The Supreme Court’s Disappointing Tax Ruling

Yesterday’s ruling that Obamacare’s individual mandate exceeded Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause showcased the Supreme Court at its intellectual best: the fruits of years of detailed and heated scholarly and judicial debate, intensive briefing and vigorous argument were reflected in the various opinions. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Court’s opinions on the alternative ground – the taxing power – that Chief Justice Roberts and the Court’s four Democratic appointees found to be an alternative basis for the mandate. Critics on the Right have assumed that Roberts is wrong about the taxing power, and the cheerleaders on the Left are simply pocketing the result, but neither the various opinions nor most of the commentary have bothered to explain a theory of what Congress can and cannot constitutionally do through its power to tax.

Continue reading The Supreme Court’s Disappointing Tax Ruling

Seven Lessons From The Brown Bombshell

You can’t throw a rock in the blogosphere without hitting a postmortem on Scott Brown’s decisive defeat of Martha Coakley for the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly infested by Ted Kennedy and, before him, JFK himself. I may as well add my own. Here are seven lessons to be drawn:

1. Defeat Has Many Fathers: There’s an awful temptation to spin the vote for Brown as the result of this cause or that – Coakley was a terrible, gaffe-prone candidate, Brown was a good one, glamourous and hard-working, Democrats were caught napping, voters were upset about Obamacare, voters were spooked by the Underwear Bomber, the special election was strangely timed, the enthusiasm gap, the poor track record of female candidates in Massachusetts, etc. But the fact is, it had to be all of them.

Look: In the past three decades, Republicans have won zero Senate races in Massachusetts but have won the Governorship four times with three different candidates. Bill Weld got 50.19% of the vote when he was elected in 1990, Paul Cellucci 50.81% in 1998, and Mitt Romney 49.77% in 2002. (Weld got over 70% of the vote when he was re-elected in 1994). Brown beat Coakley 52-47, meaning that he had the best showing by a non-incumbent top-level statewide Republican in decades. For contrast, in 2006, Deval Patrick carried Massachusetts 56-35, a 21-point margin. In 2008, Barack Obama carried Massachusetts 62-36, a 26-point margin. In other words, the electorate swung 26 points from the 2006 Governor’s race and 31 points from the 2008 presidential race. To illustrate:

Continue reading Seven Lessons From The Brown Bombshell