Federalism in the Weeds

Federal law (the Controlled Substances Act) prohibits the possession, use, sale etc. of marijuana. What to do about state laws, such as Colorado’s, that not only permit but affirmatively license (and regulate) this commerce? For an instructive discussion of the legal problems, see this debate, co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case Western Law School (headed by the excellent Jonathan Adler, who organized and moderated the event). Most conservatives, myself included, find this difficult. On one hand, why shouldn’t states be allowed to have their own laws on marijuana, just as they do…

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Healthcare.gov is Working Fine!

Halbig v. Sebelius is pending on cross-motions for summary judgment; a hearing on the motions in scheduled for next week. Halbig is one of four cases challenging federal rules that would make Obamacare subsidies (and hence certain employer mandates) applicable under federal as well as state exchanges, in the teeth of the statutory text. I’ve written about it here and there.

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Bail Out the Cities

The Manhattan Institute’s Stephen D. Eide has a fine Report on the extent to which state and local obligations for public employee pensions and so-called “OPEB” payments (overwhelmingly, health care) are “crowding out” public salaries and employment. The picture is bracing. Public salaries have barely budged over the past decade or more, and state and local governments have by and large failed to re-hire the hundreds of thousands of employees they shed after the 2008-2009 crisis. To a large extent, escalating pension and OPEB costs cut into the services that municipalities and especially large cities can afford to provide. The picture…

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Obamacare: The Impending Collapse

Obamacare is on the ropes. As everyone is beginning to understand, the malfunctioning website is the least of it. There’s the millions of canceled individual policies, skyrocketing Medicaid enrollments … and much more trouble ahead. As previously reported, four pending lawsuits challenge an IRS rule that would extend the ACA’s coverage mandates and subsidies into states that have declined to establish a state exchange and are now operating under healthcare.gov. Sean Trende has a tremendous piece on the four cases here. Two of the cases were brought by states (Oklahoma and Indiana). The other two were cobbled together by the Competitive Enterprise…

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Killing Dependency

So the House has voted to curb the food stamp program. It has decided to send a “no funding for Obamacare” budget bill to the Senate, and Senator Ted Cruz has vowed to use every available maneuver to protect that bill. Everyone in this town knows that these are moves without an endgame and without a purpose except to placate the let’s-pretend-populism-and-then-we-fundraise crowd. I warmly embrace two shrewd observers who (like me) despair of the insanity but (unlike me) have thought of a better way. I end, as usual, on a despondent note.

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Halbig, et.al. v. Sebelius, et al.: Brief Update

The above-captioned case is the lawsuit challenging an IRS rule to the effect that Obamacare’s mandates and subsidies apply in states that have declined to establish a “health care exchange.” An earlier post on the case, with links to the complaint and other good stuff, is here. While the defendants’ response isn’t due until early July, plaintiffs have already filed a motion for summary judgment, which is here. Whence the urgency? Why, the exchanges are supposed to go online by the end of the year, and the plaintiffs—individuals and firms in non-cooperating states—will want to plan their conduct depending on…

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Government as a Reptile Fund

Last Saturday’s Washington Post carried a front-page article on the IRS’s enforcement choices (“IRS targeted tea party groups for tax scrutiny”). We’ll hear more about that matter. Right underneath the IRS piece, still above the fold, the Post had this: “HHS asking firms for money for Obamacare.” Secretary Sebelius, we learn, has called health industry executives and other “stakeholders” for money to promote Obamacare and to enhance enrollment.

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Obamacare Litigation 2.0

Last week, business owners and individuals from several states sued the IRS and HHS over the agencies’ interpretation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The case was engineered by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI’s press release appears here; it contains a link to the Complaint, filed in the federal district court for the D.C. Circuit. This is huge: all of Obamacare hangs on the outcome.

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Happy Birthday, Obamacare!

You know it doesn't make much senseThere ought to be a law againstAnyone who takes offense At a day in your celebration. Awright: the lyrics get smarmy as Stevie Wonder’s song continues. But it’s a sensational arrangement that brings back fond memories of many a happy disco night. (More in that vein? Here, from German TV at the time. Mature immature audiences only.) So far as quoted, moreover, the lyrics fit the occasion: if ever we are to celebrate March 23 (Obamacare Day), they’ll have to make us. Call it the Individual Celebration Mandate. On the occasion of this birthday (Obamacare’s third),…

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Federalism for Preschoolers

As predicted here, another Republican governor has folded his states’ rights tent and consented to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in his state. That would be the intrepid Rick Scott of Florida—as it happens, the lead state in the litigation over the ACA. Today’s snarling Wall Street Journal editorial appears here; nro coverage here. One more time: the GOP governors’ Medicaid position, as stated in the Obamacare litigation and embraced by the Supreme Court, has done zero, zilch to fix Medicaid’s insane fiscal incentives. The principal result was a marginal improvement in the states’ bargaining position vis-à-vis the feds. (Law professor Sam Bagenstos has a very fine piece…

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