Tax! Tax! Tax!

Gotta say I am impressed by the speed with which the Right has adjusted to the various surprises presented by the Supreme Court decision and has come up with its central talking point: ObamaCare was a gigantic tax increase! The Supreme Court says so! I just heard Marco Rubio on Fox, and he managed to use the word “tax” about four times in every sentence.

Already conservatives are beginning to get over their anger at John Roberts for betraying the Cause, because they think he may have not only preserved the possibility of a radical restriction of Commerce Clause powers in the future, but trapped Obama with justification of his landmark achievement as a “tax.” Here’s John Hood at The Corner:

Chief John Roberts may have flinched from doing what his fellow Republican-appointed justices were willing to do — strike down the individual mandate as a violation of the Commerce Clause — but he did so ilever way. He resurrected an earlier argument, one the Obama administration had mostly abandoned, that the mandate was really a tax rather than a regulation. No one denies that Congress has the power to levy a nationwide tax, so the core of the president’s legislation survives even though Roberts and the conservatives sided with the plaintiffs on the main constitutional claim about the limitation imposed on federal regulatory power by the Commerce Clause.

But it does so at a significant political cost. First, those who dislike the mandate — which includes a majority of U.S. voters — will now have no recourse but to vote for Mitt Romney to repeal it. Second, the only way the administration prevailed was to have Obama’s main legislative accomplishment redefined as one of the largest middle-class tax increases in the history of the country.

Get used to hearing that.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.