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"Court tosses suit by Republican states challenging Affordable Care Act."

"The justices ruled 7-2 that Texas and 17 other states lacked standing to argue that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional" — SCOTUSblog reports.  

Here's the opinion.

BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined.

Looking at that, I'm most interested in why Justice Thomas concurred: 

JUSTICE ALITO [dissenting] does not contest [the majority's] analysis. Rather, he argues that the state plaintiffs can establish standing another way: through “inseverability.” (“First, [the States] contend that the individual mandate is unconstitutional . . . . Second, they argue that costly obligations imposed on them by other provisions of the ACA cannot be severed from the mandate. If both steps of the States’ argument that the challenged enforcement actions are unlawful are correct, it follows that the Government cannot lawfully enforce those obligations against the States”). This theory offers a connection between harm and unlawful conduct. And, it might well support standing in some circumstances, as it has some support in history and our case law.

But, I do not think we should address this standing- through-inseverability argument for several reasons. First, the plaintiffs did not raise it below, and the lower courts did not address it in any detail.... Second, the state plaintiffs did not raise this theory in their opening brief before this Court... and they did not even clearly raise it in reply. Third, this Court has not addressed standing-through-inseverability in any detail, largely relying on it through implication.... And fourth, this Court has been inconsistent in describing whether inseverability is a remedy or merits question.... Thus, standing-through-inseverability could only be a valid theory of standing to the extent it treats inseverability as a merits exercise of statutory interpretation. But petitioners have proposed no such theory.

"The Supreme Court will hear a third challenge to the Affordable Care Act, this time at the request of Democratic-controlled states that are fighting a lower court decision..."

"... that challenged the constitutionality of the law. The court’s review will probably come in the term that begins in October, which would not leave time for a decision before the November election. The law remains in effect. The court earlier had turned down a motion by the House of Representatives and Democratic-led states to hear the case this term."

Reports Robert Barnes in WaPo.

SCOTUSblog explains the legal issue like this:
In 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the court’s four more liberal justices that the mandate was constitutional because the penalty imposed on individuals who did not buy health insurance was a tax, which the Constitution allows Congress to impose. But in 2017, Congress enacted an amendment to the ACA that set the penalty for not buying health insurance at zero – but left the rest of the ACA in place. That change led to the dispute that is now before the court: A group of states led by Texas (along with several individuals) went to federal court, where they argued that because the penalty for not buying health insurance is zero, it is no longer a tax and the mandate is therefore unconstitutional. And the mandate is such an integral part of the ACA, they contended, that the rest of the law must be struck down as well....
That is, the thing that is now nothing has become everything, because Congress would not have passed the ACA without the element that used to be something.

I liked the 2 times at yesterday's Las Vegas rally when Trump talked about computers — first, to say what's wrong with movies and second, enacting a scene between him and Barron.

1. Explaining his "Bring back 'Gone with the Wind'":



"What I say is: Make great movies. Not this computerized crap. Computerized garbage."

2. Talking about the bad $5 billion Obamacare website:



"I have a son at home — he's a genius with computers" — mimes typing on a keyboard, does his Barron voice — "'Hi, Dad. What's up, Dad? Get outta here'/'Hey, listen, I'm the President of the United States, Barron, don't talk to your —'/'Dad, can't you see I'm playing with my computer?' The guy talks to me, he's working with his computer. These guys are genius. You know, they grow up with that. It's like walking. But he's looking at me. I could have given him their health care site. He would have done it for nothing, and it would have been better than what they have there..." — mimes typing and does the Barron voice again — "'Come on, Dad. I'm busy, Dad. Whatdya want? Whatdya want, Dad?'" — the crowd cheers, chants "Barron, Barron!" — "Whoa! Wow!... He's gonna like — he's a good boy. He's a tall boy. He's up there. Just turned 13. I say" — looks up — "'Hi, Barron. How ya doin'?"

I love the father-son interaction where the father tries to use his I'm the President of the United States,  in the classic don't talk to your father like that format.

And I totally agree with him that computerized movies are crap.

"Your insurance is like a bad boyfriend."



Elizabeth Warren (played by Kate McKinnon) is questioned by a pretty young woman (played by new SNL cast-member Chloe Fineman):

YOUNG WOMAN:  "My current insurance isn't perfect, but with your plan, I'd have to give it up, and that makes me nervous."

ELIZABETH WARREN: "You know what? I hear this from a lot of people, so let me help you understand. Your insurance is like a bad boyfriend. Girl, listen to me. You need to leave him. He’s draining you. You deserve better. Dump his ass!"

YOUNG WOMAN (getting emotional):  "I know! You're right! I'm settling! But I'm just scared to leave because what if it's the best I can get?"

ELIZABETH WARREN: "Girlfriend, how much is your deductible?"

YOUNG WOMAN (breaking down into painful tears): "$8,000. I don't even have dental. My teeth hurt so bad!"

ELIZABETH WARREN: "All right. You listen to me, you beautiful bitch. Here's what's going to happen. You’re going to call him and you’re going to end it. And I’m going to come right over with an apple strudel and we’re going to post up on the couch and watch my favorite show, which is somehow 'Ballers.’ And then one day — one day — Blue Cross/Blue Shield is going to text you from the club saying, 'Baby, I miss you.' And you’re going to say: 'New phone, who dis?' Okay, girlfriend? You're going to be just fine! Do you believe that?"
What has been a 7-minute sketch ends here with the woman saying "yes," Warren asking "So do I have your vote?" and the woman immediately stopping crying, brightening up into a young airhead and saying "I don't know. Pete Buttigieg seems nice." Warren is exasperated and tells her to "go to hell."

This idea — "Your insurance is like a bad boyfriend" — made me think of "The Life of Julia" and the notion that the government can somehow become your husband.

"Elizabeth Warren swatted back at Joe Biden’s criticism of her $21 trillion Medicare-for-All plan Friday, accusing him of 'running in the wrong presidential primary.'"

"'Democrats are not going to win by repeating Republican talking points,' the Massachusetts senator said in Des Moines, Iowa. 'So, if Biden doesn’t like that, I’m just not sure where he’s going.'"

Bloomberg reports.

"Option 1: Maintain our current system, which will cost the country $52 trillion over ten years... Option 2: Switch to my approach to Medicare for All, which would cost the country just under $52 trillion over ten years."

Elizabeth Warren explains the math.

ADDED: I don't know — and don't believe anyone could know — if the numbers will work out that neatly. Even if you pick an option and let the 10 years pass, you couldn't know, because you don't run the real-world experiment on the other option. Of course, everyone knows this. You still have to pick.

But let's assume for the sake of analysis that the 2 options cost roughly the same. Another way of putting this, is let's imagine the thought processes of an American voter who completely accepts the premise that the 2 options consume the same amount of money. Why would this person pick Option 1?

I think it would go something like this: I and my loved ones are on track to get a pretty decent share of the $52 trillion in health care services that will be provided in the next 10 years. I know everyone deserves access to health care, but I think there might some big groups of needy people — including people who are migrating to our country — who will be taking a lot more if we switch to Option 2, and my hopes and expectations, which I've built up over a lifetime, will not be met.

That is, even if the same amount of money is spent either way, there's an instinctive fear that if the money is amassed centrally and redistributed, you'll be worse off.

I'm not an economist or an expert on health care, and I haven't read the entire Elizabeth Warren document, and I probably never will. I loathe the subject of finance, and I respect it enough to refrain from offering half-assed opinions on the subject. All I am attempting to discuss is the instinctive emotional reaction to "socialized" medicine. And I'm saying that as someone who has always assumed that a single-payer system would be better and would save money.

ADDED: My thought experiment, above, includes wondering about health care for all the migrants who are continually arriving in the country and who would, presumably, arrive in greater numbers in a Warren administration. Warren's plan does say something about immigration.
I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our values, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and expanded legal immigration consistent with my principles. That’s not only the right thing to do – it also increases federal revenue we can dedicate to Medicare for All as new people come into the system and pay taxes. Based on CBO’s analysis of the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, experts project that immigration reform would generate an additional $400 billion in direct federal revenue.
That is, the immigrants won't cost more. They'll provide more revenue.

Judging Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, WaPo's fact-checker Glenn Kessler — instead of giving a Pinocchio rating — concludes "Readers have to view these proposals mostly as political messaging statements."

I'm reading "Bernie Sanders vs. Kamala Harris on taxes for Medicare-for-all." Here's the whole conclusion:
Readers have to view these proposals mostly as political messaging statements.

Sanders acknowledges that he will raise taxes on most Americans, but argues that all but the wealthy will experience a net gain in income. Harris is trying to one-up him by saying that she would not impose additional taxes on the middle class, even though Sanders’s pitch is exactly the opposite — that the middle class will experience higher incomes and lower health-care costs. She sidesteps the issue of whether most Americans should pay some kind of premium to get their health care, as they do currently under both Medicare and Obamacare.

Her proposal to impose a financial transactions tax would roughly make up for the lost revenue from not imposing premiums on people making less than $100,000 — but there could be gaping holes elsewhere.
You can see that doesn't say he's avoiding the usual Pinocchios (so, of course, there's no explanation of this deviation from the usual). Has Kessler ever before silently eschewed Pinocchios and substituted a line like "Readers have to view these proposals mostly as political messaging statements"?

I'm a reader, is he telling me what I "have" to do, what point of view I must take? And look at that weasel word: "mostly." Even if I accept his instruction and mostly think That's a political messaging statement, what about the rest of my thoughts? In that part, should I think Bernie and Kamala are somewhat shading the facts (1 Pinocchio), committing significant factual errors or obvious contradictions (2 or 3 Pinocchios), or telling whoppers (4 Pinocchios)? (See the fact checker's own description of the ratings here).

On my own, not following anyone's instructions, I already tend to view everything politicians say as "political messaging statements." So I wonder what's so special about Sanders and Harris that they emerge from a fact checking without experiencing judgment? We, the readers, are told that we shouldn't be so judgmental! Why am I slogging through a fact-checker column when it's perfectly easy to relegate everything candidates to the category "political messaging statements"? I could become the cynic who mutters "It's all politics!" It would save me a lot of time.

I checked the WaPo archive to see if Glenn Kessler had ever used the phrase "political messaging" before. He has not. This is a new exit route for him, it seems. I give it one Pinocchio. I don't know if he's favoring Harris and Sanders or if the straightforward answer is that no one can speak accurately about something as complex as restructuring the financing of health care.

But if the truth is the candidates can't do more than make political messaging statements, then a fact-checker, to be truthful, needs to say that these facts cannot be checked. Ah, but then you see the way in which Harris and Sanders deserve at least 1 Pinocchio: They're making statements about things they cannot know, offering assurances where there is, necessarily, insecurity.

The NYT struggles to cheer up the anti-Trumpsters with "Bad Times in Trumpville."

Bad times? How can that be?

Gail Collins writes:
I know some of you were very sad about the way the Mueller report let Donald Trump off the hook. Even if you secretly doubted that he was actually well-organized enough to run an international conspiracy, it made you depressed to see him looking so happy.

But then he took off on the worst victory lap since — well, do you remember that baseball player who celebrated his grand slam home run by leaping in the air and fracturing a leg?

“We’re not talking about health care right now, but I will,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

He also vowed to make the Republicans “the party of health care.” Great strategy!
And here we go again, presuming Trump does everything wrong... because you so much want him to be wrong. What if those thoughts he's causing you to have — thoughts about what an utter screw-up he is — are part of his genius way of winning?

I scrolled quickly through 5 of the Sunday morning talk shows.

For many years, I've DVR'd "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," "State of the Union," "Fox News Sunday," and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," and I used to watch nearly all of all of them and carefully select things to blog. I'd jot down key words so I could find things in the transcript, and I'd talk about them at length here. In the Trump years, however, I've gotten to the point where I won't watch at all, and I will leave the room if someone else even starts to watch. But I did choose to look today, because I wanted to see if Bill Kristol was on and if so, if he's finally lost his big supercilious smile (The Weekly Standard having been murdered the other day).

Answer: No, he was not on. But this did give me a chance to test my aversion. I did stop to watch Amy Klobuchar, because, as you may have noticed, 3 days ago, I wrote, "Why aren't the Democratic candidates better? I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar." I got about halfway through it. Here's the transcript and video, so you can check my work. But I completely lost hope that she could be the nominee. This was precisely the occasion for her to show her stuff. This was an easy showcase, at exactly the right time, with a made-to-order Democratic Party issue: A court found the what's left of Obamacare unconstitutional, and people with pre-existing conditions are threatened with losing their health insurance coverage.

Now, it was a little unfair that the interviewer — CBS News's Margaret Brennan — was wearing an neon-bright yellow jacket while Klobuchar wore a dull shade of blue, but this was a softball interview, with no challenging questions, no surprising topics. And Klobuchar was mush-mouthed and dull. I was wondering out loud, why doesn't she have that crisp Sarah Palin style of Minnesotan speech? Where's the spirit and style? She seems like a student who shows up prepared and ready to do the assignment, but with no love of the game, no interest in lighting us on fire, nothing. Now, I personally am happy with nothing and would like a boring President. I don't need lighting up. I don't like political fervor. The main reason I don't watch these news shows is I hate the fervor. But you've got to look alive. You've got to come across as a real person who seems to be saying the words that are coming out of you. There's an art to being successfully boring.

Let me quote the place in the transcript where I lost hope:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Barrasso who was just here said that he does think there's room for legislation to protect preexisting conditions, one of the things that would get thrown out with this ruling if it's upheld. Would you--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: But I just mentioned a number of other things that would also have to be done. So the best thing here--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But is there room for Democrats to work on those sort of issue specific things with Republicans?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: There's always room to work on things but the best way - and what I believe will happen - is this will be stayed in court. So it continues to take effect. Then it will go up on appeal. It will be upheld.
Klobuchar has a law degree (from the University of Chicago), but she spoke so unclearly about law. Brennan had just spoken about what might happen "with this ruling if it's upheld." Then Klobuchar said "It will be upheld" when she meant that Obamacare will be upheld. When you say that a ruling goes up on appeal, the word "upheld" should mean that the court below was affirmed. Not the opposite! I could see what she meant, but I was so disappointed by the garbling when she had every reason to be absolutely prepared to nail this interview.
I liked the 2 times at yesterday's Las Vegas rally when Trump talked about computers — first, to say what's wrong with movies and second, enacting a scene between him and Barron. "Your insurance is like a bad boyfriend."

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