Ever since Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010, the measure became cleverly and effectively branded by Republican opponents as "Obamacare" -- yet a new Boogeyman designed to scare and frighten a faithful flock with outright lies and unrestrained deceit. Such manipulation successfully spawned a mindless, mobilized opposition -- elevating timidity and fear of change to the level of virtuous patriotism.
You've heard variations of the rap.
"Obamacare is a socialist takeover of one-sixth of the American economy, engineered by the worst Kenyan-born, secret Muslim President in our history, with government run health care, confiscatory taxation, thousands of unelected "Czars", IRS agents behind every tree, the end of private property, no more HBO, bad haircuts and death squads dropping gramma in a dumpster."
None of this is remotely true, but much was generally believed by many. Until now.
God bless John Roberts.
In what surely qualifies as a Kennedyesque "Profile in Courage," John Glover Roberts, Jr., the 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not only provided the deciding vote in the court's historic (5-4) affirmation of the Affordable Care Act's Constitutionality, but he actually found a brilliant way to make things come together -- piecing the puzzle into place -- preserving integrity through ingenuity. As with most complex issues, simplicity carried the day.
"You don't like "mandate?" Let's call it a "Tax." No one claims Congress can't do that. Thank you and good night."
Appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, this clearly conservative Chief Justice's sudden and completely unexpected shift to join his four more "liberal" brethren on the left in rendering one of the most critical Supreme Court decisions of our lifetime -- one of multigenerational implication, quickly brings to mind one of our own -- a prominent Californian.
Earl Warren was one of only two people to be elected Governor of California three times, the other being Jerry Brown. Warren ran for vice-president on the GOP ticket in 1948 behind Thomas E. Dewey.
Republican President Dwight Eisenhower thanked Warren for his service to the party through the years by appointing him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in September 1953. Chief Justice Warren then proceeded through subsequent years to lead the court in a transformational series of progressive decisions that revolutionized the role of the court in such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Reynolds v. Sims (1964) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966).
The ultra-right wing John Birch Society initiated a strong "Impeach Earl Warren" campaign from the late 1950s onward, as I suspect similar disapproval will be leveled at Chief Justice Roberts from this point forward by Latter-Day Birchers parroting Tea Party slogans or similar expressions of divisive discontent.
But in making his stand and drawing sharp, detailed attention to exactly what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is against what it is not, John Roberts has also succeeded where the administration had inadvertently failed -- in simply -- explaining itself.
With the Boogeyman down, most of us now know that "Obamacare" was designed to reduce health care costs by making services available to 32 million fellow citizens who currently can't get insurance.
The states will be required to set up insurance exchanges to make it easier to shop for private health insurance coverage and insurance companies can no longer deny children coverage for pre-existing conditions, a benefit which will apply to adults in 2014.
If you get sick, you can't be dropped from coverage. Parents can put their children up to age 26 on health insurance plans. If insurance companies pay too much in "executive compensation" and other non-health related items, you will receive a refund on your premium payments. In 2012 alone, this will be more than a billion bucks coming back to taxpayers.
The Medicare "doughnut hole" gap in coverage will be eliminated by 2020. The act will lower the budget deficit by $143 billion for the next 10 years by raising some taxes and shifting more cost burdens.
Oh, and that "mandate," now a "tax?" That will affect just absolute freeloaders who want us to pay for them by refraining from participation. Excluding a handful of needy recipients who will receive governmental subsidies, the real deadbeats feeling what some say amounts to a "fine" rather than either a "tax" or a "mandate" represent only about 2% of the population. Two percent. All of this comes from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Urban Institute.
And -- as if our president needed more good news -- extensive polling by the National Geographic Channel now reveals that the American people, by an overwhelming two to one margin, believe that Barack Obama is better equipped than Mitt Romney to handle an alien space invasion.
Sleep well tonight.