Ben Cardin v. Dan Bongino: The Affordable Care Act.

Friday, June 29, 2012

At the bottom of this piece, you can see the statement by incumbent Senator Ben Cardin in reaction to yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court. It’s on the Senator’s Senate website, It’s very neatly typed, and generally well-written. Personally, I’m not a big fan of third person statements that, I think, make the elected official sound aloof. Even though he staffed it out, the Senator should be talking directly to his constituents.

What bothers me about this statement is that Senator Cardin is, as usual, doing nothing more than parroting his party’s line. I seriously doubt that the Senator has actually read the bill that has 906 pages and no pictures. He’s being a good Democrat. I get it, but I’m asking myself, “Shouldn’t we get more for the $174,000 per year we pay him, for the $1,044,000 per term he gets to rubber stamp his President’s and party’s proposals?

Notice also the reckless use of rough estimated large numbers spread over as a long as 10 years when, the reality is, they have no real idea what impact the Act will have. There are just too many factors at play to say with any certainty that the act will accomplish its objectives and to what extent.

What we can say with reasonable certainty is that the Act is a mess. No one read it. No one really understands all its nuances. The President and his party’s leaders in the House and Senate tried too hard to stuff too much into a single piece of comprehensive legislation.

We know that the only reason it was approved by the Supreme Court was that a majority of the Court chose to view the individual mandate penalty – the penalty a person will pay for opting out of the program and not buying insurance – as a tax. While the provision didn’t qualify under Congressional powers to regulate commerce, a five to four majority of the Court believes that it does qualify under Congressional powers to impose taxes. The penalty is a tax, even though the President, a Constitutional scholar in his own right, assured us that it wasn’t. The thing is, the Act doesn’t impose any penalty (fine, whatever) for not paying the penalty, so anyone can opt out without it costing him or her anything. The individual mandate, which is a linchpin of the Act, turns out not to be a mandate after all.

What a mess. By any standard, even if the basic tenants of the Act are desirable, and many of them certainly are, it’s a mess, a mess that Senator Ben “Rubber Stamp” Cardin voted for. Did he even bother to read it? Ask him. If you don’t, I’m pretty sure (I hope) Dan Bongino will when they debate and every chance he gets before then.

If Senator Cardin did read it, and given that he’s a lawyer and legislator with 25 year experience in Washington and more, before Washington, in the Maryland House of Delegates, how did this point about there being no penalty for not paying the opt out penalty get buy him? I don’t know. Maybe he staffed that out too.

P.S. for Maryland’s Second District voters: What do you think? Did incumbent Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger read the Act? Before he voted for it? He’s a lawyer too. Bright guy, but I don’t think he read it.

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Ben Cardin on Affordable Care Act

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