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Archive for June, 2012

I had prepared myself for what I perceived to be the inevitable striking down of the Individual Mandate and most likely the whole Affordable Care Act along with it. I believed that it would be struck down for two reasons:

First, because it’s a conservative court deciding on a very political issue during an election year.

Second, because I did question whether an individual mandate is constitutional.

In truth, I’m not the biggest fan of the Affordable Care Act. Despite the conservative propaganda, it’s actually a huge compromise for liberals. Many of us believe that a single payer program is the only true solution, and while this law makes some very beneficial changes, it ultimately staves off the type of reform I believe would truly fix the problem.

The Affordable Care Act borrows many Republican ideas (it’s modeled after “Romneycare”) and excludes many key liberal ideas (such as the public option) in an attempt to win some bipartisan support. This strategy backfired; however, and Republicans reject it and characterize it as a government take-over. So what I’m trying to say is that I would have preferred that we actually did a government take-over, especially since we’re being blamed for one anyway.

Nevertheless, I’m happy it was upheld for two reasons:

First, because a conservative Justice ruled against his own party on a very politically charged bill. It’s given me some hope that at least one branch of government can make non-partisan decisions. Granted, it was a 5 to 4 vote, so it was mostly partisan. And I will concede that it would be difficult for me to be as gleeful about it had a democratically controlled court ruled against the law.

Second, I’m glad it was upheld because now I feel very comfortable with the constitutionality of the law. Justice Roberts characterizes the Individual Mandate as a tax, and it is within the government’s power to tax for not purchasing insurance.   He did clarify that a person cannot be jailed for not paying the tax, so it’s not really a mandate when you think about it. I guess the decision wasn’t so difficult when you look at it that way.

Republicans also have reason to be happy. For one, the court did strike down the Federal mandate to extend Medicaid benefits. It’s unfortunate for the poor people who would have benefited, but the provision was problematic for many States’ budgets. In Colorado, we were having to take money from education, which also benefits the poor, in order to meet this requirement.

Republicans should also be glad that the individual mandate was upheld because the Paul Ryan Medicare reform will require it.

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