I’m going to give you the very simple version of yesterday’s ObamaCare decision. (Full analysis here.)
Congress didn’t appropriate the money for certain payments to insurers. Therefore, Obama cannot spend it. The end.
One other interesting point that I learned reading the opinion: the same does not apply to subsidies to individual taxpayers. Congress does not have to appropriate money for that every year. Once Congress classified them as tax credits, the money was permanently appropriated, because the IRS already has authority to draw money on the Treasury to pay tax refunds/credits. The only way to repeal this is to pass a new law that repeals the subsidies, and get that law signed by the President.
This is a hugely important decision. Not just for ObamaCare but for our nation. If it is overruled, on standing grounds or on the merits — under the “we’ll rewrite any law to save ObamaCare because it’s Too Big to Fail” principle that generally obtains in the Supreme Court on ObamaCare cases — then the power of the purse is dead. The President will be able to spend money on anything he likes, and Congress can go hang.
Well, well, well! Chief Justice Roberts may get one more bite at the apple to demonstrate that he really is a conservative. He was the swing vote in the Obamacare ruling, and with an 8 seat Court, if he sides with the conservatives, the lower Court ruling stands!!
The concept of erasing the congressional power of the purse entirely might be a bridger too far even for some liberal Justices!