Friday, June 29, 2012

Random Thoughts on SCOTUS Ruling on ACA

 High five! 

(Source: Pete Souza/The White House/Getty Images, Obama and Roberts at his re-do swearing-in in Jan. 2009)

1. I'm pleased Chief Justice Roberts was able to see how far-reaching a ruling striking down a century of domestic policy precedents would have been. It appears to me that he wasn't quite ready to get on the bus to Crazy Town with the other 4 activist conservative justices yet, so he looked to compromise with the 4 liberal to moderate justices who were going to uphold the law. I'm sure we'll have dozens of books and behind-the-scenes features to read in the coming years on how this all went down.

I do hear some usual liberal panic over the fact that they may have won the battle, but will eventually lose the war, based on the more-limited interpretation of the Commerce Clause. We'll see. Ultimately, however, I can't see many more big expansions of social welfare programs being proposed in the next 20 years, so to my liberal friends, just enjoy the victory for now. Then get back to work asap. Remember, in the last 3.5 years the Dems have won a lot of legal and legislative battles to advance progressive causes, but haven't done so good at the voting booth. If you want to see these changes remain for many years, it's time to win some damn elections.

2. I'm tired of hearing the phrase "The America I used to know no longer exists" or something to that effect. Can we retire this phrase once and for all?  The "America we used to know" stops existing every day. And that's a good thing.

America looked quite different to slaves after 1863 (Emancipation Proclamation). It also looked quite different for women after 1920 (Nineteenth Amendment). It looked much different for unions after the victories of organized labor in the 1930's. It looked much different for middle class people after WW2, in that, a true middle class was actually created. It looked much different for black people living in the old Confederate states again after 1964 (Civil Rights). And it looked much different for Senior Citizens after 1935 (Social Security) and then again after 1965 (Medicare). All of those programs were really "rights" programs - freedom from slavery, voting rights, collective bargaining rights, safety nets for elderly, etc.

All of these victories changed America for the better. Accessible/affordable Health Care for all was the next domino to fall. It took decades of trying, but finally it's the law of the land.

3. I don't know if it means that much for 2012 election, but if anything it will force the Republicans and Romney to provide more specificity on what exactly they don't like about the ACA that has driven them to wage a three-year campaign to keep it from passing and now to try to repeal it. As recently as early 2009, almost everything in the law was supported by most mainstream Republican politicians. The only thing that changed is a Democratic president proposed it instead of Mitt Romney or John McCain.

From 2009-present, much of the objection was on the constitutionality of the law and complaints were wrapped in generic terms like "freedom", "liberty", with misinformation about "Death Panels" and so on. So now that the constitutionality issue has been resolved, they should be required to provide specifics on why they want to repeal it and what they want to replace it with. No more he said/she said free passes from the MSM.

4. In the coming months, Obama and the Dems need to do a better job re-selling this to the American people. Again, tell everyone what's in it. Maybe have a SuperPAC buy some ads in swing states to promote the good things in the law that will benefit all Americans. And make a distinction between this law and the missing GOP plan. The GOP wants to rescind the checks to Seniors that fill the Medicare doughnut hole - what are they replacing it with?  The GOP wants to get rid of regulations that end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions - what are they replacing it with? The GOP wants to end regulations that force insurance companies to spend more of their profits on actual health care or else have to reimburse policy-holders - fine, what are they replacing it with?

5. The often-criticized legal strategy of the Obama Administration was again vindicated. Just as it was with their decision to avoid an Executive Order to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, but instead to be patient and wait for Congress to pass a more lasting repeal. Just as it was with the Arizona SB1070 ruling, and the decision by the Dept of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which eventually evolved into a full support of gay marriage.

6. This is the 3rd issue now in the last 2 months that Team Romney has seemed ill-prepared to address. The first 2 were legitimate surprises: Obama's public support for gay marriage and his announcement of an Executive Order to create the Dream Act. It seemed to take the Romney campaign several days in those instances to have a coherent response that sort of pleased the GOP base and swing voters. Romney couldn't thread that needle without contradicting a previous held position.

In the case of the ACA ruling, we've known the decision was coming for weeks now, and that it would be 1 of 4 or so possibilities, depending on what was upheld or struck down. Romney's press conference after the ruling just seemed like it could have been given a month ago, with no specifics, just typical red meat for the base.

You can make the argument that how decisive a candidate is during a campaign, reacting to daily news events, reflects on how decisive he'd be as President reacting to the same daily events. And in those cases, Romney is now 0-for-3.

7. And finally, no sorry Right-Wingers, freedom and liberty didn't die with this ruling. Freedom and liberty was expanded and granted to those who, through no fault of their own, got sick and happened to not be wealthy. They now have the freedom to receive affordable health insurance coverage for all their necessary medical treatment, without having to worry about either having to go without necessary care or bankrupting them and their families.

It's been said that slavery was America's Original Sin. And lack of health insurance reform and lack of universal care was an ongoing daily mortal sin. So again, freedom didn't die. And now many millions more Americans have the freedom to not die due to a lack of access to quality affordable Health Care. That, as Vice President Joe Biden said, is a big-fucking-deal.

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