Sourced quote of the moment: Tax, or mandate? Lincoln said . . .


In light of this morning’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act, and questions about whether the law is a “mandate” or a “tax,” we might look to history to see whether the question matters, and what it is.

Lincoln probably had it right, as we noted here many months ago.  So, an encore post:

It’s a delightful story I’ve heard dozens of times, and retold a few times myself: Abraham Lincoln faced with some thorny issue that could be settled by a twist of language, or a slight abuse of power, asks his questioner how many legs would a dog have, if we called the dog’s tail, a leg. “Five,” the questioner responds confident in his mathematical ability to do simple addition. Lincoln Memorial statue, profile view

“No,” Lincoln says. “Calling a dog’s tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg.”

But there is always the doubt: Is the story accurate? Is this just another of the dozens of quotes that are misattributed to Lincoln in order to lend credence to them?

I have a source for the quote: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by distinguished men of his time / collected and edited by Allen Thorndike Rice (1853-1889). New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1909. This story is found on page 242. Remarkably, the book is still available in an edition from the University of Michigan Press. More convenient for us, the University of Michigan has the entire text on-line, in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, an on-line source whose whole text is searchable.

However, Lincoln does not tell the story about a dog — he uses a calf.

Rice’s book is a collection of reminiscences of others, exactly as the title suggests. Among those doing the reminiscing are ex-president and Gen. U. S. Grant, Massachusetts Gov. Benjamin Butler (also a former Member of Congress), Charles A. Dana the editor and former Assistant Secretary of War, and several others. In describing Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, George W. Julian relates the story. Julian was a Free-Soil Party leader and a Member of Congress during Lincoln’s administration. Julian’s story begins on page 241:

Few subjects have been more debated and less understood than the Proclamation of Emancipation. Mr. Lincoln was himself opposed to the measure, and when he very reluctantly issued the preliminary proclamation in September, 1862, he wished it distinctly understood that the deportation of the slaves was, in his mind, inseparably connected with the policy. Like Mr. Clay and other prominent leaders of the old Whig party, he believed in colonization, and that the separation of the two races was necessary to the welfare of both. He was at that time pressing upon the attention of Congress a scheme of colonization in Chiriqui, in Central America, which Senator Pomeroy espoused with great zeal, and in which he had the favor of a majority of the Cabinet, including Secretary Smith, who warmly indorsed the project. Subsequent developments, however, proved that it was simply an organization for land-stealing and plunder, and it was abandoned; but it is by no means certain that if the President had foreseen this fact his preliminary notice to the rebels would have been given. There are strong reasons for saying that he doubted his right to emancipate under the war power, and he doubtless meant what he said when he compared an Executive order to that effect to “the Pope’s Bull against the comet.” In discussing the question, he used to liken the case to that of the boy who, when asked how many legs his calf would have if he called its tail a leg, replied, ” Five,” to which the prompt response was made that calling the tail a leg would not make it a leg.

I believe it is fair to call the story “confirmed.” It’s not an exact quote, but it’s an accurate story.

_____________

So, is it a tax, or a mandate?  If it’s the right thing to do, does it matter what we call it?  A rose by any other name . . .

Update:  There remains the very strong danger that critics of the Affordable Healthcare Act can’t tell the difference between a calf’s tail and a calf’s leg, or ear, or any other part of the anatomy.

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35 Responses to Sourced quote of the moment: Tax, or mandate? Lincoln said . . .

  1. To quote:
    . . .NFIB v. Sebelius: Call a mandate a tax, then impose it. .

    Let me know when Mittens acknowledges that he raised taxes on the people in his state then. And then let me know when the GOP acknowledges that they were planning to raise taxes on the people since the insurance mandate is their idea in the bloody first place.

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  2. . . . .NFIB v. Sebelius: Call a mandate a tax, then impose it. . . .

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    But, Morgan, is the health care bill NOT the right thing to do? Most of it is renewal of programs we’ve relied on for 40 or 50 years. What is new is a structure to do the stuff we’ve talked about needing to do for that same 40 or 50 years.

    Jokes about atoms don’t make the law wrong, or bad. (The oxygen atom is perfectly happy in the arrangement, by the way — your commenter just doesn’t know atoms.)

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  4. Morgan writes:
    I can when your “return[ing] the favor” is just a bunch of silly stuff that doesn’t make any sense, sure.

    Funny…because imo your argument boils down to a bunch of silly stuff that doesn’t make any sense. In fact I can’t think of a single argument of yours that has ever made sense.

    So here’s the deal. If you want to be able to criticize the President and the Democrats then I get to criticize the Republicans. Fair is fair.

    But sorry, you’re not in a position to exempt the Republicans from a conversation that regards them just because you don’t like being pointed out that your party on the subject of health care reform has been nothing more then an abject failure for nearly two decades. nor do you get to exempt the GOP from the fact that the insurance mandate, this thing you apparently have such a problem with, is the creation of your party.

    You utter one word of criticism about the Democrats and I have your permission to do the same about the GOP. Take it or leave it, Morgan.

    Because sorry, Morgan, I’m not bowing to your standard when you fail so pathetically at obeying it yourself.

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  5. Morgan writes:
    Making new rules about private citizens, and health care, about the most intimate transaction there is.

    So…the Democrats shouldn’t make new rules about private citizens, and health care, and about the most intimate transaction there is? That basically sum up your position on that?

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  6. Then you don’t get to kvetch when I return the favor about the Republicans, Morgan.

    I can when your “return[ing] the favor” is just a bunch of silly stuff that doesn’t make any sense, sure.

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  7. Morgan writes:
    Yeah, and that’s okay. My position is attacking the President and liberals. It’s fair. They’re in charge. Getting pretty much everything they want. Making new rules about private citizens, and health care, about the most intimate transaction there is.

    It’s somehow out-of-bounds to discuss the ramifications? How so?

    ~~~~

    Then you don’t get to kvetch when I return the favor about the Republicans, Morgan.

    Discuss the ramifications to your hearts content…but sorry, the Republicans have also played a part in this and you don’t get to wave your hand and excuse them from the conversation. Because the ramifications also include your party’s opposition, starting with your party’s absolute refusal to either be part of the process or to help and just to block block block, and what they’ll do if they win. And the ramifications also include what would be if the status quo had been retained.

    Oh..and as for “Making new rules about private citizens, and health care, about the most intimate transaction there is” then Mitt Romney is free game because “Obamacare” is Romneycare by another name and the fact that it was your party that came up with the insurance mandate in the bloody first place.

    Oh and no the Democrats have not pretty much gotten everything we want..if we did we’d have single payer health care not a Republican conjured creation.

    Now quit being a chicken, Morgan, and answer my question. Exactly how does the insurance mandate become “socialism!” when it’s your party’s creation?

    You know me..I’m going to keep on asking that question until you answer it.

    And as you say this is important and complex..so where has your party been on the subject for the last 20 years?

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  8. To quote:
    It is possible to care for people and still be opposed to the left-wing legislation of the year. I think this is where you’re going wrong. It’s where The Modern Left goes wrong, too…this whole “be for whatever we’re for, or else you hate blacks/women/unionists/homosexuals/poor people” thing.

    Is it possible? Yeah certainly.

    The problem with your argument is that so much of your sides opposition actually contains so much hatred. All of it? No…but it does happen.

    Sorry, when people on your side oppose gays and then say we should round up gays and execute them then that’s hatred. And then your side doesn’t condemn the people who said that.

    And when members of your party claims that women who use contraception are sluts then yeah..that’s hatred.

    And sorry it’s hatred when members of your party call for armed revolution when it doesn’t get it’s way. It’s hatred when your party simply can’t oppose Obama but has to scream “He’s a socialist! A tyrant! A fascist! He has ties to terrorists!” and that whole birther bit is nothing but pure hatred.

    As for caring for people..okay then I’ll bite. What things has your party done lately, say within the last 4 years, that shows it cares for people.

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Mr. Benson,

    I think a careful study of Lincoln would show that, during the Civil War, his views on race evolved a lot. With no place to transport slaves to, to resettle, and with the realization that there was simply no way to relocate 4 million people, Lincoln looked for ways to integrate African Americans into the rest of life. I don’t think there is any record of Lincoln paying much attention to anything Agassiz did, with the possible exception of Agassiz’s work on glaciation.

    The U.S. has achieved greatness with several people and on several occasions since Jefferson, I think. The transcontinental railroad, the opening of Japan to trade, the history of the clipper ships, the history of whaling, the creation of the automobile assembly line, the creation of republican governments in every corner of the U.S., the massive effort to win World War I, the winning of World War II, the creation of atomic weaponry and peaceful nuclear applications, the space race — all of these moments of greatness are tempered by our many feet of clay. But they do exist, and we can be proud of our achievements while working to protect them and expand on them.

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  10. Ed Darrell says:

    It is possible to care for people and still be opposed to the left-wing legislation of the year. I think this is where you’re going wrong. It’s where The Modern Left goes wrong, too…this whole “be for whatever we’re for, or else you hate blacks/women/unionists/homosexuals/poor people” thing.

    Possible, but we haven’t seen that demonstrated anywhere on this issue, yet. One of the loudest cries against ACA is that illegal immigrants shouldn’t get free care. Of course, under the law, they don’t.

    I wish the opposition to ACA were so principled as you make out. But it’s not. What passed is what the Republican party has been touting for years, a free-market alternative to one-payer universal health care. As soon as it showed real legs, Republicans like Mitch McConnell did complete backflips to switch sides. McConnell was a chief sponsor of this bill in 2008.

    Why the switch? Surely you’re not arguing that Republican principles are so fungible, are you?

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  11. W.Benson says:

    Ed
    Unlike you, I am one who doubts that America, after Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin anyway, ever has been great in the figurative sense of the word. Your quote from Lincoln makes me feel more secure in this. The quote seems to show that Lincoln (possibly influenced by Harvard’s racist creationist zoologist Louis Agassiz) planned to round up everyone of African ancestry after the war and pack them off to Central America. This in itself seems strange, for up until then the destination was Liberia. Central America was nearer and perhaps they could be made to walk!
    I am rather cynical , and admittedly not very knowledgeable on the topic. It would be interesting to have your take on what might have happened with the freed slaves had Lincoln not been assassinated.

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  12. And yet you can’t defend your own position without attacking the President and liberals.

    Yeah, and that’s okay. My position is attacking the President and liberals. It’s fair. They’re in charge. Getting pretty much everything they want. Making new rules about private citizens, and health care, about the most intimate transaction there is.

    It’s somehow out-of-bounds to discuss the ramifications? How so?

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  13. Morgan writes:
    What more is there to say? You can’t defend anybody or anything without talking about the other guys…let me refresh your memory, the subject is that it’s undefinable whether this law is a tax or not-a-tax,

    And yet you can’t defend your own position without attacking the President and liberals. Sorry, Morgan, like I said…as long as you also engage in this “us versus them” bit then you have no right to chide me about doing the same. Sorry..you don’t get to sit there and openly criticize the President and liberals while expecting your own party to be immune from similar criticism.

    As for what you say the issue is..sorry, Morgan, I wasn’t aware that you’re the determinator of what the issue is. Oh wait..you’re not. I’m under no obligation to talk about what you only want to talk about.

    The topic, by the by, is health care reform. Specifically the ACA. The “tax or not a tax” is merely a small part of that. And you can’t deny that because you’re the one that used Joe Biden’s quote on the ACA but somehow tried to construe the quote as referring only to the “tax or not a tax” bit.

    So as long as you want to criticize the President and whoever else on my side of the political spectrum, Morgan, then your party is fair game.

    Hold yourself to your own standard, Morgan.

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  14. Oh and then Morgan you can also explain as health care reform is a big huge whole complex thing why your party failed to do anything about it from 2000-2006…you know..when your party had both houses of Congress and the White House.

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  15. Ed,

    It is possible to care for people and still be opposed to the left-wing legislation of the year. I think this is where you’re going wrong. It’s where The Modern Left goes wrong, too…this whole “be for whatever we’re for, or else you hate blacks/women/unionists/homosexuals/poor people” thing.

    Hope they & you keep it up. It’s looking like two steps forward and three steps back, over the long term.

    JK,

    What more is there to say? You can’t defend anybody or anything without talking about the other guys…let me refresh your memory, the subject is that it’s undefinable whether this law is a tax or not-a-tax, because like most other progressive ideas it can only keep up the appearance of being legitimate, reasonable and Constitutional by shifting from one to the other, refusing to commit to a definable shape. Much like your arguments.

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  16. Ed Darrell says:

    Well it IS a BFD. Joe Biden said so, for one thing.

    Biden was talking about the achievement of actually getting the Affordable Health Care Act — and that achievement is, indeed, a BFD. Teddy Roosevelt proposed it, back when Republicans still cared for people. From FDR forward, every president except the two Bushes proposed some form or another of such a health care plan, and Obama was the one who achieved it. Not FDR. Not Kennedy. Not Johnson. Not Reagan. Obama.

    I understand why you might want to make light of such an achievement, or ridicule it in the hopes that people would fall for the ridicule and not think about it.

    This health care plan makes America competitive in so many areas. It offers salvation for our auto industry, and steel industry. It offers to bring our absenteeism down to European levels, and raise our productivity to the highest European levels. It levels the playing field for American companies to compete against German and Japanese, and French, and English, and Indian companies.

    The achievement is, indeed, a Big Effing Deal.

    Whether the mechanism is commerce clause or tax clause — that’s not such a big deal.

    For another thing, President Obama — there’s supposed to be something spectacular and superlative about Him that uniquely qualifies Him to be in charge of everything, although nobody ever seems to want to pin down exactly what that is, for going on four years now —

    He is on the side of humans, and he understands that demand by consumers drives the economy, and not supply by manufacturers. Only Republicans think Obama walks on water. It’s common policy ideas among Democrats. I’m not sure why you guys put him on a pedestal, other than you think it might be easier to knock him off.

    But don’t blame Obama for your and the conservatives’ awe and shock. That’s not Obama’s fault.

    . . . was quite emphatic that it is not a tax. So, whatever there is that is great about Him, we now know His strong suit is not honesty, or else it is not knowledge of constitutional law…or knowing when to hold ‘em knowing when to fold ‘em.

    You assume that Justice Roberts was right, and everybody else is wrong. Now you’re putting Roberts on a pedestal — to knock him off of it, I presume. Roberts is the guy who says it’s a tax. That’s not Obama.

    It’s a nothingburger issue.

    I’ll wager, Morgan, that we could find some argument from you on your blog where you argue the ACA should have been struck down, and we shouldn’t be surprised to find you argue that the commerce clause shouldn’t be stretched that far.

    Roberts agreed with you. Why are you crabbing on Roberts on this issue, now?

    He seems, more and more, to be just another political hack who sells whatever is put in front of Him, signs off on whatever appears on His desk, and says whatever needs to be said to get things sold.

    Obama’s had some remarkable achievements — including three big court wins in the past two weeks, on Arizona’s immigration laws, on cleaning up the air and working against greenhouse gas proliferation, and on the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s had enormous success in foreign affairs. When do you guys wake up to what’s going on in the world, and support America when it does things right?

    Plus, He’s just plain wrong about the basics. According to the Supreme Court!

    According to Justice Roberts alone. You support much of the rest of what Roberts says — why are you picking and choosing all of a sudden?

    And when they’re going out of their way to uphold the things He’s put in front of them, yet…they still write in their majority opinions that He’s completely wrong!

    Hey. When do we get to the part about His ideas being good ones?? And when do we get to the part about health care costs being cut and health care resources being made more affordable?

    We got to that part in the first 60 days of his term — not that you’d admit the Lily Ledbetter Act was a good idea, and not that you’d grant Obama the success of keeping us out of another Great Depression. But consider these achievements:

    Obama has overhauled the food safety system
    Advanced women’s rights in the work place
    Ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in our military
    Stopped defending DOMA in court.
    Passed the Hate Crimes bill.
    Appointed two pro-choice women to the Supreme Court.
    Expanded access to medical care and provided subsidies for people who can’t afford it.
    Expanded the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
    Fixed the preexisting conditions travesty [and rescissions] in health insurance.
    Invested in clean energy.
    Overhauled the credit card industry, making it much more consumer-friendly.
    While Dodd-Frank bill was weak in many respects, it was still an extremely worthwhile start at re-regulating the financial sector.
    He created a Elizabeth Warren’s dream agency: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
    He’s done a lot for veterans
    He got help for people whose health was injured during the clean-up after the 9/11 attacks.

    When do you guys start playing straight up, and granting credit where credit is due? And when do you start getting out of the old, dilapidated, not working road, so Obama can build the new one? The times, they are a-changing, you know.

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  17. Morgan writes:
    You’re going to have to think BIG here, JK. It’s a complicated issue…so complicated it doesn’t fit into the little world to which you’ve become accustomed, read that as, a problem that can’t be solved by rounding up all the Republicans and vanishing them away.

    The funny thing is I don’t want the Republicans to disappear. I want them to get their head out of their arses and start being responsible, rational and centrist/center right instead of far right lunatics. if your party went back to being the party of Eisenhower I’d rejoin the party. If your party went back to being the party of Reagan at least I wouldn’t think you’re all suffering from a case of being one egg short of a dozen. Whereas your side seems to think that a problem can be solved by running around like chickens with your heads cut off and screaming “Socialism!” at the top of your lungs while giving the rich another tax cut. Sorry, I am not going to treat your party with kid gloves when they’re running headlong off the dock into right wing extermism. I’m not going to pretend that the Republican party of today is as sane and responsible and rational as it was just 30 years ago. It’s not. THe best thing that could happen to the GOP is if the Olympia Snowe types took their party back, kick out the Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann types out.

    And don’t preach to me about “it’s a complicated issue” Morgan when your and your party’s answer is to do nothing. This country has had huge problems for more then 4 years now..and all your party has done is nothing. Health care has been a huge problem in this country for at least 30 years..and your party sat on its fat arse even when it was in charge. And you have the gall to sit there and preach at me about “it’s a complicated issue” and the rest of your tripe? Sorry, Morgan, I’m not a brainddead tea-partier. If you want to find someone who is thinking its a simple issue and that we can think small…look in the mirror.

    Now do I personally think its a tax? No. Hence why I called it a fee. But you, in your little small world, blithely ignored my answer. But before you go jumping down the rabbit hole created by the USSC regarding the commerce clause..do bother to remember the mandate is your party’s idea. Oh and this little thing called “car insurance”

    Oh and don’t preach about “us versus them again” unless you’re going to hold yourself to the same standard. Considering the sneering you did when you were talking about Obama just below….you were wholehearted engaging in us versus them.

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  18. So lets get this straight….

    You get pissy with me when I criticize the Republicans…but you want to go ahead and criticize the President…..

    What was that about “us versus them” again?

    As for this: He seems, more and more, to be just another political hack who sells whatever is put in front of Him, signs off on whatever appears on His desk, and says whatever needs to be said to get things sold.

    Hm…that description describes someone else too….someone else who also tried to reform healthcare…..someone currently running for President….

    Btw, you can now answer my question. Exactly how does a Republican idea proposed first 15 years ago by Congressional Republicans and then acted on and implemented by Mitt Romney when he was Governor his state suddenly become a bad idea now?

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  19. Well it IS a BFD. Joe Biden said so, for one thing. For another thing, President Obama — there’s supposed to be something spectacular and superlative about Him that uniquely qualifies Him to be in charge of everything, although nobody ever seems to want to pin down exactly what that is, for going on four years now — was quite emphatic that it is not a tax. So, whatever there is that is great about Him, we now know His strong suit is not honesty, or else it is not knowledge of constitutional law…or knowing when to hold ‘em knowing when to fold ‘em.

    He seems, more and more, to be just another political hack who sells whatever is put in front of Him, signs off on whatever appears on His desk, and says whatever needs to be said to get things sold.

    Plus, He’s just plain wrong about the basics. According to the Supreme Court! And when they’re going out of their way to uphold the things He’s put in front of them, yet…they still write in their majority opinions that He’s completely wrong!

    Hey. When do we get to the part about His ideas being good ones?? And when do we get to the part about health care costs being cut and health care resources being made more affordable?

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  20. Ed Darrell says:

    The Supreme Court has specifically stated, in the majority opinion, that it can only pass constitutional muster as a tax…and as has been readily apparent, President Obama has been emphatic in His insistence that it isn’t one.

    So it’s a tax. BFD. You insist we should let the country go down in flames rather than have a tax. I think that’s foolish. This is not an issue for any sane person.

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  21. Gov. Pawlenty is proposing the state collect an additional 75 cents a pack on cigarettes. He’s calling the new money a “health impact fee,” and says the money would be used to pay for state health-care costs. Pawlenty insists his proposal is a fee, not a tax. The distinction is critical because a budget deal could hinge on Pawlenty’s ability to come away from negotiations saying he’s standing by his pledge to not raise taxes.

    Oh and I would suggest, Morgan, that you not go jumping down the rabbit hole that the conservatives on the USSC tried to create with their little bit on the commerce clause. You’re not going to like where you end up when you hit bottom.

    Doesn’t answer it. Fail. I’ve already pointed this out to you. Not my fault if it went flying over your head.

    You’re going to have to think BIG here, JK. It’s a complicated issue…so complicated it doesn’t fit into the little world to which you’ve become accustomed, read that as, a problem that can’t be solved by rounding up all the Republicans and vanishing them away. In fact, to the extent politicians might be blamed for creating a health care crisis in this country, and I might be convinced that that is the case, it certainly isn’t all on them.

    So is it a tax or isn’t it? You have not answered, and neither has Ed. President Obama has…and the Supreme Court says He’s wrong. Changing the subject to T-Paw isn’t going to do anything to address that embarrassment, not even a little bit.

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  22. Morgan writes:
    So the question outstanding is rather obvious. I’ve asked it, haven’t gotten an answer, JK claims to have answered it on his way to acting smarmy and Alan-Alda-stomp-my-foot-mad…and droning on about “my side your side blah blah blah”…

    I did answer it. It’s where I quoted Tim Pawlenty, Morgan. Not my fault it went flying right over your head.

    As for the smarmy bit…well sorry, it’s hard to trust you that you’re not going to go off on a “us versus them” bit and scream things like “Socialism!” at the top of your lungs when that’s all you’ve been doing for years. So…I shouldn’t be wary of, metaphorically speaking, shaking hands with you while wondering if you have a proverbial knife in your other hand hidden behind your back..why?

    Why should I trust that you’re not going to launch into an “us versus them” and engaging in your usual hyperbole, Morgan? Because I hate to burst your bubble, Morgan, you have engaged in that “us versus them” as much as I have.

    But hey I’m perfectly willing to tone it down. When you give me a reason to do so and to extend to you a little good faith.

    So give me a reason. An acknowledgement that health care in this country sucks and needs to be massively improved for the poor and middle class would do for a start. That the status quo that existed can not be tolerated.

    Now..I’m not asking you to approve of the ACA there. I am simply asking you to agree that things need to be fixed.

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  23. It doesn’t matter what I think, Ed. I have raised a legitimate question about how this law can be defended. The Supreme Court has specifically stated, in the majority opinion, that it can only pass constitutional muster as a tax…and as has been readily apparent, President Obama has been emphatic in His insistence that it isn’t one.

    So the question outstanding is rather obvious. I’ve asked it, haven’t gotten an answer, JK claims to have answered it on his way to acting smarmy and Alan-Alda-stomp-my-foot-mad…and droning on about “my side your side blah blah blah”…

    Meanwhile, if I’m making a point by imposing my own beliefs on anything, it is simply this: If you have to keep changing the characterization of the law in order to make it look like an okay idea, it almost certainly is not one.

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  24. Ed Darrell says:

    Morgan, you assume that everything done under the Constitution’s enumerated power to tax is, in fact, a tax. Is that accurate? Then the tax breaks given to homeowners is also a tax, on somebody if not the homeowner, right?

    Are all taxes bad as the Tea Baggers and libertarians claim? Even the homeowners’ tax break?

    What about the breaks given to people who make their money from capital gains?

    In the end, the question is much as James Madison framed it: If there is something that Congress should do for the better of the nation, the point is to find a way to get it done under the Constitution, not mindlessly block the good action for pedantic, arcane ideological reasons.

    At the outset of the debate on this health care plan, there were a few fair weather Americans who said we can’t afford it, or we shouldn’t do it because God’s plan (unspecified and mysteriously hidden from us) doesn’t include it.

    Now the scramble among Republicans is to find some way to replicate all the good stuff in it, to preserve it, without violating the wholly artificial and arbitrary imaginary taboo on “new taxes.”

    If real lives were not at stake, it would be riotously funny, instead of just ugly and foolish.

    America needs this health plan, or a universal health care plan with a single payer. Every day we delay America’s industry, GDP and progress suffer, not to mention the thousands who need better health care.

    It’s as if the lifesaving class just learned the principles of effective, safe water rescues, “Reach, throw, row, go.” And suddenly there is someone in trouble, about eight feet out from shore. The life ring was used for practice and is beyond reach. But there’s the oar to the rowboat that could be extended to the victim to pull her to safety.

    But the Republcans say, “Wait! That’s a boat oar. Rowing is what we do AFTER throwing some device. You can’t use that yet.” And so the woman drowns while the Republicans go search for some adequate device to throw . . .

    Who was it said the key to winning a war is to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are?” That beats “do nothing until we figure the proper form.”

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  25. First off, Morgan, I did answer your question. You still fail to answer mine.

    Oh-for-two on that one, JK.

    You have not answered whether it is a tax or not. And if there was a question buried within all your babble about “sides,” it sufficiently evident that a reasonable observer could opine that it was actually asked.

    According to the ruling yesterday, if the mandate is not a tax, the SCOTUS must have been incorrect in a key article of its logical framework making it constitutional…which would mean it isn’t.

    And if it is a tax, President Obama is a liar and the mandate may be “constitutional” — but it is a work of fraud.

    These are hard facts, they are not up for debate. The only thing that is up for discussion is: Which?

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  26. First off, Morgan, I did answer your question. You still fail to answer mine.

    Secondly as for this: Your whole argument rests on an assertion that two things, that are not the same, are in fact the same. Therefore it is entirely invalid.

    Well lets see. Is “Obamacare” and single payer the same thing? no, of course not.

    But as your side has had 3 years to come up with an actual alternative to “Obamacare” and failed and as compromise (meaning the absence of “us vs them” ) requires your side actually giving up something and as Obamacare is the middle position between what my party wants and what your party wants (which is to do nothing) then it’s not a false choice. Hell your party has actually had most of the last 20 years to do something to fix the problem and your party did absolutely nothing. You either compromise and accept Obamacare or you get what you really don’t want. Because as it stands right now if your party is ditzy enough to somehow repeal “Obamacare” then what’s the reason I and my party shouldn’t fullthroated push for single payer? if your party isn’t going to accept a law that is basically 99% Republican from 15 years ago then on what grounds should I and my party go along with your party? Hell it’s not even 99% Republican from 15 years ago..it’s basically Romneycare on a federal level. And yet there your party opposes somehting that your party is responsible for coming up with in the bloody first place.

    As for my making it simple..well that’s because your party loves simple. Your party thrives on simple. Your party hates irrationally anything that is complex.

    And don’t preach to me about “us vs them” when you and your party has engaged in nothing but “us vs them” for years. You want me to come down off the “us vs them” position? Fine then Morgan then you can do so first.

    You have never not once discussed the fact that 50 million people in this country have no health care. You’ve never not once acknowledged the fact that health care costs in this country are bankrupting people. You’ve never not once suggested an alternative. You’ve never tried to compromise once. You have never come down off your “us vs them” mentality once. You have simply sat there on your fat butt Morgan and opposed anything and everything. And your party has done no different. Considering how often you and your party scream “Socialism!” at the top of your lungs you are not in a position whatsoever to preach about “us vs them”

    So my apologies, Morgan, but I am not going to be held to a standard by you that you aren’t even holding yourself to.

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  27. It isn’t a matter of “simple,” James K. Your whole argument rests on an assertion that two things, that are not the same, are in fact the same. Therefore it is entirely invalid.

    And, as usual, you are so thoroughly entrenched in “us versus them” thinking that all your ideas are functionally useless.

    Now then, is it a tax?

    I remind both of you that that IS the original subject of this whole post…how about answering the question?

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  28. By the by, i wouldn’t call it a tax. I’d call it a “health impact fee” ala Republican Tim Pawlenty here: http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2005/05/20_mccalluml_cigfee/

    Gov. Pawlenty is proposing the state collect an additional 75 cents a pack on cigarettes. He’s calling the new money a “health impact fee,” and says the money would be used to pay for state health-care costs. Pawlenty insists his proposal is a fee, not a tax. The distinction is critical because a budget deal could hinge on Pawlenty’s ability to come away from negotiations saying he’s standing by his pledge to not raise taxes.

    Oh and I would suggest, Morgan, that you not go jumping down the rabbit hole that the conservatives on the USSC tried to create with their little bit on the commerce clause. You’re not going to like where you end up when you hit bottom.

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  29. Morgan writes:
    Good ideas, as a general rule, don’t go through these gyrations

    And yet your party in my state is going through those same exact “gyrations” when it comes to their desired Voter ID and Same Sex Marriage state constitutional amendments.

    But here I’ll make it simple for you. Since my side won’t accept the status quo that has existed for decades in this country when it comes to health care I give you a choice….

    ..you can accept “Obamacare” or you can accept a single payer system. Because I guarantee you that if your party wins and then repeals Obamacare the result will be my party will go right back to pushing for single payer. If your side isn’t willing to do anything or compromise then to hell with giving your side anything it wants on this subject. And that’s ignoring the fact that a lot of the…mandates, for lack of a better word, in Obamacare are actually popular. Like the one that bans insurance companies from kicking people off insurance when they get sick.

    As for this piece of bluster: Good ideas, as a general rule, don’t go through these gyrations. If something really is a good idea, we define the merits according to what they really are, ONE time…then we discuss those merits, and we find they hold water.

    If your party was interested in having a rational discussion and willing to rationally define the merits as to what they really are then you’d have a point. At any time they could have come down off their filibuster mountain and actually engaged in the process instead of trying to block it because they didn’t like the “Scary Black Man in the White House”

    But as it stands your party is no more interested in having a rational discussion and willing to rationally define the merits then I am in putting a gun to my head and blowing my brains out.

    Your party is far more interested in running around like chickens with your heads cut off screaming “Socialism! Communism! Tyranny! Fascism! Naziism!” and other such bulldrek.

    Though I have yet to figure out how your party thinks an proposal or someone can be both Socialist, Communist, Fascist and Naziism all at the same time.

    As for your question, Morgan, since I asked mine first why don’t you try that. Exactly how does your party oppose now a proposal that your party is the one that came up with 15 years ago? What? Orrin Hatch and Bob Dole were trying to destroy the US Constitution and they’re socialists?

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  30. So is it a tax, gentlemen?

    This supposedly “moral thing to do” has to keep shifting from one foot, to the other, and back again — just to keep up the appearance. Aw heck, it has to do that just to be constitutional. I remember in these parts, it was argued the new law would save a ton of money…and anybody who said otherwise must not know what he’s talking about because it was the CBO saying so. Then the CBO changed the position on that, too…so I guess the point is…we don’t know what the law will do, Nancy Pelosi said “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it,” President Obama said it’s not a tax, not a tax, not a tax, you can’t go reading out of the dictionary, George. It’s a mandate and not a tax. Today, the SCOTUS says the mandate would be unconstitutional, but the tax is not, so now it’s a tax again.

    Good ideas, as a general rule, don’t go through these gyrations. If something really is a good idea, we define the merits according to what they really are, ONE time…then we discuss those merits, and we find they hold water. That is a pretty far cry from what’s taken place here.

    Is it a tax?

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  31. Morgan writes:
    Perhaps the problem is, those oh so loathed Republicans haven’t been offered a decent argument that would compel them to support it…because, now, no such argument can be offered.

    How about this for an argument, Morgan: It’s your own party’s bloody idea. It’s the idea your party came up with 15 years ago. And I’m willing to bet that neither you nor your fellow Republicans opposed it then.

    Or how about this: 50% of the country’s bankruptcies are due to health care costs which means a lot of economic productivy is being squelched.

    Or tens of thousands of people die every year because of lack of adequate health care and the supposed “Pro-life party” maybe just maybe should show some damn concern about life after it’s born for once.

    Or it’s the moral thing to do and we both know that politics and morality usually don’t coexist.

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  32. Ed Darrell says:

    The key problem, I think, is that Republicans recognize the bill as the right thing to do — but they just can’t let the Scary Black Man have a victory (nor any other Democrat). Opposition to the bill isn’t based on solid philosophy or principle, but rather on blind opposition to anything the other guys do.

    So the trick is, how to deprive the other guys of a victory on a bill that, deep down, they agree with. Demonizing the other guys is the answer.

    This is, in many ways, a great American tragedy.

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  33. Perhaps the problem is, those oh so loathed Republicans haven’t been offered a decent argument that would compel them to support it…because, now, no such argument can be offered. Is it a tax? Is it not a tax? We have the President telling us emphatically one thing, and SCOTUS explaining the precise opposite thing — in order to make it constitutional.

    And this particular policy change has been teetering on the very precipice of allowability at each step of the process, interestingly enough. Nor is it only the Republicans who dislike it. It’s become a rather easy thing for people of all ideological stripes to dislike.

    Like

  34. Ed Darrell says:

    In this case, anything that has a whiff of support from President Obama gets knee-jerk opposition from Republicans, regardless the merits of the issue, as former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming noted recently on Charlie Rose’s show. Maybe “knee-jerk” is one word too long — just call it “jerk.”

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  35. If it’s the right thing to do, does it matter what we call it?

    What a perfect description of the disagreement. One side says a personal moralistic view trumps truth itself. And, interestingly, your story about Lincoln suggests he was on the other side, the side that things are the way they are…the side of one of my own commenters, when he briliantly summed it up as something like “A water molecule is two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, that is what it is, and it doesn’t matter how oppressed the single oxygen atom feels about it or what grievances it might wish to file with its local union.”

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