Foxnews.com has an interesting choice of words for the possible overturning of ObamaCare tomorrow – “Overthrow.” It is probably nothing more than sensationalizing the prospects, but it could be a deeper look into the psyche of the law’s opponents.
For the record, I am against ObamaCare. I do like some provisions in it, like the exchanges and that it attempts to have employers retain retirees on their medical plans instead of dumping them off onto social services. But the law in its entirety is an abomination.
When I was a w2 employee, I opted for the HMO plan my employer was sponsoring back in 2003-4. I don’t know how many people read the fine print, but I did, and it stated directly in the plan that if I was 65 or over, it would not pay one red cent toward my medical care. Ok so what if I was over 65 and was still working, paying my premium like everyone else? I don’t remember the wording verbatim, but it was something like they would help facilitate application for Medicare. Oh, that’s nice. I’m glad I would have been paying them for something if I met that criteria. I didn’t. I was 35 at the time so I wasn’t concerned about it, but that policy struck me as being quite wrong.
I like the idea of exchanges in order to facilitate individual choice. It would be nice to be able to shop around to see if there are better deals to be had. I remember talking to some of the folks who worked in human resources, off the record, who told me that the company actually made money from providing health care to its employees. I suppose there isn’t anything wrong with that, but it seems kind of awkward when we are pretty much captive customers. I eventually ended up dropping insurance from my place of employment in favor of getting it from my husband’s employer due to cost, but if there had been the possibility of finding something on my own that was competitively priced, I would have likely done that instead.
Most of my opposition comes from being a stickler for rule of law, and it is a clear overreach of Federal authority. There are just some things that government was not meant to meddle in, and this is one of them. If I choose to just get sick and die with the intention of never darkening the door of a hospital, I should be left to it. There are financial reasons for choosing such a course, and this law would defeat every last one of them. I would pay for someone else’s medical care all my life, end up in the hospital expecting to get my money’s worth where they don’t even bother giving me morphine as I meet the same end because I’d be too old to treat. One of the very first acts of HHS on the signing of ObamaCare into law was to cut back on the administration of painkillers to folks in nursing homes. So, not only was there an intention to not treat these people, but also to just stand back as they suffer. What kind of society have we become to insist on such a dreadful law? It is quite far from the spirit and letter of “Interstate commerce” regulation (to make regular, in colonial usage).
Back to the word “Overthrow,” I think we overthrow people and governments, not laws; and certainly the Supreme Court wouldn’t be in that business. It does say something about how many of us feel about the people, the way and means that were employed to get the law passed. It was anything but democratic. There were three appointed senators voting for the bill. That may not seem like much, but it is a big deal when 60 votes out of 100 are required to get anything done in the Senate; and there was plenty of bribing (kickbacks in exchange for votes) going on. By the time the bill went through the House, however, the votes weren’t there to re-pass the Senate, so they had to resort to arcane parliamentary proceedings to get final passage. For something as impactful and contentious as this law was, it was cheating the system and ramming it through at all costs even though people were jamming the phone lines of congressional offices voicing disapproval 5 to 1 at the switchboard.
It has been the tendency of the Supreme Court to allow overly broad interpretation of the commerce clause in the past. I don’t necessarily agree with the rationale that it pays deference to the democratic process as opposed to strict construction of the constitution, but I understand it to some extent. If these are things people want, then perhaps it should be let rest. Although, in writing for the Federalist, James Madison said that if the people have trust and affection for the national government and wish it to be more active, that it would still be limited in fact. But even by the democratic standards adopted in the mid-20th century, the Court could not justify letting this thing stand while so many people are looking to it to do the right thing and consider where the political power in the country rests.
I don’t know how it will rule on the case, but if the ruling is bad, like Arizona vs. United States, and the elections go to the right, the Court is going to have a few problems to work out. I would expect to see some judicial reform in 2013 for which there will be an enormous amount of political support; and when that happens, there is no telling what the court will look like when we’re finished with it. And in that case, overthrow just might be the appropriate word.