The Supreme Court, with George.W. Bush appointed Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion, has upheld Obamacare. The individual mandate was upheld as constitutional. Obamacare was constructed in large on the individual mandate model Mitt Romney used for health care reform when he was Governor of Massachusetts. Here is what Mr. Romney said in [...]
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You will have to forgive me tonight -- I lived it up a little bit on Twitter and Facebook this morning when the ruling came down, but I had no time to do much else because I had interviews with candidates for the new Missouri Senate District 24 that will be filled by a Democrat in the primary in five weeks, because our Senator, Jolie Justus, still represents MO SD 10, but the Tenth is now on the other side of the state. The interviews had been scheduled for a week, the cameraman and the candidates were both available, and I have this sense of fair play that tells me to interview them both, back to back, and then post the videos at the same time. Anyway, Californo's in Westport had a open meeting room we could set up in, and everyone had time this afternoon, and it was all booked before we knew today was The Day.
So I will blog tomorrow, and I kinda know what I'm going to say, but tonight, I drink. I drink to 30 million people who will be insured thanks to the fact that the ACA was upheld. And I drink to Harry Truman who made the first serious attempt at healthcare reform, and I drink to Nancy Pelosi who got it through the House, and to Emanuel Cleaver who was spit on as he walked to the chamber to vote and to Barack Obama, the President who signed it into law. And by the time I'm done drinking to everyone -- let's just say I may get a late start in the morning. . .
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What would a world look like that had a culture and an economic system that places human need above corporate greed, and how do we bring that world into being? Who cares what it is called. Call it Socialism, Call it Real Democracy Now, and Call it[...]
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Let them eat wedding cake.Via Stephanie Mencimer, yet more evidence that conservatives just don't get social programs. In fact, they suck at them.
Launched during the Bush administration at the behest of evangelical Christian activists and with the aid of congressional Republicans, the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative was designed to help low-income couples put a little sizzle in their marriages and urge poor unmarried parents to tie the knot, in the hopes that marriage would enhance their finances and get them off the federal dole. [...]Well, that hurts. The programs were mostly marriage encouragement/counseling efforts aimed at poor people, paid for by taking away welfare money, because, the theory goes, maybe if those folks were (more happily) married they'd have more food to eat and better jobs and?well, I don't really get the logic. Only that poor people need to be encouraged to get married, which is really the only kind of social meddling conservatives like to do. Feeding people, giving them healthcare, or doing anything that might result in less unemployment is out, but we'll happily send them to seminars like "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" or "Get Married Already, You Goddammned Slut" for a little friendly browbeating.
This month, HHS released the results of several years of research about the performance of the marriage programs, and it indicates that the Bush-era effort to encourage Americans (straight ones, at least) to walk down the aisle has been a serious flop. [...]
Take the Building Healthy Families program, which targeted unmarried but romantically involved couples who were either new parents or expecting a baby. The program, tested in Baltimore and seven other cities, offered participants many weeks of marriage education classes that focused on improving their relationships with the hopes that this would also help their children. Three years later, researchers reported that the program had produced precisely zero impact on the quality of the couples' relationships, rates of domestic violence, or the involvement of fathers with their children. In fact, couples in the eight pilot programs around the country actually broke up more frequently than those in a control group who didn't get the relationship program. The program also prompted a drop in the involvement of fathers and the percentage who provided financial support.
Mencimer points out:
[T]he only social program ever to show documented success in impacting the marriage rates of poor people came in 1994, when the state of Minnesota accidentally reduced the divorce rate among poor black women by allowing them to keep some of their welfare benefits when they went to work rather than cutting them off. During the three-year experiment and for a few years afterward, the divorce rate for black women in the state fell 70 percent. The positive effects on kids also continued for several years.So, as it turns out, just providing a small amount of financial relief to poor families did more to improve their marriages than encouraging them to spend a few hundred bucks they don't have on seminars telling them how great marriage is. Then we stopped that provide slightly more generous welfare benefits nonsense, I guess because zombie Ayn Rand said she wanted all the welfare for herself.
It's not that conservatives don't like social programs; they just like social programs geared towards teaching poor people morality, under the prosperity gospel-like notion that if poor people just had better morals everything else would work out for them. Sure, things like abstinence education and marriage counseling for people who aren't sure how they'll be able to feed their kids next week might have no actual effect, but it's at least proper-sounding. Teaching teens how to have safer sex lives or giving families a little extra money to feed those kids may have profoundly more effect on making things better, but those are liberal things, and therefore off limits.
The program, while retooled a bit, has remained active. And yes, I admit I'm in sort of an unnecessarily foul mood over this stuff. My apologies. No doubt telling people how to have better marriages is a noble goal, but coupled with our new austerity that says those same families need to cut back on that whole "eating" and "having jobs" bit, the morals-before-food principles involved seem ... Victorian? Dickensian? Something like that. If only we could get the same kind of conservative support for programs that get kids food and health insurance.
Given the very strong likelihood that the centerpiece legislation of the Obama administration would be struck down in its entirety, yesterday's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act seems to most progressives like both a relief and a major political victory. But was it actually a legal victory when you examine the opinions closely? Tom Scocca says no:
Roberts' genius was in pushing this health care decision through without attaching it to the coattails of an ugly, narrow partisan victory. Obama wins on policy, this time. And Roberts rewrites Congress' power to regulate, opening the door for countless future challenges. In the long term, supporters of curtailing the federal government should be glad to have made that trade.
According to Scocca, Roberts engineered a big win for conservatives by fundamentally changing the law but doing so in a way that his opponents couldn't respond?a trick pioneered by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison. If Roberts planted a time bomb that will blow up the New Deal down the road, this is a serious problem.
But, in reality, this is no major conservative win in any sense, as Scocca's central assumptions fail to withstand scrutiny. First, Roberts's opinion, even if it constrained future Supreme Courts in perpetuity, is a narrow one that does not substantially alter existing commerce clause and spending powers jurisprudence. And second, what Roberts wrote in NFIB v. Sebilius will do nothing to constrain future courts.
On the first point, Roberts's arguments (unlike some of those in the radical joint dissent) are narrowly tailored to the case at hand. Roberts's view that the ACA exceeded the federal power to regulate interstate commerce rested on the premise that Congress cannot regulate "inactivity." While specious, this argument is in a sense a welcome one for progressives because it does not apply to any conceivable future new regulatory framework unless you're a particularly paranoid Glenn Beck listener. The argument was designed to apply only to the Affordable Care Act, and this makes it irrelevant as a future standard. Roberts's opinion did not question the key precedents underlying the contemporary commerce power?Wickard v. Filburn and Gonzales v. Raich. Unless the broccoli lobby becomes more powerful than the military-industrial complex and ConAgra put together, even if Roberts's opinion governed all future commerce clause cases the legislation would be evaluated by essentially identical standards as they would have been the day before Roberts's opinion was written.
Even if Roberts's opinion had ventured a more radical transformation of commerce clause jurisprudence, it still wouldn't really matter. Scocca takes a very formalist approach to precedent, assuming that doctrines ventured in particular Supreme Court opinions will govern all future cases. But this is not actually how Supreme Court doctrine works. First of all, Roberts's commerce clause views do not create binding precedent at all?joined by no other justice and unnecessary to decide the case, his commerce clause arguments are just obiter dicta that don't even bind lower courts (let alone future Supreme Courts that are permitted to modify or overrule their own precedents).
More importantly, even if we leave aside the fact that no binding precedent was created by Roberts's commerce clause analysis, his opinion today will not significantly affect how Supreme Courts with different personnel evaluate the federal commerce power. If Obama wins re-election and appoints replacements for Antonin Scalia and/or Anthony Kennedy, Roberts's opinion will be irrelevant because there will be at least five votes to uphold the basic New Deal/Great Society framework, and Roberts's opinion will be distinguished or ignored. (Which, since it was tailored to the specific facts of the ACA, won't even present a doctrinal challenge of any difficulty.)
If, conversely, Rommey wins and is able to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg and/or Stephen Breyer, presumably one or both of his new appointments will join the four justices who already support radically transforming the New Deal/Great Society framework, and again the Roberts opinion will be beside the point. And lest you be tempted by Scocca's formalist view of how doctrine develops, consider this. Scalia and Kennedy?half of the justices in today's libertarian dissent?joined the expansive view of the commerce clause put forward by Gonzales v. Raich less than ten years ago. If justices don't feel bound by their own recent opinions, they're certainly not going to be bound by the dicta in the opinions of other justices.
Roberts did achieve something for conservatives, by limiting Congress's use of the spending power in this case. By preventing Congress from ending all Medicaid funding for states who do not participate in the expansion of Medicaid?and only allowing them to take away new funding?Roberts did inflict damage on the ACA. But this damage will be confined almost entirely to the short-term. Some tea party backed legislatures will initially refuse the huge grants?but history suggests that they will almost certainly not hold out. And since the Roberts/Kagan/Breyer view of the spending power clearly allows Congress to attach conditions to new spending (and to maintain existing uses of the spending power), it will not be a significant limit on future Congresses unless the Supreme Court goes well beyond it. And a Supreme Court that wants to do that could do it anyway.
NFIB v. Sebilius, in other words, isn't a hidden victory for conservatives hostile to the existing constitutional order; it's just a loss. Future commerce clause doctrine will be determined by the future median votes on the Court, not by John Roberts's opinion in the case. The case represented an opportunity for conservatives to get that transformation now?and they didn't get it.
It?s only a bit after 8 a.m. and Russell Mokhiber is shouting at a belly dancer in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Granted, it?s out of concern?it?s the kind of Washington, D.C. summer morning when it feels like the air is one giant dog?s tongue licking your body, and the lady in question, Angela Petry?a middle-aged sandy blond with the abdominal muscles of an 18-year-old pageant queen?is his wife. She?s been dancing up a storm, a whirl of skin, red and blue silk scarves, and beads dripping from her bosom.
?We need to pace ourselves, we?ve got three hours,? Mokhiber says, and he?s right, because the belly dancing is quickly becoming the media darling of the protesters gathered at the steps of the Supreme Court on Thursday morning to hear the ruling by the justices on President Obama?s landmark health-care legislation. Mokhiber, of Berkley Springs, West Virginia, has come as part of Single Payer Action, a group that advocates for striking down the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act; they filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court earlier this year.
?The majority of Americans want it, the majority of doctors and nurses want it?that?s what the polls show?and my sense is that the majority of belly dancers want it,? Mokhiber says of a single-payer system.
For the moment, the majority of photographers seems to just want pictures of his wife, who gamely writhes for the crowd.
William Temple of Brunswick, Georgia is perhaps the only other protester with a costume to rival those of the belly-dance act. A de facto mascot for the Tea Party since its inception, he?s outfitted, tri-corner hat (resplendent with craft store feathers) to boot heel, in Revolutionary War garb?though rather ironically, his green and red felt uniform is a replica of what German mercenaries wore while fighting for the British. Temple seems not to mind, slipping in and out of a Scottish brogue, part of his act imitating Button Gwinnett, one of the first signers of the Declaration of Independence.
?I?ve been protesting the federal government for 32 years,? Temple says, attributing his frustration with the system to his tenure as a Secret Service agent (he pulls out his commission book as proof). He was not impressed with what he saw as the spendthrift habits of the federal bureaucracy. ?I?ve seen them change out their desks every year whether they needed to or not.?
His staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act hits close to home: Temple is upset that his 25-year-old daughter has gone back on his insurance since the law passed. But the ill will cuts both ways: His children are, Temple reports, ?embarrassed of me.?
No one on the Court steps today is ashamed of him, though. ?William, we?re going to start some chants!? one of Temple?s cohorts calls out, and moments later, as the sun knifes down on the growing throng, shouts of ?kill the bill? fill the air as he strides, stockinged knees and all, to the fore of the crowd.
Glenn Duval, face smeared with globs of sunscreen and sweat as he leans back on his racing bicycle after an early-morning ride, looks exactly like the kind of guy who you might picture lives in Santa Monica, California, but keeps a house in Georgetown. He?s tall, speaks in mild, even tones, and is outfitted in a cycling jersey, fingerless gloves, racing cleats, and Oakley sunglasses.
?I?m the endangered liberal Republican, ? he says, surveying the swirling masses of competing protesters. ?I don?t really exist anymore.?
As the Tea Party?s Gadsden flags wave, Duval concedes that on a certain level, the fringe group?s message resonated with him because of the ?responsibility element.? But he is skeptical of the influence of the religious right over the movement, along with what he called the ?histrionics? of the health-care debate.
He calls coalition-building the point of governance, remarking as the moderate Republican of Aaron Sorkin?s dreams might: ?I?m not excited about paying more taxes, but at this point in time, someone?s got to pay more taxes. ?
Alex Duner, a 17-year-old high-school student from Atlanta, probably didn?t expect to be yelled at when he set out on Thursday morning to ?experience history,? as he put it. It?s 9 a.m. now. The masses have multiplied and sharp elbows are needed to navigate the Northeastern block of First Street. Cable anchors are prepping their stand-ups, their crews maneuvering through a web of black cords that thread chaotically, like the malevolent roots of a thickening garden weed.
Spindly and well-spoken, Duner is in D.C. for a summer debate camp. He says that while holding up a sign calling (rather un-pithily) for a return to civil discourse, he was verbally accosted by a middle-aged woman in a tri-corner hat, red pom-poms, and a cow bell she was putting to good use.
?She said that it was easy to be a Democrat and she said that she didn?t want to pay for other peoples? health care,? Duner said. ?I just responded that I think there are very valid arguments about why the individual mandate shouldn?t be allowed and why it would overturn a lot of precedents. But I told her I don?t think it?s worth dressing up in your Paul Revere hat and your pom-poms and ringing your bell.?
Duner, before disappearing into the rapidly growing crowd with his cohort of fellow debaters, calls himself a moderate.
By the time 10 a.m. rolls around, the crowd is at fever pitch. Planned Parenthood and SEIU members are leading a circular march, blasting classic Motown and handing out water bottles. Several pastors have taken to a makeshift podium to talk about government-funded abortions. Office workers are passing by, staring at the out-of-towners; a Hill staffer, outfitted in Seersucker and a bow tie, takes a video on his phone as he strolls by; twenty-somethings in the ubiquitous D.C. pencil skirt uniform sip iced coffee and remark on the sluggishness of their Twitter feeds.
There is no official announcement from the marble steps when the ruling is finally handed down. The information comes in dribs and drabs?the mandate stands?and soon a Tea Party spokeswoman is lustily shouting into a megaphone, vowing to continue the fight. The crowd mills. There are brief chants of ?USA! USA!? They quickly fade into the heated air.
The sheer madness of this single city block has begun to quiet, and in a few hours, First Street Northeast will return to its sedate pace. One block over, at an intersection in full view of the Capital Building, a utility team climbs into a hole in the sidewalk; they need to fix the steam pipes that heat and cool the Court and its august occupants.
The crew doesn?t have time to talk. They?re on the clock. And besides, they say, it would sure be a damn shame if one of those protesters fell into that hole.
Cooler heads have prevailed. A showdown between the executive branch of government and the judicial branch of government looked to usher in a new era of intra-governmental rancor that our Founding Fathers sought to avoid. But the Supreme Court's decision to let much of the Obama Administration's health care law stay intact is a victory for anyone who wants to see policy makers in … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: What the Supreme Court’s "Obamacare" Ruling Means for Health Care Stocks
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Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Today is a good day for America. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
The Court?s decision means that no one can be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions; seniors will pay less for prescription drugs; students and young adults can stay on their parents? plans; and fewer Americans will be forced into financial ruin because of enormous medical bills.
Unfortunately, House Speaker John Boehner and other right-wing members of Congress are already saying they will keep trying to repeal Obamacare.
Now is the time to put partisan politics and political posturing behind us. The conservative U.S. Supreme Court has declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional. Not only is it constitutional?it?s critical to the lives of working people, who can now access the health care they deserve.
Governors in every state should begin the important process of implementing Obamacare. While the court ruling stipulates that Congress cannot withdraw existing Medicaid funding to states that do not comply, it would be wrong for any politician to hold people?s health care hostage because of a political grudge.
And it would be wrong for right-wing members of Congress to keep wasting our nation?s time and resources with futile efforts to repeal this law and take away affordable health care for millions.
Join us in calling on Congress to stand down.
Please tell your member of Congress that it?s time for all of America to unite behind a law that has always been about doing what?s right:
enlargeWednesday morning, during a live podcast with my fellow MOMocrats and New Hampshire Democratic candidate for Governor, Maggie Hassan, she mentioned that one of the tea party wingnuts in the state legislature had made some outlandish claims. Of all she outlined, this one caused my jaw to drop.
Yes, my friends, state Representative Bob Kingsbury said that after careful study, he had concluded that kindergarten attendance contributes to higher crime rates, among other things.
Not to be outdone, Representative Bob Kingsbury said he's been working on a theory since 1996, when he analyzed local crime rates and compared them to a list of communities that offered public kindergarten. Then, he told his colleagues, Laconia offered kindergarten and had the highest rates of crime. Meanwhile, surrounding towns, some of which didn't offer kindergarten, had less crime.
"We're taking children away from their mothers too soon," Kingsbury concluded.
Kingsbury wrote to all of his then state representatives, informing them of his research. To his dismay, the state Legislature has since joined the remaining 49 states in mandating public kindergarten. "And we have more crime today," he said.
In addition to kindergarten, Kingsbury also linked the rise of crime to the decline of gun ownership and to fact that boxing is no longer taught in school or offered as a sport.
Please, Rep. Kingsbury, don't let facts get in the way of your fantasies. Here's a fact: Children who attend kindergarten, especially a kindergarten class with small class size and experienced teachers, do better in life, are more likely to go to college, and more likely to earn decent wages.
While I fully expect kindergarten to be the next topic of tea party mythology as amplified by the attendant think tanks which are bought and paid for with billionaire dollars, there are facts right in front of us right now, this minute, that support the idea of sending children to kindergarten.
I also realize that Pennsylvania tea party maniacs think eliminating kindergarten is a very, very good way to balance the budget. They might change their mind when they discover it also hampers their children's forward progress in life, but of course by then it will be too late.
What will it take for people to actually understand what their agenda is? They are using this financial meltdown to create insurmountable barriers for anyone who is poor or middle class to actually get ahead. College costs are too high? Too much student debt on the books? Great! Let's make sure kids aren't prepared for college and that'll fix things right up!
I'm not even going to address the nonsense about guns and boxing. I'm amazed he didn't point to fluoridated water as the cause of society's decline. It will come as no surprise to anyone that Kingsbury is flying around on his wingnuts alongside the likes of Orly Taitz and the other whackadoos that bought a seat in state and local legislatures in 2010. Have a look at his actual views and how close they're becoming to being mainstreamed by the charity-billionaire-corporate triumvirate of think-tank ideas:
Kingsbury, 86, has a history of supporting ideas that differ from his fellow legislators. In January, he partnered with two allies of birther queen Orly Taitz to push a billpartially ending the direct election of U.S. senators. Kingsbury said that he believed that all U.S. Senate candidates should first be picked by the state legislature and then put up for popular vote.
Who else has said that? Rick Perry and the John Birch Society.
Kingsbury, a vocal United Nations opponent, has also sponsored a bill raising the minimum age to be a judge in New Hampshire from 18 to 60. He told The Huffington Post that he believes that judges should have more "life experience" before taking office.
Last month he called for Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) to be expelled from the House after making a Nazi salute on the floor in protest of House Speaker William O'Brien (R-Mont Vernon) during a debate over voter identification.
Abolish the UN? Voter ID? Whose bright ideas are these, pray tell? Well, it was an early cause of the John Birch Society, and is now a fairly mainstream conservative idea championed by neocons and dominionists alike.
During a February House committee meeting over supporting statehood for the District of Columbia, Kingsbury questioned the District's crime rate and crime-fighting policies and suggested that statehood could cause New Hampshire's crime rate to rise by 25-percent.
Kingsbury also sponsored a failed effort to tie future state legislation to the Magna Carta, a move that he told colleagues was to honor the English document's history.
Both of these wingnut ideas tie right back to Johnny Birch, xenophobia, and the staunch conservative beliefs that people who aren't white people are the only ones who commit crimes, women are chattel, and liberty is only for landowning white men.
New Hampshire is the target of the Free State Project, an offshoot of the patriot group movements with a libertarian nativist bent. Their plan is to get 20,000 people into New Hampshire for the express purpose of controlling the legislature in order to roll back all regulations, taxation, and other governmental "interference." From their website:
There's no better place for freedom-loving Americans than New Hampshire... In a vote that ended in September 2003, FSP participants chose New Hampshire because it has the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental U.S., the second-lowest level of dependence on federal spending in the U.S., a citizen legislature where state house representatives have not raised their $100 per year salary since 1889, the lowest crime levels in the U.S., a dynamic economy with plenty of jobs and investment, and a culture of individual responsibility indicated by, for example, an absence of seatbelt and helmet requirements for adults.
For expedience, Free Staters are affiliating themselves with the Republican Party in New Hampshire. Actually, they're doing their damnedest to take over the Republican Party in New Hampshire. Bob Kingsbury may be their poster child.
My sense of why the Affordable Care Act failed to inspire the majority of the public is this–
America is hungry for a sane, decent health care system.
The Democrats say to America, “Here’s a nice plate of Spam. It’s a nutritious mix of things kind of mushed together into something you can eat.”
America says, “Yuck.”
The Republicans say, “Here’s a nice plate of smashed light bulbs. They’re the incandescent kind, that Grandma used. Eat up, it builds character. What? You can’t eat broken glass? Then here’s a big plate of nothing– you free-market dropout!”
We’d all rather have steak. I’d rather have a single-payer health care system yesterday, but the Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward toward building a real, sane and adequate health care system that protects Americans from financial ruin if they have accident or illness, and rewards doctors for helping their patients stay healthy. Incidentally– making it harder to profiteer off other people’s misfortune.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to keep administrative costs down and put the premiums into health services.
I was out with Mr.Green at Hope St. Pizza tonight and heard a bunch of guys at the next table talking about the Supremes. One of them was a nurse. I called out to them and did the fist pump and we all cheered.
My Mom listens to crazy radio. I’m waiting to hear her take on this. The ACA has benefits for people on Medicare that will save her from some co-pays and medication expenses. But she’ll tell me it’s a bad thing. Because Death Panels.
My sister-in-law is wondering if there’s going to be part-time Death Panel positions open. She’s a teacher, uses the Glare of Death to cow her students and has some time to pick up a summer job.
I am hugely relieved that we are not back to square one. My family benefits from the provision of the ACA that lets young adults stay on their parent’s insurance. I have been at meetings at the Department of Health where a blueprint for insuring all Rhode Islanders is being drawn up, and the ACA is crucial. It’s way better to be sitting comfortably inside our beautiful Statehouse, than to be standing out on the lawn waving a sign. I’ve done enough of that the past three years. I wish Dave St.Germain were alive to see this day.
Mother Jones has a list of ten things you get now that Obamacare is upheld…
1) Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime coverage limits on your insurance. Never again will you face the risk of getting really sick and then, a few months in, having your insurer tell you, “Sorry, you’ve ‘run out’ of coverage.” Almost everyone I’ve met knows someone who had insurance but got really, really sick (or had a kid get really sick) and ran into a lifetime cap.
You’ll say, “Well, duh. Any reasonable society would take these things for granted.”
But we came within a whisker of never getting the ACA passed in Congress, and the Supremes passed it in a 5-4. This is a day in History.
[the writer means no disrespect to Spam, or any of Hormel's fine canned meat products.]