Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Checks & Balances

With clear-cut committee provisioning still to hammer out, Congress’ passage of “Obamacare” nonetheless initiates sweeping changes to, and the nationalization of, health care in the United States. Nevertheless, in spite of President Obama’s signature signing the health care reform bill into law, it is not the law of the land just yet. For starters, a majority of the measures do not take effect until 2014. Before that fateful date, there are still avenues available to counteract its institution:  the initiative process, which is highly unlikely given the historical improbability of success; Congress itself reversing and repealing the law, which can only happen with sweeping changes to that bodies majority makeup in the November elections; and the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the law, which is the most likely if that body so chooses. Currently, the Supreme Court theoretically holds a 5-4 conservative majority, and it is inconceivable that Antonin Scalia, a strict interpreter of the Constitution, is not chomping at the bit for such a showdown of fundamentals.

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There is precedent. As President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to guide the country out of The Great Depression, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional six of the eight statutes of the "New Deal" passed by Congress. Just two months ago, decades-old campaign finance laws were overruled, dismantling the McCain-Feingold Act enacted by Congress in 2002. In all, the Court has found just over 150 acts of Congress unconstitutional since 1789.

Though the government will commence immediate collection of taxes as outlined in the new law, four years is a long time for the enactment of intended changes. By then, it is conceivable that those opposed to the reforms will have overturned them. At least, conservative America – and the small businesses that will bear the harshest burden – can hope. Just don’t expect any previously collected taxes to be returned. Undoubtedly, those will have been spent already on bonuses for Wall Street executives, or at least for the government commissars overseeing them.

©2010 Steve Sagarra

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