Rodney Wren: Health care compact evidence of derangement

04/25/2014 12:00 AM

04/24/2014 5:31 PM

Halfway through George W. Bush’s presidency, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin wrote a book titled “Unhinged,” which chronicled the left’s hatred of Bush. The phrase “Bush Derangement Syndrome” became a popular catchphrase among many who took umbrage with the left’s obsessive demonization of Bush.

Halfway through Barack Obama’s presidency, the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that “Obama Derangement Syndrome” exists among those on the right.

Here is the overarching concern: The left’s derangement was largely bluster and puff, whereas the right’s derangement poses serious threats to the fabric of our republic.

The manifestation of Bush Derangement Syndrome was mainly found in biased media coverage, futile attempts at impeachment, and completely ridiculous legislative responses such as “Patriot Act Free Zones.” Obama Derangement Syndrome has manifested itself in repeated attempts to nullify federal law, with some even advocating secession.

The latest attempt to nullify federal law is the attempt to create an interstate health care compact. Many have pointed out the danger of this idea in regard to the administration of federal programs such as Medicare. The more fundamental flaw is similar to other attempts to nullify federal law: imminent court challenges wasting millions of taxpayer dollars before the legislation is inevitably struck down.

The legal defense of the compact is an illusion.

In New Jersey v. New York (1998), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a previous declaration that upon congressional approval interstate compacts transform into federal law. The decision, however, doesn’t end there. It goes on to point out relief may be ordered if the compact is unconstitutional.

When Article 1 and Article 5 of the health care compact dictate spending amounts by the states to the federal government, there is a serious problem with constitutionality.

The New Jersey v. New York case relied on precedent from Cuyler v. Adams (1981), and the Cuyler decision is where the legality of this interstate health care compact completely falls apart. In Cuyler, the Supreme Court made clear that interstate compacts don’t rise to the level of federal law under the compact clause if the compacts increase the political power of the states or “encroach upon or interfere with the just supremacy of the United States.”

It doesn’t take an Ivy League law degree to recognize the interstate health care compact just signed by Gov. Sam Brownback clearly seeks to increase the political power of Kansas and the other states that have also signed on. More important, Article 4 of the compact clearly challenges the just supremacy of the United States when it seeks to “suspend by legislation the operation of all federal laws, rules, regulations and orders regarding health care that are inconsistent with the laws and regulations adopted by the member state pursuant to this compact.”

While it’s laudable that right-wing legislatures are seeking “constitutional” means to fight “Obamacare,” at the end of the day what they seek to accomplish is akin to measures that led our country down the path to Civil War.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “derangement” as a disturbance of normal functioning or operation. Whether the derangement is about Bush or Obama, we should expect more from our elected officials.

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