Balkinization  

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Our Tricameral (and Dysfunctional) System of Government

Sandy Levinson

Today's New York Times includes a story by Robert Pears, titled "Bush Is Prepared to Veto Bill to Expand Child Insurance." Excerpts follow:


The White House said on Saturday that President Bush would veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, drafted over the last six months by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee. [The current program expires on Sept. 30.]

The vow puts Mr. Bush at odds with the Democratic majority in Congress, with a substantial number of Republican lawmakers and with many governors of both parties, who want to expand the popular program to cover some of the nation’s eight million uninsured children....

The proposal would increase current levels of spending by $35 billion over the next five years, bringing the total to $60 billion. The Congressional Budget Office says the plan would reduce the number of uninsured children by 4.1 million.

The new spending would be financed by an increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco products. The tax on cigarettes would rise to $1 a pack, from the current 39 cents....

White House officials said the president had several other reasons [besides the fact that the proposed legislation would raise cigarette taxes to $1/pack] to veto the bipartisan Senate plan.

“The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,” Mr. Fratto[, the White House spokesman,] said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.”

In addition, Mr. Fratto said, the Senate plan does not include any of Mr. Bush’s proposals to change the tax treatment of health insurance, in an effort to make it more affordable for millions of Americans.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, said he would like to consider such tax proposals. But, he said, “it’s not realistic — given the lack of bipartisan support for the president’s plan — to think that can be accomplished before the current children’s health care program runs out in September.”



There are so many things that could be said about this story, beginning with the political and moral corruption of an administration that is spending over $325,000/soldier/year in Iraq (according to a recent column by Nick Kristoff] on a disastrous war of choice, but I forbear from further unadorned political commentary.

Instead, as is presumably no surprise, I want to return to my major theme, which is the fact that our "hard-wired' Constitution is far more important than the parts that judges (and law professors) obsess about. Here we are dealing with an issue of importance to literally millions of children (and their parents), unlike the basic triviality of, say, the "Bongs 4 Jesus" case (which I think was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court, for what that's worth); indeed, if truth be known, I strongly suspect that the fate of the Children's Health Insurance Program is more important to the actual lives of children than the Seattle-Louisville cases, whose impact at this point is absolutely unknowable (not least, of course, because of Justice Kennedy's cryptic opinion).

And why is it that millions will be deprived of coverage? It's tempting just to focus on the ideological fanaticism of the Bush Administration in favor of destroying governmentally-administered medical programs and not being perceived as raising taxes. But what makes this fanaticism causally relevant is the fact that our Constitution gives the President the legal authority to override by veto any legislation that can't get the support of 2/3 of each House, including, of course, the indefensibly apportioned US Senate. (In South Africa, for example, the President cannot veto bills on non-constitutional grounds, so the fact that President Mbeki has a number of stupid views concerning AIDS is irrelevant with regard to the legal ability of the South African Parliament to pass sensible legislation that might be opposed by the President.)

I will forbear from attacking the particular legitimacy of this President, for I see no good reason to give Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama similar power. Condemning some specific policy-based vetoes while praising others (such as Bill Clinton's veto of the egregious bankruptcy bill) is a little like the ultimately pointless debates over "judicial activism." If one really doesn't want such "activism," adopt Mark Tushnet's suggestion to abolish judicial review. Otherwise, it's only a debate about which judges' distinctive ideological visions will be written into law in opinions that will be prasied or condemned depending on whether or not the observer shares the visions. Ditto re the presidential veto. I'm ready to abolish it, at least when not founded on serious constitutional objections.

It is hard enough to run the hurdles posed by a bicameral system where, unlike many countries around the world, each House has an absolute veto on the other. It is, I believe, indefensible to give a single individual, who has no conceivable claim to greater legitimacy than the collective House and Senate, the power to set aside their expressed political judgment. As noted above, I am willing to support a presidential veto based on constitutional doubts about legislation; this is why I refused to join in criticizing the Bush Administration for the very idea of issuing signing statements or arguing that the President has no duty to enforce laws that would, in his view, violate the Constitution. But none of this justifies the countermajoritarian policy-based presidential veto that contributes to the ever-increasing, well-merited, view of the American public that nothing really can get done through our present political system.

Consider a recent column by Benjamin Wittes, on "The Supreme Court's Looming Legitimacy Crisis,"based on the fact that the Court enjoys an approval rating of only 51%, though that is almost exactly double Bush's or Congress's rate of 26%. Frankly, a legitimacy crisis for the Supreme Court may not be all that important, given the demonstration by Fred Schauer in his Foreword to last November's Harvard Law Review that relatively little that the Court does affects the lives of most Americans. (Our Balkinization colleague Mark Graber had earlier made this point by way of demonstrating the de Tocqueville was simply wrong, even at the time he was writing, in suggesting that all, or even most or many, political issues are transformed into legal issues to be decided by the judiciary.) From the perspective of ordinary Americans, the most important decision this term might be the outrageous reading of the state of limitations regarding filing for claims of employment discrimination against women.

But if Wittes is willing to use the term "legitimacy crisis" with reference to a Supreme Court that decides relatively few issues of major importance to most Americans--and still hangs on, even if by only a fingernail, to majority approval--then aren't we facing a far more serious legitimacy crisis with regard to the institutions that purportedly do deal with pressing issues? Quite remarkably, there are no serious independents running for the White House this year. If Mayor Bloomberg runs, it will be apparently on a "good government, non-partisan" platform. But at what point will we face our home-grown Mussolini who will call on us to scrap our ostensibly "beloved" Constitution because of its ever more patent dysfunctionality? How, exactly, will we answer such a critique? We already are seeing this, of course, with regard to fighting the "war on terror," and Guiliani certainly has the fascist persona, though he is running a one-issue campaign based on the "war on terror." What happens when a more Poujadist figure, say someone like Lou Dobbs, turns to domestic policy and declares that it is time for a strongman to rule by decree? Can it really "not happen here"? Why not? It's certainly not because the US is functioning so well under the parts of our 18th Century Constitution that have undergone no "constitutional moments."

Indeed, consider the possibility that the major "constitutional moments" of the past quarter-century may have been 1) the de-facto adoption by the Senate of a 60-vote requirement for almost any legislation of substance, which, obviously, only makes it ever less likely that Congress can effectively respond to issues facing the United States and 2) the ever-increasing politicization of the administrative agencies by aggressive presidents who have become frustrated at congressional inaction, a development brilliantly set out (and defended) by Elena Kagan in a Harvard Law Review article on the Clinton administration's use of administrative agencies.

Justice Brennan began his great dissent in McClesky v. Kemp by asking us to imagine how Warren McClesky's lawyer would explain to him why he was going to be put to death in spite of conclusive evidence that the Georgia legal system was over 4 times as likely to kill a black murdere of a white person than any other murderer (white-white, white-black, black-black). So how do we explain to children (and their families) why they will not have better health coverage even if healthy (pun intended) bi-partisan majorities (but not 2/3 in each House) of both the United States House and Represenatives and United States Senate are willing to give it to them?
And should we expect them to pledge allegiance, without reservation, to a flag that is supposed to signify a "republic" pledged to "justice for all"?

There are, incidentally, approximately 555 days remaining int he Bush Admninistration.

Comments:

This bill for targeted expansion of a medical care entitlement is the perfect example of why our system of checks and balances requiring a super majority to get things done ensures our freedom from a government tyranny of the majority.

The proposed bill foreswears a general tax for a tax targeted at only the roughly 25% of the country who smokes, a group which is disproportionately poor and so being is less likely to vote out of office politicians who raise their taxes.

In contrast, the beneficiaries of this new entitlement are not poor and fall largely in the lower middle class. Middle class citizens tend to vote more than the poor and form a majority of this country's voters.

In a nutshell, we have an awful bill in which a middle class majority steals from a poor minority to grant itself more benefits.

Thankfully, even though children are being used as the selling point, we do not have a super majority consensus supporting this reverse Robin Hood proposal and our constitutional checks and balances will most likely stop it.
 

" I want to return to my major theme, which is the fact that our "hard-wired' Constitution is far more important than the parts that judges (and law professors) obsess about."

And, in response, I'll return to an old theme of mine; To quote an old joke, "The Constitution has it's problems, but it's better than what we have now."

Our Constitution may be "hard-wired", but the judiciary has superimposed over it such a mass of jumpers and chewing gum, to achieve 'changes' that couldn't have been ratified as amendments, that to blame it's problems today on the Constitution, rather than the mess the courts have made of that document, is more than a bit unfair.
 

I have a lot of trouble with Mr. DePalma's suggestion that "the roughly 25% of the country who smokes [...] is disproportionately poor and so being is less likely to vote out of office politicians who raise their taxes."

- Why should some of our country's children be penalized with a lack of health insurance when the tax increase involves smokers who are abusing themselves with their addiction.

- I would also not rule out the deep needs of the lower middle class--people who are often left out of discussions of the middle class and the poor but whose socio-economic needs may make them cognizant of the struggles of the deeply poor while also striving to reach for better experiences in their lives. Furthermore, many socio-economically disadvantaged people (like I was raised) fluctuate between being very poor and being lower middle class. The terms, conditions, and experiences of socio-economic lifeways shift and change.

- I hate the suggestion that the poor (of whatever kind) do not have agency--or the power to act as meaning-makers and change-agents. Very poor smokers have the power to vote, to kick a smoking habit, to re-budget and spend less on cigarettes and all sorts of things. (While I have sympathy of poor citizens who are reformed criminals and who are disenfranchised of their votes in many states I am not even talking about them here).

It is for these reasons that I find Mr. DePalma's defense of the expanded children's health insurance bill very problematic.

There is simply no excuse--not whatsoever--for anyone opposing the best of universal health care for our country's children and the expanded bill is just as good as the president's proposal.
 

Bloodbelter said...

I have a lot of trouble with Mr. DePalma's suggestion that "the roughly 25% of the country who smokes [...] is disproportionately poor and so being is less likely to vote out of office politicians who raise their taxes."

- Why should some of our country's children be penalized with a lack of health insurance when the tax increase involves smokers who are abusing themselves with their addiction.


To start, what business of it of yours or the government whether smokers abuse themselves with their addiction?

Next, neither smokers or anyone else is taking health insurance away from these middle class children.

I hate the suggestion that the poor (of whatever kind) do not have agency--or the power to act as meaning-makers and change-agents.

You misunderstand me. I never said that the poor lacked the franchise or the ability to vote. Rather, I was commenting at the crass political calculation of the sponsors of this bill who are relying on the poor to choose not to vote or complain too much while the government is picking their pockets but none others to pay for this bill.

There is simply no excuse--not whatsoever--for anyone opposing the best of universal health care for our country's children and the expanded bill is just as good as the president's proposal.

This is not universal health care. This is buying votes of beneficiaries with the money of the poor.
 

The multiple-veto system we have now (bicameralism + filibuster as the default in the Senate + Presidential veto) probably does, as Professor Levinson suggests, make it harder for Congress to address the nation's problems.

To me, it raises the question: how does anything controversial get passed at all? Logrolling? Special interest money?

It's too bad that lower middle class children don't have massive bags of money to donate to congressional campaigns.

Also, I hate to respond to Bart DePalma's usual ridiculousness (please: tell me exactly how you would explain to a "lower middle class" child why he or she deserves not to have health insurance, while your children, I bet, have it?) but it is sort of fascinating to watch for moments like this when right-wingers suddenly purport to care about policy changes' disparate impact on the poor. Even confining ourselves to tax policy, "reverse Robin Hood proposal" describes nearly all the changes people like DePalma actually favor!
 

It certainly is my business, Mr. DePalma, if the bill concerns national welfare. This is the mark of being a citizen, sir: other people's habits (of all kinds) that effect the environment and others' health does indeed concern me. The welfare of children does indeed concern me. It is my business and all of our business, in my opinion. Would I wish to prohibit smokers from their habit? Absolutely not. A tax on cigarette products is not a prohibition. But, you know, I didn't even get into the health risks of smoking. Instead, I found fault with your covert apology for poor smokers.

And NO, I did not misunderstand you at all. I disagreed with you and found your reasoning problematic and at least covertly encouraging the denial of expanded health coverage to children--an expansion that goes a little further towards universal health care for children who should never, ever be penalized in the tangled web of health care problems.

Your original comment certainly did implicitly class poor people who smoke as devoid of the agency to vote and make good decisions about their health. As I said before, "the poor" are not a monolithic type, static in time, place, and agency. I wish people would stop making implicit and explicit suggestions like that. You treat "the poor" in your original comment just like that implicitly.

You say that the bill is about "buying votes of beneficiaries with the money of the poor." No it's not exactly. What a hyperbolic statement! The tax on cigarette products will effect all people who buy them. And without proper prospective statistics (which are a whole other group of data to quibble about) you don't and I don't know who will buy these products in the future, regardless of their socio-economic class.

The fact remains is that your original post was an odd apology for smokers who are going to buy cigarettes regardless of the products' costs because so many are addicted (for better or worse) and may not wish to quit (for better or worse); and, quite frankly, I don't have a problem with smokers. But I do have a problem with vetoing a bill that is doing good for children because some people are afraid of a rise in cigarette-related taxes. That seems indefensible to me and I respectfully disagree with you, sir; that's all.
 

JR said...

please: tell me exactly how you would explain to a "lower middle class" child why he or she deserves not to have health insurance, while your children, I bet, have it?

Play your leftist guilt trip on someone dumb enough to fall for it.

I am not the one hypocritically masquerading as the "Party of the Poor" while picking the pockets of the poor to buy votes from the middle class because I am too cowardly to try to sell a plan where everyone pays substantially higher taxes for universal health care.

it is sort of fascinating to watch for moments like this when right-wingers suddenly purport to care about policy changes' disparate impact on the poor.

:::chuckle:::

You are talking to a supporter of a proportional income ("flat") tax or better yet the abolishment and replacement of the income tax with a proportional sales (FAIR) tax. I do not support the left's ongoing cowardly abuse of majority rule to loot either the minority poor or rich. The Founders foresaw such abuses of democracy and that is why they designed the Constitution's checks and balances.

Even confining ourselves to tax policy, "reverse Robin Hood proposal" describes nearly all the changes people like DePalma actually favor!

Only a leftist can state with a straight face that taxing the poor and giving the proceeds to the government is not a reverse "Robin Hood" scheme, but declining to take far more taxes from the wealthy than anyone else pays is somehow "robbing the poor."

Amazing.
 

Let's face it. Our system was designed to make passing laws difficult on the theory that it is better to obstruct good laws than to facilitate bad ones. This is a basically sound principle, even though the inefficiency of our current system is often frustrating. As for where to draw the line to make laws difficult to pass without paralyzing the system altogether, I agree it is a tough call. But I am inclined to think it is better to make passing laws a little too hard than too easy.
 

I have no idea who "enlightened layperson" is, and perhaps I should apologize in advance for what I am about to say, but I'm willing to bet that "e.l.," like me, has it well enough so that we pay relatively little costs for risk aversion re "bad legislation," unlike the millions of less well-off people who pay a very high cost for the inability to pass "good legislation."

If my surmise is incorrect, and "e.l." really pays a significant cost for the gridlock endemic to our system, then I congraute him/her for having the courage of his/her convictions and being willing to engage in personal sacrifice in behalf of guarding the society against the possibility of bad legislation.
 

bloodbelter:

I have a lot of trouble with Mr. DePalma's suggestion that "the roughly 25% of the country who smokes [...] is disproportionately poor and so being is less likely to vote out of office politicians who raise their taxes."

I have a hard time believing that "Bart" DePalma gives a damn about any (alleged) effort to do a "reverse Robin Hood". I'd further point out that the maladministration is more honest than "Bart" and doesn't use this dishonest argument as their reason for opposing the bill.

Cheers,
 

The biggest "reverse robin hood" programs of recent years include each of the Bush tax cut bills and especially the estate tax phaseout; the ongoing massive tax subsidy to those whose income comes from wealth (capital gains), not work; the cap on which earnings are subject to payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security; and on and on. Each of these things -- whether you favor them or oppose them -- indisputably results in the poor or middle class having less money at the end of the day than they otherwise would and the rich having more than they otherwise would. Can a right-winger cite even one of these "reverse Robin Hood" schemes that you'd like to repeal? No. In fact, generally the agenda is to take even more from the poor and give even more to the rich, in the name of a "flat" tax system that conveniently ignores the fact that in terms of OVERALL tax burden (all state + all federal), the poor and middle class pay much more than the rich do NOW, with the progressive tax system not even coming close to balancing out our regressive sales taxes and other taxes. Cigarette taxes may save lives, and a gas tax may help save the planet, but they're blatantly regressive, and as long as they exist, don't go around pretending that a tax system consisting of these taxes plus a "flat" tax instead of the progressive income tax is anything but the biggest reverse robin hood scheme of them all!

I'll repeat the question: tell me exactly how you would explain to a "lower middle class" child why he or she deserves not to have health insurance, while your children, I bet, have it?

It's very hard to drag an answer to this question out of the mouth of a committed 'winger. All the desert-based arguments against universal health care (you should have to work for it! You shouldn't get it for free!) which are rather thin gruel in any case, simply collapse under the weight of the injustice of denying health care to children.

The unbelievable, cynical, ideologically blindered perspective that one would have to have to veto the expansion of S-CHIP boggles my mind. 555 days.
 

If people are willing to argue against health insurance for little children, just let them. Everyone who hears it will despise them. Their arguments defeat themselves in their Swiftian absurdity.

Three cheers to Prof. Levinson for the angry tone of this post. We should all get mad, because this thing going on now is horrible. I went to law school hoping to ride it out, and now that I am out, things are worse than I've ever seen in 32 years.

Here's the flaw in the old, "better to restrain good laws than permit bad ones" deadlock-virtue rhetoric. Power expands to fill a vaccuum. Congressional inaction has produced an administrative state that rivals 1930s european fascist governments in its size, power, politicalization, and undemocratic hierarchy. Please explain to me the functional difference between our Defense Department and Franco's government in Spain? Faceless technocrats, unaccountable to the people yet terminable at will by an unsubtle moron who is hated just enough to have given up all pretense of caring about maintaining his mandate.

The people have nothing to lose but their chains. Screw judicial review, screw vetos. Lets just vote on our own laws. $100 bucks says I could get the "Jesus says Health Insurance for Little Children Initiative" to pass in 5 states before Congress can.
 

JR said...

The biggest "reverse robin hood" programs of recent years include each of the Bush tax cut bills...

The easiest way to tell the difference between a Dem and and Rep when they talk about taxes. A Dem believes that your money belongs to the Government and a tax cut is a government subsidy of you. A Rep has the quaint belief that your money is yours and a tax cut returns your money to you. Only a Dem views government as a Robin Hood when the Crown and its servants were the bad guys in that story.

Each of these things -- whether you favor them or oppose them -- indisputably results in the poor or middle class having less money at the end of the day than they otherwise would and the rich having more than they otherwise would.

I blame this ignorance on the lack of education in basic economics provided by our schools and media.

To start, cutting tax rates is not the same as cutting the actual tax revenues taken from the citizenry. Rather, cutting tax rates increases private income of the citizenry both absolutely and by removing impediments to wealth creation and in turn increases tax revenues derived from that growth.

This fact has been proven repeatedly in the US during the 20s, the 60s, and the 80s through today when marginal tax rates were cut substantially and only ended when those rates were increased substantially again. Other countries have begun to follow our lead cutting marginal tax rates and the result has been the current global economic boom.

As for the amount of tax revenues available at the government trough (from which the rich and millions of loyal Dem government employees as well as the middle class and poor feed), tax revenues soared by 35% after the Bush tax rate cuts in 2003 to fiscal year 2006.

Can a right-winger cite even one of these "reverse Robin Hood" schemes that you'd like to repeal? No.

Pay me for missing a couple months of work and I will have a list the size of the Manhattan phone book for you. Out of a $2.5 TRILLION dollar budget, there is a great deal to choose from.

in terms of OVERALL tax burden (all state + all federal), the poor and middle class pay much more than the rich do NOW, with the progressive tax system not even coming close to balancing out our regressive sales taxes and other taxes.

Even the Dem party organ NYT will occasionally slip the party line and recognize that the "rich" pay income taxes far, far, far in excess of that paid per capita by everyone else.

If your purpose is to punish spendthrift purchasing by the obscenely rich, there is nothing regressive about sales taxes, which usually do not cover food and many other basic necessities and often impose additional "luxury taxes" on expensive items. The reason the rich do not pay as large a percentage of their income on sales taxes (and the reason BTW that they are usually wealthy in the first place) is that they have the majority of their money invested in the economy creating jobs and more wealth.

I'll repeat the question: tell me exactly how you would explain to a "lower middle class" child why he or she deserves not to have health insurance, while your children, I bet, have it?

Your predicate is false. No one (including children) "deserves" to have the government take other people's money and give it to them for any reason. This is not a matter of "deserving." That rhetoric is a guilt trip used by leftists to justify taking additional money and freedom from the citizenry. The proper approach is to force you to show why this particular proposed use of the People's money is more necessary than allowing the People to keep the money they earned and spend it on their own children or than spending the taxes on another government service.

As for myself and my wife, we do not have children and have ourselves lacked health insurance at various times during our lives. We were not so arrogant to claim that you owed us the money to buy health insurance during those times.
 

As for myself and my wife, we do not have children and have ourselves lacked health insurance at various times during our lives. We were not so arrogant to claim that you owed us the money to buy health insurance during those times.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 8:57 AM


So if you needed healthcare during the time you were uninsured you would have just died instead of going to your local ER, where they are required by law to treat you? Somehow I doubt it.
 

bb:

I have gone to the hospital ER and paid the resulting bills. Just because the ER is required to treat you does not mean that you are relieved from paying for your treatment.
 

I have gone to the hospital ER and paid the resulting bills. Just because the ER is required to treat you does not mean that you are relieved from paying for your treatment.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:41 AM


If you could afford ER bills you could afford health insurance. Apparently you misunderstood the definition of "poor".
 

I find it somewhat amusing when it is suddenly "discovered," after 200+ years, that our Constitution is a complete mess. You'd think that the fact that this country has done pretty well for itself over that time would be evidence to the contrary. But no, we're told, we're in a new age, one that our creaky old Constitution just can't keep up with. I realize that law professors, as a breed, think that they only are doing important work by being contrarian or novel, so I understand Professor Levinson's institutional bias. But it's pretty amusing nonetheless. I'm sure every generation has thought the world they faced was unique in time and that no previous generation had ever faced such problems.

Let's take the current situation. The Democrats control the two houses. The one thing you can say is, nothing is going to pass that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi haven't signed off on. This is an enormous power, and they just have to be willing to use it. You want child health insurance that Bush doesn't want, or that 40 Republican Senators are willing to filibuster (or that 34 are willing to support a Bush veto)? Then you attach the provision to a bill they do want. You threaten to shut down the government, Bush's wars, whatever, until you get your way. There's no structural impediment here, it's just called knowing when you have political power and being willing to exercise it.
 

One thing I have seen missed here (especially in Bart claiming that the tax on cigarettes will adversely affect the poor); tax funding is extremely fungible. Because the tax is put in place to ostensibly pay for the child insurance program, does not mean that the funds generated from it, if greater than that needed for the program or if the program dissolves, will not be turned to to pay for other government expenses.

Regarding flat taxes. I would be all in favor of them, if I could be sure that corporations paid the same amount on their revenue that I paid on mine (at least). The Fortune 500 paid an average of less than 5% of revenue in taxes in recent years, with about half paying no effective income tax. Wish I could say anything remotely the same. Tell you what, Bart; you make sure they all pay at least 20%, and I'll support your flat tax--that would be a net win for me, and do more for budget balancing than any cutback in social service programs (having been a foster parent, these services need more intelligent funding to salvage these children's lives).
 

bb:

Dude, many uninsured pay their medical bills over time regardless of their income because they are not deadbeats and they pay their debts.

I was a student working a full time job without insurance when I paid mine for a hernia surgery.

Life is not easy sometimes. However, I did not bitch to my congressman whining that someone else should have paid my bills because I was "deserving."
 

Dude, many uninsured pay their medical bills over time regardless of their income because they are not deadbeats and they pay their debts.

And many others cannot afford to pay. What part of that are you not getting?
 

And many others cannot afford to pay. What part of that are you not getting?

How about the reason why, instead of you giving them some of your own money so that they can afford to pay, you think the moral response to this situation is to forcibly take money from others and give to those poor people?
 

How about the reason why, instead of you giving them some of your own money so that they can afford to pay, you think the moral response to this situation is to forcibly take money from others and give to those poor people?

# posted by David Nieporent : 10:55 AM


My money was forcibly taken to help pay for Baghdad's "education". If someone can explain to me why that was "moral", then I'll start worrying about whether Baghdad doesn't like his money being taken to help provide healthcare for the poor.
 

Bart DePalma:

Is S-CHIPS even within the FEDERAL government's Constitutional mandate?
 

Isn't the argument that STATES -- ultimately parents -- rather than the federal government, retained the power to care for, educate, train, and raise up our children a "serious Constitutional objection"?
 

Let's get real. Warren Buffett pointed out recently that he pays an average federal income tax rate of 17.7 percent, while his receptionist pays about 30 percent. That's because most of his income comes from wealth, not work.

That's just the federal income tax, which is America's most progressive tax (besides the estate tax). Most of our other taxes are pure reverse robin hood. As Robert S. McIntyre et al. found in a detailed analysis in 2003, only four states require their best-off citizens to pay as high a percentage of their incomes in taxes as middle-income families have to pay. The average state tax rate on the poorest quintile of non-elderly families is more than double the average tax rate that the top one percent of families owe their states (11.4% versus 5.2%). Some states are much worse, including my home state of Texas. We have a long way to go if we want to make our current regressive tax system more progressive to the point that it is truly flat.

Not that a flat tax system would be fair in any case. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in explaining his support for progressive taxation in the area of the property tax, "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise." Geometrical progression as they rise is as good and straightforward a tax formula as I could ask for.

The difference between reality-based policymaking and the ideology-based policymaking of the Bush administration is that reality-based policy-making begins with a clear-eyed look at the overall status quo, and asks what should change, while ideology-based policymaking begins with some vague invocations of nice-sounding principles, like 'keep more of your money, it's yours,' and then proceeds to make a bad system worse.

I agree with the comment from 'corey' above that arguments against health insurance for children are so bad that they're basically self-refuting (to everyone but the libertarian fringe). Oh yes, of course, while going to school is a fundamental right for children even in America (and therefore, supported by tax dollars), and health care has the same status for children in every other industrialized country on earth, mysteriously, health care for children in America is different. THAT is something that the government couldn't possibly provide. That would be terrible! Socialized roads, schools, libraries, fire departments, police, health care for the elderly, and health care for the very poor, of course the government should provide. But my god, heaven help us from the creeping socialism of providing health care to a few more moderately low-income children!
 

"Bart" DePalma trots out the lame old Sir Ronny chestnuts:

This fact has been proven repeatedly in the US during the 20s, the 60s, and the 80s through today when marginal tax rates were cut substantially and only ended when those rates were increased substantially again....

That's a real Laffer, "Bart". Funny thing, those stinky Swedes never saw fit to give him his Nobel prize, eh?

What you got was a quadrupling of the national debt. $7 trillion or so, and counting. If we weren't paying nearly a third of income just to maintain the debt that you folks ran up to line your own pockets (I'm being charitable and assuming that "Bart" is talking self-interest and not one of those deluded wannabes that think the Republicans are pulling for a down-and-out DUI lawyer in Colorado Springs), we'd have plenty enough to pay for all kinds of services, useful ones, and still lower tax rates....

Cheers,
 

I am neither a Democrat or a Republican. I am an independent voter and thinker. To my knowledge, I have never registered as anything other than an independent. I just call myself a citizen of a democracy.

As a citizen, I want our government to provide for all facets of our security.

If we can agree that providing for our military security is a national priority, then why can we not also agree that providing for our health security is a national priority?

We would never say, If you cannot pay for it then you do not deserve to be protected militarily from harm. Why can we forswear saying this about our health security?

Our national or state budgets create priority expenses all the time.

That's not socialism.

That's not stealing from some to give to others.

It's good democratic governing that knows no party lines.

When our government funds our police it's never viewed as socialism or stealing from some to give to others.

When our government funds our postal system it's not viewed as socialism or stealing from some to give to others.

Why should health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies make billions off of our health needs?

When our government prioritizes our most basic health security as well as our military security, then it begins to fulfill the best hopes and goals of an enlightened democracy.

When our nation creates a national health system that ensures, and indeed, mandates, excellent health coverage for all its citizens we become a more moral nation.
 

How about the reason why, instead of you giving them some of your own money so that they can afford to pay, you think the moral response to this situation is to forcibly take money from others and give to those poor people?

I hate this particular argument, and I'm tired of seeing it repeated, particularly by the nouveaux libertarians. Give me the reason why, instead of you carrying a letter across the country to Columbia House, you think the moral response is to forcibly take money from others and give it to the Post Office?

Give me the reason why, instead of you providing your own rifle and reporting to Iraq for soldier duty, you think the moral response is to forcibly take money from others and give it to the Army?

Why? We live in a state. Obligations and costs are spread across the community to provide for the general welfare--if you can't recognize that fact, you are (at least) 231 years behind the times.
 

Fraud Guy said...

Regarding flat taxes. I would be all in favor of them, if I could be sure that corporations paid the same amount on their revenue that I paid on mine (at least). The Fortune 500 paid an average of less than 5% of revenue in taxes in recent years, with about half paying no effective income tax. Wish I could say anything remotely the same. Tell you what, Bart; you make sure they all pay at least 20%, and I'll support your flat tax...

Sorry, I am not a proponent of double taxation. If we must have income taxes, then all income should be taxed once at a single rate, not once at the corporate level and then again at the individual level.

In reality, the left is cutting off their collective nose to spite their face with punitive tax rates. The Party of Government's major selling point is providing government services. To do so, you need tax revenues. Government receives far more tax revenues when the economy is doing well because wealth creation is not being punished with high tax rates.

If it was smart rather than smitten with class envy, the left would keep tax rates low and milk the rich like cows rather than killing off the source of milk by slaughtering the cows.
 

Dear poverty-blaming rightwingers, I'll speak a language (and apparently the ONLY one) which you understand.

First, a fundamental principal of insurance is that the greater the population coverage, the more diffuse the liability and the lower the costs per consumer.

Second, bang-per-buck, nations which provide some form of single payer see a return of nearly three-to-one for every dollar expended in prevention. *wouldn't YOU like to see a 3 fold increase on your investment?*

Third, there are already nearly 100 million Americans under Medicare/Medicare/Military entitlement programs. It makes far more sense to just bring the other 48 million along (the vast majority are uninsured working poor/underinsured middle class), than to allow the states to define entitlement and put a 400 billion dollar burden on the economy. It is more cost-efficient, more streamlined, and (at the end of the day) is pound wise.

Yours truly,
Morality Omitted
 

Bart writes:
In contrast, the beneficiaries of this new entitlement are not poor and fall largely in the lower middle class. Middle class citizens tend to vote more than the poor and form a majority of this country's voters.


How do you know the recipients, presumably children, are in the 'lower middle class'?

How do you know that smokers as a group are disproportionately poor? To what extent? I really think it would be interesting to know.
 

Bart,

You missed the point and moved the goal posts to line up on the long end of the field.

Double tax? If you tax income, you tax income; corporate or individual--work related or investment income. Some SC decision gave corporations legal status as individuals, let them pay their share of infrastructure costs. If corporations don't pay taxes, they should have no access to any public services or resources paid for by taxes--courts, roads, water, defense, etc. If you take away corporations' requirement to pay into the system that supports them, they fail to value that system (sounds kind of like the old welfare mothers people used to bemoan--and heaven knows we don't want to return to that). TANSTAAFL
 

joey and PMS_Chicago:

I have no problems with STATE governments providing all the free healthcare and education they want. Post roads and military expenditures are EXCLUSIVELY within the purview of the federal government. See the distinction?
 

Charles: Ever heard of the spending clause?

If education and health care don't "provide for...the general welfare," I don't know what does.

(I'm not sure whether the argument to the contrary rises to the level of a "serious" constitutional argument. Maybe it's on the borderline between serious-but-wrong and simply wacko.)

We need a federal government capable of addressing national problems. Luckily, our constitution permits this, especially through the spending clause; it's just that structural problems in our politics, like the ones Professor Levinson identifies, prevent us from actually enacting the bills that the general welfare requires.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart writes: In contrast, the beneficiaries of this new entitlement are not poor and fall largely in the lower middle class. Middle class citizens tend to vote more than the poor and form a majority of this country's voters.

How do you know the recipients, presumably children, are in the 'lower middle class'?


Read the article linked by the lead post. The proposal extends coverage upward from the children already covered.

How do you know that smokers as a group are disproportionately poor? To what extent? I really think it would be interesting to know.

Google "smoker demographics" and there will be several links like this.
 

fraud guy:

Treating corporations as persons is a legal fiction for the application of certain types of laws.

In reality, corporate profits belong to real persons who own the shares.

In reality, taxing corporate income once at the corporate level and then tax the remaining amount at the individual level is double taxation.

Corporations do not get government benefits, the shareholders who own the corporations get those benefits. The income should be taxed once at the individual level.
 

joey:

I have indeed heard of Spending Clause -- it's part of the Tax and Spending power of Congress -- two distinct theories of the taxing power have been advocated by constitutional scholars: (A) the narrower Madisonian view that taxation must be tied to one of the other specifically enumerated powers such as regulating commerce or providing for the military (not education or healthcare), and (B) the broader Hamiltonian view that taxation is a separately enumerated, independent power, and that Congress may tax and spend in any way it pleases. As you may have guessed, I am not inclined to give Congress unlimited power.

At one point in our history, the United States Supreme Court had imposed a narrow interpretation on the Clause, holding in Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U.S. 20 (1922), that a tax on child labor was an impermissible attempt to regulate commerce beyond that Court's equally narrow interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

This view was later overturned in United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936), after FDR threatened to pack the Court. In that case, the Court mistakenly held that the power to tax and spend is an independent power; that is, that the Taxing and Spending Clause gives Congress power it might not have anywhere else. The tax imposed in that case was nevertheless held unconstitutional as a violation of the Tenth Amendment reservation of power to the states. Like some of our more liberal law professors, you seem to forget that there is still a Tenth Amendment.

I hope you can at least see that there is a "Constitutional objection" that I've raised.
 

Charles said...

joey and PMS_Chicago:

I have no problems with STATE governments providing all the free healthcare and education they want. Post roads and military expenditures are EXCLUSIVELY within the purview of the federal government. See the distinction?


Joey said...

Charles: Ever heard of the spending clause?

If education and health care don't "provide for...the general welfare," I don't know what does.


Charles, I have to side with Joey with this one.

For this textualist, the "general welfare" is a broad term and not at all limited to enumerated powers like the N&P Clause.

I think the Constitution is making a distinction between spending money to address national problems and exercising enumerated regulatory powers to control the citizenry. The Founders were very concerned with the latter and included specific limits of regulatory powers. However, there is simply no way to practically enumerate all the national problems the national government will have to address through spending so the founders used the single broad term of "general welfare."

Madison shared your interpretation, but Hamilton and nearly everyone else thought that Congress could tax and spend for any national purpose intended to advance the general welfare.
 

Bart,

That is, if profits from the corporation are paid out to shareholders, or completely paid out.

I can think of Microsoft as one example where a corporation, during years of profitability, did not pay dividends on its profits to its shareholders, and their gains were in stock pricing only. Profits/income were generated, but no one was paid--would you at a minimum support taxing income that was not paid to shareholders, because such can arguably be said to "stop" and be retained by the corporation? (although I would like to argue further over than that point, I might actually like to see some agreement with you on this point).
 

Not the first time we've disagreed, Bart, but as always, I appreciate your ability to do so in a civil manner : )
 

I am confused by the following discrepancy. In some of these comments there is an approach which puts a great deal of importance on the ability of Americans to be free in the choices that they make. A cigarette tax would unduly burden that segment of the population that chooses to smoke, and so this whole health care bill is flawed on the front end. However, I believe that one of the principle notions explicated in Mr. Levinson's posting is that there is a problem when a majority of Congress (as the representatives of their constituents' wills (to what extent this is true is another matter)) cannot enact a bill that seems to represent a majority will.

Now, there may be some credence to the idea that these poor individuals who smoke and therefore will largely fund this program are not voting and therefore it cannot be representing their interests. That implicates other problems with the smooth workings of our chosen governmental system. My confusion, though, is that if it is a 25% contingent that may have an objection (we don't know if they do) and it is a 51% (at least) contingent that apparently (through representatives) do support the bill, how is the vetoing of this bill furthering the notion that freedom means something in America?

The founders did construct a system that has resulted in it being difficult to pass legislation, and that is not necessarily a bad thing in my mind. On some issues I am glad that a simple majority is unable to affect change as they would wish. In this regard it seems that we are discussing relative freedoms rather than some absolute notion.

Some people would like to be free to call on their representative to enact legislation that will increase the funding for children's health care. Others would like to be free from paying a $1 sales tax on cigarettes. It strikes my "law student mind" (to disclose my particular and acknowledgedly dangerous point of reference) as similar to questions of who has title in a property nuisance case. In this instance, do we (the proper entity would seem to be a majority of the people) believe that the entitlement lies with children desiring health care coverage (even allowing for those who would move onto public from private) or smokers? A harsh dichotomy obviously designed to result in a particular outcome, but perhaps deserved.

In the end I would just like to understand how the rhetoric of "freedom" supports the blocking of this bill. I would support more freedom for parents to be safe in the knowledge that their children will receive medical care, than the freedom of people to choose to pursue an activity that, while possessing its aesthetic appeal, functions more directly as a drain on our health care system.
 

This view was later overturned in United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936), after FDR threatened to pack the Court.

Your chronology is off. FDR didn't introduce his court plan until 1937, after the 1936 election.
 

I'll double-check when Butler came down then -- regardless, I am not inclined to give Congress the unlimited power to tax and spend for whatever they wish.
 

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. (I'm sorry to have to point this out, but compare the text of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxing_and_Spending_Clause to Charles' 3:05 pm comment.)

If by "serious constitutional argument" you mean that any judges, even Bush's many seriously right-wing appeals court picks, would seriously argue that a spending program like S-CHIP is unconstitutional, then no, that is not a serious argument. Sorry. Nor would you get more than a handful of right-wing law professors.

Read the majority AND O'Connor's dissent in South Dakota v. Dole if you want to know the scope of the spending clause. The power to spend for the general welfare more than encompasses any health care or education program the federal government would be likely to pursue.
 

I'm surprised that Bart DePalma has not considered the consequences of a tax-and-spend DEMOCRAT Congress and Hillary in the White House . . .
 

P.S. joey -- plenty of judges agreed with my position in Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. -- don't worry, at least Bart is on your side ; )
 

Bart writes:Read the article linked by the lead post. The proposal extends coverage upward from the children already covered.

The article only makes a reference to 'non-poor' (interesting way to describe it) with respect to the proposed upward expansion.

If they found a way to finance it without targeting smokers, how would you feel about it?
 

Charles: you seem to have no argument for why we should throw out the Court's longstanding spending clause jurisprudence other than some general, vague historical notes that you copied verbatim from wikipedia. You offer nothing in the way of argument for why the Tenth Amendment should have anything to do with S-CHIP. It's hard for me to see why this exchange should continue.
 

Well, joey, which one is "long standing"? The one in place from 1787 for 150 years until 1937, or yours, in place for less than half that time? As for Wikipedia, if there's some FACT you dispute from that article, please let me know. Otherwise, you are under no obligation to respond whatsoever.
 

Fraud Guy said...

Bart,That is, if profits from the corporation are paid out to shareholders, or completely paid out.

Dividends are the most obvious example of double taxation. However, double taxation is still present if the after tax profits are reinvested in the company and the stockholder income is from share price appreciation alone. If the government did not tax corporate profits at the corporate level, there would be more profits to reinvest in the company and the stock price would appreciate more than if corporate profits were taxed.

No matter how the revenue stream moves to get to the shareholder, double taxation is double taxation.
 

Charles said...

I'm surprised that Bart DePalma has not considered the consequences of a tax-and-spend DEMOCRAT Congress and Hillary in the White House . . .

I do not subscribe to the "living constitution" approach of inserting personal policy preferences into the Constitution even when they are my own. I would dearly love to have GDP caps on government spending and significant limits on government borrowing, but I will not "interpret" them into the Constitution when they are not present.

BTW, when it comes to spending, the Donkeys are only slightly worse than the Elephants. Indeed, my biggest problem with Mr. Bush is that he spends like a drunken Dem. Mr. Clinton was the paragon of frugality in comparison. Of course, Mr. Clinton had Mr. Gingrich to keep him in check while the GOP Congress did nothing to stop Mr. Bush.

I am resigned to keeping DC in check by keeping taxes low. It is imperfect, but the only real option we have.
 

Bart,

Then we will have to disagree. Income for a construct is still income, and the construct still depends upon the services of government for its effective functioning. Yes, the profits can be reinvested, and the dividends can go to the original or later investors in the company.

However, at the end of the day, taxes are the costs of benefits that accrue to those who use the benefits; the corporations are the direct recipients here, and should pay for such, just as they pay for raw materials, electricity, etc. After such benefits are gained and paid for, the income that flows to the shareholders is a separate issue.
 

I don't agree with the "living Constitution" either -- I just gave you the rationale that stood the test of time for 150 years -- once you realize how bad it can get with Hillary, perhaps you will have the necessary incentive to review the history of what our Constitution really meant prior to 1937.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart writes:Read the article linked by the lead post. The proposal extends coverage upward from the children already covered.

The article only makes a reference to 'non-poor' (interesting way to describe it) with respect to the proposed upward expansion.

If they found a way to finance it without targeting smokers, how would you feel about it?


OK, this should be the subject of its own thread, but it may surprise you to know that I would support a single payer medical insurance system under certain circumstances.

A libertarian supporting single payer? Yes.

My reasoning is that society has already socialized the payment for medical treatment by adopting a patchwork of private insurance because it is impossible for nearly anyone to pay for major medical treatment out of pocket. The costs are simply too high and too random for an individual to plan for.

The problem with our present private insurance system joined with government mandates for treatment is too many free riders.

The government does one thing very well - collect taxes and sending back tax refunds. I would propose that government collect a Medicare/Medicaid style tax from every worker to finance a single health program replacing all current government programs covering all citizens. The government would then disburse money into private medical savings accounts. That is where the government's role ends.

The citizen would be required to spend part of the money on a high deductible private insurance policy covering only major medical problems and regular checkups. The citizen would use the rest of the account as he or she pleased to pay for all uninsured medical expenses. Any money not spent by the citizen at the end of the year could remain in the account or be refunded to the citizen as a tax refund.

Such a system gets rid of free riders, covers everyone and puts the cost benefit judgment (a measure of the free market) back with the consumers of medical care.

Steve Forbes instituted this system for his employees over at Fortune Magazine and medical spending plunged as employees weighed whether a case of the sniffles was worth spending the money for a doctor's visit.

Unfortunately, because the government has to forego running its citizens' medical care, I have very little hope that such a common sense proposal has any chance. So, I am reduced to fighting off the inane piecemeal proposals like this children's health program which cost far more than they provide.
 

Why? We live in a state. Obligations and costs are spread across the community to provide for the general welfare--if you can't recognize that fact, you are (at least) 231 years behind the times.

Ah. I must have missed the Government Healthcare debate during the Constitutional Convention. Madison talked about it in Federalist #86, right?

Or perhaps he recognized the difference between private welfare, which is what S-CHIP is, and general welfare, which is what legitimate national defense is. (Which is not to say that all military actions are beneficial.) The latter is a public good, in an economic sense; the former is not.

(And who says I believe in government-run postal services?)
 

"Bart" DePalma believes in piercing the corporate veil:

In reality, corporate profits belong to real persons who own the shares.

OK. Let's just hale them into court to answer individually and collectively for any "corporate" misdeeds. Jail time for shareholders if the "corporation" breaks a law. In fact, extended sentences; it's a conspiracy as well. No more "LLCs" or "Ltds".... And all corporate income is taxed as individual income.

Cheers,
 

BTW, when it comes to spending, the Donkeys are only slightly worse than the Elephants.

I love comments like these.

I HIGHLY recommend you visit the CBO's webpage and retrieve historical budget data with which to test this theory.

Use % of GDP as your guide, and tell me who spends more: Republicans or Democrats?

There are six general options that have been available, two variations on three possibilities: Party Prez with same-party Congress, Prez with mixed party Congress, and Prez with opposing party Congress. One option falls out, as Dem Presidents in the data set(1962-2006) haven't had a mixed Congress.

The average annual spending deficit then can be compared across these classes and ranked in descending order of their overspending:

Rep with split Congress: 3.5% GDP
Rep with Rep. Congress: 2.9% GDP
Rep with Dem. Congress: 2.4% GDP
Dem with Dem. Congress: 2.0% GDP
Dem with Rep. Congress: +0.6% GDP surplus

Break it down by Presidents, and who spends like a drunken what now?

Republican administrations: -2.8% avg.
Democratic administrations: -1.4% avg.

(GWB administration: -2.0% as of 2006, or good compared to the Republican average!)

Look at the real data for me and justify your impression that Democrats spend more than Republicans.
 

PMS_Chicago said...

BD: BTW, when it comes to spending, the Donkeys are only slightly worse than the Elephants.

I love comments like these.

I HIGHLY recommend you visit the CBO's webpage and retrieve historical budget data (1962-2006) with which to test this theory.


There are a whole slew of variables here which are not taken into account by looking at general data. Here are a few examples:

1) Entitlements passed by earlier governments like Medicare under a completely Dem government which exploded in later years under GOP Presidents and/or Congresses. All future entitlements spending should be present valued back to the government which initiated it.

2) Military spending by GOP Presidents like the Reagan buildup which led to the peace dividend enjoyed by Clinton.

3) Conversely, the neglect of national defense during prior Dem administrations like Carter and Clinton which necessitated a rebuilding during the Reagan Administration or the current war against terror because we did not take care of festering problems when they were small.

4) There is a general rule than any money you send to DC in tax revenues will all be spent no matter which party is in power. Tax revenues increased the fastest after the Kennedy/Johnson, Reagan and Bush tax rate cuts and that money was mostly spent during those governments. Thus, the GOP is often a victim of its own success in generating tax revenues.

I am sure there are more variables which have slipped my mind, but you get the point that the CBO numbers are next to useless for determining which party is responsible for new spending.

Given that the current Dem budget has spending increases even beyond the insane increases of the first Bush term, I doubt that you can say that the Dems are introducing a new age of thriftiness.
 

Baghdad Bart doesn't believe in posting facts and statistics to support his positions. He's more of a lies and bullshit kind of guy.

2) Military spending by GOP Presidents like the Reagan buildup which led to the peace dividend enjoyed by Clinton.

In fact, he's already had this little gem shoved down his throat on another message board. Baghdad Bart thinks the Soviets went bankrupt trying to match Reagan's military spending. Of course, he ignores the fact that the Soviets never increased their spending to match Reagan's increases.
 

Wow. "Bart" is ahead of the curve on getting the RNC "talking points".

You'd think that, as a supposedly smart 'lawyer', "Bart" would try to hide his machine sycophancy for the Dubya maladministration a tad better....

The RW Mighty Wurlitzer is a wondrous thing to behold.

Cheers,
 

Funny thing about how the paradox that tax cuts raise revenue. Even as the Reagan tax cuts were raising revenue, the deficit soared to unprecedented heights and remained high for the next 12 years. Then Clinton enacted the deadly tax increased that killed the economy and revenue except that the economy chugged merrily on despite them, and mysteriously the deficits not only disappeared, we were moving into surpluses so large they were really making Republicans sweat. Then Bush II cut taxes, leading to a surge of new revenue, yet by some mysterious process incomprehensible to Republicans everywhere, the surpluses vanished and large deficits returned.

So apparently the paradox that cutting taxes raises revenue is closely linked to another paradox -- increased revenue increases deficits! If revenue falls enough, it leads to surpluses!
 

2) Military spending by GOP Presidents like the Reagan buildup which led to the peace dividend enjoyed by Clinton.

3) Conversely, the neglect of national defense during prior Dem administrations like Carter and Clinton which necessitated a rebuilding during the Reagan Administration or the current war against terror because we did not take care of festering problems when they were small.


I agree that specific data can be helpful to analyze dynamics at a more refined level of agency, but general data suffice to show trends at the broadest agent level--which is the level you invoked with your zoological comparison.

All I'm reading in your response, however, is that you're saying the Republicans spend money on things more aligned with your agenda, and not that they don't spend more.

If GOP administrations consistently spend more on the military to the point that they run up higher deficits than Democratic administrations, then they are spending more than the Democrats. Period. General data can show that, and they do.

Just because you like the way that Republicans spend your money, doesn't mean they spend less of it than the Democrats. As for spending everything sent to DC, that's not the problem. It's how much MORE is spent than what's sent to DC that's a problem.

Your case is strongest when you mention the entitlements that previous administrations passed, but it's unconvincing because the intervening Congresses and administrations had the opportunity to reform or repeal those entitlements they found to be excessive. If they failed to do so, they're complicit in the accumulation of the resulting deficit. Why should they be given a pass for such "irresponsible behavior"?
 

My God people... HEALTH INSURANCE FOR CHILDREN was the starting point, and now anything useful that might have been said is drowned in a sea of armchair tax policy debate.

The children still need health insurance. You can't charge babies with "personal responsibility" and you can't punish their parents for lacking it by making them watch their babies die, so figure out a way to do fix this independent of your personal economic agenda.

This whole comment thread could be cut and pasted into a thesis entitled "Why Nothing Ever Gets Done."
 

Corey: I couldn't agree more. We are losing the main point: health insurance for children!

Can we all agree that every single one of America's children deserve excellent healthcare, regardless of their parents or guardians ability to pay?

If we can just agree on that deeply moral point than we can then move on to fund such an initiative in any way possible by making it a priority of citizenship.
 

Sorry, but I think the debate is whether every single American "deserves excellent healthcare" VIA THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. I asked above whether S-CHIPS is even within the FEDERAL government's Constitutional mandate. You obviously think it is? David and I disagree.
 

And, just wait until the ROBERTS Court starts agreeing with David and me ; )
 

P.S. to David Nieporent:

The Constitution clearly provides for federal post roads -- you don't think that includes the Post Office as well? It seems that Brett from the other thread wants to return Constitutional interpretation to pre-1937 status as well : )
 

I apologize for going off-topic. Hearing that old saw about "tax and spend democrats" is to me what hearing someone extol the virtues of the vice-presidency and the electoral college would be to Sandy.
 

PMS_Chicago said...

BD: 2) Military spending by GOP Presidents like the Reagan buildup which led to the peace dividend enjoyed by Clinton.

3) Conversely, the neglect of national defense during prior Dem administrations like Carter and Clinton which necessitated a rebuilding during the Reagan Administration or the current war against terror because we did not take care of festering problems when they were small.

PMS: All I'm reading in your response, however, is that you're saying the Republicans spend money on things more aligned with your agenda, and not that they don't spend more.

If GOP administrations consistently spend more on the military to the point that they run up higher deficits than Democratic administrations, then they are spending more than the Democrats. Period. General data can show that, and they do.


My point assumed that the Dems would spend the minimal amount on the military necessary to defend against the Soviet Empire and then Islamic fascism. Your argument is that national defense is merely discretionary spending. Fair enough. We agree that the GOP spends more on national defense.

Your case is strongest when you mention the entitlements that previous administrations passed, but it's unconvincing because the intervening Congresses and administrations had the opportunity to reform or repeal those entitlements they found to be excessive. If they failed to do so, they're complicit in the accumulation of the resulting deficit. Why should they be given a pass for such "irresponsible behavior"?

Because is is nearly impossible to muster the political support to cut off the money to the large portions of the citizenry made dependent upon entitlement programs. Welfare reform is the only instance of which I am aware in US history. The blame belongs with those governments who started these entitlements.
 

Because is is nearly impossible to muster the political support to cut off the money to the large portions of the citizenry made dependent upon entitlement programs. Welfare reform is the only instance of which I am aware in US history. The blame belongs with those governments who started these entitlements.

As opposed to the ease with which weapons program funds are cut off? Please.

What Baghdad Bart is trying to say is that giving tax money to bomb builders = good, but giving tax money to poor people = bad.
 

Bartbuster,

More Bart: eliminating taxes on corporations = good.
 

bb:

Weapons and defense spending in general was cut substantially after the Cold War as it has been after nearly every major war. During the 90s, the Army was nearly cut in half. We are paying for that now.
 

Weapons and defense spending in general was cut substantially after the Cold War as it has been after nearly every major war. During the 90s, the Army was nearly cut in half. We are paying for that now.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:44 PM


No, right now we're paying for the idiotic decision to invade Iraq.

Or at least we're running up a bill that our children and grandchildren will have to pay.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure most Americans are well aware of who is responsible for getting us into this mess.
 

Baghdad, the fact that you find ways to justify spending by Repedophilicans does not change the fact that they have a history of outspending Dems. So the next time you say "Spending like drunken Dems", keep in mind that you mean spending less that warmongering Repedophilicans.
 

Baghdad, the fact that you find ways to justify spending by Repedophilicans does not change the fact that they have a history of outspending Dems. So the next time you say "Spending like drunken Dems", keep in mind that you mean spending less that warmongering Repedophilicans.
 

Charles - There's no doubt that the postal system is Constitutional; it's provided for explicitly in there, as you note. (Which just serves to illustrate the silliness of reading the 'general welfare' limitation on the taxing power as a grant of power to Congress to do whatever it wants.) That doesn't mean I approve of it on philosophical or economic grounds.


Oh, and as a minor aside to Corey: nobody, children or adult, needs health "insurance." They need health care. This may sound like a nitpick, but it's actually evidence of a category error.

And S-CHIP is not "insurance" (Yes, I know what the acronym is. The USA PATRIOT Act isn't about Patriotism, either.) It's simply welfare.

But the question of whether someone "needs" something is an entirely separate question from whether someone is entitled to it.
 

This whole comment thread could be cut and pasted into a thesis entitled "Why Nothing Ever Gets Done."

Yes, and the shocking answer is: Because people disagree about what should be done, and by whom.

"Nothing" gets done because not everyone thinks the government ought to be Doing Something. The fact that you very strongly feel otherwise doesn't make those people disappear.
 

"It seems that Brett from the other thread wants to return Constitutional interpretation to pre-1937 status as well : )"

Just the parts they had right back then. Non-incorporation, for instance, was a crock dating back to Reconstruction, and only the Supreme court's reluctance to ever admit past courts got something wrong resulted in their botched, partial correction of that colossal act of judicial bad faith.
 

David Nieporent: The USA PATRIOT Act isn't about Patriotism, either.

While I'm inclined to agree with the plainest reading of these words I wonder if we actually enjoy substantive agreement as to what H.R. 3162, the so-called "patriot" act, is "about". Could you be induced to weigh in on that one? As for me, I can't help seeing it cynically as a long hoped for goal of the intelligence community to undo the restrictions put in place after cointelpro came to light, a goal opportunistically tied to nine-one-one by the intelligence friendly PNAC junta running the show currently. Thoughts? (Would offer to buy ya a beer in exchange for those thoughts, but I can't figure out how to send suds via http.)

Peace.
 

"Because people disagree about what should be done, and by whom."

While I am writing this, a child is suffering and dying from a wasting disease which could be helped by proper treatment, which she isn't getting because she has no coverage. There is no disagreement that she deserves to live.

Charles and David and Bart you can have your little small government fantasy but meantime, people are dying. If the government does nothing, people will die, children will die. You know I am right about that. The market is getting freer and the number of impoverished is growing. This money COULD help save children's lives. YOU are willing to prevent that because of some tricky dispute about PROCEDURE. You haven't suggested a reasonable alternative.

"But the question of whether someone "needs" something is an entirely separate question from whether someone is entitled to it."

That's like the absolute opposite of charity. I'd have to cry if I believed you really meant it. (But I am sure you feel you are perfectly entitled to everything you have.) That quote could come from Dickens. "Are there no poorhouses! Are the debtor's prisons full? Just because there is need doesn't mean there is entitlement." Shame on you. Need IS relevant to entitlement. People know that, at least until they go to law or econ school.

"The fact that you very strongly feel otherwise doesn't make those people disappear."

I'm not trying to make you disappear, I am trying to make sure people can see you are an uncharitable *ss. Its a little something I do whenever I find privileged people failing to humbly recognize their own indebtedness to other people.
 

Perhaps if people weren't so scared of dying and took to heart Matthew 25:34-45 instead of thinking government is the answer to every problem, Corey? And, you have no idea what charity David, Bart, and I participate here in the U.S. or abroad. Take a look at this:

http://www.thepeaceplan.org/
 

I would also include Matthew 25:46 -- didn't think Jesus ever told the government what to do -- but just to be sure, I re-read those passages in case I had some how missed the word "government" before ; )
 

Perhaps if people weren't so scared of dying and took to heart Matthew 25:34-45 instead of thinking government is the answer to every problem

Coming from a member of the Save Terry Schiavo Party, this is pretty comical...
 

Bartbuster:

In that case, the husband and possible suspect into her deminished capacity, was allowed to AFFIRMATIVELY STARVE HER TO DEATH by one branch of the government -- there's no problem for the other branches of government to try stopping that -- the government should never affirmatively put an innocent person to death. As I pointed out above, since Terry Schiavo's not the topic of this thread, there's no FEDERAL "private" welfare clause.
 

Just to clarify, the government affirmatively putting an innocent person to death is quite different than the government declining to provide cradle to grave healthcare insurance.
 

AFFIRMATIVELY STARVE HER TO DEATH

No one starved her to death, affirmatively or otherwise. If she asked for food, it would have been provided.

Besides, the Lord could have saved her any time He wanted.

I like this game. If you don't want the government to provide a service, claim that the Lord could take care of things. I'll have to use this debating tactic more often...
 

Thing is, of course, the Lord could have defeated Hitler by Himself too -- the U.S. Constitution empowered FDR to do so instead -- completely different scenario than healthcare insurance.
 

Thing is, of course, the Lord could have defeated Hitler by Himself too -- the U.S. Constitution empowered FDR to do so instead -- completely different scenario than healthcare insurance.

# posted by Charles : 1:10 PM


Hey, you're the one that suggested trust in the Lord as a substitute for government funded healthcare, not me.

In any case, let's summarize where Charles stands on this issue.

Withholding food from a person in a permanent vegetative state = bad
Withholding medical care from a poor child = good

You might be right that the people who founded this country would have agreed with your views, but I sure hope not.
 

Where did I say that withholding medical care from a poor child is "good"? I've only questioned whether S-CHIPS is within the FEDERAL government's Constitutional mandate. See the difference?
 

Where did I say that withholding medical care from a poor child is "good"? I've only questioned whether S-CHIPS is within the FEDERAL government's Constitutional mandate. See the difference?

# posted by Charles : 1:40 PM


There is no difference. It's the exact same thing. You think the Constitution forces the government to withhold medical care from a poor child.

I suppose it's possible that you think the Consitution is bad.

Is that it? Do you think the government withholding medical care from poor children is good, or you think the Constitution is bad. Which is it?
 

We'll have to agree to disagree, then, because I believe there's a third choice: S-CHIPS is simply not within the FEDERAL government's Constitutional mandate. You clearly think it is (no problem, for once, even Bart agrees with you). As I said above, STATE governments can provide all the free healthcare they want. Obviously, I think PRIVATE charity is the answer. Apart from that, I'm really not sure why you can't understand my position.
 

Apart from that, I'm really not sure why you can't understand my position.

# posted by Charles : 1:58 PM


I do understand your position. I detailed it exactly. If the state government isn't providing insurance, and there's no private insurance, you think the FEDERAL government's constitutional mandate is to withhold medical care from a poor sick child. Your position could not be any more clear.

I don't have a problem with us agreeing to disagree. I do have a problem with you pretending your position is something different from how I described it. Because it's not. Your position is EXACTLY how I described it.
 

No, if the state government isn't providing insurance (or other alternatives for the uninsured like free clinincs or emergency rooms, I guess), and there's no private insurance, I think the Constitution prohibits the FEDERAL government from providing medical care from a poor sick child -- that's completely different from the government AFFIRMATIVELY ordering food and water withheld where there were means to provide substinence, as in the Schiavo case -- what's next, free housing, HDTV, boats? Look, just because you and Bart finally agree on something is no reason to take out your frustrations on me.
 

I think the Constitution prohibits the FEDERAL government from providing medical care from a poor sick child -- that's completely different from the government AFFIRMATIVELY ordering food and water withheld where there were means to provide substinence, as in the Schiavo case -- what's next, free housing, HDTV, boats? Look, just because you and Bart finally agree on something is no reason to take out your frustrations on me.

# posted by Charles : 2:13 PM


No one is talking about giving poor children HDTVs, just medical care. The limit would be what the People vote it to be (it's called democracy).

And I'm not taking out any frustrations on you, I'm exposing your position for what it really is, withholding medical care from poor sick children.

And nothing was AFFIRMATIVELY witheld from Schiavo. She could have reached out for food any time the Lord chose to lift her hand.
 

I guess the poor sick child could be healed just the same (see Christian Scientist thread below). I'm not going to continue arguing whether a prohibition under the Constitution is the same as affirmatively "withholding medical care" -- see you around.
 

I'm not going to continue arguing whether a prohibition under the Constitution is the same as affirmatively "withholding medical care" -- see you around.

# posted by Charles : 2:26 PM


I don't blame you. It can't feel very good to realize that you're in favor of withholding medical care from poor sick children.
 

Charles, do you actually think that giving food to someone whenever they request it is affirmatively starving them to death? If so, you must have a very strange definition of the word affirmative...

In fact, withholding food from Terry Schiavo had nothing to do with starving her, it was no different from withholding a medical procedure, and you're on record as being fine with that.
 

Charles, I mean this only to make this particular tangent a bit more legible.

I think the Constitution prohibits the FEDERAL government from providing medical care from a poor sick child -- that's completely different from the government AFFIRMATIVELY ordering food and water withheld where there were means to provide substinence, as in the Schiavo case

Bartbuster's underlying point is that, from the perspective of the child, there is no difference between an affirmative attempt to withhold health care and a refusal to help on constitutional grounds.

If you want the child to be protected, you'll support an expansion of federal power to help those who aren't being helped by the state or private charities.

It's very easy to read that backwards, that is, if you don't support federal intervention, you obviously don't want the child to be protected.

You're correct to suggest that there may be other routes to alleviate the situation, but in the end it comes down to your 10A argument that the Constitution doesn't enumerate health care as a province for federal action.

But couldn't you use 9A to argue that everyone has the self-evident right to life, and health care is a necessary part of that right?
 

As for me, I can't help seeing it cynically as a long hoped for goal of the intelligence community to undo the restrictions put in place after cointelpro came to light,

Well, without the pejorative comments about PNAC, I think that's pretty clearly right; much of the Patriot Act consisted of warmed over proposals that had been floating around for years, all mashed together into one bill at a time when improving intelligence capabilities was deemed urgent.


Corey:

While I am writing this, a child is suffering and dying from a wasting disease which could be helped by proper treatment, which she isn't getting because she has no coverage. There is no disagreement that she deserves to live.

I don't disagree only because I don't know what "deserves to live" means, beyond sort of a general mawkish sentimentality. Bad things happen to people all the time that they don't "deserve." I'm sure someone, somewhere, just got hit by lightning without "deserving" it. I feel sorry for that person, to be sure -- but I don't turn that negative non-desert into a positive claim on me, either. They don't "deserve" to be hit by lightning, but they don't "deserve" money from my pocket for, er, a lightning rod, either.

Charles and David and Bart you can have your little small government fantasy but meantime, people are dying. If the government does nothing, people will die, children will die. You know I am right about that. The market is getting freer and the number of impoverished is growing. This money COULD help save children's lives. YOU are willing to prevent that because of some tricky dispute about PROCEDURE. You haven't suggested a reasonable alternative.

Yes, yes, I get it. Just like a politician, you hope that saying "It's For The Children" will cause all critical thinking facilities to shut down and I'll go along with whatever you want. But I'm not a consequentialist, so your argument fails to convince me. The exclusionary rule means that some indisputably-guilty murderers will walk free, and those people will kill again. You can have your civil libertarian fantasy, but meantime, people are dying. Right? Well, that's a tradeoff I (and most liberals) am willing to make. Same here with my "small government fantasy."

As for a "reasonable alternative," I "suggest" charity. Provide all the money you'd like, Corey; nobody is stopping you.

That's like the absolute opposite of charity. I'd have to cry if I believed you really meant it.

Actually, it isn't the opposite of charity. Charity is voluntary, not an entitlement. You're not talking about charity; you're talking about government welfare. And I guess you'll have to cry, because I mean every word of it.

I'm not trying to make you disappear, I am trying to make sure people can see you are an uncharitable *ss. Its a little something I do whenever I find privileged people failing to humbly recognize their own indebtedness to other people.

Uncharitable? I'll match my charitable giving with yours any day. But you're not talking about charity; you're talking about government. It's not charity, nor is it generosity, to take from A to give to B. It's just naked force.

(And what debt could I possibly have to a sick child?)
 

I do understand your position. I detailed it exactly. If the state government isn't providing insurance, and there's no private insurance, you think the FEDERAL government's constitutional mandate is to withhold medical care from a poor sick child. Your position could not be any more clear.

I don't think you do understand the position. The federal government isn't "withholding" medical care, because the federal government doesn't have medical care.

The federal government not enacting S-CHIP is no more "withholding" medical care than the federal government not taking your surplus kidney for a sick child would be the federal government "withholding" organ transplants.

It doesn't make sense to talk about A "withholding" something from B unless (a) A has that thing, and (b) B is entitled to it. Would it make sense to say that I "withheld" a birthday gift from you last year? Not giving it to you is not the same as "withholding" it.
 

Sorry, David, but Bartbuster is simply exposing your position for what it really is, withholding medical care from poor sick children. Lather, rinse, repeat. I guess he / she is crying now too -- probably about not getting a birthday present from you -- so I hope you're happy about that too!
 

I don't think you do understand the position. The federal government isn't "withholding" medical care, because the federal government doesn't have medical care.

# posted by David Nieporent : 6:43 PM


Actually, I'm relatively certain that it's you who does not understand the position. The government does have medical care. Ever heard of a VA hospital? You think it is forced to withhold that care from poor people by the Constitution.

And like I said to chuckles, if you think the federal government is banned by the Constitution from providing medical care, then you're not really in a position to be whining for the federal government to require medical care which is no longer wanted (see Terry Schiavo).
 

I guess he / she is crying now too

# posted by Charles : 7:00 PM


I shed as many tears as you shed for Terry Schiavo. None.
 

Charles, ponder, at least for a moment, whether the end of providing sick children with health insurance justifies a a slightly broader interpretation of what the federal constitution allows than you are currently willing to make.

Even if I agreed with your interpretation of what the constitution permits, I would sooner tear it up than permit the kind of poverty and deprivation that goes on today. Devotion to 200 year old procedural rules in the face of curable substantive harm is the essense of the technocratic heart.

David:

"And what debt could I possibly have to a sick child?"

A charitable one. A moral one. G-d/Jesus/Allah/The majority says so.

If you walk down the street and fail to stop a kid from running in traffic because you would rather be on time for a meeting than help her, ... you are an horrible selfish person. Everyone will think so, regardless of what duty "the law" says you have.

So what does your ideal system of political organization prioritize above helping children?

You had better be giving more to charity than me because 1) you want to turn over the life and well-being of millions to it, and 2) you make a lot more than me, so your marginal utility loss is a lot less.

I give a bigger percentage than the entire Walton family though. If the Waltons were as charitable as me, they could pay for this entire program we are arguing about by themselves. But they aren't, I don't see a "reasonable alternative," I see billions tied up in estate grants to increasingly corrupted gene-pools

Also, I find it absurd to hear you people fretting about "coercion" by the government. Contracts compel poor people without equal bargaining resources. Government coerces rich people without voting resources to match their wealth. Your worldview is nothing more than a class preference, as is mine. But mine has more adherents. :)
 

Actually, I'm relatively certain that it's you who does not understand the position. The government does have medical care. Ever heard of a VA hospital? You think it is forced to withhold that care from poor people by the Constitution.

If one assumes for the sake of argument that the VA system is constitutional as part of the congressional power to raise and support armies, then it has that medical care only for the military, and does not have it for any other purpose. It is not authorized to provide it.

And like I said to chuckles, if you think the federal government is banned by the Constitution from providing medical care, then you're not really in a position to be whining for the federal government to require medical care which is no longer wanted (see Terry Schiavo).

Well, I have no idea why you said that to me, since I expressed no views on Schiavo. (That having been said, your statement is a classic example of begging the question; the issue with Schiavo was whether it was wanted. (There was no issue about "requiring" medical care that wasn't wanted; it's well-settled that people have the right to refuse medical care. Also, the issue was nutrition, not "medical care." The two are distinct.))


Corey:

So what does your ideal system of political organization prioritize above helping children?

Liberty.

Also, I find it absurd to hear you people fretting about "coercion" by the government. Contracts compel poor people without equal bargaining resources.

Not in the least. Contracts are voluntary. No coercion. "Equal" bargaining resources are not required. Microsoft has way more resources than me, but I've never been "coerced" to buy a single product of theirs. Induced, maybe, but not coerced.
 

So what does your ideal system of political organization prioritize above helping children?

Liberty.


Like the liberty to have an abortion? Or refuse pointless medical care? Or let gay people marry? That kind of liberty?

Or the kind of Liberty where you don't have to pay taxes that might end up helping fellow Americans?
 

David Pierpoint:
Not in the least. Contracts are voluntary. No coercion. "Equal" bargaining resources are not required. Microsoft has way more resources than me, but I've never been "coerced" to buy a single product of theirs. Induced, maybe, but not coerced.

Coercion is in the eye of the beholder, and the access to resources to enforce/resist the terms of the contract. Thanks to a wife who worked in the medical field, I cringe whenever I see a medical consent form, which usually includes a phrase along the lines that the patient agrees to pay any amounts that their insurance, if any, doesn't cover. If you want medical care, you need to sign. When the litany of bills arrive for a major procedure, they often cite that clause to induce you to pay.

However, there is another contract in the mix, between the medical service provider and the insurance company. It usually prevents the provider from billing any amount beyond the insurance coverage, a practice known as balance billing. Does the provider know that when they send the bill to the patient? Yes. Does the patient? No. If they do, they can often get the provider to accept the insurance payment, especially if they threaten to notify the insurance carrier.

As to Microsoft, it has often been a situation of not having a choice in the matter. Dilbert made much fun of the hidden conditions of EULAs at one point, and Neil Gaiman had one character in "Good Omens" send a EULA to the soul contract division in Hell with the comment "learn". Until the more recent surge in less technical proficiency non-Microsoft products, there was no requirement for me to use Microsoft and accept its EULA; then again, I did want to use my computer.
 

Like the liberty to have an abortion? Or refuse pointless medical care? Or let gay people marry? That kind of liberty?

Or the kind of Liberty where you don't have to pay taxes that might end up helping fellow Americans?


All of the above. Are you really under the impression that everyone who isn't a liberal fits into your stereotype of social conservative?
 

All of the above. Are you really under the impression that everyone who isn't a liberal fits into your stereotype of social conservative?

# posted by David Nieporent : 6:19 PM


Not everyone, but most. If you're not a hypocrite like Charles, good for you. Unfortunately for you, it appears that you're part of a very small minority.
 

Corey and Bartbuster:

You are free to advocate Constitutional amendments to change our system of government into outright socialism or worse. I would obviously oppose that, just as I oppose any "end run" to effectuate those changes short of the requirements for such amendments (in case you couldn't tell, I was fine with the status quo ante). Luckily, just for you two, there are a couple threads here all about fantasy Constitutional amendments.
 

You are free to advocate Constitutional amendments to change our system of government into outright socialism or worse. I would obviously oppose that, just as I oppose any "end run" to effectuate those changes short of the requirements for such amendments (in case you couldn't tell, I was fine with the status quo ante). Luckily, just for you two, there are a couple threads here all about fantasy Constitutional amendments.

# posted by Charles : 4:45 PM


Judging by the current status, and popularity, of programs like SCHIPs, it's you who needs the amendments, not us.

Good luck with that.
 

Not at all. Since there were no properly submitted and ratified Amendment(s) granting federal power over something like SCHIPS, I don't need an Amendment to restore the true meaning of the Constitution. At this point, all I need is a "case or controversy" on the issue and five Justices on the ROBERTS Supreme Court ; )
 

Baghdad, just because you made a claim that we can't disprove, that does not make it true. It's STILL up to you to provide evidence that it's true. Good luck with that.
 

Not at all. Since there were no properly submitted and ratified Amendment(s) granting federal power over something like SCHIPS, I don't need an Amendment to restore the true meaning of the Constitution. At this point, all I need is a "case or controversy" on the issue and five Justices on the ROBERTS Supreme Court ; )

# posted by Charles : 6:03 PM


Charles, what part about CURRENT status did you not understand? And given the popularity of many government programs that are not specifically approved in the Constitution, I suspect you're going to have trouble comimg up with those 5 justices. But if you do, it might be a good time for you to look up the term "pyrrhic victory".
 

I fully understand the "CURRENT status" of SCHIP -- including the Congressional battle and threatened veto of any substantial increase of the program -- what part of FUTURE "case or controversy" do you not understand?
 

what part of FUTURE "case or controversy" do you not understand?

# posted by Charles : 11:10 PM


The part where I should care about something that doesn't appear to be very likely.
 

And, it didn't "appear to be very likely" that a former AWOL, coke-head alcoholic could be elected President before 2000, now did it? You don't think organizations like the Heritage Foundation right now aren't looking for the perfect test cases on issues exactly like these?
 

And, it didn't "appear to be very likely" that a former AWOL, coke-head alcoholic could be elected President before 2000, now did it? You don't think organizations like the Heritage Foundation right now aren't looking for the perfect test cases on issues exactly like these?

# posted by Charles : 11:10 AM


He had the backing of the very powerful Bush family political machine. I wouldn't call him being elected unlikely at all.

The Heritage Foundation can look all it wants at getting the "welfare clause" redefined. That does not change the fact that it's extremely unlikely that it's going to happen.
 

Perhaps you've not been reading many ROBERTS Supreme Court cases lately? Take a moment and review all the Chicken Little "sky is falling" threads by LAW PROFESSORS no less about said opinions this term.
 

Perhaps you've not been reading many ROBERTS Supreme Court cases lately? Take a moment and review all the Chicken Little "sky is falling" threads by LAW PROFESSORS no less about said opinions this term.

# posted by Charles : 12:03 PM


That's covered under the "pyrrhic victory" clause.
 

I doubt the NAACP is considering Parents Involved (the school desegregation cases) a "pyrrhic" victory for the opposition just yet ; )
 

I doubt the NAACP is considering Parents Involved (the school desegregation cases) a "pyrrhic" victory for the opposition just yet ; )

# posted by Charles : 12:31 PM


What did that have to do with redefining the "welfare clause"?
 

Because my original point about correcting the definition of the "tax and spending clause" was as follows:

all I need is a "case or controversy" on the issue and five Justices on the ROBERTS Supreme Court ; )

Look, Bartbuster, if all we are going to do now is repeat everything we've already posted before, I see no benefit in that. Have a nice week.
 

Because my original point about correcting the definition of the "tax and spending clause" was as follows:

all I need is a "case or controversy" on the issue and five Justices on the ROBERTS Supreme Court ; )

Look, Bartbuster, if all we are going to do now is repeat everything we've already posted before, I see no benefit in that. Have a nice week.

# posted by Charles : 1:05 PM


So you're not really looking to redefine the welfare clause, you're just looking for excuses for the ROBERTS court to shut down government programs.
 

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