Politics (formerly Election 2012)

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Re: Election 2012

Postby fuzzygeek » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:51 am

Health care for all is well and good. That's not really the point, all handwaving and hysteronics aside. What's really interesting is the power of the federal government and how it utilizes (abuses the fuck out of) the commerce clause, and what challenges this ruling opens up.

Everyone agrees the system is a mess. The way they went about "fixing" it is even worse ("We have to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it"). The effect of this 5-4 ruling is going to be even more interesting, especially in an election year.

The more I think about this, the more I think Roberts is a sly bastard. I just hope his flip is the result of a calculated strategy, instead of a spineless capitulation. And honestly it may not even matter.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Thalia » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:25 am

A lot of people are pointing out that Scalia's decent was actually written as the majority, it constantly referred to Ruth Ginsberg's Opinion calling it "the decent", seeming to indicated that Robert's vote seemed to have flipped at some point, and if that recently. Wondered what happened? Robert's had to pull the "Taxing" power out of his #$#% since it was not written as a Tax, President Obama is on record many times saying it was not a tax, and before they took up the case they had a hired lawyer come argue why it wasn't a tax so that they could take it up as a Commerce Clause issue..., which it was found unconstitutional on.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:29 am

Actually Fuzzy, the commerce clause argument was struck down 5-4 and I think that's now legal precedent.  However, there's little satisifaction in that when rolling anything into a tax seems to be a viable bypass to judicial scrutiny.

The conventional wisdom on Roberts being sly, is that by calling it a tax, a political solution can be found.  Arguably, the notion of health care being a political argument is a good one, but this wasn't about health care it was about mechanics in this plan's implementation.  Further as a budgetary motion, there's no filibuster concern when dealing with it, another tick in Roberts cap. 

However, even assuming that Roberts believes it to be bad legislation (and it's possible to infer that from his comments, but it's still just inference) I still highly doubt that this was a sly master plan.  First, too much was given up for it.  Secondly, there is no way in hell Mitt Romney wins the election so it's moot.  Third, having the plan revisited now would actually make it a political process, which one could argue that the way it was passed before was a back door around that process.

I think that opinion was Roberts' of his own free will, for better or for worse.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby aureon » Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:58 pm

As speaking from an overseas prospective:
You guys really need to hang a few heads, more than we do.
And ban legal lobbying, that's just ridicolous.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Sagara » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:47 am

To be honest, the European parlement is looking to be headed the same way. Was it last month that we had that whole debacle on lobby group informations law?

The only reason it's not as visible here is because the parlement doesn't hold as much power.

But, yeah, lobbyism sucks.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:50 am

If there ever was a USSC decision for which "The Constitution died today" hyperbole was justified, it was Citizens United.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:10 am

That might be the first time I've heard that hyperbole used with a decision that actually restrained government.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:11 pm

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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:08 am

I really hate it when people assume it's the government's responsibility to do things like this:

"Creating jobs so that finding meaningful employment can stop feeling like pursuing an all-but-unattainable luxury."

It's not. I don't want to pay for John Q Public's minimum wage job. Beyond the obvious direct employment, the government cannot "create jobs". For instance, take the welfare-to-work program - it's funded by taxpayers, and the program pays half of the employees salary during their probationary/training period, pays 6 months to a year of transportation costs to/from work, and pays for childcare during that same period, along with still providing welfare benefits to the recipient, plus a year of health insurance (if they had medicaid already).

"A fair solution to health care, that compassionate people along every station of the right/left continuum can live with and be proud of."

There is no such thing. It's like trying to find a place where fire can coexist peacefully with water. The best we can hope for is that we manage to get a party with enough votes in congress to pass it as a piece of partisan legislation that implements strict requirements on getting this insurance - such as yearly physicals, and if something goes wrong that's preventable by Not Being Stupid™, the person loses their insurance. Smoke? Sure - but if you get a legitimate smoking related illness, you're pooched. Addicted to McDonalds? Guess what, if your fat ass has a stroke or heartattack or something due to your craptastic diet, you're up shit creek without a paddle; etc...

People outside the US like to look at us like we're stupid for not being able to pass it, but the US government is a beast on an entirely different scale than anywhere else. Or perhaps it's a beast on the same exact scale, but we have different hot button issues. For instance, Canadians have the Quebecois constantly threatening secession if I'm not mistaken? The UK constantly has to deal with bitchslaps from Ireland (and vice versa) - every country has something that they can't fix. Healthcare just happens to be our monster-in-the-closet.

"Fixing the fallout from the big-bank machinations and the mortgage crisis that have cost so many people their homes."

The government meddling is a HUGE part of what's responsible for the mortgage crisis. They had to go and regulate banks, "encouraging" them to provide subprime mortgages to high risk borrowers, then when the economy tanked, all of those insanely high risk borrowers defaulted on their loans. What a shocking and unexpected development that was! I'm all for providing housing for the needy, but that's what rental subsidy programs (such as Section 8, among others) are for. If people don't want to live in "The Projects" then they should get the hell out of there on their own, without government interference.

Besides, our government's knee-jerk reaction to pretty much any problem that arises is to throw more money at it in the hopes that it will go away. The last bailout cost every single man, woman and child in the US a little over $1000. And for what? So that banks wouldn't go bankrupt? Well guess what, banks - that's the risk you take when you loan people money!

I wouldn't have minded that nearly as much as I did, except that the bailout money went directly to the banks to be used basically at their discretion. I favored a much "neater" solution - that is, use the bailout money to pay off the mortgages that the banks had outstanding. The banks would have gotten the money in the end, and a lot fewer people would've lost their homes. Instead, the banks spent it on more bad investments, leaving them in nearly the same position they were in pre-bailout, along with a lot of empty foreclosed homes that lost over half (on average) of their pre-crash value.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:42 pm

Fridmarr wrote:That might be the first time I've heard that hyperbole used with a decision that actually restrained government.


Unelected branch of government upholds the ability of elected branch of government to make laws.
Conservatives declare the death of the Republic.

p.s. Upon re-reading your statement, how did Citizens United RESTRAIN government? It UN-restrained the powerful, and gave them totally free reign over the governing process of the entire country.

This year, the Koch family alone has spent more than all the campaign contributions by individuals during the last Presidential election combined, for both candidates. A single family with more power than the entire people of the United States. And you call that restraining government?
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:57 pm

Fivelives wrote:"Fixing the fallout from the big-bank machinations and the mortgage crisis that have cost so many people their homes."

The government meddling is a HUGE part of what's responsible for the mortgage crisis. They had to go and regulate banks, "encouraging" them to provide subprime mortgages to high risk borrowers, then when the economy tanked, all of those insanely high risk borrowers defaulted on their loans. What a shocking and unexpected development that was! I'm all for providing housing for the needy, but that's what rental subsidy programs (such as Section 8, among others) are for. If people don't want to live in "The Projects" then they should get the hell out of there on their own, without government interference.

Besides, our government's knee-jerk reaction to pretty much any problem that arises is to throw more money at it in the hopes that it will go away. The last bailout cost every single man, woman and child in the US a little over $1000. And for what? So that banks wouldn't go bankrupt? Well guess what, banks - that's the risk you take when you loan people money!

I wouldn't have minded that nearly as much as I did, except that the bailout money went directly to the banks to be used basically at their discretion. I favored a much "neater" solution - that is, use the bailout money to pay off the mortgages that the banks had outstanding. The banks would have gotten the money in the end, and a lot fewer people would've lost their homes. Instead, the banks spent it on more bad investments, leaving them in nearly the same position they were in pre-bailout, along with a lot of empty foreclosed homes that lost over half (on average) of their pre-crash value.


That is a fucking brilliant idea, and I agree it would have been far better.
And it's much more Free Market a solution because you are bailing out people, not corporations.

Gosh, that would have been such a great political stance to take too. "I am in favor of saving the American People, not the fat cats who caused all this mess."
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:06 pm

I'm still pretty honestly surprised that nobody else thought of that.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby fuzzygeek » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:46 pm

Fivelives wrote:I'm still pretty honestly surprised that nobody else thought of that.


I'm sure it was thought of, but there are far fewer opportunities for graft, so of course it was never seriously considered.

Also there's the problem of basically free money for people who were being bailed out -- the fed comes in and pays my idiot neighbor's mortgage for him, so suddenly his debt vanishes? I'd be a little irritated since I'm, you know, responsible and shit and not in need of a bailout.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:12 pm

And what would prevent other people from defaulting just to get the bailout money? I'm sure it could have been written into the bill, but you just know someone will find a loophole to exploit.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Koatanga » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:35 pm

fuzzygeek wrote:Also there's the problem of basically free money for people who were being bailed out -- the fed comes in and pays my idiot neighbor's mortgage for him, so suddenly his debt vanishes? I'd be a little irritated since I'm, you know, responsible and shit and not in need of a bailout.

We have a winner. If the US government bailed out one US citizen, all the others would line up with their hand out expecting the same treatment.

The people who would have been bailed out that way are people who don't tend to vote, and are vastly outnumbered by the people who would have been butthurt that their mortgage didn't get paid off. Result? Political suicide.

If you bail out the banks, you don't really help any of the rank-and-file citizens but you get re-elected.

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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:39 am

It was talked about quite a bit. We actually did spend bailout money on people's mortgages, it's called HAMP (and related programs). But no plan to give the people money, which of course we'd all prefer, would have actually solved the problem we were having at the time. The problem wasn't that the too big to fail banks were going bankrupt or had some long term insolvency issues, the problem was that they were running out of cash to loan, which has a massive ripple effect to businesses who rely on that capital. There was just no way to wait until a program could be implemented to give money to the people, and then wait and hope for them to make a couple of house payments so it made it back into the system. Also, once many of the larger banks weathered that particular storm with the TARP help, they did pay it back so the ultimate cost was a bit less. Not all banks have paid it back, but many did.

The "fat cat" bankers were actually doing what they were told by the government. Those loan formats had been approved by the government, they were put into an exchange (government term for someone is getting screwed but now you won't know who), and then reclassified by the government into a lower risk category. That caused the problem to spread beyond mortgages into investment banks. The gov't had incentivized home ownership enough that demand stayed high for a long time and so prices kept rising, and that was essentially the glue that kept this mess working...until it let loose and home prices began to fall and it all came crumbling down.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:08 am

Brekkie wrote:
Fridmarr wrote:That might be the first time I've heard that hyperbole used with a decision that actually restrained government.


Unelected branch of government upholds the ability of elected branch of government to make laws.
Conservatives declare the death of the Republic.

p.s. Upon re-reading your statement, how did Citizens United RESTRAIN government? It UN-restrained the powerful, and gave them totally free reign over the governing process of the entire country.

This year, the Koch family alone has spent more than all the campaign contributions by individuals during the last Presidential election combined, for both candidates. A single family with more power than the entire people of the United States. And you call that restraining government?

If the Koch's had as much power as you claim, then there would be no dems in office, it's an absurd notion. To your point, obviously when the power moves from the government to the people, where it belongs, that is called restraining government. Again, it's the process not the outcome.

For instance, you can reasonably accomplish a more equitable system with a publicly funded campaign finances, the difficulty becomes determining who is eligible to receive the money, but private money is out everyone, and that's inherently fair and reasonable. The problem comes in when the government tries to pick and choose winners and losers. Despite the attempt to make things fair, it almost always makes things worse. Some special interest groups were unfettered, but labor unions and corporations were not. Individuals (like the Koch bros) were still able to spend btw, though certain types of political speech were banned in the days before the elections.

I don't know of anyone who has suggested that the government does not have the ability to make laws. Laws that make you buy a product that you don't want or need, yeah that's too much power and the Supreme court agreed with that too. They just also left a gigantic easily used loophole for accomplishing the same thing. Moreover, you aren't going to get corporations out of government through legislation, indeed it's legislation that has caused the problem. When you concentrate that much power in one place, corporations have a gigantic stake in it. The only way to get private interests out of unduly influencing government is to scale back and spread out its power to the people.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:27 am

Fridmarr wrote:I don't know of anyone who has suggested that the government does not have the ability to make laws. Laws that make you buy a product that you don't want or need, yeah that's too much power and the Supreme court agreed with that too.


I don't see any reason why this same argument doesn't apply to taxes paying for the Fire Department. Or the Police. Or the Military. Or the Coast Guard. Or the Environmental Protection Agency. Or the Forestry Service. Or safety regulators on meat ("I'm a vegetarian!").

This is the thing I just do not, for the life of me, understand about the Libertarian mindset. You can't just pick and choose the shit that YOU want and need. And no rational, self-interested actor would EVER personally contribute to social functions like the Fire Department by choice, because of the Free Rider paradox. But you're sure as hell going to wish that the Fire Department exists. If war breaks out, you're sure as hell going to wish that the military is trained and equipped to a much higher standard than pure market forces would ever have a dream of allowing (dont get me started on merc companies like Xe/Blackwater).

And the irony of the whole thing is, you WILL actually use health care. At some point in your life, you will use health care. Every single person needs healthcare. But if only the ill are paying into the system, the whole thing becomes prohibitively expensive and People Die, preventably, for the crime of being poor. In America.
So mandating everyone contribute into the system is absolutely no different than mandating everyone contribute to the common defense, or to the safety of meat, or to the preservation of our environment. And the costs for EVERYONE become vastly cheaper.
Sure, you're a healthy person who DA GUBBMINT IS FORCING to pay. Cry me a river. I don't own a boat and am in no danger of drowning, but I pay for the Coast Guard. Because that's how SOCIETY WORKS.

It's funny, there are exactly ZERO Libertarians in countries with non-intrusive, low-power governments. You know what those kind of countries ARE filled with? Communists. Because anarchy is not some utopia of rational self interest. It fucking sucks and everybody, including the healthy, well off people who only have to buy what they need, suffers.

Also, funny how I have never, ever, ever met a Libertarian with a pre-existing condition.

They just also left a gigantic easily used loophole for accomplishing the same thing. Moreover, you aren't going to get corporations out of government through legislation, indeed it's legislation that has caused the problem. When you concentrate that much power in one place, corporations have a gigantic stake in it. The only way to get private interests out of unduly influencing government is to scale back and spread out its power to the people.


California is a perfect model of how terrible direct democracy is. Something like 80% of their budget is tied up in sacrosanct voter-initiatives.


As for money in politics, while money spent is not a direct indication of power, there is certainly a strong correlation, otherwise no one would bother spending money. I have no problem with the concept of spending money as speech. What I have a problem with is our leaders being solely beholden to rich backers, and nothing else mattering. My experiences working at Embassies and actually meeting these powerful VIPs, being present for their conversations, and seeing their interactions with plutocrats and CEOs at functions, has made me even more jaded in that regard.
I don't know how to solve this problem, but Citizens United was certainly, unambiguously a step backwards.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:19 am

The difference is that they are government services, not private products.  When the government can compel me to buy into a private product then there is literally nothing that they can't compel me to do.  I have no problem contributing to medicaid for instance, but I do have a problem being forced to buy a product from a private group.  Talk about amazing potential for corporate abuse, just wait until that matures a bit, you'll be screaming about how corporations have corrupted health care and demand legislation to stop it...when this legislation caused it.  You think Jabari's electric car quip was a joke, but legislation of that ilk has been brewing for some time, and it will come because the same logic applies.   My joke about the size of your soda in NY wasn't a joke either, that's actual proposed legislation.  Absolutely everything you do can in some way be correlated to a shared cost.

We'll be sin taxxed to proper behavior determined by a large central government that you admit is controlled by corporations or at least unduly influenced by the wealthy, and you wonder why I get concerned as their power grows?  It amazes me that you can think that they are unduly influenced by such powers on one hand and on other declare that they should control your healthcare access.   The idea behind checks and balances isn't just what the government is actually doing now, but what is in its ability to do.  I'd rather not give them the rope to hang us all, rather than just hope that they actually don't use it.

I also reject your shared cost notion a bit.  I will use health care, but I may not use health insurance particularly of the type now required.  Health care and health insurance are not the same thing.  I don't want to be forced to pay a premium that covers birth control pills, viagra, and basic antibiotics etc when I can more efficiently handle those costs myself with a catastophic care plan and an HSA.  Those concepts are not new, and have been used successfully for generations.

I've said it repeatedly, I'm not a Libertarian.   I want government more local, where it can actually be held responsible, and is far more accountable, not anarchy.  I'm pretty sure your characterization of it is fairly inaccurate anyhow, but I don't have a dog in that fight and I couldn't care less.

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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:33 pm

Ah. No, I'm not talking about giving Johnny Irresponsible the money to pay off their mortgages. I'm talking about telling banks "how much do you have in outstanding mortgage loans?" then giving them exactly that amount - not a penny more, not a penny less. It would've freed up their funds to loan to other people and had pretty much exactly the same effect as giving it to them to be used discretionally. Then they (the banks) could have applied for grants from the TARP funds left over after paying off outstanding mortgages.

So it wouldn't have been a case of your neighbor getting his debt cleared while you've still got yours, it would've been a clean slate for everybody who didn't have their homes paid off. Which is, let's face it, almost everyone that's IN a home that they "own" instead of some other situation, as a 30 year mortgage doesn't generally get paid off until people are about ready to retire.

Of course, it's easy to play Monday morning quarterback and say how shit SHOULD have been done.

Back on topic, Obama is only leading Romney in polls by 3 points. I'm not so sure anymore that Obama is a sure win for this election. I also find myself hoping that Obama wins this election - better the devil you know and all that.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:32 pm

The issue with that, as others have noted is fairness. There was some talk about plans to just have the government buy all the mortgages but not relieve people of their debt, and then allow proper restructuring. Here's an example...
http://www.correntewire.com/modest_prop ... xic_assets

The benefit is fairness and no money to the banks, but it's ultimately more expensive. Though even that is perhaps preferable.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:31 pm

Fivelives wrote:Back on topic, Obama is only leading Romney in polls by 3 points. I'm not so sure anymore that Obama is a sure win for this election. I also find myself hoping that Obama wins this election - better the devil you know and all that.


Just wait until the debates. Obama has a lot of ammunition, most of the things Romney could attack Obama on Romney undermines HIMSELF with due to his past history, and Obama is just, in general, a far better orator.


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http://healthreform.kff.org/quizzes/hea ... -quiz.aspx
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Passionario » Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:32 am

Brekkie wrote:Also, funny how I have never, ever, ever met a Libertarian with a pre-existing condition.


The late Robert Anton Wilson was one (at least, when he wasn't an anarchist) despite having suffered from polio as a child.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fivelives » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:04 am

Brekkie wrote:
Fivelives wrote:Back on topic, Obama is only leading Romney in polls by 3 points. I'm not so sure anymore that Obama is a sure win for this election. I also find myself hoping that Obama wins this election - better the devil you know and all that.


Just wait until the debates. Obama has a lot of ammunition, most of the things Romney could attack Obama on Romney undermines HIMSELF with due to his past history, and Obama is just, in general, a far better orator.


In other news, check this out!
http://healthreform.kff.org/quizzes/hea ... -quiz.aspx


I'm not sure whether it would be smart for Obama to directly attack Romney. He might do better running a "clean" campaign focusing entirely on what he achieved during his first term.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:37 am

The problem there is that his crowning achievement isn't very popular, and sadly it seems like his Bain capital attacks are working. I say sadly, not because I want Romney to win, but because the attacks are stupid nonsense.

I don't see any way in which Obama loses or that it's even close.
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