McClaughry -- the real apostate

July 23, 2012

Rutland Herald

In John McClaughry’s recent Rutland Herald commentary, he takes Justice Roberts to task for his vote on the Affordable Care Act. In addition to lecturing us on constitutional powers regarding the A.C.A., he also accuses Roberts of apostasy, an interesting metaphor considering his (McClaughry’s) previous position on the uninsured. More on that later.

Although the A.C.A. has some needed reforms, it is still a long way from providing universal and affordable comprehensive health care for all Americans. If President Obama had shown more passion and fight in selling his heath care plan instead of acting like a “policy wonk,” as he himself admits, we might have had a “Public Option” included in the A.C.A. Meanwhile, the U.S. today is the only economically advanced country in the world where its citizens face “medical uninsureability,” “medical bankruptcy,” and “medical job lock,” as Professor Paul Starr of Princeton University points out. At least here in Vermont, we can look forward to the real possibility of the Green Mountain Care Board providing comprehensive health care as a public good for all Vermonters. If they succeed, Vermont will be the first state to enter the 21st Century from a health care standpoint.

Now, getting back to John McClaughry. In 2009 Mr. McClaughry in a National Review article titled, “What To Do With the Uninsured,” proposed letting the IRS act as a medical billing clerk and tax uninsured individuals that didn’t pay their hospital bills. The intent would be to “persuade” them to buy insurance so they wouldn’t have a perpetual tax lien on a large unpaid medical bill. So except for semantics and some differences, this is a pretty similar use of a tax for the same end that Roberts upheld, any apostasies aside!

JERRY KILCOURSE

Montpelier