When is a tax not a tax? When President Obama says it isn't, or when the Supreme Court says it is?
Obamacare was sold on several fraudulent lines. The president knows the country doesn't want to pay higher taxes, given the deplorable way their government spends the money. And so the administration packaged it as something different.
That's called bait and switch, which is defined as "an illegal tactic in which a seller advertises a product with the intention of persuading customers to purchase a more expensive product." And Obamacare, if it is not repealed, is guaranteed to be more expensive, not to mention more bureaucratic, delivering lower-quality care and eventually rationing to save money.
Does it matter what this president promises since so many have turned up empty?
This ruling will impose a massive tax increase during a lingering recession. Twenty-one new taxes are associated with Obamacare, according to the House Ways and Means Committee. That doesn't include the scheduled year-end expiration of the Bush tax cuts. President Obama has said taxes shouldn't be raised during a recession.
Simply put, if government is going to take more money from the people who earn it -- mostly small businesses -- it will result in those businesses hiring fewer people, or laying off more employees, or both, thus increasing already high unemployment. People who have never run a business, or made a payroll, like most in this administration, have no sense of that.
The list of lies and deceptions by this administration is long and growing. When campaigning for president in 2008, candidate Obama made "a firm pledge" not to raise taxes: "Not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." In 2009, he vigorously denied to George Stephanopoulos of ABC that the individual mandate is a tax. Now Chief Justice John Roberts says it is. If money leaves your pocket and goes to government, it's a tax, no matter the label.
Some congressional Democrats, especially those running for re-election in traditionally Republican districts, might not have voted for this law had it been presented as a tax increase. They will now have to either defend the tax hike or vow to repeal the law. One way, they appear not to have known what they were doing. The other way, they will be portrayed as having lied.
In the short term, the president may have won the argument, but the Supreme Court has given Mitt Romney and the Republicans three issues: higher taxes, a loss of individual freedom and the wrong solution to reforming health insurance.
The Founders sought to "secure the blessings of liberty." This president wants to secure the power of government. And so government, which has done a poor job of running Medicare and Medicaid, will now be responsible for an even bigger program. This is like renewing the license of a serial drunk driver.
Roberts joins a long line of justices nominated by Republican presidents, beginning with Earl Warren, who agreed with the liberal wing of the court on cases favored by the Left. Rarely, if ever, does a liberal justice vote with the conservatives.
Roberts suggested he wouldn't do the work of the people. If they don't like Obamacare, they can change the leadership. The Republican Governors Association is planning to do nothing on Obamacare until after the election, an indication they believe a Romney presidency and a Republican Congress will repeal the law.
In a statement following the court's decision, President Obama promised to implement the law with all deliberate speed. He apparently hopes that with more of it in place (except the taxes that come in 2014), people will become dependent on it and won't want to do away with it.
In just four months, voters will have the opportunity to live up to the responsibility that Roberts says is theirs. Otherwise, voters will become co-conspirators in the weakening of health care and the further destruction of our liberties.
(Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.)