I've spent the past couple of years completing a biography of a former North Carolina governor, Jim Martin, who also served 12 years in Congress and helped craft Ronald Reagan's momentous tax cuts of 1981. Martin remains the only Republican to serve two terms as governor of the nation's 9th-largest state. Throughout his career, Martin fought for such goals as reforming the tax code to promote economic growth, applying sound science and common sense to regulatory policy, and p...rotecting state, local, and private prerogatives against the encroachment of the federal government.
Jim Martin played a key role in the rise of the Republican Party in North Carolina and the rest of the Southeast. He also worked with Jack Kemp, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, and others to form the Conservative Opportunity Society in Congress and a GOP strategy for recruiting and assisting candidates for state and local office around the country during the 1980s and 1990s.
Sound interesting? The book comes out this fall. In the meantime, you can learn more about it by visiting its Facebook page and giving it a "like." Here you go: https://www.facebook.com/JimMartinCatalyst
I wrote my column for today's Carolina Journal about a bold bid for freedom. An ancestor of mine, a French Huguenot girl named Suzanne Rochet, escaped King Louis XIV's tyranny by hiding in a wine cask that was loaded on a ship bound for Holland. The king's idiotic revocation of religious toleration in France hurt his own cause and strengthened that of his enemies. Just desserts.
The potential legal challenges to ObamaCare are far from exhausted. If President Obama is reelected in November and vetoes future repeal legislation, expect to see lawsuits over the contraception mandate and the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Diane Cohen and Michael Cannon have just analyzed the latter for the Cato Institute. The IPAB provisions violate the U.S. constitution in several ways, most obviously by trying to prevent future Congresses from repealing them. Essentially, the ObamaCare law "attempts to amend the Constitution by statute." Damning stuff.
So let me get this straight: The plaintiffs were correct in arguing that the federal government lacks the power under the Commerce Clause to force American citizens to purchase government-approved health insurance. Yet the federal government can the same end by taxing people if they don't purchase government-approved health insurance. Well, I suggest the administration and its allies in the legislative, judicial, and media institutions of Washington get this straight, as well: We the people will not comply. Instead, we will impose some taxes of our own. If you are up for election in November, we will impose a 100 percent tax on your access to federal power after that date. And if you aren't subject to election, we will impose a 100 percent tax on your credibility and influence.
Here's my initial take on what I still consider to be a disappointing decision: You have to read the fine print and think about the political implications before giving into despair.
Chief John Roberts may have flinched from doing what his fellow Republican-appointed justices were willing to do — strike down the individual mandate as a violation of the Commerce Clause — but he did so in a clever way. He resurrected an earlier argument, one the Obama administration had mostly ...abandoned, that the mandate was really a tax rather than a regulation. No one denies that Congress has the power to levy a nationwide tax, so the core of the president’s legislation survives even though Roberts and the conservatives sided with the plaintiffs on the main constitutional claim about the limitation imposed on federal regulatory power by the Commerce Clause.
But the trick comes at a significant political cost. First, those who dislike the mandate — which includes a majority of U.S. voters — will now have no recourse but to vote for Mitt Romney to repeal it. Second, the only way the administration prevailed was to have Obama’s main legislative accomplishment redefined as one of the largest middle-class tax increases in the history of the country. Does that really sound like a good political outcome for him in the long run?
Today we will find out whether a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court believes in the principle of limited, enumerated federal powers. If the justices uphold the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, it is hard to how any claim of federal power over private economic decisions would fail to meet the test of constitutionality. If the justices strike the mandate, or the entire law, we will now have a strong legal precedent for restoring the proper balance between federal powers, state powers, and individual rights. As far as the political effects, I'm not sure and I don't care as much. That is, if a victory for freedom in the Supreme Court somehow helps President Obama by energizing his liberal base, so be it. I'd rather have the judicial victory and a reelected president than the judicial loss and Romney as president.
President Obama is not used to being held accountable for what he says. According to CBS News, however, his attempt to intimidate the U.S. Supreme Court into upholding the constitutionality of ObamaCare has quickly yielded a response from the federal judiciary. The report states that "a federal appeals court apparently is calling the president's bluff — ordering the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the Obama Administration believes that the courts have the right to strike down a federal law."
The New York Sun has a good, tough editorial today rapping President Obama for "warning" the Supreme Court not to overturn his health care law. His call for "judicial restraint" was particularly laughable, given what his own appointees have been doing in other areas of the law.
Is President Obama's "working the refs?" Is he trying either to bully the Supreme Court into upholding ObamaCare, or setting the stage for the Left to smear the Court if it rules the "wrong way"? That's what it looks like to me, and to many other analysts today. Here's what Jonah Goldberg wrote a while ago:
Defenders of ObamaCare have already started their Plan B — to sow as much doubt and suspicion against the U.S. Supreme Court as possible, in case of an adverse ruling this summer. But they have a problem: message discipline. Nationalizing the regulation and subsidy of health care was such an important goal to them, and the prospect of losing their achievement so distressing, that they can't help but vent their spleens. If the entire law gets thrown out, one activist told the Atlantic, "I think my head would explode."
Well, the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court is over, and many on the Left appear to be either deeply depressed or prematurely angry at the "extremists" on the Court poised to strike all or part of ObamaCare down as unconstitutional. Meanwhile, many ObamaCare critics are prematurely celebrating. While I think the oral argument did an excellent job of exploring the key reasons why the bill ought to be struck down, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be. And even if it is, conservatives must be prepared for the next fight: to enact true health care reform based on principles of free enterprise, personal liberty, and federalism. As for President Obama, it might well be in his political interest for the bill to go poof:
If you ever had any doubt that ObamaCare was designed to destroy health savings accounts and other forms of consumer-driven health care, the latest regulatory pronouncements from the Obama administration should settle the matter. As the HSA Coalition just reported, the Department of Health and Human Services has essentially made it impossible for HSA-based plans (such as my own) to be sold through the new ObamaCare exchanges. Any state still cooperating with the establishment of exchanges should cease immediately (let Obama try to figure them out) and any politician who doesn't promise to delay, defund, and repeal ObamaCare should be defeated.
National Review blogger Tevi Troy has a short post today that reflects the mixed views I have on the news that the US Supreme Court will hear the ObamaCare case and release a decision by summer 2012. On the one hand, if the Supremes do the right thing and strike the mandate as unconstitutional, President Obama can be criticized for having attempted an illegal power grab. On the other hand, if the Supremes do the wrong thing and uphold the constitutionality of the mandate, conservatives may get even more angry and recognize that the only response left to him is to win enough elections in 2012 to be able to peel back or repeal the legislation.
All who love freedom and free enterprise ought to hope the answer to this newspaper's question is YES. Here's a key passage about the collapse of ObamaCare's long-term care piece: “The demise of CLASS, say critics, signals the beginning of the end of Mr. Obama's health-care reform law. Many Republicans have pledged to starve it of funding, and the US Supreme Court is slated to discuss in a Nov. 10 closed-door conference whether to hear the various legal challenges to it. Moreover, the law's bid to expand Medicaid, a public health program for the poor, is in jeopardy as states restrict access and make cuts to try to control rising costs.”
Even if Republicans capture both the presidency and Senate next year, that still won't make it easy to repeal ObamaCare, according to the Wall Street Journal. That's because of the possibility of Democratic filibusters in the Senate, as well as other challenges. Best-case scenario: the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate next summer, thus creating pressure from insurers and moderate Dems to replace a law that would then become unworkable. Next-best-case: attack ObamaCare in pieces and stages, forcing votes on its most unpopular provisions and passing Medicare/Medicaid changes and free-market reforms at the same time.
When the Obama administration admitted earlier this month that a key piece of ObamaCare, the CLASS program for long-term care, was fatally flawed, it was more than just a public-relations disaster. The admission "obliterates the fiscal basis on which health care reform was passed," writes Charles Blahous, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Check out his devastating piece. He pretty much sacks the quarterback here.
Bob Moffitt makes the case for Medicare reform in a recent NRO post, arguing that reform would reduce the rate of growth in health care spending and alleviate a significant amount of future federal indebtedness. But Medicare reform is easier described than accomplished. And Medicare savings should not be used, as President Obama intends, to expand other government health care programs. Government's footprint in health care is already too large. Changing shoes is not enough.