American Elephants


ObamaCare On Life-Support, But Brain-Dead. by The Elephant's Child

Donald Verrilli

It was almost two years ago, when President Obama’s solicitor general Donald Verrilli told the Supreme Court that without the individual mandate, ObamaCare would fail. In his oral arguments before the court Mr. Verrilli made it clear that without the individual mandate ObamaCare would “make matters worse, not better”

He told the justices the “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” regulations at the heart of ObamaCare would not work if you allowed the  young and healthy to choose not to buy insurance. It turns out that if people can wait until after they get sick to buy insurance, and get it at a subsidized rate, most will do exactly that, resulting in an insurance premium death spiral. When Kentucky tried these reforms, “virtually every insurer left the market.” In New Jersey, insurance rates doubled, causing its market to collapse.

ObamaCare was supposed to avoid this because of the mandate and the tax penalty on those who did not buy insurance. After the cancellation fiasco last year, Obama added a one-year expansion to the mandate’s “hardship exemption” for anyone who’d  had policies canceled. Then last week, Obama quietly extended this loophole for two more years as the Wall Street Journal discovered. So people can claim an exemption if they’ve had their previous plan cancelled and “consider the other plans available unaffordable.” They just need a copy of the cancellation notice.

The rules are incredibly loose for exemptions. Someone claiming to have “experienced domestic violence” is automatically exempt without any need for documentation. Or just fail to pay a utility bill until a shut-off notice comes, and send that in. Instant hardship exemption.

Democrats also neutered the IRS’s ability to collect the penalty — avoiding political blowback, but giving the uninsured little incentive to pay. Sounds like it has already collapsed entirely, it’s just that nobody wants to admit that the corpse is truly dead.



Supreme Court Takes a Dim View of Obama’s Immigration Law Claim by The Elephant's Child

Arizona has had a major problem with illegal immigration, and the Obama administration’s reluctance to enforce immigration laws. So Arizona decided to enforce federal immigration laws themselves. They just wanted the Immigration laws on the books to be enforced.

The Arizona law requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally and check with federal officials to verify. They would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.

The Obama administration sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s own role in setting immigration policy.The government argued that it’s fine when it’s on a limited basis, but having a state mandate for all of its law enforcement is essentially a method of trying to force the federal government to change its priorities. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said the federal government has limited resources and should have the right to determine the extent of calls it gets about possible illegal immigrants. These decisions have to be made at the national level. (I love the argument about limited resources).

The justices took a dim view of the administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws.  They told the government lawyers that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John Roberts said at one point.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a critic of the Arizona law, said that if the court does uphold the state’s law, he will introduce legislation to overturn that decision and grant the federal government sole control on immigration matters. That legislation would also overturn a 2011 Supreme Court case that upheld a separate Arizona law that requires all businesses in the state to check employees’ legal status using E-Verify, the federal government’s electronic verification system.

Illegal immigration looks a little different in Washington D.C. where Hispanic votes are especially important to those who divide the electorate into voting groups; and in Arizona where illegal immigration is rife and the drug war just across the border is killing citizens.

The decision will come down in June.



The ObamaCare Arguments: Day Two. by The Elephant's Child

The long article about Attorney Paul Clement, now arguing the case against ObamaCare before the Supreme Court opens gracefully:

A little before noon on March 23, 2010, President Obama sat at a desk in the East Room of the White House, where—surrounded by Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Ted Kennedy’s widow, among others—he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. It was, as Biden memorably told Obama, “a big fucking deal.” Seven minutes later, at the U.S. Courthouse in Pensacola, Florida, thirteen state attorneys general—all but one of them Republicans—filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Obama­care. It was, as one legal expert told the Pensacola News Journal in the next day’s paper, “a political lawsuit [likely to] be dismissed.” In fact, most papers on March 24 barely reported on the suit’s filing; the New York Times devoted just one sentence to it.

Two years later, that lawsuit—which now includes 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and two small-business owners as plaintiffs—sits before the Supreme Court.

Most of us are familiar with the Justices, but the attorneys who argue the case are unknown except to Washington insiders and Court watchers. The administration’s case is being argued by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who has been called one of the best lawyers in the country.

The case for the plaintiffs — 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business, and two small-business owners — is argued by Attorney Paul Clement, who was Solicitor General in the Bush administration. He is widely regarded as one of the finest lawyers of the last century.

The second day of argument was rough going for the government. General Verrilli had a difficult time defending the mandate. The Justices failed to elicit from Mr. Verrilli some limiting principle under the Commerce Clause that would distinguish a health plan mandate from any other purchase mandate that would easily be unconstitutional.

United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al.
v. The State of Florida, et al.

Attorney Paul Clement arguing for the State of Florida et al.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli arguing for HHS et al.

Wednesday is the final day of arguments. The arguments will be about severability— can the mandate be overturned and the law survive — in the morning, and in the afternoon the expansion of Medicaid onto the states.  Then we wait.  The decision will come down supposedly some time in June. And that will be a very big deal indeed.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,718 other followers

%d bloggers like this: