Monday, April 2, 2012

President Obama's Optimism

Today, in a press conference at the White House, President Obama made his first remarks about the health reform law since the Supreme Court arguments. He says he thinks the Supreme Court will uphold the law, and here's why:

First and foremost, he made the case that precedent was on his side, noting that two staunchly conservative lower court justices had agreed that penalizing people who didn't purchase insurance coverage was within Congress' power under the commerce clause.

Secondly, the president underscored the issues that would arise from repealing the legislative components of the law that had already been implemented. He noted that millions of children have been given insurance coverage under the law, that changes have been made to Medicare's prescription drug program and that insurance industry reforms have already been put in place.

"This is not an abstract argument," he declared. "People's lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the in-affordability of health care, their inability to get health car because of pre-existing conditions ... I think the American people understand and I think that the justices should understand that in the absence of the individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to insure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care."

"So there not only is an economic element to this, and a legal element to this, there is also a human element to this," he added.

The most forceful of the president's points was the third. Overturning the health care law, he argued, would resemble the very type of judicial activism that conservatives have routinely lamented. The Affordable Care Act passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by the president. To ignore such a definitive legislative stamp of approval would be a form of judicial overreach, Obama argued.

"Ultimately I am 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," the president concluded. "And I just remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is that the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint; that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I'm pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step."

I hope he's right. Jennifer

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