Bloggers tuned into hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan looking for clues to her views on the health overhaul law as well as abortion restrictions. Others take a look at new polls and the ‘tanning tax’ set to kick in tomorrow.
April Fulton of NPR’s Shots Blog describes an exchange Tuesday between Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. and Kagan: “An ardent opponent of the health care law, Coburn asked Kagan whether it would be constitutional if Congress required Americans to eat three vegetables and fruits a day to save on health costs. ‘Sounds like a dumb law,’ Kagan said. ‘But I think that the question of whether it’s a dumb law is different from … the question of whether it’s constitutional and I think that courts would be wrong to strike down laws that they think are senseless just because they’re senseless.’”
Caroline May of The Daily Caller writes of the exchange, “Her non-answer has made some question Kagan’s views on how much power the government can exert over its citizens. John Hart, Coburn’s communications director, told The Daily Caller, ‘I think what she said reflects a belief that the Constitution does not protect the individual rights the founders intended to protect.’ Hart said the senator was pointing out that there is a whole group of leaders who have eroded the original intent of the commerce clause to usurp the rights of Americans.”
The Guardian’s Michael Tomasky notes, “To me it’s like this. Any society is full of competing values and interests. Here, we have the value of individual liberty competing with the value of overall social health. I have big trouble taking seriously the idea that making fast-food joints post their nutritional information is fascism. …Anyway, Kagan didn’t answer, as any liberal would not, because she knew Coburn was really talking about healthcare reform. But if this is the best they got, she has no worries.”
On abortion, Lindsay Beyerstein of the Media Consortium looks at an exchange Tuesday on abortion rights where Kagan said, “Senator Feinstein, I do think that the continuing holding of Roe and Doe v. Bolton is that women’s life and women’s health have to be protected in abortion regulation.” Beyerstein writes, “That’s a good start, but it’s hardly the ringing endorsement of choice that progressives would have hoped. Kagan went on to talk [about] the special case of ‘partial birth abortion bans,’ which she encouraged Bill Clinton to support while he was president. ‘Partial birth abortion’ isn’t even a medical term. It’s a marketing term coined by anti-choicers in their bid to chip away at Roe v. Wade. For pro-choicers, it’s disappointing to see Kagan uncritically buying into that frame.” There’s video of the exchange here.
Elsewhere, Ezra Klein looks at public opinion polling on health reform, including a new poll out Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and concludes support continues to rise: “These are fairly small changes in the numbers, to be sure. But then, the numbers on health-care reform were always fairly closely divided. It’s possible we’re just seeing random shifts in the same direction in multiple consecutive polls, and if so, future surveys will bear that out.”
Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky looks at the same poll, noting, “Moreover, just 27% of Americans want to repeal the law entirely and 12% of those who have an unfavorable impression said that the “law should be given a chance to work, with Congress making necessary changes along the way.” For all of the noise we’re hearing about repealing the law and the health care lawsuits, these aren’t very impressive numbers. On the whole, most Americans believe that the law will have a neutral impact but think that the country as a whole would be better off.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn (on his new Citizen Cohn blog) also talks about polling: “Reform has generally been more popular on the Kaiser tracking poll than most of the others I’ve seen. And the increase in popularity it shows is not huge: The figure is still in the 40 to 50 percent range, where it’s been for a while. But the trend towards higher popularity is consistent with other recent polling.”
(KHN is a project of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)
Cato’s Michael Cannon looks at a new study from Massachusetts that seeks to quantify how many individuals are buying coverage once they get sick: “In the hope of preventing this sort of gaming behavior, RomneyCare requires Massachusetts residents to purchase health insurance. Yet that ‘individual mandate’ appears not to be working, probably because the penalties for non-compliance are far less than the cost of the mandatory coverage. … ObamaCare contains similar price controls and requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014. Yet ObamaCare’s penalties for non-compliance are also far less than the cost of the required coverage for most people. As goes Massachusetts, so goes the nation.”
And The Heritage Foundation’s Tina Korbe reports on the new “tanning tax,” which was implemented to help pay for the health care overhaul, and is scheduled to take effect tomorrow: “Approximately 19,000 ‘mom and pop’ small businesses might be affected by the new tax — and those businesses will likely spend an average of more than $74 an hour to comply with federal tax paperwork burdens, according to a factsheet distributed by the NFIB.”