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The main event

Cal Thomas's picture

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments in the healthcare lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.”

We now know the law was based on phony predictions about its cost. After promising the price would be under $940 billion over 10 years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a correction of its initial estimate, which appears to have been based on sleight of hand accounting tactics by congressional Democrats and the White House. CBO now projects the measure will cost taxpayers at least $1.76 trillion over a decade.

Randy E. Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse professor of legal theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, is troubled by the administration’s shifting rationale in its defense of the healthcare law: “First they told us this was an easy ‘Commerce Clause’ case. Then they (said) it was an exercise of the Tax Power. Now it is the Necessary and Proper Clause. If the mandate was so obviously constitutional, the government would not be shifting its position 10 days before oral argument.”

Ilya Somin, an associate professor at George Mason University School of Law, adds, “Despite this seeming shift, the federal government’s brief almost completely fails to consider the question of whether the mandate is ‘proper,’ as well as ‘necessary.’ The Supreme Court has made clear that these are two separate requirements, both of which have to be met. And a law that can only be defended by a rationale that gives Congress a blank check to enact virtually any other mandate clearly is not ‘proper.’”

Many wonder what will happen to needed reforms in healthcare should the individual mandate — the heart of Obamacare — be struck down. That question is answered in a timely new book published by the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy research organization, titled “The Great Experiment: The States, the Feds and Your Healthcare.”

In a series of essays compiled by Joshua Archambault, director of Health Care Policy at the Pioneer Institute, and with a forward by Jeffrey S. Flier, M.D., the dean of Harvard Medical School, experts propose the states take the lead in reforming healthcare, as Massachusetts did, rather than dictate a one-size-fits-all system from dysfunctional Washington.

The authors propose what they call “Competitive Federalism” that would allow for a federal partnership, but permit states to fashion their own approach to healthcare based on their individual circumstances. Refundable tax credits, high-risk pools and Medicaid reform are among the specific recommendations for maintaining the high quality of healthcare America now enjoys while providing coverage and reducing costs for people whose access to care is now limited and for those now paying the bills.

Along with the bipartisan Medicare reform plan developed last year by Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis), which was dismissed by supporters of the status quo who prefer the issue to a solution, these are serious and doable proposals that deserve congressional consideration.

As Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios writes, “Despite years of effort and mountains of regulations, the federal government has proven incapable of screening for quality (healthcare), and acting on that information. It is time for states and the federal government to hit the reset button.”

The Supreme Court might give them that opportunity. We should know by June how the likely slim majority will rule. Much of our future depends on the Court’s decision because it goes to the heart of what the government can be allowed to impose on a free people.

If the high court doesn’t invalidate the individual mandate, there will be no stopping government from threatening our most valuable possession: liberty.

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.] ©2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.


Cal says that "If the high court doesn't invalidate the individual mandate, there will be no stopping government from threatening our most valuable possession: liberty."

How is Cal's liberty threatened by the healthcare act? I bet you Cal has health insurance so the mandate will not affect him.

The individual mandate in the healthcare act means everyone must take responsibility for their own health. I thought such individual responsibility was a conservative value?

I don't understand why a healthier America is so frightening to conservatives.


albion's picture

As a card-carrying member of the right-wing echo chamber, Cal can feel it all slipping away. He and Rush and Hannity will soon be put out to pasture as their collective message and partisan, wing-nut opinion network becomes increasingly discredited and irrelevant.

If you take away the fear-mongering and conduct an objective review of the facts, you discover that the ACA is not far removed from fairly recent conservative think-tank proposals, or from that of ex-governor Romney, the apparently inevitable Republican presidential nominee.

This is purely the self-serving political theater of the increasingly absurd right-wing opposition. The pupose of which appears to be a return to the failed policies of the past. Dismantling, derugulating and denying have taken the place of building, growing, oversight and the acceptance of scientific evidence.

lion, you will not understand the failed logic unless you drink the Kool-Aid. Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

Squawking about threats to freedom and liberty are indicative of the modern, paranoid conservative, unable to accept the realities of the modern world, preferring a return to an idyllic time that's never been.

The hypocricy is stunning. According to Cal the government can't make you buy insurance, but they can force you to undergo an invasive medical procedure with no health benefit, in an effort to govern your personal behavior.

The individual mandate put 15 million Americans onto the books of the free-market insurance companies. It's not a government takeover of healthcare and not socialism either. It's a continuation of the flawed idea that health care coverage should be a for-profit endeavor. Why? Why should we hold on to this crazy business model. The American people do not benefit from this approach.

"All generalizations are false, including this one." - Mark Twain

It appears anything associated with Obama. Now that's sad. We've seen this attitude before. When Harold Washington was elected Mayor in Chicago, the white Democrats became Republicans, and for years they fought Washington at every turn until it was obvious that their lack of cooperation was detrimental to all citizens in Chicago. We have leaders, both conservative and liberal, who are capable of finding solutions to our problems - but this ideological divide hampers progress.

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