The Fallacy of Bipartisanship
RightWatch: If the health care law is overturned, it will be proof that compromise wasn't the answer.
I, like many liberal Democrats, wanted Obama to fight for such a single-payer system. I even wrote a piece for The Root accusing him of "punking out" to "a political axis of evil comprised of insurance and drug lobbyists, right-leaning, so-called moderate Democrats, and wild-eyed conservative Republicans" by abandoning what was then known as "the public option."
Obama's diehard supporters contend that, given the circumstances, the law that was passed was the best Obama could do. And indeed, it does contain many laudable provisions, such as allowing young adults to remain on their parents' policies until age 26, and forbidding private insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
But many health care experts believe that whatever its virtues may be, Obamacare is a mishmash, sadly inferior to a single-payer system of health care reform. The virtues of a single-payer system in holding down costs and making high-quality care widely available have been amply demonstrated by the success of Medicare and Veterans Affairs.
Moreover, a single-payer system -- which, like Social Security and Medicare, would be based on taxes rather than forcing people to purchase private insurance -- is unquestionably constitutional. (As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg observed during last week's historic arguments, "The government can take over the whole thing and we all say, 'Oh, yes that's fine,' but if the government wants to ... preserve private insurers, it can't do that.")
This week Obama declared, "I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
I hope he's right, for the sake of his presidency and for his reputation as a constitutional lawyer. But if he's wrong and the law is overturned, it will mean that he blew his first term fighting for a badly flawed substitute for the historic overhaul of the health care system that he campaigned for -- and for which he couldn't get even a shred of Republican support. It would be proof, as if more proof were needed, of how silly it is to seek compromise with those whose only aim is to destroy you.
Jack White keeps an eye on right-wing politics for The Root.