The Edmond Sun


June 28, 2012

The Idaho Statesman: A win for Obama, a weapon for the GOP

EDMOND — The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Barack Obama a big victory. And the court handed his Republican adversaries a rallying point.

In validating Obama’s centerpiece legislation, the 2010 health care law, a 5-4 court majority upheld the “individual mandate” — the requirement that Americans purchase health insurance, and the linchpin of the law.

The ruling keeps the health care law on the books, largely but not entirely intact. But the individual mandate was upheld in a nuanced manner — the court validated the federal government’s power to impose taxes on those who do not secure health insurance. And that gave an opening to Republicans.

Idaho senior Sen. Mike Crapo was among the first — of many — to seize on the wording. Crapo, a Republican, sponsored an amendment during Senate debate to strip the health care bill of taxing authority, the very language that enabled the decision to survive a Supreme Court challenge. “We were engaged in that debate,” Crapo told the Statesman on Thursday morning.

Now, Republicans will be able to use Obama’s words against him: his pledge to hold the line on taxes for every American making under $250,000 a year. (On Thursday, Crapo cited numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan research arm of the legislative branch, which says that more than 75 percent of the cost of the individual mandate will be borne by the middle class).

And so it begins. The Republican House has already scheduled a July 11 vote on repealing the health care law — a strictly symbolic gesture. Repeal is a non-starter this year, and no done deal even if Republicans win the White House and the Senate.

But there is a more basic problem with repeal-o-rama rhetoric.

It skirts the fundamental question of how Republicans in Congress would fix the American health care system. The soundbite is familiar: a pledge to pursue market-based reforms. Some of the particulars have merit — such as enhanced “pooling” to help small businesses find insurance, and allowing consumers to buy insurance from across state lines.

What are the details?

And what is GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plan, beyond Thursday’s boilerplate repeal reaction? Romney says he would put states in control of crafting health care plans that suit their own preferences — which would presumably allow states to embrace the Obama approach, or the very similar model Romney enacted as governor of Massachusetts.

Those without insurance — at least 30 million nationally, by Obama’s estimates Thursday — deserve to know what a Plan B would look like. That also applies to the 54 million Americans who have already received free preventive care under the Obama law. And it applies to 6.6 million Americans under the age of 26, who can now stay on their parents’ health care plans.

If the Obama plan is as unacceptable as its critics say it is, what exactly would be acceptable?

That’s not for the Supreme Court to answer, of course. Its job was simply to rule on the constitutionality of existing law. The court’s ruling does not settle the debate over public policy and potential options; it merely sets the stage for the next phase.

Text Only
  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results