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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Impossible Dream?

As we await the Supreme Court's judgment on the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," this morning at 9 o'clock Texas time, your Head Trucker is filled with pessimism. I very much fear that the justices will eviscerate the law, which means the cruel, obscene lack of universal healthcare in this country will go on, perhaps for decades longer. And all because of the wicked, coldhearted opposition of the thieving, lying, greedy Republicans and their bloodsucking determination to make billions in profits out of human need and suffering.

For a full century now, ever since Teddy Roosevelt called for a national insurance plan in his 1912 "Bull Moose" campaign, the dark, cunning powers of the wealthy and the hypocritical have kept strangling this idea at birth, an idea that should be a vibrant reality, and the birthright of every American, indeed of every human being the world over. FDR, Truman, JFK, Clinton, even Nixon, for God's sake, have all tried to bring this to fruition, but all were rebuffed by the reactionary opposition of the profit-mongers.

With these thoughts in mind, I have turned my gaze once more to Canada, where is displayed what should be here in our own country: a humane, effective, and much-loved system of universal health insurance that covers all regardless of ability to pay. This little video made in 2009 is just one of many available on YouTube that illustrate the Canadian system; I share this one with you all because it makes the point so simply and so well that it brings a tear to my eye - perhaps when you watch it, you will understand why.

Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo writes this morning:
The fact that the Court might completely void the law is the consequence of an extremely esoteric oversight. The challengers’ case rests on a legal theory hatched explicitly to achieve a political end. That’s why most Constitutional scholars continue to believe the case for the law is strong, even if its legal chances have dimmed over the past several months. And that’s the reason why it would be extraordinary and condemnable if the Court throws the whole thing out anyhow.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said yesterday, "If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what's left of it."

One small glimmer of hope in the gathering gloom, though: some think that if the mandate is struck down, it would in fact pave the way for a single-payer system nationwide.

And Ted Frier in Salon offers an instructive insight into the current Supreme Court, which for the first time in history counts not a single Protestant among its members, who include the buffoonish, openly partisan Justice Scalia:
I'm convinced Scalia would like to see the country governed just like the Catholic Church of his pre-Vatican II dreams while he and the bishops win back the faith and trust of followers through brute force and intimidation and showing the unlettered masses who's boss.

I've long maintained that one cannot understand the behavior of the current conservative Court majority without also appreciating its affinity for a traditional hierarchy that is an indelible hallmark of the autocratic Catholicism to which all five members of this right wing majority are devoted.

Both the Catholic bishops and the conservative Catholic members of the Court, after all, are attempting to resuscitate a discredited and disgraced elite and restore it to power. . . .

See also this interactive guide from the Washington Post on how today's ruling, whatever it is, will affect you.

BREAKING: Live from ScotusBlog at 10:13 a.m., Washington time:
The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read.

Apparently a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee, uncharacteristically voting with the left of the court. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

10:20 a.m.: Justice Kennedy, the swing voter who often sides with the liberal wing of the court on social issues, surprisingly joined the conservative justices in voting against the law. The majority, however, held that the individual mandate is a tax, and thus well within the constitutional authority of Congress to impose on citizens.

10:28 a.m.: Justice Kennedy, writing for the dissenting minority, says, "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." So God bless the Chief Justice, who either has an actual heart, or at least an eye to the history books.

Your Head Trucker cries Shame! Shame! Shame! and every condign imprecation upon on the heads of the four dissenting justices, whose names will most certainly be engraved in infamy.

10:35: So the entire ACA is held to be consitutional indeed, and the only penalty for an individual who doesn't obey the mandate to purchase insurance is a penalty that you have to pay when you file your income tax - I think it's $695, which is less than many people get back every year from the IRS. So a damn good win for the side of the angels.

10:38: The full text of the healthcare decision is now online.

10:45: It occurs to your Head Trucker that this decision makes Obama's victory in November much more likely now. If you doubt that, just consider what his position would have been had the Court thrown out the law that he staked so much of his prestige on. I'll bet his balls are clanking at every step he takes now.

If only the meek, mild, nicey-nice Democrats in Congress will now go out and pound the stumps and stir up some fucking enthusiasm before voting day!

10:59: The Court has now recessed until October 1, and the decision goes into the history books, allowing the life of the Republic to continue trudging along, as it so often as, sometimes slipping, sliding, or stumbling, but somehow in the long run always onward and upward toward a more perfect union.

Though many improvements remain to be made in our healthcare system and how it is funded, at least from this moment on, no longer will healthcare be the privilege of the wealthy and the well-off and the well-connected. From today forward, it will be considered not merely the privilege, but the inalienable right of every citizen - even if the Court has not used that language in today's ruling. From henceforth, universal healthcare will be regarded as the birthright of every American, rich or poor, high or low. It may yet take awhile for this realization to dawn in every mind, in every heart, but dawn it will, and that right soon, I have no doubt.

And I thank God for that.

The Supreme Court


Tim said...

Third World - ouch! Fingers crossed the Justices forget the cost and see the need.

Frank said...

The problem with the current health care reform law before the Supreme Court is that it is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the Canadian system. While it may be better than what came before, it is still a hodgepodge of dysfunctional health care providers, insurance, co-pays, and billing nightmares.

For some reason Canadian government is able to pass laws that benefit the majority and despite special interests, they say to opponents, "too bad, this is the way it's going to be, get over it."

I am not sure how the US got to be so divided, so ideological on almost every major issue, but I don't see us getting out of our gridlock anytime soon. It seems we only get more intrenched.

Russ Manley said...

Oh I agree, Frank: from what little I know of the current healthcare act, it's a dog's breakfast of ridiculous complexity. What's needed is what Canada has: a nationwide single-payer system, free to all at the point of access, administered by the states according to federal guidelines and requirements for services. Doctors would still be independent proprietors, but they would bill the government, not the patients.

But why we can't agree on something so simple and so fundamental is beyond me, too. And the working people of this country are so wound up with Republicanism that they keep voting to stay in the concentration camp! It just makes me want to throw up, you know?

David said...

Surprise! They've basically upheld it. I'm shocked frankly, but in a good way.

Russ Manley said...

I'm shocked and stunned too, totally not what I expected - but weeping here with relief and joy.

Tim said...

Congratulations, a big step forward. Now you have to stop the Republicans attempting a repeal.

Frank said...

An interesting decision which will have a ripple effect in the political arena for sure.

I certainly agree about the need for a single payer system, but I'm not holding my breath. Perhaps a whole slew of republicans will be thrown out of office and Obama will be reelected and Santa and E. Bunny will attend the inaugural ball.

Davis said...

My relatives and friends in Canada think we are just plain nuts for not having their kind of system.

Russ Manley said...

Frank - Single-payer may be a long way off, and just like marriage equality, we may not see it everywhere in our lifetimes - but today's ruling keeps hope alive.

Davis - I'm sure they do, and they are absolutely right.

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