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Opening Arguments

Health care politics

I've seen this argument made in several places:

If the Supreme Court decides to strike down the new health care law’s individual mandate to purchase insurance, it will represent a remarkable election-year rebuke for President Obama – the rejection, by the nation’s highest court, of a central provision of his main domestic policy accomplishment.

It might also help him win re-election.

I should say so. A defeat would take an upopular law off the table as a campaing issue. Conversely, if the court upholds the law, it might actually be good for Republicans, who could argue that voters need to put them in office so they can stop the madness. But I don't think the GOP should hope for such campaign help, since it would put in place, as Justice Kennedy noted, a fundamental change in the relationship between citizen and government.


Tim Zank
Wed, 03/28/2012 - 9:40am

This decision far outweighs the importance of who wins the election. Granted 4 more years of shutting coal plants, federal oil drilling platforms, trillion dollar profligate spending etc will hurt but can be combatted, even stalled with HeHimself at the helm , but the Obamacare fiasco will forever bury us as slaves to the feds.  

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 9:57am

Tim, I thought you said - I know you said - that Obama's defeat was a slam dunk, even if the Republicans nominate a "ham sandwich." Polls show Romney losing in all the swing states.

That aside, I'm less troubled by the potential defeat of the health car law than I am by the concern that the court's decision will be yet another party-line 5-4 vote. The Supreme Court, like all courts, ought to be nonpartisan. Yet we all know who the five and the four will likely be.

The ability to nominate justices is increasingly becoming the central concern in presidential elections. Supreme Court decisions used to be unpredictable. Now alas, they are all too predictable. The worst are Scalia and Thomas, both of whom attend Republican Party functions. Mrs. Thomas is a GOP activist. I wouldn't be surprised if the four liberals are likewise engaged with the Democrats, although I'm not aware of anything. It's disgraceful.

Harl Delos
Wed, 03/28/2012 - 10:13am

A fundamental change?  Really?

The city of Fort Wayne mandates that everybody living in the city buy electricity from a private company; if an Amish family were to move into town, unhook the electric, and strip the wiring from the house, the city would condemn the house.  They don't have to use any KWH, of course, but there's a monthly minimum charge from I&M.  How is that fundamentally different?

I am mandated to hire a carrier from a short list of approved companies to haul my trash to the landfill.  I'm not allowed to haul it myself, even if I were employed by the landfill, driving there five days a week.  How is that different? 

I can understand why people object to the law.  Deadbeats have always objected when they are forced to take personal responsibility.  But the individual mandate was invented at the Heritage Foundation and promoted by virtually all GOP politicians until the Democrats said, "OK, we're willing to go that route."  Now, there's a problem?

If the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, insurance companies are left with a situation where people can wait until they need a $50,000 operation, they buy insurance, and then drop it three months later.  Health insurance companies won't wait to be forced out of business; they'll voluntarily disband while there's still some meat on the carcass.

And if the GOP gets the blame for everyone losing their health insurance, it won't be pretty at the polls. 



Harl Delos
Wed, 03/28/2012 - 10:27am

Polls show Romney losing in all the swing states now, but once he wins the nomination, a lot of the anti-Romney people will realize they are anti-Obama as well. 

Given the fact that they are both pragmatists without much of an ideological foundation, I think that Obama will win; voters tend to favor the devil they know over the devil they don't know.  And Romney suffers from personality deficit disorder. 

The races for Senate and House candidates and for  state governments are going to be far more important this year than the race for the White House, and it's where both parties ought to concentrate their efforts.


Wed, 03/28/2012 - 1:13pm

Harl Delos, you appear to be wrong on two statements. I was at the Renaissance doing business with BZA and other folks and asked about your Straw Man Amish argument. I was told that an Amish family would be given an exemption.

Your $50,000 operation example is of questionable validity because insurance carriers can reject coverage for pre-existing eoncitions.

Leo Morris
Wed, 03/28/2012 - 2:07pm

We're talking about the relationship between citizens and the federal government, Harl. That's what the Constitution governs, not local politics. If Obamacare stands, the whole idea of limited and enumerated federal powers, central to the Constitution, is dead.

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 3:12pm

If Obamacare stands it will be a proud moment for Judge Billings Learned Hand (the puppet master), Herbert Croly who wrote "The Promise of American Life" and co-founder of "The New Republic", and our fascist friendly Theodore Roosevelt who gave "The New Nationalism" speech.  

The first time that I read George Orwell's "Animal Farm" I thought it was about the United States.  I guess I may have been right.

Christopher Swing
Wed, 03/28/2012 - 8:50pm

Rebecca, what was the name and position of the person who assured you of this exemption?


Wed, 03/28/2012 - 9:35pm

Harl need not be concerned about the Amishman purchasing a Fort Wayne house which by law cannot be disconnected from power lines.  The simple fact that those lines violate Amish religious precepts will prevent the transaction from ever occuring.  

Amish exemption from ZeroCare is likely under the broad exemption clause that has precluded the unions from having to abide by the huge increases in healthcare insurance premiums that have already began.   Remember that the Amish sect  already is exempted from Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, and child labor laws because they conflict with their religion; that ugly First Amendment just keeps popping up.

Ann Althouse has three reasons why wiping out Zerocare will be good for  Prezzero's reelection:

<i>1. Barry sez: I brought you a wonderful solution to a terrible problem but the Republican's went crying to their Conservative judges."

2. My opponent has been arguing for months and months that you need to elect him to get Obamacare repealed. The Supreme Court already did that work, so that major issue is gone. Move on!

3. There are 5 activist conservatives on the Supreme Court, and if you elect a Republican, by the end of his term, there might be 7. The Court will skew far right, destabilizing the law as we know it. There is a great danger here that you must guard against by keeping me in the position to nominate the next Supreme Court Justices and thereby to rebalance the Court.</i>

. . . and I certainly hope it works out just that way because TehWon will have to credibly defend the indefensible -- his horrible record in  office in order for independents to stay with the Dems.


Harl Delos
Thu, 03/29/2012 - 3:45am

Gadfly, there is no Amish exemption, per se, to the Affordable Care Act.  They are exempted from Social Security because they have a king-established system to care for the disabled and retired, same as Railroad Retirement, Merchant Marine, and certain gummint employees were allowed to keep their own plans.  Those who have also cared for the medical care of community members are exempt from ACA - but it's not so much an exemption as an acknowledgement that they have de facto health insurance, albeit without the oversight of the state insurance commissioner.

Rebecca, the ACA says that insurance companies have to cover pre-existing conditions.  And there doesn't appear to be any mechanism for Fort Wayne city government to grant such an exemption.  The administration may decide to ignore the situation, but if someone new gets hired, he can decide ti enforce the law.

Leo, if the Constitution prohibits the feds from doing something, the 14th amendment prohibits states from doing it as well.