Health Care

Romney’s Praise of Israeli Healthcare Shows GOP Blind Spot

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney visited Israel, and in a speech praised the Israeli healthcare system for keeping down costs. This sounds like an utterly uncontroversial statement (Republican politician praising Israel), until one realizes that Israel has a single-payer, universal health care system.

OH BOY.

Yet, oddly, there was very little mention of this in conservative spots. I checked The Weekly Standard, Hot Air, the Washington Times, even The Blaze, but none of them talked about Romney’s statement. Not even Fox News seemed to have an article about it. Instead, places like the Boston Globe, the Washington Post (in particular, Ezra Klein), Matt Yglesias at Slate, and Steven L. Taylor at Outside the Beltway were the ones who seemed to actually notice what Romney said.

Mitt Romney: Can’t Be Trusted on Judicial Nominations

The Romney campaign has been bragging to every outlet they can about the amazing $4.6 million haul they took in yesterday in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the individual mandate.

The fact that Romney was able to so immediately and succesfully capitalize on the Supreme Court’s decision is a stark reminder that a sucker is born every minute.

The swing vote in the landmark Obamacare decision was that of Chief Justice John Roberts.  Roberts wrote the opinion that grants the federal government almost limitless power via the taxation clause.  Even worse, and most frightening, this decision provides a roadmap for future Congresses and future Presidents to end run any lip-service limitations the Court provided to the limits of the commerce clause power or any other supposedly “limited” power of the federal government.  And don’t even get me started on the 9th or 10th amendment, because apparently neither of those amendments exist any longer.

According to Mitt Romney, Chief Justice Roberts, now enemy number one to many conservatives and constitutionalists, is EXACTLY the kind of justice he would nominate if elected President.

Romney’s own website continues to say that he will appoint justices like Chief Justice Roberts (you would think his crack team of consultants would have scrubbed this by now).

Indeed, not only is Romney promising to nominate justices like Roberts, he has been effusive in his praise for Bush nominess like Roberts:

I think the justices that President Bush has appointed are exactly spot-on. I think Justice Roberts and Justice Alito are exactly the kind of justices America needs.

Morning After: More SCOTUS Reflections from a Non-Lawyer

In reaction to my post yesterday, and lots of other punditry around the web, my friend Rusty Weiss of Mental Recession fame (he recently celebrated six months of blogging!) emailed me to say he’s tired of having to settle for silver linings — that he want points on the board.

A lot of us — political activists, policy geeks, and court watchers alike — were disappointed with the outcome of yesterday’s ruling. We wanted a full takedown of Obamacare, for both substantive and political reasons. Instead, we got a ruling that the president’s signature legislative achievement passes constitutional muster, even if it was most peculiarly reasoned.

Silver Linings in SCOTUS Obamacare Ruling

[Editor’s note: This post should not be construed as an endorsement of Mitt Romney or of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate or U.S. House in 2012. The author is a political media strategist by trade.]

Regular readers know I am not a lawyer, and that I do not specialize in health policy. I also did not come to Washington through Capitol Hill and am therefore no expert in parliamentary procedure. Still, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare — some original, some not — and they’re not all bad.

First, here’s the opinion itself (PDF).

Second, the greatest legal minds on the left have spent the last couple of years arguing that the individual mandate is constitutional under authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. The Court summarily rejected this argument, and that is great for individual liberty. Congress does not, as Obamacare opponents have argued all along, have the power to force you to buy health insurance, broccoli, or anything else. It does not have power to regulate economic inactivity.

Third, the mandate was upheld because Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the penalty for not purchasing health insurance can reasonably be construed as a tax. Because the power to tax is an enumerated power of Congress as outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, this provision of the law was upheld.

An interesting political point — in September 2009, fearing political blowback from pushing so hard for the law, the president flatly rejected that Obamacare constituted a tax increase on Americans during a recession:

Life After the PPACA-lypse

supreme court

While the U.S. Supreme Court keeps everyone in suspense about when the ObamaCare decision will be announced, it is important to prepare for what happens next. A recent Associated Press poll shows that just ⅓ of Americans support the new law, with only 21% of independents approving. Another poll shows that a majority of former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks believe at least the individual mandate will be struck down.

Conservatives Need To Focus On The Two Scandals That Matter

There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:

  1. The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
  2. The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)

Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)

The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly:

worst_recession

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

11th Circuit Decision Update — Severability Issue

News broke late last week that the 11th Circuit Court had ruled against the government in Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the many legal challenges to President Obama’s new health care law. In my reporting, I noted that

  • The Court disappointed in its treatment of the non-severability issue. In fact, it overturned the lower court’s ruling, which held that, because the law lacked a severability clause, overturning any of the law’s provisions means necessarily an overturning of the entire law.

The Court’s opinion is over 300 pages long — so it’ll take me time I’m not even sure I have to sort out their reasoning on this last part. For now, I’ll simply note that this is a deeply troubling development, and certainly a little rain on the liberty parade.

I also noted Megan McArdle’s prognosis for the health care market (and the federal budget deficit) if we wound up with a mandate-less Obamacare:

BREAKING: 11th Circuit Rules against Individual Mandate in Obamacare

It’s a great day for liberty — the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta has ruled against the government in Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

WASHINGTON - An appeals court ruled on Friday that President Barack Obama’s healthcare law requiring Americans to buy healthcare insurance or face a penalty was unconstitutional, a blow to the White House.

The Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, found that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage, but also ruled that the rest of the wide-ranging law could remain in effect.

The legality of the so-called individual mandate, a cornerstone of the healthcare law, is widely expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama administration has defended the provision as constitutional.

There are a couple of things of important note packed into this ruling:

A Defense of the Free Market

One of the most common refrains from the political left and the media is that, regarding the economy, conservatives advocate for unchecked freedom for big business to do whatever it wants to do, and for no government interference with business at all. These assertions stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of conservatism.

For the conservative, the issue comes down to the proper role of government. To have no government at all is anarchy, and certainly no conservative would argue that. So the question is not whether or not there should be government involvement (there should), but what level of government involvement is appropriate.

When we look at the biggest financial scandals of the last decade (Enron, WorldCom, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, etc.), they all have one thing in common. At some point, whether through active complicity or negligence, government played a huge role in allowing the scandals to occur. And with every scandal, it becomes an excuse, or rather an imperative, to increase the level of government involvement to keep it from occurring again.

Some of the major scandals have occurred because the regulatory oversight assigned to one government agency or another was either inadequately enforced, or government employees were co-opted into the fraudulent scheme. Others occur because our statutory and regulatory law has become so complex that it is inevitable that a crafty thief will be able to find technical loopholes that fulfill the letter of the law while being contradictory to the clear intent of the law. Either way, we continue to add layer after layer of government bureaucracy, regulation and complexity, and yet the scandals keep getting more and more expensive. That is because the more complex the law, the easier it is to find a technical Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card.


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