Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wednesday's Word: SCOTUS

Every time I see that word, I think scrotum. Maybe that's because I have my head in my pants, as my mother so eloquently puts it. However, considering the legacy of this SCOTUS, I'd rather have my head in my pants. Alas, I'm no perverse ostrich, and I'm gonna have to surface to comment.
SCOTUS, or Supreme Court of the United States, is now in the hot seat again.
To give a quick update to any ostriches out there, the Supreme Court is deliberating over whether Obama's health care bill is constitutional or not. What seems to be hanging on to the spotlight in particular is the individual mandate which dictates that every American must have health care by 2014 and will be monetarily penalized if they don't. It also offers a tax credit to those families making 100-400% ($11,000-$44,000) of the national poverty line.
Many critics say it is unconstitutional to force people into paying for health care, and penalizing them if they do not opt in. Others say that it is unjust to have those who do pay for health care carry the heavy burden of non-payers.
Now, the first deliberation came over the droll musings of the Anti-Injunction Act which basically ensures the efficient collection of taxes. It states that taxes must first be paid before they can be deemed unjust. The idea here is that if taxes were constantly deemed unjust before they headed to the government, judicial deliberation could take years (as we well know) before that hypothetical tax was paid, meanwhile the Federal Government would be...well, kind of like it is today...and we don't need any more kicks to the dying donkey (and elephant).
So, let's say that the taxation issue is a non-starter. Moving on to the next point: money aside, does the federal government reserve the right to force people into contractual agreements concerning health and money?
Well, let's break this down real quick: The health care market is a very unique one, as Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals remarked, and one that weighs down not only the federal government but also the aforementioned "opters-in." Silberman, appointed by Ronald Reagan, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and mentor to Clarence Thomas, is by anyone's standards, a staunch conservative. And he affirms the constitutionality of this bill. According to Silberman, the Commerce Clause upholds the federal governments right to create laws and mandates in the interest of the governments well being as a whole. There is nothing "in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent" that undercuts the constitutionality of this bill.
Silberman also stated, "the right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems.”
Now, Silberman is obviously not the be-all, end-all to this argument, but it opens up an interesting view point to the origins of this thinking.
In fact, conservative think tanks were the ones who first projected the idea of individual mandate. They wanted to get rid of the "free-loaders" of the system. Furthermore, with the backing of health insurance companies wanting everyone to throw a few bucks in, it brings in revenue for the corporate captains as well.
And if we can look back far enough, you'll notice that both Gingrich and Romney were fervent supporters of the bill until they started running for office.

Why am I focusing so much on the right side of this argument?
Plain and simple, because that's why it's in front of SCOTUS. The Republicans need to hit Obama hard, and whether they agree with him behind closed doors or not, they need to ensure that publicly, they stand as far away from his ideas as possible.
It is just another instance in the long string of left/right bantering that each side must throw stones and mud on the other in the name of their ideologies.
And these ideologies hold no water in the real world. Republicans think its ok to intervene in a woman's vagina but not in what cares for that vagina. They want to cut government spending but think raising taxes is too intrusive.
Democrats are not immune to shitty ideas either, don't get me wrong. I don't like Obama and I'm not a fan of much of his presidency. I think both sides are up to their necks in corporate blood money. This system needs a severe overhaul. That will take time, and a lot of work on our part, as the people.
But in this current battle in particular, the stark hypocrisy overshadows the bottom line: governments job is to govern. When things are bad and there is opportunity to make them better, government is duty-bound to act.
The Health Care Reform bill is imperfect. But what is far more imperfect is suggesting our governments move to govern is unconstitutional.