Chief Justice John Roberts put his money where his mouth is in his opinion on NFIB v. Sebellius. In consistently holding that it is the job of the Court to save unconstitutional legislation through the use of disciplined jurisprudence, he can preserve his credibility as a jurist who defends both originalism and the will of the people. Roberts clearly preserved the individual mandate, taking a stand on the Obama Administration’s fallback position; that the mandate, enforceable as a non-punitive tax, was clearly within Congress’ authority to lay and collect taxes.
Filed under the heading of useless government action; the Republican House (and three Democrats) voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In truth, they voted for the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”, a magnificent example of snake-oil salesmanship. The action has no real political meaning; the Senate will never see the legislation because Republicans don’t have the votes to either open the debate or invoke cloture to force a vote. If the Senate were to pass a complement, President Obama would veto the action, and there aren’t enough votes in the House to override his veto.
But lets set aside the action, and move swiftly to the conservative premise for its taking. “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”, is the title, and it purports to explain the reason the GOP moved against the law. It isn’t immediately apparent why a law that addresses the principal source of American industry’s lack of competitiveness with European business would be a job killer. But Speaker Boehner has an answer, and his answer is a stunning example of hypocrisy and economic smoke and mirrors. We all, I am sure, remember that time long ago (two weeks ago), when the Speaker dismissed the CBO as “opinion”. We all also remember when then-Minority Leader Boehner consistently slammed the CBO over its scoring of the bill as a deficit-reducer.
We live in the era of permanent campaigns. Elections which used to be contained within the month or year of the actual voting, now form a constant backdrop to the democracy. Alongside the toxic commentary and baseless opinions that dominate cable “news”, voters can see a constant parade of poll results. What we the people aren’t shown, is the question order, context, or full spectrum of questions found in the polls. As with all reporting, it is the information that we don’t see or hear that demonstrate the bias or intent of the source.
The original intent of political polling is customer service; a politician or business asks the customers what their feelings are in order to better design the service. But polling has taken on a very different role in U.S. politics today. Winning the “battle” of public opinion on specific bills is the key to the process; prove you can drive approval, and networks, newspapers, and magazines will follow your cues. Prove you can drive a story, and political allies and fundraisers will flock to your banner. Polling, and the poor standard of reporting that accompanies the art, are the foundation for the straw-man strategy that political operatives have now perfected.
Impeach Pelosi! Bury Harry! Down with Obama! Ok, I get that many people are opposed to the reform bill now in the end-game in Congress. Despite not seeing the dramatic changes in our nation since Obama took over, I understand that people are upset. What I would like to see the end of, however, is this notion of attacking a “problem” that does not exist.
Please feel free to debate the place of the citizen government in the marketplace. By all means argue against deficit spending. Go to the mat fighting the notion of a tax increase on anyone; these are all worthy arguments….just dispense with the bullshit! I know it is crude, and I do apologize; there is simply no better way to describe the arguments of the Boehners and Bachmanns of the world lately. My problem is not their policy issues but rather their procedural “issues”.
In the summer of 2008, better than 75% of Americans wanted something done about the medical marketplace in our country. By overwhelming margins, Americans believed it an embarrassment that this country lacked the capacity to care for its citizens. The explosion in costs for average working Americans was also a driver in public opinion, as well as the knowledge that our country ranked behind most of the industrialized world in most key health statistics.
The winter of 2009/2010 has not seen a change in public opinion on the keys for health care reform, but it has seen the success of the most ambitious and well orchestrated branding campaign in political history. In poll after poll, Americans say that they favor a repeal of the anti-trust exemption for insurance carriers, some form of publicly administered plan to provide low cost competition, and the prohibition of pre-existing conditions and rescission. All of the plans proposed, including the two that passed the House and Senate, contain these remedies in some degree. All of the plans proposed have also become universally unpopular.
Pot-committed. When you have bet so many of your remaining chips that you feel you must stay with a hand even when you know the odds are against you. This is a very real predicament in the world of high stakes poker, and it is where Senate Democrats and the President feel that they are with the reform bill.
But are they really? They have committed time and energy to this effort, but they have not staked out a real position in a political sense. Most of the members of the House who voted for the bill are safe for reelection, and the Senate hasn’t really done enough on the bill to be pinned down. Most of the country tells pollsters that they like the individual elements of the bills presented, even while they tell the same pollsters that they don’t like the brand the insurance companies have successfully slapped on the package. Despite this, enough senators have stepped forward to say that they won’t let the bill come to a vote without the good stuff being removed. As a result, the good stuff is gone. So why vote for it when it is not a good bill?