Walking the Healthcare “Tax” Tightrope

By Michael Baker

A new LA Times piece highlights the precarious position that the Administration now finds itself in.  The Affordable Care Act survived only because the Court’s majority considers it a tax.  O & Co. had previously avoided the label of taxation for the insurance mandate, but Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion made it clear: if the mandate were not a tax, it would be an unconstitutionally excessive regulation of commerce.

So what road does the Prez take now that the Act has been declared constitutional solely because it can be categorized as a tax?  Concede that the mandate is a new tax, or assume the awkward position that it’s a regulation of commerce – something that the Justices unanimously agree is unconstitutional?  Definitely caught between a rock and hard place, Obama’s lucky that most Americans probably don’t care.  Most are content to love or hate the Act and the Court’s ruling on purely political grounds that ignore the substance of the opinion.

Of course, Obamacare was based on the Massachusetts healthcare law, which then-governor Romney emphatically stated was not a tax, so the Republican candidate would also prefer that we all forget that this could be called a tax increase.  Finally, something we can all agree to shut up about.