There Go Those Racist Republi . . . er Democrats Again

By , June 28, 2012 1:13 pm

Apparently, the N-word is only offensive and racist if someone on the Right uses it.

Racist, tax, right, wrong. Words just don’t mean what they used to.

A Silver Lining for Romney?

By , June 28, 2012 11:24 am

At least Romney talked taxes when he signed Romneycare into law:

Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn’t cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one — something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.

In contrast, Congress and President Obama explicitly avoided using the word tax--until, that is, they finally had to argue their case in court.

The Court Upheld the Affordable Care Act: Some Good News

By , June 28, 2012 11:07 am

For all of you exulting about the Court upholding the Affordable Care Act via Congress’s enumerated powers to tax and spend, as Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse says, “Let’s not be distracted by the breadth of the taxing power. The American people exert tremendous political power against taxing. Look at the Tea Party. A political price will be paid — both for the tax and the deceit about imposing a tax.” She goes on to talk about how the Court applied the brakes on the seemingly ever-expanding Commerce power. Worth a read” target=”_blank”>Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse says,

Let’s not be distracted by the breadth of the taxing power. The American people exert tremendous political power against taxing. Look at the Tea Party. A political price will be paid — both for the tax and the deceit about imposing a tax.

She goes on to talk about the brakes the Court applied on the seemingly ever-expanding Commerce power. Worth a read.

Scalia Hits The Nail — And Hard

By , June 28, 2012 9:50 am

From Scalia’s dissent (at page 190 of the opinion), joined by Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas, in the Affordable Care Act case:

The Court today decides to save a statute Congress did
not write. It rules that what the statute declares to be a
requirement with a penalty is instead an option subject
to a tax. And it changes the intentionally coercive sanction
of a total cut-off of Medicaid funds to a supposedly
noncoercive cut-off of only the incremental funds that the
Act makes available.

The Court regards its strained statutory interpretation
as judicial modesty. It is not. It amounts instead to a vast
judicial overreaching. It creates a debilitated, inoperable
version of health-care regulation that Congress did not
enact and the public does not expect. It makes enactment
of sensible health-care regulation more difficult, since
Congress cannot start afresh but must take as its point of
departure a jumble of now senseless provisions, provisions
that certain interests favored under the Court’s new design
will struggle to retain. And it leaves the public and
the States to expend vast sums of money on requirements
that may or may not survive the necessary congressional

The Court’s disposition, invented and atextual as it is,
does not even have the merit of avoiding constitutional
difficulties. It creates them. . . .

Hurrah for the limits the Court imposed on the Commerce Clause. Boo because the Court struggled so hard to find a tax. Double boo on a Congress that didn’t have the guts to call it a tax in the first place.

I Beat Tyler Cowen to the Punch

By , June 17, 2012 10:51 pm

Tyler, today, in The New York Times:

The reason that we aren’t getting more expansionary macro policy is fundamental: a lack of trust. It’s not an easy problem to fix, but the place to start is by recognizing it.

Me, over a year ago, on this blog:

. . . there is one thing missing from both their statement [of ten former chairpersons of the Council of Economic Advisors] and the Bowles/Simpson report they refer to: What can Congress and the President do to regain the trust they’ll need to pull this trick out of a hat?

Well, This Op-Ed Certainly Qualifies as Partial

By , June 14, 2012 11:35 am

From The New York Times.

Like the author, I’m tired of the quibbling over semantics.

Unlike the author, I kind of like the sappy ads.

Oh well.

Kenyan Mets?

By , June 12, 2012 5:03 pm

You’ve already seen this:

Here’s the replay . . . in Kenya:

Elinor Ostrom, RIP

By , June 12, 2012 12:01 pm

I was only vaguely aware that Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009. From this post on the Volokh Conspiracy, I can see she is someone I should know more about.

What’s Hard about That?

By , June 11, 2012 12:54 pm

In The New York Times today, Adam Liptak writes about the 2010 Citizens United decision and a challenge presented by a recent Montana Supreme Court case that challenges that decision–contrary to the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, but hey, nothing to see here.

In his write up, Liptak says the following:

In that same statement, Justice Ginsburg said the United States Supreme Court should now use the Montana case to weigh what the nation has learned since January 2010, when Citizens United overturned two precedents and allowed unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. The new case represented, she wrote, “an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.”

What’s so hard about getting the bolded part right? What Liptak writes is misleading and could lead the unwary–all Times readers?–to think corporations can now give unlimited amounts of money to their favorite candidates. The bolded part is all the more misleading given that it’s followed by Justice Ginsburg’s quote that the large sums could “buy candidates’ allegiance,” again, giving the impression that the money will flow directly to the candidate.

What’s missing? The word “independent.” According to Citizens United, corporations and unions can make unlimited “idependent expenditures,” which Justice Kennedy says “By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.” Thus, no money flows directly into a candidate’s pockets (and if it did, both candidate and corporation/union would be in trouble). And thus, the words “unlimited campaign spending” are misleading.

Note well that I’m not a Pollyanna. I realize that coordination could take place behind closed doors–subject, of course, to behing discovered. But that’s another post for another day. Today, I’m just pointing out the Liptak fudged. And that’s no good either.

UPDATE: By the way, it’s worth pointing out that according to former federal judge, now law Professor Michael McConnell, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

In a sense, Citizens United did have an important effect on the Wisconsin election. But the effect was almost exactly the opposite of what many pundits imply.

Labor unions poured money into the state to recall Mr. Walker. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the NEA (National Education Association), the nation’s largest teachers union, spent at least $1 million. Its smaller union rival, the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), spent an additional $350,000. Two other unions, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union, which has more than one million government workers) and Afscme (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), spent another $2 million. Little or none of these independent expenditures endorsing a candidate would have been legal under federal law before Citizens United.

By contrast, the large spenders on behalf of Mr. Walker were mostly individuals. According to the Center for Public Integrity, these included Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s wealthiest businesswoman, who spent over half a million dollars on his behalf; Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder, who spent almost half a million; and well-known political contributors such as casino operator Sheldon Adelson and former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, who kicked in a quarter-million dollars each. Businessman David Koch gave $1 million to the Republic Governors Association, which spent $4 million on the Wisconsin race.

These donations have nothing to do with Citizens United. Individuals have been free to make unlimited independent expenditures in support of candidates since the Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976).

I have seen no published reports of any corporate expenditures on behalf of Mr. Walker, though presumably the $500,000 Chamber of Commerce contribution to the Republican Governors Association fund came largely from corporate sources. Several groups also ran issue ads that presumably benefited Mr. Walker; these groups are not required to disclose their donors and may have received corporate contributions. Corporations and unions could run issue ads before Citizens United, as long as they did not clearly refer to a candidate.

For the most part, though, Mr. Walker’s direct, big-ticket support came from sources that have been lawful for decades.

His opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, got his support primarily from labor unions, whose participation was legitimized by Citizens United. Without that decision so demonized by the political left, Mr. Barrett would have been at even more of a financial disadvantage.

Interesting. (Emphasis supplied)

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