CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa called President Obama "stupid" amid the president's struggle to expand universal medical insurance to all Americans.
The U.S. Supreme Court soon will rule on the 2010 reform extending coverage to about 30 million "working poor" people. Presumably, justices already have voted, but their verdict won't be known until June. Most observers expect conservative justices to veto the reform, and liberal justices to uphold it.
Obama said it would be "unprecedented" for the high court to overturn such a humanitarian advance. In response, Grassley sent a "tweet" saying, in abbreviations: "The American people are not as stupid as this ex-professor of constitutional law." (Actually, the Iowa senator may have been referring to Obama's implication that "unelected" justices shouldn't kill actions by elected Congress members -- but his tweet wasn't clear.)
We can't guess how the historic showdown over medical care will turn out. But if right-wing justices negate health insurance for 30 million working poor people, it will be tragic for America.
State Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, a longtime medical care reformer, told the Charleston Rotary Club that, despite startup costs, the 2010 Affordable Care Act will reduce the U.S. debt by $210 billion over a decade.
If the new law is killed, Democrats in Congress should launch a determined, all-out crusade to give America a truly universal national system covering everyone. All other modern democracies consider health care to be a human right, with government-run programs that apply to every citizen. Why can't America do what other nations do?
As we've noted before, the current struggle fits a long pattern of ideological conflict in America. Consider the past century:
Conservatives tried to prevent women from voting, but liberals won this human right.
Conservatives attempted to prevent couples from using birth control, but liberals gradually established this private right.
Conservatives opposed Social Security pensions for retirees, but liberals passed them.
Conservatives tried to keep blacks in inferior status, but liberals slowly achieved racial equality.
Conservatives opposed Medicare, Medicaid, children's health insurance and other humane programs, but liberals pushed them through to passage.
The 2010 reform by President Obama and Democrats in Congress was another step in this long progression. Even if conservatives on the Supreme Court kill this advance temporarily, the tide of history won't stop. Universal health insurance someday will be a human right in America. We hope the victory comes sooner instead of later.