This is all preliminary and based on early reports. However, as I understand it the individual mandate was upheld under the taxing authority of Congress but denied under the authority of the Interstate Commerce Clause. Constitutionally I have no problem with the ruling, Congress can use its tax authority to accomplish this policy goal.
However, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, President Obama etc etc etc argued that the mandate wasn’t a tax… until that was the only reed left to cling to. I think the Court said that Congress and the President can lie (see video) through their teeth to the people as long as they tell the truth to the court (leaglly, I think they can… and did).
This will be interesting to see how it plays out. Will this help or hurt President Obama? A very real potential problem in the category of unintended consequences may be that lots of people will actually lose their employer provided insurance when employers find it cheaper to pay the tax than pay the insurance premiums. Do think most employers will do that? No. But a small percentage will result in a lot of people and their families without insurance.
So, first, Obama’s car insurance analogy falls flat. One can choose not to drive or own a car. One cannot opt out of the mandate unless given a waiver by the President. Secondly, apparently Obama meant to say that Stephanopolous was exactly right… this is a tax.
Edit: The ruling as intersting implications for federal power that I hadn’t really considered before. The federal government can regulate behavior through the tax code. As long as the regulated behavior meets the rational basis test for nearly everthing excepting fundamental rights (which would require strict scrutiny).