To the people who cover Washington, we call it chronicling situational immorality, not since Bush v. Gore have we seen madness that could compare to last week’s Supreme Court debate over the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law.
While the arguments went on inside, for three straight days, thousands of people with all kinds of placards milled around the perimeter.
Their efforts were not aimed at swaying the justices, but in ensuring that they could go home feeling that everyone knew their opinion.
The proceedings last week were of similar hyperbole.
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The key issue, in the minds of opponents of the bill, is the provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty.
During the debate on the issue, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., called such a provision “an assault on liberty;” he and his Republican cohorts assailed the provision as “un-American.”
Noting the second anniversary of its passage 10 days or so ago, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a Tea Party member, called it a “failure,” citing “skyrocketing healthcare premiums, putting patient choice under fire, putting retirement security in jeopardy, and resulting in costs spiraling out of control.”
While opponents have called it “Obamacare,” and blamed it on President Obama and Democrats in every vicious term imaginable, the fact is that the bill as written by the Senate that became law incorporates mostly Republican ideas dating from 1989.
Moreover, while Republican senators have been busily distancing themselves from it, reporters who covered the actual writing of the bill watched as Republican senators played as great a role, and, in many cases, greater, than the Democrats.
At the same time, the armchair legal analysts have decided, 51 percent to 49 percent, according to a Kaiser Healthcare survey, that the Supreme Court will throw out the hated mandate.
The problem with that is court watchers of all stripes believe just the opposite, that requiring people engaged in interstate commerce to do something is settled law.