Saturday, March 31, 2012
I will admit I am somewhat alarmed by the prospect. If the Supreme Court adopts a Tea Party view of the Constitution necessary to overturn the Affordable Care Act, that will most likely have implications way beyond health care, and way beyond the political implications for either party this year. Conservatives may think they are advocating a return to the "good old days" of old-fashioned constitutional thinking, when the federal government actually had much more limited powers and responsibilities. That kind of constitutional thinking did not bring about any good old days, however. It brought about . . . the Civil War. It brought about . . . the Great Depression. In both those cases, the country decided we needed to expand the federal government's powers to prevent such crises from occurring again.
In our own time, we only need look to Europe to see how difficult it is for a weak union to deal with a major financial crisis. Conservatives like to warn us of the dangers of European welfare programs and worker protections. They should worry about the capacity of a weak federal government to maintain the economic strength and cohesion necessary to compete in a global economy. That is where Europe is failing, and where the United States would fail also if we were to try to return to the imagined glory days of a weak federal government.