The US Supreme Court is now hearing arguments about the Healthcare Reform act derisively called “Obamacare” by opponents. The transcripts are online should you eish to delve into them yourself. I, however, would like to summarize the questioning of Justice Alito: he is asking questions that show he lacks a fundamental basis of knowledge about economies and insurance specifically.

What kind of points is Alito making that makes me think he is a nincompoop? Alito said to the ACA lawyer:

…the mandate will require young, healthy people to pay more per year for insurance than they would pay for health care out-of-pocket, thus forcing them “to subsidize services that will be received by somebody else.”

Ummm, yeah that’s what insurance is you stupid git! If you’re healthy the money goes into a pool and when you are not, you draw from that pool. And everybody experiences medical problems at some point in their lives….duh….. Justice Ginsburg, bless her heart, said the same thing but in a much nicer tone.

But Alito is not alone in his idiocy, Justice Scalia is making similar points. Scalia proposed a hypothetical case of a broccoli mandate (yes he meant we would be forced to buy and consume broccoli by the government). This kind of “slippery slope” argument is border-line retarded because the hypothetical must be “reasonably possible” situation. Justice Thomas, who hasn’t asked a single question, seems to already have made up his mind. Indeed, the 4 conservative Justices came into the argument with their minds made up. Now they are simply looking for arguments to support their views like the good little ideologues they are. Justice Kennedy, the perpetual fence sitter seems to be swayed by the conservative arguments. Whereas the liberal Justices appear to be asking intelligent questions and truly hulling over the issue of the mandate.

With all this in mind, I am forecasting right now that they will split 5-4 along party lines ruling against the individual mandate but leaving most of the rest of the law intact. Sadly, without the mandate, it will not do much to curb costs, which was one of the major goals for healthcare reform in the first place. On the other hand, this may be an opportunity for Congress to revisit the issue, after the election when politicians behave more rationally, and then Liberals can push, once again, for “Medicare for all”, I.e., the Public Option. I’m a dreamer-what can I say?

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/supreme-court-health-care_n_1373469.html 

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Comments
  1. I’m also feeling that 5-4 conservative decision to declare the mandate unconstitutional coming too, and I’m am NOT happy about it! Idiots!

    • drangedinaz says:

      What’s worse is such a ruling would give an opening to libertarians that they can challenge anything regulated under the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887…. It’s just absurd to say the Feds can tax us for other things but not for healthcare, which affects everyone and is a unique market.

  2. D.R. says:

    “And everybody experiences medical problems at some point in their lives….duh…..”

    Why shouldn’t he ask questions about those lines? The purpose of oral argument is to go over all various arguments of an issue, even the things that seem obvious. I don’t think asking questions along these lines makes him appear biased, or stupid.

    “But Alito is not alone in his idiocy, Justice Scalia is making similar points.”

    I think it’s unfair to pretend that Scalia’s mind is decided. Scalia actually sided with the majority (in a concurring opinion) in Raich v. Gonzales, which pushed the limits of Congress’s ability to regulate interstate commerce.

    “Scalia proposed a hypothetical case of a broccoli mandate (yes he meant we would be forced to buy and consume broccoli by the government). This kind of “slippery slope” argument is border-line retarded because the hypothetical must be “reasonably possible” situation.”

    Slippery slope has to be reasonable, but he probably just used a silly hypothetical to be (a) funny, and (b) to avoid a politically sensitive topic.

    “Justice Thomas, who hasn’t asked a single question, seems to already have made up his mind.”

    To be fair, Justice Thomas NEVER asks questions. Never.

    “Whereas the liberal Justices appear to be asking intelligent questions and truly hulling over the issue of the mandate.”

    I’ve read quite a few blog entries and skimmed a lot of the transcripts, and I don’t see much of a difference in questioning between the Justices.

    • drangedinaz says:

      Hi! I’m sorry it took me so long to reply but I wanted to give careful consideration to your comments.

      1) “Why shouldn’t he ask questions about those lines? The purpose of oral argument is to go over all various arguments of an issue, even the things that seem obvious.”

      I am not an attorney, obviously, and I would defer to your knowledge on this point. However, I knew that oral arguments is to go over all the various arguments, but to spend time debating the definition of “insurance” and pointing out that this “insurance” is “insurance” and therefore should be struck down, is ridiculous IMHO.

      2) “I think it’s unfair to pretend that Scalia’s mind is decided”

      I disagree because Scalia has shown himself to be the most conservative justice (meaning “originalist” specifically) we have probably ever had on SCOTUS. Also correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t Raich v. Gonzales about an already existing market or service, and not one being created and then mandated (as the HCR opponents are characterizing it). In which, Scalia’s mind is probably made up…if he perceives it as the govt creating a new market, he’ll be against.

      I think the Govt attorney could have countered this particular point, the one about creating a new market/service to regulate) much better by arguing that technically the U.S. Government and taxpayers already provide healthcare to these uninsured people through the most expensive means (ER’s, in jails, prisons, etc) when the patients are at an extreme point far too late in the game to ever help the patients or achieve any cost effectivenss. This current “service” makes the hospital bill, premiums, subsidies and welfare paid by the rest of us more expensive every year. This market exists and it’s the underbelly and engine of our healthcare system’s problems. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we will all continue to pay for this ‘market/service’ to our detriment. HCR acknowledges the market, formalizes it and asks uninsured individuals to take some of the responsibility of it by mandating that they join a “pool” and pay a fee.

      3) re: the broccoli hypothetical…”a silly hypothetical to be (a) funny, and (b) to avoid a politically sensitive topic.”

      You’re right it is a sensitive topic but all the more reason for the justices to treat this with the weight it deserves. People’s lives hang in the balance and this is not hyperbole….here’s a blog post about just two people who may very well die if this law or portions of it are overturned–http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/04/03/some-of-us-are-terrified-that-scotus-will-strike-down-obamacare/#more-99835

      4) re: Justice Thomas — I would expect a Justice to ask questions….it seems that by allowing the other justices do the questioning he is letting them do his thinking for him. But I admit to a bias against the man…he should never have been confirmed and he’s a disgrace to the robe. Nothing he says or does not say would actually make a difference to me. So, anything I say about him, take with a truckload of salt. 😉

      5) I bet you have been reading a lot, certainly more than I, however my opinion stands particularly in light of my reasoning in #1 above.

      On a personal note, I hope you two are letting family visit and watch the baby while you get some rest. Remember sleep when the baby sleeps and you’ll be okay. So happy for you two!

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