The Justice Will See You Now

By Klein, Ezra | Newsweek, February 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Justice Will See You Now


Klein, Ezra, Newsweek


Byline: Ezra Klein

The fate of Obama's health-care law may rest with one man.

As of now, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is the most pivotal health-care policy thinker in America. Following district court Judge Roger Vinson's Jan. 31 ruling that declared President Obama's health-care-reform law unconstitutional, the plan has a solid 2-2 record in the federal courts: two district judges have ruled for it, and two against. The odds are very good that it will eventually wind up in the Supreme Court. And once it gets there, odds are the bill's fate will come down to one person: Justice Kennedy.

None of that is certain, of course. Perhaps the issue will be resolved at the circuit-court level. Perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts will side with the administration and Kennedy won't be the swing vote. Or perhaps an asteroid will hit the earth, rendering tweaks to the U.S. health-care system moot.

But probably not. Health-care reform is likely to come down to Kennedy--in particular, his views on the so-called individual mandate, which requires all those who can afford it to purchase health insurance. And here's the irony of the whole thing: the individual mandate was a policy that Democrats adopted precisely in order to attract moderate Republicans like, well, Anthony Kennedy. If it gets rejected, what's likely to come next is going to be a whole lot less congenial to conservatives.

"Health care is unlike other commodities," Walter Dellinger, who served as solicitor general to Bill Clinton, told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. "There is nothing else in our economy where an individual who has made no preparation can go in and get $1 million of goods and services passed on to them at taxpayer expense." That means it struggles with free riders: people who would have society pay for their care, rather than pay for it themselves.

One solution is single-payer health care, in which everyone pays taxes and everyone gets government-provided health-care insurance. But conservatives aren't big fans of replacing private industries with government monopolies. So in 1991, a group of conservative academics proposed an alternative: the individual mandate, which says that everyone who can afford health-care insurance has to buy it. That means no free riders, no healthy people waiting until they get sick to buy insurance or stick the rest of us with the costs of their care. "We did it because we were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance, which isn't market-oriented, and we didn't think was a good idea," says Wharton economist Mark Pauly, one of the idea's authors.

For the next 18 years or so, that's the role the individual mandate played. It was what Republicans proposed as a smaller-government alternative to the health-care plans favored by liberals. In November 1993, Sen. John Chafee, a Republican from Rhode Island, proposed the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act. The legislation became the GOP's semiofficial response to President Bill Clinton's health-care bill, and it was eventually co-sponsored by such influential Republicans as Bob Dole, Richard Lugar, Chuck Grassley, and Orrin Hatch. The other major Republican alternative, the Consumer Choice Health Security Act, included Jesse Helms and Trent Lott as cosponsors, and also included an individual mandate.

Neither bill went anywhere, but they cemented the individual mandate as a central feature of Republican health-care thinking. In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney's 2005 health-care plan used an individual mandate. In the Senate, Utah Republican Bob Bennett joined with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden to offer the Healthy Americans Act, which included an individual mandate and attracted more bipartisan support than any other universal-coverage bill in history. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Justice Will See You Now
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.