Some will suggest that this is no victory at all, given the Court’s ruling that the money one must pay for failing to obtain insurance can be supported as a use of Congress’s taxing power. However, by confining within the taxing power the ability of Congress to adopt such schemes, the Court has greatly limited Congress’s ability and political appetite to attempt them in the future.
Now everyone will know that when Congress does something like this, it is without question a tax increase. Is there any doubt that if PPACA had been presented as a middle-class tax increase, it would have failed? Because the American people have made clear that elected officials raise taxes at their peril, it is unlikely will we see this particular gambit repeated.
Another thing to note is that Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion on the taxing power is limited. He noted that it could not be considered punitive because the amount citizens are required to pay for not having insurance is far less than they would have to pay to obtain insurance. He strongly suggests that, if Congress were to require citizens to pay an amount greater than the costs of insurance, that would constitute a penalty, and thus would be unconstitutional.