Opinion: Health care ruling is just common sense

My latest post on NBCLatino.

The biggest loser in today’s decision over Obamacare was the Tea Party.  They were born because of the health care debate and it was that momentum that helped them take back seats in 2010.

For years now, the Tea Party has been preaching that not only do States have a right to implement their own immigration laws, but that the Federal government obviously cannot impose penalties on individuals for not paying their fair share for medical insurance. Well, don’t you look silly now with that tricorne hat on your head?

In handing down the two most anticipated decisions of the season, Arizona’s SB1070 and the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Tea Party argument on both counts.  And thank goodness for that.

By contrast, the polling firm Latino Decisions asked Latinos if they felt it was the proper role of the government to ensure that everyone has access to health care, with almost sixty percent responding in the affirmative.

How ironic that Latinos would understand the role of government better than the so-called constitutionalists of the Tea Party.

Justice Antonin Scalia, the son of immigrants who is barely off the boat himself, tried to justify Arizona’s SB1070 by citing antiquated laws that prohibited the migration of free blacks into the States.

Read that again.  A Supreme Court Justice is justifying State’s rights on the basis of some prehistoric slavery-era mentality.  No wonder Tea Party members are more likely to believe stereotypes about black folks than normal people. These folks are stuck in an antebellum frame of mind, while the nation’s fastest growing minority is trying to manage moving forward in a changing and more competitive world.

That’s what the Federal government does. It promotes the general welfare. Is it economically sound to have an insurance mandate? Who knows, but Congress should be able to have the wherewithal to make that decision no matter the quote you pluck from a Thomas Paine pamphlet.

The National Council de la Raza reports that 16 million Hispanics are uninsured, and that about one in three Americans who do not have health coverage is Latino.  Millions more are underinsured and Latinos spend more out-of-pocket than others trying to pay for health care.

As group that is disproportionately poor, Latinos often have to manage the job market with the lack of health insurance in the back of their minds.  Often times, opportunities to change jobs are precluded by health insurance needs.  Perhaps Obamacare will help minimize the burden these choices have on looking for better job opportunities among Latinos.

I once sat in a room full of Latino Republicans where a Republican Representative told them that President Obama had despotically taken away their right not to have health care.  While I was lifting my jaw off the ground, I noticed that most of the Latinos in the room were nodding in approval. Geez, I thought, “The GOP may have a shot with Latinos after all”.

And while the reaction to this week’s Supreme Court decisions by the right may be silly, as some are saying they will now have to move to Canada not realizing Canada has an even more pernicious health care regime, the Republicans have to figure out arguments that don’t involve one’s freedom to not have health care or the freedom to have an officer check your papers for whatever reason they can make up.

Its frustrating enough to be subject to Tea Party logic, but the greatest irony has been knowing many of these so-called freedom-loving folks live monthly expecting to cash a federally-provided social security check and prescriptions to keep their heart ticking paid for by taxpayers who are increasingly Latino.

It’s unclear how this decision will impact the future health of America, but it is now nice to know Congress has options.  That isn’t socialist or un-American. It is certainly not unconstitutional.  It is as Thomas Paine said, common sense.


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