Well, at first I was shocked that the Supreme Court upheld the Obama health care law, with John Roberts joining the 5-4 majority, and with the mandate effectively upheld. But I think I see what's going on.
As I've said many times, I was sure the movement-conservative Supremes didn't want to overturn the law altogether, because that would deprive right-wing voters of motivation come November. I thought the mandate would go -- the law would be hobbled but would still be in place.
But I think the way supporters of the law got riled up about the idea of the mandate being invalidated led Roberts to believe that just overturning the mandate would motivate Obama voters in the fall. So he let us have our sense of victory. He wants us to let our guard down. (I'm not saying it isn't a victory -- we backed him down a lot. The law was saved. I'm just saying there's more going on.)
He upheld the law, but he motivated GOP voters by giving them a fresh set of talking points. I'll let a right-wing apparatchik -- Jennifer Rubin -- explain it for you:
The political and legal world just got turned upside down and shaken by the ankles. The individual mandate is not valid under the Commerce Clause. Chief Justice Roberts joined four other justices on that point.... But on grounds no one thought would be taken seriously, the taxing power, Roberts sided with the liberal justices....We made Roberts fear the consequences to his beloved GOP if he killed the law, or mortally wounded it by making the mandate effectively impossible. So he upheld it as a tax, and now hopes he's making trouble for Obama. I don't know if this is going to work, but I can't believe it wasn't thought out precisely in this way. Roberts is an apparatchik, too -- he's not a jurist. So this is a tactical move in the right's long war.
The problem here of course is the Obama administration swore up and down it was not a tax. The Supreme Court in effect held that the Democrats imposed a tax on every American, something Obama swore up an down he'd ever do....
As for the political fallout, Obama is in quite the pickle, defending a nation-wide tax and a law a majority of Americans don't like. Mitt Romney will be able ... to fight tooth and nail against Obamatax....
UPDATE: Here ya go:
Rush reacts; This is the biggest tax increase in the history of the world ... the IRS is now Barack Obama's army.— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) June 28, 2012
Also go here and here, and see the Chris Christie quote in Jennifer Rubin's update, all of which highlight the fact that the Court upheld the mandate as a tax.
Trust me -- the talking points were distributed on the right well before Roberts released his decision. Now the question is whether they'll work.