Is Obamacare In Jeopardy?

Jul 23 2014 @ 11:20am

Obamacare Ruling

Noah Feldman asserts that “the ACA is not yet quite dead. But there’s blood in the water, and the great whites in robes are circling.” McArdle assesses the damage to Obamacare:

Much will depend on the courts: Does the case get en banc review, does that review rule for the government, and if so, will the plaintiffs be able to push an appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Will the Supreme Court expose itself to more outrage from whichever side they rule against? All that is unknown. We do know this much: this was a big blow for the government, and a potentially fatal one for the administration’s signature legislative achievement.

But Emily Bazelon expects the government to prevail:

[I]t is the D.C. Circuit’s ruling that is probably going nowhere beyond a victory lap by the strategic conservative lawyers who brought this case, and a round of postmortem hand-wringing among law professors, who are already deriding the decision. That is because the legal reasoning of the majority in D.C. is seriously unconvincing, and as Slate contributor and UC–Irvine law professor Richard Hasen quickly pointed out, the next stop on the legal train is the D.C. Circuit as a whole, where today’s result will likely be reversed.

Bloomberg View’s editors weigh in:

Obamacare isn’t dead. And given the flimsy logic of the latest legal argument against it, there’s a good chance it never will be. … The legal battle now moves to the full D.C. Court of Appeals and perhaps from there to the Supreme Court. The worst-case scenario is that the strict-constructionist view of the dispute will prevail. Even then, however, Obamacare can survive — if state policy makers take the opportunity to set up their own exchanges.

Ingraham provides the above chart, which shows how many current enrollees would be impacted if federal exchange subsidies are banned. Kevin Drum also imagines what would happen if SCOTUS sides with Halbig’s plaintiffs and “in a stroke, everyone enrolled in Obamacare through a federal exchange is no longer eligible for subsidies”:

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In a long and wide-ranging interview with David Rothkopf, Zbigniew Brzezinski opines on how the US should engage the Middle East today:

I think the whole region now, in terms of the sectarian impulses and sectarian intolerance, is not a place in which America ought to try to be preeminent. I think we ought to pursue a policy in which we recognize the fact that the problems there are likely to persist and escalate and spread more widely. The two countries that will be most affected by these developments over time are China and Russia — because of their regional interests, vulnerabilities to terrorism, and strategic interests in global energy markets. And therefore it should be in their interest to work with us also, and we should be willing to play with them, but not assume sole responsibility for managing a region that we can neither control nor comprehend.

He also thinks it’s wiser to pursue accommodation with Iran than to continue treating it as a greater threat than it really is:

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A Split Decision On Obamacare

Jul 23 2014 @ 10:31am

Jason Millman summarizes yesterday’s news:

The federal appeals court in the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 this morning that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t authorize the federal government to provide subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans to buy insurance in the 36 states where the federal government set up exchanges to sell health-care coverage. Just two hours later, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar case unanimously found just the opposite — that the IRS correctly interpreted the text of the ACA when it issued a rule allowing all public exchanges, regardless of who set them up, to provide insurance subsides.

Emily Badger explains what the lawsuits hinge on:

This latest legal challenge focuses on four words in the mammoth law authorizing tax credits for individuals who buy insurance through exchanges “established by the States.” Thiry-six states declined to set up their own exchanges — far more than the law’s backers anticipated — and in those states, consumers have been shopping for health care on exchanges run instead by the federal government. Now the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that these consumers are not eligible for subsidies because, well, they bought their insurance on exchanges not “established by the States.”

This is a tremendously literal interpretation of a small but crucial part of the law, and it’s one that was arguably never intended by its creators.

Greg Sargent joins the debate over the meaning of “established by the States”:

[T]he phrase does not literally say that subsidies should not go to people who get subsidies from the federal exchange, which under the law must be established in states that decline to set up their own exchanges. In fairness, opponents are right — the phrase also does not literally say that subsidies should go to those on the federal exchange. But all of that is precisely what makes the statutory language in question ambiguous. Once you accept this point — that the meaning of the phrase is not clear — then there is ample precedent for the courts evaluating the intent of Congress as expressed in the whole statute.

Philip Klein quotes from the DC federal appeals court ruling, the one which went against the administration:

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” they wrote. “At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly. But, high as those stakes are, the principle of legislative supremacy that guides us is higher still. Within constitutional limits, Congress is supreme in matters of policy, and the consequence of that supremacy is that our duty when interpreting a statute is to ascertain the meaning of the words of the statute duly enacted through the formal legislative process. This limited role serves democratic interests by ensuring that policy is made by elected, politically accountable representatives, not by appointed, life-tenured judges.”

Adrianna McIntyre disagrees with this logic:

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Quote For The Day

Jul 23 2014 @ 10:02am

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border

“It’s maddening to think that the tremendous military power Israel has amassed is not giving it the courage to overcome its fears and existential despair and take a decisive step that will bring peace. The great idea of the founding of the State of Israel is that the Jewish people has returned home, and that here, we will never be victims again. Never shall we be paralyzed and submissive in the face of forces mightier than us.

Look at us: The strongest nation in the region, a regional superpower that enjoys the support of the United States on an almost inconceivable scale, along with the sympathy and commitment of Germany, England and France – and still, deep inside, it sees itself as a helpless victim. And still it behaves like a victim – of its anxieties, its real and imagined fears, its tragic history, of the mistakes of its neighbors and enemies.

This worldview is pushing the Jewish public of Israel to our most vulnerable and wounded places as a people. The very essence of “Israeliness,” which always had a forward-looking gaze and held constant ferment and constant promise, has been steadily dwindling in recent years, and is being absorbed back into the channels of trauma and pain of Jewish history and memory. You can feel it now, in 2014, within very many of us “new” Israelis, an anxiety over the fate of the Jewish people, that sense of persecution, of victimhood, of feeling the existential foreignness of the Jews among all the other nations.

What hope can there be when such is the terrible state of things? The hope of nevertheless. A hope that does not disregard the many dangers and obstacles, but refuses to see only them and nothing else,” – David Grossman.

(Hat tip: Jeff Weintraub)

(Photo: Israeli soldiers weep at the grave of Israeli Sergeant Adar Barsano during his funeral on July 20, 2014 in Nahariya, Israel. Sergeant Barsano was killed along with another IDF soldier on the twelfth day of operation Protective Edge, when Hamas militants infiltrated Israel from a tunnel dug from Gaza and engaged Israeli soldiers. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images.)

Putting Food On The Table

Jul 23 2014 @ 9:32am

L.V. Anderson comments on Tracie McMillan’s multimedia piece on American hunger:

McMillan takes aim at various misconceptions about poverty and hunger by profiling four families across the country. Think all you need to eat healthy on a budget is cooking skill? Talk to Jacqueline Christian, a mother of two who works full-time as a health aide and wouldn’t have the time or energy to cook even if she weren’t living in a homeless shelter. Think it’s impossible to struggle with hunger if you’re overweight? Spend some time with Christina Dreier, an obese stay-at-home mom in Iowa who skips meals in order to feed her kids tater tots and hot dogs from a local food bank. …

What goes unsaid in McMillan’s article is that the task of feeding children on an inadequate budget falls primarily to women. That women still do the majority of household labor is well known, but usually it’s discussed in the context of middle-class obsessions like leaning in and the mommy wars, not in the context of growing poverty.

Publicists’ Bad Publicity

Jul 23 2014 @ 9:03am

Pivoting off Jennifer Pan’s recent piece on the PR industry, Ann Friedman further examines sexism-tinged stereotypes about women who work there:

The Princeton Review, in its guide to careers for college students, explains that “the successful PR person must be a good communicator — in print, in person and on the phone. They cultivate and maintain contacts with journalists, set up speaking engagements, write executive speeches and annual reports, respond to inquiries and speak directly to the press on behalf of their client.” So why do we associate PR professionals with mindless fakery rather than hard-won relationships and quick thinking?

On a New York Observer list of fictional publicists in pop culture, every notable character since the mid-’80s is a woman — typically sharp-tongued but not supersmart. Think Jennifer Saunders on Absolutely Fabulous, or Debi Mazar on Entourage. One of the most popular sketches on Comedy Central’s Kroll Show is “PubLIZity,” a reality-TV parody starring Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate as vapid pseudo-professionals in neon heels. Even when they’re portrayed as savvy, like Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones, PR people are never intellectual heavy-hitters. They are the working world’s sorority girls: salad-eating, prosecco-ordering up-talkers, manicured to the hilt.

Born With A Silver Lining

Jul 23 2014 @ 8:30am

Zachary A. Goldfarb highlights a recent study showing higher birth weights in poor communities:

Something extraordinary is happening to poor pregnant women…: They’re giving birth to healthier babies. While other economic and health disparities have widened, giving way to huge national debates about inequality, pregnant women at the lowest rung of the nation’s economic ladder are bucking that trend. They have narrowed the gap with wealthier women in the health of their babies.

While experts agree that government policy has been critical to boosting the health of poor newborns, the improvements aren’t because of a single policy or administration. Rather, they reflect improved access to care, as well as a complex array of other factors, some not easily within the government’s grasp to change, from pollution to nutrition to violence at home.

Jessica Grose argues that Medicaid expansion played a major role in this improvement:

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foriegn markets

Yglesias argues that the EU is in the driver’s seat:

Here’s the one fact you need to know to understand where the real balance of power lies: Russia’s top trading partner is the European Union, but the EU’s top trading partner is the United States followed by China. In other words, the 306 billion euro trading relationship is a big deal either way you slice it, but it’s fundamentally a bigger deal for Russia than it is for Europe

And, as Tim Fernholz illustrates with the above chart, the Dutch have significant Russian capital under their control:

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How Immigrants Reduce Crime

Jul 23 2014 @ 7:29am

Exploring the vicious cycle of high homicide rates and declining populations that has afflicted American “murder capitals” like Detroit and New Orleans, Kriston Capps uncovers how other cities have managed to escape that cycle:

Nationwide, violent crime has dropped in two waves. Violence fell just about everywhere in the 1990s, with rates leveling off in the 2000s. Then, around 2007, violent crime dropped again—hugely—in several cities, among them D.C., New York, Dallas, and San Diego. What’s working for these cities?

Immigration.

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The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 22 2014 @ 9:15pm

There’s always a moment – sooner or later – when a regime propped up by lies will have to account for an empirical reality that refutes it and threatens to bring the entire edifice down. That’s the potentially game-changing significance of MH17, it seems to me.

Here’s Putin’s strange 13 minute address to Russians today on foreign policy – after his deeply weird televised address at 2 am. He’s visibly panicking; and the faces of his colleagues are quite a study:

Notice the petulant raging at Ukraine and then the litany of paranoia and isolation: “we know what’s really going on.” No wonder the Russian population had to be talked down from widespread panic at the thought of an imminent invasion by the West! That’s how far Putin had ratcheted up the hysteria – a very dangerous place for a leader with nukes to be in. A reader who has been monitoring the Russian Internet writes:

As you can imagine, the last few days have been a rollercoaster ride on the runet. The first reaction to the downing of MH17 was panic. They were trying to shoot down Putin’s plane! Two doubles took off from Russian President Vladimir Putin Visits SamaraAmsterdam at the same time, one filled with corpses who all had new passports and totally new Facebook pages!

The second wave of the pro-Putinists was despair – “It is all over now! The only thing standing between us and slavery to Western interests is our beloved Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!”

Now, already, it seems that they are quickly realizing that “everything has changed.” The anti-Putin journalists and posters are becoming much more courageous than they have been in recent months about opposing Putin directly. Here is a piece from Slon.ru, the Russian version of Salon:

The nighttime address to the nation was something unprecedented, and even more unprecedented was its content, in the sense that there was no content in this speech at all. Why did Putin call up his press service, cameramen, make-up artists, and internet site workers and many others at 2 in the morning? Just to repeat once more that there would have been no tragedy if there hadn’t been any war in the Donbass, to call for peace negotiations and inviting ICAO aviation experts to the site of the crash? Couldn’t these two and a half points waited until the morning?

The pro-Putin people have seen their arguments fall to pieces against the reality of the situation. Putin is being portrayed as in a total panic. The anti-Putin forces are worried about what he might do in such a state, but he is no longer being seen as the magician in control.

All of which makes me appreciate the deliberativeness of Obama’s response, praised by my reader earlier today. Putin is blustering, lying, and using the crudest of means to impose his will on Ukraine. Obama is just slowly raising the costs – and those just got a lot more onerous for Russia. Today, the Europeans finally approved of a host of new sanctions, yet to be implemented. That may give Putin some room to climb down. But it won’t be easy. That’s the look on Putin’s face. It’s called rattled.

Today, because the news isn’t depressing enough, we checked in on Syria’s civil war. It makes Gaza look like a side-show: up to 700 people were killed last Thursday and Friday in clashes between ISIS and Assad. Next up: Libya teeters toward ever more chaos.

I sought relief in two stand-bys: Oakeshott, the last great English Romantic, and Montaigne – yes, we kicked off our third book club discussion today. You can buy How To Live here.

The most popular post of the day was For Israel, There Is No Such Thing As An innocent Gazan; followed by Putin Creates His Own Reality.

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