Obamacare: Worse Every Time I Learn Something New About It

I am really sorry I read George Will's column this morning.  It is to depressing for words.   He discusses how Congress has, to my eye, un-Constitutionally delegated legislative power to the IPAB, an unaccountable organization that can basically write any law it wants regarding health care as long as it nominally can be justified as affecting costs (the only power Congress has is to vote such laws down, and it can only do so if it substitutes laws with equivalent cost savings).

Just to give one a flavor of just how undemocratic the folks were who crafted Obamacare, check this provision out:

Any resolution to abolish the IPAB must pass both houses of Congress. And no such resolution can be introduced before 2017 or after Feb. 1, 2017, and must be enacted by Aug. 15 of that year. And if passed, it cannot take effect until 2020. Defenders of all this audaciously call it a “fast track” process for considering termination of IPAB. It is, however, transparently designed to permanently entrench IPAB — never mind the principle that one Congress cannot by statute bind another Congress from altering that statute.

So, for the rest of eternity, there is theoretically only a single 31-day window six years hence when this board can be abolished.  Of course, I am not sure future Congresses can be bound in this way, but it shows you the heart of a dictator possessed by the folks who wrote this law.

By the way, not always a big fan of Justice Scalia, but there is little doubt he is smart and this dissent written 12 years ago certainly was prescient

“I anticipate that Congress will find delegation of its lawmaking powers much more attractive in the future. . . . I foresee all manner of ‘expert’ bodies, insulated from the political process, to which Congress will delegate various portions of its lawmaking responsibility. How tempting to create an expert Medical Commission . . . to dispose of such thorny, ‘no-win’ political issues as the withholding of life-support systems in federally funded hospitals.”

Postscript: Could the IPAB pass nanny-type rules under the justification they could reduce health care expenditures?  For example, what if the IPAB said that mandatory motorcycle helmets would reduce doctor spending, would that automatically become law?  How about limits on salt or fatty foods?  Many current dystopic novels begin with growth in government power, sometimes of one agency, due to security fears over terrorism (e.g, the movie V).  I bet I could write a good one with the core being the IPAB.


  1. L Nettles:

    This truly taxation without representation.

    While my State Constitution has such a provision the Framers of the U.S. Consitution never thought that was necessary.

  2. EscapedWsetOfTheBigMuddy:

    Come now.

    When Congress has "bound" itself to various fiscal constraints in the past, they have had no trouble getting untied when they wanted to.

    1. Change the law about when the commission can be defunded, disbanded or otherwise meddled with
    2. Defund, disband, or meddle
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    Not that there is any hope during this Congress, of course. But if there was a will it would be done.

  3. Ted Rado:

    We are obviously heading toward an elected dictatorship. We will have food police, behavior police, etc. forever. Maybe we should exhume Tojo and reinstitute thought police. (This has already been done under the heading of "hate crimes". If you do something because of your ill feelings toward some group, there is an extra penalty.)

    The fact that some new dictatorial law agrees with your own views is not a reason to embrace it. The next dictatorial law may trample on your views. Best thing is to have NO dictatorial laws at all!!

  4. Aaron:

    I'm not a fan of Foucault or any of his disciples in general, but the term they coined, "biopower" has a great deal of relevance here. The idea was that once government took upon itself the power to protect life, it would also by default gain the power to control life, down to the smallest details. This is "biopower" at its heart.

    Good leftists all, the Foucauldians talked endlessly about the Nazis and their medical experiments, ignoring the national health care systems (NHS, Medicare, etc.) being set up by their fellow travelers. Now, we're in the endgame as governments claim the power to regulate salt content, fat content, exercise habits, etc. in the name of "health." We can all be thankful that the worst abuses of the 20th century totalitarian governments haven't reared their heads, but loss of freedom is tragic, and terrifying.

  5. el coronado:

    am i the only one who's noticed that this storyline seems to be following the 'terminator' tales pretty closely? or that you can substitute "government" for "skynet" in terminator canon and it's still pretty much the same story?

    "government became self-aware on (pick a date: 3 feb 1913; 20 jan 1933; 7 august 1964; etc etc) and launched its weapons against humanity."

    this can't be a *good* sign, can it?

  6. caseyboy:

    Great post and comments. Oral arguments on Obamacare were heard in the 11th Circuit last week. It didn't go well for Obama. The justices seemed very concerned with the precedent of the mandate compelling individuals to buy insurance. They asked questions of the Solicitor General whether there was anything that Congress could not compel citizens to purchase since all purchases impacted economic commerce in some manner. Even the democrat appointed justice questioned hard on why the law couldn't survive severance of the mandate.

    And, although Judge Vinson did not strike down the mandate regarding the state's new obligations relative to medicaid, the appellate court was sympathetic to the state's arguments. If I had to place a bet I'd bet that Obamacare is going down in the 11th Circuit.

  7. Dr. T:

    I follow Supreme Court rulings at the Volokh Conspiracy blog. Scalia today is far more scathing about the unrestrained expansion of federal government power than he was a dozen years ago. Unfortunately, on such issues either he or Clarence Thomas is writing the minority dissent.

  8. caseyboy:

    Dr. T, I think you'd like this site. http://acalitigationblog.blogspot.com/

    All ACA, all the time. Tracking all the lawsuits underway, amicus briefs, court decisions, court calendars and insightful commentary.

    The best part is that I have not been able to discern a desire for the outcome in one direction or the other.

  9. caseyboy:

    One other point on the legislative side of the legal battle on Obamacare. This case may not get to SCOTUS until late 2012 and perhaps after the Nov 2012 elections.

    Assuming a law is Constitutional in the first place and there is still tension between the parties on the intent of Congress, it is incumbant on the Court to discern the intent of Congress. In that regard it is very helpful that the House of Representatives already passed a repeal bill. The House being the most current and direct chamber from which to discern public intension. Should the Senate pick up a majority and a republican beat Obama (please make it so) then I think you'd see SCOTUS can this law with Kennedy writing the majority opinion.

  10. ErisGuy:

    Regulations delegated by Congress to the executive branch have mostly been written and enforced by goo-goo (good government) types to manage business and the economy. Until now the abuses have been caused by regulatory capture: lobbyists and bribes.

    Under Obama the regulations (note: not laws) will be used by politicians to serve their personal wealth, personal power, and the power of the ideologies to which they subscribe.

    Welcome to the end of America, which slit its own throat by delegating powers to unelectable, unaccountable bureaucrats.

    And there is nothing anyone can do about it, because the only solution is to abolish whole agencies and to restore law-making authority to Congress, which has not exercised such authority for generations (70+ years and counting).

    This is the age of Augustus, who we have yet to met. The Congress and People are no longer capable of self-government and wish neither the responsibility or freedom.

  11. caseyboy:

    ErisGuy, I couldn't agree more. We will meet Augustus after a spate of severe civil unrest that necessitates martial law and the suspension of Habeas Corpus. Then our savior will step forward from the military or perhaps the FBI to secure the nation and restore order. Say goodbye to Jeffersonian principles.

  12. NormD:

    I listened to a recent talk Peter Orszag gave at the Peterson Institute (podcast available). He was absolutely giddy that the IPAB's decisions will go into force unless huge congressional majorities override them and he sees this as highly unlikely. He also pointed out that even the president cannot stop IPAB. I found it deeply disturbing how excited he was that "experts" will be able to direct America's health care without interference from mere voters.

    What is it about liberals and "experts"? Don't they ever learn?

    I find it shocking that our constitution would allow for the creation of any agency that cannot be reigned in by government.

  13. Ian Random:

    Thank god they passed the law, otherwise we wouldn't know what was in it. :-)

  14. John Moore:

    IANAL, but I do read the Volokh Conspiracy. A congress cannot bind a future congress any more than a president can bind a future president. Hence the terms of the law about when it can be repealed are meaningless. A future congress can legislate the whole thing out of existence or do anything else it wants with it.

    A similar confusion arises over the old executive order prohibiting assassinations. Any president can violate that order any time he wants, and can order his agents to do so, since that order was created by a prior president and is thus not binding on a future one.

  15. me:

    Ugh. Every time I look at the new healthcare laws, they get worse. The saddest thing is that healthcare regulations in this country need fixing quite badly, but that the new regulations manage to make things much worse without improving so much as a single one of the outstanding problems. Quite a feat. I am beginning to understand why so few Americans pay attention to politics - every time I do, I want to bang my head against a wall to override the pain.