The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Special Report with Bret Baier | Friday, June 29, 2012

On whether the health care ruling is a long-term victory for conservatives:

I think so. The people will say government will expand — no longer on the grounds of commerce clause, which has been restrained by Roberts — it will expand as a tax. However, there is a political difference between a fine and a tax. People don’t like taxes….

Had the Democrats presented the mandate as a tax it would not have passed in the House and Senate. That is precisely why the president kept saying it’s not a tax…

So I think it [the Roberts ruling] will, practically speaking, make it harder [to expand government], because it will be harder to expand the size of government under the guise of a tax because people don’t like taxes….

A fine and tax are really different. A tax is to raise revenue. A fine is to deter behavior. What Roberts did, I thought, was clever but rather hallow… I simply think he did it as a device, as a way to maintain the law while striking [it] down [on] the logic of the Commerce Clause….

[The ruling has the] effect of ratifying the axiom that a liberal is somebody who doesn’t care what you do, as long as it’s mandatory. That is exactly what is happening in Obamacare.

On the political fallout of last week’s decision:

I’m not sure that [Democrats] running on it as a tax is going to change much. After all, when the Republicans were running against Obamacare in 2010, when it hadn’t been declared a tax, as it is now, they shellacked the Democrats.

The argument on Obamacare is its expense, how unworkable it’s going to be, how much government it adds, all these commissions — the 15 wise people who are going to decide on the rationing of care — and the general issue of the expansion of government intruding into your lives. That is the argument, the argument that won in 2010. The argument remains.

And in addition, we have new facts. The CBO told us three months ago that the cost of Obamacare is going to be $1.76 trillion over the next ten years. That is a lot of money for a society, a Treasury drowning in debt already. So you’ve got debt. You’ve got intrusiveness. You have got disruption of the relationship between the patient and the doctor. You’ve got expansion in government. You don’t have to talk about taxes.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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