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Posted at 7:20 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Reconciliation

By Ezra Klein

Recap: Reviewing "The Great Stagnation"; how to encourage pharmaceutical innovation; Ronald Reagan didn't make America conservative; and a judge ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

Elsewhere:

1) It's true that the administration's legal arguments have undercut the argument that the individual mandate is severable from the ACA.

2) I think they're wrong, though. Remember that the Obama campaign's plan didn't have a mandate. That's worse policy, but it's not totally unworkable.

3) Fractal inequality.

4) I'll be talking individual mandate on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell tonight.

By Ezra Klein  | January 31, 2011; 7:20 PM ET
 
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Next: Wonkbook: What the Vinson ruling means

Comments

For those interested in fractal inequality, here is my article on the topic:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1625036

Section II gathers interesting inequality data.

Larry Bartels's book, Unequal Democracy, graphs these trends over a longer time period (from 1947 to 2005). [FN20] He shows how over those 58 years the 95th percentile did much better than those at lower percentiles. [FN21] He then shows how those at the 99.99th percentile did spectacularly better than those at the 99.9th, 99.5th, 99th, and 95th percentiles. [FN22] There is some evidence that even within that top 99.99th percentile, inequality reigned. In 2005, the “Fortunate 400”--the 400 households with the highest earnings in the U.S.--made on average $213.9 million apiece, and the cutoff for entry into this group was a $100 million income--about four times the average income of $26 million prevailing in the top 15,000 returns.

Posted by: pasqualefrank | January 31, 2011 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Ezra

I truly value and appreciate this blog.

But your work today was rather shoddy.

Your post about Reagan was perhaps your low point in quite some time.

And your belief that a quality health care system might ever return if the ACA is completely sabotaged us naive.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 31, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

--*But your work today was rather shoddy.*--

Yes, Ezra, if you continue to show insufficient resolve in promoting the official party line and steadfastness in attacking the capitalist running dog lackies, then there may be an opening at a suitably rural work camp for a boy with your talents.

Frankly, though, I think Klein's work is rather shoddy every day, but it has to be tough trying to twist and torture logic and morality into arguments that seek to further inject the force of the state into his fellows' lives.

Posted by: msoja | January 31, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why folks who think Klein's work is "shoddy every day" read the blog and comment with such regularity? Are there trolling-for-hire jobs available somewhere I don't know about? They must pay based on quantity rather than quality.

Anyway, here's some good links (that aren't PowerLine ... which btw, is totally hilarious)

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/author_blogs/2011/01/the-extreme-activism-of-judge-vinson.php

http://balkin.blogspot.com/2011/01/halls-new-article-on-commerce-clause.html

Good stuff.

The GOP is really playing w/ fire by going to the courts on this. If it's struck down, people will be really pissed and we'll get something more socialist-y. If the mandate's struck down, there's plenty of alternatives (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=averting_a_health_care_backlash), but this totally alters our CC jurisprudence -- which is really bad for the GOP because it's got no other options for HCR.

I understand the short-term political game here, but the longer-term impact for the GOP (just as is the case on Cap and Trade, the *other* GOP idea Obama co-opted), because they won't have ideas left to move to.

Maybe the lesson then is for Dems to actually stick to their *preferred* policy preferences? That seems a whole lot less confusing for people watching the parties duke it over policies they'd normally be on the oppose side on; and voters could more easily hold them responsible for *their* ideas. I mean, it's tough to fight for RomneyCare, but it's even more annoying to fight against people who think that it's socialism.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 31, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I think I heard there's something like 22 suits that have considered the HCR law, so maybe you should do an on-going update of where the cases are at once and a while?

If people had some context on the overwhelming number of courts who've upheld the thing, it'd give readers an idea of how things are progressing while diminishing some of the unnecessary (and sorta embarrassing) celebration on the right.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 31, 2011 9:33 PM | Report abuse

--*Are there trolling-for-hire jobs available somewhere I don't know about? They must pay based on quantity rather than quality.*--

Maybe people don't like seeing the truth abused the way Klein abuses it.

--*The GOP is really playing w/ fire by going to the courts on this.*--

So, now you're worried about the GOP?

--*I think I heard there's something like 22 suits that have considered the HCR law*--

Twenty six states have filed against DeathCare.

--*If people had some context on the overwhelming number of courts who've upheld the thing*--

The tally is 2 to 2. Only among Klein's fellow travelers is that "overwhelming", I guess.

Posted by: msoja | January 31, 2011 9:45 PM | Report abuse

^^ According to TNR, 12 courts have thrown out cases against HCR or ruled that it's constitutional.

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/82471/affordable-care-act-constitutional-ruling-today

Like I said, it'd be awesome to have an on-going tally. It was pretty annoying to see Hudson's decision on my paper's front page without any sort of context -- and this'll unfortunately be the case again tomorrow.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 31, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"So, now you're worried about the GOP?"

Well, yeah. I'm not one who wants the most terrible GOP possible merely because they'd be so unpopular -- they'd still have followers brainwashed by partisanship and they'd still push crazy things. We should hope for better opponents, even if that means we lose sometimes.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 31, 2011 9:55 PM | Report abuse


Democrats would start organizing around a solution based off of Medicare, Medicaid, and the budget reconciliation process -- as that would sidestep both legal attacks and the supermajority requirement.

______________


Ezra you should be FIRED for that statement


It is blantantly untrue

ANY reconciliation needs the approval of the HOUSE.


You are silly, and ridiculous - and if I was in charge of your newsroom you would be FIRED for being so stupid.


OH by the way, there are some Constitutional Amendments approaching 100 years old - does that mean they are no good anymore????

How about income taxes???


We don't have to pay after 100 years, right???


That would surely DEFUND Obama and the liberals.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 31, 2011 10:34 PM | Report abuse

"That would surely DEFUND Obama and the liberals."

Yes, it's all going as planned. We're merely in step one of Obama's long-range plan:

1. Enact the big GOP policy ideas from the last 20 years (cap and trade, RomneyCare, etc).
2. Let the GOP attack them in court to get them ruled unconstitutional.
3. "Reluctantly" enact socialist utopia because they're the only ideas left.

Bwhahaha...

Posted by: Chris_ | January 31, 2011 10:56 PM | Report abuse

--*According to TNR, 12 courts have thrown out cases against HCR or ruled that it's constitutional.*--

I stand corrected, but finding the particulars is difficult. A semi-tally:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/31/us-usa-healthcare-legal-idINTRE70U7EG20110131

It's impossible from that to assess any of the underlying particulars as to worthiness. A lot of people have filed suits, some of them more competently than others.

--*It was pretty annoying to see Hudson's decision on my paper's front page without any sort of context*--

It doesn't really matter, does it? The Supremes will have to decide it, one way or another, irrespective of the sum of the outcomes of the various challenges. Both sides are appealing their respective cases (in Virginia, both sides are appealing the same case.)

--*1. Enact the big GOP policy ideas from the last 20 years (cap and trade, RomneyCare, etc).*--

Your implication is that Cap/Trade and RomneyCare have their roots in conservatism. It's a trick that Klein wields regularly, but it's fraudulent. Of course, part of the fraud is Romney trying to pass himself off as a conservative. It's exactly the sort of nonsense that gave birth to the Tea Party. The GOP has for too long allowed itself to be co-opted and corrupted by the siren song of collectivism, with the end result that people can now point to them and say, "They proposed socialist programs, TOOOOOOO!" X number of wrongs still don't make things right, no matter in whose clothing the proposer of said wrongs cloaks himself.

Posted by: msoja | February 1, 2011 12:46 AM | Report abuse

One of the reasons I am disappointed in Ezra's work today is that he posted two extremely naive opinions today which undermine some important and basic truths :

- He somehow believes that liberals will be able to enact a more liberal version of health care if in the event activist GOP judges sabotage ACA. What part of "not gonna happen" doesn't he YET GET? If smart people like Ezra cant figure out the system is gamed for the powerful and wealthy, then what chance is there for real progressive change? Answer: NONE. The ONLY reason ACA was even enacted was because Scott Brown won an election no Republican should have won, and the Senate ConservaDems momentarily panicked and thought all of their jobs were at stake because Dems were never goinng to vote for them again after a year of dismal performance by the obstructionist ConservaDems. Ezra clearly has no concept of Starve the Beast and just how far Republicans are willing to go to undermine any progressive cause in their quest for a societal transformation that has nothing to do with human dignity but instead corporate power. Ezra is part of the latter and in publishing these kinds of opinions, it is clear he is actually a proponent (knowingly or not) of the culure war against progressive thought. What Ezra should have actually posted in this case, is that now the USSC no longer has the burden of aiding in the destruction of ACA. Rather, all they have to do now is refuse to hear the matter, and ACA is finished, and they had no part in it. This Florida judge just did all the dirty work for the Robert's court and helped preserve plausible deniability (in the eyes of the ill-informed) that the Robert's court is activist.

- He said Reagan had no impact on the last three decades of the dismantling of American manufacturing and the way he taught conservatives to hate both the American gvmt and liberals in ways never before hated, and how he created a legacy of debt that has now bankrupted this country. Ezra is unknowingly helping to teach that the current dismal state of affairs had nothing to do with Reagan, and that translates to in most American minds that it therefore must have been someone more recent, and because Ezra is chipping away at the truth, that makes it more likely that the GOP worldview has greater chance at taking hold in ill-informed minds.

Let me simplify this: Vinson's decision to halt ACA is a death knell to every progressive cause in this country for decades to come because the GOP now has a certified recipe to kill each and every progressive cause even before it reaches the USSC.

In fact, without ACA, there hasn't been a major, long-term progressive cause or "way of doing things" enacted in the last 30 years, and there won't be another for 30 more. And Ezra, ass smart as he is, hasn;t figured this out. This means the progressive cause is led by faces on TV who are rich in facts but short on the big picture, and that is why libs are being eaten alive in the USA.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 1, 2011 2:28 AM | Report abuse

"but it has to be tough trying to twist and torture logic and morality into arguments that seek to further inject the force of the state into his fellows' lives."

Republican leaders don't seem to have that difficulty.

For example, Bush/Cheney/McCain convinced you all it was no problem to run deficits, and they also convinced you all that Saddam was involved in 911, and that the US would be greeted by Iraqis as liberators, and that cutting taxes would cause revenues to increase, and that the "economy was sound" two months before the latest crash.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 1, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, it's all going as planned. We're merely in step one of Obama's long-range plan: ...
Posted by: Chris_"

So what you're saying is that the modern Democrat party is devoid of ideas and acts as a mere channel of granting cover and support to anti-American activities? Thanks a lot Captain Obvious!

Posted by: cprferry | February 1, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

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