By Judd Gregg - 07/09/12 09:00 AM EDT
Conservatives should begin by praising Chief Justice John Roberts.
In as deft a decision as has been written in the last 20 years, he accomplished three major things.
The Supreme Court’s healthcare decision limits the promotion of federal power and future Democratic Congresses in two ways, while also setting up an important national debate on tax policy.
This march had used the Commerce Clause as its path of choice.
Because of this decision, that clause has finally been fenced and is no longer a mutating force for federal expansion.
Second, the Roberts decision has given state governments — which are already running unique and effective programs to get healthcare delivered to their citizens — the chance to opt out of the incredibly onerous and expensive Medicaid directives included in ObamaCare.
The clear goal of ObamaCare was to have all control over the manner and direction of the delivery of Medicaid rest with a few self-anointed healthcare experts and community organizers in Washington.
At the same time, the healthcare law forced the states to pick up a huge amount of the costs these federal politicos deemed necessary to run Medicaid in a way that they deemed best for everyone.
It was the ultimate act of elitism, which is the operative engine for all things done by this administration.
It told other people, and in this case entire state legislatures, what they must do to be socially responsible. And then it sent them the bill.
This is also known as the “NPR good governance guidelines” — tell folks in the hinterland to stand back and let a few self-indulgent folks in Washington explain how they must live their lives.
The Roberts decision put a spike through this arrogance. States that do not want some 26-year-old Health and Human Services staffer in Washington running the lives of thousands of their citizens — and running taxes up on the rest — can opt out and will.
Third, the Roberts decision has made taxes the issue.
This is a fairly good outcome for most conservatives.
It is now clear the Obama administration and the Pelosi Congress passed the largest, and one of the most regressive, taxes in recent times.
The “Democratic Mandate Tax” is aimed at, and will dramatically impact, small businesses and middle-income Americans.
The veil has been pulled back, revealing one of the primary intentions of ObamaCare.
It seeks to massively expand the size of the federal government in the name of better healthcare. It also requires the expansion to be paid for by middle-income Americans and those who are brazen enough to try and make money running small businesses.
The dislike of markets and profit was always at the center of ObamaCare.
Its whole structure was built with the intent of forcing profit-based activity -— and the efficiencies that come with it — out of the healthcare delivery system. It sought to replace it with a top-down, federally-dominated system that was single-payer in everything but name.
Now the debate can be more clearly and properly framed and pursued, especially by conservatives.
It is really a question of who pays when the government decides to super-size itself as it does under ObamaCare.
It is obvious that the need for a massive increase in revenues to pay for the new “free” coverage under ObamaCare, and the cost of subsidy of the exchanges, will be staggering.
We are on a fiscal course which, within a few years, will make borrowing to pay for this expansion extremely problematic. Tax increases will really be the only option, and these tax increases will fall on everyone.
But, as the Roberts decision makes clear, they fall first and disproportionately heavily on middle-income Americans and those in small businesses who are historically the job creators in our economy.
“More taxes, less jobs” is at least a more accurate and specific slogan than “hope and change.”
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.