Friday, October 4, 2013

It's the Law!

Today’s argument from the Administration and supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the Congress must fund it - it’s the law.  There are at least two problems with this statement.  First, and foremost, just because it’s a law does not mean Congress has to fund it.  The government has a long history of passing laws, or mandates, without providing the funding to implement them.  These unfunded mandates place the burden of implantation on the States.  For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Medicaid are both unfunded mandates.  Now, while the Congress has tried to clean up its act with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, it is still legally and constitutionally capable of passing a law and not funding it.  The fact the administration is unwilling to compromise on its funding or implementation is a political decision, as is the fact the Republican Party insists on a strategy to chip away at it.  In reflection, it might have been just a little bit better if the Democrats had chosen to govern rather than rule in 2009.
I said there were two problems with the statement, coming from the Democrats and the Administration.  The second is the irony.  “It’s the law… it must be complied with.”  There used to be a law called the Defense of Marriage Act.  Whether it was a good law or bad is irrelevant, until the US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, it was a law.  This administration made a choice – it would not defend it when it was challenged in the court, as was their responsibility.  So clearly it is the Administration’s position that support of the laws is only applicable if they agree with them.  Therefore, how can you hold Congress to a different standard?
There are outstanding provisions in the ACA, things we should have done before, but as long as both sides play to their extremist supporters with this act I am afraid we will never move beyond the political gamesmanship. 

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