The Right Got It Wrong: “The Healthcare ‘Rage'” April 6, 2010 10 Comments Share tweet Guest Column By: Guest Column Erica Morgan gets it backward in “Get It Right: The Health Care ‘Rage’” when she argues that in theorizing that race relations play a role in the vitriolic resistance to the Obama agenda, liberals are simply repeating a stock response instead of making “substantive counter-arguments.” Liberals suggest that the opposition might have something to do with race because the “substantive” arguments raised by leaders on the Right have, well, plainly lacked substance. Morgan’s analysis is a perfect example. Morgan characterizes the passage of Health Care Reform as “usurpation and tyranny” citing a poll showing that 54 percent of Americans opposed the bill before the House’s final vote. It’s true that polls have consistently shown a divided country on the issue of health care reform. But it is hardly tyrannical for the party that made major electoral gains in the past election to recognize division and still opt for its own agenda – an agenda made crystal clear during the campaign. That is how Democratic Republics work. As Republican Representative Paul Ryan explained, if the Democrats want to use their majority in both houses of Congress to pass a bill “it’s their right. They did win the election.” Furthermore, polls have revealed that a statistically significant portion of opposition has come from the Left, who wish for socialized medicine, something this reform does NOT include. Are the Democrats thus “tyrants” for brokering a compromise that both extremes of the political spectrum are uncomfortable about? This is another reason why Republican critiques fall flat: Health Care Reform is not socialized medicine. Rather, the plan is a moderate compromise similar to many past Republican proposals. The Act preserves and indeed strengthens private insurance. Low-income uninsured Americans receive subsidies to buy private insurance, and the mandate that Republicans so abhor will result in the purchase of private insurance. Moreover, the bill makes deep cuts in Medicare, the “socialist” part of the American “health care system.” Republicans decry these cuts. Newt Gingrich, who once shut down the Federal Government in an effort to bully President Clinton into dismantling Medicare, now criticizes this bill for weakening the entitlement program he once loathed. Arguments about the individual mandate have been similarly confused. The proposal was originally a conservative one, largely initiated by the Heritage Foundation, grounded in the notion of personal responsibility. Because those who get sick will ultimately receive care, mandating health insurance, in Mitt Romney’s words, ensures “no more free-riders.” Those who wish to ride free will pay a tax for reckless behavior. This is an underpinning of the health care bill that Romney passed when he was governor of Massachusetts. In another reverse course, conservatives now argue that the mandate is unconstitutional. But these claims are likely to fail. Congress may regulate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. This is true even when the activities are inherently local and personal, a principle explained as recently as 2005, when the Supreme Court upheld federal laws prohibiting home grown marijuana. Conservative stalwart Justice Antonin Scalia concurred in that decision. Health care costs have become a major drag on the competitiveness of our economy. The free rider problem – which partly explains our skyrocketing health care premiums – has a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The Constitutional challenge has also been grounded in the notion of states’ rights. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is bringing a claim on the grounds of nullification, a doctrine long deemed unconstitutional and which John C. Calhoun advocated in order to maintain slavery. Mitt Romney has defended his mandate because it was a state prerogative rather than a Federal one. Of course these Federalist arguments are muddled considering that the leading Republican reform initiative would be for the Federal government to impose tort liability caps in state courts. Morgan lists a “plethora of objections to the bill.” Liberals acknowledge such objections, but when they are rife with inconsistencies, we have to ask if something more is going on. Notwithstanding Michael Steele, Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas, it is undisputable that African Americans overwhelmingly support a party whose agenda explicitly seeks to promote equality. In contrast, for the last 40-plus years, the political strategy of the Republican Party has included attempts to co-opt racist elements of the populace. Richard Nixon, who believed blacks to be “genetically inferior,” engineered a “Southern Strategy” to court angry Whites. Ronald Reagan began his “states’ rights” presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town with a history of white supremacy. George H.W. Bush promised to keep the Willie Hortons in jail. Republican Senator Trent Lott explained that in his opinion we could have avoided “all these problems” by electing segregationist Strom Thurmond president in 1948. And now, anti-reform protestors spit on John Lewis, as segregationists once did, and delude themselves into believing that nullification is constitutional but regulation and taxes are not. It seems legitimate to ask how all this rage has been generated by a moderate health care bill modeled on a plan enacted by a Republican governor. Jimmy Bierman Stanford Law School ‘12 erica morgan health care Health Care reform 2010-04-06 Guest Column April 6, 2010 10 Comments Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.