Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Care Act Upheld Amid Storm of Nonsensical Commentary

Can I just say that headlines like this one:
Supreme Court deals big victory to Obama
sum up everything that is wrong with politics and the media in America? Reforming American health care is not a game where Republicans or Democrats score points. It is an urgent need. Legislators ought to vote on bills without caring who wrote them, courts should certainly rule on their constitutionality without caring who wrote them, and news organizations should cover them without caring who wrote them. They are good or bad, constitutional, or unconstitutional, regardless of their political implications. Treating every idea as just a partisan weapon feeds public cynicism and prevents us from ever really grappling with serious problems. The Supreme Court did NOT "hand a victory to Obama." It endorsed an approach to reforming our health care system that did not originate with Obama and that has been pursued at various times by both Republicans and Democrats. I find it quite interesting that both Presidential candidates have pursued this same reform while in office. Like it or not, it is the only reform approach on the table, and the only feasible alternative, for now, is doing nothing. I think our system, the world's most expensive but only its 20th best, desperately needs shaking up, and I endorse the Obama/Romney approach because it's all we've got.

Andrew Sullivan has been rounding up reactions to the verdict. He has found a lot of tweets and posts that have the tone of these:
Congratulations, Americans: The government owns your bodies.

This is the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott. This is the end of American as we know it. No exaggeration.
I cannot decide if these are alarming or merely amusing. How can anyone think that a modest reform of our health insurance marketplace will lead to the death of freedom? What possible logic could run those things together? Are these people unhinged?

Or this just the end result of the party mentality: the verdict was a big victory for Obama, Obama is the enemy, therefore this is a catastrophe?

People need to relax. I think the basic Obama/Romney approach to health care reform is worth trying, and I think the bill also includes a lot of lesser provisions that might help control costs and improve care. So I am glad it survived review. But I don't love it -- no liberal I know does -- and it would not have been the end of the world had it been struck down. It will not miraculously end our health care woes, nor will it destroy our liberty. It is a bit of managerial tinkering with a major sector of the economy, and it should help a few million people get health care they otherwise could not afford. It is simply not worth the apocalyptic rhetoric being thrown around today.

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