Dahlia Lithwick on the continuing right-wing legal challenges to the ACA(Affordable Care Act), It’s Good for You – A federal appeals court hears arguments about Obama’s health care law—and broccoli. The Right continues to badly beat the near dead horse that declining to participant in purchasing health care insurance is not an activity. In most cases most of us would probably agree that not doing something is indeed the choice not to participate. Health care is among the exceptions as one lawyer defending the ACA points out,
Turning to the “necessary and proper” clause and congressional authority, Davis adds that in terms of whether the law was “necessary,” “this is clearly a slam-dunk for the government.” Davis wraps up with a hypothetical in which “four twentysomethings in Virginia” are involved in a massive car crash as they road trip up to Ocean City and must be evacuated via helicopter, costing hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars. Gazing down at Staver, he asks, “Is it your submission that Congress has no power to address in the aggregate what we know happens every day?”
No one plans for accidents or diseases to happen, but we know they do. Since we’re not all cyborgs yet, we will all be personally affected by accidents, disease or simply the process of aging.
Acting Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal, defending the ACA on behalf of the Obama administration, quickly tries to poke a hole in the argument that the law mandates “inactivity.” “It is almost a universal feature of our existence that we do use health care,” Katyal says. The activity here, he argues, “is participation in the health care market.” He notes that providing health care to the uninsured costs $43 billion per year, adding $1,000 to every family’s annual health care premiums. Wynn tosses him another broccoli hypo, asking whether the government has the power to mandate the serving of broccoli to the unwilling. Katyal replies that “it depends how the broccoli is served up.” Laughter. Katyal then dismisses the argument that a government that can force you to purchase health insurance can also force you to buy from General Motors: “You can’t show up at a General Motors lot and drive away and stick the bill to your neighbor,” he says. The panel appears more than persuaded. Davis talks of the need for “practical” solutions to problems of this scope.
Needing health care eventually is not some esoteric abstract in regards how humans go about the business of lying. Only a conservative lawyer would use some esoteric apples to oranges car purchase comparison to try to make his point. You can indeed op out of driving. If you do so, me and other car owners will not have to pay for the consequences of that. He should know better than to bring up cars. I’ve never lived in a state that does not mandate auto liability insurance at the minimum. The far Right’s animus towards the health care insurance requirement is ironically, if you take Republicans at their word that they are pro personal responsibility, reeking of hedonism. Emergency rooms have to treat patients with or without insurance. We all have to pay for that. They are accounted for on the actuarial tables that determine everyone’s premiums. Put aside for the moment that hospital collections will haunt non-payers for the rest of their lives. They still have to have some reimbursement while the uninsured agrees to pay ten dollars a months for the next fifteen tears. Yet another hypocritical aspect to the Right’s obtuse arguments against the mandate (which I’m not fond of, but do not think is unconstitutional) is the efforts across multiple states to force pregnant women to undergo certain unnecessary testing before they can end their pregnancies, Texas Passes Ultrasound Requirement
One thing we definitely know is the claims that the ultrasounds directly prevent abortion have no evidence for them. Preliminary research shows that ultrasounds have no effect on women’s decisions to have abortions. This makes sense if you accept the premise, as I do, that women have functioning brains and ask for abortions precisely because they don’t want to have developing embryos inside them. Conservative legislators have fantasies of women seeing fully formed babies on monitors, bursting into tears, and running out of the clinics. In reality, sometimes seeing an ultrasound makes it emotionally harder, but doesn’t change a woman’s mind. And sometimes it actually makes the decision easier, because most women abort early in their pregnancies, and the images they’re looking at mainly show how tiny and unformed the embryo or fetus really is.
Still, this is no reason to be complacent about ultrasound laws. The premise of these laws, that women are uniquely stupid and need to be talked down to, enshrines inequality between men and women into law.
The powers that be cannot compel you to get health care insurance but they can make you jump hoops in order to exercise personal health care decisions? As former Judge and Catherine Crier wrote in Contempt: How the Right Is Wronging American Justice (2005), the Right regularly stakes out an ideological position and then scrambles to find some constitutional support rather than starting out with the constitution and forming positions based on the Constitution, legal precedent and history.
Economics professor Robert E. Prasch on Supply-Side (voodoo0) Economics in Fact and Fancy
Let’s look up the figures. The key to this theory is in steps 1 & 2, describing a causal relationship between lower tax rates and increased private investment. Our starting point, or baseline, will be the average of what is called “net private domestic investment” over President Jimmy Carter’s four years (1977-1980), which we will compare to the average across the four years of President Ronald Reagan’s second term (1985-1988). The reason to select the former years is that they are widely recalled as having been dismal. Indeed, we have been repeatedly told that they were so bad that voters granted Reagan a mandate to pursue supply-side economic policies. Likewise, the latter years are selected as the effects of the enormous tax cuts enacted during Reagan’s first term should have had their strongest effect during his second term. Selecting data from Reagan’s second term allows us to set aside the economy’s abysmal performance during his first term with its devastating recession — the worst that occurred between the Great Depression and the Crash of 2008. In addition, by Reagan’s second term the wealthy should have had ample opportunity to adjust to their lower tax rates.
When we look up the figures on the official National Income and Product Accounts, we find that “net private domestic investment” did not increase. On the contrary, it declined from an average of 7.0% of total Gross Domestic Product during Carter’s four years to an average of 5.7% during Reagan’s second term. More shockingly, if we factor out inflation, we find that the real dollar amount of investment fell slightly despite the fact that the American economy of the late 1980s was over 17% larger than the late 1970s. To put it mildly, this is a powerful refutation of the supply-side story.
But, proponents might respond, surely overall savings rose as a consequence of the lower tax rates? Let us check. Comparing the averages over these same two four-year periods, consumption as a share of total National Income increased from 64.8% to 67.2%. Because the median American income for a full time year-round employee declined between 1980 and 1988 (from $34,483 to $34,253 in constant 1994 dollars according to the Bureau of the Census), this increase in the nation’s consumption was most likely undertaken by persons in the upper echelons of the income distribution.
In light of facts presented in the previous two paragraphs, we are ready to sum up. President Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economic policies left us with more consumption on the part of the wealthy, a lower savings rate, less net private sector investment, and a lower median income for a full-time year-round worker. These who lived through those years will not be surprised by these numbers, as conspicuous consumption on the part of the wealthy was a dominant and widely-noted theme of that era.
In late 2009 Republicans held unemployment insurances benefits hostage to extend the entire package of Bush-Republican supply-side tax cuts. Conservatives in denial from the Bush years and his historic deficits or conservatives that liked to pretend they had nothing to do with Bush’s economic policies (tea nuts) all insisted the supply-side tax cuts were nonnegotiable. Bush’s policies were not and are not Bush’s policies. The decision to worry more about putting yet more money into the pockets of the wealthy, rather than cut the deficit or invest in jobs and education, was a supply-side decision. Republicans, just before the 2010 mid-terms voted to continue the same policies that are largely responsible for our budget problems – a lack of revenue. After the 2010 elections the so-called tea baggers came to Congress. What do they want? More supply-side tax cuts. Now these cuts are so huge that not even Reagan would have approved. So the Right has learned nothing about the burden of voodoo zombie economics on the middle-class or the poor. On the contrary. Every few years they just insist that they have not kissed moneyed elite ass. They need to apply some more lipstick and kiss harder. Because there are still some reasonable people in charge of the Senate the Right has not been able to fully implement Voodoo 3.0, but they have at the sate level. Republican governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida have all slashed education and basic services, gone after union bargaining rights, while cutting taxes for corporations. Spending by the wealthy probably is up, they’re the only ones that have any money. While we all wait for all those wonderful jobs that supply-side economics is supposed to create. The Right will keep calling President Obama and Democrats socialists no matter what the facts say. We’re not living in the moderate Democrat economy, much less the liberal economy. We’re living in the continuation of the supply-side economy. Apparently because as far as conservatives are concerned voodoo can never fail enough times to be proven wrong.