Monday, August 2, 2010

Bush Appointee Upholds Virginia's Challenge to Affordable Care Act

     Virginia's attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, behaving like crass, self-interest obsessed Republicans do, seeks to have the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill passed last year by Congress, ruled unconstitutional. He contends that the health care law is unconstitutional because it exceeds the established bounds of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and because it contradicts a recently passed Virginia law, Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, which makes it unlawful to require that Virginia citizens be covered by some form of health insurance...
2 Offered January 13, 2010
3 Prefiled December 7, 2009
4 A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 38.2-302.1, relating to a person's
5 participation in a health care system or plan; Virginia Health Care Freedom Act.
6 ––––––––––
Patrons––Marshall, R.G., O'Bannon, Athey, Carrico, Cole, Cox, J.A., Cox, M.K., Edmunds, Garrett,
Gear, Gilbert, Greason, Howell, W.J., Johnson, Jones, Landes, Lingamfelter, Miller, J.H., Morgan,
Nixon, Oder, Pogge, Tata and Wright; Senators: Martin and Stuart
7 ––––––––––
8 Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor
9 ––––––––––
10 Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
11 1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 38.2-302.1 as follows:
12 § 38.2-302.1. Virginia Health Care Freedom Act.
13 No law shall restrict a person's natural right and power of contract to secure the blessings of liberty
14 to choose private health care systems or private plans. No law shall interfere with the right of a person
15 or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life or health, nor shall any law impose a
16 penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage or to participate
17 in any particular health care system or plan, except as required by a court where an individual or entity
18 is a named party in a judicial dispute. Nothing herein shall be construed to expand, limit or otherwise
19 modify any determination of law regarding what constitutes lawful medical services within the
20 Commonwealth.
     This is just the sort of reactionary, obstructionist, big-business coddling, horseshit that Republican lawmakers have engaged in since the Democrats regained control of Congress. And it defies the best interests of the United States, especially the interests of its poorest citizens. You can be damn sure that Judge Hudson's and Ken T. Cuccinelli II's access to competent doctors, diagnoses, and care won't be obstructed, though. And you can be equally sure the Virginia Legislature did not pass their dumb ass act  because it would insure health care equity for all Virginia's citizens. No, Republicans don't give a damn about insuring that every citizen has access to competent health care, and they sure as hell don't give a damn about poor people. Republicans, the ones making laws anyway, don't even know what being poor feels like, or looks like, or smells like. Oh, they may have been poor once, but they've forgotten what being poor is all about, their words and deeds prove that. They think poor people are poor because they are lazy, self-indulgent, slobs who don't talk right, and don't dress right, and don't get their hair cut right, and that's why they are poor.

     But Republicans do manage to persuade impoverished and, astonishingly, middle-class citizens to support them. They do this with shameless appeals to primordial tribal instincts that dictate exclusion and destruction of outsiders who don’t share the tribe's dogma and rituals. Manipulative, self-serving leaders define the evil "other," and then blame the "other" for all the problems their deluded followers face. And these pompous, self-righteous, plutocrats maintain their followers delusions by preserving their ignorance: they insist that religious doctrine trumps facts, and that science and logic are the tools of godless infidels (isn't that the Taliban's argument, too?). Throughout, they contend that sacred principles are at stake, that it's not about the money. Well, if someone, especially a politician, tells you, “it's not about the money,” you can be absolutely damned sure it is.

     United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson, appointed by George W. Bush, wrote the following summary of his argument:
     In the complaint, the Commonwealth of Virginia (“the Commonwealth”) assails Section 1501 (or “Minimum Essential Coverage Provision”) on a number of fronts. First, the Commonwealth contends that requiring an otherwise unwilling individual to purchase a good or service from a private vendor is beyond the outer limits of the Commerce Clause. In the Commonwealth’s view, the failure -- or refusal -- of its citizens to elect to purchase health insurance is not “economic activity” and therefore is not subject to federal regulation under the Commerce Clause. Succinctly put, the Commonwealth defies the Secretary to point to any Commerce Clause jurisprudence extending its tentacles to an individual’s decision not to engage in economic activity. Furthermore, they argue that since Section 1501 exceeds this enumerated power, Congress cannot invoke either the Necessary and Proper Clause or its taxation powers to regulate such passive economic inactivity.
     I especially like the "tentacles" part. But I won't try to dissect the Judge's decision. That's been done much better by lots of qualified people. Here, for example, is a nice short article that does that: "Judge Preserves Constitutional Challenge to Individual Mandate." It's written by a professor at Yale Law School. Someone who will, no doubt, be filleted by the blowhards on Fox who will have nothing remotely substantive to say about the man's argument, but will surely malign his qualifications and character, and refer to him as an East Coast Liberal, which I suppose he is, or isn't, I don't know. Either way, tough shit, Fox.

     And here we go again. The big-business, Republican lapdogs in Congress couldn't defeat President Obama's health care reform via legislative maneuvers (though they did manage to water the bill down to the point of being nearly useless for the vast majority of middle-class Americans whom a little relief in the expenses column would benefit greatly), so they want to kill the bill with a thousand cuts. This will require the usual dimwitted, specious arguments about principal, and in defense of the sacred Constitution, and God himself -- Republicans always claim to be speaking for God -- and they will, with their chests puffed out, proudly stand in the way of children's lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They will make sure that poor, sick people who work three crummy, non-union, minimum-wage, no-benefit jobs do not visit doctors regularly, but instead put off medical care until it's too late, and then run to the hospital emergency room to die. And health insurance companies will continue to book record profits for their capitalized shareholders, because they will continue to deny lawful claims, and wear paying clients down with the perpetual run around, until -- sick and weary -- they quit pleading for help.

    That's what Republicans are talking about when they talk about principles.

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