Donald Lambro
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WASHINGTON -Several issues are getting distorted in the wake of the Supreme Court's contradictory, backdoor ruling that upheld President Obama's health care law on a disputed word definition.

Others are virtually absent from the discussion, like who will pay the onerous penalty tax and what will it cost them, if the uninsured refuse to obey Obama's order to purchase medical insurance?

It turns out, the court's decision means Obama's tax will fall most heavily on lower-to-middle-income people that he has vowed to shield from his proposed tax increases. And it will be a lot costlier than you think, but more on that in a moment.

First, it's not exactly true, as often misreported on the network nightly news, that the high court found that the law did not violate the Constitution.

In fact, the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts specifically ruled that Congress could not order uninsured Americans to buy health insurance under the commerce clause of the Constitution -- the legal grounds on which the Democrats and Obama built their statist plan and defended it in oral arguments before the court.

"The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance," Roberts wrote in the narrow 5-4 decision.

Indeed, Roberts goes to great lengths to say he flatly disagreed with proponents of the law who argued that the commerce clause gave them the authority to force citizens "to act as the government would have them act."

"This is not the country the Framers of our Constitution envisioned," he wrote. "The Commerce Clause is not a general license to regulate an individual from cradle to grave, simply because he will predictably engage in particular transactions."

If there was any victory in this ruling for the opponents of big, unrestricted government, it was the court's ruling that this time Congress's use of the commerce clause to poke its nose into every aspect of the nation's commercial life had gone too far.

"If it had declared that this provision could be used to compel private citizens to engage in commerce so the federal government could regulate it, the court would have put our basic freedom as Americans at risk," writes Grace-Marie Turner, the noted health care analyst.

But even though Roberts said "The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance," he acknowledged that it clearly had the power to tax. And, in this case, the power to imperiously "impose a tax on those without health insurance," one of 20 new and onerous taxes in Obamacare law.

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Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.