In today's Election Countdown 2012 news: A Michigan activist asks, "Is armed rebellion now justified?" after health care ruling; the storage business is booming at the expense of foreclosed-upon families; the fracking list in New York now totals 21 Marcellus or Utica drilling permit requests; and more.
D – 72 and counting*
“If you know what life is worth you will look for yours on earth.– Bob Marley
Readers: I have cut most other sections short this evening to cover the Supreme Court’s decision on the ACA. But first, the states:
CA. Voting: “[A]n African-American voter, Elise Brown, of Victorville, California, filed a federal lawsuit, charging that top-two, as applied, violates the Voting Rights Act and also violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
CO. “Government is vitally necessary to combat the flame and will be vitally necessary to deal with the aftermath. It should be interesting to see how Colorado Springs — a hotbed of anti-government sentiment — copes with that reality. My guess is by grabbing federal money and resources with both hands.” And a slideshow (JL).
DC. “I was afraid that my kids would be taken from me just because I can’t afford to live in D.C.” (DCB)
LA. Climate cleansing: “Southeast Louisiana bucked national trends and became less poor than it was a decade ago, largely because of new investment due to rebuilding efforts and because of the post-Hurricane Katrina diaspora, which forced many of the city’s poor families to find housing outside the region.”
NM. Tinpot Tyrant watch: “Lori Teel was arrested and handcuffed at her Portales, NM home in front of her five small children. She had borrowed $36 worth of library materials not returned since 2010.”
NY. Fracking: “The list now totals 21 Marcellus or Utica drilling permit requests, all filed since NYS put out the last draft of its new drilling rules nearly a year ago, July 2011″ (keen map). Fracking: I can’t say that price will stay that low forever, but I do hope that people who want drilling to happen yesterday realize that the economics – even without disastrous side effects – are terrible at the moment. If there was ever a good time to pause the conversation and sort through whether this is a good idea in the first place, it’s now.”
OH. Nuns on the bus: “When the federal government cuts funding to programs that serve people in poverty, we see the effects in our daily work. Simply put, real people suffer. That is immoral.”
PA. Fracking: “Methane seeping up underground pathways caused concentrated plumes of gas in the air in Bradford County where the state and a natural gas drilling company are investigating the cause of stray methane bubbling in streams and water wells, according to a study released Tuesday by the Clean Air Council. The researchers were limited to surveys along public roads and on a few properties where landowners gave them permission to take air samples and so could not track the precise emissions points for the gas.” Note “researchers were limited.” Fracking: As Gov. Tom Corbett and legislators worked frantically to lure Shell Oil Co. to build a $3.2 billion ethylene processing plant in Western PA, they forgot one of the players. “We weren’t part of the process,” said Rebecca Matsco, one of Potter’s three township supervisors. And the township could, if it chose to, stop the process of bringing Shell to the state.” Fracking: “The state House of Representatives approved a measure Tuesday that could expand drilling on state-owned lands, including on the campuses of the State System of Higher Education colleges.” Corruption: “A Dauphin County jury found former Rep. Stephen Stetler, D-York, guilty on six felony counts stemming from his participation in a scheme to use public employees to do illegal campaign work.”
VA. “Virginia is a major beneficiary of the recent unprecedented level of government spending. Yet, even with that, the state [ranked #40] is incapable of achieving even average GDP growth.”
WI. Corruption: “The politicization of the DNR is off the charts – - literally – - as Wisconsin is now open for air pollution less publicized. One of two notification systems – - the “watch,” akin to weather “watches” that precede storm warnings, is being ended, says the agency in an email – - so if you have asthma, for example, you won’t know the air conditions are favorable to constrict your breathing until you are already on your way to your desination.” Class and the recall: “A group of loggers, most of whom were self-employed, believed that while schoolteachers may work hard during the year, they have cushy positions. Among the perks: great benefits, health care, summers off and an annual salary of about $50,000 a year. ‘Nobody in this town makes anywhere near $50,000,’ says Walsh, paraphrasing comments she heard. ‘At the lumber mill, they’re making $20,000 and losing their fingers!’” In other words, in a small, poor, rural town, teachers can be the rich.
Policy. TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology boondoggle, Kelly Hoggan: “There’s some issues with name matches, presentation with names, some issues as relates to IDs. These are all little things [!!] we’re looking at.” Role of government: “Cheerleaders for the death of the Postal Service also forget that the Constitution of the United States explicitly empowers Congress ‘To establish Post Offices and post Roads.’ That’s from Article I, Section 8.”
The economy. Zeitgeist watch: “The storage business has grown ten-fold in the last decade, and now generates almost $25 billion a year. These storage units are almost entirely filled with the possessions of formerly middle class people who’ve been kicked out of their houses after defaulting on their mortgages. They put their possessions into storage so they can retrieve them once they “get back on their feet.” What often happens, though, is that they simply stop making payments and the storage company auctions the contents off. ” Fracking, fun fact: “Natural gas production from shale was just shy of a trillion cubic feet in 2006. Last year, it swelled to 7.19 trillion cubic feet, a 600% increase.” With no coverage.
Media Critique. Buzzfeed: “How does this one site come up with so many simple ideas that people want to spread far and wide? What’s their secret?” Repackaging Reddit. Often without attribution.
HCR/ObamaCare decision. The good: “To [the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] community of the lost, this cohort of hopelessness, Obamacare is a blessing; a small blessing but one that may grow in time when a cure is found, or at least when a therapy which relieves the suffering is developed.” The Buddha would approve.
Tale of the tape: 10:07AM, decision is released (SCOTUSblog). Fundraising emails, time of arrival: MoveOn: 11:18AM; FireDogLake: 3:13PM; Daily Kos: 4:05PM; Democracy for America: 5:21PM; DNCon: 5:34PM (does not mention decision!); Elizabeth Warren: 8:51PM; Romney: 10:35PM. [Note to Mitt: Must do better!]
Summary, SCOTUSblog, three main policy-affecting issues: “Although the Chief Justice [#1] rejected the government’s Commerce Clause argument, he agreed with one of the government’s alternative arguments: [#2, "Taxing Power"] the mandate imposes a tax on people who do not buy health insurance, and that tax is something that Congress can impose using its constitutional taxing power. He acknowledged that the mandate (and its accompanying penalty) is primarily intended to get people to buy insurance, rather than to raise money, but it is, he explained, still a tax. If someone who does not want to buy health insurance is willing to pay the tax, that’s the end of the matter…. [On #3, "Medicaid Coercion"] even if [the Federal Government] can’t take away all of the funding for states that don’t comply with the new eligibility requirements [as the ACA contemplated], it can still withhold the new Medicaid funds if states don’t comply. So although the Obama Administration lost on this issue, it’s probably a loss that it is willing to live with for now, as few states (if any) are ultimately expected to turn down the new Medicaid money, even with the strings.” But see below. (See also SCOTUSblog’s excellent “Reader’s Guide.”)
#1, Commerce Clause: “Charles Fried, a constitutional law professor at Harvard: ‘The limitation of the commerce clause runs counter to 75 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence. It is a complete capitulation to the bogus logic of the broccoli argument and its proponents in the Tea Party.’”
#2, Taxing Power. Obama D, 2009: The mandate is “absolutely not a tax increase.” Mitch McConnell R, 2012: “The president of the United States himself promised up and down that this bill was not a tax. This was one of the D’s top selling points, because they knew it would never have passed if they said it was a tax. Well, the Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception.” McConnell is right, but will that help him? Neal Katyal, a former Obama acting solicitor general: “The chief justice looked at the Affordable Care Act and said, if it walks like a tax, sounds like a tax, and quacks like a tax, it is a tax.” Timothy Jost: The decision “does not make failure to purchase insurance illegal, it merely imposes a tax on the failure to do so.” Plum line: “They can’t make you eat broccoli, but they can tax you for not eating it.” Robert Reich: “By this bizarre logic, the federal government can pass all sorts of unconstitutional laws — requiring people to sell themselves into slavery, for example — as long as the penalty for failing to do so is considered to be a tax.” Reich say that like it’s a bad thing!
#3, Medicaid Coercion. Roberts, from the opinion: “Congress may not simply conscript state agencies into the national bureaucratic army [!!] and that is what it is attempting to do with the Medicaid expansion.” Guardian: “The Medicaid expansion would have offered health insurance coverage to 16 million people. Now states apparently can make up their own minds whether or not to accept the expansion — and that means if FL, TX and other big states knock it back, then there will be millions of Americans who will miss out on the benefits of the healthcare [sic] reforms.” (No. Health insurance is not health care.) David Kopel, Cato: “Today (and from now on!), states do not need to provide Medicaid to able-bodied childless adults.” WI, Bobby Peterson, ABC for Health: “The state could go its merry way and have all those people remain uninsured.”
Above, SCOTUSblog writes that “few states (if any) are ultimately expected to turn down the new Medicaid money.” Maybe. OH: State Rs “have already risked OH’s receipt of federal funds as part of the (failed) effort to defund Planned Parenthood.” WI: “[W]ill turn down $37 million from the federal government that had been awarded to help implement health care exchanges … Walker said Wednesday.” “Walker said the state will not move forward on implementing the law until after the November elections to gauge the likelihood the law will be repealed.” TN, newspaper coverage: “A nod toward states rights within the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision Thursday raises the possibility that TN’s state government may not need multiple millions of dollars stashed away in the state budget to cover potential costs of implementing the federal health care law.”
If a state doesn’t expand Medicaid, would the poor be forced to pay a tax penalty to the federal government for not having insurance?
Politics and optics: Nate Silver: “Obama got the good headline here, and that is likely to be most of what the public reacts to.” Nancy Pelosi called Vicki Kennedy following SCOTUS ruling and said “Now, Teddy can rest.” (Pelosi, in shocker, is lying: Kennedy was a sponsor of S1218, the Senate companion to HR676, a single payer bill.) Career “progressives,” in shocker, pop own single payer boomlet. Rahm: “That Roberts, an R appointee, tipped the balance was ‘rich with irony.’” Laurence Tribe, who taught Roberts and Obama: Pleased Roberts “saved the day,” not just on ObamaCare but “perhaps [for] the court, whose place as a legal institution had begun to fall into dangerous disrepute.” Geography of the uninsured. Mostly blue states (except for CA) subsidize red states (unless the Red States reject “Medicaid Coercion”).
The conservative fever swamp: Bloggers: “I hear from our ambassador to the netherworld of the Freeperati, Tommy T, that they’re going batshit and blaming Dubya. I cannot wait for Monday.” IA, R State Senator Kent Sorenson, tweeting: “Our supreme court chose to walk and urinate on our constitutional freedoms today. It is time to control-alt-delete the judicial system.” He doesn’t mean “walk.” He means “trample.” You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. MI, R Lansing-based activist Matthew Davis in mail: “Is Armed Rebellion Now Justified?”
Media critique. AP editor deprecates online “taunting” of CNN (q.v.). Prediction is hard: “Fun fact: InTrade put “mandate will be overturned” at 73% yesterday. Another fun fact: InTrade is useless.” Meta-spin: “The president has three separate speeches prepared.”
Fast & Furious flap. “For the first time in history, the House today held a sitting AG in contempt of Congress. The final vote, 255-67, reflected the absence of scores of Democrats who walked off the floor in protest.” Funny this is blowing up, like, today. “We’ve compared the lose-lose dynamic of this vote to what happened in the aftermath of the debt ceiling vote last summer — albeit it in a much smaller and more politically limited context.” “There is a general term for collective, strategic nonvoting: a disappearing quorum.”
Green Party. “[JILL STEIN:] As a physician, I’ve seen Romneycare in action in my home state of MA. Forty percent of the people who need health coverage find that it’s still too expensive for them. And a quarter of the people who seek payments get denied by their private insurers. It has failed to control costs, and as a result they are raising co-pays and attacking public employee health plans. It’s a fiscal and administrative nightmare which has gutted public services in MA. Schemes developed by health industry lobbyists to enrich themselves will never take care of our real needs.”
Robama vs. Obomney. “Obamacare Comes Full Circle”: a gavotte between Romney and Obama. Teh bipartisan! And not a slime’s worth of difference….
Romney. 2006: “I was very pleased that the compromise between the two houses includes the personal responsibility mandate.” Bipartisan!
Obama. 2012; “[OBAMA: The mandate:] has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for president.” Bipartisan!