June 28, 2012

Healthcare ruling: the party's over

Sam Smith

The thing that prognosticators got wrong about Justice Roberts was that he actually wanted to help the insurance industry more than he wanted to diss Obama. The Supreme Court’s healthcare decision is much easier to understand when you remember that the idea of the individual mandate came from the right wing Heritage Foundation and that among its supporters before the court were the health insurers wanting to benefit from it.

The liberal lemmings following their faux leader, Barack Obama, of course missed this point, as they did the fact that the individual mandate will not only be a tax, but a stiff one on people liberals used to support. Such as the lower middle class. In fact, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post gave as a sterling example of the wonders of the mandate the case of a man earning $36,000 who will be faced with an effective new tax of over six percent of his income

What is most scary about the court ruling on the mandate is that it opens the way for the government to do whatever it wants as long as it calls it a tax. Tossing out the Obama commerce clause argument, Roberts rightly said, “The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause. That clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.”

But then he proceeded to justify the tax approach, saying that Congress' ability to tax and spend is unlimited.

So presumably the government could order you to buy a new car every three years or face a penalty,  aka tax.

Or be forced to put solar panels on your roof under the same terms.

When you combine this with the recent corporate campaign fund rulings of the court, you can pretty well kiss democracy good bye, if you haven’t some time ago.

And if you think this is an exaggeration, consider that the court, with liberals cheering, just upheld a 6% new tax on some American who only earns $36,000, while $3 trillion in corporate investments go untaxed in overseas hiding places and hardly anyone says a mumblin’ word.

The party’s over.


Anonymous said...

I had my doubts about whether even this collection of criminals would bless so blatant an extortion. But apparently the principle Dr Smith (no relation, I presume) articulated in 1776 is still in force:

'"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people" is, in every age of the world, the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.'

Anonymous said...



America must END the "Unequal Tax Treatment" of health insurance payments.

Businesses buy health insurance with BEFORE-TAX dollars (a significant income tax advantage), while individuals buy health insurance with AFTER-TAX dollars (a significant income tax penalty). This causes individual policyholders to pay (in income taxes and premiums) so much more than businesses do for the exact same health insurance coverage.

The unequal tax treatment of health insurance purchases fragments the nationwide health insurance risk pool. Fragmented risk pools enable a nationwide cherrypicking of health risks that is impossible to regulate. This cherrypicking corrupts the American health care marketplace, skimming off the best health risks for Wall Street investor owned health insurance companies, while dumping the poorest health risks and the aged on to governments and local medical service providers.

Granting equal tax treatment to individual mandate health insurance purchases takes nothing away from businesses
or unions. In the long run it will help to re-consolidate health insurance risk pools nationwide. Large risk pools, when combined with one standardized nationwide comprehensive health plan, will lead to better health insurance coverage at lower rates for all Americans.

Anonymous said...

It's not over till the November election is over.. Obama might not get re-elected due to the widely hated individual mandate, as many people might vote for Romney to overturn "O'Romenycare". WEll, now it is time for me to change my overpriced $486 per month private Anthem Blue Cross health plan to something slightly more affordable but none the less, of much poorer quality.. something with an 11,000 per year deductible, 7500 per year separate prescription drug deductible, and 30% co-insurance after that, and mountains of paperwork and claims denials based on non standard opinions of medical necessity, and the aggravation of appeals and the inevitable appeals rejections for when care is needed. ALL Americans, the old, the employed, the military, our elected leaders, should have to buy AND READ their own private health insurance plans -- so they ALL see first hand how our system of bizarre non standard health insurance contracts and wall street profit mongering works -- long before they get a serious illness and have to really use their contracts.

Anonymous said...

American politics is so dysfunctional that I don't pay attention to it anymore, except for comic relief.

As a lawyer, I can tell you that keeping this "mandate" alive under the rubric of a constitutional "tax" is a schoolboy howler of the first order.

Chris C. said...

As the other Dr. Smith, Zachary, would say "Oh, the Pain!" "I knew it! Doomsday!"

Sam, you are right on, as usual. The second I heard that Roberts had voted "yes", I saw the whole beautiful, evil, logic of the thing. The Chief Justice from the Chamber of Commerce delivered a 2-fer: Expansive new government/corporate power, while restrictions on limits of "states rights" - all with the collusion of Kagan & CO. - The Ninnies!

Anonymous said...

Roberts won.
Circumvented the real question, and, in jujitsu-like fashion turned what should have been an Obama campaign rallying point into a political liability. The tax label may well gain traction and anger voters---especially given the truly regressive nature of this tax.
More, Roberts succeeded in not affirming Congress' right to regulate under the Commerce Clause.
Interesting perspective presented on Slate:

Scott McLarty said...

Why I wasn't surprised by today's Supreme Court ruling: The pro-Wall Street wing of the GOP is not in principle opposed to the individual mandate, a direct public subsidy for the health insurance industry. They love such ideas -- they even introduced the mandate. But they hate anything with the name Obama on it.

So four conservative judges voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act & one voted to uphold it. Maybe there was a deal among the five conservative judges, with Roberts agreeing to vote yea so that Obamacare would set a precedent allowing Congress to pass more laws enacting direct public subsidies to enrich favored corporations, by burdening those who don't buy a product or service with a penalty tax.

Those who favor real health care reform -- Medicare For All -- should support the Green Party's presidential nominee. Or at least help the nominee get some attention. Without strong visibility for the Green candidate, Medicare For All will be absent from the presidential debate on health care, and so will a lot of other important topics.

Anonymous said...

Roberts was clearly playing semantic games in his decision. In doing so he not only bolstered an unlimited taxing power for the federal government (which I'm not sure I disagree Constitutionally), but also suggested that taxing power need not be exercised in a manner involving equal protection and due process. Presumably Congress could simply name Sam Smith in its revenue acts and specify what Sam should pay in taxes (greater or less than everyone else).

Instead of playing these semantic games, Roberts should have acknowledged that the penalty was indeed a penalty and as a penalty must be put forth to advance a legitimate Congressional power (beyond merely its power to tax according to equal protection). After all, we recognize the implied power for the federal government to incarcerate. However, it can only incarcerate to fulfill its other enumerated powers and responsibilities. By Roberts’ logic in this ruling, federal government can simply incarcerate for any reason it so desires (because that implied power is not tied to any explicitly delegated power) It seems to me that Roberts must accept the commerce clause power for the mandate in order to allow a penalty tax to be imposed upon those who flout federal power.

Personally, I do agree that the regulation of commerce does not allow Congress to compel participation in commerce (though I would argue it also does not allow prohibition from commerce as we see in our drug laws). Congress has the power through the commerce clause and the general welfare clause to tax us for government provided health insurance. It does not have the power to compel us to buy commodities from private privileged monopolists in the insurance sector.