Before Congress, John Kroger defends constitutionality of health reform law (video)

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Yesterday, Attorney General John Kroger testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the constitutionality of the health reform law.

Like the combination prosecutor/professor that he is, Kroger dispatched the constitutional objections to health reform with rapid-fire ease. If you're looking for the talking points you need in arguments with your ditto-head buddies, this is a few minutes of video that's worth watching (below).

As the O's Jeff Mapes notes, one of Kroger's core arguments is that failing to buy health insurance is itself an act of interstate commerce - which Congress can regulate. After all, if you don't have health insurance you can still obtain health care services from hospitals, most of which operate as interstate corporations.

Mapes poses a question worth asking here too:

That's one big reason why health care is unlike other markets in the U.S. Critics of the federal health-care law may complain that it puts a mandate on individuals, but tend not to talk about repealing the long-standing mandate forcing hospitals to treat people who can't afford medical care.

To readers: Does Kroger have a point? And for critics of Obamacare, what would they do about the federal law requiring hospital emergency rooms to treat people regardless of their ability to pay?

Thoughts, dear readers?

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    You can find John's written legal brief here:

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    Funny how Mapes uses the GOP/fright-wing label of "Obamacare". There is no such thing as "Obamacare".

    The ACA, which was largely based on, and in particular the individual mandates, the Heritage Foundation's Healthcare Reform which Bob Dole pushed as the GOP counter-proposal to the Health Care Reforms that Hillary CLinton pushed back in the early 1990s, and which Mitt Romney pushed for and had put into law in Mass. when he was the Gov. there.

    It is also worth noting that this was passed by Congress who put the ACA together, not the Obama admisnitration.

    SO the entire rhetoric about the ACA is tainted form the outset with hyper-partisan labels which Mapes and the Oregonian use because they seem to be either grossly oblivious of how GOP talking points work to push this into the familiar partisan rhetorical boxes, or are simply being lazy how how they write (which also plays into the GOP playbook of language use).

    As to the substance of Kroger's testimony, It is quite good.

    He didn't need to, but it is also worth pointing out that the Militia Act of 1792, passed by the Second Congress and signed into law by George Washington, which required every white male of age to outfit himself (i.e. buy from the private sector) with a military-style firearm, even if some people forced to buy a gun preferred not to own one.

    Or even more in the realm of health insurance, in July, 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” authorizing the creation of a marine hospital service, and mandating privately employed sailors to purchase healthcare insurance.

    So are we to blindly accept the lunacy from the Tea bagger brigade and their blathering on about Constitutional overreach, that the very Congresses at the time of the framing really would fully support and pass mandatory insurance purchase requirements which was beyond the reach of the Constitution?

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      If you click "View all" in the video section above, you can see all the testimony. If you have the time it is really worthwhile. The second witness is Professor Charles Fried from Harvard who gives a particularly strong testimony. He was John Kroger's constitutional professor. The other three witnesses are also worth watching. A very impressive group including the two who argue it is unconstitutional.

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    Kari, have you seen Rep. DeFazio's brilliant proposal that would allow people to opt out of the mandate to buy health insurance, so long as they also agree to give up Medicaid, the health insurance exchanges, and the ability to declare bankruptcy because of health care costs?

    I blogged about it, noting that Tea Party types and libertarians should embrace this bit of genius.

    It's really a terrific idea. The Salem Statesman Journal loved the notion in an editorial today.

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    Kari, I wonder how we're going to hold onto Kroger. Wonderful, succinct, and devastatingly effective testimony.

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      Yeah, given that we pay our attorney general less than the median salary for attorneys in Oregon (and less than first-year associates make at the top-flight firms), well, I'm amazed we get anyone of quality to run at all.

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    Didn't Bush's SS privatization bill in 2005 REQUIRE people to take part of their payroll tax that the govt was collecting and invest it?

    They couldn't just pocket the $$.

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    I have high respect for Attorney General Kroger - I know him from Lewis & Clark Law School, but I disagree with his legal dismissal of examples 3 & 4. Both of those arguments have merit, and given the make-up of our current U.S. Supreme Court, either would probably prevail.

    Quickly, in #3, the farmer had to buy his own food from the open market because the food he was growing was subsidized by congress. And in #4, the problem isn't the "freeloaders," the problem is mandatory emergency room care.

    In both examples, congress cannot claim public remedy for problems it has itself created.

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