Archive for March, 2012

Post-ObamaCare: Have Republicans Learned Their Lesson?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Originally posted at the Republican Liberty Caucus

Given that the third and final day of ObamaCare Supreme Court oral arguments are now complete, I’d like to focus more on the political implications of what has occurred thus far rather than spending time analyzing the details of the case, which several others have done with far more of expertise than I could ever provide. I particularly recommend the Wall Street Journal live blogs (day one summary, day two, and day three), and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s comprehensive coverage at PPACAction.com.

While we won’t know until June whether ObamaCare will be struck down, either in part or as a whole, it’s certainly safe to say there’s a chance that the individual mandate will be declared unconstitutional, thus creating chaos that will need to be addressed one way or the other. Justice Kennedy and others made note of potential impending disaster in that regard today, as reported by Brett Kendall at the Wall Street Journal:

“Several justices express concern about doing harm to insurance companies if the mandate falls but the rest of the law is left in place.  Justice Kennedy worries about imposing a ‘risk’ on insurance companies ‘that Congress never intended.'”

The Justices who made note of the trouble with striking down the individual mandate while keeping the law’s other provisions have a very good point. The entire aim of the mandate, in theory, was to avoid an adverse selection situation where only those who actively need insurance would seek it out while the healthy would then determine that remaining uninsured until they got sick was economically viable. Given the chaos that could ensue if the law is partially upheld, which could certainly happen, means that Republicans need to be prepared to address either strike-down scenario – and in my humble opinion, a ruling that declares only the individual mandate unconstitutional (which the liberal Justices seemed to be pushing for today) would actually be worse, and absolutely destroy private insurance companies. Nevertheless, as I touched upon in my Day two analysis of the SCOTUS hearings over at my personal blog CorieWhalen.com, conservatives need to be very cautious in regards to declaring imminent victory in the event that the court does in fact declare ObamaCare unconstitutional; even as a whole. Winning a battle, important as it might be, certainly does not imply victory in an overall, extremely extensive war.

However, let’s assume for a moment that ObamaCare is declared unconstitutional in its entirety. The obligatory period of celebration will inevitably occur, but where will we really be as conservatives? Right back where we were when the left, during the Bush years and 2008 election, framed the narrative in a manner that convinced voters that Republicans had no solutions regarding this important matter. And honestly, is that premise even entirely inaccurate when Republican ideas regarding health care have in recent history been either virtually non-existent or only marginally less evil than the absurdities served up by Democrats? Republicans in the latter half of the 20th century, and particularly post-Reagan, have been incredible at screaming about Democratic proposals while inevitably compromising in the direction of further government growth – perhaps slowing the car headed toward the cliff down a few miles per hour, but in no way changing the vehicle’s direction.

(more…)

ObamaCare at the SCOTUS, Day 2

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Well, well. It certainly looks like ObamaCare underwent quite a critical analysis today in the Supreme Court. Listening to Solicitor General Donald Verrelli bend logic to defend this constitutionally questionable piece of legislation was interesting to say the least, and certainly, one of the more important aspects was the reactions from Justice Kennedy, who is largely seen as the man who will be the key swing vote.

The good folks over at the Texas Public Policy Foundation succinctly summarized today well by saying:

“Several of the justices expressed skepticism about the propriety of the mandate. Justice Kennedy stated that the mandate ‘changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.’ Justice Scalia said that a law which violates the principle of limited powers cannot be ‘proper’ within the meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause. And Justices Roberts and Alito seemed deeply troubled by the government’s inability to articulate a limiting principle for the federal commerce power.”

And as for Kennedy, the most notable comment from him comes via today’s direct transcript, grabbed from a tweet I saw earlier via Lachlan Markay of the Heritage Institute:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Can you identify for us some limits on the Commerce Clause?

GENERAL VERRILLI: Yes. The — the rationale purely under the Commerce Clause that we’re advocating here would not justify forced purchases of commodities for the purpose of stimulating demand. We — the — it would not justify purchases of insurance for the purposes — in situations in which insurance doesn’t serve as the method of payment for service -­

JUSTICE KENNEDY: But why not? If Congress — if Congress says that the interstate commerce is affected, isn’t, according to your view, that the end of the analysis.

While Kennedy’s skepticism in that regard sounds promising, of course, the truth is that it’s rather difficult to predict a case’s outcome based solely on the oral arguments. We can never know if the Justices are engaged in a devil’s advocate type of behavior with their lines of questioning, but it’s certainly reasonable to assume that Justice Kennedy did in fact have some reservations. At the very least, he was certainly one of the most engaged Justices during Verrilli’s statements.

Another aspect of the Kennedy question comes from Senator Mike Lee, who I again am relying upon to share some insider info. As a Senator and constitutional lawyer who was present at today’s oral arguments, he certainly has some valuable insight. Given that he was there in person, Senator Lee makes some interesting notes about Kennedy’s body language that we otherwise miss out on listening to the oral arguments audio alone.

(more…)

ObamaCare at the SCOTUS, Day One

Monday, March 26th, 2012

As anyone who pays even a remote bit of attention to politics knows, the first oral arguments surrounding ObamaCare (Florida v. HHS) were heard in the Supreme Court today. As a result, I wanted to put together a brief summary of what’s at stake. There’s no doubt that the ruling in this case will set an unbelievably important precedent; likely as monumental as both Wickard v. Fiburn (the first case to massively expand the commerce clause) and Roe v. Wade (the infamous ruling on abortion that took away a state’s right to regulate the procedure).

Constitutional lawyer and Senator, Mike Lee (who happens to be one of my favorite elected officials) put together a great pre-game analysis:

 

 
(more…)

Rally For Religious Freedom

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Today across the entire nation at noon local time, countless Americans gathered to protest the Obama administration’s war on religious freedom. While I hold a rather secular view of politics and am personally indifferent to the matter of contraception, I take issue with the federal government violating anyone’s first amendment rights.

My friend Kevin Williams, a devout Catholic and fellow tea party activist, organized Houston’s Rally for Religious Freedom, and was able to get over 1,200 people out to downtown Houston on a gorgeous Friday afternoon. I was pleased to be one of the speakers, and it was great to address a crowd I might not normally find myself in. However, when one individual’s rights are violated, we’re all impacted.

Despite the media’s framing, the issue at hand isn’t about the merits of contraception or the false notion that conservatives are trying to ban it (Griswold v. Connecticut assured that such a thing won’t ever happen, and no serious conservatives are pursuing that) – the matter is about the basic constitutional right to a freedom of conscience. I addressed all of these issues and more in my speech (ignore the craziness surrounding the helicopter at the beginning!)

(Thanks to my friend Joshua Esteban Parker for filming).