I will say I’m surprised at two things. First off, Roberts voted to uphold the law in its entirety, but Kennedy dissented. I would have thought it either was going to be a 6 – 3 vote with both of them upholding it, or a 5 – 4 vote with Kennedy upholding it and Roberts dissenting. I’m pleased I was wrong about that.
Second, I’m surprised that the arguments using the commerce clause were rejected, but instead the law was upheld on the basis of Congress’ right to tax. I think that’s a sound way of viewing it, I’m just surprised.
This represents a real, solid victory for Obama and for the people of this country, even those who bitch and whine about how socialist this is (because, you know, a major hallmark of socialism is forcing people to participate in capitalism). Knowing that you can get insurance if you’re already sick, or have a chronic illness like diabetes, is a great benefit.
And, of course, it’s a great political victory. It means that Obama now has something he can use to really beat hard on the GOP this fall. He can now say, correctly, that if you vote for Romney, you’re voting to allow insurance companies to go back to the way they were doing business before 2009. If the Democrats can frame the debate correctly, they’ll put the Republicans into a place where they have to say that insurance companies should be allowed to remove people from their plans for pre-existing conditions, charge them huge copayments, reimpose lifetime and yearly caps, etc, etc. Done right this will be an effective weapon that can get the base out to vote and that can help sway independents.
But as I said, the real victory here is for the American people. I won’t pretend that Obamacare is everything I’d like it to be (it’s basically a multi-trillion dollar blowjob to the insurance industry), but it’s better than what we had before, and with time, it will get even better still.