Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Tea Leaves

Justice said WHAT?

The general assumption going into the Supreme Court hearing was that the mandate was probably constitutional, but that the Conservative Justices might be willing to make a new interpretation of economic activity.

That seems to be the consensus of what's happening from today's Court watchers.

The problem is that no one really knows how the Court will decide based on oral arguments.  But it is somewhat worrisome that we're now relying on Roberts and not Kennedy to keep the law.

In some ways, the best possible result for Progressives would be to rule the mandate unconstitutional but severable.  So all the good stuff survives, but the mandate dies.  Mainly this would be fun to watch because the insurance companies would plotz.  It would also remove the single least popular part of the plan before the election.

Insurance companies didn't go "Harry and Louise" this time around, because they got a decent deal out of this: less profit but more customers.  If the mandate is unconstitutional but severable, their deal gets screwed.

The assumption is that the mandate prevents "free riders" and I think that's true.  But I think the free rider phenomenon might be overstated.  I would carry health insurance, because I don't want to have to apply only when I get sick.  I want it to be there, always, and not be a hassle.

The problem with the current system is that it's often a hassle, if it's even available.

Not having the mandate would mean that some people would free ride, but that's effectively what happens in many ways today.  It would make the system less efficient, but probably more popular.

What would be devastating, of course, would be unconstitutional and non-severable.  All of that work destroyed by mossbacked judges determined to stand athwart progress and end a bill before it even gets a chance to work.

Well, we shall see, shan't we?

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