Health Care How Appealing Supreme Court



In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld the entire Affordable Health Care Act, with Chief Justice Roberts, not Kennedy, voting to save the AHCA.

SCOTUSBLOG is live blogging a deconstruction of the ruling. I’ve excerpted the best of it below.

SCOTUSBLOG: “The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.”

Lyle Denniston: The key comment on salvaging the Medicaid expansion is this (from Roberts): “Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.” (p. 55)

Lyle: In opening his statement in dissent, Justice Kennedy says: “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”

Amy Howe: In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

EDITOR’S NOTE: From here on out for purposes of discussion, the ACA is the acronym for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the health care bill, also known as Obamacare.



10:50 a.m. – Lyle: Essentially, a majority of the Court has accepted the Administration’s backup argument that, as Roberts put it, “the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition — not owning health insurance — that triggers a tax — the required payment to IRS.” Actually, this was the Administration’s second backup argument: first argument was Commerce Clause, second was Necessary and Proper Clause, and third was as a tax. The third argument won.

10:52: Lyle: The rejection of the Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause should be understood as a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws. Using the tax code — especially in the current political environment — to promote social welfare is going to be a very chancy proposition.

10:59: Amy Howe: By the way, the opinions collectively are a monster. The Chief’s opinion is 59 pages, Justice Ginsburg’s opinion is 61 pages, the four dissenters are 65 pages, followed by a short two-pager from Justice Thomas. You do the math.

11:00 – Amy Howe: Yes, a commenter notes that the Chief Justice’s opinion starts with a mini-civics lesson — definitely an awareness that this is one for the ages. Reminded me of his opinion in Snyder v. Phelps, the funeral protesters’ case last Term.

11:01 – Amy Howe: From the beginning of the Chief’s opinion: “We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.”

11:04 – Tom Goldstein: Here is the money quote on the fifth vote to hold that the mandate is not justified under the Commerce Clause (recognizing that doesn’t matter because there were five votes under the Tax Power): “The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated.” That will not affect a lot of statutes going forward.

11:12 Tom: Lyle is working on his initial post now. He will be adding to it but here’s the first paragraph: Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t. That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed. The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form.


Don’t call it a mandate — it’s a tax

Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t. That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed. The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form.

Since President Obama signed the new law, it has been understood by almost everyone that the expansion of health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans without it could work — economically — only if the health insurance companies were guaranteed a large pool of customers. The mandate to buy health insurance by 2014 was the method Congress chose to supply that pool. It is not immediately clear whether the Court’s approach will produce as large a pool of new customers. The ACA’s key provision now amounts to an invitation to buy insurance, rather than an order to do so, with a not-very-big tax penalty for going without.

The decision to keep at least some foundation under the expanded coverage will lead almost certainly to renewed efforts by Republicans in Congress to repeal all or most of the new law. And, of course, the Court’s decision is guaranteed to become a very prominent fixture of debate in this year’s continuing presidential and congressional elections.


John Cushman at the New York Times writes, “The decision was a striking victory for the president and Congressional Democrats…”

Josh Levs at CNN has an article entitled “What the health care ruling means to you”

Amy Davison at the New Yorker.

Matthew Yglesias at Slate discusses the Court’s Medicaid decision.

AS ADAM LIPTAK of the NY Times wrote back in March:

“Chief Justice Roberts is just 57, and he will probably lead the Supreme Court for an additional two decades or more. But clashes like the one over the health care law come around only a few times in a century, and he may well complete his service without encountering another case posing such fundamental questions about the structure of American government.”

NOTE: I wasn’t watching TV, but evidently both CNN and Fox got the news wrong and initially reported that the Supreme Court had “gutted” the president’s main provision. (It terms of the state of American mass media reporting, this incident comments on itself. No need for anything extra.)

Adam Winkler from UCLA has just posted this on SCOTUSblog.

“With this deft ruling, Roberts avoided what was certain to be a cascade of criticism of the high court. No Supreme Court has struck down a president’s signature piece of legislation in over 75 years. Had Obamacare been voided, it would have inevitably led to charges of aggressive judicial activism. Roberts peered over the abyss and decided he didn’t want to go there.”

MORE LATER (Back to non-Supreme Court related life, for a while.)

Pre-scribbled photo is Justice Robert’s official photograph.


  • lol…what a difference a week makes.

    Last week:

    POTUS says he is suspending federal agreements with AZ for ICE support because he doesn’t agree with the SCOTUS’ decision regarding the AZ law. Liberals lose their minds.

    This week:
    SCOTUS rules in the POTUS’ favor regarding healthcare and now they are smart and just again. Except where the AZ law is concerned.

    I harken back to 2008 in CA. President Obama overwhelmingly takes CA and the voters are called smart, progressive, yada yada yada.
    Oops. Prop 8.
    All of sudden the same voters that voted for Obama are a bunch of redneck homophobic and the will of the voters must be overturned.

    This shit is hilarious.

  • This decision is a gift for Republicans. Obama and the Dems have once again awakened “the people,” with this ruling. And as the people responded in 2010, they will do so in November, 2012, at the ballot box. Dems will face the backlash and pay the price.

  • We have been talking about this–health care for the citizenry–since 1947, so the point was reached where something was better than nothing, inasmuch as we were the only advanced
    country in the world that didn’t provide health care to its citizens. Glad to see something enacted & ratified ‘lo these many years of talking.

    President Obama said the Individual Mandate wasn’t a tax & the Supreme Court said it was. We can expect to see this dichotomy over the political airwaves many times ad nauseam through the November elections.

    Goody, Goody. Goody.

  • President Barack Obama regarding the AFA ruling by the SCOTUS:
    “The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do, what the country can’t afford to do is refight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were”.

    And last week his reaction to “the highest court in the land” ruling regarding AZ?

    You can’t make this up. You just can’t.

  • #4 says
    “President Obama said the Individual Mandate wasn’t a tax & the Supreme Court said it was.”

    So is President Obama not smart enough to know what a tax is or did he know it was a tax when he kept insisting time and again that it wasn’t a tax?

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: #7, I presume and hope you weren’t calling any of the commenters scurrilous names… If you were, I’ve been regularly deleting those kinds of comments.

  • I’m confused. All I’ve heard is how brilliant Barack Obama is. Now I’m left to consider the fact that he doesn’t even know what a tax is. I’m having trouble believing he isn’t smart enough to know what a tax is. Yet I know he wouldn’t lie to the American people, telling us it isn’t a tax when he knows it is. That is the only other explanation and I refuse to believe it because Barack Obama is different than all the other politicians.

  • It is a flawed opinion based upon the Constitution’s limited authority for Congress to tax. It took the 16th Amendment to authorize the income tax. This penalty does not meet the remaining provision for Congress to tax.

    Obamacare shocker: It’s a tax

    For the tax geeks among us, a majority of the Court in the health care case did make some law about the scope of a “direct tax,” which Congress is not allowed to impose without apportionment among the states:

    A tax on going without health insurance does not fall within any recognized category of direct tax. It is not a capitation. Capitations are taxes paid by every person, “without regard to property, profession, or any other circumstance.” … The whole point of the shared responsibility payment is that it is triggered by specific circumstances — earning a certain amount of income but not obtaining health insurance. The payment is also plainly not a tax on the ownership of land or personal property. The shared responsibility payment is thus not a direct tax that must be apportioned among the several States.

  • #’s 6 & 9: All the questions that you have posed will get a complete airing in the political ads that we’re all gonna watch in the upcoming months.

  • I seldom agree with the Left but,Justice Roberts is not competent to serve!! Please recall at the nomination hearings all the hostile profane arguments against Roberts and not really in step with the American folks. Yep, I agree totally!

  • Celeste, your picture caption is wrong — politics had controlling influence on the decision.

    What’s behind Roberts’s surprising decision?

    The text the chief justice published on Thursday may or may not make good sense read as constitutional doctrine. But read it as constitutional politics and things get more interesting. …

    I mean politics in the constitutional sense, concerning the Supreme Court’s role in the Constitution’s structure. The danger this case held for the court from the beginning was the possibility — indeed, high likelihood — that it would draw the institution into an acute confrontation with the executive branch in the middle of an election year, and at the same time force the justices into the thick of a policy debate where they have no genuine expertise. The chief justice’s opinion can be fruitfully read as a sort of maneuver, an effort to avoid these evils while simultaneously blocking the federal government’s attempted power grab.

  • Sep 20, 2009
    Obama: Mandate is Not a Tax
    ABC News Interview

    STEPHANOPOULOS: …Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

    OBAMA: Well, hold on a second, George. Here – here’s what’s happening. You and I are both paying $900, on average – our families – in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now what I’ve said is that if you can’t afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn’t be punished for that. That’s just piling on. If, on the other hand, we’re giving tax credits, we’ve set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we’ve driven down the costs, we’ve done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you’ve just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances. And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that’s…

    STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.

    OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy.

    OBAMA: No, but – but, George, you – you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: I – I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax – “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

    OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean,…

    Is there a better place to define something than the dictionary? Looks like Stephanopouls and the SCOTUS knows the definition of a tax but President Obama doesn’t.

    Jeez Louise. Even that moron Dubya knows what a tax is.

    Or, was Obama simply lying in order to get it through because he knew the American people wouldn’t accept it if it were called by it’s true and rightful name, a tax?

    My oh my. Those who have told all of us how smart Obama is have certainly been painted into a corner haven’t they? I’ve said it since day one and I’ll say it again. Barack Obama is just another sleazy politician that will, with a straight face, bamboozle, hoodwink and okie-doke the American people in order to get what he wants done.
    Same old same old. I hope those of you who still believe he’s “different than the rest” can apply some intellectual honesty here and admit that he either didn’t know what a tax is, which makes him less than brilliant, or he’s a liar. One or the other. Can’t have it a third way.

  • “Nobody is FORCED BY LAW to drive a car. But now, they will be forced to buy health insurance.”

    Yeah – because emergency rooms are forced by law that Ronald Reagan signed to take them when they’re seriously ill, whether they’re insured or not.

    This thread is a tribute to the idiocy, frivolity and moral incompetence of modern “conservatism” in the era of Obama-hate.

  • Reagan created a universal health care mandate on providers. Now Obama is trying to figure out how to make it economically viable and in line with some modicum of personal responsibility. Of course, single payer in the Medicare mode is the most cost-effective. But the Right wing is just tied up in rage and bullshit, so even their Heritage Foundation formula that privileges private insures is “socialism” when a black guy adopts it.

    What a bunch of small-minded, ignorant jerks.

  • Who cares if it’s a “tax” or a “mandate.” It’s constitutional. It’s law. The sane people won.

    Get on with your lives…

  • Those who oppose affordable health care are some of the same people who profess to be God loving. They were in favor of the Iraq war which lasted over 8 years. We accomplished the destruction of Iraq at a cost of the lives of thousands of heroic young men and women and billions our tax dollars, yet they oppose saving lives by affording everyone access to health care. Is that what your God wants? Not mine. As far as Roberts, he will be remembered as the justice who saved the UNION. He realized that this destructive activist behavior by the court would eventually fracture the UNION to a non repairable state. That reflects a vision of a world leader. He did that by simply upholding the law without regard to party.

  • Syl: you really need to answer the question to remain viable is this discussion. Obama is NOT stupid, he knows as a POLITICIAN when he needs to lie and when the truth will end his presidency. He lied about the TAX! Obama was a very poor student but he can pontificate with the best! The UNION is no way near of falling apart. If the loss of 660,000 men who died in the Civil War didn’t break it apart, this is a mild nuisance compared. I never met anyone who liked war but when my uncles (WWII) and my brothers (Viet-Nam) all fought in combat; why did we do it? I know History and what happens to minorities when Nazis take over. I know what happens when the Communists take over by starving and killing millions of minorities. So, I don’t sense that humans will ever get over having to fight each other. I pray that one day we do. Until that time, I will stand right along my brothers and sisters and fight with every once of blood. Recall history that when the monsters take over the first to go will be the minorities!

  • I’m not pissed. I’m amused. Very amused. It’s very amusing that none of the “Obama is absolutely brilliant” crowd wants to answer the question I posed. It’s a question that is valid and needs to be addressed by anybody who claims to be an intellectual. It’s ok though, by not answering the question you are saying all the casual observer needs to know.

    You won’t answer the question because there’s no way to answer it that doesn’t make the president look bad.
    Exactly. My whole point.
    Because a guy gives a great speech doesn’t make him a genious and it damn sure doesn’t make him honest. Everybody had to tell us how he was “different” than the rest. Well, after 3 1/2 years the evidence is in. He’s no different than the rest.
    And you pseudo intellectuals that claim to be the smartest people in the room (like Bruce S) cannot or will not find the intellectual honesty and the moral fortitude to admit that you were wrong about the guy. I put up with a lot of shit from “progressive” members of my own Democratic party just like you, simply because I didn’t buy in 100% to everything the new guy said or did. And I never bought in to how different he was because I never saw any proof.
    Now when the proof is out there, for all to see, you the smartest people in the room like you and Bruce S won’t acknowledge it.
    No sweat. You don’t have to. It’s staring everybody right in the face.
    And you “smart” people want it to go away, won’t acknowledge it, and make excuses like “Reagan did this or that”…..which has absolutely nothing to do with the question that was asked.
    LMAO because that IS hilarious.

  • Bruce says
    “Who cares if it’s a “tax” or a “mandate.”

    Only anybody who gives a damn whether or not we have a president that will look the American people right in the face and lie his ass off to them.

  • #18 isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer no matter how hard he tries to impress us with his drivel.
    The mandate is a tax. They are one and the same, not one or the other. lol. My suggestion to #18 is that he take his weak game and weak intellectual properties back to the coffee house where he can impress the 20 somethings that hang out there in their vacuum. He’s top notch there I’m sure. Among the truly intelligent people that frequent this blog he is in way over his head.

  • #7 got warned about calling people scurrilous names.
    Just wondering if insane, small minded, morally incompetent, small minded or ignorant jerk fall under the parameters of scurrilous names. They are all there in #’s 16-18.

  • What if……. Roberts knew exactly what he was doing with his vote and in doing so, handed the Republicans a gift. A gift that motivated people of all parties to rally behind one cause, elect Romney, send a Republican House/Senate majority to Washington in November and hand Obama his ass all in one election, all in one vote. What if……. Roberts knew exactly what he was doing and what his deciding vote would do to this country. What if…… Roberts knew what he was doing?

  • “the truly intelligent people that frequent this blog

    I’ve read quite a bit of discussion in the wake of the SCOTUS decision, and I have to say that most of what’s written above is the stupidest, irrelevant and inanely tendentious I’ve seen to date. There’s nothing scurrilous in dubbing this hysteria, blather and rank Obama-hate “insane”, “morally incompetent”, “small-minded” or “ignorant.” That this level of drivel seems to glut blog comments when the posts themselves are very good and serious is rather sad.

  • Guess Which Preseidential Candidate: “With regards to the individual mandate, the individual responsibility program for bringing the health care costs down for everyone and getting everyone the health insurance they need. It is a fee, it’s an assessment on those who are)abusing the free care pool.”

    Looking forward to all of the Obama-haters voting for the guy who so characterized health insurance “mandates,” “fees”, “assessments” or whatever the hell you want to call it. Fact is, it works in Massachusetts. It will work for the country. The guy who pioneered this approach is, of course, currently pandering to the hysterics and resentment-driven cranks who dominate the base of his party. He must really hate those folks – making him mouth garbage he plainly doesn’t believe 24/7. Has there ever been a bigger phony to run for President? Has there ever been a more ridiculous and deluded “electorate” than the current GOP mob?

  • Stuart Butler, The Heritage Foundation:

    “If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street, Americans will care for him whether or not he has insurance. If we find that he has spent his money on other things rather than insurance, we may be angry but we will not deny him services—even if that means more prudent citizens end up paying the tab.*

    “A mandate on individuals recognizes this implicit contract. Society does feel a moral obligation to insure that its citizens do not suffer from the unavailability of health care. But on the other hand, each household has the obligation, to the extent it is able, to avoid placing demands on society by protecting itself…

    “A mandate on households certainly would force those with adequate means to obtain insurance protection, which would end the problem of middle-class ‘free riders’ on society’s sense of obligation.”

    *See the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, passed in 1986 by a Democratic House and a Republican Senate and signed by Ronald Reagan.

    The above is the origin of the “mandate” concept pioneered both effectively and, I dare say, ironically by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts – but somehow Obama is bringing tyranny to the country, “lying” about something or other that truly makes no sense in context unless one is suffering from some form of OCD, and we have a commenter above who begins a barely coherent rant with the relatively modest plea: “Syl: you really need to answer the question to remain viable is this discussion” but by the end has amped the hystercs up to “I will stand right along my brothers and sisters and fight with every once of blood. Recall history that when the monsters take over the first to go will be the minorities!”

    This in connection with analyzing a health insurance strategy that originated as the GOP’s alternative to Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy’s approach. The mind simply boggles at how off-the-rails political discourse has become in recent years. What would have been a relatively pragmatic discussion about addressing serious issues from various perspectives 20 years ago has turned into hysterical rants and wild charges that do, in fact, seem tinged with insanity.

  • Celeste- no need to worry. I wasn’t referring to a poster as a crack head I was talking about Obama.

  • Bruce: Who cares if it’s a “tax” or a “mandate.” Get on with your lives…

    Like the Left did after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush over Gore?

    Analyses and discussions about how the decision was reached and how it is relevant to the Constitution and tax law, to appeals on other grounds, and to future legislation very much matters.

    But, just to send a “tingle up your leg,” it’s now clear that Justice Roberts changed his opinion after he had initially decided against the act. His application of the tax defense was such a stretch that one has to wonder what influenced him to make that change. Outside of political influence and cowardice, I sincerely wonder if he wasn’t blackmailed on some matter by people on Obama’s side. After all, that’s the Chicago way.

  • “I sincerely wonder if he wasn’t blackmailed on some matter by people on Obama’s side.”

    Of course you do. You can’t help yourself. This garbage is sad.

  • Bruce,
    I could care less about the AHA. We already have it (duh). Untold numbers of people a year across this country go into ER’s and walkout without ever paying a dime for the sevices they received. Now they will have to get some skin in the game. My posts have nothing to do with the advantages or drawbacks of the SCOTUS’ decision on the AHA.
    When somebody points out that perhaps this new guy isn’t all he was cracked up to be, in any category, you immediately dismiss them as insane, hateful, yada yada yada. You refuse to have an adult debate on some very important issues. You wish to quell any dissent by characterizing the voice of the dissenter as nothing more than hateful. You fall back to that whenever the obvious answer to the question reveals a very inconvenient truth. Your spitefulness and pettiness goes off the charts when somebody points out how maybe you were wrong about the new guy. You make excuses for him; i.e. “Reagan did this” and “who cares if it’s a tax” instead of being intellectually honest and admitting the truth. A truth that is blatantly obvious to anyone who doesn’t let their ego get in the way of their common sense, Of course the president is smart enough to know what a tax is. That means what? He was dishonest when he kept telling the American people it wasn’t a tax. You know it, and George Stephanopoulos knows it. It wouldn’t sell as a tax. So he sold it as something else when in fact he knew it was a tax.

    The vituperative bullshit you spew when anybody questions the ethics or tactics of one of those you’ve proclaimed untouchable is just flat out intellectually dishonest.
    You’re being small, petty and arrogant, simply because you admit that “your guy” is no different that “their guy”.

    You can’t explain all of the criticisms of the POTUS as “hate” without making it personal to those who bring forth the criticisms.
    The only one “hating” here is you pal. You hate those who have the temerity to question you about someone you’ve deemed untouchable.
    To prove my point, I challenge you to a debate on this forum with the following rules:
    No party can accuse the other party of being insane, hateful or any other less than flattering charachteristics. The parties must debate simply on the issues being discussed, and shall not call the morality, integrity or ethics of the other party into question.

    You WON’T do it. You CAN’T do it. For two reasons:
    #1. You enjoy being a snarky, sarcasstic egomaniac
    #2. You’ve never learned how to debate properly. You only know how to attack people, not issues.

  • BTW,
    Ask me a question and I’ll answer it before I pontificate ad nauseum about it. That’s a character trait of someone who is being intellectually honest and isn’t afraid to debate about the ISSUE……INSTEAD OF ATTACKING THE PERSON!!!!

  • Bruce says:
    The mind simply boggles at how off-the-rails political discourse has become in recent years.”

    Correct. Because as soon as people like you don’t like the question, you immediately launch into personal attacks against the person posing it. You imply they’re hateful or insane. Of course it’s going to go off the rails when you make those kind of personal attacks. You want to be able to make those accusations and expect that the other person sit back and accept it without retort, and without coming back at you in the same manner. Sorry pal, that’s not how life works. You pretend that you are the “tolerant” one. Except as soon as I posed the question of whether or not President Obama knew he was lying when he insisted it wasn’t a tax, you began your attack. It’s all there. Go up to comments 16-17-18 and check it out.
    You start the ball rolling, and then cry foul when you don’t like the direction it’s rolling. One cannot be any more intellectually dishonest than that.

  • Well, Bruce, don’t forget that Obama dug up dirt on his opposition in running for the Illinois legislature and when running for U.S. Senate, forcing the opponents to drop out so that he could be elected unopposed. Wouldn’t it be likely that Obama’s folks looked for dirt on Justice Roberts, and what’s sad is that they probably did. Again, it’s the Chicago way.

  • In the most contentious exchange of President Barack Obama’s marathon of five Sunday shows, he said it is “not true” that a requirement for individuals to get health insurance under a key reform plan now being debated amounts to a tax increase.

    But he could look it up — in the bill.

    Page 29, sentence one of the bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) says: “The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax.”

    And the rest of the bill is clear that the Finance Committee does, in fact, consider it a tax: “The excise tax would be assessed through the tax code and applied as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.”

    The House bill also refers to the penalties for not carrying insurance as a tax. It calls for a “tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage” and amends the tax code to implement it.

    The questions from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos highlighted a politically dangerous new aspect of the health reform debate for Obama – as critics from Republican leaders to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say his reform proposals amount to a middle-class tax increase. Obama promised during the campaign that Americans earning less than $250,000 a year would not see any tax increases from an Obama administration.

  • “My posts have nothing to do with the advantages or drawbacks of the SCOTUS’ decision on the AHA.”

    Truer words etc. etc.

    Leaves one wondering WTF they’re doing in response to Celeste’s commentary. Oh, yeah. “Persona attacks” – You got that “ball rolling” with your vituperative BS about Obama’s character. Frankly, the fact that he drives nuts like you crazy is generally the signal that he’s gotten something right.

    And, no – despite the arguments by SCOTUS – it’s not a tax. It’s a barely enforceable penalty. It can’t be levied against anyone except as a deduction from potential tax rebates. That you are mired in the picayune, while launching scurrilous attacks on President Obama that you expect sensible people to respect is just as sad as this guy Woody’s paranoid delusions. As I said before, most of what was written in these comments is kooky stuff from the margins of compulsive Obama-hate.

  • “the fact that he drives nuts like you crazy”

    lol…can’t debate without making personal attacks? No tolerance for diversity of opinion?

    “And, no – despite the arguments by SCOTUS – it’s not a tax.”

    Chief Justice Roberts, Senator Max Baucus (who was a partial author of the bill), George Stephanopoulos (very intelligent politcially) and Chief Justice Roberts (constitutional scholar) says it is a tax. I’m going to go ahead and roll with their opinion over yours.

    “That you are mired in the picayune,”

    Picayune? Not to ABC News it’s not. I’ll trust them over you about what’s worthy of political debate/discussion.

    “scurrilous attacks on President Obama”

    Sorry bout that chief. I didn’t realize that NOW, the POTUS is not subject to criticism. Even though he chose to run for the office, which automatically opens him up to criticism and public scrutiny. BTW, notice how I didn’t call him insane, small minded, a moron, ignorant jerk or any other of the bullshit you threw at me.
    Notice how I addressed each one of your points and gave a counterpoint WITHOUT calling you any scurrilous names or questioning your sanity. That’s how it’s done my friend.

    You ought to try it some time. IMHO it’s how courteous respectful adults debate. It’s called “breaking the argument” instead of making personal attacks.

    Personal attacks don’t mask your lack of a tangible argument relevant to the issue, nor does it make you appear more intelligent.

  • Bruce,
    Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps you could give us all your definition of insane. That might clear things up for purposes of further discussion/debate.

    Because if your defintion of insane is:
    anybody who disagrees with me; anybody who has different political opinions than me; anybody who points out things that make me uncomfortable; anybody who breaks my arguments

    I would certainly fit that definition.

  • Hateful?

    If your definiton of hateful is:

    anybody who points out anything unflattering about President Obama; anybody who criticizes President Obama and backs it up with salient facts; anybody who I want to use the hammer of political correctness on so they will cease their argument

    I would certainly fit that desription also.

  • I think the individual mandate was thrown in there to deter companies from bullying their employees into opting out of the health care they’d be required to provide. With such a mandate, there’s no way an employee will opt out and risk paying the fine, tax, whatever you want to call it. so employers won’t even bother asking. Also, can’t you claim financial hardship or even religious beliefs as a means of getting out of the penalty? I really think it was meant as a deterrence, and some Republican lawyers just pounced on it and tried to make it the boogy man in the debate.

  • Bruce,
    Ck out Celeste’s first rule for commenters at WLA

    Rule #1: Be civil to and respectful of other commenters. No ad hominem attacks. Discuss or argue issues, do not attack people

    Do you consider labeling another commenter as:
    a nut, insane, small minded ignorant jerk or morally incompetent as being civil and respectful?

  • Bruce, reg, or whatever your name is — The opinion was extremely flawed in its logic. I’m simply looking for a rational explanation of how it ended up as it did. You, of course, would like to move along as nothing unusual happened, but you’re in the minority there.

    Liberals don’t accept Roberts’ ruling that the penalty is a tax, the White House rejects the idea that it is a tax, and, even Roberts disagrees that it is a tax if you read his entire opinion, although that was the basis for his ruling.

    So, what was the motivation for flipping to that idea? Was it political pressure combined with cowardice of Roberts, in which case he is not qualified for his job? Was it other pressure behind the scenes, such as blackmail against Roberts or a relative of his, or was he bought off? With Democrats, who manage to raise the dead to life, as if they were Christ raising Lazarus, so that the dead can run to polls to vote for them, anything is possible, so why not consider all options?

    People are entitled to know.

    Roberts reminds me of flip-floppin’ John Kerry — he was against the tax twist before he was for it.

    The Flip That Will Flop?
    The decision was apparently more political than legal.

    David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, told NPR on Friday that Roberts “argued illogically and overly cleverly.” Brooks called his opinion “not very persuasive. But he had to get to a certain result, and he was going to find a way by hook or by crook.”

    Even Roberts admitted in his opinion that he wasn’t claiming that the individual mandate was best viewed as a tax. Remarkably, he stated that the “most straightforward reading of the mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance.” He was instead addressing only whether the reading of the provision as a tax is “fairly possible,” thereby giving Congress a planetary-sized benefit of the doubt.

    For Americans who wanted the individual mandate declared unconstitutional — a group that transcends ideology and comprises 68 percent of voters, according to the last New York Times/CBS poll — watching White House chief of staff Jack Lew still insist to ABC News on Sunday that Obamacare isn’t a tax but is instead a penalty was rubbing salt into the wound created by Roberts.

  • Only to underscore the idiocy of people flipping out over the issue of the Supreme Court ruling that the power to enforce this mandate with a penalty fell under the taxing power of the Congress – which of course it does (as well as under the Commerce Clause to most legal scholars, including many conservatives), Mitt Romney comes out today and says “It’s not a tax” – while the rest of the GOP is going to the wall ranting about Obama raising taxes. The entire “debate” is just childish and pathetic. It’s a “tax” – as in a penalty to enforce a mandate to enter the newly expanded insurance system against free riders, who are actually covered already by a mandate on providers to give them emergency room care for serious illness or injury. If this is too difficult to understand – and the issue is the occasion to issue scurrilous attacks on the President’s integrity because he defined this as a penalty, rather than a tax as understood in common speech, as opposed to constitutional legalese, you have a problem. And yes, that is nutty and indicative of an obsession about the President that has little to nothing to do with this health insurance ruling by SCOTUS. There’s nothing here that supports this kind of rant against the President’s honesty or integrity. Nothing.

    That this character Woody persists in smelling “blackmail” – possibly against one of Roberts relatives – is more evidence of how crazy some people yammering away about this happen to be. It’s embarrassing, and as I said before, it’s sad. But mostly crazy. That’s my rationale for using the word “insane.” Because this kind of argument isn’t rational – it’s paranoia and some kind of obsessive hate-mongering. If these kind of nutty “theories” can be spun out here, they need to be called out for what they are.

  • “Picayune? Not to ABC News it’s not”

    Ah yes. The great ABC News. Because the newsboys are never mired in the picayune and marginally relevant as they figure out how to keep talking through a 24/7 news cycle.

    The “salient fact” is that while the mandate isn’t a “tax”, the enforcement feature falls under taxing powers. Sort of like the fine you pay when your parking meter runs out and you get caught. It’s a “tax” – but only in the context of defining broad governmental powers. It’s not a tax as normally understood in common parlance. It’s a penalty or a fine. If this is some “big deal” to you, because a politician might in defense of this levy refer to it as “not a tax” but a penalty for failure to adhere to parking regulations set forward for the presumed public good, and attack their integrity ON THE BASIS OF THAT COMMENT, it’s an indication of some “pre-existing condition” – because that’s a leap of judgement against character that makes no sense in the context of normal discourse. There are plenty of things one might debate about Obama’s policies in various areas – I have numerous criticisms as I have had of every President in my adult life – but as an attack on his integrity, that “evidence” is pretty dubious and even “strange.”

    So I judge this stuff I’ve read here the spew of Obama-haters looking for an angle. Not serious.

  • “Notice how I addressed each one of your points and gave a counterpoint ”

    Actually, not. You responded with the same rant about how impaired Obama was at the level of character and integrity. But nothing “scurrilous.” Frankly, I’m sick of this crap, so chalk my rancor – which is authentic – up to dealing with one too many of your ilk. I try not to get involved in this kind of back and forth crap with folks I have absolutely zero respect for anymore, but happened to read a particularly egregious set of comments that are par for the course among the President’s obsessive and vituperative critics. You’ve ginned up a tempest in your own little teapot with attempting to turn the President’s comments about the mandate into a “Big Lie”, “Smoking Gun” etc etc. to validate your pre-existing contempt for the man. What you wrote exposed the contempt I have for people like you. It’s dishonest, ginned up garbage. If you want to go into the picayune details of this legal opinion, fine. But you brought a whole bag of other creepy stuff with it. Your pants are down here. Way down. Sorry for pointing that fact out

  • Incidentally, if there is something disgraceful in the wake of this SCOTUS decision, it’s Justice Kennedy’s operation leaking suggestions about the nature of the deliberations in an apparent attempt to undercut Justice Roberts. I don’t know the details of who did this, but it’s apparent something that attempts to put a shadow on the integrity of the deliberations via back-door leaks is going on. Also, the assertion by the four on the minority of this decision that striking down the mandate would invalidate the entire law was no doubt the bridge too far in terms of judicial activism from Robert’s perspective. I don’t particularly find this decision satisfying or even very well framed – because no one ever claimed a mandate was unconstitutional and beyond the obvious purview of the commerce clause until “the black guy” passed it – but interpreting and adjudicating the law isn’t always a pretty sight nor is it some perfect construct. I will say, however, if there is any whiff of “integrity impairment” in the wake of this decision, it sure as hell isn’t about President Obama. It’s the right-wing’s unseemly hysterics – including, apparently, the Court’s very own right-wing faction using leaks to impugn the Chief Justice.

  • Folks: On another topic–the LASD Deputy who arrested Mel Gibson in 2006 has been fired.The stated reason is that he failed to follow “Departmental pursuit policy” when he chased a drunk driver who crashed into some gas pumps at a gas station & started a fire.

    The story appeared in LAT’s on-line version for a few hours some days ago, then disappeared from sight. However, this LAT story can be Googled, along with stories from other news sources, search words “LASD Deputy who arrested Mel Gibson fired.”

    Peruse & comment.

    What say you?

  • Nice job Bruce. Very nice. No personal attacks directed my way.

    Then there’s this:
    “That this character Woody persists in smelling “blackmail” –possibly against one of Roberts relatives – is more evidence of how crazy some people yammering away about this happen to be”

    Which of course, you follow up with this:

    “it’s apparent something that attempts to put a shadow on the integrity of the deliberations via back-door leaks is going on.”

    LMAO. You sound like Woody, but from the other side of the aisle.

    “I’m sick of this crap, so chalk my rancor – which is authentic-up to dealing with one too many of your ilk”

    My my. That’s a real no shitter that your rancor is authentic. Who’s the angry hateful one here? People of “my ilk”? LMAO…..tell us…what “ilk” is that?

    “If this is too difficult to understand ”

    Got to get those thinly veiled insults in there?..that’s ok, you’re iomproving greatly and have toned it waaay down.

    “I try not to get involved in this kind of back and forth crap”

    Really? That is perhaps the funniest thing you’ve said yet!

    “with folks I have absolutely zero respect for anymore”

    Very truthful and accurate statement right there. Your lack of respect, civility and courteousness to those you disagree with is apparent for all to see.

    “until “the black guy” passed it”

    aaaahhh…right. The not so thinly veiled accusation of racism. That’s all you’ve got? Have you gotten so used to playing the race card that you can’t help yourself?

    “It’s the right-wing’s unseemly hysterics”

    Would it be a scientific fact that if there’s a right-wing…there has to be a left wing? Wouldn’t it be true that if one was to view the opinions/beliefs of those on the extreme right as hysterics, that those opinions/beliefs of those on the extreme left should be viewed as hysterics also? Of course it would. And, sadly for you, that’s why Independents/Moderates determine the outcome of Presidential elections.

    “including, apparently, the Court’s very own right-wing faction using leaks to impugn the Chief Justice.”

    There you go again….ROFLMAO…Exhibits A and B of the extremists on opposite sides.

    Let me say that it has more than pleasurable debagting you.
    If I may be so bold as to offer you a piece of advice. If you’re REALLY trying to not get involved in this back and forth crap….nevermind. We both know that’s not the case.

    You have the floor sir

  • “ ‘it’s apparent something that attempts to put a shadow on the integrity of the deliberations via back-door leaks is going on.’

    “LMAO. You sound like Woody, but from the other side of the aisle.”

    Yeah, I pulled this…

    …out of my ass.

    And suggest that these are calculated leaks can be read as an attempt from inside a cloistered, secret deliberative body to undermine Roberts. Woody reads the same reports and imagines that perhaps Obama has some Chicago thugs threatening Robert’s relatives. You don’t have to agree with my read on this, but to compare it to Woody’s insane ruminations is an indication that you’re being either deliberately dishonest or you’re almost as crazy as he is.

    I can only call them as I see them. All assertions don’t merit equal respect IMHO.

    You have the floor – I won’t be back. It’s been sort of humorous, but mostly a waste of time. My bad.

  • “Yeah, I pulled this….…out of my ass.”

    I understand. Completely. Much like I pulled the ABC News interview with G.S. out of my ass. You said I was “mired in the picayune”. Only when I used a news article to back up my position you completely dismissed it. Member? Come on. You member. No? I’ll help you out. Here’s what you said:

    “Ah yes. The great ABC News. Because the newsboys are never mired in the picayune and marginally relevant as they figure out how to keep talking through a 24/7 news cycle.”

    ROFLMAO….oooooops!!!!!!! When the news backs up your position, they’re valid. When they back up my position, they’re “mired in the picayune”. Ok. Got it. Jesus H. Christ. At least have some sort of consistency with your arguments, otherwise they will be seen by even those whom favor your position as hypocrisy.


    Cognistator, thanks very much for your efforts to break up the bar fight with a new topic that might generate actual discussion, instead of mud and beer throwing, but I’m afraid it’s a losing battle.

    As for Woody, ATQ in his various guises and Bruce, this b.s. is exactly why I shut down all comments on the site a few years ago and banned people.

    And honestly I don’t give a damn who started it, you all participate enthusiastically in the rotten fruit throwing, and then point at the other guy as your excuse.

    In other contexts, you each have valuable things to say—and Bruce runs a wonderful blog—-but you get in the same room and aliens seem to take over your keyboards.

    In this instance, I finally gave up and let it go on because the thread is now aging AND I DON’T HAVE THE FREAKING TIME TO DO COMMENT TRIAGE EVERY 10 MINUTES.

    So here’s the deal: I’m going to go out for a while, and if when I come back this thread hasn’t improved, I’m shutting off the comments.

    Have a nice night.

  • I read the LAT story about the deputy getting fired. Is it standard procedure to fire deputies that violate the policy he did, in the way that he did? I think that’s the relevant question here. If his lawyer(s) can show where other deputies have committed the same type of policy violation but haven’t been fired….well then….we know where it’s all coming from.
    Somehow I sense the county writing a big check to this guy again…this time for much more than 50k.

  • I came up with the blackmail angle on my own. It’s consistent with Obama investigating people on his enemies list and trying to destroy them and their families if they don’t cooperate. Apparently, I’m not the only one with that idea.

    Was Justice Roberts blackmailed by Obama?

    – – –

    And yes, that is nutty and indicative of an obsession about the President that has little to nothing to do with this health insurance ruling by SCOTUS. There’s nothing here that supports this kind of rant against the President’s honesty or integrity. Nothing.

    Oh, yeah? >>>>> Obama Threatens The Supreme Court… Again

    – – –

    That’s my rationale for using the word “insane.” Because this kind of argument isn’t rational – it’s paranoia and some kind of obsessive hate-mongering.

    Hey, did you know that Bush bombed the World Trade Center?!

    – – –

    Chicago politics is run by organized crime, and Obama benefited from it, but we’re supposed to accept that Obama wasn’t part of the corruption and doesn’t still continue to use it?

    The Political Corruption Behind Barack Obama and Chicago

    You’ll never understand Barack Obama unless you understand the uniquely corrupt city he’s from: Chicago. …Chicago is home to America’s most powerful organized crime family: the Chicago Outfit. The Outfit decades ago teamed up with the Chicago Democratic machine, it’s been a marriage which has been lucrative to both organizations.

    2011 most corrupt politicians, Judicial Watch list, Obama Holder et al, Obama’s corrupt Chicago dealings continued to haunt him in 2011

    “President Barack Obama: President Obama makes Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted” list for a fifth consecutive year. (The former Illinois Senator was also a “Dishonorable Mention” in 2006.)

    Obama at Center of Chicago Corruption Scandal

    This column simply places President Obama at the center of a known, accused and convicted political crime ring. The fact that President Obama appears to be the center hub in a wagon wheel of corruption and criminal activity is a result of the company the President keeps, if not his questionable actions and activities.

    – – –

    The tax experts know something about taxes and that this one doesn’t meet the Constitutional authority of the Congress.

    The Affordable Care Act and the Taxing Power

  • Celeste – I admire your fairness and composure, but let’s face it. Obama and the Dems have enacted RomneyCare on a national level, a plan that was hatched by the Heritage Foundation and endorsed by Bob Dole, and characters like certain of the above are going ballistic with completely scurrilous charges that have nothing to do with the actual weaknesses of the bill itself – and a segment of the Supreme Court have shamed themselves with a partisan attempt to totally sabotage it that doesn’t hold legal water, even among most jurists on the conservative side of the spectrum.

    This is a sad testimony to what has happened to this country. And, frankly, we can track it to certain paranoid, extremist types we’re all too familiar with – ginned up by FOX News and such. Remember a certain person’s “humorous” cartoon links on another blog we frequented – stuff that was blatantly racist? There’s a cancer in our politics and it is manifested, among other ways you document here, in this compulsive and utterly irrational Obama-hate. These people – steeped in paranoia and hysterical attacks on the President because he used the exact same locution touted by the Romney campaign to describe a modest non-compliance penalty on free-riders in a health care system that’s, dating back to legislation signed by Ronald Reagan, already mandating providers for their emergency care and that’s barely enforceable – are symptomatic. Attempting to inject reason into these discussions is futile. I called them as I see them. It’s the damned truth. Every characterization.

  • Woody – if you truly want to prove to me that you’re insane, keep linking to that idiotic “Gateway Pundit” blog as your “evidence.”

    You’re a sad little man.

  • I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

    Woody has a dream where his sources will not be judged by their titles or covers but by their content. Debate the information and analyses rather than the fact that you don’t agree with the source…which, maybe you would if you had any legitimate opposing position.

    You have ignored Celeste’s request to stop the personal attacks against other commenters, which is a tactic of the left as taught by Saul Alinsky, who at least wasn’t my mentor.

    – – –

    Celeste, I’m surprised that I was included with the scoundrels in your admonishment. My comments have concentrated on the topic. But, let me say that you’re doing an excellent job with this site and that your blouse in the “Happy Single Mother’s Day” pictures was lovely; also, here’s a cute bear story to brighten your day: Baby bear cubs at the playground.

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