Was it a critical decision? I’m not really certain about that in the big picture. And, by big picture, I mean long term. Why? Because in the long term, everything can change. The Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision issued on January 21, 2010 which undid nearly a century of settled law, the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 which overturned the Dred Scott v Sanford decision of 1857 (probably the worst SCOTUS decision of ALL TIME), and Brown v Board of Education in 1954 had to overturn the precedent of Plessy v Ferguson from 1896, amongst others. The doctrine of stare decisis is less and less meaningful as we become more and more politicized at every branch and level of society, and as we become less and less educated. So, yes, though I promised to pick up on last week’s column, the SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act and the ensuing madness has prompted me to deviate from that. Next week, will see the promised second part of the education column. However, I do see a very strong connection. Many of the arguments that are being thrown around are being put out by people who simply have no education about the facts. They do not have a clue what they are talking about. They are also over-reacting.
First, let us clear up a few things.
One, I am not a big fan of the ACA. It is better than nothing, but it barely qualifies as progress. The first thing that must always be said about it is that every single piece of it originated from the right. This is not in the same sense that I have been trying to drive home for a few years now and, that others have started to echo, that there is no visible left in America. This is, if you accept what Faux News and the rest of the mainstream media defines as the left and right in American politics, every piece of the ACA originated from the right and then was adopted by the “left”. After it was adopted by the “left”, and thus should have had “bi-partisan” support, then it was attacked by the “right”. This is the ridiculousness of the game being played by the far right wing in this country. This is why there are those, even on the far right, who are finally starting to admit that in the media’s attempt to be fair, they are being dishonest. In the attempt to give each “side” equal recognition, they are committing a lie that each side is equally valid. The individual mandate, for example, which was the focus of so much right wing ire, was the brain child of the Heritage Foundation, as so clearly explained here by Peter Ferrara who at the time was the “John M. Olin Distinguished Fellow in Political Economy” at said Foundation. It was an answer to Clinton’s attempts to move the health care system forward, but to do it on the worker’s backs instead of at the expense of the employer.
The point is that it is not an over-reach by the left. Not even if we let “the left” be defined by the mainstream media. It was passed through by the Democrats, yes. But, it is a Republican bill through and through.
Second, the damn thing is really complicated and there are some good parts in it that will benefit many Americans – allowing younger Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, preventing insurance companies from refusing to insure due to pre-existing conditions, and removal of lifetime benefit caps, for example. Being such a complicated law, it affects pretty much everyone top to bottom, and one source of reasonably accurate information is here. Most of the law does not, however, go into effect until 2014. By then, the infighting of the Republicans and the Democrats may have killed off parts of it, to the point where it may be pointless. In fact, that was likely the very reason it was pushed out to 2014 in the first place. (Much like the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and its recommendations were set far enough out so that the the sequestering would never actually take place. The congress would have time to act and make sure of that. It is all a dog and pony show. Neither the ruling members of Democrats nor the Republicans are serious about keeping their promises to actually accomplish anything positive for the country. They are both in favor of serving their highest paying contributors and staying in power. Any appearance of serving the rest of us is only an illusion created in the interest of staying in power.)