
This interpretation shows the Court remonstrating Democrats, saying, "You passed a tax, by God -- now you call it a tax."
The number-one national issue in the 2012 presidential election is economic, but as a cultural question, the scope, limits, and trustworthiness of government looms large and ominous to those who perpetrated the fraud of duplicity: disguising a wolfish tax in the sheep's clothing of moral imperative, just long enough to pass it. It's at least as unwise to scam voters as it is not nice to fool Mother Nature. "Repeal The Mandate Tax" has an appealing ring to it, in a bumper-sticker kind of way.
In effect, at first sight, the Court called a spade a spade. Essays and op-eds throughout the prologue to the courtroom drama in March advanced the idea that if Congress had mustered the courage to pass the mandate as the tax it is, it would have been well within its right to tax the people. But Congress didn't do that. They manipulated the language, and thereby the people, playing us for fools.
Upholding ACA as a tax bill steers the Court clear of the Commerce Clause. Of course, it would have been easier on conservatives for the Court to reject the mandate as well as the rest of ACA in the bargain, on Tenth Amendment grounds. But government of, by, and for the people isn't easy.
The Supremes have handed the issue up to the people to decide.
So ObamaCare is as legal as any other tax bill. Good enough. But now we can ask aloud, from now through Election Day, "Who said it wasn't a tax?" And, "Wasn't it the same people who said it was a tax after they passed it?" Accountability time is here.
This in no way makes a Romney/Republican tsunami inevitable. But properly presented, without vitriol, without hyperbole, it simply poses the question: "How can we trust them again?"
That question could followed up with the request to "give us a Congress for two years, and the White House for four. If we don't do what we say, vote us out." And then if they do not over-promise or get suckered into too-rosy scenarios, Romney and the right can create a very reasonable argument, one fueled by the pique of being played the chump, the dupe, the pigeon, the idiot, Joe Six-Pack.
In fact, two arguments suggest themselves. The one about the mandate tax as intrusive. The other to voters who resent being conned as a matter of principle. Those, added to the other voters, who took a kind of patriotic offense at the bulldozing methods used to enact ObamaCare in the first place.
Many voters, those of us even vaguely familiar with how a bill is supposed to become law in the United States, watched aghast the spectacle and felt the gnaw of nausea at the middle-of-the-night passage of an unread 2,700-page testament to cronyism and corruption, one that cheapens the ideals that champion our republic, while it mocks the very core of who we are as a culture.
"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," said the speaker of the House of Representatives. Now we know what's in it. It's a tax.
The Supremes have spoken. Now it's the people's turn.
Don't blow it, Republicans. Don't vilify. Don't provoke hatred. Keep calm. Use humor. Unite in the effort to help the American voters find their voice and declare that the American people have standards, one of which is to be told the truth by our leaders who hold a trust. And that the American government serves the American culture, not the other way around. And that America works best when it recognizes that there are limits, both to our tolerance of arrogant power-grabs and to our practical ability to help others.
A wider-perspective view of yesterday's decision demonstrates the power of the written word, which seems parenthetically ironic in a STEM world -- one that promotes science, technology, engineering, and math over the value of learning the stories of our heritage, our history, our culture, our language. We ignore the value of a liberal education at our own peril. But ignorance works to the manipulator's advantage, as they hold us in contempt for our credulousness.
The Supremes don't ignore heritage or history; they consciously operate within it. Within place, a narrative, where one act leads to the next and the next; one where responsible people are held accountable for both the letter and the spirit of their acts. They are holding slick wordmeisters and crony congressmen accountable for their abuse of language. And the Court says to us, "If you're pissed enough, do something about it. Not many people in the world have that power. Ask the Syrians."
This rises well above partisan politics. This is about the American culture, about who we are. Let's find out.
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