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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Why did Roberts flip? Why did the American people flip?

It is now acknowledged that Justice Roberts did indeed flip his opinion on the ACA. Originally, he was set to kill the thing -- then he decided to keep it alive.
Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.
The inner-workings of the Supreme Court are almost impossible to penetrate. The Court's private conferences, when the justices discuss cases and cast their initial votes, include only the nine members - no law clerks or secretaries are permitted. The justices are notoriously close-lipped, and their law clerks must agree to keep matters completely confidential.

But in this closely-watched case, word of Roberts' unusual shift has spread widely within the Court, and is known among law clerks, chambers' aides and secretaries. It also has stirred the ire of the conservative justices, who believed Roberts was standing with them.
It is even suggested that Roberts had a hand in crafting the dissent before he decided to go the other way.

CBS does not name any sources for this story, but it's pretty obvious that much of the inside information came from people working for Justice Kennedy -- and that this looseness of lip probably had Kennedy's sanction.

So the question remains: Why did Roberts flip? The CBS News piece argues, unconvincingly, that he acted out of conscience. Sorry. I can't buy that.

Neither can I accept that Roberts bowed to pressure from the administration or the NYT. If that kind of pressure were effective, then the Citizens United decision would have read very differently.

Nevertheless, I do believe that Roberts is susceptible to pressure -- from the right. He is a creature of the conservative movement. Bush would not have put Roberts where he is if Roberts were undependable.

I think that someone told him that allowing the ACA to stand -- at least for now -- will help Romney get elected. Romney seems convinced that Obamacare is a winning issue for him, and I don't believe he's bluffing. Mitch McConnell says that Roberts' decision to define the mandate as a tax makes it much easier for the Senate to overturn the ACA, since a supermajority is not needed.

(It is interesting to note that a country addicted to conspiracy theories usually draws the line when it comes to the Supreme Court. We love to express paranoia about everything and everyone except for those nine people. To the best of my recollection, the only major work of fiction to offer up a Supreme Court conspiracy theory is John Grisham's The Pelican Brief. If you try to conjure up with a scenario in which Roberts meets with Powerful Men In Dark Rooms, your exercise in fear-mongering will at least have the virtue of novelty.)

The Roberts flip is intriguing, but I'm even more interested in the profound shift of public opinion. The most interesting poll to come out of this controversy is this one from Fox Pseudonews, published just before the Supremes rendered their decision...
A Fox News poll released Wednesday finds nearly half of voters oppose the law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.  Thirty-nine percent favor the law.  Thirty-nine percent -- the exact same number -- also favored it at the time it was passed two years ago (April 2010). 

What should happen if the court invalidates the entire health care law?  The largest number of voters -- 47 percent -- thinks Congress should try to pass “more modest” reforms.  The rest divide evenly between the opposite ends of the spectrum:  24 percent want Congress to keep pushing the issue and try to pass the “most extensive” reforms it can, while another 24 percent want lawmakers to stay out of health care altogether.

The preference for moderation on health care extends across party lines.
Yes, I know: This is Fox we are talking about. Fox News' idea of "moderation" is not mine.

Still, it would appear that those who want the "most extensive" reforms -- which is simply another way of saying single-payer -- are in the minority. A mere 24 percent of the citizenry are single payer advocates, according to this poll. Even if we presume that the real number is 34 percent, we're still talking about a minority opinion.

And yet...and yet...

Things were very different as recently as February, 2009.
A New York Times/CBS News poll released last week shows, yet again, that the majority of Americans support national health insurance.

The poll, which compares answers to the same questions from 30 years ago, finds that, “59% [of Americans] say the government should provide national health insurance, including 49% who say such insurance should cover all medical problems.”

Only 32% think that insurance should be left to private enterprise.
The number of people favoring single-payer has been halved -- if we can trust the new Fox numbers. I don't. But at the same time, I must presume that their numbers aren't lightyears away from the real ones. Conclusion: In just a few short years, American opinion has undergone a radical change; many millions of people made a hard right shift in defiance of their own best interests.

Such is the power of propaganda.
"Such is propaganda." If propaganda was the reason for the views that people hold, I suggest to you that the Democrats and the Republicans can dish out propaganda (bought or free of charge from different media outlets). Obamacare is like those drugs that help certain conditions, but have horrendous side effects. I think Justice Roberts made a good call. The government can tax us anytime it wants for whatever reason. Justice Roberts is like a martial arts fighter. He used the left leaning justices who wanted to uphold ACA at any price to defeat a legislation that is very bad. He was unwilling to take the responsibility that belongs to the American people. The voters will decide this November the fate of the Democratic Party and ACA.
I want to note that the two polls mentioned here are not comparable. For polls to be comparable they must be done by the same pollster to ensure similarity of pool and that the question is exactly the same and rotated in the same manner.
There is a difference between supporting a national health plan (minus insurance companies), you know, like Medicare for All, and supporting the ACA, which mandates that we must pay private corporations for lousy, if any, coverage, at astronomical cost.

Insurers want the ACA - check their stocks. Roberts is a corporatist whore, always was. Kennedy appears to be a petty bully, like all men when they get too much power. What a joke they all are. The supposed liberals went along with the "tax" rationale, anything to keep this piece of garbage bill alive. So how are they any better?
What I meant to say was: the American people did not flip; they have been entirely consistent.
Anon, you misunderstood the Fox poll. The pollsters did not ask "Do you support the ACA?" They asked (in essence): "If the ACA fails, do you want something stronger or more moderate?" By "stronger," we can presume that they meant single-payer.

Only 24 percent said they wanted "stronger."

Now, as noted, this IS Fox. Their bias might have skewed the poll. And as DM noted, there are all sorts of technical issues we have consider.

(Nevertheless, the two polls are "comparable." Anything may be compared with anything else. Look up "compare" in the dictionary.)

My hunch is that, although a better pollster might have come up with more reliable numbers, the Fox numbers can't be THAT far off.

So, yeah, the public has changed.
I have only basic understanding of statistics, but just enough to say this: Each of those polls stands on its own, and to extrapolate from a newer poll with different questions, by a different pollster, and determine there's been a change since the earlier poll is erroneous.
Watching the other FNN (Fuji News Network) Japan is restarting some nuclear reactors. They were covering the protests. The other thing they were protesting is the deployment of 12 Osprey aircraft to military bases in Japan. Apparently they are adverse to them crashing and buring in neighborhood adjacent to the bases.
Can somebody explain the following ObamaCare scenario to me?

Person A, aged 41, makes 210,000 a year,
Person B, aged 41, makes 75,000 a year,

Do they both pay the same premium amount for Obama Care?

If they both pay the same premium amount, then clearly Person B is getting screwed over, big time.

If they do not pay the same premium amount for healthcare, isn't person A being illegally charged more than Person B for the same level of care? That does not seem fair either.

Does not this open the door to throw out income tax and just have a flat tax for everybody, and within that flat tax, Obama Care would be automatically paid for?

At least then, people making less would get a helping hand by simply buying less "stuff" every year while still getting ObamaCare. Rather than Person B's financial obligation being a bigger part of their overall yearly income than someone more wealthy.
I might have found an answer. Apparently, if a person chooses not to pay for mandatory healthcare, the IRS declares the amount of the premium not paid as, INCOME.

So if a premium for a single person was 3,000 dollars for one year, and it went unpaid, the IRS automatically declares that they made 3,000 dollars above and beyond whatever their income actually was.

So it's not a one to one tax or penalty as I feared.

However, it still appears to be a tax or penalty that could hurt the poor moreso than the rich since someone making 50,000 may have much less spending margin in their month to month expenses than someone making 200,000.

Example, someone making 50,000 is bumped to 53,000 by the IRS because they did not pay for healthcare versus someone making 200,000 is bumped to 203,000 by the IRS.

I'm not sure that is equitable even though the person making 200,000 is in a higher tax bracket already because odds are the less one makes, the more one is barely scraping by.

Unless those making under a certain amount are being exempted from having to pay at all?

If no one is being exempted from healthcare costs, than we get back to the flat tax analogy.

Liberals have called Flat Taxes unfair to the poor because a standard percentage tax generally affects the poor more so than someone more wealthy. I would be willing to go flat tax at this point and have healthcare covered within the flat tax because the flat tax can only go so high no matter what, whereas the healthcare tax appears to be another tax gotcha added to already existing taxes.
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