THCB

Halbig corpus interruptus

In more stunning proof that America’s 18th century style governing process just doesn’t work, a subset of a regional Federal court ruled against part of Obamacare. The Halbig ruling is certain to be overturned by the full DC court and then probably will stay that way after it makes it’s way through the Supremes–at least Jonathan Cohn thinks so.

But think about what the Halbig ruling is about. Its proponents say that when Congress (well, just the Senate actually as it was their version of the bill that passed) designed the ACA, they wanted states only to run exchanges and only people buying via states to get subsidies. But that they also wanted a Federal exchange for those states that couldn’t or (as it turned out) wouldn’t create their own. But apparently they meant that subsidies wouldn’t be available on the Federal exchange. That would just sail through Logic 101 at any high school. Well only if the teacher was asleep, as apparently most Senators were.

Now two judges interpret what was written down to imply that subsidies should only be available on state exchanges–even though logic, basic common sense and fairness would dictate that if we’re going to subsidize health insurance we should do it for everyone regardless of geography.

Don’t forget that in the House version of the bill there was only a Federal exchange. That would have saved the taxpayer several billion dollars in the creation of all the state exchanges (and maybe have focused on getting Healthcare.gov right quicker?). We’ll never know but it’s entirely logical to suspect that–as the only reason for separate State exchanges is local pork (how many million $$ to Oracle for Oregon, Xerox for Nevada, etc, etc)– the House would have reined in the excesses of the Senate bill in conference, and made it one Federal exchange with national subsidies. It’s just not logical to pass a bill saying that we should favor one type of exchange over another, when the wonders of modern technology mean that we don’t need a damn exchange in the first place.

Of course, it’s the Senate’s fault that the ACA had to go through the crazy process in the first place–given that it needs 60 votes to get anything done and the Democrats lost Ted Kennedy’s seat at the vital moment. (Thanks Martha Coakley, and yes I am supporting your opponent Don Berwick in the Mass governor’s race). Don’t forget for a minute that the Senate is profoundly undemocratic and small “c” conservative. Fifty three thousand pig farmers in nine states vote in a bunch of old white men who basically control the whole thing–none of whom give a rat’s arse about the realities of life for Americans who actually live in the modern world. They’re representing the 1830s world where we’re all farmers or miners, and poor and non-white people can’t vote.

So to take a step back, we need to remember that at least the ACA, watered down as it was, actually passed Congress. But because of our governmental and court system we have ended up with several simply stupid consequences:

  • Mixed employer/individual health insurance–stupid
  • Differential tax treatment based on employer provision of insurance benefits–stupid
  • Medicaid expansion instead of incorporation in general insurance–stupid
  • Four to six years to implement–stupid
  • Different online exchanges in every state–stupid
  • Medicaid expansion delivered (or not), state by state–stupid
  • “Opting in” to insurance, requiring a huge outreach, instead of automatic enrollment–stupid
  • Continuing funding needed for community clinics & FQHCs because we will still have millions uninsured — stupid

I could go on but you get the idea. Basically it’s almost impossible to pass any form of sensible government policy in this country. You may say it’s the American way but it’s clearly stupid, and we shouldn’t be promoting stupidity.

CODA: I’ve been teasing Michael Cannon from Cato, who’s been Habig’s tireless promoter, calling him Chiang Kai-Sek. From 1949 to 1975 Chiang claimed he was the ruler of China, even though he only ruled Taiwan, and the ideology was that victory over the communists was imminent. Even though the war was long lost, he called Taipei the “wartime capital”. Cannon has been acting as though the same thing is true for those opposed to Obamacare, despite the long string of defeats his side has had over the ACA. Looks like with this interim ruling on Halbig, the Nationalists have established a beachhead. Realistically though, the communists will soon throw them back into the sea.

 

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William Palmer MDadamAurthurFrankSaurabh Jha Recent comment authors
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lawyerdoctor
Guest

Our head pig, a.k.a. the “Fundraiser in Chief,” once chided us that “elections have consequences.

Indeed they do, and likely soon we will have a new set of pigs in charge. Perhaps the new pigs will then use the IRS to target the previous pigs, use the NSA to spy on the previous pigs, and use the Justice Dept to harass, intimidate, and jail the previous pigs.

It will be interesting to hear low loudly the old pigs will squeal then . . .

Perry
Guest
Perry

Shades of “Deliverance”?
Que the Dueling Banjos…

adam
Guest
adam

And, Matthew, no bacon for you!

adam
Guest
adam

Dr. Palmer: Exactly right. I’m a Kennedy School grad, so I’m very familiar with the thinking: The experts know best. After all, they’re really, really smart and they’ve spent much time talking and thinking about policy. On most issues, these bright minds have come to a “consensus,” and the maximally efficient policy is clear (to them). How could a pig farmer from Nebraska even begin to understand the complexities? In their view, separation of powers is an anachronism, a hindrance to the enlightened administrative state. The K School community agrees nearly unanimously with these ideas, namely that most Americans are… Read more »

Matthew Holt
Guest

Pig farmers are interested in the short term interests of pig farmers. Giving them (or small states) massively disproportionate influence in running the country over everyone else and the national interest is neither democratic not rational.

adam
Guest
adam

When someone claims that they’re working in the “national interest” it really means that they are pursuing their own interests and that they’ll broker no interference. Policy in any well functioning democracy springs from a patchwork of competing interests. When some groups are told that they’ll not be allowed to pursue their own interests, since to do so would undermine to so-called “national interest,” we’re leaving the realm democracy and venturing into authoritarianism.

Joel Hassman, MD
Guest
Joel Hassman, MD

Hey, isn’t Nancy Pelosi the National Spokesperson for the Democrat agenda in just telling us “write us a blank check and just wait for us to write laws that then inherently are passed because we aren’t interested in reading what partisan hacks put in it anyway, because it is about the partisan interest, not public interests.” Why a voting citizen with half a brain votes for anyone, irregardless of party affiliation, who is incumbent more than 10 years in office, is simply both amazing and inherently at least a bit corrupt, irregardless of ignorance. But, how Obamacare made it in… Read more »

allan
Guest
allan

If you remember Orwell’s book “Animal Farm” you will remember that the pigs were the elitists that controlled the farm. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”

We should try and remember what that book was all about for it isn’t the pig farmers that are ruining America. It is the Pigs. What stops the Pigs from having dictatorial rule? The Constitution.

William Palmer MD
Guest
William Palmer MD

@Holt
I’m not sure the Constitution was supposed to “work”. When you read the founders and the Federalist papers, e.g. one gets the impression that their principle effort was to create obstruction to the accumulation of power. Smooth efficient functioning was not on their minds. It was a tyranny-prevention exercise. Thank god for that. It’s mostly good that it takes forever to get anything done. [Mostly, not always]

adam
Guest
adam

Mathew Holt is a big advocate of the technocratic state, and he doesn’t much care for popular interference. This whole American constitutional system thing just gets in the way. How can the experts from California and Massachusetts run the country when all those obstructionists from irrelevant states keep getting in the way. Can’t we just do away with the Senate, or transfer seats from Oklahoma to California?

allan
Guest
allan

Adam, you got that right. When I said we were a Constitutional Republic Matthew Holt’s response was “which is the underlying problem”

Matthew Holt
Guest

The. US constitution (or at least the way it is interpreted and consequently the US is governed) is neither particular “popularist” nor very effective. We’d be much better off with a proper popular election of a parliamentary government that can create stable national policies. The rest of the world is laughing at the fact that four and a half years after the legislation was (barely) passed in a totally convoluted way, we are still not finished. You can support the constitutional republic we have all you like, but it spells long term disaster for the US and the world. And… Read more »

Joel Hassman, MD
Guest
Joel Hassman, MD

Why not just advocate for revoking the 22nd amendment of the Constitution first, after all, asking to change the basic structure of government now by “We’d be much better off with a proper popular election of a parliamentary government that can create stable national policies” seems like yet another veiled partisan agenda. And thanks Mr Holt for the validation to my premise this blog is not about looking at Health Care, but just protecting the agenda of the Left/Democrats/health care obstructionists. Then adding the submersion of Miami at the end, are you going to address immigration next here? But, it… Read more »

allan
Guest
allan

The only reason the Constitution might lead to long term disaster is the misuse of the Constitution by those that treat it like toilet paper. Something to be used and disposed of. The Constitution along with our Bill of Rights protects the minority from the majority. Some, however, believe that the majority have a right to enslave the minority. The Constitution has a way out and that is known as a Constitutional amendment. That slows things down a bit and makes sure that temporary majorities are a bit more permanent. I won’t go into the comments made about health insurance… Read more »

allan
Guest
allan

I just ran across this: GRUBER V. GRUBER (one of the architects of the ACA) Jonathan Gruber speech, January 2012: “What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there… Read more »

Not a provider
Guest
Not a provider

This just proves Nancy Pelosi correct. We’ll have to read it to find out what’s in it… In healthcare a mistake like Congress made would be considered negligence and malpractice… What gives… Our lawmakers are halfwits being manipulated by twenty something staffers.

Perry
Guest
Perry

It’s called “legislative malpractice”.

Joel Hassman, MD
Guest
Joel Hassman, MD

Hmm, you folks want to debate one court ruling just so your agenda can be justified, when where is the dialogue about this little matter originated by the GAO, not a partisan hack tank, and the source here by the Huffington Post, again not a republican/conservative hack site. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/23/obamacare-problems_n_5611423.html?utm_hp_ref=ap But, partisan blogs aren’t interested in legitimate debate, just stay in tune with the chorus and don’t rock the boat! It’s a crap law, and you can split the fine hairs what Pelosi said back in March 2010, we all know she said “pass the bill and we’ll read it later”… Read more »

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

906 pages with 2.5 inch margins. I have a PDF copy I can send you.

“zero bipartisan effort”

It passed with 300 GOP amendments in it. And, as for the party line vote, it’s known as “majority rule.” Sux, doesn’t it?

allan
Guest
allan

Just as a point of information. We are a Constitutional Republic.

Matthew Holt
Guest

Which is the underlying problem

allan
Guest
allan

Mathew, I like your honesty.

I wonder which part you don’t like or if you don’t like the combination.

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

Irrelevant to my comment. 906 pages, with 2.5 inch margins. Containing 300 GOP amendments in the final bill that passed.

allan
Guest
allan

Bobby, your comment also included:

“it’s known as “majority rule.”

Majority doesn’t rule. The Constitution does and then we vote upon things in a democratic fashion.

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

Go ahead, quibble semantically ad infinitum,

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

“Majority doesn’t rule.”

It most certainly does on the Hill. Which was my point, notwithstanding that it escaped you.

allan
Guest
allan

Take note I said we vote democratically, but it appears you lack the basic knowledge behind the creation of our nation or the reasons our founders chose a Constitutional Republic.

Instead you call it semantics to hide your naiveté.

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

“Majority doesn’t rule. The Constitution does and then we vote upon things in a democratic fashion.” Even the Canadian socialist hordes to the north have a constitution, as do most countries – even ones that embrace discrimination in their society. A constitution does not automatically protect everyone from the tyranny of the majority mob. I think these economic and Constitutional purists live in a vacuum devoid of reason, especially when they purport that their interpretation of the Constitution is the only truth. Ultimately they are no different than any other fundamentalist who really wants to impose their own minority rule… Read more »

allan
Guest
allan

@Peter1 You are right Peter. The Constitution doesn’t automatically protect from the tyranny of the majority. It is up to the people to see to it that the Constitution is upheld. When their leaders trample on the Constitution and the people do nothing the Constitution can become valueless. We have seen that happen at various times throughout history. Presently, some lifelong committed Democrats have stated there is a Constitutional crisis. The Constitution recognizes change and provides a methodology of change so in that fashion the Constitution isn’t the only truth. It can be modified. Those that wish to deny the… Read more »

Aurthur
Guest
Aurthur

Yo!, Mr. Bobby. Still haven’t looked up the difference between bills and laws. Here’s a hint.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-eYBZFEzf8

Listen to this a few times then we can move on to the parts about smashing together bills, deemed to pass, 60 vote clotures, and revenue bills originating in the House of Representatives. Then we can move on to the tricky revenue, tax, penalty, three card monte.

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

I certainly don’t need any hints from the likes of you. Nor do I require any of your Edukashion on the legislative process and its upshot.

lawyerdoctor
Guest

The “governing process” that you so roundly criticize as “not working” has served our nation well for 225 years. The genius of those who authored our Constitutional framework should be evident to all. On the other hand, this abomination known as “Obamacare” (which, BTW, is not remotely authored by Obama, nor did he appear to have much interest in contributing to it until now that it has been thrust upon us, warts and all) is the ABSOLUTE contribution of the democratically controlled House, Senate, and President. You can’t argue that our “Government doesn’t work” when one party controls the entire… Read more »

Granpappy Yokum
Guest
Granpappy Yokum

‘ “pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it.” ‘

Of course, that’s not what she said, but don’t let that get in the way of whatever point you’re trying to make.

Aurthur
Guest
Aurthur

…and of course, G.H.W. Bush never said “read my lips, no new taxes”.

allan
Guest
allan

@Arthur: “…and of course, G.H.W. Bush never said “read my lips, no new taxes”.”

…And those that voted for him were upset, however in the case of Nancy Pelosi there is no such thing as being upset because the left follows lock step much like the rats followed the pied piper.

Aurthur
Guest
Aurthur

Agreed. I was referring more to context than fall out. G.H.W. B.’s comments were directed at congress. And, it may very likely be that he did tell them no to new taxes several times including read my lips.

lawyerdoctor
Guest

uh, yeah, she did. google it.

But don’t let that get in the way of whatever point you are trying to make.

Matthew Holt
Guest

The problem is that this system has NOT served us well, and dealing with a complex problem like health care is exhibit A. But we could have talked about energy/environment, criminal justice, education or many others, where a comprehensive national planned strategy is desperately needed and completely unavailable. The problem is not that politicians are stupid–it’s that they are completely in thrall to the various sub interests both local and industry based that run the country. A single national parliament has to put together a coalition that thinks about the whole country’s interests. Which is why Scandanavia, Germany ,et al… Read more »

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

You are correct.

allan
Guest
allan

Matthew, I think you hit the nail on the head. Too much power has been concentrated in the hands of the federal government. It has tons of money and power to throw around and this is increasing. With all that money out there it is no wonder that lobbyists combined with our leaders are sucking out the lifeblood of the nation. There are certain advantages to smaller governments and one of them is that it isn’t worthwhile for lobbyists to spend so much money to gain advantage over others. [We should remember our history lessons and permit our brains to… Read more »

Aurthur
Guest
Aurthur

Thank god we had a better run Scandinavia (that’s a country near Scandanavia) to keep a better run Germany in check and did not have to rely upon the USA for a comprehensive national planned strategy that was completely unavailable. Then again, you may say it’s the American way but it’s clearly stupid, and we shouldn’t be promoting stupidity.

civisisus
Guest
civisisus

tl;dr

go get yourself another degree, you sanctimonious blowhard

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

“ObamaCare” is “AHIPcare.” Nothing Commie or “Socialist” about it. The private market intermediaries remain firmly in place. Hell, they WROTE the law.

allan
Guest
allan

A private market constrained by government rules and regulations is not a private market. When the purchaser is forced to buy from only government approved sellers one doesn’t have a private market.

Private marketplace= A willing buyer and a willing seller

Despotism: The willing buyer and willing seller have a gun to their heads.

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

Charming sophomic Randian hyperbole.

allan
Guest
allan

The term technically is objectivist not Randian, but it doesn’t matter to me for I don’t fit into that mold.

So you think Adam Smith was a “Randian”?
Stalin was ‘freeing’ his people and gave them the freedom of choice at a point of a gun.

My comment about a willing buyer and a willing seller was not hyperbole. The word ‘willing’ has a meaning. Willing is consent without coercion.

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

“Objectivism” — yeah, that was a cute ploy. Try to stake out the high ground. Nice try, Ayn.

Adam Smith, btw, was a Moral Philosopher, not an “economist.”

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

You can take it from here. Enjoy.

allan
Guest
allan

Where do you get your ideas Bobby?

No ploy. Just stated the facts.

Yes, Adam Smith was a philosopher, but he was also a pioneer of political economy. He wrote the Wealth of Nations and is considered the father of modern economics.

civisisus
Guest
civisisus

Allan, regulatory capture – look it up.

Market participants – particularly successful market participants – LOVE “regulation”.

You’ll find your leading “despots” are your most committed “free market” cheerleaders

makes your pointed little head hurt, don’t it?

allan
Guest
allan

civisisus, are you so unsure of your intellectual ability that you have to resort to insult instead of intelligent discussion? The funny thing is that I mostly agree with what you have said. Self interest leads most people to resort to the arm of government to protect themselves. That is one reason to strive for a free market system. What you describe is not a part of the free market though some claim they are doing things in the name of the free market. You are more likely to see that in socialized or fascist systems where government involvement and… Read more »

Saurabh Jha
Guest
Saurabh Jha

Gallantly allan defends free markets/ capitalism, and he should as no better system has been designed by mankind that has a higher net utilitarian benefit to society.

That we now equate obesity, rather than starvation, with poverty shows that capitalism also has side effects. What doesn’t?

Healthcare is a different beast, though.

allan
Guest
allan

Thank you Saurabh. Healthcare is a different beast as is claimed by every other person trying to demonstrate why their specific field of interest is different than every other one.

We recognize that fact and created the public health system to mitigate the problems of those unable to help themselves and those unique problems that cross the line from one individual to another.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Your logic is wrong. I would be a willing seller if I could simply mix some dough and sell it to the public as “pain killer”. I might as well be able to find some willing buyers because what I am selling is cheaper than Tylenol. Do you want this kind of marketplace? What if my dough has poison in it? The marketplace needs regulations for it to work. By regulating, government does not force you buy from someone, it simply disallow guys to offer under-qualified products.

allan
Guest
allan

Frank, what you are talking about is fraud and that carries both civil and criminal penalties.

allan
Guest
allan

Is the analogy used here that the communists drove the anticommunists into the sea and now the Obamacare proponents will throw those that believe in free markets back into the sea? It’s an interesting analogy to use since some believe Obamacare is a step in the direction of socialism and communism.

Matthew Holt
Guest

Worth noting that Taiwan went looking for a solution to its health care woes in the 1990s and adopted a Canadian Style single payer! They still claim that they rule China

allan
Guest
allan

..And the Chinese claim they rule Taiwan. That is a political claim which is different than an economic claim. Market systems work best as even the Chinese are finding out. The Canadians recognize that their system is unsustainable just like all western healthcare systems. If I am correct the Taiwanese adopted a single payer system of their own that is closest to our Medicare. Their system is relatively new. It takes time for this type of system to smell and for awhile the system had reasonably good approval ratings from its citizenry, but not that long ago it started to… Read more »

@BobbyGvegas
Guest

I love the lame post hoc one-branch-removed “Ouija board” process of judicial review. Deference to the ostensible a priori supremacy of intent — “legislative construction” (insofar as it doesn’t clearly exceed legislative authority delimited by the Constitution), as inferred by a majority of judges. Inferred. Why not — well — just — hel-LO — call them as witnesses (or depose them) and — well — just ASK them (those in the majority who passed the bill) under Oath. What did you INTEND here? Do you even know? Who among your staffs (ghost)wrote this POS provision? Far too simple and direct.… Read more »