“The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates” – Tacitus
(I’ve been away for a week dealing with the sudden and tragic death of my older sister. Thus, there were no posts last week. I suspect my posts this week will be curt, but there are some interesting things to discuss out there.)
The big hullabaloo last last week was the Supreme Court decision to uphold Obamacare, with John Roberts providing the critical vote. I’m starting to suspect that Roberts reads this blog and used my rationale to defend Obamacare … for which I apologize to the masses.
Roberts’ rationale: it’s just another form of a tax. I seem to recall making the same point several months ago. Consider my thoughts from March in “The Price of Wheat in Kansas, or Ohio, and a Possible Day of Reckoning for Obamacare“:
Come what may, this is still a good conversation for this country to have. I think the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but we’re really splitting hairs to say so. What exactly is the real difference in the government demanding that you buy insurance or pay a fine, and the government passing a tax to take the money from you and buy the insurance on your behalf? (And if the former is unconstitutional, then why not the latter?) Could the government not also argue (under the cover of Wickard) that a person’s decision not to buy insurance impacts national prices and is thus fair game for the federal government? This is, after all, the basis of Obamacare – forcing young, healthy people to buy insurance they don’t need in order to hold down prices for unhealthy people.
It’s that simple. If the government can tax you and buy a good on your behalf, then there is no material difference in them simply demanding that you buy the good yourself. So Roberts is right.
But he’s also wrong. The Constitution nowhere grants such authority to Congress. It has been built over decades by judicial precedent. The courts have gradually decided that “promote the general welfare” is a blank-power-check by which Congress can do anything it wants as long as it has good intentions. Roberts based his decision on a form of “SCOTUS infallibility” – prior courts have decided that the government can do whatever it wants and this is just one more technicality to be swept aside.
I will say that, both right and wrong, Roberts at least understands the fundamental issue here. We are either to be a fascist nation or not – there is no point in having middle ground. Either Congressional power over your life and livelihood is unchecked, or it must be restrained completely in line with Constitutional restrictions. Since we’ve given up on the latter so long ago, there is little point in avoiding the former – only the endpoints make sense. So Roberts has chosen his lot. He is a fascist with the majority.
Perhaps we need a Constitutional amendment that reads “the Constitution means only what it says and shall not be construed to mean anything more.”
Now, on to presidential politics. I noted a few weeks ago that upholding Obamacare would be a political win for the president, contrary to common punditry talking points. I still hold to that assessment – Romney is in big trouble right now.
The reason? Obamacare is now a central issue in the election, and the Tea Partiers are pissed. Unlike the typical politically active group, the Tea Party follows principle over party. Unlike African Americans, who will vote Democrat no matter how badly liberal policies destroy their lives; and unlike conservative evangelicals, who will vote Republican no matter how much Republicans betray their demands on abortion; the Tea Party will burn the house down to make a point. They will walk away from Mitt Romney and the Republicans to make a point – a simple point: “we won’t tolerate fascism any more.”
Romney had better be very careful over the next month or two and choose wisely when it comes to his VP selection. He has absolutely no grounds to campaign on with this Obamacare issue: we don’t believe him. The only way he gets the Tea Party vote is to nominate a Tea Partier as his VP. And personally, I don’t think Marco Rubio or Allen West will do it. It has to be Rand Paul. Do that and the Tea Party is on board – and Romney just might win. Do it not, and the Tea Party will revolt (and Ron Paul may well run a 3rd party candidacy) – and Romney loses BIG.
Interestingly, I do think there is some hope that Romney will get it. I typically don’t have much confidence in the guy, but he is, if nothing else, a manager. The Republican establishment is crying out “unite behind the candidate” and taking the standard Democrat approach to building a coalition: “I have a slight majority, therefore you have to get in line behind me and agree with everything I say in the name of consensus – and any disagreement is a sign that you refuse to cooperate.” This, of course, is not how coalitions are built. Pundits and political establishments may not get that – but I bet Romney does. Coalitions are built by giving the smaller partner in the coalition a seat at the table, giving them a say, giving them some power – just not a majority of the power.
So we’ll see what happens. I personally think Rand Paul will be the VP nominee. And when I say that, I mean the current Intrade probability of Rand Paul for VP (2%) is too low, and the actual probability us much, much higher (10% or 15%). It is one of the few developments that could get me to reconsider and possibly vote for Romney.
For now, I’m still a “no” on Romney – and we all know I can’t vote for Obama either, given my opposition to his rabidly immoral policies.