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The Supreme Court’s decision that the individual mandate is Constitutional under the federal government’s taxing power is a huge legal and political victory for the Obama Administration. Chief Justice Roberts found a middle path, granting the main conservative argument against the law (the federal government’s regulatory powers are not unlimited) but also allowing implementation of the law to go forward. As I wrote with my colleague Jeffery Jenkins, this does not mean that the battle over health reform is over. The partisan and ideological struggle over Social Security continued even after the Court upheld its constitutionality in Helvering v. Davis in 1937. Social Security’s political support was not consolidated until the 1950s.
Now the debate over Obamacare shifts to the presidential campaign trail—and back to Congress. Look for GOP efforts to defund the law’s new benefits and bureaucracies through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process, especially if Romney defeats Obama and the Republicans hold the Congress.
So: a major victory today—but the battle over health reform will continue.
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