Athens Review, Athens, Texas


June 29, 2012

High court health care decison fuels ongoing debate

MABANK — The United States Supreme Court rendered its decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare Thursday, and stirred up the usual voices of dissent.

The 5-4 vote upholding the legislation was not a surprise, but the decision of Chief Justice John Roberts, and his reasoning behind it, was. Roberts said the penalty the plan imposes on anyone who decides not to buy the government-offered insurance is actually a tax, and goodness knows, we don’t have anything in the constitution that prohibits that.

Fifth District Congressman Jeb Hensarling quickly responded to the court’s decision.

“I do not believe the federal government is empowered by the Constitution to mandate the purchase of health insurance, and I continue to believe that the President’s health care law is bad for our nation’s health, and bad for our nation’s future,” Hensarling said.

Hensarling will be at the Chandler Community Center. Tuesday morning. You can tell him what you think of those words at the Community Center starting at 8:30 a.m.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn also walked the conservative line in his statement.

“Before the health care bill became law, the president repeatedly assured the American people that he would not raise taxes on the middle class. He declared emphatically that the individual mandate was absolutely not a tax increase.”

But Roberts thinks a tax increase is exactly what it is.

Cornyn drove home the point in his statement.

 “But the Supreme Court of the United States has made absolutely clear that the only way Obamacare can be upheld, as within the constitutional power of Congress is for it to be considered a tax increase, and a tax increase on every single American, regardless of income.”

The White House Press Office also got into the spin with its own press release.

“Given today’s ruling, it’s now time to focus on implementing this law in a smart and non-bureaucratic way that works for the middle class.”

Hey, that suits me. Let’s all be  smart and non-bureaucratic.

“Right now,” the White House said, “Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy, and creating jobs.”

Shame on you, Congress. Can’t you tell that the White House has this all figured out.

So, President Obama gets the win on his health plan, and the Republicans get a campaign issue tied up in a big, blue bow. Let’s draw a line in the sand, and let the election debate begin. I’d like to hear more talk about the issues anyway, even though we pretty much know where the two parties stand.

Obamacare, of course, is not the real name of the plan. It’s the Affordable Health Care Act. Personally, I hope it is affordable. Right now, for me, health care barely is, and if the new law hikes the price on this middle class reporter, I may not be able to keep pace.

Paying health care bills is scary as it currently stands, but the unknown is doubly scary.  Anyone with a family member with chronic health problems  has to wonder if the government will get this right, and we’ll actually get all of the care we need, and still have a little money in our pockets.

For years, my wife has been dealing with several health issues that have resulted in medications, hospital stays and a couple of surgeries. In the last nine  months, I’ve also had a couple of visits to the emergency room, one with a heart flare-up, and the second a broken foot.

The doctors and nurses at East Texas Medical Center gave me great care in each instance,  but the bills were staggering. Fortunately, my insurance picked up a large portion of the bill.

I get my insurance through my employer, as do millions of Americans.  I’d like to keep on getting it. Obama says I will, but the voices of dissent say “hide and watch.”

Between now and November, both the Republicans and Democrats will have ample time to state their cases.  When election day rolls around, it won’t be decided, because the voters have studied the issues, and using cognitive reasoning determines which side is right, and which side is full of hooey.

The determining factor, as it always seems to be, will be which side we think we can trust. If you are in the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady is on one side, and Tony Romo is on the other, it’s not hard to see Tom Brady pulling it out down the stretch.

If it’s a horse race between Secretariat and Majestic Prince, you’d probably go with Secretariat. Well, guess what. Secretariat is not running in this race.

Neither Barack Obama, nor Mitt Romney have done a lot to rouse up a groundswell of trust in the campaign so far. A lot of people can’t back Romney, because their memory of George W, Bush is too fresh, and they didn’t find him too trustworthy.

Others will back-shrink from supporting Obama, because, well,  look at the last three years. Obama hopes George W. is fresh in everyone’s mind when they turn out to vote Nov.  6.

I don’t know how the vote in November is going to go, but it could be a surprise. We sure got surprised by Roberts’ health care vote, and we could be fooled again.  Some blue state might tip to the GOP, or some red state could slip into the Obama camp.

No matter where you stand on the health care issue, or any other issue, it is evident that this is not an election to spend on the sidelines. When we choose the person who’ll serve the next four years in the White House, it won’t just matter to journalists, historians and political junkies. It will matter to me and you.

In the mean time, keep a tight grip on your pocket book.

Rich Flowers is News Editor of the Athens Daily Review.

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