That’s a tweet from Roll Call Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski just after breakfast this morning. Instead of taking up annual appropriations, a rudimentary function of annual fiscal business in Congress, Senate Democrats are instead choosing to attempt to squelch political participation before the November elections.
In reaction to my post yesterday, and lots of other punditry around the web, my friend Rusty Weiss of Mental Recession fame (he recently celebrated six months of blogging!) emailed me to say he’s tired of having to settle for silver linings — that he want points on the board.
A lot of us — political activists, policy geeks, and court watchers alike — were disappointed with the outcome of yesterday’s ruling. We wanted a full takedown of Obamacare, for both substantive and political reasons. Instead, we got a ruling that the president’s signature legislative achievement passes constitutional muster, even if it was most peculiarly reasoned.
[Editor’s note: This post should not be construed as an endorsement of Mitt Romney or of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate or U.S. House in 2012. The author is a political media strategist by trade.]
Regular readers know I am not a lawyer, and that I do not specialize in health policy. I also did not come to Washington through Capitol Hill and am therefore no expert in parliamentary procedure. Still, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare — some original, some not — and they’re not all bad.
First, here’s the opinion itself (PDF).
Second, the greatest legal minds on the left have spent the last couple of years arguing that the individual mandate is constitutional under authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. The Court summarily rejected this argument, and that is great for individual liberty. Congress does not, as Obamacare opponents have argued all along, have the power to force you to buy health insurance, broccoli, or anything else. It does not have power to regulate economic inactivity.
Third, the mandate was upheld because Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the penalty for not purchasing health insurance can reasonably be construed as a tax. Because the power to tax is an enumerated power of Congress as outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, this provision of the law was upheld.
An interesting political point — in September 2009, fearing political blowback from pushing so hard for the law, the president flatly rejected that Obamacare constituted a tax increase on Americans during a recession:
Emboldened by the response to my piece last week, I put on my political theorist hat this weekend and penned another editorial that has now been published in The Daily Caller. Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t we all have a right to know,” asks Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a recent fundraising email, “exactly which corporations and individuals are spending millions in attack ads to influence elections – and what their agendas are?” While we should expect this type of rhetoric from bullies who think that the government should force workers to give up their right to a secret ballot in unionization proceedings, making it easier for Democratic supporters to rake new campaign funds from their peers’ paychecks, this is one of those times when “No” is a complete, forceful, and declarative sentence.
But in fairness to Messina, to whom I wish a swift and humiliating trip to the unemployment line this November, we should (for a moment) take his claim at face value. We should ask, “Upon what moral principle” – we’re talking about rights, after all – “is this ‘right to know’ predicated?”
While the U.S. Supreme Court keeps everyone in suspense about when the ObamaCare decision will be announced, it is important to prepare for what happens next. A recent Associated Press poll shows that just ⅓ of Americans support the new law, with only 21% of independents approving. Another poll shows that a majority of former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks believe at least the individual mandate will be struck down.
Throughout this Fast & Furious mess, nearly everyone has paid attention to just Darrell Issa and Eric Holder squaring off in a Congress committee room. But there’s another thing that should be focused on, that being the agency at the heart of this disgrace. But I surely cannot have been the only person to ask this question:
Why do we even have ATF around anymore?
Well, maybe I have. Bear with me as I try to answer it.
Let’s read their mission statement:
A unique law enforcement agency in the United States Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology.
A “unique” agency? How can unique can that be?
“protects our communities from violent criminals” – Doesn’t every law enforcement agency do that?
“criminal organizations” – Sounds more like an FBI job or something for the gang squad of a local PD
“the illegal use and trafficking of firearms” – Okay, I can sorta see this one
“the illegal use and storage of explosives” – This one too, sort of, but I would think that other agencies could also handle explosions quite readily
“acts of arson and bombings” – Two words: fire department. Okay, four more: Federal Bureau of Investigation
That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.
…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.
It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.
I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!
EDIT: I’m not saying that Ron Paul fans are necessarily anarcho-capitalists. They are two camps that need to be addressed equally, and thus share a post. I apologize if the title seems a bit misleading.
I love you guys. Well and truly.
You are truly the only people who can say, with a straight face, that you want to see absolutely no government in the world, or that parents should be able to sell their children, or that law could be perfectly administered through courts that competed for customers like car dealerships. (“You need a court that respects your right for others to pay for your contraception? Come in and get no money down on a brand new 2012 court case!”)
The unbound and unhampered loyalty you have to a Texas congressman who preaches liberty and peace is just simply adorable. You call his son a sellout for not endorsing his father, start riots at state GOP conventions to grab as many delegates for him as possible, and even started a campaign to sue the Republicans for not allowing delegates bound to other candidates to vote for him. Just adorable. You’re like little puppies, yipping and yapping at anyone who gets too close to your candidate, anyone who might might be some big ugly meanie in disguise. It’s cute.
So that’s why, since I’m so in love with you, that I have to take a moment and tell you to stop hurting yourself.
You’re starting to make yourself look foolish. Childish, even. Your inability to accept that Ron Paul will not win the nomination is a sign of being a poor loser, and nobody likes a poor loser. Your other inability to accept compromise with others—such as you demonization Paul’s son Rand—means you won’t have any friends. And for some of you, your inability to take what you can get, rather than singing Queen’s “I Want It All” at the top of your lungs every day, makes you look utterly crazy.
There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:
- The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
- The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)
Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)
The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly:
On Wednesday, the United States Senate narrowly avoided a two-year ban on the closing of post offices, which prompted me to ask: do you guys still live in the 1950s?
In a world of Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, cloud services, Google Drive, Dropbox, 3D printing, UPS, DHL, and who knows what else, I have to ask: who still uses the postal service any more?
There are only a few people with which I still get mail from through the USPS. The first are direct mail types, and nobody reads those sort of things. (This is the way your trash can goes “OM NOM NOM.”) The second are my parents and grandparents, so, in other words, old people.
The thing is, as I said, nobody is reading the former, and the latter are getting fewer and fewer. Meanwhile, the postal service is hemmorraghing money; the Cato Institute’s Downsizing Government project notes that it lost $20 billion between 2007 and 2010, and it hasn’t done any better since then. The thing is, we taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill. A bill for something that these days, an increasingly small portion of the populace actually wants. And, at the same time there’s decreasing demand for its services, its costs have continued to go up as it struggles to deal with employee pensions. Not a good situation to be in.
Here’s a better idea: let’s just privatize the post office. And by privatize it, I don’t mean sell it to one major corporation, but let’s privatize the entire industry. Allow competing mail delivery services in the market. Ensure that there are no more monopolies on first-class mail within the United States.