John Roberts visits a health care Waterloo on conservatives, but wait

john-roberts-visits-health-care-waterloo-conservatives-wait
The Roberts Court, with Obama appointees. ()
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

You have almost certainly heard a fair amount today about the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act. 

But in case you didn't, here's the very short version: Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's liberals to uphold Barack Obama's health care plan.

And here's the longer, also correct version: Roberts sided with the court's conservatives by basing his opinion on an argument that could significantly curtail the regulatory powers of federal government in the future.

Roberts "surprised many" with his decision, apparently including Antonin Scalia, who seems to have been under the impression that he was going to be in the majority on this one, and has anyway been suspiciously disgruntled about something of late.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

It probably came as just as much of a surprise to Jon Gruber, the M.I.T. professor and key architect of Obama's health care plan, who told Capital's Reid Pillifant last November that he was prepared for the conservative-leaning court to make a "political" decision either by gutting the scheme or throwing it out altogether.

Gruber said at the time that he understood perfectly well why conservatives and Republicans were fighting so hard against it.

"Look, if this succeeds, then Obama becomes F.D.R.," he said. "This is the most important social policy accomplishment since the 1960s. And if this succeeds, this could be the kind of benefit to the Democratic Party that Social Security was. So if I was the Republicans, I'd be screaming and kicking and scratching to kill it too, on purely political grounds."

He also said, "On politics, this is your Waterloo. You've got to fight this tooth and nail. And so they're fighting it tooth and nail. It's not just the [individual] mandate, they're picking on everything."

Thanks to Roberts, the conservatives lost today. But wait a while. His decision may turn out to be a liberal Waterloo, too.