Please lecture us about fiscal responsibility some more. I guess you can argue, however, that lesbian bondage-themed clubs are a form of free market enterprise.
Archives for March 2010
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell at yesterday’s health care reform celebration, introducing Washington’s 20-year-old Basic Health Plan to Attorney General Rob McKenna, explaining why it allows WA to opt out of the mandate if we choose, and urging him to “innovate, not litigate.”
Yet another disgruntled ex-reader cancels their subscription to the Seattle Times:
By this email I am canceling my subscription to the Seattle Times. Your endorsement of Rob McKenna’s self-serving challenge to the constitutionality of the health insurance reform bill argues that the suit is a challenge to Big Insurance that progressives should approve. The idea that the Seattle Times supports the challenge out of a concern for the power of corporations in American life lacks any credible evidence in the editorial positions historically taken by the Times.
The Times has every right to support McKenna’s efforts to tack the gubernatorial shoals of Tea Parties and Clubs for Growth, but doing it with a lecture about what liberals should believe grates one last time too many on me. Lawsuits are supposed to be filed in a good faith belief in the positions advanced. Unless he is dumb and, therefore not qualified to be Governor, McKenna cannot believe that this lawsuit has merit. When McKenna files and the Times endorses a suit against corporate personhood to overturn Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, I’ll re-subscribe.
I’ve learned to live without the PI. Living without the Times will be like noticing it’s not raining.
Attorney at Law
Nearly 19,000 citizens have joined the “Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit” Facebook group over the past week, yet the Times dismisses our opposition as a mere “politically orchestrated hiss.”
So if you’re sick and tired of being disrespected by Frank Blethen and his cronies, cancel your subscription and send a copy of your correspondence to me, and I’ll be happy to post it to HA, with or without attribution.
I am not an attorney (much to my mother’s chagrin), yet longtime readers of HA know that when it comes to analyzing legal issues I’ve proven extraordinarily insightful, dating back to my first year of blogging, when I completely pegged the court decision in the BIAW/Rossi challenge of the 2004 gubernatorial election, months before the trial. And I didn’t just predict the result; I explained the legal grounds behind Judge Bridges’ ultimate decision.
So with that and other subsequent legal feathers in my cap, I’d like to take a moment to present a layman’s refutation of Attorney General Rob McKenna’s politically motivated lawsuit, that concisely explains just some of the reasons why his arguments are total bullshit, but without a lot of legal mumbo jumbo. It’s not complicated, so I’m sure even the Seattle Times editorial board can follow along.
And speaking of uncomplicated, let’s start with a recent comment from an HA regular, the aptly named Troll:
If a Republican President signed a bill requiring all U.S. citizens to purchase a handgun, and the Washington State AG filed a lawsuit saying that was unconstitutional, would Goldy say his lawsuit was absurd?
I guess the quick answer would be “No,” depending on the specifics of the law, and the legal arguments within, I would not find such a lawsuit absurd. Which gets to the heart of the absurdity of McKenna’s lawsuit, because this is not an apt legal analogy at all.
See, the recently passed health care reform legislation does not require that all U.S. citizens purchase insurance, it merely provides a tax incentive to those of us who do. If you are not covered by an employer, and if you have not purchased your own individual policy, and if your income is above certain levels, and if you don’t hail from a state that has opted out of this mandate by implementing its own qualified health insurance system, you will be required to pay an additional federal tax, starting at the greater of $95 or 1% of income in 2014, and rising to $695 or 2.5% of income in 2016, up to a cap of the national average premium on a bronze plan. Both the minimum tax and the cap will increase by the annual cost of living adjustment.
Now, some might argue that this is still a mandate to engage in some sort of economic activity because it targets a tax at those who refuse, but one could easily flip this perception around. What it really is, is a flat, 2.5% federal income tax — much along the lines of what is already imposed to fund Social Security and Medicare — but for which the law provides a substantial exemption to those who choose to purchase private health insurance.
And don’t attempt to bog down this discussion in jibberish over whether this is a “tax” or a “fee” or a “penalty” or a “mandate” or whatever. The courts have long been consistent that lawmakers need not jump through such semantic hoops; if a law is constitutional worded one way, it is constitutional worded another, as long as the practical application is the same. And clearly, our tax laws are filled with provisions intended to encourage some economic activities and discourage others.
Along these lines, a better analogy than Troll’s theoretical handgun mandate would be our current home mortgage interest deduction. The federal government does not actually mandate that we all take out big mortgages to buy homes and condos, but it grants huge tax advantages to those who do, essentially penalizing renters. Think about it: with the extra tax revenue from eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction, the federal government could lower the base tax rate on all of us.
So, if the health insurance mandate-cum-exemption is unconstitutional based on the contention that it compels individuals to engage in an economic activity, then so too would be the home mortgage interest deduction, and any number of other federal tax incentives. And I sincerely doubt that McKenna would choose to join a lawsuit seeking to deny Washington homeowners this very popular deduction.
Not to worry though, because the federal government clearly has the constitutional authority to impose a tax to pay for health care (it does so now with Medicare), and it clearly has the constitutional authority to grant deductions, exemptions and other tax incentives in order to encourage or discourage certain forms of economic activity. And from a practical standpoint, that’s all the health care reform bill really does.
Nothing radical there.
As for the other main legal contention in McKenna’s lawsuit, that the new law amounts to an unprecedented encroachment on state sovereignty by requiring states to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs and the inherent costs therein, well, that’s just a load of crap. No state is required to participate in Medicaid, but since the federal government picks up over the half the cost, all states choose to do so, and the courts have long established that Congress has the right to attach conditions to the money it provides.
Likewise, there is no requirement that states set up an insurance exchange. If a state fails to set up an exchange, the federal government will merely step in and do so on behalf of its citizens. Not sure how that meets the definition of “mandate.”
So there you have it. From a layman’s perspective, McKenna’s legal arguments amount to much ado about nothing. And while I don’t put anything past the machinations of the highly partisan and activist Roberts Court, I’m pretty damn confident that this layman is going to prove to have a better grasp of the law than our state’s attorney general.
Which, honestly, is kinda sad.
Another former Seattle Times reader cancels their subscription:
To whom it may concern,
Independently, within hours of Attorney General Rob McKenna’s announcement Monday of his lawsuit to stop federal health care reform, both my wife and I had joined Facebook groups and signed petitions opposing the lawsuit. We did so because we were appalled and angry that an elected official would unilaterally take a step, for crass political purposes, so completely at odds with the desires of a vast majority of the constituents he has taken an oath to serve, as well as almost all of the federal officials (8 of 11) those constituents have elected.
And today I open up our copy of the Seattle Times to see, in the first sentence of your editorial supporting McKenna, the anger and revulsion we have had in common with pretty much everyone I’ve talked with this week sneered at, in the editorial’s very first words, as a “politically orchestrated hiss.”
Fuck. You. Please cancel our subscription immediately.
Of course, Mr. Blethen, and his sycophants on the Times editorial board, have every right to espouse editorial opinions at odds with the majority of people in the city whose name stains your masthead. (Have you considered “Lubbock”? It’s a better fit.) We’ve come to expect it, particularly since the demise of the P-I. What you do *not* have the right to do is gratuitiously insult us, and expect that we will remain your customers, even as your news staff and coverage continues to shrink and other media outlets emerge that do a better job of covering almost everything you publish.
We have remained home delivery subscribers out of loyalty. This is how you view your loyal customers?
No wonder your business is failing. Don’t let us stop you. Please add us to your list of disgusted former customers.
If you’ve canceled your Seattle Times subscription, send a copy to me, or relate your phone conversation, and I’ll post it here on HA, with or without attribution.
It’s so awesome how we continue to get petulant lectures (from the people who nearly destroyed capitalism) about how capitalism should be. They drove us off a cliff, and now they’re complaining about the airbags.
Rep. Jay Inslee on Attorney General Rob McKenna’s “absurd” lawsuit against health care reform:
“If Ronald Reagan’s Solicitor General can figure out it’s absurd, why can’t Rob McKenna?”
Yeah, I suppose Marcelas Owens would kick McKenna’s ass, but it’s the debate between Inslee and McKenna that I’m really looking forward to.
Hundreds of supporters gathered today to celebrate and defend health care reform, though I doubt the Seattle Times will bother to report on it, as it’s not like two governors, two U.S. Senators, and two U.S. Representatives were there or anything.
Now if there had been some angry handmade signs or something, now that would’ve been news.
A reader CC’d me on their email to the Seattle Times:
Michael Sheehan, Director of Circulation Operations
Please cancel my subscription to the Seattle Times as I now find it far too biased toward the National Chamber of Commerce agenda and that of the far right ideology. Balance has been missing for a long time and there is no longer the Seattle P-I as the local default newspaper. Plus, why is there a Business Section and no Labor Section in this publication. As a lifelong independent voter who has split my vote between the two major political parties (local and national) I can no longer justify spending my hard earned money on your source and content of news.
Copy or forward me your email canceling your subscription to the Seattle Times, and I’ll be happy to post it on HA, with or without attribution.
Come celebrate and defend health care reform today with Gov. Chris Gregoire, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Representatives Jay Inslee and Brian Baird, and 11-year-old activist Marcelas Owens, who stood at President Obama’s side during the bill signing. 3 P.M., Machinists District 751 Hall, 9125 15th Place S., Seattle.
Then let’s all go out for a drink afterwards and plot our continued assault on the American way of life.
Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
1 doz. Littleneck clams
4 slices bacon
4 tbsp. red pepper, minced
3 tbsp. bread crumbs
4 tbsp. garlic butter (see below)
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
– I started to fully understand the root cause of the infighting at Fox News over Glenn Beck after his insane interview with Eric Massa. The problem is that – unlike pure con artists like O’Reilly and Hannity – Beck actually believes his own bullshit. What he does isn’t an act. He’s an emotionally disturbed person working through various psychological issues while trying to confront an inability to comprehend both the rationale and the popularity of progressive politics. But while the average teabaggers are being exposed as ideologically incoherent buffoons in relative obscurity, Beck is going through that journey in front of millions of television viewers every day. It’s been quite the spectacle.
– Glenn Greenwald has written some good posts recently on our special relationship with Israel. Maybe Americans are finally starting to recognize that the way the Israelis have been treating the Palestinians doesn’t quite jibe with our nation’s historic emphasis on the importance of property rights.
– As always, lots of drug war news to pass along. Paul Armentano debates former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey about California’s approved ballot measure to legalize marijuana. Scott Morgan writes about the NFL and pot. Radley Balko on the Jonathan Ayers case. Officials in Texas are still waging war against KopBusters creator Barry Cooper. And Pete Guither on the enemy within.
– I’ve recently been checking out the Analytics X competition, a contest that offers up a small prize for anyone who can use analytics to most accurately predict the incidence of homicides across the city of Philadelphia.
– Good to read something from this guy again.
Join U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, along with Rep. Jay Inslee, 11-year-old Marcelas Owens and others at a rally in defense of health care reform, this Sunday, March 28, 3 p.m. at the Machinist 751 Hall, 9125 15th Place S., Seattle.
Rob McKenna, the Teabaggers and other opponents of reform don’t believe this fight is over, and neither should we, so I urge you all to turn out to thank our elected officials who passed reform, and show the media that we’re just as passionate as the angry rabble on the other side. Hope to see you all there, and then maybe go out for a beer afterwards.
Just a provide even more of an exclamation point on Rob McKenna’s hypocrisy over the Commerce Clause, here’s a page that the Marijuana Policy Project put up shortly after the Gonzales v. Raich decision came down. In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the right to arrest people who are following their state’s medical marijuana law. This decision (which was agreed upon by both the more liberal members of the court and Scalia) is why most legal experts believe that the challenge to the health care reform bill’s mandates will rejected.
What’s interesting about that page is that, of the 10 states that had medical marijuana laws at the time of the decision, all but two of the respective state Attorney Generals publicly affirmed that their state medical marijuana laws were still valid despite the ruling. One of the two who sat silent was Rob McKenna. In fact, I can’t find a single public statement from McKenna at that time standing up for the Washington voters who’d voted overwhelmingly to allow marijuana use among seriously ill individuals. This is why the Seattle Times editorial claiming that McKenna’s opposition is somehow rooted in his deep convictions about the Constitution is such a joke.
Instead, Josh Feit gets this one exactly right:
I’ll tell you exactly what Rob McKenna was thinking: Charlie Crist.
Sure McKenna may have jeopardized his shot at winning the governor’s race in 2012, but he has to make it through the primary to even have a chance. And even in a top-two primary (or especially in a top two primary), he needs the Republican base.
Feit thinks that McKenna’s gamble could work and get him to the Governor’s Mansion. I’m not so sure. But for the Seattle Times not to be able to see through his transparent bullshit – well, that’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from them.