Health Care Ruling: We Are Dealing With Clowns

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JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 31, 2011

Health Care Ruling: We Are Dealing With Clowns

The person to read here is Jonathan Cohn. The really striking thing about the ruling, as Jon explains, is not just that it bends over backwards to fit the law to the conservative agenda but that it bungles basic facts:

[A]t first glance, two things leap out at me.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act (myself among them) argue that the power to impose the mandate lies in two parts of the Constitution: the power to levy taxes and the power to regulate interstate commerce. Vinson rejects the tax argument and, in explaining his rationale, suggests that even the two judges who upheld the mandate agreed with him on this. But this is incorrect. Judge George Steeh, the federal judge from Michigan, declared that the tax argument was "without merit." 

The other striking thing about Vinson's ruling is his reasoning on interstate commerce--and its apparent ignorance of policy reality. Vinson says the mandate is unconstitutional because, in effect, the link between insurance status and interstate commerce is too weak:

"...the mere status of being without health insurance, in and of itself, has absolutely no impact whatsoever on interstate commerce (not "slight," "trivial," or "indirect," but no impact whatsoever) -- at least not any more so than the status of being without any particular good or service. [Emphasis in original]"

Again, this is just wrong, as anybody who understands the health care market will tell you. From my January article on the case...

Read the rest.

Basically, this seems to be no different than if the Wall Street Journal editorial page was asked to rule on the constitutionality. You get a highly tendentious screed resting upon simple factual inaccuracies, only this one is passed off as law rather than some right-wing polemic.

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posted in: jonathan chait, george steeh, jonathan cohn, michigan

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