"Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be 'constitutional' does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right," Sen. Paul said.
"Obamacare is wrong for Americans. It will destroy our health care system. This now means we fight every hour, every day until November to elect a new President and a new Senate to repeal Obamacare," he continued.
No, actually, you bloody idjit, if the majority of the Supreme Court has ruled it's constitutional, by definition, IT'S CONSTITUTIONAL.
Because if you really want to go down this path, you America-hating, traitorous punk, then we can decide right now that Citizens United is unconstitutional and we can ignore it.
We can declare President Al Gore can and should arrest George W. Bush for breaking and entering into the White House.
Seriously, Senator Paul, if you can't understand this basic tenet of how government works, then you are advocating for anarchy. Just accept gracefully that you were on the wrong side of this one, and move on.
The Supreme Court ruled today that the Affordable Care Act, the comprehensive health care reform package signed by President Obama in 2010, is constitutional. The Court upheld the law’s most controversial provision, the individual mandate, ruling that it is constitutional under the government’s authority to levy and collect taxes.
Republicans have falsely claimed the mandate was the “biggest tax increase ever in American history,” so of course, conservatives immediately jumped on the idea that the individual mandate was a massive tax hike on the middle class, reviving an argument Republicans have made since the law passed more than two years ago:
WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R) declared that it was a “massive tax increase.”
INDIANA SEN. DAN COATES (R) said “Right now we have something with a big tax and the American people who rejected that in 2010 are going to have a chance to break the tie in 2012.
LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R) said “Ironically, the Supreme Court has decided to be far more honest about Obamacare than Obama was. They rightly have called it a tax. Today?s decision is a blow to our freedoms.”
IDAHO SEN. MIKE CRAPO (R) touted that the mandate was ruled a tax. ?Now, we’re back into that argument,? he said.
The mandate can indeed be characterized as a tax, as the Court found. But it is not a massive tax hike on the middle class, much less the biggest tax hike in American history. The tax imposed by the individual mandate amounts to either $695 or 2.5 percent of household income for those who don’t have insurance and are not exempt based on income levels. By comparison, the payroll tax cut extension Republicans repeatedly blocked earlier this year would have added 3.1 percentage points to the tax and cost the average family $1,500 a year.
The mandate, meanwhile, would hit a small amount of Americans — somewhere between 2 and 5 percent — according to a study from the Urban Institute. The number could be even lower depending on the law’s success: in Massachusetts, the only state with an insurance mandate, less than 1 percent of the state’s residents paid the penalty in 2009.
The majority of the Affordable Care Act’s other taxes, such as a payroll tax increase and a tax on high-cost health plans, are aimed at upper-income Americans. In exchange, millions of jobs will be created as new people enter the health care system and millions of people will gain access to affordable, quality insurance that they otherwise would not have. And, as we detailed earlier today, the Court’s decision to uphold the entirety of the law will have significant benefits for the nation’s economy.
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) characterized the mandate as a “middle class tax increase,” claiming that millions of Americans are going to have “an IRS problem.” Watch it:
In a very surprising outcome, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the fifth vote to save Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The key aspect of the decision that I think is relevant to climate policy is how the 5 justices decided to uphold the centerpiece of the ACA, the individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance:
The court rejected Obama administration?s commerce-clause argument, but ruled 5-4 that Congress nevertheless ?has the power to impose? the individual mandate under its taxing authority. The provision ?need not be read to do more than impose a tax,? the opinion said. ?This is sufficient to sustain it.?
In short, complicated justification for mandate fails, but tax wins. Note that this is in spite of the fact that most constitutional scholars always considered the mandate itself constitutional. Justice Kennedy (!) wrote in the dissent: ?In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.?
My guess is that people who write climate legislation will take away from this that a lengthy bill designing a complex system to control CO2 and other greenhouse gases will be challenged in the court by conservatives and might conceivably lose. But Congress has taxing authority and that isn’t going anywhere. Yes, I’m aware that the U.S. Appeals Court upheld EPA’s greenhouse gas emission rules. But the climate bill that was considered by Congress to controls GHGs was considerably different and more complicated than those rules. Again, I don’t think the bill actually was unconstitutional, only that you never know what the Roberts Supreme Court (or a future one) might decide.
Back in February, Climate Progress reported that “Bipartisan Support Grows for Carbon Price as Part of Debt Deal.” As I write a year ago, the only plausible scenario now for seriously addressing US greenhouse gas emissions in a way that would enable a global deal and give us some chance of averting catastrophic multiple, simultaneous climate impacts is for a serious carbon price to be part of the post-2012-election budget deal.
It is still safe to say that this is not a high-probability outcome, but it is non-zero.
ThinkProgress spoke with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) outside the Court immediately following the decision today affirming the constitutionality of Obamacare. Gohmert, apoplectic over the ruling, directed his anger towards Justice Elena Kagan, who he claims likely “violated federal law” by voting on the Obamacare decision after serving as Solicitor General when the law was passed. “She needs to be removed from the Supreme Court,” he cried, calling for her impeachment. As such, Gohmert said today’s decision upholding Obamacare is “illegitimate.”
GOHMERT: We still have the issue of Justice Kagan. Either she was totally derelict and negligent in her duties as Solicitor General and had absolutely nothing to do with the most important bill to the president, her boss, or she did have something to do with it, she has violated federal law, and as such she needs to be removed from the Supreme Court. [...] I think it’s important to look at Justice Kagan for potential impeachment. [...]
KEYES: Considering she was the deciding vote in the case, does that leave the ruling illegitimate if she broke federal law?
GOHMERT: Yes it would. It would mean this decision would be illegitimate if she lied in order to get onto the Court.
Steven Perlberg contributed to this report.
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In a huge victory for our families, our communities, and our country, the Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act. The finding that the law is constitutional includes the individual mandate, which is the requirement that every individual have health insurance coverage or pay a small amount of additional taxes.
The court?s decision also affirms numerous other provisions that are already helping to make the insurance market more fair, expand coverage to those who don?t have it, and make it easier for gay and transgender people to get the health care they need to stay healthy.
The three major components of the law upheld by the court today are:
1. The law itself: Because the law was found to be constitutional, the justices answered the question of whether the law should be struck down with a resounding ?no.? Check out some of the great things the law is already doing for gay and transgender people and their families.
2. The individual mandate: The justices interpreted the law?s requirement that every individual secure a minimum level of insurance coverage as a tax, meaning that Congress had the right to include it in the Affordable Care Act. The individual mandate pays for the law?s other health insurance market reforms ? including the requirement that insurers can?t deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV or cancer.
3. The Medicaid expansion: The law expands Medicaid eligibility in every state starting in 2014 to everyone who makes less than $15,000 per year. According to today?s ruling, states that do not want to expand to this level of eligibility do not have to, but they will lose the new funding the law makes available for running their Medicaid programs.
The ruling is a major victory, but the road ahead to making sure gay and transgender communities fully benefit from the law is still bumpy. In particular, the expansion of Medicaid will include many gay and transgender people and their families, since discrimination in employment and relationship recognition means that they are disproportionately likely to be uninsured and to make less than $15,000 per year. Advocates in every state will need to work hard to make sure that their states expand Medicaid eligibility up to the full level the law allows.
And on July 11, the House of Representatives will make another attempt to repeal the law. But this time, the law is really on our side.
"There's no question that the earth is going to run out of oil within the next 10 years", read the Peak Oil investment pitch that came across my desk. Citing a variety of scientists and academics, it appeared that these guys really did their homework when preparing the presentation. It painted a downright frightening picture of a world without oil and, frankly, was quite compelling. The fund was promoting a … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: 3 Ways to Profit From Falling Oil Prices
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For supporters of the Affordable Care Act, it was hard to hear?over the cheering?anything besides the fact that the Supreme Court today kept the law almost entirely intact. But the Court did make a slight change to a crucial part of the ACA: Medicaid expansion. Under the law, by 2014, states are supposed to extend their Medicaid programs to cover people under 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. An analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that means 17 million more people would have access to health care over the next 10 years. Before today, it looked like states didn't have much choice in the matter. If they didn't make the necessary expansion, they would lose all federal Medicaid dollars. In their brief, states argued that wasn't much of a choice?federal Medicaid grants simply constitute too much money to lose. Back in February, Timothy Jost had a very helpful explanation of the states' argument on this point in Health Affairs. As he wrote:
A state that refuses to expand its Medicaid program will under the ACA lose all Medicaid funding. Medicaid is the single largest source of federal funding to the states, accounting for 40 percent of all federal money dispersed to the states. States do not really have a choice to walk away from federal Medicaid funding, they argue. The states do not, therefore, really have a choice to refuse to participate in the Medicaid expansions. This coercion, the states contend, is unconstitutional.
According to SCOTUS Blog, the Supreme Court basically agreed: The feds can't cut all Medicaid funding for states that refuse to expand. Now, states that choose not to extend benefits will forgo the money they would have received for doing so?but they won't lose the money they're already getting for current Medicaid services. But while states can now avoid the extension more easily, there's still no practical reason to go down that path. "It's still an incredibly good deal for the states," says Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Already the federal government pays, on average, 57 percent of Medicaid costs. But the ACA gives states much higher levels of funding when it comes to extending benefits. As a CBPP report in March noted, the feds will pay a whopping 93 percent of the costs of expansion over the next nine years:
Specifically, the federal government will assume 100 percent of the Medicaid costs of covering newly eligible individuals for the first three years that the expansion is in effect (2014-2016). Federal support will then phase down slightly over the following several years, and by 2020 (and for all subsequent years), the federal government will pay 90 percent of the costs of covering these individuals. According to CBO, between 2014 and 2022, the federal government will pay $931 billion of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, while states will pay roughly $73 billion, or 7 percent.
That means, all in all, states will only see a 2.8 percent increase in what they would have spent on Medicaid if there was no health-care bill. The expansion is also in the interests of health-care providers. The ACA was meant to vastly decrease the amount of health care hospitals have to provide with little or no compensation. It was for that reason, Park says, that providers agreed to reductions in Medicaid and Medicare rates. But without the Medicaid expansion, working adults who are too poor to afford health care but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid could still be left without coverage in some states. "Now there's going to be a donut hole in the middle if the state doesn't proceed," says Park. That's bad business for hospitals. There's another factor that states will have to consider: the savings they will realize as populations begin to get healthier. According to the CBPP report, there will be 33 million fewer uninsured people by 2022. Uninsured people are expensive; they often rely on expensive emergency-room care, rather than getting preventative and early treatment which is ultimately cheaper and more effective. The Urban Institute reports that in 2008, $10.6 billion in state and local dollars went toward hospital care for the uninsured?20 percent of the total costs. The percentage is even higher when it comes to mental-health services. With the expansion, those costs will likely go down dramatically. States may have the option now to forgo the Medicaid expansion. But the results won't be pretty.
Mitt Romney reacting to Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care ActThe Supreme Court, Mitt Romney intoned this morning, didn't do what he'll do day one if he becomes president: repeal
Romenycare Obamacare. What the Court didn't say, Romney told us, is that it's a bad law and it's bad policy today, no matter what the Supreme Court says. And no matter what he said himself six years ago.
Romney and Republicans are quickly coalescing on one key part of the decision: it's not a mandate, it's a tax. So all of the sudden, this is a tax hike. Interestingly, it's exactly the same structure as Romney created in his plan for Massachusetts. As late as 2009, Romney was touting this:
"Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn?t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ?free riders? to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn?t cost the government a single dollar."And in Feburary of this year, the individual mandate in Massachusetts wasn't a tax, it was "personal responsibility."
"Whether you like it or not like it, it was seen as conservative to say that individuals who could pay for insurance should either buy their own insurance or help the state pay for their cost if they become ill but people shouldn?t be able to go to the hospital and expect government to pay for them. So we can have a discussion as to whether it?s conservative or not conservative but our view was that individuals had a responsibility to care for themselves, a personal responsibility.?It's personal responsibility when the state is asking for it, but it's an onerous tax when the federal government is asking for it. Yeah, that makes sense.
Romney's other big lie is one that the Chamber of Commerce has been pushing in various forms. At once they say 20 million seniors could lose their Medicare, though the usual claim?repeated by Romney today?is that 20 million Americans will lose their current health insurance because of this law.
He said that with all the certainty with which he always lies, but there's nothing certain about that. That comes from a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) report that actually says, right in the first paragraph, "the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?the health care legislation enacted in March 2010?will lead to a small reduction in the number of people receiving employment-based health insurance." That number is three to five million people over the next decade, not 20 million.
But this might be my favorite part of Romney's statement (transcribed while he was speaking, so it's not exact):
"This is now a time for the American People to make a choice. You can choose whether to have a larger and larger government making intrusions into your life... Or whether instead you want to return to a time where Americans have their own choice in health care."Choice, unless you're a woman making the choice to have a perfectly safe and legal abortion.
(AP Photo/Philippos Christou)
A woman passes by a branch of Bank of Cyprus in central Nicosia, Cyprus, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Cyprus became the fifth eurozone country this week to ask for a bailout from its partners in the currency union in order to prop up its Greece-exposed banks and flagging economy. Officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will begin assessing next week how much bailout money Cyprus will need.
The European Summit today and tomorrow in Brussels is the latest in a series of make-or-break moments for the European project. On many occasions since May 2010, when Greece was first cut off from market access, European leaders have been called upon to make a bold leap forward in the policy integration of the Eurozone?the only way to convince investors of the iron irrevocability of the common currency. Under constant pressure from the ongoing crisis, they have often seemed to be making the big decisions to reform the flawed architecture of the monetary union, only for initial perceptions to give way to a much more underwhelming reality. Markets have grown increasingly savvy and cynical in interpreting summit communiqués. They know that behind grand words and large headline numbers, the political will to come together has yet to be demonstrated. Is this summit meeting?in the week when Cyprus became the fourth Eurozone member to ask for an official rescue and Spain confirmed that it would need 100 billion euros to shore up its banks?going to change all that?
The odds are not good. France and the big countries of the South (Italy and Spain) want Germany to commit to banking union?a European fund that can be used to recapitalize ailing banks all across the EU and to offer deposit insurance to bank customers irrespective of their institution?s nationality. This, it is argued, will break the destructive death-grip linking troubled banks and over-indebted sovereigns, and arrest the dangerous flight of deposits from the credit institutions of the South, in particular of Greece and Spain. The alliance of the South also wants to take steps toward pooling the debt of Eurozone members, the ultimate aim of which would be the issuing of eurobonds. The aim is to reduce the borrowing costs of the Spanish and Italian governments, now hovering over 7 and 6 percent respectively for 10-year bonds. While there are a number of variations, the main proposal is for the European rescue funds?the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which goes into effect in July?to buy Spanish and Italian bonds and thus hold interest rates down to manageable levels. Otherwise, both countries are directly threatened with a loss of market access, and the rescue funds are not even close to having the money necessary to cover their borrowing needs. (Italy is the third largest economy in the Eurozone and Spain is the fourth largest; their combined total debt outstanding exceeds 2.5 trillion euros.)
Germany, along with its allies in the European North, objects. Speaking yesterday in the Bundestag, the German parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated for the umpteenth time her position that her country does not have infinite resources and that it cannot take on unlimited obligations without a corresponding strengthening of control and enforcement mechanisms to ensure good behavior from the beneficiaries, be they banks or sovereigns. ?Control and liability must not be placed in false relationship to each other,? she said. ?Control and liability must go hand in hand, and shared liability cannot occur until sufficient control has been assured.?
In practice, this means that for Berlin, banking union entails a common European banking authority with the power to intervene in national markets, even against the wishes of the national government in question. Fiscal integration, according to the Germans, requires a deeper ?political union??i.e., greater centralized control of national budgets. On both these fronts, Berlin is correct. The rest of the Eurozone, not least the French, needs to make concrete commitments to abandon aspects of sovereign jurisdiction in order to enjoy the benefits of pan-European guarantees for deposits and government debt.
But Merkel?s insistence that no ground will be ceded until she is satisfied that she can control the policies of those who will benefit, as well as the kind of control she wants to impose?punitive austerity, too little stimulus?is leading Europe to catastrophe. She keeps repeating that banking union and eurobonds can only come once the hard work of spending cuts and structural reforms is complete. But by then, it will be too late.
What to expect, then, from the summit? Some agreement to deal with the immediate crisis in Italy and Spain, for one thing. According to high-ranking German government sources, ?a sustained lowering of borrowing costs will be the result of structural reforms, budget consolidation and improvements in the way Europe works together. Europe has created instruments that can help countries cope with the situation, the EFSF at present and the ESM in the near future. They have been created with great effort, political and financial; they can be used, too.? The question is how they will be used?and what Berlin will demand in return.
On the equally pressing matter of Europe?s banking woes, the same sources note: ?The chancellor has publicly said that Germany supports a credible and independent European supervision of banks and that the ECB would be suited for that task. We will be working toward that goal at the EU council.? That is all well and good, but far from enough to stem the crisis of confidence in the institutions of some of Europe?s weaker states.
Speaking in the Italian parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mario Monti proposed that EU leaders stay locked up together however long it takes to find a solution. Some Italian analysts were predicting that the summit would last until Sunday night, so that there could be something substantial to show the markets on Monday. Europe?s politicians must take heed: This time, a nicely packaged fudge won?t do. They need to come up with the goods.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner want to be known as Team Backwards. Also pictured: Ohio senator and potential Romney VP selection Rob Portman. (Larry Downing/Reuters)They simply cannot move on:
House Republicans said after the Supreme Court?s ruling upholding President Barack Obama?s health care law that they?ll vote to repeal it after Congress returns from its July Fourth recess.They lost. It's over. Obamacare is constitutional. And the key issue in front of the country isn't whether we should go back to the old health care system, it's how are we going to accelerate economic growth and add more jobs. And while the rest of the country wants to move forward and focus on those challenges, Mitt Romney and the Republicans insist on looking backwards, fighting over yesterday. It's pathetic.
The House will vote to repeal the health care law ? again ? on July 11, the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.