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Obamacare – The Last Battle in a War Almost Lost

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The United States Supreme Court just finished listening to three days of oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s attempt to remake the health care industry – Obamacare. At issue is the central section of the legislation requiring every person in the United States to purchase some sort of health care insurance. In essence, no more self-insuring or showing up at the local hospital emergency room when you get the flu, taking advantage of the rule that every patient be treated, regardless of ability to pay.

In more severe terms, the constitutional issue at stake here is the Founders’ apparently quaint old-fashioned concept that the Federal government is allowed certain enumerated and limited powers. As anyone with an IQ above that of a turnip knows, the notion that our Federal government, in its present iteration, pays any attention at all to enumeration or limitation when it comes to exercising power over the citizenry, is laughable.

While we’re certainly no fans of Obamacare, we’re not too awfully concerned with the Supreme Court’s decision one way or the other. Even if upheld, the legislation is likely to collapse under its own weight within a few years. Looking at it another way, a ruling in favor of the President’s health care initiative might be the very nail in the coffin of his chances for re-election in November. The populace is getting a mite nervous about this guy.

And regarding the hullabaloo of the three days of oral arguments? Court watchers hang on the nuance of each justice’s every uttering, but here’s the reality. Oral presentations from the government are largely a dog and pony show. You know, bread and circuses, as the Romans used to say. Something to keep the public thinking this republic still functions as advertised. The real work goes on behind the scenes when the justices and their law clerks tear into the wording of the legislation, and ponder the Big Questions.

In case you haven’t been tracking all the rigamarole, we can catch you up pretty quickly. There are three basic ideas to keep straight.

1.Anti-Injunction Act: The first issue for the Court to address is whether or not they have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which is the part of Obamacare requiring everyone to buy insurance. The Anti-Injunction Act precludes a person (or state government as the case may be) from challenging the legality of a tax until the tax has actually been assessed and collected. Since Obamacare is still theoretical at this point, having not been implemented, some legal analysts thought the Court might decline to hear arguments on this basis. Not a big deal to the justices, apparently, ’cause it was full speed ahead into day two.

2.Individual Mandate: Besides the ridiculous power grab it represents, the individual mandate in Obamacare will have a bottom line dollars and cents effect on the states’. During the second day of arguments, when the mandate was being defended and attacked, twelve state attorneys general were in attendance, cheering their side on. The ultimate issue is whether the government can compel you to buy insurance and then regulate the very thing they require. Anyone else see a slippery slope here? Actually, we’re way past slippery slope. We’re thrashing in the mud at the bottom of the hill. If the Obamacare individual mandate is allowed to stand, how will there ever be any limit to the power the government can wield? Remember how the US Constitution created a divided government (executive, legislative, and judicial) with a system of checks and balances? To allow the mandate as constitutional would upset the applecart, allowing the legislative branch what amounts to unrestrained power.

3.Severability: The last major issue for the Court to consider is, if the individual mandate is found unconstitutional, is can it be separated from the rest of the bill and thrown out, or must the entire Obamacare legislation be scrapped, and are their other related portions that must be struck down too?

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as the messy but crucial drama that constitutes due process in this country plays out on a global stage. Court watchers everywhere await the decision, which is sure to be a close vote, likely 5-4 one way or the other. Just keep this in mind. Your individual success or failure does NOT rely on government machination. Get out there and be an American, damn it!

The Holistic Survival Team

 

 

 

Flickr / Phil Roeder

 

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