John Roberts gives me an infarction: Supreme Court upholds “Obamacare”

June 28, 2012 • 10:21 am

About an hour ago the U.S. Supreme Court, completely against my expectations, voted to uphold most of the provisions of President Obama’s health care mandate—surely the most significant legislation enacted on his watch.  What stunned me was that Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority (the decision was 5-4), with the dissenters being, predictably, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and swing voter Anthony Kennedy.  Roberts, author of the majority opinion, ruled that the health care provisions were legal since they fell under Congress’s powers to levy taxes.

I have always thought that Roberts (like Scalia and Thomas) was a complete ideologue, but he did the right thing today.  And, with time, perhaps the U.S. will no longer be the only “advanced” country harboring a large number of citizens without some form of medical insurance.

This is a big win for Obama, but more so for the American people.

h/t: JJE for photos

155 thoughts on “John Roberts gives me an infarction: Supreme Court upholds “Obamacare”

  1. The individual mandate is upheld as a tax measure, not as regulated by the commerce clause (which is only the reason, I’m sure, that Roberts “crossed the aisle,” if you’ll forgive politicization of SCOTUS.)

    Surprise (to me) split:

    Majority: Roberts, CJ (!), Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, Ginsburg JJ

    Minority: Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Alito JJ

    I was expecting 5:4 with John Roberts joining the dissenters to make it the opinion of the court: is he thinking about his legacy already?

    The only part struck down was the ability of the government to withhold NEW Medicare funds from states that do not comply with the new regulations.

    From Amy Howe on SCOTUS Blog:

    “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.”

    I’m a bit surprised that Roberts wasn’t able to bring Kennedy along with him, but it seems to me the Kennedy has moved to the fiercely independent stance that William Douglas adopted (although I fervently wish his positions were more similar to Douglas’).

    1. Since Roberts was willing to swing, my suspicion is that cut Kennedy the space to do the Bishops’ bidding on this one; as you may have noticed, they have been hysterically – etomological pun intended – vocal about certain HCR provisions. Also, rendering 6-3 may have given a progressive policy more credibility than the Right could stand. I don’t really know anything about the law or SCOTUS machinations, these are two among many explanations for the bizarre behavior of the one they call “moderate.”

    2. And now we have to BUY health insurance.

      What if we can’t afford it?

      Anybody think of that? Are you going to pay my premiums?

      1. Yes, actually, I am going to pay your premiums, in part, via the taxes I pay. People who can’t afford the insurance get subsidies so that they can.

        Did you learn nothing about the legislation before deciding to hate it?

        1. So why not just raise tax rates, use the money to buy everyone health care, and be done with the individual mandate? Oh, yeah, right, because Obama wants to keep up the pretense that he’s keeping his promise to not raise taxes. We had a major constitutional crisis, and nearly had the legislation gutted, just because Obama wanted to play political games.

          1. “Major constitutional crisis”? The Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of a law. That’s routine, not a “crisis”.

            1. cri·sis/ˈkrīsis/
              A time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
              A time when a difficult or important decision must be made: “a crisis point of history”.

              You disagree that an difficult or important decision had to be made?

        1. Ummm. . . .let’s not tell each other to shut up here, please! We can disagree without that kind of invective.


        1. Don’t mind doing it either because I think a healthy American population would actually make health care cheaper because people could go in for check ups instead of waiting until things got horribly bad.

    3. The ACA, including te individual mandate is actually still authorized under the commerce clause. If there were no commerce clause, Cngress would have no power to regulate commerce between the states, including no power to regulate the health-care insurance industry. The claim was that the means chosen of enforcing (really just incentivizing) the individual mandate – the tax “penalty” was not authorized by the commerce clause. But it’s well established that congress can encourage compliance with its commerce-clause regulations through the tax code. So Roberts was really just saying that calling it a “penalty,” when it walks and quacks like a tax, doesnt somehow put the individual mandate in a new category. It would be invalid if people were put in jail or a punitive civil fine was assesed like a parking ticket.

  2. But is no where near single payer which is what would save the paying for it problem. Of course doing without a few drone, carriers, bases, wars would pay for medicare, too. I fear that all will say, “oh boy now we have safe medical insurance” and the hoped for push for single payer will sink below the horizen for many years. Plus, there is STILL no mention of the payments involved in the mandate. Wait til those making 50k are told that they have to pay 25% oftheir income to”Obama Care”!

    1. Military spending: $700 billion.
      Medicare and Medicaid: $835 billion

      But hey, this is the internet, so no need to actually based one’s posts on fact, or even compose them in coherent English, right?

      1. That supports his point. If we halved that military spending, we would have more money for Medicare and Medicaid.

        And does that $700 billion figure even include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Bush always left them out of his budgets.

        1. “That supports his point.”
          And by “his point”, apparently you mean “a point completely different from his point”.

          “If we halved that military spending”
          He didn’t say “halve military spending”, he said “doing without a few drone, carriers, bases, wars”

          “we would have more money for Medicare and Medicaid.”
          He didn’t say “have more money” he said “pay for”

          “And does that $700 billion figure even include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”
          I have numbers, and I can provide sources. If you have other numbers and sources, feel free to provide them. I’m not clear on what you mean when you claim that Bush left the wars out of his budgets. If he got the money from Congress, he must at some point have submitted the spending request.

  3. I immediately congratulated my conservative friends since this plan was drawn up by the Heritage Foundation, presented by Senator Bob Dole and put into practice by Governor Mitt Romney.

    Their idea won!

    This is also why I thought it was constitutional: though I don’t know law, I do know that people on both sides of the aisle thought that it was (albeit not at the same time).

  4. This is a big win for Obama, but more so for the American people.

    No, not really.

    What would have been a win would have been Medicare for All.

    HeritageCare / RomneyCare / ObamaCare just forces Americans to pay for the yachts of the executives of the very companies that created the mess in the first place.


    1. Yes – always thought the MSM did a good job of obscuring the fact that half of the opposition to ACA is that it is not progressive enough!

      1. Agreed, ManOutOfTime. Of course, we progressives are just DFH, and don’t really matter to the MSM.

        1. C’mon – don’t you think the insurance companies have already found ways to game this system? What’s the enforcement mechanism and who will be auditing the insurers?

        2. That’s true but insurance companies have been heavily lobbying regulatory agencies to change the definition of care to include a bunch of stuff that isn’t care, like administrative overhead.

          They seem to be getting their way (as usual). So the rule does not ensure that 80% of premiums will actually go to health care.

          It’s also a depressingly far cry from the old days when it was about 95%…

    2. Certainly this decision does not constitute a victory in the way a single-payer system would have been. But had the decision gone the other way, that would have been a loss—a tremendous setback for the efforts toward more equitable health care in the U.S. You’d think now it might be that much harder for conservatives to demagogue the health care legislation, since it’s been validated by the SCOTUS. But they’ll just demagogue the court decision as well.

      1. This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the constitutionality of tax-supported single-payer systems, which have never been in question. If it had gone the other way, those systems would still be legal.

        What prevents Congress from enacting such a system is not the courts or the constitution, but their own will; they don’t want to do it.

        1. Sure, I understand what was and was not at issue. I guess all I mean is the conservative Justices, the bloc that normally includes Roberts, were prepared to strike down the whole thing, calling the ACA “invalid in its entirety.” So those who think the legislation was at least a step in the right direction, one that somewhat improves the current non-system and maybe even solves a few of its problems, these people might be justified in feeling like they dodged a bullet. Scalia & co. were perfectly happy to scrap the whole law before (some are speculating) the Chief jumped ship. There’s some good provisions in the law (e.g., children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage), none of which the conservatives’ dissent was not interested in separating out from the individual mandate and upholding. They were fixing to chuck the whole thing.

      2. I tend to disagree. It seems to me that this bill is largely a gift to the insurance companies, and it greatly diminishes the chance that a real public health system will be implemented, since “we already have one”.

        1. That’s pretty much my view as well. When O’bummer said “single payer is off the table” shortly after the election (a stance he made pretty clear in the campaign), I was pretty much resigned that he was paid for by he insurance lobby.

          What is it presently… some 2/3 of catastrophic medical bankruptcies involve people that already have insurance? (I think that figure was reported by Jim Hightower). If true, that would mean that buying catastrophic coverage buys you a 1/3 chance of staying solvent.

          Ah, here it is. So it’s 60% of all family bankruptcies caused by medical problems, with 3/4 of those bankruptcies being among the insured middle class. (N>~2300)

          So I guess the strategy is first to dump tons of money on the insurance companies, THEN they will fix their weasely little problems with how they pay out when you need it. Good plan.

          Kind of like what we did with the big banks. Shove money first, ask questions later.

        1. It’s kind of a cute story, actually:

          Apparently accepts “demagogue” verb forms as definitions 3 and 4. It’s rarer in print, but I hear the verb form tossed around a lot in speech, usually by talking heads on cable news. Chris Matthews from msnbc is fond of it…because, as we all know, he’s the world’s foremost authority on proper English usage.

    3. It is a big win for Obama but not for the American people or for the principle of universal health care. HR676 would have been a big win for the American people. The ACA is not a step in this direction and probably precludes any progress in that direction for the foreseeable future. You can bet Obama will be drawing a line in the sand against any states that try to set up single-payer instead of these insurer/pharma friendly exchanges.

    4. At least we got to watch conservatives and their talking heads at Faux News have conniption fits all day.

  5. It’s still arguably fair to describe the Chief Justice as an ideologue. I’m glad he didn’t join his fellow arch-conservatives here, but he’s earned it. Most of the Justices have. They’re ideologues who, indeed, are often capable of doing the right thing—perhaps that’s the best we can hope for at this point. Here, the Chief’s doing the right thing does not mean he thinks health care is a basic human right in a modern society; basically, it just means he has accepted the view that it is lawful for the government to tax people who do not purchase a health insurance policy.

    1. In the opinion Roberts even said that it wasn’t for the S.C.O.T.U.S. to define sound policy, but merely to figure out if policy was legal under the Constitution. I read that as Roberts saying “I don’t like it, but that’s not my job as a justice of the court.”

    2. The sentence “I have always thought that Roberts (like Scalia and Thomas) was a complete ideologue, but he did the right thing today.” makes absolutely no sense. What constitutes an “ideologue”, and how does it preclude doing the right thing? Apparently, WEIT’s definition of “ideologue” is “anyone who does things I don’t like”.

      1. Judges are a special case. If a jurist allows personal ideology to inappropriately influence what she or he does on the bench, that’s generally regarded as a bad thing. Judicial philosophy and one’s approach to the law is one thing, but personal ideology is another. So in the case of judges, being an ideologue absolutely can preclude one from doing the right thing. Calling a SCOTUS Justice an “ideologue” is actually not a controversial thing to do. Not by a long shot. The Justices themselves sometimes imply as much about each other in their dissents. It’s one of the most common criticisms of the Justices—that they’re a bunch of ideologues.

    1. I’m holding off on the celebration. Although this is a great idea that’s been too long coming, we already have Medicare and Medicaid and they are unbelievably screwed up at the management level. My biggest fear is that this too will succumb to government ineptitude.

        1. …and spend far more of their dollars on health care and far less on making insurance company management filthy rich.

          1. I would much rather have a government bureaucrat with no vested interest in the bottom line making decisions about health care than some corporate bean counter whose only reason for existence is to get the shareholders another ¼¢ per share quarterly dividend.

            I know this occurs because it happened to me.

            1. Why anyone feels better about seeing a huge paycheck deduction going to any insurance company than to “gub’mint bureaucrats” is beyond me. Why would someone prefer to have an insurance coverage decision being made by someone who makes a bonus by deciding you’re not covered?

              1. This is the crux, I’m afraid.

                I keep getting ticked whenever I see anybody in the media (and on these boards) keep saying “GOODY — NOW we can all have affordable health CARE”.

                It ain’t health CARE, folks. It’s health INSURANCE. Two different things. Related things, yes… but fundamentally different. Insurance doesn’t mean shit when the hospital sics the collection agencies on your ass when your insurance coverage doesn’t pay up, due to some clause or another. (or your co-pays were way too damned high to begin with, or your premiums…)

                This is not affordable health care, it’s co-opting more people to pay for a shitty system overbloated with the salaries of lawyers / actuaries / claims adjusters on one side, and tons of medical staffers that do nothing every day but fight with them on the other. The hassle and paperwork and second-guessing of their decisions that doctors have to deal with is truly despicable. To counter what happens after the adjusters get done with the claim, they resort to tacking on all kinds of procedures and equipment that were never done or used — just to pay for the stuff that was inevitably cut.

                I’m not so sure that this decision was a step in the right direction, and our crappy sinking ship of a system is the #1 reason I am leaving the country. It’s all unsustainable garbage.

              2. Some states, like the one I’m lucky enough to live in, don’t allow for-profit health insurance companies to operate in them. It helps, some.

                I think this law is a step in the right direction but it’s a tiny, tentative step. All the weight is still on the back foot and we’re ready to retract the step at any time. And there are still people who adamantly oppose it as if it’s the end of the world. That tells me that Obama should have gone for something bolder, but I’m sure Obama’s handlers will draw the opposite lesson.

    2. Thank you, Grania. We feel a little better about America today than we did yesterday. And a little less embarrassed by our nevertheless-unconditionally-beloved homeland.

  6. It’s more than a little unnerving to me that such powerful people so consistently vote along partisan lines, that when they buck this trend we all exclaim in astonishment.

    I know true objectivity is impossible, but surely a LITTLE more objectivity wouldn’t be out of order?

    (So to speak!)

    1. Also, what’s with the Supreme Court appointees getting the job for life? Surely the same arguments that limit a president to two terms should apply for Supreme Court justices?

      1. Exactly the opposite is true, IMO. The ‘checks and balances’ of the system is in having different parts of the government think about problems/solutions from different perspectives. While most people think of “perspectives” in terms of constiutents (House = thinks about district concerns, Senate = state concerns, President = national concerns), it is also true for time (House = thinks about 2-year concerns, Senate = 6-year concerns, Supreme court = 20-30 year concerns).

        There is no single right answer to what terms length should be for the various offices. The system is stronger when terms for various offices are different. Thus, any argument for term limits to the President absolutely do not necessarily apply to other offices.

      2. My imperfect understanding is that the lifetime term, ended only by death, retirement, or poor behavior and impeachment, is in theory supposed to keep the justices above the maelstrom of politics and democracy, which to many of the founders was synonymous with mob rule. By earning their positions for life, the justices would be free to make the best decisions given the law of the land, as many of their decisions may be unpopular and could otherwise result in them being voted out or removed or whatever. It would also mean that there would be less turnover and that the laws wouldn’t fluctuate based on who was on the bench for four-to-eight year chunks of time, because the law is supposed to permanent unless it’s changed by the legislative process.

        But justices have of course always been intensely political from Chief Justices Marshall, Taney, Warren and Roberts to Associate Justices Frankfurter, Black, Douglas, Scalia, and Alito. They were appointed by presidents of similar mind and voted often with their own political views in mind, dressed up in a slanted interpretation of the Constitution. This is part of the reason why I have little patience with those who say the Constitution should be seen as an unchanging document written in permanent ink, because the language of the Constitution is deliberately vague so that issues could be decided by compromise and reason, and so that the Constitution wouldn’t have to be chucked every 25-50 years as the world around it changed. Multiple interpretations of the, say, elastic clause are equally correct. There isn’t necessarily a wrong answer, so following the word of the Constitution is pretty damn difficult. (/RANT ON LITERALISTS)

  7. I have long referred to the wingnuts on the bench as the SCOTUS RATS, which stands for:


    Four men who will have obituaries which I shall, in the spirit of Clarence Darrow, read with great satisfaction (provided I do not predecease them).

    1. A colleague of mine, an atheist who lives in South Carolina, just told me of a friend of his who is one of these Republican types who says he now needs to move to Canada. So this meme must be making the rounds among the Tea Party types. I guess nobody has mentioned to them that Canada has socialized medicine.

      1. Yeah the lack of self-awareness is extremely amusing. Its “keep the government’s hands off my medicare” all over again.

    2. It could conceivably be a spoof, but people have actually said the same to me straight-faced. The ignorance is staggering.

    3. They’re moving to Canada to avoid ACA? How do they think healthcare is managed up there, eh?


      1. Oh, and can they take Chuck Norris, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Sharron Angle, etc., etc. with them please?

        1. We’d consider taking them after they’ve permanently stopped oozing their rightwing rhetoric. Until then, no way, eh!

            1. In a way, yes. It’s the Provinces that each run their own health care systems, but Federal immigration rules require a medical exam to determine if:

              * Their condition would endanger the health or safety of the Canadian population at large; or

              * Their admission might cause excessive demand on existing social or health services provided by the government.

              Clearly it would be the first point that I would want to see applied in this case.

              Note that the second point is waived if the immigrant has a family sponsor already landed in Canada.

    4. These are the same kind of people who go to VA hostipals or have Medicare and tell the government to ‘stay out of their healthcare.’ Like my mother.

      1. The cognitive dissonance is astonishing. My mother, who over the past several years has been caught in a tailspin of toeing increasingly nutty conservative lines, has become jobless and has had cancer (in remission). She therefore not only can’t get group coverage, but is considered uninsurable. And she complains about this daily. All the while demonizing the left and this kind of policy/legislation.

        I really can’t understand how so many people become convinced that the poison is the cure. Some combination of selfishness, lack of critical thinking skills, lack of foresight, and a pathological need to be “agin’ ” something, I suppose.

        1. Same thing with my wife’s stepmother. I had to ‘turn her off’ on my Facebook page because she was driving me nuts with her right-wing idiocy while simultaneously telling my wife about her health care problems and those of her friends.

          Some insight into how this utterly contradictory state of affairs is sustained came to my wife when she visited her. In her house, one or more TVs are on all the time. All day, all night. My wife was literally kept awake at night by the background noise. Naturally, Fox News was usually one of the channels blaring all the time.

          1. In 1984, televisors were on all the time because it was required by law.

            Looks like Orwell underestimated the appeal of television.

        2. “lack of critical thinking skills”

          Soon to be guaranteed as a right of all children if the Texas GOP has its way.

        3. “Cognitive dissonance” and “voting according to one’s principles, even if that means voting differently than if one were motivated solely by self-interest” are two completely different things. Perhaps you shouldn’t be using terms you don’t understand?

          1. Don’t understand?

            Perhaps you don’t understand how comment threads work. My reply was to moseszd, and dealt specifically with the types of people he brought up. My reply did not refer to Roberts.

            How is cognitive dissonance not involved when one rails against the very measures that would ameliorate an unfortunate (set of) circumstance(s) in which one finds oneself and about which one often complains?

          2. I never claimed you were referring to Roberts. As for your question, I believe that I already addressed it, and I don’t understand what you’re not getting about it. Furthermore, it is odd that rather than YOU explaining how it IS cognitive dissonance, you are asking me to prove a negative by showing how it is NOT. However, I am willing to be somewhat accommodating, and do what you are apparently too lazy to do yourself, which is look up the definition of the term: “Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously.”

            To clarify just what your position is, suppose I am married to a woman who frequently makes trips outside of the country, and I often complain about being left to do housework by myself. And suppose that, despite this, I criticize countries that require a woman to get her husband’s permission before leaving the country. Now, I am “rail[ing] against the very measures that would ameliorate an unfortunate (set of) circumstance(s) in which one finds oneself and about which one often complains”, correct? So, do you truly, honestly, not comprehend how “cognitive dissonance” is not an appropriate term here?

            1. Lordy, RF!

              Your comments here have been remarkably splenetic.

              What gives?

              I see that you don’t understand the way these threads work. I’ve only discovered this reply because I came back here on a whim. If you’d replied to me correctly, I’d have received a notification.

              My question to you was also an implicit explanation of how I deemed cognitive dissonance to be involved.

              But, Christ, here it is in the childishly simple terms you requested: to complain about the way you’re treated by insurance companies, while also maintaining that those companies should be unregulated and that the government shouldn’t offer you another option, is a perfect instantiation of cognitive dissonance. Here, let me make it even simpler:

              GOPer: “This insurance company shouldn’t do this!”

              Gov’t: “OK, let’s tell them not to do that.”

              GOPer: “No way! I support their right to do whatever they want.”

              Your example is not analogous. There are too many possibly mitigating variables.

              1. Wow, not only a personal attack, but a pretentious personal attack at that! You clearly are not using the term “cognitive dissonance” correctly. I don’t find the idea that terms should have consistent meanings that we all agree on to be particularly “splenetic”. Given the venom being spewed elsewhere in this thread, it’s odd that you would pick out my comments. And given that I have asked you again and again how you think the term applies, and you have over and over again given nonresponsive replies, I believe a certain amount of irritation is warranted.

                “My question to you was also an implicit explanation of how I deemed cognitive dissonance to be involved.”
                Well, here’s a thought, if you have a declaration to make, maybe you should present it in a declarative sentence. I don’t see how distorting a declaration into an interrogative sentence aids communication.

                Here is your original supposed “cognitive dissonance”.
                “My mother, who over the past several years has been caught in a tailspin of toeing increasingly nutty conservative lines, has become jobless and has had cancer (in remission). She therefore not only can’t get group coverage, but is considered uninsurable. And she complains about this daily. All the while demonizing the left and this kind of policy/legislation.”

                and here is your latest evasion:

                “to complain about the way you’re treated by insurance companies, while also maintaining that those companies should be unregulated and that the government shouldn’t offer you another option, is a perfect instantiation of cognitive dissonance.”

                Your mother’s primary problem is that is she is suffering from both health and employment problems. Her complaints do not involve her “treatment by insurance companies” except insofar as the insurance companies are not giving her free health care. I didn’t understand your description of your mother’s complaints as complaining about her treatment by insurance companies, any more, if you had said that she was too poor to fix her car, I would understand that as her complaining about her treatment by mechanics. If she is actually indicating that she thinks insurance companies should be required to give her free health care, then you should be clearer about that. Furthermore, you initially said that she is “demonizing the left and this kind of policy/legislation”, this “policy/legislation” being the ACA. And now you’re characterizing her as saying insurance companies should be unregulated! I seriously doubt this is her actual position, and if it is, that is COMPLETELY different from merely being opposed to Obamacare. Most importantly, you STILL haven’t provided ANY explanation of how this is “cognitive dissonance”. Simply asserting that this is “perfect instantiation” is not an explanation. Apparently, you not only don’t understand the term “cognitive dissonance”, you don’t even know what the word “explanation” means. And to top it off, you’re being incredibly condescending about how I’m not understanding your nonexistent explanation, which is based on facts completely different from what you originally claimed.

                “Your example is not analogous. There are too many possibly mitigating variables.”
                That sounds like “I’m just going to ignore your point because it conflicts with my position” to me, which is really the closest you’ve presented an example of cognitive dissonance. You claimed that satisfying certain conditions constituted “cognitive dissonance”. You made no mention of “mitigating variables”. This is just plain special pleading. Clearly, there’s attribute that you’re not articulating, and rather than admitting that you’re not articulating, you’re just playing the “I’m right, and you’re too stupid to understand that” card.

                Asking you to actually engage in explicit discussion, rather than embedding statements in questions, providing criteria which you then renounce in favor of unstated further requirements when I refute the original criteria, revising the facts under discussion as we go, and providing bare assertion rather than actual explanation, is not asking for “childishly simple terms”; on the contrary, it’s asking you to actually act like an adult.

            2. As we’ve reached the maximum indentation level, I’ll reply (a final time) here.

              Regarding your comments about my tone and attitude: let me point out that *you* were on the offensive, I have been on the defensive. You were the aggressor. Your first reply to me set the antagonistic tone. In fact, you’ve been needlessly antagonistic up and down these threads, picking on grammatical and semantic nits, and in so doing not contributing to the actual discussion. The condescension in many of your own comments was unprovoked, unlike mine.

              Regarding cognitive dissonance: the point you’re still missing is that my mother is not complaining simply about having had cancer or not having a job; she’s complaining that, having lost her job (and therefore her group coverage), she cannot purchase a new policy. She’s complaining that the insurance companies are allowed to label her “uninsurable” and deny her coverage, despite her ability to pay the premiums. Yet she fights policy and legislation that would work to remedy her predicament. Somehow these behaviors are reconciled in her mind. Voila la cognitive dissonance! Her behavior is essentially the same as that of the folks in moseszd’s comment who claim to want government out of their healthcare, and yet avail themselves of government healthcare programs.

              Finally, I am well aware of what constitutes a good explanation, and I can appreciate a legitimate request for clarification where one is truly needed. But both my original comment and the “implicit explanation” offered in my subsequent reply really should have sufficed in this context, that is, informal comments on a blog. You can’t honestly claim to have been hopelessly confused about my essential point, can you?

              1. Do not expect you to make much progress. Our friend RF has established himself as an expert at the antagonistic, humorless, and marginally paranoid attack.

              2. “Regarding your comments about my tone and attitude: let me point out that *you* were on the offensive, I have been on the defensive. You were the aggressor. Your first reply to me set the antagonistic tone.”
                I pointed out that you were using a term without knowing what it meant. Apparently your ego is so fragile that you view me pointing out your error as “antagonistic”. As far as I can tell, you came across an impressive-sounding term, and proceeded to use it without bothering to learn what it means, and after several days and post after post, you have adamantly refused to provide any basis for my thinking otherwise. You responded to my statement about your POST with a statement about ME. As far as I am concerned, that makes YOU the aggressor.

                “In fact, you’ve been needlessly antagonistic up and down these threads, picking on grammatical and semantic nits”
                Again, you equate informing people of their errors with being antagonistic. I find nothing “needless” about discouraging poor grammar. If this is what you mean by “antagonistic”, then I do not find this version of “antagonism” to be anything to be ashamed of.

                “Regarding cognitive dissonance: the point you’re still missing is that my mother is not complaining simply about having had cancer or not having a job; she’s complaining that, having lost her job (and therefore her group coverage), she cannot purchase a new policy.”
                No, I’m not missing that point. Are you seriously unable to produce a response that does not rely of strawmen?

                “Somehow these behaviors are reconciled in her mind. Voila la cognitive dissonance!”
                That’s not cognitive dissonance. When someone points out that you aren’t using a term correctly, simply repeating over and over again your incorrect use of the term, and referring to this as an “explanation”, simply brings your intelligence into question.

                “You can’t honestly claim to have been hopelessly confused about my essential point, can you?”
                My best guess is that you think that “cognitive dissonance” is essentially a synonym for “hypocrisy” (although even with you having that misunderstanding of the term, you still have not presented a valid defense of your use of “cognitive dissonance”). If your use of the term is based on any other understanding of its meaning, I am indeed hopelessly confused as to what it is. And that is due to your utter failure to present any explanation, even the informal level appropriate to this situation.

                Furthermore, I will repeat my observation that you have been wildly inconsistent as to how you characterize your mother’s situation. Even in an “informal” situation, presenting one scenario, and then criticizing a response for not taking into account facts not previously mentioned, is wildly dishonest.

      2. Exactly. It also sounds like my father(an acolyte of Fox News) and my grandfather (who also argued Obama could not be president because it’s called the WHITE House).

    5. Given the stunning lack of knowledge of the world shown by many Americans, particularly those who pronounce it Merikuh without meaning to be funny, I don’t think it’s an act.

  8. I’ve just been watching this on UK Channel 4 News, and watched and listened to members of the public in the US who are vehemently against this ruling. Can someone from the US please explain to me in simple terms why so many people are against a measure which, as I understand it, will guarantee healthcare to all. What kind of a society, or political party, can possibly oppose basic healthcare for its members? The National Health Service in the UK may be far from perfect, but my wife and I have much cause to be grateful for it, and certainly would suffer greatly under the US system as I understand it.

    1. The opposition is generally to the idea of the government telling them they have to buy something. The folks opposed will tell you that it’s their business what health insurance coverage they choose to get, not the government’s business. They do not oppose the ability to have health insurance, they oppose it being mandatory.

      IMO that argument still has giant, gaping holes in it, but I believe that’s it in a nutshell.

      1. I think that’s the opinion of the most informed of them. Most are opposed because Obama is a socialist muslin[sic] who was born in Kenya.

      2. Also, keep in mind that many of these “the gov’t can’t tell me what to do!” people have no problem when the gov’t steps in and says “No, you can’t have an abortion.” Or, “No, you can’t get married to your same-sex partner.” There’s this selectivity as to what the gov’t can and cannot tell someone what to do.

    2. (I will try to explain fairly, but of course I think the right’s reasoning on this is morally appalling.)

      The right will tell you that it’s about “freedom,” “individuality,” “free market,” and “choices.”

      They believe Americans should have the freedom to NOT have insurance, to make good/bad life/health choices, and that a free-market private insurance system is the best way to run a health care delivery system.

      The right does not agree that health care is a right. Some people don’t deserve it, and, as John McCain and other rwingers point out, you can always go to the emergency room, and they have to treat you.

      (Have I mentioned it’s morally appalling?)

      1. Not only morally appalling, Informant, but short-sighted and amazingly stupid. Opponents of expanding coverage to include health services for more people reduces the chance that they’ll run into a modern-day Typhoid Mary. What if the next person they meet, or the next server in a restaurant, or even the person they sit next to at a ballgame, is a carrier of some incurable, hideously painful, and nearly always terminal, disease that went undiagnosed because the only services s/he could get were at ERs?

      2. And who do they think winds up paying for all those free trips to the emergency room? Is there a cure for cognitive dissonance?

    3. And, as others have noted above, ACA is far from “guaranteeing healthcare for all.” It expands access to insurance, broadens state Medicaid access, has measures to cut insurance costs, but current estimates are that 10-20mmillion Americans will still remain uncovered.

    4. @Haggis I’m a “left winger” but I and others are against it becuase it does not guarantee health care for all. First it imposes the mandate, then it will sloppily try to enact “affordable” health care instead of universal / single payer care. That last part got rejected. So the poor will suffer greatly (see my explanation below).

    5. Thanks guys. I think I get it now. If you are unemployed, too poor, or already have cancer, you are free to choose not to have healthcare insurance. Wow!

    6. A lot of people here vote by emotion, not by thinking things through.

      Obama! Death panels! Socialism!

      Throw those out there – if you’ve been accepted as a credible source, which means looking, behaving, and speaking in certain ways, and ideally having been vouched for by another credible source – and the voters will make the associations in their mind: unsmiling people carrying red flags coming to lock up the Good People, convince their children to become homosexuals, and convert the churches into mosques.

      For the people behind that propaganda, I think it’s a combination of not wanting to pay any more taxes on their vast wealth and an ideological opposition to anything approaching a welfare state. They think the dire consequences of unregulated capitalism are an essential part of building a strong, wealthy nation. There are people in this country who are still mad about Social Security and unemployment insurance. They would repeal those if they could.

    7. In-group loyalty, plus modern meme-spreading proficiency. Read Ezra Klein’s piece this week online at The New Yorker magazine website “Unpopular Mandate: Why Republicans turned on the individual mandate.” (June 25) No paywall. (Sorry I don’t know how to post a link here.)

    8. Because Faux News, supported by rich folks, many of whom I’m sure are insurance execs, said it was bad and a liberal plot to steal the money of hard-working Americans and give it to poor bums who eat shoes and use foodstamps to buy beer. That’s basically the gist of it. And I’m really not trying to be funny.

  9. Re: Roberts’ majority vote. A commenter on Ed Brayton’s log brought up an interesting thought: Roberts may be pulling a Marbury vs. Madison, conceding the legality of this particular legislation while simultaneouly writing into the opinion text that limits Congress’ powers in very significant ways. Roberts made clear that it was Congress’ power to tax, not the commerce clause, that makes this legal. So while Obama wins the small fish (health care), this conservative court has written into the ruling a limit on the commerce clause – a much bigger fish.

    Not sure I really agree with that, but very interesting idea.

    1. I’m wondering whether this decision will have a nasty delay payload. The PPACA did not orginate in the House, so putting its legitimacy solely on construing a “fine” as a tax may run up against Section 7 (requiring all revenue bills to orginate in the House) in the future.

  10. Ridiculous although I live in Massachusetts so it doesn’t matter anyway. Result? Since Romney enacted his mandate, many people in MA are still uninsured and are rejected by MassHEalth (“universal” care) because at minimum wage they’re considered too wealthy to need affordable insurance.

    So now the working poor who would normally get a tax refund but can’t afford $500 per month for health insurance are punished by the government who take away their refund. So this only hurts the poor.

    Sorry, my vote is going to Jill Stein. For many reasons.

    1. Sounds plausible to me. A lot of welfare programs work that way – help the extremely poor, but not the people who have some income but not enough to pay market price for food, housing, legal aid, medicine, etc.

    2. I just went through the online MassHealth eligibility test and plugged in a monthly income of $1280 (full-time minimum wage in MA). It said I was eligible.

      Now I don’t consider that rock-solid evidence against your claim, but I do consider it enough to conclude that you are probably grossly misinformed.

      1. @Thanny I assume since you used the word “just” that you did the online eligibility test not because you actually needed health insurance but because you saw my comment and was curious?

        Maybe ask workers who have tried to actually GET Masshealth for valid reasons.

  11. I really like the legal reason. You don’t have to buy health insurance. You do have to pay this tax – which is waived if you buy health insurance.

    I’m serious. I have issues with the government requiring you to buy something, but not with the government requiring you to pay taxes. I already pay taxes for stuff that doesn’t benefit me or, in my opinion, the country. Health care, unlike wars of aggression, is something I think my government should provide its citizens.

    I’d prefer a system more like Canada, Germany, Sweden or all those other countries, but I suspect in a country this size we might have more luck starting at the state level and hoping it catches on. IIRC, Canada’s taxpayer-funded health system started as an initiative by just one province.

    So good luck, Maine. I’m rooting for you.

  12. Oh, and if anyone wants to tell me I’m wrong about this, and that everyone will automatically be covered, please, I’d love to be corrected. Although again it’s irrelevant because of where I live.

    Obama far from the hero we all thought he was is just another Wall Street player who isn’t serious at all about climate change, mark my words we’re all complicit in this denial and no need for me to elaborate because every one of us is going to see it with our own two eyes.

    Obama has the interesting distinction of being the last President who could turn the tide to prevent catastrophic climate change. And what has he done? Stuck his head in the sand. And we’ve done it along with him. Forget the deniers, we’re all to blame.

    Just like we’re politely dancing around the issue that not everyone will be covered under this absurd “universal” mandate.

    1. I don’t think anyone claims everyone will be covered.

      And be fair. He’s too busy ripping up the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting terrorism to do much about climate change.

    2. Obama has the interesting distinction of being the last President who could turn the tide to prevent catastrophic climate change. And what has he done? Stuck his head in the sand. And we’ve done it along with him. Forget the deniers, we’re all to blame.

      <ahem />

      Some of us are more to blame than others.

      My roof is covered in solar panels; I put more electricity back into the grid than I take out of it. Since it got hot, it’s only several KWh / day, but in the spring it was typically 20 – 30 KWh / day — enough to power a neighbor’s house or two. And I’m only using a couple hundred gallons of gasoline a year.

      And I gave $250 to Ms. Stein this morning.

      Much as I love Kermit, he was flat-out worng. Being Green is very easy — and quite profitable, too. My solar array is giving me a return on my initial investment on the order of 10%, something absolutely unheard-of in the banks and markets today.



      1. Kudos. Dr. Stein is a great woman and if she doesn’t win I’m going to at least have fun watching her put the candidate’s feet to the fire. She crushed Romney once already.

  13. I’m a libertarian. Conservatives are liars and liberals are damn liars. This thread just goes to show how dumb some smart people can be.

    First, the issue of ideology. Ideologues love to call people that disagree with them ideologues. It’s amusing but sad. It happens over and over again. A vote is split down party lines but only the people on the side you disagree with are ideologues. What? Oh, I get it. The side you agree with could never be consumed by ideology.

    Regarding Obama’s so-called victory. Only in bizzaro world could SCOTUS declaring that Obama is a liar be chalked up as a victory. Obama has repeatedly and vehemently said that his health care debacle was not a tax. Guess what? SCOTUS declared it was a tax. Hence, Obama is a liar. He then comes out and pretends that this law was upheld in the way he envisioned it. Sickening and sleezy.

    It’s unlikely that this will be posted. My other post didn’t make it through the screening process. So much for freethinking! Oh, I get it, it’s only freethinking if it agrees with what you already think.

      1. And I was going to say that Libertarians are whiny selfish brats, but now I don’t have to.

        “It’s unlikely that this will be posted. My other post didn’t make it through the screening process. So much for freethinking! Oh, I get it, it’s only freethinking if it agrees with what you already think.”

        Notice that it’s all about Steve.

      2. Are these attacks on libertarians (note that Steve did not capitalize the word) supposed to be ironic, or do you people really think these generalizations are justified?

        1. They are as justified as Steve’s second sentence: “Conservatives are liars and liberals are damn liars.”

          The capital “L” carries no special meaning.

          1. So, it’s a “two wrongs make a right” type reasoning? The capital L does in fact carry a special meaning, just as a Democrat is not the same as a democrat, a Republican is not the same as a republican, and a Christian Scientist is not the same as a Christian scientist.

              1. So… ironic then? Why do I have to ask over and over again to get a straight answer? If your purpose was to criticize Steve’s statement my mimicking it, I think that you should have said so in your post, or, at the very least, said so when I asked.

              2. I give most readers of this site credit to be able to figure that sort of thing for themselves.

              3. Some people post comments explaining what their point is. Other people post sarcastic remarks that they apparently think are the height of wit, and pretend that any uncertainty as to what their point is is due entirely to the reader.

          2. Also, moseszd’s comment included the word “all”, which makes it less justified than Steve’s comment.

        2. Yes, they are absolutely justified. We’ve seen what libertarian policies look like and we know what the consequences would be.

              1. What, so now you’re telling me what I know? moseszd said that libertarians are always wrong. You said that that comment was justified. One libertarian position is that medicinal marijuana should be allowed. Therefore, you must believe that medicinal marijuana should be not be allowed. If you’re going to refuse to discuss the clear logical conclusions of your statements by simply posting the immature rejoinder “you know that’s not what I mean”, then there probably isn’t any point in trying to have a discussion with you. Is your position that all libertarian positions are wrong, except for the ones that aren’t?

    1. Well it got posted, so your little closing attempt to play the victim to freegroupthinking didn’t go as planned. Sorry, I guess…

    2. “He then comes out and pretends that this law was upheld in the way he envisioned it.”
      He got to eat his cake and have it too: HE claims it’s not a tax, Roberts says it is, so now he gets to have it upheld as a tax without having to actually admit that it’s a tax.

      “Only in bizzaro world could SCOTUS declaring that Obama is a liar be chalked up as a victory.”
      DC is bizarro world, and SCOTUS already called him a liar (remember the State of the Union where he lied about the Citizens United decision)? He got the legislation passed, that’s what matters. Him lying to get it is going to be ignored, just like every other time he’s lied, such as claiming that he was going to accept public funding spending limits in his 2008 campaign.

        1. Is it really that hard to find Obama’s State of the Union speeches? Or are you insufficiently familiar with Citizens United to spot where Obama lied? Obama claimed that Citizens United:
          prohibits congress from putting any limits on corporate spending
          overturns a century of law
          “opens the floodgates” to special interests and foreign corporations

          1. How is that a lie? Citizens United does just that.

            I am quite familiar with the ruling. I just haven’t succumbed to Fox News propaganda.

            1. No, you’ve succumbed to Leftist propaganda instead. I present three examples of where the president of the United States has outright lied, and you simply assert that he hasn’t? You really think that argument by assertion is a valid tactic? CU did nothing to stop regulation of direct contributions. It overruled a law 8, not 100, years old. It does nothing to stop regulation of foreign corporations.

              1. Here’s a quote from one of those leftist propagandists you mention:

                “Much of Mr. Adelson’s casino profits that go to him come from this casino in Macau. Which says that, obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign.” – John McCain (well known Socialist)

              2. So, I guess you’re just going to ignore the fact that Obama is a flat-out liar, and instead post childish, sarcastic BS.

              3. If sarcasm has a place, this is not it. If you have an argument to present, then present it. If you want to claim that
                -McCain, the cosponsor of the bill struck down by CU, is an objective source
                -people who make money in other countries shouldn’t be allowed to spend that money in US elections
                -such conduct was illegal before CU
                -removing such prohibitions constitutes “opening the floodgates to foreign corporations”
                -I’ve called McCain a Socialist
                -I’ve called McCain a leftist propagandist

                you could actually have the decency to state those positions explicitly and stand by them. Instead, you avoided putting forth any position explicitly so that you can avoid having to defend them, while suggesting that my position is so absurd that you have no obligation to take me seriously. In other words, you’re completely lacking in civility.

                But thanks for proving my point that Obama doesn’t need to worry about his lies being exposed, since his supporters just don’t care.

              4. Spoken like a true wing-nut. Your brilliance is much appreciated but I’ll be the judge of when it is appropriate to use sarcasm and when it is not. It isn’t a decision that I’ll ceed to to anyone in the Tea Party “you lie” crowd.

              5. So, anyone who dares call Obama out on his lies is a “wing-nut” and a Tea Partier? Do you have ANY argument to present, or are you capable of nothing but sarcasm?

              6. Can we please stop with the pretend objectivity here? When someone from over on the right side of today’s political spectrum starts yammering on about “Obama lies” we can be pretty sure what we’re in for. And it isn’t a reasoned discussion of social policy.

                Saying a politician “lies” is pretty much like saying ducks quack. Hell, we all lie, Sam Harris notwithstanding. What matters is the extent to which political positions map to reality, and the degree to which they are accurately discussed. Joe Wilson (and your) shouting out “you lie” carries just about the weight of Donald Trump yammering on about birth certificates. Or countless Tea Party types accusing the president of being a Muslim. Or even a Muslin, for that matter. In other words, it is conversation worthy of sarcasm.

              7. “Can we please stop with the pretend objectivity here?”
                There’s nothing “pretend” about it.

                “When someone from over on the right side of today’s political spectrum starts yammering on about “Obama lies” we can be pretty sure what we’re in for. And it isn’t a reasoned discussion of social policy.”
                First, I’m not on “the right side of today’s political spectrum”. Just because I don’t like Obama doesn’t mean I’m a Republican. I’m opposed to lies, not to Democrats, and I have criticized many Republicans, such as Ron Paul and Newt Gingrinch, for their lies. And even if I were a Republican, that wouldn’t mean that you could conclude that my points are unworthy of attention.

                “Saying a politician “lies” is pretty much like saying ducks quack.”
                Well, this whole discussion began when I asserted that Obama being implicitly being called a liar by the Supreme Court is not a big deal, because people don’t care about his lies. You seem to agree with that. So why the attacks?

                “What matters is the extent to which political positions map to reality, and the degree to which they are accurately discussed.”
                CU is one of the most misrepresented court decisions in the court’s history. It has become a constant refrain on the Left that CU allows corporations unlimited direct contributions, which is an outright lie.

                “Joe Wilson (and your) shouting out “you lie” carries just about the weight of Donald Trump yammering on about birth certificates.”
                Seeing as how I have much less fame and wealth than Trump, my speaking up about Obama’s lies carries quite a bit less weight than anything Trump says, no matter how ridiculous. I don’t see how that is at all important. I’m not going to just sit by silently as I see truth being discarded in political discourse, even if my words have little effect. If by “carries weight”, you mean not “has effect”, but “has as much validity”, the idea that Obama having lied is just as silly as the other things you list is absurd. Obama’s statements are quite clearly false. Saying that you can ignore my claims because they are false is begging the question, and shows that you are such a fanatic that you refuse to listen to me for no reason other than I’m saying something that goes against your chosen faction.

            2. “…you are such a fanatic…”

              Dude, you really need to start reading your own posts before clicking that “Post Comment” button.

              1. Either acknowledge that Obama lied, present an argument for how he didn’t, or STFU. If you refuse to do any of these, if you object to my calling Obama a liar for no other reason than partisanship, then “fanatic” is absolutely an appropriate label.

              2. It may be hard to accept, but you don’t actually get to determine when people shut up any more than when they use sarcasm. Your belligerence and righteous boiling rage are somewhat entertaining but don’t indicate a serious intent to converse.

              3. I do get to express opinions as to whether other people should present something other than sarcasm, or at least stop wasting people’s time with their posts if they have nothing but sarcasm to contribute, and your trying to twist me doing so into me ordering you to not use sarcasm is just another symptom of your dishonesty. That I am appalled by dishonesty does nothing to dispute that I am attempting to engage in honest dialog; that you refuse to present contribute anything to this conversation other than sarcasm makes your assertion incredibly hypocritical. Furthermore, my annoyance at you has been the EFFECT of you refusing to engage in honest conversation, not the CAUSE. Nice trick there, being rude, responding to their posts with sarcasm and personal attacks, and then claiming the fact that the other person is getting annoyed as evidence against them.

  14. It would be difficult being a supreme court judge, in my opinion, if done properly you should only decide what’s legal, and not try to use your position to decide policy, even if you think the policy is bad for the US.

  15. Roberts, no doubt, prays about important decisions he must make and it is safe to assume he would not disobey his God’s advice and so we can be assured that God advised him to support Obama Care. Thank you God. Na, na, Romney.

  16. I wonder what the Vegas odds were of SCOTUS generally supporting the bill. I could’ve made a mint.

    1. One of the news shows quoted an odds website as having offered 35-1 against the decision that came down. You would have made quite a bit with a decent outlay.

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