Monday, April 09, 2012

Continuing Health Care Controversy

As a Fox News contributor and longtime Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer is a fixture on the Establishment, non-theocratic Republican right.         He always has been hugely anti-Obama and  has been relentlessly critical of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the President's outrageous suggestion that the will of the people, as mediated through their congressional representatives, ought to be of some interest to the Supreme Court.

Krauthammer recently has taken to spanking Democrats for their supreme and, he believes, thoroughly unjustified, confidence the Court would find the PPACA constitutional.     In a recent column, he charged "Democrats are reeling.   Obama was so taken aback, he hasn't even drawn up contingency plans should his cherified reform be struck down."

Some guys were just born yesterday.     When he appeared at a press conference on April 2 with President Calderon of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada, President Obama was asked "You say it's not an abstract conversation.   Do you have any contingency plans?"

Granted, the President could have said "submit a proposal for expanded Medicare coverage" or "find another means to provide care for the 40 million Americans without health insurance" or "give up and try again if I'm re-elected."      And surely when a football coach, in the midst of a trying season, is asked what his "contingency plans" are if the team keeps losing, could offer a plan.     But of course he wouldn't; to do so would be to acknowledge that he expects to continue losing, and thereby open Pandora's box or open up a can of worms or (insert cliche here ____).      Reporters would, understandably, ask him why, if more losses are expected, he continued to pursue the strategy he had or even whether he plans to resign.     Instead, asked about his plans if the team continues to lose, the coach would say, roughly:    We're not expecting to lose.    Next question, please.

Similarly, to expect the President to admit to contingency plans is awfully naive.      He replied "I'm confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld."     Krauthammer questioned not Obama's sincerity but instead the President's awareness of the possibility the Court would overturn the legislation.        Obama's expression of confidence may not have been sincere but was the only sensible response.

Of course, no Repub condemnation of health care reform is complete without a swipe at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whom, Krauthammer maintains, was unconcerned about the bill's constitutionality.    He then remarked

As was Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.). As Michael Barone notes, when Hare was similarly challenged at a 2010 town hall, he replied: “I don’t worry about the Constitution.” Hare is now retired, having been shortly thereafter defeated for reelection by the more constitutionally attuned owner of an East Moline pizza shop.

Krauthammer's attacks on the PPACA lacked only the common one of members of Congress having failed to read the entire bill. Typical was this criticism of Nancy Pelosi in March, 2010 on a blog on the site of the Heritage Foundation, whose support of an individual mandate laid the groundwork for its inclusion in Romneycare and later Obamacare.    

Other members allegedly chose not to read the Act.    But few if any boasted about their ignorance of the legislation.       That would be left to the oh, so awesome Justice Scalia, whose prior support of an expansive interpretation of the commerce clause played a major role in confidence among Democrats- and constitutional lawyers of varying ideological bent- that the Court would uphold the PPACA.       On the last day of debate, the well-respected (perhaps owing to some intellectual pretension) Justice and stand-up comedian Antonin Scalia rhetorically asked  

Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.) And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?

It's bad enough that Justice Scalia believes that mandating health care coverage is akin to the purchase of broccoli.     Or that the "Cornhusker Kickback" made it into the final legislation.      Here, though, he is not only demonstrating ignorance but is proud of it.          Undoubtedly, some members of Congress did not  read the health care bill.    But staff members may have, and at least the legislators know enough not to revel in their lack of lack of knowledge.       But Scalia's remark was as if other partisan Republicans would deny human contribution to climate change.   Or that the Bush tax cuts have been the primary contributor to gigantic budget deficits.     Or that contraception curbs unwanted pregnancy, hence abortions.     Or that.... oh, never mind.

Note:     I will not be posting again until sometime next weekend (April 14/15).       Please return then for scintillating commentary.     Or whatever it might be.

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