Conservative columnist and pundit George Will on Wednesday compared Obamacare to the Fugitive Slave Act and segregation to demonstrate the "bruising, untidy, utterly Democratic" process of changing laws.In an interview with NPR's "Morning Edition," host Steve Inskeep asked Will about President Barack Obama's argument that Republicans are short-circuiting the system by using government funding and the debt ceiling as leverage to dismantle Obamacare, rather than repealing the law outright.
"How does this short-circuit the system?" Will said. "I hear Democrats say, 'The Affordable Care Act is the law,' as though we're supposed to genuflect at that sunburst of insight and move on. Well, the Fugitive Slave Act was the law, separate but equal was the law, lots of things are the law and then we change them."
Will said that one party using the debt ceiling as leverage to extract concessions from another is "not novel," but said it's unlikely Republicans could use that strategy to thwart Obamacare.
The Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a pair of federal laws that allowed for the capture and return of runaway slaves within the territory of the United States. Enacted by Congress in 1793, the first Fugitive Slave Act authorized local governments to seize and return escaped slaves to their owners and imposed penalties on anyone who aided in their flight. Widespread resistance to the 1793 law later led to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which added further provisions regarding runaways and levied even harsher punishments for interfering in their capture. The Fugitive Slave Acts were among the most controversial laws of the early 19th century, and many Northern states passed special legislation in an attempt to circumvent them. Both laws were formally repealed by an act of Congress in 1864.