Saturday, July 14, 2012

They See Obama. They Be Hatin'

My letter to the Inlander in response to George Nethercutt's latest commentary.

I'm writing about Mr Nethercutt's latest contribution to the Inlander (In the End, It's a Tax). His use of words like "exposed", "deception", and "deceit" referring to the government's position that the penalty for not purchasing health insurance is not a tax are carefully chosen. He makes it sound like the Obama administration purposely created 2,000 pages of legislation in order to confuse everyone. He neglects to mention that Republicans played a major in crafting this 2,000 page legislation as 400 of their amendments were adopted.

He claims President Obama would have labeled the Supreme Court "political" had they voted against him. Let's be clear that the Supreme Court was evaluating the arguments placed before them and deciding the outcome based on the U.S. Constitution, not voting for or against President Obama. To say otherwise is to assume the court is political.

Then Mr Nethercutt goes on to claim other presidential deceptions. He has somehow determined that this nation is even more divided than 2009, but he makes no mention of the Republican congressional members who met and decided they were not going to give President Obama anything. Anything. They've admitted their number one goal is to make Obama a one-term president. As a result, in Mr Nethercutt's world, the president is responsible for not uniting with the people who want nothing to do with him.

He continues with a general statement that Obama "directing federal government actions designed to intimidate Arizona and Texas on immigration recently is hardly unifying". The specific actions he refers to are left to the reader to decide so I'm going with my best guess. The Justice Department sued Arizona two years ago stating the Arizona immigration law conflicted with federal law. Last month the Supreme Court agreed and struck down three of the four provisions of the law. Regarding Texas, I can only assume Mr Nethercutt is referring to the Justice Department challenging the voter ID law claiming it would disproportionately affect Hispanics. How all that is "designed to intimidate" and "hardly unifying" may be intuitively obvious to Mr Nethercutt, but is lost to anyone not suffering from confirmation bias.

Mr Nethercutt claims President Obama promised to keep unemployment under 8 percent and failed to keep that promise. The only record of President Obama making such a promise are the many online articles of Republican party members saying he made that promise. Those are based on a report, The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, published on Jan 9, 2009, and written by Christina Romer, the incoming chairwoman of the white House Council of Economic Advisers at the time, and Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser for then incoming Vice President Joe Biden.
The report includes a graph showing the effect of the plan on unemployment based on the what was then the estimated future unemployment rate. Their estimate of the future unemployment rate were wrong but that doesn't mean the stimulus plan had no effect on unemployment. And now, in hindsight, we can see how many more people were working as a result of the stimulus plan and that the unemployment rate would have been worse had it not been implemented.

Mr Nethercutt claims that President Obama promised openness and transparency and instead "secretively and regularly collaborates with Washington's lobbying community" and yet provides no examples of this secretive behavior. You'd think that as a member of that lobbying community, Mr Nethercutt would be in a position to provide some specifics.

Next, he highlights President Obama's broken promise--"to the left" as if that's important--to close Guantanamo as another example of deceptive behavior. He neglects to add that most of Congress was against closing Guantanamo. Consequently, this mockery of justice continues to stain America's international reputation.

Mr Nethercutt offers these along with many more unsubstantiated accusations of deceptive behavior and deceit on the part of President Obama within his commentary.

I look at the bright side as to why the Inlander continues to host Mr Nethercutt's so-called commentary. If the reason is to offer a balance of "both sides" then if nothing else, Mr Nethercutt provides a sterling example of how unbalanced one "side" is--even more so if he's the best commentator the Inlander can get. There are no reasoned arguments supporting a position, no point/counterpoint, or food for thought for that matter. This commentary is, in the end, just an anti-Obama diatribe. 


Anonymous said...

The health law requires individuals to

1) buy insurance from a private corporation (unless otherwise covered) and

2) pay the Federal Government a specified sum if they haven't bought insurance.

The question before the court was "Can the Federal Government require citizens to give money to government-specified corporations."

The court deadlocked on this question. Four justices said this new "mandate" power was disallowed (reserved to the states or individuals); four said the power fell under the Commerce Clause and was not new.

The deciding vote came from the Chief Justice, who changed the question to:

"Can the Federal Government levy a penalty (call it a tax) to enforce a mandate itself of unprobed constitutionality?"

To which he answered, "yes."

Roberts diverted the court from resolving the substantive question with a non sequitur and further failed to build an ideological coalition for his dodge. He achieved an overly clever one-vote majority. The decision left lower courts with no meaningful tools to resolve future challenges to the mandate based on inability to pay.

I suspect Roberts' decision was almost literally political, rather than controlled by legal theories or traditional drafting processes. That is, I suspect the decision was co-written by pols, or ex-pols.

We can assume that the majority opinion wasn't written with much help from Roberts' clerks (who wrote most of the dissent, actually). Roberts apparently had a sort of kitchen cabinet (kitchen chambers?) that whipped up this puff pastry. And it is that kitchen crew, folks, that are the leakers.

Pols leak; law clerks don't.

So, there are three problems ahead for ACA: 1. The decision is flimsy jurisprudence. 2. Even before the states got opt-out on Medicaid, the mandate subsidies were underfunded. Now ACA constitutionality is doomed for reasons of gut-level fairness as the big states opt out and individuals are criminalized by poverty.

And, 3. The shit is still to hit the fan on whether controlling SCOTUS opinions can be written by people who aren't even in the judicial branch, by people who have never served in the judiciary, and who are directly sponsored by private parties with interests represented by the outcome in the decision.

Stay tuned, because it ain't over.

It's hardly begun.

Dread Scot said...

I also think we'll eventually know the names of those "familiar with the drafting process" (wink-wink-nudge-nudge). But I'll wager the individual source "inside" the court is either Roberts himself or a conduit for Roberts, not one of the four dissenters.

When Roberts realized that his collaborators were stupidly telling tales out of school, his only real option was to offer better sourcing to selected media outlets as a distraction. Roberts could rightly say he was the ultimate source anyway.

However that may be, the leaks otherwise came down through Democratic channels, as was obvious in the "predictions." But, I think Thomas Friedman was likely correct that "the team" was bipartisan and analogous to the Bowles-Simpson thing (except of course for the legality, whoops), and Roberts was the mailman. Now all the leakers have stfu, but the cat's out of the pandora's box, as Tom might say.

By my count, the court voted 8-1 to decide the constutionality of the mandate, and I doubt Roberts et al can block the majority forever.

Anonymous said...

Now, don't be pointing fingers and naming names, you never know when an Idaho judge will declare jihad on your ass.

Changing the topic, I wonder if Tom Daschle has had a chance to download the opinion. So much of it reads like it was written by a bitter DLC-type ex-Senator who now shills for the insurance industry. Just thinking Daschle might have some insights, and who could know more about IRS penalties!

I know the "South Dakotan" got kinda reclusive after losing HHS. I wonder if anyone even bothered to tell there was a court case.

Anonymous said...

Hank, you have to admit Obama is deceptive on outsourcing. During the last campaign he promised to renegotiate NAFTA, but at the same time sent an envoy to Canada to say he didn't mean it. He not only didn't reopen NAFTA, he signed MORE unfair trade deals to make outsourcing even easier. Onama definitely lied. You're lying if you say he didn't.

Yes, Romney outsourced jobs, that's true. But the structure of unfair trade, deals signed by Clinton and Obama that gutted wage, safety, labor, and environmental ptotections, are what made outsourcing inevitable.