Posted by: mutantpoodle | June 28, 2012

Well, THIS Matters

The PPACA is constitutional, by the skin of it’s TAX TAX TAX-ing teeth.

I’ve been silent on this, because who knows what the clan of the black robes will do, ever, but since I was prepared for the worst (and, save Roberts, the whole magilla would have been thrown out), this was a pleasant surprise, with some dark foreboding to keep people from feeling too good.

Scott Lemieux at LGM has more on the dissenters here.

…the four dissenters to today’s health care ruling issued an unusual jointly signed opinions of quite remarkable radicalism. It would have radically re-shaped the constitutional order by not merely ruling the individual mandate as beyond the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, but taken the even more radical step of limiting the federal government’s spending powers by preventing it from expanding Medicaid. Taken together, this would constitute a radical transformation of the American constitutional order. And because of these defects, the dissenters would have ruled the PPACA “invalid in its entirety.” Here is their justification for finding that the allegedly invalid sections could not be severed from the rest of the bill:

Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act—i.e., the insurance regulations and taxes, the reductions in federal reimbursements to hospitals and other Medicare spend- ing reductions, the exchanges and their federal subsidies,and the employer responsibility assessment—cannot remain once the Individual Mandate and Medicaid Expansion areinvalid. That result follows from the undoubted inability of the other major provisions to operate as Congress intended without the Individual Mandate and Medicaid Expansion. Absent the invalid portions, the other major provisions could impose enormous risks of unexpected bur- dens on patients, the health-care community, and the federal budget. That consequence would be in absoluteconflict with the ACA’s design of “shared responsibility,” and would pose a threat to the Nation that Congress did not intend.

This is, taken in isolation, true. But it also renders the logic of the dissent a complete shambles. The argument is that the mandate and the Medicaid expansion are not valid regulations of interstate commerce, but that they are also so essential to a broader regulatory scheme that the entire act must fall.

Oh, and what does it tell you that both CNN and Fox got it wrong at first, but the only people I could find anonymously quoted as being pissed off about it were people who work at CNN? (It did inspire the awesome photoshop above, so…winning!)

Clearly, today’s GOP talking points are 1) It’s a TAX! and 2) Just ‘cuz it’s constitutional, doesn’t mean it’s good. Unless you’re Rand Paul, in which case it’s “what does the Supreme Court have to do with constitutional interpretation, anyway? Really. He said that.

Perhaps I’m naive, but I think this helps Obama.  He’ll have to defend it, and since so many people haven’t the foggiest clue about what’s in the law, and it is not possible to make persuadable voters MORE ignorant about it, maybe people will realize that the law they hate is made up of all the little parts of it they say the like.

Also, too, I’m not sure that even the invertebrate Mitt Romney is flexible enough to contort himself into a position that lambasts PPACA while defending his virtually identical version in Massachusetts.

Anyway, a good day.


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