January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
In my post entitled “Abuse of Power”, I expressed my opinion of the decision by GOP Governors, enthusiastically joined by our own Rick Perry, to withhold medical care from millions of Americans too poor to afford health insurance. I am convinced that choice was and is an outrage.
In that post I referred to the Supreme Court’s ruling that disallowed the provision of the Affordable Care Act that would deny Medicaid funding to any state that refused to expand the program. I wrote that the “GOP’s faithful five” justice were responsible for that ruling. That was an error. I relied on press reports instead of reading the opinion, a lapse for which I am embarrassed.
Seven of the nine justices agreed that the AFC’s threat to withhold all Medicaid funding from any state which failed to expand Medicaid was unconstitutional. Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented on that issue. Justices Breyer and Kagan joined the “Faithful Five” to issue an invitation to governors like Perry to leave poor people without medical care.
I regret the error.
The legal argument involves the same issue that sparked the Civil War: What is the extent of the Federal Government’s power to require state governments to do or stop doing something? The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and the Civil War settled that issue so far as concerns slavery, due process and the right to vote. As presently interpreted by the Supreme Court, state governments still have the right, without federal interference, to deny medical care, food and housing to people if they are equally cruel to all, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or disability. Absurdity is irrelvant when a court interprets a law or the Constitution.
So, to summarize, Justices Bryer and Kagan joined the “faithful five” to whom I referred in my post on the issue of expanding Medicaid.
This issue boils down to one that, in my opinion must, sooner or later, be faced: Progressive taxation must redistribute wealth in this country so that all of our citizens can benefit from the largesse of our economy. Unfortunately, the candidacy of Fritz Mondale still haunts the Democratic Party. In 1984 he ran against Ronald Reagan. In his acceptance speech he declared:
”I mean business,” he said. ”By the end of my first term, I will cut the deficit by two thirds. Let’s tell the truth. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.” On the subject of economic policy, Mr. Mondale struck two additonal themes of fairness and restraint. He said, in reference to the tax increases: ”He will sock it to average income families again and leave his rich friends alone. I won’t.”
That sounds like what I just proposed. He came close to matching Alf Landon’s performance against FDR. He carried D.C. (whose electoral votes didn’t count) and Minnesota, his home state. Reagan received 58.8% of the popular vote; Mondale received 40.6%. That kind of political disaster embeds itself in the consciousness of politicians. So, it will require some serious work to do what, as stated, seems to me to be the obvious solution to the present imbalance in power and money in America.
I’ll leave that discussion for another day. For now, I regret my earlier error.