Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bad stats for Obamacare at the Supremes, but Kennedy is a cipher

Statistical analyses have backed up conventional wisdom among lawyers, that more questions/words directed at one side of a case by judges during oral arguments suggests it's more likely that side is going to get its teeth kicked in.  The Monkey Cage reports that the stats don't look good for Obamacare after the Supreme Court hearing this week, with the usual 5-4 split by justices posing questions/comments, possibly leading to a 5-4 decision against the mandate.

There is another hand though, because this is law that we're talking about.  I'm much less interested in what the nine judges tend to do on the Court than I am with one of them - Kennedy.  According to the main paper that Monkey Cage uses, "The principal exception is Kennedy; none of his question variables produces a statistically significant coefficient." (See page 21 of the pdf.)  As Kennedy goes, so goes the Court in this case.

So even though Kennedy mostly questioned the good guys, we might still have a chance.


Anonymous said...

I bet it goes down 6-3. The 5 usuals plus Breyer or Souter.

That would be a win for all of us.

Fingers crossed,

Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Careful what you wish for CE. Voting down Obamacare puts us that much closer to a single-payer plan with the big, bad gummint as the single payer. We already spend more on healthcare with worse results than any other industrialized nation. More are uninsured and uninsurable with every passing year. With an aging population, that will not be sustainable. It is only a matter of time until doing nothing isn't an option, and with the bastard gummint/market solution uncnstitutional, that will leave single payer as the only option. The private sector has failed.

Hank Roberts said...

Well, hey, it's a choice between public health with herd immunity, or feudal enclaves in isolated splendor surrounded by septic poverty.

Which do you think ... oh, wait ....

Anonymous said...

Yes the Federal Government is the only answer to all our ills. With their $15 trillion in the bank they should be able to pay for our health care.

Oh wait.

Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Funny how conservative fuckwits like CE just love to tell us what won't work, but they never seem to have ideas what will.

America spends about 3x as much on healthcare as the rest of the world and have worse outcomes. Every other industrialized economy has solved the problem more or less to the satisfaction of its citizens.

CE, is it your contention that Americans are so uniquely incompetent that they are incapable of making a government work?

Anonymous said...

ray: I believe that's called "American Exceptionalism." ;)


Kevin O'Neill said...

Consider Celery Eater in the appropriate context.

Republicans are just dumb as a box of rocks. Mississippi and Alabama GOP primary voters were recently polled; 14% of AL GOP voters and 12% of MS GOP voters knew that President Obama is a Christian.

14% and 12%.

How frigging stupid do you have to be to *not* know? And these are GOP primary voters - arguably the most (mis)informed group within the party.

EliRabett said...

Souter would be the big one.

Scrooge said...

I agree that if the law goes down we are one step closer to a single payer system more or less everyone on medicare. The middle class is struggling now to pay for insurance, what will they do when the rates increase which will happen if the law is struck down. Since I don't believe most Americans will just let the uninsured die it will end up costing us a lot more. America was a benchmark after WWII to see if private health insurance would work. It was fine when the boomers were young and healthy and our wages were 15 times what europeans made since our country wasn't destroyed during the war. But now private insurance is failing us. Some states are doing ok with health care but to few.

Rattus Norvegicus said...


Considering he is no longer on the court, getting Souter's vote would indeed be an achievement.

Anonymous said...

Lol Souter, meant to type Sotomayor.

This fukwit will attempt to answer a_ray, all his exaggerations aside.

No I never said government is incompetent, we just need to approach things within OUR structure of government which is DIFFERENT than the rest of the world. The current law's mandate fails this test.

Now what are some ideas that I would support?

Allow health insurance to be sold in a national market rather than just a state pool.

Discontinue tax breaks to companies for health care plans.

Offer a national or state public option for incomes <$50k a year as a choice.

Some type of tort reform so when you see a doctor he/she does not perform every test possible to avoid a lawsuit.


I believe Obama is a christian. Shall I quote some polls about 911 and democrats beliefs? What a waste of time.

Once again thanks for the civil constructive conversation RR, you never fail my expectations.

Celery Eater

J Bowers said...

"Allow health insurance to be sold in a national market rather than just a state pool."

Why, when all you have to do is have a National Health System and pay half the cost for up to twice the access to healthcare? Just spread the cost across the population through taxes. A national buying system would also allow more bargaining power with Big Pharma to keep costs down.

cce said...

Souter would not have voted down the individual mandate and Sotomayor and Breyer will definately not vote to strike it. This will be a 5 to 4 decision against Obamacare, or possibly a 5 to 4 or 6 to 3 in favor (if Kennedy votes to uphold, Roberts will likely also vote to uphold).

"Buying across state lines" without a national standard would create a race to the bottom not unlike the credit card industry, where credit laws in states like South Dakota and Nevada essentially voided all other state usury laws. The healthy will seek out the cheapest plans with the least amount of coverage, and the sick will be forced into increasingly expensive plans because the pool would contain no healthy people.

The health law begins taxing so-called "cadillac" plans offered by large employers as a first step to eliminating the employer sponsered tax preference in the tax code. This was as much as could be negotiated with the unions, since there were no Republican votes to provide for a stronger provision.

Tort reform was offered to Republicans as a compromise. They refused. It is also not popular with so-called Tea partiers since such lawsuits are the domain of the states, and conservatives support "States Rights" on occasion. I also suspect that if it had gone through, there would have been a 4th day of precedings examining the constitutionality of that provision.

A "public option," long part of the various draft bills was dropped because conserva-dems like Blanche Lincoln (voted out of office), Ben Nelson (retiring), and Joe Lieberman (retiring) refused to go along, thus not reaching the 60 vote super majority required to accomplish anything in the Senate. It would have elminated the constitutionality question of the individual mandate. It's also worth noting that any state can opt out of the national system and create their own, the requirement being that the outcomes equal or exceed the federal system. Vermont, for example, is implementing single payer.

For everyone's reading enjoyment, here is the Heritage Foundation brief, describing their plan for a national, market based system for healthcare, and the originator of the "Individual Mandate."

Here is a comparison between "Obamacare" and the Republican Alternative to "Hillarycare" from 1993, which also included the mandate.

And of course, there is Mitt Romney, who I hear is running for president.

It's funny how the leading conservative "think tank" could spend some 20 years pumping the individual mandate until the moment it became a democratic policy position, at which point it became an intolerable affront to freedom. Oceania is always at war with East Asia, or something like that.

Anonymous said...

This article reckons is 60/40 for the mandate. It was recommended by the Reality-Based Community ( )

Brian said...

A-ray: please refrain from obscenities directed at a fellow commenter. I deleted a (worse) comment by CE for that reason.

Anon at 2:32 p.m. - the author was one of my profs at Stanford. Very smart guy, but I don't think he has any more inside info than anyone else, and he's not a Supreme Court practitioner.

Anonymous said...


Mine was a recommended course of action, it was not name calling.

Celery Eater

Brian said...

CE - I'm not interested in discussing it.

Jeffrey Davis said...

American Exceptionalism has degenerated from an idea to an excuse to give all our money to doctors and carbon plutocrats.

All of our money spent on health care and we've got the same outcomes as Cuba.

What a world.

Anonymous said...


I didn't think you would. Not much time when you are maintaining two sets of standards, must be downright exhausting.

Celery Eater

Brian said...

Jeffrey - the AMA came out pretty well in terms of supporting Obamacare. Ultimately though we'll have to address the fact that docs are paid a lot more in the US than in other countries, especially specialists.