Obamacare Ruling Has Tied Democrats in Rhetorical Knots

Judge Vinson just placed himself in the upper echelons of liberal’s shit list. Apparently liberal ideologues just can’t imagine that anyone could find a flaw in their greatest of achievements – Obamacare.

“There’s something thoroughly odd and unconventional about the analysis,” said one White House official. Really? The best critique you can come up with is “odd” and “unconventional”? This guy is clearly a legal scholar. I mean c’mon. Attack the precedent its based on, go after the logic used, argue that its interpretation of the Commerce Clause is way off, but if all you can say is essentially that it is weird, do me a favor and shut your yap. All that tells me is that you really, really, really want to find something wrong with the opinion, but can’t think of one darn thing that you is worthy of criticism.

Sadly, calling it “odd and unconventional” seems to be the best liberals could muster. Ezra Klein decided to compare it to Bush v. Gore for the simple, if idiotic, reason that it’s another case that liberals hate. Jonathan Cohn went on a search for clues to some sort of conspiracy theory and came up with a veiled reference to Tea Party groups. Look, look, it’s right there on page 42! Judge Vinson was trying to make the point that it seems ridiculous our founders would rebel against a tax on tea if they were then going to create a government that could mandate its purchase. Cohn loses all nuance, essentially pointing and shouting “He said tea! He said tea!” This he says is an obvious “shout out to the Tea Party.” To my knowledge liberals have been unable to find any hidden references or codes about Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.

Finally, unable to come up with any of their own critiques, they decided to steal one of conservatives lines of attack – judicial activism. Stephanie Cutter of the White House Blog writes a post entitled “Judicial Activism and the Affordable Care Act” in which she argues, “Today’s ruling – issued by Judge Vinson in the Northern District of Florida – is a plain case of judicial overreaching. “ Jonathan Cohn echoes the argument,

“If judicial restraint means anything, it means deferring to the Congress on matters of policy preference–like, for example, whether it’s better to run a national health insurance system with a system of regulated private insurance rather than via a single-payer, government-run plan”

What liberals like Cohn and Cutter fail to understand is that the measuring stick for judicial activism is not Congress, it’s the Constitution. Obamacare runs so far afoul of the Constitution, by broadening its Commerce powers to the point where Congress could do almost anything, that only judicial activism could interpret it any other way.

So why is Judge Vinson’s ruling getting liberal’s undies in a wad? After all, he isn’t the first judge to rule that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Ah, but he is the first judge to strike the law down in its entirety .  Whereas the previous court found that the individual mandate (perhaps the most Constitutionally odious portion of the bill) could be taken out of the bill without harm, Vinson ruled otherwise.

On this issue, liberals shot themselves in the foot. As Vinson writes in his opinion,

I note that the defendants have acknowledged that the individual mandate and the Act’s health insurance reforms, including the guaranteed issue and community rating, will rise or fall together as these reforms “cannot be severed from the [individual mandate].” See, e.g., Def. Opp. at 40. As explained in my order on the motion to dismiss: “the defendants concede that [the individual mandate] is absolutely necessary for the Act’s insurance market reforms to work as intended. In fact, they refer to it as an ‘essential’ part of the Act at least fourteen times in their motion to dismiss.”

Congress knew that the individual mandate was essential to keeping healthcare costs low. By mandating younger, healthier individuals purchase more comprehensive healthcare than they want, or likely need, the bill could effectively subsidize their planned coverage expansion. Congress even said in the Act that,

[I]f there were no [individual mandate], many individuals would wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care . . . The [individual mandate] is essential to creating effective health insurance markets in which improved health insurance products that are guaranteed issue and do not exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions can be sold.

Now that liberals have spent the better part of the last two days trying, and dismally failing, to argue with Vinson on the merits, the fun part will be watching Democrats argue against themselves. Vinson’s agreement with Democratic legislators on the issue of severability essentially means that their lawyers will have to use their appeal to argue that the individual mandate was not necessary after all. As if their house of cards won’t tumble down when you remove the aces that prop up the entire thing.

Democrats greatest achievement of Obama’s term may also end up being their most spectacular failure. If they can’t do any better than call the decision “odd,” that result seems inevitable.

by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee