The Health Care Decision:
What does it mean, and what do we do next?
The dust has started to settle a bit, and we may be out of shock and a little less consumed by anger and disappointment. Now we are ready to take a serious look at where this leaves us and how we need to respond. We've been reading a plethora of opinions on the decision, even though that really only scratches the surface. But we thought it might be helpful if we tried to summarize what we've read and share the best with you. This email will give you the gist of what's being said without your having to read all the articles (although links to most will be included in case you want to read more). We're also including links to the best articles on various topics. We'd suggest you read our summary, and if you have extra time, one or two articles from each section.
We'll be sending out more information about the health care plan later to help you explain to others what is wrong with this law, how it needs to be changed, etc. But for now we wanted to focus on just the Supreme Court decision.
The table of contents below gives you an overview and can be used later to click to different sections as you wish. If you don't read anything else, please read the action plan and "Isn't voting enough?"
What exactly did the opinion do?
The decision has three main parts, which will be discussed further in the following two sections:
If you want to read the entire decision or check individual parts of it, you can download it here:
- The court found the individual mandate consistuational as a tax. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in this part of the decision.
- However, the decision clearly states that the mandate is not constitutional under the commerce clause. Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, was very clear that it could not be upheld under the commerce clause.
- A majority of the justices determined that individual states cannot be forced to increase their Medicaid roles by depriving them of the Medicaid funds they currently receive from the federal government. Obviously, though, they will not receive additional funds if they refuse to comply with the parts of the law that increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid. On this section, the decision was 7 - 2 with only Justices Sotomeyor and Ginsburg dissenting.
Here are two summaries of the decision (just straight reporting with little or no opinion):
Radio interview with Stephen Tucker, Obamacare expert who works closely with Illinois Tea Party: http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=139802
Here is the ScotusBlog coverage. These are links to multiple articles, and the second link is to opinion articles:
Jim DeMint responding at the Heritage Foundation, followed by Q & A (25 min. video): http://www.myheritage.org/news/video-jim-demint-responds-to-the-obamacare-ruling-at-heritage/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=MemberBriefing062912
So, is the mandate a tax or a penalty?
Who knows? Arguments can be made on both sides, and arguing about whether it's a tax or a penalty is probably a waste of time. Accusing President Obama of "lying" is probably not productive either. However, it is appropriate and productive and point out that he argued vehemently that the mandate is nota tax while it was being passed. There are multiple videos of him rarguing that it is not a tax but a penalty. The general consensus is that he knew that Congress would not pass it if it contained a tax. Also, he had promised there would be no tax increases for anyone making below $250,000.
However, his attorney's argued before the Supreme Court that the mandate is constitituational under the Commerce Clause AND the section that gives Congress the right to establish taxes . They argued that it is a tax. President Obama should be held accountable for this.
But it gets worse. He is not arguing again that, regardless of what the Supreme Court said, the mandate is not a tax but a penalty.
This decision that the mandate is a tax obviously creates problems for President Obama. However, it also create some problems for conservatives as well, mainly the concern that it expands the power of Congress to create taxes on anything and everything. Some conservatives, however, see this as a minimal problem since the constitutional right of Congress to tax is fairly broad, and Congress creates taxes for anything and everything already. Virtually everyone agrees that if the mandate had to stand, this is far preferable to its being constitutional under the Commerce Clause.
In a liberal opinion in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/us/conservatives-see-silver-lining-in-health-ruling.html?_r=4&pagewanted=1&hp), an obviously liberal law professor expresses "concern" that it will be more difficult to enact change in the future using the tax argument rather than the commerce argument because there are clear limits on taxation. Good.
Here are articles discussing the tax vs penalty issue:
This excellent Weekly Standard article quotes extensively from the decision on why it is and isn't a tax:
Here is a past video (there are many more) of President Obama and his representatives saying the mandate is not a tax (and, as you'll see, at least in these particular videos, his representatives aren't quite as sure as he is):
What exactly does this all mean for conservatives? What are the political ramifications?
The positive ramifications for President Obama are obvious: his signature legislation was found to be generally constitutional by the Supreme Court. This is a big blow to limited government, and we are rightfully upset and even outraged. However, regardless of how the left is choosing to spin it, the decision is not all good news. There are a number of silver linings for conservatives in this. The response to this decision has been interesting: Conservative reaction has run the gamut from outrage and anger to pointing out the positives to speculating that it may turn out to have been the best result for us to claiming that we actually won!
Although most of us strongly disagree with this decision, it is important to recognize the silvering linings:
- Obamacare will be a campaign issue. Conservatives will have an issue to rally around and will be energized. The President will be forced to defend the law, rather than talking endlessly about his supposed "accomplishments." The general conservative concensus is that this will help Romney and increase his chances of winning.
- The Commerce Clause has been narrowed. Despite upholding the mandate as a tax, Chief Justice Robert's majority opinion contained many statements about limited government that we will like and that will be used in future cases.
- The Medicaid part of the decision has gotten the least attention, but it is very important. If the law is not repealed and several states decline to participate, the entire law could be threatened. Liberal pundits are pooh poohing this, saying that states will decide to go along so this is not a concern. Maybe they will (money from the state will be used to support it with no return), but right now states are beginning to weigh in that they will choose to opt out and not participate. Only time will tell, and they probably will not make final decisions until after the election.
- We won't have to put up with listening to the left moan and groan about how conservative and activist the Supreme Court is. Yes, this is a small point, but their complaining really was irritating. More significantly, it will be harder for the left to make the argument that people should get out and vote so they get more Supreme Court appointments. That's our argument now--and really always was.
- It will be difficult for the left to make the argument (although they will try) that we should just shut up and go away because "the Supreme Court settled the matter." This is not true. First, the Consitution assumes all branches of government will make mistakes and/or try to gain too much power, which is why is was designed with checks and balances. It was assumed Congress would "fix" the mistakes the Supreme Court makes or that Congress itself makes. (And in this case, both made a big mistake.) Second, this argument is even more difficult in this case because the Roberts majority opinion implies that he does not--or at least may not--like the law. He challenges the people to elect representatives who will fix this mess.
- Since the individual mandate has been officially deemed a tax, if we win the election, reconciliation can legitimately be used to pass a repeal. This means we would only need 51 votes in the Senate, not 60.
There are many interesting articles available that discuss the political ramification. The first two are especially good and provide an overview of the decision and its political ramifications:
These two articles make the argument that we won. Yes, this may be a stretch, but they make a good argument, and the American Thinker article has an excellent historical analysis of the Commerce Clause:
Dick Morris on the Medicaid part of the decision (short video): http://www.dickmorris.com/courts-medicaid-reversal-big-win-dick-morris-tv-lunch-alert/
How does this decision affect the TEA Party?
The general consesus is that it will energize us and put new life into the TEA Party. We've been very much alive and active all along but less visible than before the 2010 election. This Court decision has caused more interest in the TEA Party and may grow our numbers all over the country.
There was a tele-town hall for patriots last evening, followed by a local coordinator webinar with national Tea Party Patriot leaders. On both, people were upset but energized, frustrated but resolute, angry but determined. The tenor of these events strongly supports the opinion that this will pump us up and energize us.
Where do we go from here? What is our action plan? What can each of us do?
The Supreme Court decision was announced only four days ago, and it was not what was expected. Yes, conservatives knew the mandate could be upheld, but no one expected it to happen like it did. Patriot and conservative groups all around the country are working on action plans, but a well thought out plan will take a little longer than four days. However, that said, an amazing amount has been done already, and there are things you can do now--right now. But there will be more coming, include a plan for local activism from our group. Here are some of the groups that are putting together plans and what you can do to participate and help immediately.
Tea Party Patriots (national group with which we are affiliated):
Petitions. Several groups have petitions supporting repeal of the health care law. While these obviously won't cause the law to be repealed, a large number of signatures will remind Congress and the President that millions of Americans do not want this law. You can sign more than one petition, but you can only sign each petition once. Real petitions require your name, email address, and zip code so you will need to provide this. (This will probably also sign you up for the group's newsletter, but you can always opt out.)
- This week, while members of Congress are home, the TEA Party Patriots wants to get every member of Congress on video saying whether or not they would vote for repeal. The first step is to compile a list of appearances--town hall meetings, parades, etc.--that members of Congress will be making. They have a place on their website where you can enter this information so they can arrange to meet up with them and videotape them. It isn't clear just who will be asked to do the videotaping, but for now, the need is information about where members of Congress will be. So, if you have any information about any member of Congress, please go on their website and enter the information. www.teapartypatriots.org
- Go to their website and sign up for their emails if you have not already. Do the same at the state site: http://illinoisteaparty.net/. Then watch their emails, as well as ours, for further information about action plans. There are plans in the works to also get candidates for state office on record, but they are focusing on Congress now because they will be home this week. There are also further plans for them during the August recess. So keep watching.
- Michell Bachmann was the main speaker on the tele-town hall last night. She emphasized the importance of being informed about this decision, about the negative aspects of Obamacare, and about alternatives so that you can effectively explain your position to your independent and moderate Democrat friends. We will help you with that. This email is just the beginning. Use this to inform yourself about the Court's decision, and we will provide the rest soon.
Sign the online petition here: https://secure.freedomworks.org/site/SPageNavigator/Declare%20Independence/Declare_Independence.html
- Freedom Workshas a petition that you can sign on line right now. They also have a downloadable version that you can print, collect signatures, and return to them. They are encouraging people to take these to Forth of July events to collect signatures.
Downloadable version (with instructions for mailing completed petitions): http://blogs.freedomworks.org/files/declare_ind_signup.pdf
Flyer to help explain what you're doing: http://blogs.freedomworks.org/files/declare_ind_flyer.pdf
Information (about the decision, their plans, etc.): http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/lt1800/the-supreme-court-decision-on-obamacare-what-happe-0
Heritage is also working on a plan. This wonderful organization provides excellent information to the public and to members of Congress. You'll hear more about their plan, but everything they do is good so consider a $25 membership if you don't already have one. They are also set up for donations to be made directly to the repeal plan. Please read their statement at the link below. The second link is to the repeal program page (which you can also get to from the first page).
I'm upset about what's going on in our country, but I'm busy. Isn't voting enough?
Sunday evening the Tea Party Patriots held a national tele-town hall with Michele Bachmann. Michele made a pasionate plea for us all the get involved. The following is a paraphrase of what she said, based on note we took during the call:
The administration believes the ends justify the means. We are in the fight of our life. A non partisan budgeting group [which she named but we didn't get down] tells us our economy will shut down in 15 years in 2027, even without Obamacare. We need to repudiate this decision and this law. We have to keep the House and take the Senate and the Presidency. This won't be easy, but we have to.
This is our Stamp Act. This is the moment for "revolution." This is when we take up the charge. The election has to be decisive from one end of the nation to the other. This is our moment. This is our "call to arms." We may be Gideon's army, but we've got to be tough, and we have to win. We don't have a choice. We have to.
We are still the USA, and we cannot discount the power we havae. This is an historic opportunity. You need to be involved in some way. Everyone needs to do something. Even if you are bedridden, you can still pray. Don't discount the power of prayer.
Let's be reminded of the OTHER OPTIONS that were available three years ago .. .and are still viable:
Here are links to the details of the LOGICAL ALTERNTAIVES: Click on each paragraph for more information.
> HR Bill 3400: The ‘Empowering Patients First Act’ addresses portability, pre-existing conditions and tort reform and provides for incentives to encourage health insurance coverage.
> H.R. 502, the Health Care Freedom of Choice Act - authorizes a dollar for dollar tax deduction for medical expenses without the present gross income percentage limitation.
> H.R. 1470, the Equity for Our Nation's Self-Employed Act of 2009 - allows the self-employed to purchase health care insurance prior to paying their payroll taxes. This would effectively reduce their health care costs immediately by more than 15 percent.
> H.R. 2360, the SHOP Act - permits the creation of Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow small businesses to pool together through national associations. This bipartisan bill gives small businesses the same purchasing power as large companies and labor unions to buy affordable health insurance for themselves and their employees. When Republicans controlled the House, AHPs passed several times, but the Senate Democrats prevented these bills from moving forward. If just this bill passed, millions of Americans would be able to greatly reduce their health insurance premiums through massive purchasing pools.
> H.R. 1763, the Responsible Reinvestment Act of 2009 - allows deductions from self-employment income for health insurance and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
> H.R. 1086, the HEALTH Act of 2009 - compensates victims for medical injuries but places a reasonable cap on punitive and non-economic damages that often inflate the awards and contribute to out-of-control medical liability and health care costs. As with AHPs, bills like this passed the Republican House several times, but were frustrated by Senate Democrats.
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