Heartland Institute Reacts to Obamacare Ruling

June 28, 2012

The United States Supreme Court today upheld most provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, including the individual mandate.

The following statements from health care and legal experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at tnash@heartland.org and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/731-9364.

“The Supreme Court today affirmed the fundamental dishonesty of our politics. Before Obamacare is passed, the president of the United States told the whole country on TV that the individual mandate is not a tax. After Obamacare is passed, President Obama sends his lawyers into courts all over America to argue that it is constitutional because it is a tax. The Supreme Court of the United States just endorsed this fundamental dishonesty of our politics today.

“The president intimidated Chief Justice John Roberts like Hugo Chavez intimidates the Venezuelan Supreme Court. The rule of law is now dead. The American people have only one more chance now to save their country.”

Peter Ferrara
Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute

Mr. Ferrara is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He filed three briefs with the Supreme Court in this case.

“Today’s decision will go down in infamy. It marks the moment when we all lost our freedom because the Supreme Court drew a road map to guide those dedicated to imposing a totalitarian, statist government on the American people.

“The majority opinion on the individual mandate, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, held that, so long as failure to comply with a government directive is penalized by something ‘reasonably’ called a tax, Congress can force Americans to buy anything. It can force Americans to do something, indeed anything, like eat broccoli. It can force Americans not to do something, like not be obese. Or even not sing the Star Spangled Banner. All of this would be lawful under this ruling today.

“There is no limit on the evil coming, unless we amend our Constitution. A dark day for America, indeed.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute

“Today’s decision is a major blow against American liberty and in favor of the expansionist power of government over every aspect of our lives. The Supreme Court and Chief Justice Roberts made the unexpected decision to justify President Obama’s health care law under the taxing power of the Constitution. Obama’s claim that this was not a tax was a political statement, not a legal one – but now it is the apparent justification for the main funding authority for his overhaul of health care.

“One small silver lining for states is the restriction of the federal government’s Medicaid power, preventing the government from forcing states to accept their changes to the program. But this is a small consolation given an overall ruling which leaves intact a law that is a terrible encroachment on American freedom. The fight over this unpopular law is not done, and it will continue in the courts, in the Congress, and at the ballot box.”

Benjamin Domenech
Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News

“This administration has set many precedents in pushing forward its own agenda, and the federal health care law’s Medicaid expansion penalty provision was no exception. The federal government cannot legally force states to expand, and yet here we had a blatant case of the federal government coercing states to accept the expansion provision or face a financially impossible scenario of sustaining the program on its own. With Medicaid constituting one of the largest parts of every state budget, states did not have a realistic choice, and I’m relieved the Supreme Court also found that apparent.

“By upholding the federal health care law, the Court has agreed to subject our nation to insufferable debt, inferior health outcomes, and a complete invasion of personal liberty and that should be disturbing regardless of political affiliation.”

Kendall Antekeier
Manager of External Relations
The Heartland Institute

“The decision by the Supreme Court that the individual mandate is constitutional as a tax may have created an expansive new federal power. Even President Obama himself said that the mandate was not a tax. The idea that the federal government can compel people to buy any product or service by imposing a fine or tax sets a dangerous precedent.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

“Of all the possible outcomes, few expected this. Everything having to do with insurance coverage is upheld and implementation will proceed as before. Even if the Republicans win the election in November, they will not take office until January 2013, by which time it will be almost impossible to unwind this law. We have entered a new era of American history, all based on a corrupt and partisan legislative process.”

Greg Scandlen
Senior Fellow, Health Care
The Heartland Institute

“The Court has effectively said Congress can make citizens pay a fine if they don’t act in the manner Congress wants them to act. They can call it a tax but it’s more accurately called a fine or a penalty, which is a common criminal law sanction when a person acts in a manner not approved by the applicable legislative body. The roadmap is pretty clear for any tyrannical use of power Obama or any future president dreams up. Roberts has destroyed his legacy. He has said in the past that Wickard was one of the worst decisions ever rendered, but now he has become part of the system that has protected and expanded it.”

Paul Fisher
Senior Fellow, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute

“As Dickens might have said, it was the best of possible outcomes for the law’s supporters, and it was the worst of possible outcomes for them. The individual mandate was upheld, but only as a tax – which makes it much easier to repeal, in procedural terms. That also makes it clear what is at the heart of Obamacare: a huge new tax on everybody. In addition, the Court found the Medicaid expansion – which is also central to the bill – cannot go forward as written. The bill was hence deemed constitutional but made thoroughly unworkable and more easily repealed.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute

“President Obama himself declared the individual mandate provision is not a tax. The four dissenting justices noted, ‘the statute repeatedly calls it a penalty.’ Yet five of the nine Supremes tortured a ruling to declare it a tax.

“The federal government owns major stakes in Chrysler and General Motors. Might the government some day require Americans to buy new cars or pay a penalty – I'm sorry, a tax – if we don't do it? Under this ruling we may someday find out.

“The tendency of people in government always and everywhere has been to expand the size and power of government. Power may ebb and flow but over the long term all governments get bigger and more intrusive. The courts are a branch of government.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News

“More than a year ago I warned people that Obamacare was not distinguishable from Medicare or Social Security from the point of view of statist judges. Government can make you ‘buy’ Social Security or Medicare, so why not make you buy health insurance?

“High-flying judges are statists with few exceptions. A tax is an easy excuse for any legislation that violates the will of the citizenry.”

John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D.
Policy Advisor, Health Care
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.