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The Individual Mandate’s Shameless Flip-Floppers

From The Hill:

GOPers Who Were For It Before They Were Against It

By Juan Williams

12/05/11 05:15 AM ET

What do Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, have in common?

Long before President Obama, both supported an idea they now pretend to spurn — the idea of requiring people to buy health insurance.

As recently as 2009, Romney publicly supported, the “individual mandate” for buying health insurance. And as recently as last month one of Gingrich’s websites still endorsed the “mandate” for all Americans earning more than $50,000 annually.

Romney and Gingrich are not alone in their history of supporting the idea of a government requirement that everyone buy health insurance. As governor of Utah in 2007, Jon Huntsman endorsed a healthcare reform plan from the United Way of Salt Lake City that called for a mandate.

“I think if you’re going to get it done and get it done right, the mandate has to be part of it in some way, shape or form,” he said at the time.

Gingrich, Romney and Huntsman are wide open to charges of political hypocrisy.

They apparently feel the need to fake their outrage over the individual mandate to win the GOP nomination. In an age of outrageous political posturing — telling lies and daring anyone to call you on it — this is the strongest indicator of the current lack of leadership and honest political debate about major national problems.

And it is not even good politics. Continue reading

The Medicaid Ambush

From Slate:

The Supreme Court’s unexpected and astounding reasons for wanting to hear a challenge to Obamacare.

By and

Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which means a five-and-a-half-hour oral argument before the court this spring, with a ruling likely by the end of June. It’s hardly surprising that the court agreed to hear this case: There was a deep split of opinion between several federal appellate courts, 26 states say they hate this law, and the Obama administration wanted the court to hear it quickly. The surprise is which issues the court has asked each side to address, and for how long. By this measure, the court’s announcement is precisely 64 percent expected, 18 percent unexpected, and 18 percent astounding.

The health care law, signed by President Obama in March 2010, extended insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans, in part by requiring citizens to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty. That “individual mandate” provision was the one that launched a thousand Tea Parties, and it’s the issue to which most constitutional scrutiny has been devoted: Can the government, under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, regulate “inactivity” (i.e., the decision not to purchase health insurance), and by what principle can we limit such unspeakable powers (i.e., how far can it go in forcing citizens to eat broccoli)?

The court will hear arguments on that issue for two hours. It will also entertain 90 minutes of argument on the mandate’s “severability”—that is, whether the entire law collapses if the individual mandate provision is deemed unconstitutional. (The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, even as it struck down the mandate, believed that the law itself would stand.)

So that’s three-and-a-half hours of debate. What are they going to argue about for the remaining two hours? That’s where it gets interesting. Continue reading

ACA Opponents Wine & Dine Justices Scalia, Thomas

From The Los Angeles Times:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks to a policy forum in Washington last month. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

By James Oliphant

November 14, 2011

The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

The occasion was last Thursday, when all nine justices met for a conference to pore over the petitions for review. One of the cases at issue was a suit brought by 26 states challenging the sweeping healthcare overhaul passed by Congress last year, a law that has been a rallying cry for conservative activists nationwide.

The justices agreed to hear the suit; indeed, a landmark 5 1/2-hour argument is expected in March, and the outcome is likely to further roil the 2012 presidential race, which will be in full swing by the time the court’s decision is released.

The lawyer who will stand before the court and argue that the law should be thrown out is likely to be Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.

Clement’s law firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of almost two dozen firms that helped sponsor the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, a longstanding group dedicated to advocating conservative legal principles. Another firm that sponsored the dinner, Jones Day, represents one of the trade associations that challenged the law, the National Federation of Independent Business.

Another sponsor was pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc, which has an enormous financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. The dinner was held at a Washington hotel hours after the court’s conference over the case. In attendance was, among others, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican and an avowed opponent of the healthcare law.

The featured guests at the dinner? Scalia and Thomas. Continue reading

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