With all the talk about health care reform, why do you feel so sick – even before watching the Mariners game? And just when you need some relief, why does the state find it necessary to increase the price of everything that’s fun?
Questions such as these deserve answers, not good answers necessarily, but answers nonetheless.
Q: Like many Americans and Republican candidates, I assumed the U.S. Supreme Court was going to kill the federal health care reform law. Now that the court went the other direction, I can no longer ignore it. So what do I need to know about this law?
A: First, you need to know that before the court ruled 5-4 that the act was constitutional, it was called Obamacare. That was a derisive term applied by opponents who wanted to saddle the president with the blame. Now that it has been upheld by a Republican appointee to the top court, it is once again called the Affordable Health Care act.
Q: Chief Justice John Roberts did all that?
A: Along with four liberal justices, yes. Somehow the court’s approval increased the stature of the controversial law. Now the people who most often call it Obamacare are the president’s Democratic supporters who want to saddle the president with the credit.
Q: And regular Americans are supposed to keep up with all this? Apparently the chief justice also magically transformed a penalty into a tax. What’s the difference?
A: A penalty is unconstitutional and a tax is constitutional.
Q: Will Americans pay more now that it is a tax?
A: No, but Republicans will get more political mileage out of it.
Q: Why can’t we have all of the benefits of the new law but not have to pay more. Isn’t that the American way?
A: It is indeed, and the House of Representatives is working on it.
Q: Thanks for the warning. I noticed that Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is having some trouble with the issue. He sued to block the law, but lately almost sounds like its biggest supporter. What happened?
A: According to the Republican gubernatorial candidate, he was expecting the court to strike down the law and wasn’t prepared to answer questions once it was upheld. So when he said the law should not be repealed and that the individual mandate was necessary “for now” to make the whole system work, he was just being inarticulate.
Q: That’s a new term for a flip-flop. But didn’t he also blame the “Seattle media?”
A: Yes. He said reporters attending his post-ruling news conference misinterpreted his statements.
Q: How did they do that?
A: They wrote down what he said.
Q: That’ll never work. The news is so confusing that I really needed a drink and a smoke. But the liquor privatization initiative seems to have made booze more expensive. And the combination of new state taxes and new federal regulation has forced my roll-your-own cigarette shop to close. Why must government make vice so expensive?
A: Government and Costco, you mean. Cheap wasn’t the goal of I-1183, profits were. And the state doesn’t like cheaper cigarettes that avoid taxes and reduce sales of Big Tobacco products that are needed for tobacco settlement agreement payments to the state.
Q: I guess. Sometimes I think they don’t want us to have any fun.
A: There are folks in government who wish we would do as we’re told: Drink less, smoke not at all, eat healthier food, exercise. They enforce it by making us pay more for stuff they think is bad for us.
Q: That explains why Mariners tickets are so expensive. Why do they charge good money for miserable baseball?
A: Because they can.
Q: But why are they so horrible? No one has spent more money to less effect since the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign.
A: The kids aren’t all right. The veterans are worse. And the big guy in Japan doesn’t care as long as the team brass doesn’t ask for more money. It is so bad that we’ll have to wait till next year to even say wait till next year.
Q: I don’t care how expensive it is, I need a drink.
A: Go ahead, the state – and Costco – need the firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8657 blog.thenewstribune.com/politics @CallaghanPeter