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Obamacare upheld
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northway



Joined: 05 Jul 2010

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:21 am    Post subject: Obamacare upheld Reply with quote

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/06/live-supreme-court-rules-obamacare/54007/
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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Kyungbuk

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know all the details but....

1. I was surprised Robert's sided with it.
2. Health insurance in the USA is a mess. Way too many people are uninsured. This is awful. And too many that have insurance get lousy coverage anyway.
3. At least this issue is put more in the voters hands come election day.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent ruling. Spot on jurisprudence from Chief Justice Roberts, with supporting roles from eight partisan hacks.

Text of the Opinion

The Individual Mandate, qua mandate, is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause because it creates rather than regulates Commerce.

Meanwhile, the Individual Mandate, qua tax, is constitutional under the Tax for the General Welfare Clause because it taxes to provide an incentive to purchase health insurance, without being so coercive as to become a penalty in thin disguise.

Why the [Mandate] is a Tax [and not a Penalty]

Quote:
Roberts argued that the penalty resembled a tax in a few ways. First, it raises money (about $4 billion a year according to the IRS) just like a tax. Second, it's paid to Treasury when households file their tax returns. Third, the fee is calculated based on taxable income and number of dependents, like taxes.

Those are three small ways the penalty is like a tax. Here is one big way: Congress has the power to tax our behavior. Do you pay a mortgage? There's a mortgage interest deduction for you. Do you have kids? There's a child tax credit.

Those are tax credits for activities. It's harder to think of an example of a tax on inactivity.* There are laws, for example, against not feeding your child, which is an example of inactivity, but that's a crime, whereas not buying insurance under ACA is not. So the credits above reward behavior by reducing our tax bill, whereas the Affordable Care Act would discourage inactivity (the failure to buy health insurance) by increasing our tax bill.


The Kennedy dissent actually argued that Congress should have raised taxes and issued credits, as if that were anything beyond a formal and political distinction.

Quote:
With the present statute, by contrast, there are many ways other than this unprecedented Individual Mandate by which the regulatory scheme's goals of reducing insurance premiums and ensuring the profitability of insurers could be achieved. For instance, those who did not purchase insurance could be subjected to a surcharge when they do enter the health insurance system. Or they could be denied a full income tax credit given to those who do purchase the insurance.


A rather meaningless distinction should not destroy such a major piece of legislation.

Once again, excellent ruling. It makes me a little less cynical about the American system.
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros wrote:
Once again, excellent ruling. It makes me a little less cynical about the American system.


It shouldn't. These ultra-politicized 5-4 decisions are getting old, and although the right outcome was probably reached in this case, it was just barely reached, with a dissenting opinion -- which could easily have ended up the majority opinion -- that would have been a total farce. “We would find the Act invalid in its entirety. We respectfully dissent," is outright ridiculousness, and I say that as someone who to be honest was never very happy with the law in question in the first place.

This case made me a little less cynical about Justice Roberts as an individual, but if anything, it made me more cynical about the American system.
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And although I understand the individual mandate is what's on everyone's minds here, I think the court's ruling on Medicare expansion is more than a little dubious.

"As for the Medicaid expansion, that portion of the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution by threatening existing Medicaid funding, Congress has no authority to order the States to regulate according to its instructions. Congress may offer the States grants and require the States to comply with accompanying conditions, but the States must have a genuine choice whether to accept the offer. The States are given no such choice in this case: They must either accept a basic change in the nature of Medicaid, or risk losing all Medicaid funding. The remedy for that constitutional violation is to preclude the Federal Government from imposing such a sanction."

What on Earth is a "genuine choice" such that giving up Medicaid funding isn't such a choice? Certainly, it would be a foolish and expensive choice -- and probably politically suicidal to the nutcase politicians that did it -- but it's obviously hypothetically possible. Is there some clause in the Constitution that actually backs up what the justices are saying here, saying that the federal government cannot threaten to remove federally-granted funds in response to State choices under certain circumstances
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a lot of complex Constitutional Law at play here, and I don't expect anyone to understand the press's account, considering that legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin couldn't even report the results right.

I just ask that nobody use the term 'Activist' because the word has been misused way too much. It also doesn't really apply here.

Fox, the Medicare expansion would be valid if it weren't conditional. But the ACA employed it coercively, such that the Federal gov't could reduce Medicare/Medicaid BELOW CURRENT DISTRIBUTIONS if the States failed to comply with Federal schemes that the Federal power has no independent power to force upon the States .

Check out the precedent on this, South Dakota v. Dole.

Quote:
The United States Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984. It withheld 5% of federal highway funding from states that did not maintain a minimum legal drinking age of 21. In provided for the percentage withheld to rise to 10% in 1988. South Dakota, which allowed 19-year-olds to purchase beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol, challenged the law, naming Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole as the defendant.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court decided 7–2 that the statute represented a valid use of Congressional authority applying. It noted that the penalty Congress imposed on the state's action need to meet four conditions:
The condition must be unambiguous;
The condition must promote "the general welfare";
The condition should relate "to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs"; and
The condition must conform to the Tenth Amendment reservation of powers to the states.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Rehnquist noted that the first three restrictions were uncontested. This leaves the fourth restriction. South Dakota claimed that the right to regulate the legal drinking age was a power reserved to the individual states under the Tenth and Twenty-First Amendments. The Court considered whether the federal government's attempt to influence the state's determination of the drinking age constituted "coercion", which earlier Supreme Court decisions held an unconstitutional use of federal power, or an acceptable level of "pressure" on the state. The Court held that the amount of funding withheld was insufficient to represent coercion.


Federal Highway Funding could be linked to the legal drinking age. Studies have shown that raising the legal drinking age to 21 reduces overall highway fatalities. Thus, the Federal gov't can reduce highway funding because its directly related to the problems created by States keeping the legal drinking age at 18 (but it could not, say, restrict funding for women's health, which is unrelated to the legal drinking age).

But the Medicare/Medicaid funding is also closely related to the health exchanges and other health regulations the Federal gov't wants to set up. It is an (1) unambiguous condition, (2) promoting the general welfare, and (3) related to the relevant Federal interest. Yet, Obamacare applied too much pressure on the States, such that it overwhelmed the 10th Amendment.

Now, moving to Roberts' opinion, here's some introduction and framing of the issue. You can wade through it or skip over it as you like.

Quote:
[O]ur cases have recognized limits on Congress's power under the Spending Clause to secure state compliance with federal objectives. "We have repeatedly characterized . . . Spending Clause legislation as ‘much in the nature of a contract.'" Barnes v. Gorman, 536 U. S. 181, 186 (2002) (quoting Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U. S. 1, 17 (1981)). The [*47] legitimacy of Congress's exercise of the spending power "thus rests on whether the State voluntarily and knowingly accepts the terms of the ‘contract.'" Pennhurst, supra, at 17. Respecting this limitation is critical to ensuring that Spending Clause legislation does not undermine the status of the States as independent sovereigns in our federal system. That system "rests on what might at first seem a counterintuitive insight, that ‘freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one.'" Bond, 564 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at Cool (quoting Alden v. Maine, 527 U. S. 706, 758 (1999)). For this reason, "the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress' instructions." New York, supra, at 162. Otherwise the two-government system established by the Framers would give way to a system that vests power in one central government, and individual liberty would suffer.

That insight has led this Court to strike down federal legislation that commandeers a State's legislative or administrative apparatus for federal purposes. See, e.g., Printz, 521 U. S., at 933 (striking down federal legislation compelling state law enforcement officers to perform federally mandated background checks on handgun purchasers); New York, supra, at 174-175 (invalidating provisions of an Act that would compel a State to either take title to nuclear waste or enact particular state waste regulations).


Roberts outlines the States' objections.

Quote:
The States, however, argue that the Medicaid expansion is far from the typical case. They object that Congress has "crossed the line distinguishing encouragement from coercion," New York, supra, at 175, in the way it has structured the funding: Instead of simply refusing to grant the new funds to States that will not accept the new conditions, Congress has also threatened to withhold those States' existing Medicaid funds. The States claim that [*50] this threat serves no purpose other than to force unwilling States to sign up for the dramatic expansion in health care coverage effected by the Act.

Given the nature of the threat and the programs at issue here, we must agree. We have upheld Congress's authority to condition the receipt of funds on the States' complying with restrictions on the use of those funds, because that is the means by which Congress ensures that the funds are spent according to its view of the "general Welfare." Conditions that do not here govern the use of the funds, however, cannot be justified on that basis. When, for example, such conditions take the form of threats to terminate other significant independent grants, the conditions are properly viewed as a means of pressuring the States to accept policy changes.

In South Dakota v. Dole, we considered a challenge to a federal law that threatened to withhold five percent of a State's federal highway funds if the State did not raise its drinking age to 21. The Court found that the condition was "directly related to one of the main purposes for which highway funds are expended—safe interstate travel." 483 U. S., at 208. At the same time, the condition was not a restriction on how the highway funds—set aside for specific highway improvement and maintenance efforts—were to be used.


The money at stake and the penalty provided in this act were much greater than in South Dakota v. Dole. In that case, the gov't only withheld 5% of highway funds, or less than 1% of South Dakota's budget. But Obamacare threatened to withhold ALL Medicare funding constituting at least 10% and as much as 20% of a State's budget.

Quote:
We accordingly asked whether "the financial inducement offered by Congress" was "so coercive as to pass the point at which ‘pressure turns into compulsion.'" Id., at 211 (quoting Steward Machine, supra, at 590). By "financial inducement" the Court meant the threat of losing five percent of highway funds; no new money was offered to the States to raise their drinking ages. We found that the inducement was not impermissibly coercive, because Congress was offering only "relatively mild encouragement to the States." Dole, 483 U. S., at 211. We observed that "all South Dakota would lose if she adheres to her chosen [*51] course as to a suitable minimum drinking age is 5%" of her highway funds. Ibid. In fact, the federal funds at stake constituted less than half of one percent of South Dakota's budget at the time. See Nat. Assn. of State Budget Officers, The State Expenditure Report 59 (1987); South Dakota v. Dole, 791 F. 2d 628, 630 (CA8 1986). In consequence, "we conclude[d] that [the] encouragement to state action [was] a valid use of the spending power." Dole, 483 U. S., at 212. Whether to accept the drinking age change "remain[ed] the prerogative of the States not merely in theory but in fact." Id., at 211-212.

In this case, the financial "inducement" Congress has chosen is much more than "relatively mild encouragement"—it is a gun to the head. Section 1396c of the Medicaid Act provides that if a State's Medicaid plan does not comply with the Act's requirements, the Secretary of Health and Human Services may declare that "further payments will not be made to the State." 42 U. S. C. § 1396c. A State that opts out of the Affordable Care Act's expansion in health care coverage thus stands to lose not merely "a relatively small percentage" of its existing Medi-caid funding, but all of it. Dole, supra, at 211. Medicaid spending accounts for over 20 percent of the average State's total budget, with federal funds covering 50 to 83 percent of those costs. See Nat. Assn. of State Budget Officers, Fiscal Year 2010 State Expenditure Report, p. 11, Table 5 (2011); 42 U. S. C. § 1396d(b). The Federal Government estimates that it will pay out approximately $3.3 trillion between 2010 and 2019 in order to cover the costs of pre-expansion Medicaid. Brief for United States 10, n. 6. In addition, the States have developed intricate statutory and administrative regimes over the course of many decades to implement their objectives under existing Medicaid. It is easy to see how the Dole Court could conclude that the threatened loss of less than half of one percent of South Dakota's budget left that State with a [*52] "prerogative" to reject Congress's desired policy, "not merely in theory but in fact." 483 U. S., at 211-212. The threatened loss of over 10 percent of a State's overall budget, in contrast, is economic dragooning that leaves the States with no real option but to acquiesce in the Medicaid expansion.


The Court struck it down 7-2. That's right, even Breyer and Kagan joined a 10th Amendment challenge to strike down the Medicare/Medicaid provisions in Obamacare.
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Sector7G



Joined: 24 May 2008

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zackback wrote:
I don't know all the details but....

1. I was surprised Robert's sided with it.
2. Health insurance in the USA is a mess. Way too many people are uninsured. This is awful. And too many that have insurance get lousy coverage anyway.
3. At least this issue is put more in the voters hands come election day.


My sentiments exactly-especially number 3.

But to paraphrase what one blogger wrote, "Republicans felt that the court was the best way to over turn the Affordable Care Act .....and they were right."

It will now be hard to over turn it regardless of the election outcome.
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Nowhere Man



Joined: 08 Feb 2004

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:04 pm    Post subject: ... Reply with quote

So, insurance companies are evil and irresponsible, but hurray for having a new law requiring us to have an insurance company...

I can't wait for the GOP, sponsored by insurance companies, to set things right.

America is about as brilliant as a bag full of hammers.
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comm



Joined: 22 Jun 2010

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:22 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

Nowhere Man wrote:
So, insurance companies are evil and irresponsible, but hurray for having a new law requiring us to have an insurance company...
I can't wait for the GOP, sponsored by insurance companies, to set things right.
America is about as brilliant as a bag full of hammers.

It really has become a sporting event for most people. There's the RNC team and the DNC team, and most people who watch the game have an undying loyalty to one or the other. There are corporate sponsors, and regular competitions... but the result is the same no matter who wins.

Hmm...
It would be interesting to force politicians to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors. A big fat Goldman Sachs logo on Obama's suit, right under his American flag pin. Maybe JP Morgan Chase for Romney's suit. If they're going to pay so much, they might as well get some advertising in too, right?
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visitorq



Joined: 11 Jan 2008

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:28 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

Nowhere Man wrote:
So, insurance companies are evil and irresponsible, but hurray for having a new law requiring us to have an insurance company...

Yep... 'Obamacare' was written by the insurance companies to get the government to force people to buy insurance. It's the biggest scam ever. All the willfully stupid/ignorant liberals I see parading around (like Michael Moore the other day on TV) thinking they're now going to get "free" healthcare just make me want to puke. It seems there's no end to the sheer, unmitigated idiocy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/obama-hires-fmr-wellpoint_b_646874.html
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0719/investing-wellpoint-marvell-technology-makers-breakers.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKjLfhdfmQY
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Sector7G



Joined: 24 May 2008

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:30 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

comm wrote:
[
It really has become a sporting event for most people. There's the RNC team and the DNC team, and most people who watch the game have an undying loyalty to one or the other. There are corporate sponsors, and regular competitions... but the result is the same no matter who wins.

Hmm...
It would be interesting to force politicians to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors. A big fat Goldman Sachs logo on Obama's suit, right under his American flag pin. Maybe JP Morgan Chase for Romney's suit. If they're going to pay so much, they might as well get some advertising in too, right?


Yeah, I have to admit that I am pretty cynical myself. But it was kind of fascinating how it went down, what with Chief Justice Roberts, not exactly a paragon of socialism, being the deciding factor. And I am getting a major kick out of how the right wing is attacking him.
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Kimbop



Joined: 31 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:20 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

Welcome FORCE via brutality. Abandon your personal liberty.

Say hi to Obamacare.
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Sector7G



Joined: 24 May 2008

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:26 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

Kimbop wrote:
Welcome FORCE via brutality. Abandon your personal liberty.

Say hi to Obamacare.


???
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No_hite_pls



Joined: 05 Mar 2007
Location: Don't hate me because I'm right

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:32 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

Kimbop wrote:
Welcome FORCE via brutality. Abandon your personal liberty.

Say hi to Obamacare.


Ha Ha, Seriously? $75 fine is forced brutality. ha ha ha!

Kimbop you rock!

You do more to help the dems than any other poster I know. Keep up your good work!
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Sector7G



Joined: 24 May 2008

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject: Re: ... Reply with quote

visitorq wrote:
All the willfully stupid/ignorant liberals I see parading around (like Michael Moore the other day on TV) thinking they're now going to get "free" healthcare just make me want to puke. It seems there's no end to the sheer, unmitigated idiocy.



I doubt seriously anyone(especially Michael Moore) thinks they are going to get "free" healthcare, except for maybe the very poor, who are already getting it by going to the emergency room -which is passed onto everyone else anyway by way of higher medical costs.

To say otherwise is being willfully ignorant or stupid.
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