Monday, January 9, 2012

Good Quote on legal challenges to Health Care Reform

The Times ran an op-ed refuting some common arguments against the legality of the individual mandate.  I thought this quote was particularly good (emphasis mine).
Opponents of the new mandate complain that if Congress can force us to buy health insurance, it can force us to buy anything. They frequently raise the specter that Congress might require us to buy broccoli in order to make us healthier [...]
That certainly sounds like a stupid law. But our Constitution has no provision banning stupid laws. The protection against stupid laws that our Constitution provides is the political process, which allows us to toss out of office elected officials who enact them. This is better than having unelected judges decide such policy questions, because we cannot toss the judges out if we disagree with them.
Nor are all required purchases stupid. It is not stupid to require us to buy air bags for our cars and pensions for our retirements. Nor would it be stupid to require us to buy life and disability insurance to make sure we have provided for our children. Whether the law should is up to our political process, not judicial second-guessing. 
 This gets at one of the reasons I find the conduct of congressional Republicans so inexcusable.  They claim to be serious about reducing the deficit and managing long term liabilities, but they are utter cowards when it comes to building actual legislation.  Their preferred approach is to find a bomb (payroll tax cut, debt limit, federal budget) and threaten to set it off unless Democrats pass their legislation for them.  Republicans do none of the hard work of gaining support through compromise, they consign that to "not my problem" status.  The thing is, making political choices is exactly their problem, that is what they are supposed to do.  If they want deficit reduction then come up with a deficit reduction package that can get the needed votes and pass it.  It may or may not be popular, but casting such votes and living with the consequences is the core definition of their job.

I've criticized Occupy protesters for not understanding civics, but at least they have the excuse of being joe-schmoe citizens.  What excuse do Republicans in Congress have for not understanding their job description?

H/T White Coat Notes

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