[Washington, D.C.] Florida led the national conservative charge to strike down President Obama‘s signature Affordable Care Act and lost.
In what will be seen as a landmark decision and a potential presidential campaign game-changer, Thursday morning’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to uphold most of the health care law no doubt sent shock waves across this great nation.
Conservatives, who were primed for a victory lap, were stunned.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is simply disappointing,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. “The Justices have declared that the central provision of ObamaCare is a judicially mandated tax. A new tax pure and simple.”
“… The entire act should have been held invalid. … This is just another burden the federal government has put on American families and small businesses,” he added.
Surprisingly – or more accurately, tellingly – it was Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. who joined SCOTUS’s liberal justices in the majority opinion. Roberts may have finally proved that he is the only conservative on the court who is willing to put the law above politics.
The individual mandate – indeed the most contentious part of the health care law – survived. The only part that was struck down was the provision that allowed the government to withdraw existing Medicaid funding from those states that had decided to not participate in the expansion.
How confident were conservatives that they would win? At 10:10 this morning, Florida’s CFO (FLCFO) Jeff Atwater sent out a press release titled “Statement from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater Regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision to Strike Down the Health Care Individual Mandate.”
Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote that upheld the health care law
Atwater most likely had the document prepared ahead of the decision – ready to boast that his side had won – as his press release beat some news organizations to my email INBOX. But the FLCFO’s side didn’t.
In fact, it was a brutal blow against practically everything they’ve said for more than two years.
Now Atwater’s words – knowing that they were to be used during the conservative victory dance – are an ode to what could have been.
“Today’s landmark ruling by the Supreme Court upholds two distinctly American principles outlined in our Constitution—individual freedom and limited government,” he said.
“I am proud of the role Florida has played in defending our Constitution, protecting the individual freedoms of the American people and affirming the limited role of government our founders designed,” he continued.
But then he took it all back two minutes later.
According to Atwater Press Secretary Anna A. Alexopoulos, “Initial reports from various media outlets stated the individual mandate was ruled unconstitutional. After reports came out stating otherwise, the statement was retracted.”
Yes, both CNN and FOX eagerly reported that the individual mandate had been struck down, both failing the read the ENTIRE decision first. Conservatives’ high-fiving quickly stopped as both realized their mistake rather quickly and changed the story.
Chaos ensued. Atwater was embarrassed.
Nonetheless, his updated statement focused on the tax issue, a big one for conservatives and one they will ride like Seabiscuit through November 2012.
Drawing conclusions: The Supreme Court of the United States
“I remain deeply troubled, however, that Congress and the Obama administration would use an issue of such importance to the American people to disguise their intentions to add further tax burdens on our fellow citizens,” said an updated Atwater.
“Pushing a tax and spend agenda through dissembling and subterfuge is fundamentally dishonest and should not be tolerated in a free and open society,” he said the second time.
Florida Attorney general (FLAG) Pam Bondi is surely taking this the hardest. She spent and endless amount of taxpayer-funded time and money fighting this thing tooth and nail after taking the reigns from her predecessor Bill McCollum.
“Today we defended Americans’ individual liberty by arguing that the federal government cannot force us to purchase private health insurance from cradle to grave,” Bondi boldly proclaimed in a statement released during oral arguments for the Affordable Care Act.
“The health care act’s individual mandate far exceeds the limited and enumerated powers that the Constitution grants the federal government.”
Oops. Now the FLAG flies at half mast.
Like Atwater, FLAG Bondi had expected the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law – she even planned what was to be a a victory speech sometime between noon-1 p.m. today.
Gov. Scott reacts to the health care law ruling: “The entire act should have been held invalid”
Will she admit she was wrong? No. Will she say that the justices were wise? No. She will say that the justices got it wrong, and that the fight will continue.
Florida’s two Senators – one Republican, one Democrat – were unsurprisingly split on the health care law ruling.
“What’s important to remember is that what the Court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it’s a good idea,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure more people and cost a lot less money,” said Rubio, obviously unaware that his party hasn’t offered anything close to an alternative.
The senior Senator from Florida was more matter-of-fact than “I told you so.”
“A lot of us feel the health-care law wasn’t perfect, but it was needed,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “We passed legislation to prevent insurers from running roughshod over people. And today, the Supreme Court upheld most of these reforms.”
Full text on the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act below.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Lead image: Phil Roeder
health care law