Sorry for the lack of blogging; we’ve been having some technical difficulties that are being hammered out by a gracious reader who knows more about these things than I do. Still, we’re in business, so I want to comment on this ruling that Republicans are cheering on by a federal district judge. Republicans are executing a typical maneuver of blowing something out of proportion in order to score political points, the kind of political game-playing they beat the Democrats at all the time (in part, because they’re even less beholden to the desire to be honest). I think they’re jumping the gun. I don’t really see the Supreme Court using this to kill health care reform, even as conservative as they are.
For one thing, the part of the bill that’s being contested is the only part that you can make a constitutional case over, in the real world—the individual mandate. I’m not a lawyer, but I know well enough, and I suspect that just because you overturn part of the law doesn’t mean the whole thing has to go. To make it worse for the anti-HCR folks, the part of the bill that they’re attacking is the part that is most desired by the insurance companies. The Republicans, who are usually such kings at screwing the little guy while fighting for big business, have created a situation where there’s a high chance they took away the biggest protection for insurance profits in the bill. Dumb move, one that I think they’re probably busy reconsidering as the phone calls pour in.
I’m not as skeptical of the need for an individual mandate as Atrios is, because I do think the evidence is in that it lower costs. On the other hand, so much of this bill was a giveaway to big business that I can’t help but think it’s necessary to do something to reduce that aspect. Plus, the individual mandate is just politically toxic. Republicans who think they’re going to get one over on the Democrats by getting rid of that aspect are sorely mistaken; it just makes the whole thing look like a better deal for consumers.
But honestly, the whole thing is moot. This is the kind of lawsuit where I could see only Clarence Thomas being enough of a partisan hack to go along with it, and that’s basically it. The rest is showboating, and Republicans thinking it’s a good idea to keep health care reform in the news cycle as much as possible before it really is under way and people start understanding what a benefit it is.