I thought about replying to comments to the preceding post with my own, but upon reflection, I thought they deserved a subsequent post.
Regarding the President’s criticism of the Court (as well as his improvident weighing in on other issues) I wish he wouldn’t. Whether it hurts or helps him politically, I don’t know, but, for better or for worse, he is my President.
I have no problem with criticism of any branch of the government. The Supreme Court has gotten it very wrong in a number of instances, Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Wickard v. Filburn are some examples. It has become more politicized over the past half-century or so because it has taken up matters and made some rulings counter to the sense of right and wrong and common sense for, if not a majority, a significant minority, of the populace.
The point about Justice Thomas’ alleged conflict of interest is useless, especially since the even more serious question of conflict of Justice Kagan’s possible conflict goes unmentioned. No big deal; if they vote according to their perceived ideologies, they cancel each other out anyway. Further comment in this regard would be meaningless and a waste of time.
The issue of the individual mandate in ObamaCare would not be couched in “sharing the responsibility” because it is ludicrous to think that a Republican majority would have passed it or a Republican President (even McCain) would have signed such a bill. Romney supported it at the state level when he was governor of Massachusetts. States have general police powers that the Constitution does not give to Congress. Massachusetts can do what it wants with regard to the welfare of its citizens; Texas should not have to do the same thing.
Insofar as the provenance of the individual mandate from such think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute is concerned, think tanks are supposed to weigh alternatives, sometimes get it wrong, and make corrections. I tend to form my ideas fro many sources, many of whose points of which I tend to disagree with. A Constitutional analysis of the individual mandate does not depend upon whose idea it was or wasn’t, so I have not particularly cared who thought it up. It is merely an ad hominem (or one of the related fallacies). Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued because I know neither Heritage nor Cato support the mandate today. I appreciate many leads to discovering sources, and the link to procon.org is helpful. I discovered the following:
Stuart Butler, a Heritage Foundation fellow, explains his part in the Foundation’s study in the 1990s:
“Is the individual mandate at the heart of ‘ObamaCare’ a conservative idea? Is it constitutional? And was it invented at The Heritage Foundation? In a word, no.
* * *
“The confusion arises from the fact that 20 years ago, I held the view that as a technical matter, some form of requirement to purchase insurance was needed in a near-universal insurance market to avoid massive instability through “adverse selection” (insurers avoiding bad risks and healthy people declining coverage). At that time, President Clinton was proposing a universal health care plan, and Heritage and I devised a viable alternative.
* * *
” . . . the version of the health insurance mandate Heritage and I supported in the 1990s had three critical features. First, it was not primarily intended to push people to obtain protection for their own good, but to protect others. Like auto damage liability insurance required in most states, our requirement focused on “catastrophic” costs — so hospitals and taxpayers would not have to foot the bill for the expensive illness or accident of someone who did not buy insurance.
“Second, we sought to induce people to buy coverage primarily through the carrot of a generous health credit or voucher, financed in part by a fundamental reform of the tax treatment of health coverage, rather than by a stick.
“And third, in the legislation we helped craft that ultimately became a preferred alternative to ClintonCare, the “mandate” was actually the loss of certain tax breaks for those not choosing to buy coverage, not a legal requirement.
* * *
“Moreover, I agree with my legal colleagues at Heritage that today’s version of a mandate exceeds the constitutional powers granted to the federal government. Forcing those Americans not in the insurance market to purchase comprehensive insurance for themselves goes beyond even the most expansive precedents of the courts.
“And there’s another thing. Changing one’s mind about the best policy to pursue — but not one’s principles — is part of being a researcher at a major think tank such as Heritage or the Brookings Institution. Serious professional analysts actually take part in a continuous bipartisan and collegial discussion about major policy questions. We read each other’s research. We look at the facts. We talk through ideas with those who agree or disagree with us. And we change our policy views over time based on new facts, new research or good counter arguments.
“Thanks to this good process, I’ve altered my views on many things. The individual mandate in health care is one of them.”
As Mahatma Gandhi once said (paraphrased): What I say today is inconsistent with what I said yesterday because I’ve learned something since then. Good advice to us all.
See Butler’s entire article at this link:
Regarding the Cato Institute’s position when the Clinton proposals were being considered, here is an excerpt from Policy Analysis No. 210: Nickles-Stearns Is Not the Market Choice for HealthCare Reform (June 13, 19940 by Tom Miller
“The Consumer Choice Health Security Act, of which Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) are primary sponsors, is one of the leading proposals for health care reform. Unfortunately, it sets contradictory objectives: universal coverage and increased consumer choice, individual responsibility, and competition in health insurance markets. Absent a major overhaul, it will neither ensure that health care markets remain private and voluntary nor make them more competitive, efficient, and responsive to consumers’ wishes.
“The primary virtue of Nickles-Stearns is that it avoids the worst features of the Clinton administration’s proposed Health Security Act. Nickles-Stearns would make health insurance more portable, avoid structural disruptions in coverage, and encourage individuals to choose health insurance in a more cost-conscious manner.
“However, the legislation (as introduced last November) contains a number of serious flaws. It endorses the concept of compulsory universal insurance coverage and imposes a standardized ‘minimum’ package of health insurance benefits. Its cost-sharing requirements would undercut the appeal of Medical Savings Accounts. Its efforts to eliminate risk selection in insurance markets are both futile and counter-productive. It provides inadequate incentives for restraining health care costs and hampers the use of more effective devices to do so.
“By failing to provide a clear alternative based on market principles, Nickles-Stearns blurs opposition to Clinton-style health care legislation. By focusing the political debate on the wrong issues, it opens the door to extensive political interference in private health care decisions.”
Hardly an endorsement of the individual mandate as it is in ObamaCare.
Keep the cards and letters coming. Send money.