Healthcare reform: Is the new bill a “tax on living”? And, what’s next?

 

President Obama and his team working
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s the new bill a “tax on living” because it mandates purchasing insurance? That’s what Florida attorney general Bill McCollum says, quoted by CNN: “This is a tax or a penalty on just living, and that’s unconstitutional. There’s no provision in the Constitution of the United States giving Congress the power to do that.”

McCollum, along with attorneys general from nine other states, plan to file a federal lawsuit as soon as Obama signs the bill passed Sunday night.

The lawsuit will claim that the bill is unconstitutional for two reasons. First, it mandates the purchase of insurance. Second, it makes state governments spend more money on healthcare. (The latter, he says, violates the 10th Amendment because it compels state participation in a federal program.

The ten states are Alabama, Florida, North Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

What do you make of this move?

At first, I thought it was just another case of Republican grandstanding. Or, maybe it’s an expression of bitterness or an attempt to spoil the Democrats’ victory. (The White House photo above shows the Obama team in the midst of the unfolding political battle.)

On further reflection, though, I think it’s another example of what we talked about earlier this month: Republicans and Democrats really do live in different moral universes. (Click here to read the March 8th post on this.) And, it means that compromise is unthinkable. The Democrats will have to shoulder the next waves of reform—financial regulation, immigration, and climate change.

If all these changes work out, the Democrats will get all the credit and the glory, and Republican influence will fade even more. If not, then the next swing of the political pendulum will favor the Republicans.

Tell us: What do you think of the lawsuits to overturn the new healthcare bill? And, overall, what do you think comes next?

 

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