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PPACA: What Will the Supreme Court Decide?

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The presidential election may very well hinge on the Supremes. No, not Dianna Ross; the Supreme Court of the United States, which is currently hearing arguments on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

I’m not a lawyer. I’ve never read the entire Constitution. I, like most Americans, just read the papers, troll the Internet for news and watch the talking heads on cable TV. So whatever my read is on PPACA, it’s a street kid, layman’s understanding. Here’s my simple take. 

The first the big issue: It is constitutional to levy taxes with representation. The power to tax for the common welfare has never been in question, but it’s never been classified as a mandate either. If the Supreme Court see this as a power to tax issue, PPACA will become law. 

The secondary issue: It is constitutional for the government to regulate interstate commerce. If the Supremes view the individual mandate as a natural extension of the government’s regulatory authority to control commerce, PPACA will become law. 

However, that being said, the odds are that the majority opinion will not view this as a tax issue and will instead interpret the government’s intrusion into interstate commerce while also regulating it as an unfair competitor in the marketplace. 

So the Supremes are likely to rule 5-4 against PPACA as unconstitutional along party lines. Keep in mind that the Supremes could deliver a partial ruling on certain aspects of the bill. 

If the Supreme Court ruled in favor of PPACA, then Congress would vote on whether to fund it or not. If the house remains in Republican hands, funding will never happen unless the Supremes intervene. The commerce clause: If the Supremes rule that the government not only can regulate commerce, but has the additional right to compete in the marketplace, it could change the fundamental understanding of the free market system. 

See also: Q&A: How the PPACA Hearing Will Unfold

Here are a few side bars that have nothing to do with the constitutionality arguments. 

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a loaded title to be sure. Protection from whom? Protection from what? 
  • The people who receive free health care now will receive free health care after full implementation. The only difference is millions more will be covered. Insurance companies will then raise rates on those who can pay for the plan. These are the same people who also pay federal taxes. Taxes to supplement those not required to pay for the plan. Well, there’s certainly no protection for the people footing the bill — the American tax payer. 
  • So then there’s that word “affordable.” Affordable to whom? Half the country doesn’t pay taxes, so the burden of the program will fall onto the other half of the country who does. The national debt is around $15.6 trillion. Those paying federal taxes owe almost $138,000 each. 
  • PPACA will only accelerate the red ink flowing to Red China. It’s inconceivable that our capitalistic society is being floated by a communist country. Government programs have never operated effectively. The government’s management style is notorious for cost overruns. The cost savings of PPACA is the same creative accounting that drives our out of control debt and subjects our near future to bankruptcy.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of the Supreme Court hearing of PPACA, visit


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