This morning longtime loyal reader nubs goodyear sent the Palace an urgent missive, with the extremely flattering subject line “you nailed this weeks ago.” It seems nubs was referring to my June 28 post about the Supreme Court’s decision on the health care law, entitled Ask Iris: Why did Roberts do it? (Short answer: “Because he is a conservative. And not your typical dumbass conservative, either.”) Today’s missive from nubs contained a link to a blog post by conservative attorney Richard Bolen, in which a rather compelling case is made that Chief Justice John Roberts is a genius. A conservative genius.
Bolen’s point of view is the mirror image of the one I made in my earlier post: where he is deliriously happy that the ACA was upheld in the way it was, I am dismayed for the same reasons. Overturning the ACA (especially the mandate) was and is the only realistic hope of moving the country closer to single payer, instead of entrenching the craptastic for-profit system we currently “enjoy.” Bolen’s analysis is well worth reading in its entirety, but this is the gist of it:
So to recap the Roberts court through a brilliant tactical maneuver has: strengthened the limitations of the commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause by a unanimous decision, made Obama raise taxes on the poor and middle classes, converted Obamacare into a tax program repealable with 51 votes in the Senate, enhanced Romney’s and Republican’s fundraising and likelihood of being elected in November, weakened federal extortion and got the left to love Roberts and sing his praises all without anyone even noticing.
Here is one lefty who did take notice, does not love John Roberts, and is not singing his praises, either—except to note that he is very, very smart.
IRIS HAZ A SCARED.
In correspondence with my blogmates this morning about Bolen’s piece (and the Super Secret Palace plan to take over the world), I noted that the standard argument deployed against liberal critics of the health care law was “But it covers 30 million more people!” This is a reference to the Medicaid expansion provisions in the law, which the Roberts decision made optional for states as opposed to mandatory, thus gutting the “30 million people” argument. (States with conservative governors are now opting out in droves.) Nevertheless, the Medicaid expansion was certainly the most liberal provision of the ACA, in that millions of low-income Americans and their families would be eligible to enroll in the single-payer healthcare program known as Medicaid. Still, I never found the “30 million people” argument very compelling, since there would be many millions more left without health care. The “all of the people” argument is the only one that ever made any sense to me morally, practically or fiscally.
I once heard President Obama make the “30 million people” argument in person — to a chorus of “boos”— at a fundraiser in New York during the run up to passage of the law. As he artfully evaded offering any specifics of the law, a few wise
asses people interrupted him by yelling out “Single payer!” (This is New York City, people.) The president said in response to the hecklers: “Listen. The plan you least like,” (i.e., the most conservative plan then on the table in the Senate—associated with Max Baucus, I think?) “insures over 30 million more Americans.” Cue unenthusiastic smattering of claps—and more boos, including one from yours truly. Of course no one was booing the idea of 30 million more people getting (single payer) health care: we were booing because that is not nearly enough. And because here was the president openly defending a Senate bill that only a conservative could love: one without a public option.
It was also quite telling that at the same event my own congresscritter Jerry Nadler—a long-time proponent of single payer, and in lieu of that, a public option—was the target of a coordinated telephone campaign. We were all handed lists containing names and phone numbers of Rep. Nadler’s constituents, along with scripts to read, and instructed to call the people on our lists right then and there, and request that they call Nadler’s office and urge him to support “President Obama’s health insurance reform plan.” Naturally, we asked some of the Obamabots running the event what exactly “President Obama’s health insurance reform plan” was. It had never been articulated by the President, and we could not in good conscience ask anyone to support something without, you know, knowing what it is. In response to our inquiries we received some rather unimpressive blow offs, like “You just have to read between the lines,” and “Oh, it’s the public option,” and my personal favorite, “Trust me.” (Incidentally, it was also at this event that I first noticed a shift in framing from health care reform to health insurance reform.)
And so we refused to call our neighbors, and the organizers took our lists back and distributed them to others who were eagerly making calls. I was struck by one question: why on Earth would Barack Obama need to pressure Jerry Nadler — Jerry Nadler! — to pass a health care reform bill? I did the political calculus, and told my Amazing Lover™ that this thing was already in the bag: there would be no public option. As it turned out, the White House had already sealed the deal with the major players, Big Pharma and the insurers. All that remained was getting those
ungrateful fucking retarded drug addicts liberals in the House to stop digging in their heels on the public option, and the president was very shrewdly using low-information liberal voters to do it.
Fans and foes alike would probably agree that Barack Obama is indeed quite bright himself. But whether he is any match for Chief Justice Roberts is another matter. At present, all signs point to “No.” In any case, the two are not all that far apart politically.