The Mandate Is Now Winning 3-2 In The Courts–But Remains A Bad Idea

While rulings against the Affordable Care Act tend to get more publicity, a third judge has ruled that health care reform is constitutional. The latest case was heard in  the District of Columbia by a Clinton appointee. We now have three Democratic appointees ruling in favor of the law and two Republican appointees claiming it is unconstitutional. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will rule.

The ruling points out that to make one of the arguments against the law is to “ignore reality.” This could also be said for most conservative arguments on pretty much any topic these days.

While I believe the constitutional arguments against the individual mandate are nonsense, and that the mandate is not sufficient reason to oppose the necessary reforms in the act, it remains a mistake for Democrats to support the individual mandate. This is an old Republican idea which Democrats never should have adopted. There are other ways to handle the free rider problem.

The division here is often between the more traditional Democrats and those of us who vote Democratic primarily because we oppose the type of big government supported by Republicans which generally is more intrusive in the lives of individuals. Unlike conservatives, we also recognize that there are areas where government action is necessary when the market fails, such as with the individual insurance market.

The underlying problem here is that, while there are justifications for it, the individual mandate changes the perception of health care reform from something being done by government to assist those who desire assistance to something which is being imposed by big government. I know some on the left respond to arguments such as this by claiming it helps conservatives by using conservative frames. As I have argued many times before, they are wrong. Individual liberty has historically been the liberal position and liberals should both embrace this position and take it into consideration in the drafting of legislation. The old Republican position of using individual mandates to solve the free rider problem should be rejected in favor of alternative measures.

Many ideas have been proposed to handle the free rider problem to prevent people from waiting until they are sick to purchase health insurance if there are no restrictions on pre-existing conditions. We could have open enrollment periods like the voluntary Medicare Part D program, with those who purchasing outside of such open enrollment periods being subject to the old insurance company rules. There could also be higher premiums for those who sign up later, as is also done with Medicare Part D, to make up for the premiums not paid into the system when the individual was younger and healthier. There could be financial penalties, possibly enforced by the IRS, upon those who cost the government money by seeking health care coverage after failing to purchase insurance to compensate for this cost to society. Bankruptcy laws could be changed so that people who declined insurance cannot eliminate debts for health care. Changes such as this could limit the problems from the free rider problem, while eliminating the major reason why many on both the left and right have opposed the current plan.

David Letterman’s “Top Ten Little-Known Facts About United States Presidents” & Other Presidents’ Day Jokes

It’s a little late, but here’s some highlights from Presidents’ Day.

David Letterman’s “Top Ten Little-Known Facts About United States Presidents

10. William Howard Taft was so fat, he’s considered our 27th and 28th presidents
9. Teddy Roosevelt answered the phone, ‘Hellosevelt?’
8. The K in James K. Polk stood for Kanye
7. Like the cartoon cat, James A. Garfield loved lasagna and hated Mondays
6. To conserve energy when possible, Jimmy Carter would travel via pogo stick
5. During one of his fireside chats, FDR accidentally burned down the map room
4. John Tyler was the only president to work his way up from the mailroom
3. Zachary Taylor’s vice president was a cocker spaniel named Angus
2. Our only unmarried president, James Buchanan was fond of posing as his own first lady
1. George W. Bush was not born in the United States

And some bonus Presidents’ Day jokes:

“Bill Clinton recently revealed that he only sent two e-mails while he was President. Then he added, “And it turns out those pills are just a scam.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Happy Presidents Day. This is a day when we celebrate history by getting great deals on mattresses.” –Craig Ferguson

“President Taft was so fat that before he was elected to the Oval Office it was square.” –Craig Ferguson

“I’m glad we have a day for the presidents, but shouldn’t we have a day for Congress when the Senate and the House can kick back and not worry about getting anything done? Oh, wait.” –Craig Ferguson

Quote of the Day

“All across the Middle East in the streets, people are demanding democracy. It’s amazing. The only way in America you get people to get worked up like that is to threaten to give them health care.” –Bill Maher