Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Danger of a Legal Challenge to Health Reform

A current argument made by the Right Wing against health care reform, is that the Democratic plan is unconstitutional. They rely on the oldie but goodie that the Constitution does not say anything about the regulation of health care, so the founders must not have intended to allow the Federal Government to have much of a role, if any. Since the New Deal, The courts have held many times now that the Federal Government has a great deal of power via the Commerce Clause. The current Right Wing argument is, in essence, that those cases were wrongly decided. While the claim is interesting, it is ridiculously outdated. To return to such an interpretation would lead to the economic collapse of this nation.

The debate over the constitutional federal power to regulate has been going on since 1789. One of the most significant early arguments was the debate over "internal improvements." The Federalists believed the federal government could build roads and canals to aid the new nation. The Democratic-Republicans, led by Jefferson, disagreed. Early on they believed the federal government had no such power. A good history of this debate can be found here. If we were to go back that far in our Commerce Clause interpretation, we would not have the Interstate Highway System. Those trucks you see late at night bringing your food and clothes to your local stores, would not be there. You couldn't take that drive to Grandma's house. Luckily, the Jeffersonians reached a somewhat tense compromise with themselves and agreed to a limited approval of internal improvements. I can only assume that the Right Wing would not wish to turn back the clock to pre-Eisenhower and let the interstate highways go to pot.

But I do believe the Right Wing sees a future that pre-dates the New Deal on non-transportation federal powers. I think they hope to see a court disapproval of national health care as the stepping stone to the eventual destruction of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the EPA, and probably even the SEC. Read this, and note that it applies to many things other than health care. They long for the days when there were no labor unions and the owners of a factory could do whatever the hell they please. For some reason, when they think of the good-ole-days, they forget the basis for the lyric "I sold my soul to the company store," and the hellish conditions depicted in "The Jungle."

In short, while there might be policy reasons for killing national health insurance reform, a legal victory based on the Commerce Clause would be extremely dangerous to the economic fabric of the country.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rant Cont.

Another group pissing me off are the "elderly" upset that someone other than themselves might get Government provided health insurance. How selfish is it to say you deserve something. but refuse to let anyone else have it? God forbid some part-tiome WalMart worker with two kids should have the same health care opportunities as Sam Walton had. He might have been a billionaire, but he was old. So the Government should give him opportunities that the guy cleaining the floors in one of Sam's stores does not have.

And do you notice that the same people rejecting counseling on end-of-life care were the folks passing legislation in an attempt to make such a decision for Terri Schiavo? Maybe if Terri had had some counseling before her illness, she would have written her desires down and we could have avoided the circus her death became. Why are we so scared to talk of the fact that some people might not want to live hooked up to a machine, and that it would be nice to have some facts provided to them? Just today David Freddoso, a hard core social conservative expressed horror at this pamphlet. OMG!!! Someone might actually learn what various diseases can do to you and plan ahead for various contigincies.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A True Rant (Probably with typos)

This health care debate is pissing me off in so many ways. Let's try a few.

1. I am pissed off at the GOP telling everyone they should not trust the Democratic Health Care plan, and then use polls that show a large distrust of the Democratic plan as reason the plan should not pass.

2. I am pissed off at claims from the GOP that it is trying to keep health care safe from some third-party interefering in the decisions that should be made by a patient and his doctor. Have any of them had to ask for permission from an insurance company before getting some kind of care? It happens all the damn time.

3. I am pissed off at liberals who say that they will oppose any health care reform plan that does not iniclude the public option. Why? Because a small improvement in the current system is a worse thing than the status quo? What a load of hooie! If the legislation that is up for a vote makes even the smallest improvement - we should support it.

4. I am pissed off that the GOP continues to spew out the idea that Obama cannot guarantee that a person will be able to keep the insurance they currently have (one of the few true claims the GOP has been making) but that the status quo will allow it. Maybe it will in the shortest term. As health care prices skyrocket, employers will very possibly stop providing insurance, or, at least, stop providing the insurance plan an individual has had in the past and, instead, provide a cheaper, less popular plan.

More ranting later.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Should All Listen To Me

I said it seven months ago. Brett Favre is a narcissist who I wish would just go away. But here he comes again; just when the spotlight was about to shine elsewhere. There should never be another Brett Favre retrospective. ESPN should promise never again to air a story about whether Favre will or won't do anything.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care Town Hall

As I posted a couple weeks ago, I had a short conversation with my Congressman, Mark Kirk, now a GOP Senate candidate, at a train station in Chicago. I asked him a quick question or two about health care. He gave not so helpful answers. Thinking I might take a page from the GOP playbook I e-mailed his office asking if he was going to have a town hall to discuss health care, so I could go and ask pointed questions. I sent it via his Congressional website a few days ago. I have yet to hear a response. I'll keep you updated regarding Mr. Kirk's apparent desire not to face his constituents head on.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Glenn Beck . . .

is a bad man. He isn't claiming eugenics will come because of Obama's health care plan; he's just saying we should start talking about Obama's helath care with a discussion of eugenics.

Similarly, I'm not saying Glenn Beck is a jackass. But before we discuss Glenn Beck's personality and intelligence, let's talk about jackasses.

Stop Telling Me What The American People Want

I think I have said this before, but can we please stop having politicians and pundits telling us what the "American people" want? This is a large country with opinions as varied as the people in it. The current example used most often is the conservative statement that the "American people" don't want the Democratic health plan. Well, I'm part of the "American people" and I want the plan. So from now on, I demand that anyone claiming the knowledge that the "American people" don't want the Democratic health care plan say instead that they only have knowledge of what the "American people except for Peter Nessen" want.

New Mission Statement

For the life of this blog, I have thought I should be trying to teach people something about what they might find interesting. And then I would be disappointed when no one seemed to be reading. My wife recently said she was reading, and was interested in what I had to say in my blog. Tha is when it occurred to me. A blog is a basically narcissitic exercise. I will now write about anythign I damn well please. Will I link to other web sites? When I feel like it. Will I blog about ridiculous crap? Why the hell not? In other words, I am taking control of my blog as a reflection of my mind, which I think is pretty damn interesting. Ego? You bet your ass!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

GOP "Moderate" on Health Care

I was going to contact my Congressman, Mark Kirk, via phone to let him know I supported universal health coverage. But before I made the call, I saw him at the train station in Chicago, trying to elicit support for his Senate bid. Kirk is considered a moderate Republican by many. That is what made my encounter with him so surprising. I have already posted regarding my disgust with the GOP's claim that there is no Health Care problem in this country. But in my short conversation with Mr. Kirk I discovered a new tack - admit the problem but maintain there is no solution that is affordable. The conversation went something like this (I apologize to Mr. Kirk if I have not remembered everything word for word, but this is definitely the gist of the conversation:

Me: I know you won't like this but I encourage you to support Universal Health Care.

Kirk: I am on the other side of that issue.

Me: Why?

Kirk: I am against spending a trillion dollars on it.

Me: Well, what do you suggest we do about the problem?

Kirk: We can't afford it.

Me: Maybe we should give care to the working poor and take some of the cost by means-testing Medicare.

Kirk: I support Medicare.

Me: What about means-testing?

Kirk: I support Medicare.

Me: What about means-testing?

Kirk: I support Medicare [Ed. - He did say it three times].

Me: What about the kids who need health care?

Kirk: I voted for S-Chip.

Me: Good, I appreciate that.

What does this say about the GOP position on health care? One of the "moderates" in the party is now claiming that there is nothing we can do to solve the problem. I guess we should just let it go as it is. That is the modern GOP? Nothing good.