Counterparties: SCOTUS’s massive healthcare decision

By Ben Walsh
June 22, 2012

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The Supreme Court is holding off issuing a ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare until next week.

The are four basic scenarios of what the Court can do and the decision has massive economic implications. The industry accounts for some 18% of US GDP; billions of dollars in federal spending and the future of hundreds of community healthcare centers are in play.

Only the justices and their staff of clerks know with any certainty where this is headed (sorry, Jeff Toobin). No matter how obsessively you check SCOTUSblog – your single best resource for all things Supreme – you won’t hear anything early. Unlike the rest of the branches of government, the Supreme Court is a leak-free machine. Until the official word comes, comfort yourself with the Vegas odds and courthouse gossip.

The decision likely hinges on Justice Kennedy: Dahlia Lithwick calls him “the original independent swing-state voter”. Or it could just as easily hinge on what the justices think of the mandated eating of broccoli, a vegetable Americans actually do like, it turns out.

And if you need to be hit over the head with the human importance of this issue, the NYT’s Annie Lowrey looks at an Oregon program that found providing health insurance to adults in poverty made them “healthier, happier and more financially stable”.

To help lead you through the twists and turns of the healthcare decision, we’ve compiled a Twitter list of the best people to follow. A huge thanks to Erin Geiger Smith and the Reuters Legal team for helping with this.

So have as relaxing a weekend as is possible when a decision affecting how we spend $2.5 trillion a year awaits your return. – Ben Walsh

On to today’s links:

Long Reads
How companies inject trillions of gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth – ProPublica
Taibbi: How banks “systematically” stole from America by rigging muni bids – Rolling Stone

EU Mess
Monti: We have a week to save the EU and prevent “progressively greater speculative attacks on individual countries” – Guardian
“Like asking your children to grade their own homework”: Euro banks may be artificially inflating their health – WSJ
Krugman: When it comes to economic inequalities, the euro zone is no worse than the US – NYT

Shovel Readyish
Brazil’s massive, “pharaonic” stimulus program is now being compared to China’s – NYT

Investors respond to Moody’s bank downgrades with emphatic “meh” – Bloomberg
Moody’s slightly reduces its overrating of banks – Dealbreaker
Moody’s ratifies interbank mistrust – Felix

Investing is more win-lose than win-win – Howard Marks

New Normal
Corporate profits hit an all-time high; wages just hit an all-time low – Business Insider
Nevada has had the highest employment in the nation for the last 27 months – WSJ
Superheroes aren’t immune to recessions – Imgur

Gawker’s amazing shredding of the NYT‘s Brant brothers profile – Gawker

Data Points
An interactive guide to rich folks’ private islands – Datablog

Economist Anna Schwartz dead at 96 – NYT



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I think we need to change how health care is funded and provided. I understand why it’s necessary for everyone to participate. Obamacare overall is probably a good start in the right direction. But I can’t see how mandating every person to purchase health care insurance from private companies can be constitutional. If it turns out to be so, I’m livin’ in the wrong country. Congress and POUTUS really screwed the pooch on this law, and wasted a lot of time in the process.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive

About this –

Gawker’s amazing shredding of the NYT‘s Brant brothers profile – Gawker”

It does sort of make you want to take a fresh ethical re-look at the extermination of the Romanov family – children included.

Posted by MrRFox | Report as abusive

Obviously, the past system does not work the USA pays more and has worst health care, even the children who are dependent and the future workers.

You cannot create more demand without creating more supply, unless you want jack up prices. No politician said how they are going to get more good people to go to medical school or have more medical schools, hospitals, or low cost drugs.

Medicine is one of the two industries that does not work well by the profit motive. The consumers usually do not know enough, to know what is an effective buy. Also when you are sick and the the care you are not making money or have a job. If the sickness serious the drugs, fear of the sickness affects judgement. The insurance firms make money by not paying. The doctors by over billing or doing what profitable and easy for them.

Posted by SamuelReich | Report as abusive

My guess is they will declare the requirement to buy unconstitutional but the penalty/tax constitutional. It’s a nearly perfect way for them to get their say while not really changing anything, something lawyers love. There is a vague logic to it; government can’t compel but can motivate, and the government has nearly unlimited power to tax enshrined in the constitution and decisions to date. Yet they can say this preserves liberty, it is just that liberty isn’t free. All moot in the end but a clever way with words.

Posted by MyLord | Report as abusive