Akaka or King?

Cody Hensarling’s reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Cody Hensarling “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I am a Native Hawaiian. I also have Chinese and German heritage, but in the State of Hawaii, my native Hawaiian ancestry is usually of the most interest to others.  It is my greatest hope that I am not defined by my ancestry, Native Hawaiian, or otherwise. Perhaps the greatest feature of the structure of American society is equality under law. I am comforted knowing that, in theory, I have the same chance at justice, the same responsibilities as a citizen, and the same rules governing my conduct as every other citizen of this country.  I have no ability to understand those who want to eliminate this most important feature of the American experience. Whether or not I understand it, the reality is that there are people in this state that have a different view of the ideal American experience. Those who would push for federal recognition for Native Hawaiians through the Akaka Bill want to create a separate jurisdiction inside the State of Hawaii that would provide special considerations for those of acceptable blood quantum. I may have enough Hawaiian blood to qualify for certain privileges under a post-Akaka Hawaiian Tribal Authority. I may also not; it depends on what the final bill uses to define an acceptable amount of Hawaiian blood. This also assumes...

Individual Mandate Myths

by Cody Hensarling If PPACA (Obamacare) can stand under the weight of the repeal effort and legal challenges, whether you like it or not, you will have to buy health insurance. Now, most people are not opposed to buying health insurance and virtually all people agree that having access to health care is a major priority for all adults. Others would point to requirements to buy other forms of insurance (usually auto) and wonder what the fuss is all about. Still others believe that the individual mandate is only a small part of Obamacare, and that the controversy about the individual mandate misses the point of the larger debate. I will endeavor to clear up two popular misconceptions about the individual mandate, in an attempt to ensure that the nature and impact of the individual mandate becomes clear to all. Myth #1: Being required to buy health insurance is not different from being required to buy auto insurance. Truth: Not in justification and not in application. First, the justification for having all vehicle operators buy auto insurance is to protect others. Auto insurance helps pay for damages to not only the policyholder’s vehicle, but also helps pay for damages to the victim/others involved in accidents. Health insurance does not generally help compensate others who are negatively affected by the negative health outcomes of the policyholder. Second, in practice, auto insurance and health insurance barely resemble each other. Auto insurance varies highly in terms of premiums: some customers pay less per month and receive less coverage for damages; other customers pay more per month and have more coverage for damages....

Severability & Obamacare

by Cody Hensarling With the recent decision of the Supreme Court to hear legal challenges to PPACA (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare), there is a lot of legal jargon that is slipping into the public consciousness. While a lack of knowledge of most of these terms is not a barrier to a working understanding of the legal case against Obamacare, there are a few notable exceptions. One such exception is the term “severability”, which I have heard more than a few talking heads flippantly use without an apparent understanding of the meaning of the term. Severability is not a concept that can be ignored, as it is probably the reason for the majority of the uncertainty surrounding PPACA. What does “severability” mean? Well, in the abstract, it means “capable of being divided or dissociated”. In the context of PPACA, it is most usually used in conjunction with the “individual mandate” (PPACA’s requirement that every US citizen purchase health insurance). So, when a person asks if Obamacare is severable, what they are asking is if the individual mandate can be separated from the rest of the bill. Now, as may already be clear, this is not a normal question to ask about a bill. Normally, bills have severability clauses, which establish that some parts of the bill can stand in the case that the more controversial part(s) of the bill is struck down or repealed. PPACA doesn’t have a severability clause, which was either a major oversight or a stunning degree of faith in the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Bills that have even...