Friday, June 29, 2012
Affordable Care Act upheld
Yesterday, against all expectations, Chief Justice John Roberts knocked the political world off its axis by providing the decisive vote for the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act passed by Congress in 2010.
Supreme Court decisions are often earth-shaking in their implications, but this one is exceptionally so. Yesterday was an historic day. The ramifications --social, financial, political --are enormous. But, for this post, I focus on the political.
Here's the thing: this decision by the Supreme Court is a win for everybody. Consider:
President Obama and Democrats win for obvious reasons. The legislation that ground its way through the Congressional sausage-stuffer for one agonizing year, when Democrats held big majorities in both houses, is upheld and will move forward. Even Democrats who lost their seats in the right-wing backlash election of 2010 can be happy for that. It means that their sacrifice counted. Those votes, wrung out of reluctant swing district congresspersons by the furious whipping of the White House, Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid paid off. At long last, and over the furious opposition of nativists and reactionaries, this country has taken a major step toward universal health coverage.
Health insurance companies win big, too. This legislation effectively kills the two health care solutions that would have proved lethal to them: Medicare for all and the so-called "public option." The health insurance middlemen can continue to take their cut out of the health care pie for acting as stingy intermediaries between providers and patients. In 2007, the U.S. spent $2.26 trillion on health care, or $7,439 per person. That's a big, big pie.
The Supreme Court wins because it diminishes the heretofore growing perception that it was another partisan political entity rather than a non-partisan adjudicator and interpreter of the Constitution. I've heard speculation that this consideration may actually have swayed Chief Justice Roberts' ruling. And why not? In this age, cynicism seems to be the safest posture.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans win because it allows them to feed off the anger and hatred this decision will generate among the redneck rabble. Word has it that within minutes of the Supreme Court's announcement the yahoos were ordering up white cotton tee-shirts with "Impeach Roberts" stenciled across the chest. Republicans feed on anger and hatred and this decision gives them a heapin' helpin'. Go, Mitt, go!
So, politically at least, this decision is a win for just about everybody. As for the legislation being the ideal, most common-sense solution to our health care problem --well, not so much.