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Supporters of the Obama health law are incorrectly reading the Supreme Court’s ruling as a victory.
First, the ruling severely limited the Obama health law’s Medicaid expansion, effectively giving states the green light to refuse to expand their Medicaid programs. Coupled with the fact that the statute already enables states to block the other half-trillion dollars of new entitlement spending, the law is in a very precarious position.
Second, the Court ruled 5-4 that the individual mandate is not a legitimate use of the Commerce Power. That, too, is a defeat for the government, even if it is of no immediate consequence.
Third, while the Court upheld the individual mandate as a tax, that ruling may be vulnerable to legal challenge.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “The Federal Government ‘is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers,’” and, “The Constitution’s express conferral of some powersmakes clear that it does not grant others.” So it is interesting that Roberts did not specify exactly what type of constitutionally authorized tax the mandate is.