The way in which the 11th Federal Circuit Court in Atlanta struck down Obamacare’s individual mandate yesterday is instructive about larger issues facing Americans.
Mike Devine posted an excellent analysis of the court’s proper (in my view) severing the law even as its writers said the individual mandate could not be severed. This court’s ruling was in response to a law suit by 26 states, where which Judge Roger Vinson had earlier ruled the law to be unconstitutional in its entirety. (We are still awaiting a ruling in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, where Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli got a similar ruling from Federal District Judge, Henry Hudson in December as the one just handed down in Atlanta.)
So it looks like this will be the issue as it will most likely end up on the Supreme Court’s docket; the constitutionality of a severed individual mandate, versus the federal government’s broad powers to regulate health care.
Most people would like to have seen the Atlanta Court apply the full Monty, and strike it all down, if for no other reason, to make the lawmakers who devised this monstrosity to eat their own words. The law was so capriciously created and rammed through Congress as to suggest its creators don’t deserve a second bite of the apple.
But as Gamecock laid out, a conservative, by-the-book, original-intent Court really shouldn’t do that, for by doing so it would be putting itself in place of the Congress. Congress can make bad law that is nonetheless constitutional.
By SCOTUS striking down the individual mandate, and in essence remanding the remainder of the law to Congress to deal with, some interesting alternatives emerge depending on who’s in charge when this occurs.
Since the case could be argued as early as the coming October session, the rest of the law could be sent back to Congress before the 2012 election, to 1) find another way to finance the law (raising taxes), 2) to repeal, to 3) re-fiddle it into a better law.
As we all have known since the “Repeal Obamacare” battlecry first was piped into law in March, 2010, and drove millions to the polls in November, many Republicans in government have hinted that they’d just like to “fix it’, with as many crooked meanings to that term as you’d like to ascribe. This is inside-the-beltway-speak, after all.
I will save my opinions on the details of how Congress might address this until the Court actually decides to send the law back to Congress and the new makeup of the House, Senate and White House are known.
But a deeper question looms, as laid out in my title.
Can the GOP really bring itself to fire bureaucrats that have already been hired to implement this law?
About a month ago, just as the debt ceiling “crisis” was moving into the stud poker part of the negotiations, I asked the more fundamental questions: Can the GOP leadership stake out turf it had been denied for over forty years, that of full-scale, eyeball-to-eyeball players in this political game in Washington? Can they say what they mean, believe what they say, and have the other party fully believe them? Can they look into the eye of the Devil, the Enemy, the opponent, or even “My dear friend from Nevada” and not blink?
Short answer: No. The debt ceiling crisis laid that question to rest. Not this brood.
What they seem most willing to do to is to punt. In fact, they seem to go on offense with that one hope in mind; a plunge up the middle, an off-tackle slant and then a short pass in the flat, in hopes to punt the opponent back inside their own twenty yard line. Let the defense handle it.
I assume this is all in the hope that of an Invisible Hand will fix all the major issues of our economic crises, leaving only the mopping up to the Congress.
What the current GOP leadership doesn’t understand is that Evil also plays his hand invisibly, and their invisible hand has been getting stronger of late. The Founders also knew this, making a three-and-out punting game no more than a crap shoot. With 150 seconds to go on the game clock, we can no longer play for the tie.
Although most of the provisions of Obamacare won’t be put into place until 2014, the tax collecting to pay for it has begun already. So has the writing of rules and regulations…thousands upon thousands of them. And so has the hiring of bureaucrats to write those rules, enforcers to check out to see those rules are being obeyed, and armies of storm troopers to go and round up the law breakers, which, even Obama forces know, will number in the millions. Obamacare is a massive federal jobs program, already in progress.
In 1946 Britain enacted the National Health Service Act. It was fully in place by 1948, and so hated by 1951 the people threw the (leftish) Labor Party out of power…only to find the NHS was so enmeshed with every aspect of British society in that short time span, already bureaucratic way above its kilt-line, that it could not be undone…painlessly. On that criteria alone the English politicians decided to do nothing. (There’s a lesson here.)
So, for 63 years Brits have soldiered on, as the Left-wing bureaucrats knew they must, like sheep, patiently going through this gate, as they’re told, rather than the gate to open pasture as they’d once known, until now, when their great grandkids are turning over cars, burning out buildings, because they have to actually pay for even a part of any government service. That people once worked and paid for these things themselves has passed entirely from English memory just as Alfred’s Camelot once did.
The Law of Generations is in full force here, and as the USSR proved, within just a whisker of becoming undone completely. A matter of days, weeks years? Next step? A total breakdown and either a strongman, or perhaps the Danes will invade again.
Britain assassinated itself in 1948 and never knew it. And I doubt it can ever come back, for the only way back involves driving the ruling class bureaucrats into the sea and accepting both the responsibility and the pain that goes with it. The political class cannot and the people totally unable.
We’re near there, but not quite yet.
So, can a GOP Congress actually undo, as with a sling blade rather than a scalpel, (if need be) the systems already put into place by Obama? Not just Obamacare, mind you, but all of it?
I ask this, because tracking back regulations at EPA, DOE, Homeland Security, all of them, will involve the same three-step program…firing rule-writers and rule-enforcers on the spot. Get rid of their mission and there is no reason to keep the people on the payroll at all, is there?
I’m just not that optimistic about the current GOP leadership, unless we have a real “executive-fixer” in the White House who can light a fire under them and demand it. Leadership means a lot, and clearly the GOP leadership in Congress can’t lead all by itself.
For example, only recently, the House caused (obviously not by design) the layoff of 4000 “unnecessary” employees at the FAA when the Senate failed to vote on a bill that would cut off some useless, out-of-the-way airports and some union perqs in organizing.
I asked then, if it’s that easy, why not start taking down every agency in the government in 1000-job increments? No budget, no problem. Deny EPA funding. Deny Energy, Interior, HSA, funding. All of them.
Of course that’s easier said than done. But what we noticed when the Senate did finally sign the FAA bill was that the media world..and the GOP…breathed a sign of relief when those 400o went back to work.
Get used to this to this rule:
If we are to cut spending, and reduce the budget in any significant and lifesaving way, we will have to fire thousands upon thousands of federal employees. Fire, dismiss, cut-off, can, sack, cashier, boot, kiss off, take a hike . Tough toenails.
Many will be very nice, good, hard working people. But for every state job lost there will be about five new private sector jobs created, so what we also know is that these harder-working people will eventually find a way to grab off one of those jobs, and after a shaking out of perhaps ten years, the layabout class will officially be the layabouts in our society, no longer sucking at the public teat, with do-nothing jobs at desks with a hand stamp, an In-Out-box and Solitaire on the computer monitor. Volvo sales will also be down.
This is how it should be, so don’t fear it. Cultural survival, cultural triage, involves putting much of the government out of work. Cultural destruction does not.
So, watch how the GOP Congress reacts to the coming ending of Obamacare, for that will be the preamble to how they will really cut the budget, cut spending and cut federal programs and bureaucracy.
Plan to react accordingly.