The John Adams Public Health Insurance Act

Today appears to be John Adams Day for defenders of the individual mandate in the health bill. FTR, as I have written many times, I find the argument that the individual mandate is unconstitutional to be absurd in the extreme. Frankly, it is not a plausible constitutional objection. It is, in fact, a frivolous argument. That said, I'm not sure the Act for The Relief of Sick anf Disabled Seamen helps the legal argument that much. As Ezra Klein acknowledges:

If you read Rick Ungar's excellent explanation of the bill, you'll see it was a bit different than the individual mandate: It was a payroll tax that all sailors on private merchant ships had to pay, and in return, they were basically given access to a small public health-care system.

Making it Medicare for Sailors. The argument against the constitutionality of the individual mandate has included the idea that requiring the purchase of private insurance is what makes the individual mandate in the health bill unconstitutional and what makes it different from Medicare and Social Security. There is no logic in this distinction with regard to the Necessary and Proper Clause (as this open letter from law professors explains), but courts first decide what result they want, and come up with rationales later. More . . .

Ezra also makes the wry observation that:

[I]f conservatives really do prefer a system of payroll taxes that purchase you public insurance to the private system envisioned in the Affordable Care Act, I'm sure there are a lot of liberals who would vote for a bill that repealed the Affordable Care Act and replaced it with Medicare-for-all.

That's clever, but does miss a point - that if instead of a mandate the health bill had instead have had as a universality provision autoenrollment in a public health insurance program, we would not be having this political mandate problem right now. Not very pragmatic of the wonks on this one.

Speaking for me only

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    SCROTUS (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 12:08:25 PM EST
    It takes more than a pair to masquerade as the majority on this court does. Corporations are people. But, I suspect, several justices might not be.

    And of course they won't do anything about the mandate.  Citizens United proved, with its lack of all humane logic, that the majority on this cartoon court care about one group of "people," and it ain't you and me.  

    Bravo again, BTD, your work is always much appreciated.

    I do agree also (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 12:10:09 PM EST
    That the constitutional case is weak to non-existent, but that wouldn't matter to this majority if the "correct interests" were being served by overturning it.

    Yes, but the problem is with the (none / 0) (#3)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 12:12:45 PM EST
    "public" part of that possibility; we have the plan we have because the Number One Priority the industry and Wall Street insisted on was making sure the the billions of dollars to be realized from currently uninsured individuals were funneled their way - into the private sector.

    What the conservatives object to - as they always do - is anyone telling them what to do with their own money; for them, there is no greater good, there is only ever "the only good that matters is mine."  So, if there's money to be made they want to make it directly, they don't want to have to give money to WellPoint for insurance just so the WellPoint stock they own will keep increasing in value and pay higher dividends.

    And they sure do not want to have to indirectly pay for anyone else's unpleasant medical issues; no, if people can't pay for their care, they just shouldnt' have it.  How simple is that?

    A caveat for this statement (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 01:49:54 PM EST
    And they sure do not want to have to indirectly pay for anyone else's unpleasant medical issues; no, if people can't pay for their care, they just shouldn't' have it.

    Conservatives are more than willing for you, via the government, to pay for their care and services when needed. They just don't want to pay for anyone else. Especially for those not in their "class."

    All conservative politicians in state and federal government are getting much more than their share of government subsidies.


    Has anyone challenged the constitutionalty of (none / 0) (#4)
    by me only on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 12:24:01 PM EST

    wait (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 02:23:32 PM EST
    A possible answer (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 02:45:14 PM EST
    A much easier question to answer is why we're facing this constitutional turmoil. Why, for example, is there no constitutional fuss over Medicare, Medicaid, or veterans' health care? These programs raise no constitutional issue because they are government benefit programs funded by taxes, and the Constitution explicitly authorizes Congress to tax and spend for the general welfare. Had the ACA expanded Medicare eligibility to everyone, or created a new government health benefit program, there would be no constitutional issue. The constitutional controversy is the direct result of the insistence by conservative legislators that any health insurance reform must preserve the private insurance industry, which necessitated the addition of the individual mandate that is now being fought in the courts by similarly conservative forces.

    At least one lawyer's opinion


    Which is my point (none / 0) (#8)
    by me only on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 02:57:08 PM EST
    The Seamen act is more like Medicare than Obamacare.

    The 1792 Militia Act has little resemblance, either.  National Defense through conscription is a legitimate federal concern.  After all, it is enumerated in the Constitution.


    That's is an unpersuasive piece (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 03:07:33 PM EST

    Maybe (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 01:28:14 PM EST
    But it's her opinion and she's a lawyer with an MPH, so she's definitely closer to the subject than I am.

    But what is impressive (none / 0) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 05:40:36 PM EST
    Is the way "they" can just drool out some demented, dingbat dreck from their lips (like finding trillions of dollars of wasteful spending to reduce our debt) and we respond like trained seals with scholarly treatises, full of logic and reason, as if "they" were fully developed humans with functioning, cognitive abilities.

    You gotta give'm credit though; they poop out some crap, then sit back, light their cigars, fill up their goblets with their spirit of choice, and enjoy the show.

    FDR knew how to laugh at, and mock the opposition, and bring the American public along for the ride. We treat them as serious statesmen worthy of serious, thoughtful response.

    What was definition of insanity again?

    Well said (none / 0) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 12:58:14 AM EST
    and a good belly laugh to boot.  Thanks!

    Thanks gy (none / 0) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 10:15:58 AM EST
    Now, from the Macro ("they") to the Micro ( Ann Coulter )

    She is my hero; she should be a mandatory study for any current, or future, politician on "our" side. "How could they be so stupid," "Don't they know they're voting against their own interests,?" "What's the matter with Kansas?" And, the answer is.........Ann Coulter. Just look at her addressing an audience: Flinging her bottle-blond mane to and fro (as if it was a metaphor dismissing the whole lot of the "looney-left,") smiling and laughing (some may say cackling,) and with her quite impressive educational credentials, throwing out enough red meat to her adoring audience to keep the invitations (and pay checks) flowing in.

    The entire Right understands the essence of politics which the entire Left eschews as "beneath them." And that is, maybe 20% of the population have a clue, and that the majority of voters prefer to be entertained, rather than lectured to.  

    Why can I, a nobody, see these things so clearly, while our "leadership" remains cloistered behind closed doors babbling and muttering, "what do they want?"

    My Lord, we just elected a President who campaigned on smiles, oratory, and rapture. Is there a machine in the White House that sucks out the brains of a President on inauguration day? Is "The Bubble" THAT impenetrable?


    Democratic leadership files (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 08:27:25 PM EST
    a brief:


    Notwithstanding Appellants' improbable hypotheticals, Congress never has required Americans to exercise or eat certain foods - and in our view it never would. Were Congress ever to consider laws of that kind infringing on personal autonomy, the judiciary would have ample tools under the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment to identify and enforce constitutional limits.

    Exactly. And yes, there's a bit of jujitsu to that!