Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Affordable Care Act Stands

Today the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate law of the Affordable Care Act. This is an absolutely huge victory, not just for President Obama, but for the American people. Obama is the first President in American history to achieve some level of national healthcare reform. The polls consistently show that the majority of Americans don't support the law on its face, however, once the actual benefits are individuated (i.e. no discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions), the support skyrockets. What was interesting to see was how Roberts rejected the Solicitor General's argument that the penalty for non-compliance fell under the category of commerce, and instead found constitutional precedent for categorizing the penalty as a tax. It sort of flies in the face of my earlier argument that Roberts was purely a conservative ideologue. It's not yet clear what his personal motivations were for siding with the liberal justices. The second decision that was critical to the SCOTUS' ruling was the rejection of mandatory medicaid expansion at the state level. The reasoning was essentially that the congress cannot move to revoke all of a state's medicaid funds if they refuse to expand to cover the uninsured. The court left a legal opening for the states to expand their medicaid pools, should they so choose, but there are no penalties for maintaining status quo.

Romney and House republicans were delivered a huge blow by this ruling. Unconstitutionality was to be a bludgeon used delegitimize the President. In the absence of that weapon, republicans are at a serious loss.

Here is the Full Text of the SCOTUS Opinion.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Citizens United, Part Deux

In 1912, Montana enacted a law that prohibited unlimited corporate spending in state and local 
elections. It's citizens felt that unrestrained levels of money in state politics had an odious and corrupting influence that could only be checked through legislation. However, today in a 5-4 vote the SCOTUS firmly repudiated Montana's century-old law. In the case of American Tradition Partnership Inc v. Steve Bullock, attorney general of Montana, it was determined that the principles of the 2010 Citizens United ruling do indeed apply to Montana. Citizens United held that the the First Amendment allows for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts for and against candidates during a campaign. Essentially, dollars equal speech. A startling outgrowth of this new reality is the fact that republicans and their affiliated super pacs are planning to spend at least $1 billion on this year's presidential election. The majority of donors to super pacs are not required to disclose their identity. So basically, a corporate ghost can drop a $10 million blitz of negative adverts 10 days before an election, and then fade into the background without any true accountability. This direct affront to democracy is being promulgated by a body that is charged with interpreting the Constitution and orbiting outside the influence of partisan politics. This increasingly radical judicial activism weakens the role of the American citizen in the democratic process. How can the average Jane, who earns $50k a year, possibly compete with XYZ Inc. that has $50 million to spare? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Historic Day for Marriage Equality

President Obama completed his personal "evolution" on gay rights and marriage equality today by firmly endorsing the legalization of same-sex marriage. It was the right thing to do morally, socially, and politically. Will he lose the bigots and bible-thumpers in the South? Naturally. But he never had those votes anyway, and polls consistently show that a majority of Americans support marriage equality, so he's definitely on the right side of history. The President gave the exclusive interview to Robin Roberts of GMA.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Early Morning Martyrdom

source: usa today

Just finished my read of "The Martyrdom of Ann Romney" on Salon about the Hilary Rosen comment that simply pointed out that Ann Romney has never held down a job. From Salon:

Then Rosen uttered the words that sent the right into a tizzy: “Guess what?  His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.  She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why we worry about their future?”

The firestorm from the right was pointed and swift. Rosen was attacked as a stay-at-home mom hating,  "Obama advisor", although she has no tangible connection to the President or his campaign.

But in 2008, two years before it hired her, the firm that now employs Rosen did work for Obama’s campaign, and she does currently advise the Democratic National Committee, meaning there was just enough guilt-by-association for one of Mitt Romney’s top aides to tweet out the news late last night that
“Obama adviser Hilary Rosen goes on #CNN to debut their new “kill Ann” strategy, and in the process insults hard-working moms.”
 Mrs. Romney then created a twitter account to rebut Rosen's "slander", tweeting:

          "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

This small moment on CNN is now being used by the Romney campaign to pivot away from the defensive position they found themselves in with regards to the sustained attacks on women's rights that continue to emanate from the GOP. Mrs. Romney's power as a surrogate is being used to counter the fact that the Republican Party has serious issues retaining independent, women voters.