Saturday, August 13, 2011

Darling, I Don't Know Why We Go to Supremes

So, the 11th Circuit strikes down the mandate to buy health insurance as "unconstitutional." Since the 6th Circuit already says it is constitutional, now we have a split in the Circuits that likely means the Supreme Court will actually hear it. (There is only a slight hope that the 11th Circuit en banc, that is, all the judges on the Circuit, rehear the case and overturn its panel  - then the Supremes could still dodge). I will keep following these developments and refer you to a great blog I read on this and other matters. And the anti-Obama-health-care-reform crowd sure wants to get it to the high court. Which, when you think about it, is kind of funny. (Hint: they usually don't like the Supreme Court telling us what to do).
And the Supremes
Billy Joel

But it did make me think of the Billy Joel song:
I don't know why I go to extremes
Too high or too low there ain't no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall 
It's all or nothing at all
Darling I don't know why I go to extremes
Because, the interesting thing about the 11th Circuit opinion, it is not an all or nothing proposition. They struck down the mandate to buy health insurance which was important as the mechanism to finance private health insurance for nearly all. And it was the private, big-time, health insurance corporations who pushed for this part of the deal to make it work. The 11th Circuit kept all the other provisions intact. So, we would still have all these appropriate, and popular, and apparently constitutional provisions on extended coverage, no pre-existing condition limitations, transportability, etc.

The Supreme Court also doesn't like to declare anything unconstitutional more than the 11th Circuit does. So, even if they do hear it, and if they decide 5-4 (at most) that the mandate is against the founders' vision of the Commerce Clause, the ACA (health care reform law) is still there stuck without a good funding mechanism. I'm sure Congress will just pick up the tab and, hmm. . . .

What I'm getting at is that we don't get many bright-lines, up-or-downs, easy-way-outs, etc. in our inspired Constitutional system. What we get is an opportunity to work out our differences for the common good. (That whole "We the People" "more perfect Union" sort of thing. Sounds inspired to me!) Congress has a lot of  work to do on this and many other matters - the principle one being to recognize they are a national, representative body of all the people - not any particular class or guild of Munchkins against the others (or even the Winkies)..

I like the idea of everybody having affordable access to health care. Is there really anybody who doesn't? I don't care so much how we do it. And, IMO, don't think our President does either. He did something remarkable in getting that Health Care Reform Law, a principal campaign goal, through Congress the best way he could to address a Democratic issue since Truman. And it was certainly no more a sneaky, middle of the night, evil plot than Boehner's Lollipop Guild, debt-ceiling crisis buffoonery. It's just a matter of political taste of the season. That's representative democracy, folks, in all its Churchillian better-than-any-alternatives reality.

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