Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

GOP's greatest fear about Obamacare: it will work. Saturday's Show we debate the Affordable Care Act.

   Yesterday I addressed two areas of argument Ryan Ripley---libertarian, Libertarian, host of "The Shill Report" on Indiana Talks and my opponent in a debate on the constitutionality of Obama care we shall wage on Saturday's Show from 11 am to 1 pm---has offered opinion.

   One quick comment about yesterday's blog. Colleague and friend Paul Ogden pointed out the Supreme Court's decision on ACA held the Commerce Clause does not provide the basis for the Federal Government's ability to create and operate such a program. I agree with his statement. My position on the affirmative in this debate---that ACA or Obamacare is constitutional---is atypical in policy debate. Usually the affirmative attacks the status quo. Here, I defend it. I defend it on grounds different than those found by the Supreme Court. There are a lot of decisions by the Court that reach conclusions with which I agree but by means with which I disagree.

   A third point (actually Ryan's second as listed in his e-mail to me) of opposition to ACA is that existing Supreme Court precedent did not deal with "inactivity." He points out that the Court's "decision is an unprecedented expansion of power that did not have a basis in past case law at the [F]ederal level." (He did not capitalize "Federal." I do.)) This is an argument that ignores the reality of health care. That a person will require health care at some point in her or his life is a near one hundred percent (100%) probability. That a person will require health care in a hospital is at nearly the same percentage. With longer life expectancies, overall, we also have greater need for end-of-life health care. As a person breathes and walks around in the pristine air of downtown Indianapolis, and crosses the streets upon which automobiles are operated by drivers whose abilities are no doubt beyond reproach, that person is inches and seconds (space and time) away froma trip to the hospital. As I pointed out yesterday, the Framers did not face a health care "system" in 1787. In those days, doctors doubled as barbers and used leaches for just about anything. Later, to the benefit of Poe's writings, they employed laudanum. There were few, if any, hospitals. The Framers had no concept of health care as a Multi-billion-dollar industry operated by a few with profits as high as they are today. The impact on interstate commerce is very real. The Court has held, in the past, that even if activity be local, and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.  Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 125 (1942).

   The fourth point (third on the e-mail list) is that the "Individual Mandate Rests on an Unbounded and Unprincipled Assertion of Federal Power." (His caps, not mine.)  We are not dealing with interstate commerce of a minor commodity. If we were to discuss interstate commerce of home-brewed beer or hand-made model electric-train cars in HO scale, there might be an argument to advance that the "reach" of the Federal government is too great. The Constitutional Convention met as a result of the near-chaos of commerce under the Articles of Confederation. Hamilton saw the need for a strong central government, both for commerce and for national defense. The power in the ACA is no more "unbounded" than the power of the Federal government to regulate pollution in streams or freight on semi-trailers or railroads. In fact, it is the lack of such Federal regulation that has led to our enormously expensive and inefficient health care system. I do not know what Mr. Ripley means by "unprincipled." If he means it is "lacking sound moral principles" (American College Dictionary, 1962 ed.), I would disagree. The objectives of the legislation are provision of health care to many who do not now have such care legally and readily available to them. If anything is unprincipled, it is a system that rewards insurance company CEOs with eight-figure bonuses for buy-outs of competitors contemporaneous with provision of less-than-adequate health care at exorbitant prices.Mr. Ripley quotes Hamilton from Federal 17 for the proposition that the Commerce Clause did not extend Congressional authority to "the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a similar nature, all those things, in short, which are proper to be provided for by local legislation." This concept of a limited Federal government was left by the wayside long ago. One cannot seriously argue agriculture is outside the scope of the Commerce Clause. As I have previously noted, the Framers' perspectives were limited by the times in which they lived. However, they wrote a document that could be adapted to the country's needs as the country grew.

   We shall stream live on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ryan Ripley and I shall debate Obamacare. I encourage everyone to listen as the exchange should be fun and enlightening.  

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