Tag: Obamacare

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This past weekend I had a long, and contentious conversation with my younger sister about the peculiar way in which Obamacare was “Duly-Passed” (as, at the time, was her Pavlovian regurgitated retort, to me, so long ago.) I’ve been pondering over the moment when she compromised her integrity, right before my very eyes. I had just gotten to […]

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House Republicans Can Proceed With Obamacare Lawsuit

 

shutterstock_110880746Yesterday, a federal court ruled that the House of Representatives could pursue its claim against the Obama administration for spending billions of dollars on Obamacare that had never been appropriated by Congress. US District Judge Rosemary Collyer — a George W. Bush appointee — rejected the arguments that the House lacks “standing” to sue and that the lawsuit was too political to be heard in the courts.

“Despite its potential political ramifications, this suit remains a plain dispute over a constitutional command, of which the Judiciary has long been the ultimate interpreter,” the judge wrote in her ruling. The constitutional command is unambiguous: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law …” (Article I, § 9, cl. 7).

So now the lawsuit heads toward trial and the inevitable appeals process. Of course, the constitutionality of Obamacare itself is not at issue in this suit — rather it is the constitutionality of the unilateral executive actions taken to implement the law. Still, the case could be an opportunity for the courts to smack down Obama for his abuse of executive power. Or it could be another opportunity for Chief Justice Roberts to rewrite the law once again.

Uncommon Knowledge: Hewitt and Yoo on the Constitution

 

In the newest episode of Uncommon Knowledge, I sit across the table from two extraordinarily gifted legal minds, both of whom served at the highest levels of government before their departure for the academy: Chapman law professor and nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt and UC Berkeley’s John Yoo. This conversation was recorded in the spring, and intervening events have in some sense made the professors’ predictions about the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling and the nuclear deal with Iran all the more interesting. Have a look below:

Rubio, Walker Release Plans to Slay the Obamacare Dragon

 

Marco-Rubio-Scott-WalkerAs Peter Suderman writes in Reason any Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare is likely going to be disappointing, given both the enormity of the task and the fact that they’ll be starting with a ball further down left field than when the President took office.

Still, there’s room to maneuver and maybe even to reverse the ratchet in a few areas. Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Scott Walker issued fairly similar plans that attempt to do just that (Walker issued a short white paper; Rubio wrote an op-ed for Politico that sketches his ideas, albeit with fewer details).

After repealing ObamaCare, both plans start by removing the single greatest inanity of our system: that insurance purchased through one’s employer is tax-free, while insurance purchased directly is not. This system is virtually unique in the world — a bad example of American exceptionalism if ever there was one. Moreover, making it easier for people to purchase insurance directly not only removes an extraneous layer from the healthcare system but also will reduce a major source of governmental intrusion (i.e., Hobby Lobby).

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It just dawned on me while I was doing the most mundane thing (unloading the dishwasher) that everything in the world is connected.   Let me zero in on a few thoughts.  Funding for the suicidal Iran deal, funding for the murder and collection of humans at Planned Parenthood, funding for Obamacare when we all […]

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How Much is Your Life Worth?

 

shutterstock_68146432When I ran for Congress in the special election in 2013 in Massachusetts, I would tell audiences that my children’s life expectancy dropped by 10 years on the day that ObamaCare was signed into law. When I made that claim at a League of Women Voters debate featuring seven Democrats and one Republican (me), there was widespread chortling … not to mention some outrage and ridicule from my fellow candidates.

If you listen to National Public Radio as I do (I recommend it: it’s painful but also cathartic), you will probably know that Boston-based biotechnology firm Vertex is in the crosshairs of the mainstream Left because they are charging $275,000 per year, per patient for a drug that shows remarkable success in forestalling the lethal effects of cystic fibrosis. Also recently, a group of oncologists at a Mayo Clinic conference released an editorial excoriating “Big Pharma” for charging too much for cancer-fighting drugs. According to the blog ThinkProgress:

In the editorial, Tefferi [the lead author] and his colleagues call for several policy changes to help address the problem. They say the United States should establish a new regulatory body to help set drug prices after new medications are approved for the market, as well as allow cheaper drugs to be imported from other countries like Canada. They also recommend allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, which could help the government program use its bargaining power to demand lower prices.

Can You Identify This Politician?

 

imageA certain politician takes power in a wave election, carrying with him a majority in both houses. He proposes a new, sweeping law that the opposition side hates so intensely that it sparks a political movement. The poll numbers are bad, but he persists. It takes some legislative maneuvering, but the bill finally passes on a narrow, party-line vote and is signed into law. He defends it to the public as good policy that will improve people’s lives. His opponents challenge it in court and win some early victories but, ultimately, the law survives the Supreme Court essentially intact.

Today, we’re beginning to see its impact on the economy and on ordinary people. He continues to govern in a way that thrills his base and infuriates his opponents, but without losing the center. He comes across as reasonable and likable. He holds his coalition and comfortably wins re-election.

Thus Barack Obama, President of the United States. Thus also Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin. If you can set ideology and personal style aside, the similarity in their political careers is actually quite striking.

Are Nurse Unions Needed to Fight Obamacare?

 

shutterstock_172496525Recently, I uttered words that I swore would never escape my lips: “I think, maybe, it’s time that the nurses come together and do something. Like … make a union.”

I have been vehemently and rabidly anti-union all my voting life. The daughter of a member of the California Teachers Association, I was introduced at a tender age to the many evils of unions. I was taught the different ways that unions manipulate members, abuse their dues, provide money to pet political causes, and make life difficult for the teachers. In public school, however, I was taught all of the ways that the teachers’ union was magnanimous, benevolent, and essential to a Good Education.

The hospital I work for has tried very hard to ensure that no unions take hold here. In conservative Orange County, this has not been too difficult: We are all afraid of the overreaching sight of Big Brother. We have rallied together to proclaim our independence from unions, our ability to directly negotiate with our managers, and to voice our happiness that we do not pay dues for services that we do not receive.

Silver Linings of King v. Burwell

 

SCOTUSCloudsConvention claims the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision is a loss for conservatives. But Democrats shouldn’t celebrate. Politically, it’s a win for the Right, skirting potential harm in terms of legal precedent as well as improving positioning for 2016.

Many viewed the chief precedential purpose of the case as the establishment of clear limits on administrative overreach. The potential downside was a further removal of those limits. Accordingly, the initial announcement of the ruling led to collective concern that the court had followed the court of appeals and expanded “Chevron deference,” the controversial doctrine that essentially holds that courts should defer to executive branch interpretation of statues, even if such interpretations effectively revise the law as written by Congress.

But the court didn’t sanction such administrative overreach in the King ruling. Instead it said that when Congress wrote “state” it really meant “state or federal.” That is, it said the IRS was correctly interpreting the law, rather than deferring to a reinterpretation.

Happy Dependence Day

 

const4In what may well become history’s greatest example of missing the forest for the trees, we Americans have been so busy arguing about current political events and issues — the Supreme Court’s decisions on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, the ongoing negotiations about global trade and Iran’s nuclear program, immigration, taxes, gun ownership, and the Confederate flag — we haven’t noticed that our country has just had a revolution.

If you’re reading this essay, it’s very likely that your side lost.

The key to understanding what’s happened to us lies in grasping that a revolution occurs when a country changes not merely its laws or its leaders, but its operating system.

Process Matters

 

imagesOne of the differences between the Right and the Left is that the Left is concerned only about outcomes while the Right is concerned about outcomes and process.

When you think about it, all the major conflicts in America’s history have been more about process than the underlying issue. The American colonist’s slogan was not “No Taxation”; it was “No Taxation Without Representation,” which is fundamentally about process. Even when Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, the colonists weren’t satisfied because they had no say in the matter and thought — correctly — that the repeal was just as arbitrary as the original act. Most of the grievances leveled against King George in the Declaration of Independence were about the arbitrary exercise of royal power. The American Revolution was fought over process; the ability for free men to govern themselves. While the underlying moral cause of the Civil War was slavery, the proximate cause was about the process of laws and policies concering slavery that lead to secession.

What is the Constitution of the United States other than a document describing the process by which the people will govern  themselves? When the Supreme Court issues rulings like they did last week, they usurp this most fundamental of all rights. The Left will never understand our concern with process, which they consider to be a minor detail on the road to utopian social justice. What they fail to understand is that someday the arbitrary exercise of power may go against them. By then it will be too late — and a country of the people, by the people, for the people will have perished from the earth.

On Judicial Incoherence

 

In Case of TyrannyThe primary difficulty is in knowing where to start. A consistent run of luck continues to have me in the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler when news breaks that our philosopher-kings on the Supreme Court have hurled yet another thunder bolt toward the benighted masses for the purpose of jolting us from our fixed creeds and established truths, directing us to trade in the accumulated wisdom of human experience for the latest epiphany of a gaggle of lawyers.

I was somewhere between Memphis and Little Rock, navigating potholes that Evel Knievel would have used ramps to cross, when I learned that Chief Justice Roberts’ restless mind had pondered the words, “established by the State,” and discovered that they actually mean, “not established by the State.” “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” explained Roberts. Uh huh. Well, yes, and Congress passed the National Prohibition Act of 1919 to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, not to midwife organized crime, but it is not the legal prerogative of the Supreme Court to protect the legislature from the effects of its own laws.

Besides, if the Chief Justice wanted to deduce the intent of the Affordable Care Act in this regard, he had merely to consult the words of its architect, Jonathan Gruber, who said in 2012, “[I]f you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. …I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together…” But robed demigods are not interested in the intent or the plain meaning of the words, “established by the state.” Instead, Roberts’ focus was fixed on salvaging what Mark Steyn calls the “push-me-pull-you” monstrosity of Obamacare rather than his solemn duty to determine the constitutionality of the law as written. So he engaged in intellectual high jinks, literally rewriting the law (as he previously did when changing “penalty” to “tax”), and performed such mental gymnastics as required to affirm for the second time your fundamental right to be subservient to the federal government in matters effecting your health and, indeed, your life and death. Thus passeth another late June morning in post-constitutional America.

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I was away on vacation for the past week plus and missed a very eventful news week. (Side note: was down in Disney World and while my five year old loved it I found it rather inane. What is it about these parks that some adults return over and over?) I probably missed some very […]

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  This was in the New York Times today. Democrats just want to take things over at any price including destroying the economy. Medicare and Obamacare are both actuarial disasters that will kill future generations via low GDP making our debt unserviceable and jobs scarce.  Preview Open

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Worse Than the Supremes: Obamacare Economics

 

shutterstock_154183430The judicial decision to uphold all of the president’s health care subsidies may be very disappointing, but the economics of Obamacare are far worse than whatever constitutional mistakes have been committed by the Supreme Court.

The economics of Obamacare are very bad. The law is inflicting broad damage on job creation and new business formation. It ruins job incentives by making it pay more not to work, thereby intensifying a labor shortage that is holding back growth and in turn lowering incomes and spending.

And across-the-board Obamacare tax increases are inflicting heavy punishment on investment — right when the U.S. economy desperately needs more capital as a way of solving a steep productivity decline.

SCOTUS and the Age of the Imperial Judiciary

 

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, my hometown paper, I critique the Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage and Obamacare. As a policy matter, I supported gay marriage, but the Constitution reserves the question for the voters of each state, not the judicial process. The weakness of the Court’s reasoning — is it Due Process?  Is it Equal Protection? — suggests the decision’s political nature. Many may celebrate the result, but they should not welcome the steady erosion of democratic self-government.

Indeed, the political nature of Obergefell becomes readily apparent in the contradictory, vague logic of the majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The holding fits within none of the established precedents governing the due-process and equal-protection clauses. Kennedy says marriage is a fundamental right, but he admits that American society had long understood that right to be only between a man and a woman. He suggests that the right to equality may require gay marriage, but gays do not receive the heightened constitutional protection reserved for racial and religious minorities. Kennedy could have recognized that gays should receive the same protections against discrimination as gender, but he could not because recognizing sexual orientation as a protected class might open up a Pandora’s box of new constitutional claims by every self-defined group.

The “SCOTUScare” Travesty

 

shutterstock_270314624I hope to get to the SSM decision in a later post, but for now let me recap the result in yesterday’s decision in King v. Burwell: Obama 1, Rule of Law 0. I have a slightly longer analysis over at City Journal, but here’s the gist.

By a margin of 6-to-3, the Court upheld an IRS rule that supposedly implements the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — by extending health insurance tax credits to taxpayers in states that have no health insurance exchange of their own, but rather rely on the federal healthcare.gov exchange. The problem with this rule, as the plaintiffs in King pointed out, is that it flatly contradicts the ACA. The statute clearly limits tax credits to taxpayers who use state insurance exchanges, not the federal one. A majority of the Court, therefore, simply rewrote the ACA.

This should have been an easy case. Obamacare provides two different mechanisms for establishing a health insurance exchange. A state can establish an exchange under Section 1311 of the Act. And in states that “fail” to establish an exchange, the secretary of Health and Human Services must establish an exchange under Section 1321. When discussing eligibility for those all-important tax credits, the ACA says that they are available only to taxpayers who enroll in a qualified health plan “through an Exchange established by the State.”

The Libertarian Podcast: The Obamacare Decision

 

If yesterday’s appearance by Richard Epstein on the Ricochet Podcast wasn’t enough for you, we’ve got a special episode of The Libertarian podcast focused entirely on the court’s ruling yesterday in the Obamacare case. We cover some different ground than the boys did on the flagship, scrutinizing the analytical methods of Chief Justice Roberts, looking at the threat to the opinions’ legitimacy coming from Justice Scalia’s dissent, and trying to place this ruling in the broader historical context of modern Supreme Court jurisprudence. You can listen in below or subscribe to The Libertarian through iTunes or your favorite podcast service.