- yeah… Mitch McConnell says that, should the GOP win back the Senate majority in 2012, his first order of business as Majority Leader will be to pass a bill repealing health care reform.
- but… This idea only works if Republicans capture not only the Senate, but the White House, too. Oh, and…
If I’m the godfather of this thing, then it gives me the right to kill it.
Mitt Romney, answering a question on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show today. He was answering whether he was the “godfather of Obamacare.”
Mitt’s answer, of course, is weird. However, it is very telling.
This may be the first time that Mitt Romney has admitted that he is to blame for the Affordable Care Act, and he may be actually owning up to its creation.
If so, I am shocked…
Today was the most important day in the history of the individual mandate. And it might be the day the individual mandate died, based on the conservative justices’ creative and painstaking assault on the law. “This was a train wreck for the Obama administration,” Jeffrey Toobin told CNN. “This law looks like it’s going to be struck down.”
Let’s go to the tape.
Here is the transcript of the Supreme Court arguments this morning. It is a remarkable, entertaining, triumphant (for some), and aggravating (for others) document. The four conservative justices — Thomas doesn’t say a word — launch a cannonade of metaphors and arguments by analogy that Attorney General Verrilli often fails to deflect or combat. Over the course of the hour, health insurance was compared to cell phones, broccoli, exercise, and cars. We collected 12 of the most withering questions, in chronological order, with some context in italics:
1) Justice Kennedy: A fundamental question: Can you create economic activity to regulate it?
“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?”
2) Chief Justice Roberts: Everybody needs access to emergency assistance. If you can make people buy health insurance, can you make people buy cell phones for safety?
“So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?”
3) Justice Alito: Everybody dies. If you can make people buy health insurance, can you make people buy burial insurance?
“Suppose that you and I walked around downtown Washington at lunch hour and we found a couple of healthy young people and we stopped them and we said, ‘You know what you’re doing? You are financing your burial services right now because eventually you’re going to die, and somebody is going to have to pay for it, and if you don’t have burial insurance and you haven’t saved money for it, you’re going to shift the cost to somebody else.’ Isn’t that a very artificial way of talking about what somebody is doing? I don’t see the difference. You can get burial insurance. You can get health insurance. Most people are going to need health care. Almost everybody. Everybody is going to be buried or cremated at some point. What’s the difference?”
Read the rest. [Image: Reuters]
Source: The Atlantic
“So he’s forced to give a nonsensical answer to the core policy and moral question that’s left behind if we do away with Obamacare: What should the federal government do about those who can’t get insurance covarge, thanks to preexisting conditions?” Sargent wrote.
“Until Romney details otherwise, his answer, for all practical purposes, is: Nothing.”
As if we didn’t know already, Mitt Romney doesn’t give a shit about people.
Mainly people who are not rich and are not millionaires and billionaires are the ones he doesn’t care about.
“I am confident that the supreme court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” Obama said.
The president chided Republicans for making “judicial activism” an election issue, by objecting to rulings ranging from the supreme court’s finding of a right to abortion to the recent striking down by federal judges of a referendum barring gay marriage in California, while pressing the judiciary to overturn the will of Congress.
“I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,” Obama said. “Well, this is a good example, and I’m pretty confident that this court will recognise that and not take that step.”
While the court is certainly not looking the best today, what with this decision and all, is it really Obama’s spot to say this? Then again, Obama does have a history of criticizing the court when it comes to unpopular cases.
A new report by an independent government auditor concludes that implementing President Obama’s health care law as intended will make a significant dent in the long-term debt forecast.
The report comes as Supreme Court justices weigh striking some of “Obamacare’s” central provisions — and perhaps the law in its entirety — and as the Republican Party remains committed to repealing the law if it seizes control of government in November.
“[I]f the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is implemented as intended it would have a major effect on the [fiscal] gap but would not eliminate it,” the Government Accountability Office wrote in a Monday report — a conclusion in line with its own past research and similar research conducted by other government and non-government analysts.
GAO doesn’t isolate PPACA’s stand-alone contribution to long-term budget consolidation. But it does conclude that if key cost-control measures in the law, and other automatic cuts to Medicare spending baked into current law, are ignored, or overridden by Congress, the implications for the national debt are vast.
If “Obamacare” is implemented as intended, and other measures, such as automatic payment cuts to Medicare physicians, take effect, “spending on Medicare and Medicaid grows from 5 percent of GDP in 2010 to over 7 percent by 2030.”
By contrast, if Congress overrides those provisions, “[s]pending on health care grows much more rapidly under this more pessimistic set of assumptions,” according to the report. “Absent changes to these programs, spending on Medicare and Medicaid under the Alternative simulation grows to over 8 percent of GDP by 2030.”
Congress has consistently passed temporary legislation to prevent Medicare doctors from experiencing a pay cut baked into current law. But the current patch expires on Jan. 1 — along with the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax holiday — just as other automatic cuts to Medicare are set to take effect as a penalty for the Super Committee’s failure to pass deficit-cutting legislation.
The confluence of these fiscal triggers suggests lawmakers will be forced to act quickly after the election to put the country’s budget on a more sustainable path. But if Republicans win big in November and move ahead with their plan to repeal the health care law, they’ll only make matters worse.
This is beyond bizarre. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court is hearing a challenge to Obamacare, but when a Justice Department lawyer began arguments this morning she was stopped short:
Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith immediately interrupted, asking if DOJ agreed that the judiciary could strike down an unconstitutional law. The DOJ lawyer, Dana Lydia Kaersvang, answered yes — and mentioned Marbury v. Madison, the landmark case that firmly established the principle of judicial review more than 200 years ago, according to the lawyer in the courtroom.
Smith then became “very stern,” the source said, telling the lawyers arguing the case it was not clear to “many of us” whether the president believes such a right exists….Smith, a Reagan appointee, went on to say that comments from the president and others in the Executive Branch indicate they believe judges don’t have the power to review laws and strike those that are unconstitutional, specifically referencing Mr. Obama’s comments yesterday about judges being an “unelected group of people.”
Despite the fact that Kaersvang immediately acknowledged that courts can indeed strike down laws, the panel ordered her to “submit a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday addressing whether the Executive Branch believes courts have such power.”
Seriously? These judges are acting like a middle school teacher handing out punishment to a student because of something her father said at a city council meeting the night before.
Yet another prominent conservative legal scholar has stepped forward to urge the Supreme Court to uphold health care reform as firmly within the court’s precedents.
In a column published on The New Republic's website, Henry Paul Monaghan, a professor of constitutional law at Columbia Law School, applauded the Supreme Court's conservative justices for their aggressive questioning of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli during oral arguments three weeks ago, but went on to “submit that sustaining the mandate would not give rise to the justices' fears of boundless federal authority.”
Moreover, the market for health care is distinctive (if not entirely unique) in several key respects. Virtually all of us will need and obtain health care at some point, but we often cannot predict when or in what ways we will need it. And for the vast majority of us, direct payment for the health care services we obtain would be prohibitively expensive. Yet not obtaining needed medical care can be the difference between life and death.
These features help explain why, unlike many other markets, insurance is the overwhelmingly dominant means of payment in the health care market. They also explain why Congress has required that individuals be given emergency care without regard to their ability to pay. As a result, and again unlike other markets, uninsured individuals who are unable to pay directly for needed medical services necessarily shift the cost of those services to others — to health care providers, the government, individuals with insurance, and taxpayers.
In that way, Congress is not creating a market which it then seeks to regulate. The insurance-based structure of the health care market is already firmly in place. That is why it was well within Congress’s discretion to design legislation to operate within, and to address problems posed by, this vast market.
Monaghan’s arguments echo not only those made by the federal government in its briefs and at oral argument, but also those of the handful of other Reagan-era graybeards of the conservative legal movement who have backed Obamacare’s constitutionality in the two years leading up to the Supreme Court’s review. And as The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn points out, Monaghan's conservative credibility is rock solid:
In 1985, Monaghan wrote a widely read and cited essay called “Our Perfect Constitution” that was critical of activist judges who used the document to justify expansions of individual rights. In 1986, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of Robert Bork, the arch conservative that former President Reagan tried (and failed) to place on the Court. In the fall of 2010, Monaghan defended the Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign law.
What makes Monaghan’s piece unique, however, is that it comes after the oral arguments in which the conservative justices upended conventional wisdom in their apparently enthusiastic embrace of the position put forward by the mandate’s challengers, despite the calls for restraint coming from right-of-center jurists who made their names decrying judicial activism.
Between the lines, Monaghan’s focus on the unique nature of the health care market reads like a direct appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has never fully embraced judicial restraint as a core principle. Indeed, Kennedy appeared to lean heavily toward striking down the mandate at the oral argument before wavering at the very end.
"I think it is true," Kennedy said, "that if most questions in life are matters of degree, in the insurance and health care world, both markets — stipulate two markets — the young person who is uninsured is uniquely proximately very close to affecting the rates of insurance and the costs of providing medical care in a way that is not true in other industries."
GOP Criticizes President Obama's Advertising of Obamacare Benefits, Forgetting that Bush Had a Larger Campaign!!!
Republicans are criticizing the Department of Health and Human Services for signing a $20 million contract with a public relations firm to educate Americans about the preventive health benefits included in the Affordable Care Act. The campaign — mandated by the law — “must describe the importance of prevention while also explaining preventive benefits provided by the healthcare law,” essentially informing the public about the availability of preventive services without additional co-pays.
The GOP touted the benefits of preventive medicine before Obama signed health reform into law and claimed that it could help lower the nation’s skyrocketing health care costs. But they’re now denouncing this campaign as an “unconstitutional” “propaganda” effort:
– SARAH PALIN: “This is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard coming out of the Obama administration. Not only is this, of course, pending in court, and I think it will be deemed unconstitutional, but this is a propaganda piece, which I think violates many of the procurement laws and other laws applicable to government contracts. This is propaganda. It’s just promoting ‘ObamaCare.’” [Fox News, 5/22/2012]
– JOHN MCCAIN: “Outrageous waste of taxpayer $ to promote #Obamacare – ‘HHS signs $20M PR contract to promote healthcare law’ [Twitter, 5/22/2012]
– ROY BLUNT: “It’s unacceptable that Pres Obama intends to waste $20M on the taxpayer’s dime to sell U.S. on unpopular #ObamaCare” [Twitter, 5/22/2012]
– RON JOHNSON: “$20M for marketing #ObamaCare? This is a wasteful & inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.” [Twitter, 5/22/2012]
President George W. Bush also used federal funds to promote the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which established the existing prescription drug benefit. In that case, however, an investigation by the Government Accountability Office and HHS’s own inspector General concluded that the federally funded campaign was “misleading” and “may also have illegally used public money to make what in effect were fake news reports about the law that did amount to propaganda.”
In February of 2004, the administration distributed brochures and launched a $12 million radio, television, and Internet ad campaign to promote the Medicare reforms. “We’re going to provide seniors with straight answers,” said then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. “We’re going to let them know what benefits are coming and when.” Critics charged that the ads were misleading and some stations even stopped showing the spots.
In 2009, the GOP also defended Humana’s alleged use of federal dollars and data to send deceptive brochures warning Medicare customers that health reform will cut “important benefits and services.” Republicans rallied behind the insurer and accused Democrats of “trying to keep seniors in the dark about the consequences of congressional Democrats’ costly government-run health care bills.” But now they’re trying to undermine a campaign that will shine a light on prevention. Perhaps they’re worried that the more Americans learn about the law, the more they’ll like it.
The Congressional Research Service tells ThinkProgress that in FY2006, the Administration (through CMS) requested $154.3 million for the National Medicare & You Education Program (NMEP) for MMA education and outreach activities.
Ron Gould, a conservative Republican running for Congress from Arizona, is out with a new ad touting his opposition to government expansion and the Affordable Care Act. The spot opens with pictures of guns and scenes of Gould smiling and standing defiantly. He then picks up his gun, launches the text of the health care law up in the air, and shoots a hole through it.
Even though much of the Affordable Care Act does not go into effect into 2014, conservatives insist the bill is making things worse for Americans. But a new study shows that one implemented provision of the ACA is already providing millions of young Americans with health insurance.
According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, 6.6 million young adults have signed up for coverage through their parents’ health insurance plans. Under the ACA provision, young people can now stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. About half of the 19-to-25 year-olds interviewed for the study reported opting in to their parents’ plans between November 2010 and November 2011.
Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote college presidents and student organizations urging them to remind students they can stay on their parents’ plans after graduation. “Now, graduating students are free to make career choices based on what they want to do, not where they can get health insurance,” they wrote.
Some of President Obama’s staunchest critics are also beginning to realize the benefit of increased young people in insurance pools. Republican Senators Scott Brown and Roy Blunt broke ranks to speak approvingly of the provision. Even Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West signaled his support of the measure in an interview with ThinkProgress.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll also showed that about 71 percent of Americans view the provision favorably.
Late last year, the government estimated there would be 2.5 million new young adults covered under the provision. The new estimate is higher, in part, because it also includes young people who were previously covered but were able to obtain better, cheaper coverage under the Obamacare provision.
Republicans have been facing a sobering reality in recent weeks: What if the Supreme Court grants their wish later this month and guts ‘Obamacare’? They’d be blamed for throwing millions of people to the wolves and owning a wildly dysfunctional health care system — in an election year, no less.
Medicare reports that 14.3 million seniors in America have already received important preventive benefits under President Obama’s health care law. In the first few months of 2012, seniors were able to take advantage of a number of preventative health services, including an annual checkup, without paying any deductibles or co-pays. “Thanks to the health care law, millions of Americans are getting cancer screenings, mammograms, and other preventive services for free,” said acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “These preventive services are helping people in Medicare stay healthy and lower their health care costs.”
The Supreme Court could rule to uphold, strike down, or kill part of President Obama’s landmark 2010 health care overhaul as soon as Monday morning. That will only be the beginning.