Whatever words were written about the Commerce Clause, the result speaks louder. Speculation about future Roberts' votes is just that. For now, we have reason to worry that, at worst, he succumbed to intimidation by the left and changed his vote to keep the court from being vilified, and at best, that he engaged in shoddy scholarship.
Still, the decision does force the Obama administration to acknowledge what it has steadfastly denied -- that Obamacare raises taxes on the middle class. Also, two liberal justices did agree that there are limits to federal power over the states vis a vis Medicaid. That's notable. So often it's conservative justices who disappoint their side. But in this case, which hasn't gotten much attention, two liberals agreed that the feds cannot bully the states.
The Medicaid feature of the decision may also force the truth about the law to emerge more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. Without the capacity to force states to expand their Medicaid programs, the federal government will be left with the responsibility to provide subsidized health insurance policies to millions more people.
Those with incomes up to - effectively -- 138 percent above the poverty line were to have been covered by Medicaid. Those with incomes - roughly -- between 100 and 400 percent above poverty were to use the exchanges. When the Congressional Budget Office first scored the bill, it estimated the subsidies for the exchanges based upon the Medicaid expansion. Without it, the subsidies for those purchasing in the exchange market will have to rise considerably. As Charles Blahous of Economics 21 explains, " . . . With the . . . Medicaid expansion, the law's health exchange subsidies might be fiscally unworkable. The Supreme Court may have just set in motion of chain of events that could lead to the law's being found as busting the budget, even under the highly favorable scoring methods used last time around."
"Unworkable" was always a good shorthand for the law. Now the court so praised for ratifying Obamacare has simultaneously made that verdict unavoidable.