Contraception Politics Redux (This Time Fortified with Numbers)

Some polling numbers to go along with the speculation.

Yesterday I opined that the likely political advantage over public discussion of contraceptives was likely to be in Obama’s favor.  One poll (by CBS) would indicate that the politics lean in Obama’s favor, while another (Gallup) would indicate that Catholics really haven’t changed their opinion of the President (making the issue a wash in some ways).  A third poll, which does seem to be the most comprehensive (this one by Pew) indicates a split over the policies that goes slightly against the president (if not being a wash as well).

First, according to a CBS poll, a large majority of the population agrees with the proposition that religious employers should be required to cover contraception:

Also, the very public conflict with Catholic Bishops appears not to have changed the basic views that America Catholics have of the president.  Via Gallup:

 

Approval Ratings of President Obama, Catholics and Non-Catholics

A Pew poll has support for the policies amongst those who claim to have “heard about the issue” at a plurality 44% (with :

One question for the Pew poll is what kind of “exemption” do the respondents think is in play?  This becomes a legitimate question because there is an exemption in all policies for clergy and church-specific employment.  Do respondents mean that kind of exemption or a broader exemption that would include employees at Catholic hospitals and the like?  This depends on how respondents interpret  the phrase “religiously affiliated institutions.”

And, of course, as is always the case with polls about complex public p0licy issues, how much information do people who have “heard of” a policy have and, further, how much have they thought about it?

3d forbidden sign on white with spermatozoon: contraception concept image via Shutterstock.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Health, Religion, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    First, according to a CBS poll, a large majority of the population agrees with the proposition that religious employers should be required to cover contraception:

    Imagine that, a majority of Americans think an employer should not be able to force it’s religious views on it’s employees. Whod’a thunk it.

    Not Mitch.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Now if Obama tried to force the church to cover the pill for Nuns or condoms for Priests…

    Wait a minute, that might not be such a bad idea after all.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I think that the issue was initially a wash. The Republicans are in the process of turning it into a plus as they turn it from a Religious freedom issue to a contraception issue. Why are they doing this? I think it may be the result of Republican lawmakers being trapped in the FOX bubble. If you listened to FOX during all of this you would think this was a political disaster for Obama in spite of the fact that polling indicated just the opposite. There was a time that FOX got it’s talking points from the Republican party but now the party gets it’s talking points from FOX. The Republican Party is now fully enclosed in the FOX bubble.

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    Which is why this is going to fizzle as an issue although Obama and the Democrats will from time to time remind voters that Republicans are opposed to giving women access to contraception. Yep I know this a bit of an over simplification but those who live by the oversimplification die by it. I already detect the Republican outrage counter over this issue is starting to fall.

  5. Of course that leads to the question of whether the fact that something is politically popular is enough reason to say that the Federal Government, or government at any level for that matter, should have the right to do it

  6. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The ‘right to do it’ isn’t really in question – the ACA clearly grants the HHS the right to set standards and guidelines for minimum insurance coverage.

    Now, I understand that some take the Rivkin-Whelan line, that this violates the 1st amendment and the RRFA; but, I think there’s quite a bit of assertion in their argument, which boils down to them stating that ‘there is no access to contraception problem in America,’ despite the fact that it is a problem for many women.

    This is all just a side-show, however; the GOP is doomed to lose this argument for one reason and one reason only: the Pill is often prescribed in order to help women who have difficult or irregular menstrual cycles. You can’t bar a drug from your insurance plan that has such a widespread dual-use in a non-contraception role.

    One would think that the Catholic Church and right-wing would have thought about this obvious hole in their argument before jumping in the deep end. But, that wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Unless you are going to have a Libertarian Tyrant your objection is mote. When people elect lawmakers who will give them the popular things they want they give the government the “right” to do it.

  8. @Ron Beasley:

    Except we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a Constitutionally limited representative republic. The fact that the people want the government to do something is irrelevant if the Constitution doesn’t grant the government the power to do it.

    Beyond the Constitution, there is the broader question of whether actions such as this are a proper exercise of state authority even if they are permitted by the Constitution, or to be more precise the absolute mess that the Supreme Court has made of the limitations on Congressional power set forth in the Constitution.

  9. @Cycloptichorn:

    Your argument depends on whether, in the end, the PPACA’s employer mandate is a proper and Constitutionally permitted exercise of the power of Congress. I do not believe that it is.

  10. Barb Hartwell says:

    This only became an issue because of Republicans. I have had Catholic coverage in the past and I was covered for birth control and that was over 20 years ago. This is just another thing insurance companies do not want to pay for. I`ll bet many priest if asked would say it is the lesser of the evils. I`m sure they have seen their share of children born into poverty and heard women confess how awful they feel after having an abortion. We pay for men to have an erection let`s pay for women to enjoy it without worrying they will have another baby they cannot afford.

  11. mantis says:

    Of course that leads to the question of whether the fact that something is politically popular is enough reason to say that the Federal Government, or government at any level for that matter, should have the right to do it

    Some of us already believe the government has the power to do this, and are not saying the government has the power because it’s popular. The government should do it in part because it is popular, but that’s not why it can.

  12. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Are you referring to the entire mandate to purchase insurance, or just the specific requirements to cover contraception?

    I mean, I agree that it boils down to whether or not the ACA and mandate are Constitutional. But, let’s be honest with ourselves: it almost certainly will be found to be so by the SC. You know this in your heart, because they have:

    a) a long history of expanding the Commerce Clause, and

    b) health-care is a compelling concern for the Federal government (due to cost), not to mention

    c) the whole ‘regulating inactivity’ thing is a fake argument and a loser in front of a body of judges.

    I do happen to believe that the mandate is proper and Constitutional – and even more so, a good idea. Of course, it’s just a stepping-stone to Single Payer HC, my preferred model; but far better than the old scheme, which was really like the Wild West and there was zero price controls whatsoever.

    Back to the original topic tho: can you address specifically the fact that the Pill is used for functions other than contraception? And still maintain the argument that it should be allowed to be barred from religious affiliate’s HC plans?

  13. @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course that leads to the question of whether the fact that something is politically popular is enough reason to say that the Federal Government, or government at any level for that matter, should have the right to do it

    A legitimate question. I, however am, at the moment anyway, focusing solely on the immediate political implications.

  14. @Cycloptichorn:

    I am referring at the moment to that portion of the PPACA that requires all employers over a certain size to provide health insurance, something that the law has never required before.

    As for the rest of your argument, the fact that the Supreme Court began perverting the meaning of the Commerce Clause starting in the 1940s with Wickard v. Filburn doesn’t make what Congress is doing now proper even if SCOTUS decides its Constitutional under existing (flawed) precedent.

  15. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Ah, but relying on constitutional arguments always has the danger of being subject to court rulings. If after court review, the rule passes constitutional muster, what then?

    My guess? It will be Wickard-Fillburn all over again. In other words, Libertarians will continue to make “unconstitutional” arguments after the constitutionality of the issue has already been settled.

  16. @Doug Mataconis:

    Except we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a Constitutionally limited representative republic. The fact that the people want the government to do something is irrelevant if the Constitution doesn’t grant the government the power to do it.

    Well, yes and no. I, on balance, find that to be an empty formulation if anything because all stats that we call “democracies” are, likewise, limited by their given constitutional order (as I have written about before).

    The issue becomes, in the US context. a contested issue of what those limits actually are.

  17. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, that’s an interesting opinion, but not really relevant to the real world. Whether you believe the SC has been wrong for 70+ years on the Commerce Clause isn’t material to the question at hand.

    I think that you probably agree with me that the dual-use of the Pill is a shank in the back to the argument that these drugs should be allowed to be banned by certain religiously-affiliated groups. Right? Tough to admit out loud, though.

    I don’t have a problem with the ACA requiring employers to offer health insurance, at all. It’s the way our society is set up; unless we are going to get rid of employer-sponsored HC (and the only way that is possible is to move to a Single Payer/Medicare for All system), employers have to do their part to maintain our societal stability.

  18. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I am referring at the moment to that portion of the PPACA that requires all employers over a certain size to provide health insurance, something that the law has never required before.

    Do you think the minimum wage is unconstitutional as well?

  19. @mantis:

    I think it’s improper and unwise, as does nearly every economist

  20. @Cycloptichorn:

    I happen to think contraceptives are a good thing. I just don’t support the idea that the government has the right to force other people to pay for them just because of that fact, or because it polls well

  21. sam says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As for the rest of your argument, the fact that the Supreme Court began perverting the meaning of the Commerce Clause starting in the 1940s with Wickard v. Filburn

    Says you.

  22. @sam:

    If I didn’t have opinions, why would I bother blogging?

  23. anjin-san says:

    We pay for men to have an erection let`s pay for women to enjoy it

    My sense is that in the conceptual universe of the far right, a woman is supposed to take it, not enjoy it. Not that I think many of those folks are getting laid all that often.

  24. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think it’s improper and unwise,

    That wasn’t the question.

    as does nearly every economist

    Citation needed.

  25. Brummagem Joe says:

    Of course that leads to the question of whether the fact that something is politically popular is enough reason to say that the Federal Government, or government at any level for that matter, should have the right to do it

    Well since laws and constitutions are man made artifacts I don’t see why not.

    I happen to think contraceptives are a good thing. I just don’t support the idea that the government has the right to force other people to pay for them just because of that fact, or because it polls well

    Doug heads off into another of his bouts of sophistry. Government is forcing people to pay for benefits that others enjoy all the time.

  26. sam says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    @sam:

    If I didn’t have opinions, why would I bother blogging?

    Well, I saw your opinion, and raised you mine 🙂

  27. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “As for the rest of your argument, the fact that the Supreme Court began perverting the meaning of the Commerce Clause starting in the 1940s with Wickard v. Filburn doesn’t make what Congress is doing now proper even if SCOTUS decides its Constitutional under existing (flawed) precedent. ”

    So the heart of your libertarian argument is that every Supreme Court of the last seventy years didn’t understand the Constitution as well as you? I’ve got to wonder what it is that gives you such an astonishing level of insight.

  28. anjin-san says:

    If I didn’t have opinions, why would I bother blogging?

    Because both sides do it and drum circles must be stopped?

  29. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I just don’t support the idea that the government has the right to force other people to pay for them

    They pay for themselves. Contraception is cheaper than pregnancy and child health care.

    However, as indicated by the empirical evidence described above, these direct estimated costs overstate the total premium cost of providing contraceptive coverage. When medical costs associated with unintended pregnancies are taken into account, including costs of prenatal care, pregnancy complications, and deliveries, the net effect on premiums is close to zero.[10],[11] One study author concluded, “The message is simple: regardless of payment mechanism or contraceptive method, contraception saves money.”[12]

    When indirect costs such as time away from work and productivity loss are considered, they further reduce the total cost to an employer. Global Health Outcomes developed a model that incorporates costs of contraception, costs of unintended pregnancy, and indirect costs. They find that it saves employers $97 per year per employee to offer a comprehensive contraceptive benefit.[13] Similarly, the PwC actuaries state that after all effects are taken into account, providing contraceptive services is “cost-saving.”[14]

  30. Gulliver says:

    The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment is not subject to polls or opinions. Sorry

  31. Nightrider says:

    Doug, if you are going to rely on the Constitution, you have to include the part of the Constitution that says the Supreme Court has the final say on constitutionality. Otherwise we’d have anarchy. Under the very Constitution on which you rely, then, the Congress does have this power under the Commerce Clause, period.

    The government already requires employers to follow wage and overtime laws, occupational safety standards, and all kinds of other stuff. Health care is one of the biggest parts of the economy and affects our biggest federal programs. I’m plenty open to arguments that the federal government shouldn’t do this, but skeptical of any that says they can’t.

  32. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Nightrider:

    The sheer sterility of so much conservative argument about these issues boggles my rather pragmatic mind. There was a piece in the Journal by their standard legal comedy act of Rivkin and ? which is mind boggling in its denial of how things actually work in the real world. Much the same denial is present in Doug’s comments in this area. He basically wants to pretend the last 70 years hasn’t happened, these are not people who serious about governing.

  33. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Only if you limit your definition of “economist” to those associated with the AEI, Cato, and Heritage. Oh, and Megan McArdle.

  34. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    as does nearly every economist

    That’s putting quite a few words in quite a few people’s mouths.

  35. sam says:

    @Gulliver:

    The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment is not subject to polls or opinions. Sorry

    That’ll be news to the Mormons.

  36. Brummagem Joe says:

    What’s most bizarre about this whole issue given the claims of people like Doug that they are for limited govt is that this basically represents a massive intrusion by govt into an intensely private aspect of women’s lives. It’s like these laws they’ve passed in Texas and are trying to pass in other places like VA that require women to have some sonic instrument shoved into their vaginas before they can exercise their perfectly legal right to obtain an abortion. It’s grotesque. Philosophically this is completely at odds with small govt philosophy. Electorally it’s suicidal but as of right now Republicans are trying to tack this contraception amendment onto a highway bill for godsake thus generating the most creative headline I’ve seen today….When the rubber hits the road. Perhaps Dems should take the day off and let them pass this nonsense and then Obama vetoes it amidst a huge uprising by women.

  37. Joe,

    I believe that women should be able to buy whatever form of contraception they want, whenever they want. Being an advocate of limited government, I reject the idea that government should force other people to pay for it, though.

  38. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Being an advocate of limited government, I reject the idea that government should force other people to pay for it, though.

    As I pointed out government requires lots of people to pay for lots of things that other people derive the benefit from. The list is without end. As a practical matter (that’s a term I’ve heard a thousand times from lawyers) why should contraceptives for women be made an exception to satisfy a religious denomination and a bunch of fat old male Republicans. It’s illogical at the philosophical level because it does represent a govt intrusion into women’s sexual/health matters and it’s insane at the political level.

  39. Joe,

    Since you obviously don’t believe in limited government, I don’t expect you to get it. Suffice it to say, I don’t expect anyone to pay for the things I need and, absent abject poverty, I don’t think anyone has the right to expect me to pay for them. The fact that government makes me do it under penalty of law is really beside the point.

  40. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The problem with this conversation is that your vision of ‘limited government’ doesn’t resemble the real world we live in in the slightest. There are tremendous numbers of examples of things we as citizens are currently required to pay for that don’t benefit us directly.

    That’s how our modern society works.

    Claiming that SC decisions from 70 years ago were incorrect, and every single thing about the way the US works should be different than the way it currently is, doesn’t advance the conversation we are currently having one iota. It just makes it look as if you are so fundamentally against the current order of things that your comments on specific issues don’t satisfy the questions at all.

    On a related question, I’d like to ask you – or anyone else who is against the HHS mandate – to specifically address the fact that the Pill is a dual-use drug and is prescribed for medical reasons other than contraception. In light of this fact, how do you justify your insistence that employers should be able to deny it’s coverage on their health-care plans?

    This is a really important question and it’s central to the debate, so I’d love to see someone take a swing at it.

  41. Cycloptichorn,

    What’s the point of advancing the conversation when the single-payer advocates will just tell me I want to let people die if I disagree with them?

  42. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    a) Taxpayer dollars paying for contraceptives isn’t the issue here. It’s mandating that insurers cover contraceptives as part of their minimum coverage. Are you against government interference in the insurance market? Or do you believe the invisible hand will sort out the sick and the poor and the healthy and the rich in an human welfare maximizing way?

    b) If you’re against paying for other people’s contraceptives, than you’re going to have to be against paying for other people’s unintended/unwanted children as well. What should society do with infants who can’t care for themselves; born to parents who either aren’t capable or aren’t willing to care for them?

  43. Gulliver says:

    @ sam
    “That’ll be news to the Mormons.”

    Full disclosure – this is from Wikipedia

    The LDS Church believed that their religiously-based practice of plural marriage was protected by the United States Constitution, however, the unanimous 1878 Supreme Court decision Reynolds v. United States declared that polygamy was not protected by the Constitution, based on the longstanding legal principle that “laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.”

    So, sam, please key in on the above quote in the ruling by the SC about “government of actions. Again, good luck in thinking that this can be changed to governing of inaction. Your example is not about coercing a church to do something they find objectionable, it is about stopping an action the state found objectionable to the degree that the action was prohibited.

    You’re making a claim that these are equal and comparable issues; that inaction is an excuse for desires of the state to take supremacy over a religion’s beliefs, and you base this on an example that is just the opposite.

    That doesn’t work.

  44. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well, if you’re going to let the market “solve” the problem of the uninsured, people are going to die when they’re run over on the road, or get stricken with cancer, but can’t afford medical treatment. You can’t avoid that.

  45. @James:

    My point is that I don’t believe the government ought to be mandating what benefits should be covered in any insurance policy. That is a private contract to be negotiated between private parties. If employers want to cover contraceptives, they should be free to do so. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be forced to regardless of whether their reason is religious, philosophical, or financial.

  46. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This is the THIRD time that you’ve ignored my very simple and straightforward question, re: dual use of the Pill! Why?? A complete failure to respond to a point which is absolutely pernicious to your argument will lose you the debate in the minds of judges every single time. I’m forced to conclude that you are well aware that this extremely simple point will be the death of your position, and simply don’t want to admit that out loud.

    Also, your response is a Straw Man. But you probably knew that when you wrote it.

  47. @Cycloptichorn:

    I justify it because people should be free to set the terms of their contracts and the government should not force any employer to provide insurance benefits, never mind dictate what those benefits should be. It’s a pretty simple point, really.

  48. mantis says:

    What’s the point of advancing the conversation when the single-payer advocates will just tell me I want to let people die if I disagree with them?

    We don’t think you want them to die, we think you want them to have the freedom to die. Vague, 19th century notions of freedom interpreted through a distorted 20th century libertarian lens are much more important than breathing, anyway.

  49. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That is a private contract to be negotiated between private parties.

    Individual insurance polices are private contracts. The minimum standards of what an insurance policy can provide is very much a public issue; public funds are at risk we medical care is inadequate,predatory or inequitable between genders.

    You can’t get around that fact that you just don’t understand how healthcare economics works. It’s not a free market when demand is inelastic.

  50. James,

    I understand more than you think. I just reject the philosophical premise you start with that the government needs to be involved in this at all

  51. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    people should be free to set the terms of their contracts

    How about women should be just as free as men in the ability to choose the timing, spacing and number of child births?

  52. PD Shaw says:

    Particularly if the plan is to provide free contraception without prepays and their other incidents of prescription drug plans, this should be good politically for Obama. Free lunches are always popular and most people believe in free lunches.

    It may be more complicate in certain states where the demographics are less clear. This is a nice list of the state-by-state laws on contraception mandates. Twenty-two states do not mandate contraception coverage; twenty-eight do mandate contraception coverage, but of those twenty have exemptions of varying degrees. I was surprised to learn that Illinois has one of the broadest exemptions, it exempts employers not affiliated with a religious organization if the employer has a religious or moral objection to contraception coverage. That points to me to the political influence of “white ethnics” in the state.

    In any event, what are some of the states without a state contracption mandate?

    Florida
    Ohio
    Pennsylvania

  53. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Since you obviously don’t believe in limited government, I don’t expect you to get it.

    What I believe about limited govt is irrelevant to the philosophical point which you’re not addressing that many of us are required by govt to pay for things we don’t use. What’s different conceptually about contraceptives. You’ve yet to tell me.

  54. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I just reject the philosophical premise

    There’s no philosophical premise. Just the issue that public funds are at risk when public health is at risk. Children aren’t pets. They’re not just the responsibility of their owners.

  55. Joe,

    Whether contraception is different or not isn’t relevant. This is yet another effort to expand the power of the state, and I oppose it.

  56. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Look, if you keep looking at things as the “expanded power of the state” versus an “expanded power of the market” you’re not using a very good conceptual framework. The market works on the condition of government enforcing contracts and establishing floors and ceilings for basic standards of living. There’s no “free market” without the pre-condition of government fulfilling these basic functions.

  57. Gulliver says:

    @ James

    The minimum standards of what an insurance policy can provide is very much a public issue; public funds are at risk we medical care is inadequate,predatory or inequitable between genders.

    This is not even a vlid argument. If that were the case then the state would have a right to “approve” of thousands of types of private contracts that put public funds “at risk.” Keep i mind, we’re not talking about the quality of a service or product – the state has permitting and study requirements many that involve the public. This is an entirely different issue in that the state is interfering with private rights in what service the provider will supply, and how much they can charge for it.

    I know that libs are perfectly comfortable that Obama violated the law in the GM bailout and how he gave Unions preference over the bondholders, but his illegal action WILL stop this time because of his overreach against the First Amendment

  58. PD Shaw says:

    @James: “You can’t get around that fact that you just don’t understand how healthcare economics works. It’s not a free market when demand is inelastic.”

    And you don’t understand how healthcare insurance works. If you are claiming that birthcontrol is a planned, monthly expense for women in the childbearing years, your describing a non-insurable risk. Its not a random occurrence, like a disease or accident.

  59. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I understand more than you think. I just reject the philosophical premise you start with that the government needs to be involved in this at all

    Govt shouldn’t be involved in the insurance market? The trouble Doug as a practical matter is that your theoretical construct bears no relation whatever to the actual functioning of the US healthcare market or indeed US employment contracts generally. In a broader sense you’re entire perspective is baloney. We don’t have limited govt (federal and state budgets total over 5 trillion), we’re never going to have limited govt as you imagine it, so how about rejoining the real world.

  60. James says:

    @Gulliver: This is a silly comment by an equally silly person. I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to say when you write:

    If that were the case then the state would have a right to “approve” of thousands of types of private contracts that put public funds “at risk.”

    Well, first, the state does that all time in all kinds of markets for various reasons. I’d suggest you go back your undergrad econ professor and ask for a crash course in externalized costs. I can think of a number of instances where markets don’t maximize overall welfare, so we intervene to prevent monopolies, asymmetry, inelasticites, etc etc

  61. Joe,

    I am well aware of what reality is, that doesn’t mean I have to do anything other than reluctantly accept it, criticize it when I can, and try to change it.

  62. James says:

    @PD Shaw:

    If you are claiming that birthcontrol is a planned, monthly expense for women in the childbearing years, your describing a non-insurable risk. Its not a random occurrence, like a disease or accident.

    Um, no. I’m claiming that overall demand for healthcare products and services is price inelastic. I’m not making any claim about the expected value of pregnancy occurrences for “women in the childbearing years”

  63. Gulliver says:

    @ James

    This is a silly comment by an equally silly person. I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to say when you write:

    Please enlighten me. Name one industry where the state has mandated a private company to offer a service for free. No cost to the consumer.

  64. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Perhaps if the health insurance market doesn’t match up with your a priori assumption about how the health insurance market should be, you should spend more time learning about it rather than complaining about it

  65. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gulliver:

    I know that libs are perfectly comfortable that Obama violated the law in the GM bailout and how he gave Unions preference over the bondholders,

    Actually you might want to get your facts straight a majority of the bondholders voted for the expedited C11 proceeding at GM.

    This is not even a vlid argument. If that were the case then the state would have a right to “approve” of thousands of types of private contracts that put public funds “at risk.”

    And the state DOES approve via regulatory law thousands of private contracts that put public funds at risk.

  66. James says:

    @Gulliver: Uh, education for one. How about police protection? Perhaps your local fire department bills you before they rush into your house to keep it from burning down.

    Oh, and then there’s the FDA, making sure there isn’t shit in your ground beef. Do you get invoiced for that?

  67. Gulliver says:

    @ Brummagen

    Actually you might want to get your facts straight a majority of the bondholders voted for the expedited C11 proceeding at GM.

    But they did not vote to subvert their legal claims for repayment to give the unions preference. They were “informed” by the Whitehouse that this is how is was going to happen. Period. Illegally.

  68. Cycloptichorn says:

    @PD Shaw:

    And you don’t understand how healthcare insurance works. If you are claiming that birthcontrol is a planned, monthly expense for women in the childbearing years, your describing a non-insurable risk. Its not a random occurrence, like a disease or accident.

    That’s odd; my wife and I have health insurance, and it DOES cover our birth control. How is that possible, if it’s a non-insurable risk?

    What you guys don’t seem to understand is that contraception coverage is an instance of the insurer insuring THEMSELVES from the rather expensive bills associated with pregnancy. That’s why they don’t mind paying for this drug coverage.

  69. Gulliver says:

    @ James

    Uh, education for one. How about police protection? Perhaps your local fire department bills you before they rush into your house to keep it from burning down.

    Education,Police protection, and the FDA are free? Sorry, you’re hopeless. Good day.

  70. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Gulliver:

    They were “informed” by the Whitehouse that this is how is was going to happen. Period. Illegally.

    This is incorrect. If it wasn’t, tell us – what law was violated?

  71. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I am well aware of what reality is, that doesn’t mean I have to do anything other than reluctantly accept it, criticize it when I can, and try to change it.

    Well you’re not going to change it and I suspect you wouldn’t like the outcome if you did. Hence my comment above that these are totally sterile controversies. The train left the station long ago.
    The more the right want to wrap themselves up in this sort of nonsense the more they are going to condemn themselves to irrelevance.

  72. James says:

    @Gulliver: Nice slight of hand. Your challenge:

    Name one industry where the state has mandated a private company to offer a service for free. No cost to the consumer.

    I never stated they were free. They’re paid by public funds. But your question was about “cost to the consumer”. So, I repeat: does the FDA send you an invoice for preventing shit being in your ground beef?

  73. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gulliver:

    But they did not vote to subvert their legal claims for repayment to give the unions preference. They were “informed” by the Whitehouse that this is how is was going to happen. Period. Illegally.

    You’re just demonstrating you have no idea of how the process works. The WH can’t say this is going to happen.Period. There’s something called due process that requires a majority of bondholder to approve an expedited C 11 bankruptcy proceeding the terms of which are spelt out. Something like 70% of them have to say ok. They did so. Then the settlement has to be approved by a judge in a court before it can proceed. Please lgo back to that undergrad teacher someone mentioned and learn something about the process.

  74. Ron Beasley says:

    I believe the subject of Dr. Taylor’s post was the politics of this. I have seen very little of that in the comments – just the same ideological battles that are fought on a daily basis here.
    How do you see the politics of this shaking out?

  75. Hey Norm says:

    Limited Government is a meaningless phrase. Limited to what?
    Efficient, highly effective Government? OK.
    But supplying health care is one of the most effective, efficient things Government can do.
    I don’t have to re-hash the number of developed nations that deliver better health care results for less money than our faux-free-market system does. Health Care does not belong in the free-market. It may not be gauranteed by the Constitution…so what. Neither is the Interstate System. Or Air Traffic Control. Or the Coast Guard.
    Just having the discussion about whether to supply free contraception or not shows how a$$-backwards our Health Care system is, and how f’ed up our political system has become.

  76. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    C’mon Ron I’ve repeatedly addressed the political dimension of all this.

  77. PD Shaw says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    Insurable risk is a term. Here is one definition:

    Eventuality for loss or damage that is (1) definable, (2) fortuitous, (3) similar to a large number of known exposures, and (4) pays a premium that is commensurate with the potential loss.

    Whether or not someone needs birth control right now is not “fortuituous” its not an accident or sudden illness. Its a planned expense.

    Contraception is covered by insurance policies because states passed laws requring it. It was part of a concerted effort begun about 15 years ago. Historically, insurance policies did not cover contraception. It doesn’t make it “an insurable risk,” any more than if coverage was mandated for the monthly cable bill.

  78. PD Shaw says:

    @Cycloptichorn:Your assuming insurance policies typically cover the cost of childbirth, or do so without an additional (high) premium. The last I knew only a minority did.

  79. @PD Shaw: But of course the real fact of the matter is that when we speak of health “insurance” we are actually talking about health care. This is part of the problem.

  80. Ben Wolf says:

    The politics of the Obama Administration’s actions on this are brilliant. The Republicans promised in the run-up to the 2010 election that their focus would be “jobs, jobs, jobs”. Since then their focus has largely been on social issues, particularly restriction of women’s reproductive rights. By forcing this the Republicans have again outed themselves as rabid culture warriors utterly indifferent to the economy or the plight of the working class. Not only has it pushed criticism of the President’s economic policies totally off the radar (for now), but it puts Republicans on record as opposing contraception, which a very large majority of americans support expanding access to.

    This gas been a political disaster for the Republican presidential candidates, particularly Romney who has signed on to anti-women’s rights hysteria so that he might bone up his radical-right street cred over the last few weeks. Wait ’til this comes back in the general election.

  81. Brummagem Joe says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Your assuming insurance policies typically cover the cost of childbirth, or do so without an additional (high) premium. The last I knew only a minority did.

    This I vaguely remember is basically true but most members of corporate plans of child bearing age tend to purchase an upgrade. I think about 20% of plans cover it.

  82. Cycloptichorn says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Hmm, maybe I’m ‘assuming’ that because the ACA mandates that they do, starting in 2014. Insurance companies are already preparing for this, and covering Contraception is one of the prime ways they will save money under the new scheme.

  83. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    Hmm, maybe I’m ‘assuming’ that because the ACA mandates that they do, starting in 2014.

    Yeah another bad feature of that Obamacare that the public are going to hate.

  84. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Suffice it to say, I don’t expect anyone to pay for the things I need and, absent abject poverty, I don’t think anyone has the right to expect me to pay for them.

    Freudian slip, anyone?

  85. sam says:

    @Gulliver:

    Your example is not about coercing a church to do something they find objectionable, it is about stopping an action the state found objectionable to the degree that the action was prohibited.

    Hmmm. You don’t see that coercion depends on where you’re standing? In any event, the government moved against the Mormons in a most aggressive way. See Edmunds-Tucker Act (of 1887). The law disincorporated the LDS church and authorized federal law enforcement to seize church property. The law was upheld in 1890 in the case, Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States.

    All because the Mormons practiced polygamy, which in the opinion of most non-Mormons was a bad thing. That’s why when I read this, “The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment is not subject to polls or opinions,” I had to smile at the historical ignorance.

  86. mantis says:

    Your assuming insurance policies typically cover the cost of childbirth, or do so without an additional (high) premium. The last I knew only a minority did.

    Available insurance policies must include maternal and newborn care in a defined package of “essential health benefits” starting in 2014. It makes perfect sense that birth control must also be included, both from a public health standpoint and from the standpoint of the insurance companies, who will save money as a result.

  87. Gulliver says:

    @ Brummagen

    You’re just demonstrating you have no idea of how the process works. The WH can’t say this is going to happen.Period. There’s something called due process that requires a majority of bondholder to approve an expedited C 11 bankruptcy proceeding the terms of which are spelt out.

    You’re forgetting one small point – the C 11 bankruptcy took place well after the bondholders were coerced into suborning their claims to the Union. About 6 months after the Whitehouse (Auto Task Force) and GM management forced them to agree to getting pennies on the dollar for their investments compared to the Union pension claims against the assets, as a matter of fact. The “judicial review” and votes by bondholders you refer to took place much later than the initial bailout.

    Kindly look up the details of a matter before you accuse another of being a fool and show yourself to be one in the process.

  88. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Gulliver:

    Still waiting on you to specifically name the law that was broken in the GM case.

    If you’re going to claim that something is illegal, and with such vehemence, you ought to be able to do so.

  89. Gulliver says:

    @ sam

    “Hmmm. You don’t see that coercion depends on where you’re standing? In any event, the government moved against the Mormons in a most aggressive way. See Edmunds-Tucker Act (of 1887)

    Nothing in your response actually addresses my point. Saying that stopping an action considered harmful is the same as mandating an action that is considered harmful by the individual who is forced into doing it are the same. Surely, you are not taking that position? By that measure the state has a right – in your opinion – to force individuals to do anything it wants, despite the fact that the action violates the religious principles of the individual.

    Seriously, can a society that allows government to do that still be considered a free society? Your reasoning is frightening.

  90. Barb Hartwell says:

    I know this is off subject but I just heard on the Randi Rhodes,s show that Santorum does not believe in contraception and if a woman gets raped and becomes pregnant, they should consider it a gift from God. That does not register to me as a sane person. For anyone who thinks they should not have to pay for birth control, would you prefer supporting all the unwanted children. Would you prefer drug addicted women be forced to have these babies that are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, or aids I think paying for birth control is a very small price compared to the latter.

  91. Gulliver says:

    @ Cyclops

    Still waiting on you to specifically name the law that was broken in the GM case.

    The many laws related to contract enforcement that were broken when the bondholders had to subvert their contractual rights to be first in line for investment recovery to the Unions? The Whitehouse through the Auto Task Force (led by Timothy Geitner) created a brand new precedent for how contracts will be enforced – not by rule of law but by some subjective notion of “fairness.”

    Fairness…. hmmm, that’s a familiar refrain with this administration, now isn’t it?

  92. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gulliver:

    You’re forgetting one small point – the C 11 bankruptcy took place well after the bondholders were coerced into suborning their claims to the Union. About 6 months after the Whitehouse (Auto Task Force) and GM management forced them to agree to getting pennies on the dollar for their investments compared to the Union pension claims against the assets, as a matter of fact

    .

    Now you’re just lying. I don’t need to look anything up because I’m reasonably familar with how the process works. Once you have DIP financing (which was the original bailout where the funds came from the Obama and Bush admins) and you’re going to have an expedited bankruptcy process the various stakeholders have to agree on its terms and these are spelt out in the docs which the various stakeholders are required to approve. Since this involves a fair amount of haggling it can take a while which is one of the reasons you need DIPF. And of course it includes getting the bondholders to sign on and as best I recall about 75% of them voted yes. Once this is done it has to be approved by the judge overseeing the process and then if any substantive changes are subsequently made it has to go back court. You’re not only a total fool who has no idea what he’s talking about but a liar into the bargain.

  93. James says:

    @Gulliver:

    Seriously, can a society that allows government to do that still be considered a free society?

    Dire warnings about the end of freedom are a time-honored hobby horse of conservatives who don’t properly understand market structure or public goods. You’re certainly fitting the bill well.

  94. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Gulliver:

    “The many laws related to contract enforcement that were broken when the bondholders had to subvert their contractual rights to be first in line for investment recovery to the Unions? ”

    Where were those contractual rights enumerated? Can you go more into depth regarding the laws that guarantee those rights to these unsecured bondholders? Let me preemptively state that I doubt you can. Your responses here have a certain air of ‘I read it on a right-wing blog’ about them; that doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in your actual knowledge of either the law or the circumstances regarding the GM bailout.

    If the laws were broken as egregiously as you claim they were, where are the lawsuits?

  95. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gulliver:

    The many laws related to contract enforcement that were broken when the bondholders had to subvert their contractual rights to be first in line for investment recovery to the Unions?

    So what were they? The bondholders voted in favor of the expedited C11 proceeding you ignoramus.

    The Whitehouse through the Auto Task Force (led by Timothy Geitner) created a brand new precedent for how contracts will be enforced – not by rule of law but by some subjective notion of “fairness.”

    Absolute crap.. Bankrruptcy courts don’t allow treasury secs to create new precedents for how THEY will enforce contract law. God where do the find these bozos.

  96. MikeSJ says:

    I’m curious if there are any countries that do allow employers to dictate the terms of the health insurance coverage provided to their employees?

    When I say “countries” I mean 1st world countries, not third-world sh*t holes of course. I am guesssing that there isn’t.

    Funny how that works out…

  97. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    ‘I read it on a right-wing blog’ about them; that doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in your actual knowledge of either the law or the circumstances regarding the GM bailout.

    You’re being too generous. I’m fairly laid back about blogger fantasies but it’s intolerable when people deliberately lie about something they clearly don’t know much about and this is what this guy is doing.

  98. WR says:

    @Gulliver: Why does it bother you so much that the pensions of middle class auto workers were prioritized over the profits of bondholders who bought a product that brings a premium because of the risk involved? Why should they have been bailed out at the cost of beggaring tens of thousands of seniors and soon-to-be seniors who have spent their lives working with the expectation of a decent retirement?

  99. Brummagem Joe says:

    Here’s the complete time line from the first Bush funds onwards. The gap between the bondholder sign off and the commencement of the xp CH11 was about five weeks

    .http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/07/10/gm-bankruptcy-idUSLA64177720090710

  100. David M says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    If the laws were broken as egregiously as you claim they were, where are the lawsuits?

    They were dismissed. Remember two judges oversaw and approved the bankruptcy proceedings, and I’m pretty sure at least one more threw out the case brought by some of the bondholders. If I remember correctly a majority of bondholders approved of the bankruptcy terms, or at least didn’t object to them.

    But it is a difficult call, whether to believe the right wing blogs or the judges rulings were correct.

  101. Brummagem Joe says:

    @David M:

    If I remember correctly a majority of bondholders approved of the bankruptcy terms, or at least didn’t object to them.

    But it is a difficult call, whether to believe the right wing blogs or the judges rulings were correct.

    There’s a legal requirement for a majority of bondholders to approve C11 proceedings. And yep a real tough call whether to believe Gulliver or the bankruptcy judges.

  102. An Interested Party says:

    They were “informed” by the Whitehouse that this is how is was going to happen. Period. Illegally.

    Maybe you could go to Washington, D.C. and make a citizen’s arrest…

    How do you see the politics of this shaking out?

    Considering the widespread use and popularity of contraception, the politics of this look like a win for the President…

    Meanwhile, Doug continues to show how frustrated he is with the post New Deal federal government but despite his weeping and gnashing of teeth, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon…so he’ll continue to tell us about libertarian fantasies that will never come true…

  103. anjin-san says:

    The many laws related to contract enforcement that were broken when the bondholders had to subvert their contractual rights to be first in line for investment recovery to the Unions?

    How about naming a few of these broken laws?

  104. Tim D. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    In this entire thread I haven’t seen the D-word yet — discrimination. It seems to me that if you single out a women’s health issue for exclusion from coverage then that is pretty plainly workplace discrimination. This whole thing started with the EEOC, after all.

    So yeah, there are legit concerns about religious liberty. But we also have a long-standing thing called the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and these two things need to be balanced. I think Obama’s solution is actually pretty good, on the whole. When the RCC is acting as a church entity they should be protected from certain requirements. When they are acting as an employer and/or insurance company they need to play by the rules society has set out.

    So my question for Doug Mataconis is, after all your talk about “private contracts” between individuals that the government shouldn’t mess with, are you going to go the full Rand Paul and toss the Civil Rights Act out too?

  105. Stan says:

    @Gulliver: Doesn’t Hawaii require employers to provide health insurance to all their employees? I realize it isn’t free to the employees, but as far as I know the employees don’t pay the entire cost of the insurance.

  106. michael reynolds says:

    @James:
    Come around more often. Your comment-fu is powerful.

  107. James says:

    @michael reynolds: Thanks for the kind words. I enjoy OTB because of the flavor guys like you give it. I just hope I’m adding to the discourse.

  108. Gulliver says:

    @Brummagen
    @Cyclops
    et. al.

    Let’s just put an end to this shall we? Show me a single court case where in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding the state determined that the “secured” bondholders claims were not first in line (i.e preferential and majority claim against the assets) in reference to repayment.

    If you can, I’ll admit you’re right. hen you can’t, please do me the courtesy of reposting your apologies.

    In other words, gentlemen, put up or shut up.

  109. anjin-san says:

    In other words, gentlemen, put up or shut up.

    You might want to give us some detail about the laws you claim were broken before you put that on the table.

    BTW, it is your job to back up you claims, not anyone else’s to disprove them.

  110. Gulliver says:

    @ anjin

    Please see above, the offer is most certainly for you as well.. Come on, I’m sure you’d love to have me say I was wrong, so go ahead and give me my comeuppance. If you can….?

  111. James says:

    @Gulliver: You write:

    libs are perfectly comfortable that Obama violated the law in the GM bailout and how he gave Unions preference over the bondholders, but his illegal action WILL stop this time because of his overreach against the First Amendment

    A crazy accusation that you can’t substantiate at all. You then decided to try and resuscitate the thread after it’s long dead to tell other commentors that it’s their responsibility to disprove your crazy accusation, with gibberish about

    a single court case where in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding the state determined that the “secured” bondholders claims were not first in line (i.e preferential and majority claim against the assets) in reference to repayment.

    Bravo sir.

  112. anjin-san says:

    does the FDA send you an invoice for preventing shit being in your ground beef?

    Conservatives are real men, American men. They take shit in their beef and like it. Only liberal pussies cry about tainted beef.

  113. Gulliver says:

    Some good non responses, but no meat yet. Just a lot of hot air.

    Bravo, James on falling back to the tried and true tactic of insulting someone else’s opinion rather than refuting it.

    I’ll check back in an hour to see if you learned souls can show me any precedent for Obama’s actions – via Geitner – when he decided that the secured bondholders would not be first in line in a Chapter 11 proceeding..

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you will fail to find any.

  114. James says:

    @Gulliver: I didn’t insult your opinion at all. I insulted your ability to use things like “facts” and “evidence” to back up your claims.

    Big difference.

  115. anjin-san says:

    @ Gulliver

    I don’t spent my time disproving the guy who lives under the overpass screaming gibberish about being taken by aliens. You have about the same credibility that he does. And I note you have not backed up your claims about broken laws. Run along skippy.

  116. James says:

    @Gulliver: Oh, I also wanted to claim that your demand for

    a single court case where in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding the state determined that the “secured” bondholders claims were not first in line (i.e preferential and majority claim against the assets) in reference to repayment.

    is nonsensical, and funny to the extent you’re just confused and angry. Oh and

    gibberish about being taken by aliens.

    Pretty sure you just resorted to you’re rubber and I’m glue. Or something. Nice job.

  117. anjin-san says:

    I’ll check back in an hour

    I won’t bother checking back to see if you back up your claims, because it’s obvious you can’t.

  118. Scott O. says:

    @Gulliver:

    that the “secured” bondholders

    Did you put secured in quotes because the bonds were in reality unsecured?

    A couple of paragraphs from the judge’s decision:

    “But the motion has engendered many objections and limited objections, by a variety of others. The objectors include, among others, a minority of the holders of GM’s unsecured bonds (most significantly, an ad hoc committee of three of them (the “F&D Bondholders Committee”), holding approximately .01% of GM’s bonds), who contend, among other things, that GM’s assets can be sold only under a chapter 11 plan, and that the proposed section 363 sale amounts to an impermissible “sub rosa” plan.

    As nobody can seriously dispute, the only alternative to an immediate sale is liquidation—a disastrous result for GM’s creditors, its employees, the suppliers who depend on GM for their own existence, and the communities in which GM operates. In the event of a liquidation, creditors now trying to increase their incremental recoveries would get nothing. ”

    That’s from the comments section of this page

  119. Gulliver says:

    Thought not…

  120. David M says:

    I am truly in awe of the length some people will go to argue that workers are not due the wages they have earned. That Ritholtz link was a great explanation of the GM bankruptcy, and how the complaints at this point are nothing but anti-Obama sour grapes.

  121. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gulliver:

    Let’s just put an end to this shall we? Show me a single court case where in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding the state determined that the “secured” bondholders claims were not first in line (i.e preferential and majority claim against the assets) in reference to repayment.

    I don’t dispute that bondholders have seniority in a bankruptcy proceeding (they are not secured btw which would imply an absolute right to be made whole no matter the circumstances). That’s not the issue because a majority of them voted for the bankruptcy proceeding. If they handn’t it wouldn’t have been able to go ahead because they’d have deluged the court with lawsuits which the court would ok or face an endless cycles of appeals during which time the us auto industry would have died. Having been proved a fool and a liar you’re now just throwing up a smokscreen.

    Bravo, James on falling back to the tried and true tactic of insulting someone else’s opinion rather than refuting it.

    And James is correct. You made the claim and the burden of proof (nona probandii) is upon you to prove it. You have notably failed to do so and now just blathering.

  122. Brummagem Joe says:

    I’m a regular reader of Ritholz and this comment of his just about summarises what we’re dealing with in politically motivated ignoramuses like Gulliver (Ritholz calls them political knaves in a tin hats).

    The criticisms about the GM bankruptcy were IMO mostly unfounded sour grapes by people who do not understand bankruptcy laws.

    These were unsecured bond holders — vulture investors who picked up GM’s bonds pre-bankruptcy, and miscalculated getting a windfall.

    I don’t entirely agree with his characterisation of the bondholders. There were certainly a lot of vultures who swooped in on the hope of easy pickings (as has happened with the Greek debt on which they currently getting badly burned) but a lot were held by banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and so forth. It’s certainly arguable that in a liquidation which is what would have been required the bondholders would have recovered more than did in a restructuring but it was a gamble and would have taken years during which time the US auto industry would have gone down the tubes. This of course is what nihilistic idiots like Gulliver want. Chaos and failure in the hope of damaging the Obama administration regardless of the personal suffering involved and the damage inflicted on our economy. They are to be totally despised.

  123. Brummagem Joe says:
  124. Joe,

    Yep. Crony Capitalism can be very profitable. For everyone but the taxpayers

  125. Hey Norm says:

    Cronies are taxpayers too!
    The Transcontinental Railroad was built on crony capitalism. I would say taxpayers benefited.
    Libertarianism is such a crock…

  126. @Doug Mataconis:

    Yep. Crony Capitalism can be very profitable. For everyone but the taxpayers

    I am going to call foul on that one (even if it does promote even further off-post-topic comments in this thread!).

    While I would acknowledge a variety of concerns about the whole GM process, I would note at least the following:

    1. The taxpayers clearly did receive benefits from the bailout. There would have been a host of very specific negative impacts to the economy had GM collapsed. These would have been real and immediate in Detroit and Michigan (and elsewhere) and would have had huge psychological effects in the broader economy (and we have to acknowledge that recessions are driven in part by perceptions).

    2. Even if one has qualms about the policy (and I have some reservations myself), I am not sure how one calls the bailout a failure. It accomplished its goal (and better than I expected).

    3. Regardless of what else one calls it, I am not sure how it is “crony” capitalism–which Obama cronies were benefited? This is an odd descriptor in my opinion (and an inaccurate one).

  127. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    For everyone but the taxpayers

    And it would have been more profitable for taxpayers if the US auto industry had been allowed to to die?

  128. Joe,

    The industry would not have died, it would have restructured. Just like every other major industry that’s been through Chapter 11

  129. Steven,

    The cronies in this case were the politically favored auto industry and auto unions and the point is that, regardless of the benefits you cite, it is improper for the government to be picking winners and losers in the economy.

  130. @Doug Mataconis: That’s an awfully broad definition of “cronies.”

  131. Steven,

    I believe it’s entirely appropriate. Were it not for the political influence of the companies and the unions, and the political pressure they applied, it’s unlikely they would have received such a generous bailout — including one that essentially resulted in secured creditors getting strongarmed into giving up their rights under the Bankruptcy Code.

  132. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Few points

    a) Bankruptcy would’ve meant liquidation. Full stop. In short- and medium-run human welfare, that would’ve been disastrous.

    b)

    it is improper for the government to be picking winners and losers in the economy.

    You’re confusing a firm with an entire industry. Maybe you don’t like gov’t interference in markets that have non-priced public goods involved; but as it’s been said upthread, if you’re pinning for a pre-New Deal America, I suggest you look into time machines.

  133. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The industry would not have died, it would have restructured. Just like every other major industry that’s been through Chapter 11

    Er….this is exactly what happened Doug. But without DIP financing provided by the government and an expedited Chapter 11 proceeding which had to be approved by all the stakeholders the industry would have died. Barry Ritholz summarises the situation exactly….it’s how the market is supposed to work Viz

    This was the single best decision of the bailout era.

    It seemed to be the only decision that was not made in a panic. It adhered to the rules of capitalism — when your company is insolvent, it goes into reorganization or dissolution. The brutal, Darwinian rules of the market and of bankruptcy applied — not the influence of lobbyists, or special favors from Senators. The Treasury Secretary’s former gig was not running an auto company, he ran a Wall Street bank — so there could be no special favors expected to come from that quarter either.

    Instead, Uncle Sam’s involvement was to provide Debtor-in-Possession financing. The bankruptcy plan was obvious: Wipe out shareholders, give bond holders a haircut, fire management, pare the company down to a sustainable size without sentiment.

    This was what was done. A turnaround plan was created and executed. If the company met its milestones, the firm would be taken public, which would allow the government to significantly reduce its stake and exposure to GM. The Fed also helped, keeping financing rates at ultra low levels.

    The long term stock sale plan would lead to the taxpayers being made nearly whole. All told, it was a wild success. Malcolm Gladwell argued that Rick Waggoner should get more credit and Steve Rattner less, for GM’s effective turnaround; many of the new models that are now doing so well were first created and planned for under Waggoner’s tenure 5 years ago.

    So what is arguably the most successful bailout of the 2007-2010 era was in fact a non-bailout: It was a bankruptcy reorganization that eliminated the most toxic aspects of a century old rust bucket of a company. The new firm has clean books, is well capitalized, is without crushing debt, has a less onerous labor contract, pension and health care obligations. Its hard not to see how this was anything but a ginormous winner for all involved.

    For someone who is a lawyer Doug you seem curiously unfamiliar with what happened here.

  134. Joe,

    Let’s get it clear. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I’m stupid or ignorant, so please stop using the “misinformed” line.

  135. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    including one that essentially resulted in secured creditors getting strongarmed into giving up their rights under the Bankruptcy Code.

    Your feigned naivete here is rather funny Doug. It’s a queer lawyer that doesn’t know a lot of people get strong armed or attempt to strong arm others in bankruptcy proceedings. I’ve no doubt these guys were leaned on but that’s par for the course in these sort of negotiations. And weighed against the broader public interest involved guess what I’m not too concerned about it. It was the classic process.

    Instead, Uncle Sam’s involvement was to provide Debtor-in-Possession financing. The bankruptcy plan was obvious: Wipe out shareholders, give bond holders a haircut, fire management, pare the company down to a sustainable size without sentiment.

    Only someone suffering from complete political, economic and moral blindness would think otherwise.

  136. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Let’s get it clear. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I’m stupid or ignorant, so please stop using the “misinformed” line.

    You implied they didn’t go through a proper and entirely normal bankruptcy proceeding. They did. Hence you are either misinformed or something else?

  137. Joe,

    You’re missing the point. That bankruptcy proceeding should have occurred in December 2008 instead of George W. Bush’s bad decision to give money to the auto companies against the express will of the United States Congress.

    And there was much about the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies that was far from normal.

  138. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That bankruptcy proceeding should have occurred in December 2008 instead of George W. Bush’s bad decision to give money to the auto companies against the express will of the United States Congress.

    And there was much about the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies that was far from normal.

    Other than its size and the extent of its ramifications it was a fairly normal process. And who exactly was going to provide the DIP in December 2008 to enable an orderly bankruptcy proceeding to take place? The entire US financial system was itself being bailed at the time (on much more generous terms as it happens).

  139. Hey Norm says:

    “… it is improper for the government to be picking winners and losers in the economy…”

    na·ive   /nɑˈiv/ [nah-eev] adjective
    1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
    2. having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She’s so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics.
    3. having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting little or no formal training or technique: valuable naive 19th-century American portrait paintings.

  140. @Doug Mataconis: The problem is that cronyism means direct providing benefits to friends and close associates (the same way the nepotism is provided benefits to family members).

    To call any kind of political ally a “crony” is to make the term largely useless.

    And in this case the application of the term crony is made more problematic by the fact that, as you note, the policies in question spanned two administrations. It would be an intriguing trick for Bush and Obama to have the exact same set of cronies, yes?

  141. (Also you include both companies and the unions as examples of the cronies in question–that’s a remarkably big net, yes?)

  142. Steven,

    Why would it be all that surprising for two Presidents to provide benefits to an industry that has long been politically favored by both parties? There’s a reason corporations give money to both sides, you know.

  143. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So the Auto Bailouts are a part of an elaborate scandal that spans multiple firms and presidential administrations? Am I reading that right?

    I’m just going to leave this here. Take sometime to contemplate how microeconomic stimulus might be good policy in the face of a contractionary fiscal crisis.

  144. @Doug Mataconis: I didn’t say that it would be odd for both admins to help the auto industry. I am questioning the applicability and usefulness of the term “crony capitalism” to describe the action.

    It is a phrase that has come in vogue of late, but to paraphrase Vizzini: people keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means.

  145. Rob in CT says:

    Doug, can you actually produce a counter-argument? Or are you seriously hanging your hat on “I disagree” without laying out your reasoning?

    I was initially dubious of the auto bailout. The main reason I came around on the governmental intervention is the context: the financial system was reeling and was not going to step up and finance a restructure. In that context, the options are: a) liquidate; or b) government financing.

    The secondary question: did the government unduly favor the unions. I don’t know. This is not my area of expertise, but frankly even if they did a little bit I can’t get worked up about it. How many times have workers with contracts been utterly screwed over in proceeses like these? Tons of times. It is my understanding that the UAW did make quite a few concessions – it’s not like they avoided all the pain and dumped it all on the poor bondholders. Everybody took a hit. Isn’t that how it should be?

    If someone could actually lay out (or link to) a detailed explanation of how what happened set a bad precedent, I for one am perfectly willing to consider it. You haven’t done it. Gulliver hasn’t done it. What I see is a mixture of “gummint always bad” and “Obamanonster!” not a reasoned argument.

  146. James says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    +1 anything Princess Bride

  147. @James: Thanks. Although it just hit me, I was paraphrasing Inigo Montoya in response to Vizzini!

  148. Hey Norm says:

    @ SLT…

    “…absolutely, totally, and in all other ways, inconceivable…”

  149. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Doug Mataconis:

    Why would it be all that surprising for two Presidents to provide benefits to an industry that has long been politically favored by both parties? There’s a reason corporations give money to both sides, you know.

    Doug stop dancing on a pinhead. Who was going to to provide DIP financing in December 2008 to enable an orderly chapter 11 proceeding to take place because absent a credible answer the only alternative would have been a liquidation. This, which as well as causing the disappearance of GM and Chrysler (although some of the brands might have survived in the hands of others), would have meant the wholesale collapse of their upstream parts manufacturing infrastructure. Doug, you’re supposed to be legally sophisticated and I’m not although I have been involved in buying companies out of chapter 11 so I understand broadly the process and its dynamics. You are not making the legal profession look good right now because you’re elevating partisanship over facts and due process.

  150. Brummagem Joe says:

    Btw as an addendum to those GM record numbers here’s another reality check for Doug The US Government’s share of ownership in General Motors has already decreased by half-from a high of 61% to 33%, and the Treasury has been paid back about $13 billion so far. Now Doug and other geniuses are free to continue to root for the demise of the company and the accompanying economic tsunami that would have ensued as some sort of punishment for Obama and the union and non union workers they appear so much to dislike. Or, they can cheer for the continued recovery and profit of an American car company who, if this trend continues, will be able to pay back the US Government with interest inside of a few years. It seems a no brainer to me but who can can explain human nature.

  151. Barb Hartwell says:

    @Tim D.: And we cannot forget all children entering public school regardless of religion are required by law to be vaccinated against disease, the public is forced to pay also, Any Complaints? This is a public service to the community for the better good of the masses. As the President said It is going to save money in the long run and isn`t that what we all want?

  152. Fog says:

    I’ll be a libertarian when I can vote my boss out of office. Until then, I’ll continue to consider libertarians as the useful foot soldiers of the plutocrats. As I read this thread (and others on similar topics), I can see no functional difference between the two.

  153. Fog,

    Want to “vote your boss out of office”? Go find another job, or start your own business.

  154. Cycloptichorn says:

    I can’t help but notice that those attacking the GM bailout/bankruptcy proceedings are big on invective and small on the actual facts of the matter.

    The idea that GM would have gone through an orderly and non-disastrous bankruptcy in the Fall of 2008 is an absolute joke – have you guys just completely forgotten what was going on at that time? Does historical knowledge just not apply to Libertarian arguments?

  155. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    Does historical knowledge just not apply to Libertarian arguments?

    Er…no…this would fall under the heading of empirical evidence and so can safely be ignored by Libertarians.

  156. Fog says:

    Doug: Thanks for making the point that in Libertarian Paradise, only the bosses are free.

  157. Moosebreath says:

    Brummagem Joe,

    “this would fall under the heading of empirical evidence and so can safely be ignored by Libertarians.”

    Exactly. Most libertarians seem to not care that their ideas had a trial run in this country of 30-50 years, and many of the government intrusions they decry were enacted specifically to combat the deplorable conditions that resulted therefrom. Their Randian Utopia was considered anything but, and was soundly rejected.

  158. Hey Norm says:

    Here’s some real world thinking to counter the Libertarian ideology. Interesting to note that they have been able to evaluate and re-think their position. Ideological dogma prevents that from ever happening.
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2012/02/mitt-romney-and-car-industry

  159. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Yes I’m still waiting for our legal eagle to tell us where the DIP was coming from in late 2008. The Economist has it exactly right.

    “Had the government not stepped in, GM might have restructured under normal bankruptcy procedures, without putting public money at risk”, we said. But “given the panic that gripped private purse-strings…it is more likely that GM would have been liquidated, sending a cascade of destruction through the supply chain on which its rivals, too, depended.” Even Ford, which avoided bankruptcy, feared the industry would collapse if GM went down. At the time that seemed like a real possibility. The credit markets were bone-dry, making the privately financed bankruptcy that Mr Romney favoured improbable.

    How about totally impossible?

  160. Brummagem Joe says:

    As a bit of light relief from the Automania and addressing the original theme of the thread here’s Palin (to their everlasting shame erstwhile Republican VP candidate and darling of the Republican right) making Doug’s case in defending the GOP’s attacks on birth control insurance coverage and explaining in her usual penetrating way that Obama is underestimating the wisdom of women.

    “Truly, it is a war on our religious liberties and that violation of conscience that he would mandate that is un-American because it violates our First Amendment in our Constitution.”

    Any openings in your law practice Doug?

  161. KariQ says:

    Well, I realize that this is sort of off-topic by now, but I wanted to point something out about the blog post that all these discussions of GM’s bailout are attached to:

    You’re looking for political effects in the wrong direction. It’s all about “how do Catholics feel about this? Do Catholics support the contraception mandate? How do they feel about the policy?” I’m willing to be proven wrong here, but I think that Catholic voters, as a whole, have made their decisions about their church’s social policies and the extent to which it will influence their votes. I don’t see the E.J. Dionnes of the country suddenly voting Republican over this.

    It’s not the Catholic voters we should be looking at, it’s women.

    Young women voters strongly prefer Obama, but they are also unlikely to vote relative to older voters. Politics seems largely distant and irrelevant to them. But, if the election becomes about deciding between the guy who wants to guarantee their access to contraception and the guy who wants to prevent them from getting it (and the Republicans are working very hard at positioning themselves to look like that), then that is something that they can see having an immediate impact on them. That could, potentially, inspire more of them to vote.

    For women who are no longer in the “young voter” category, I have to throw in the caveat that it is always dangerous to generalize from personal experience, but I have to share my experience here any way. I use the Pill for years, not for contraception but to treat severe menstrual cramps. They were absolutely incapacitating, and the Pill was the only treatment that worked.

    I’ve been sitting here watching a bunch of men (overwhelmingly) debate whether or not I should have access to a medication that I need to prevent severe pain on a monthly basis, and vary rarely do any of them ever even mention that it can be used for more than contraception. (Doug Mataconis did mention in one of his blog posts that it did have other uses. Thank you Doug.) I have felt as if my pain is regarded as far more trivial than the tender consciences of a bunch of old men whose religion I don’t even share. I can’t imagine that I’m the only woman for whom this debate went from being bemusing, to annoying, to pissing me the heck off. Who are all these men to debate my health care needs and whether they are real or not? Even in this thread there’s been the argument that contraception is not an “insurable risk” for women of childbearing years. I guess I should have considered the risk of dysmenorrhea before I chose to be born female?

    In all, the debate has left me feeling rather hostile toward the Catholic Church and the Republican Party.

    The questions you ought to be thinking about are: How many other women are there like me? How many of them are swing voters? To what extent will this debate influence their votes? Will this motivate more Democratic leaning, but uncertain voters to go to the polls?

    Look to the women, guys. That’s where the politics is really playing out.

  162. grumpy realist says:

    The Libertarians posting here seem to be perfectly happy with the possibility of trashing a sizeable portion of the US economy just for the sake of purity. And then they don’t understand why the Libertarian party is so small.

    the basic thing about bankruptcy is that when it occurs, all bets are off the table. You may scream and yell and kick all you want, but I bet if I go poking around the case law, there will have been tons of times where the standard chain of creditor satisfaction has not been followed.

    The other fact that Doug conspicuously ignores: it wasn’t a case of the government strong-arming its way in to the process. There WAS no one else willing to pony up the cash. He who has the cash, gets to make the rules. A sufficient percentage signed off on the agreement. End of story.

  163. Brummagem Joe says:

    @KariQ:

    It’s not the Catholic voters we should be looking at, it’s women.

    Meanwhile over at retired car thief Darrell Issa’s house hearings on the contraceptive rule he wouldn’t allow a single woman to give evidence in favor of the rule.

  164. Hey Norm says:

    Well Joe…
    It’s actually worse than that…he wouldn’t let anyone give evidence in favor…man or woman.
    Repulicans have a funny view of Democracy.

  165. Cycloptichorn says:

    @KariQ:

    I’ve been sitting here watching a bunch of men (overwhelmingly) debate whether or not I should have access to a medication that I need to prevent severe pain on a monthly basis, and vary rarely do any of them ever even mention that it can be used for more than contraception. (Doug Mataconis did mention in one of his blog posts that it did have other uses. Thank you Doug.)

    You shouldn’t thank him. I’ve brought that point up repeatedly in this thread and he refuses to even acknowledge it, let alone respond to it.

    B/c it’s an absolute killer to his position.

  166. anjin-san says:

    the guy who wants to prevent them from getting it

    And let’s not forget the subtext from much of the right. We not only want to prevent women from having access to contraceptives, we think they are godless sluts for wanting that access…

  167. anjin-san says:

    Suffice it to say, I don’t expect anyone to pay for the things I need

    So if, God forbid, your home is destroyed in a natural disaster not covered by insurance you will be declining any government aid. Of course the same thing applies if a catastrophic illness or injury leaves you or a family member in need of care beyond your financial means. You will say “thanks, but no thanks”, and start looking for ice floes…

  168. An Interested Party says:

    …if you’re pinning for a pre-New Deal America, I suggest you look into time machines.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! It used to be somewhat quaint when libertarians pined away for a bygone area…now their whining is just tiresome…

  169. Hey Norm says:

    @ Anjin-San…
    Yeah…It’s funny how quickly Ayn Rand changed her tune once she got sick.

  170. anjin-san says:

    “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

    — Foster Freiss, in an interview on MSNBC, defending Rick Santorum’s position on contraception.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MMVzaIMYuTY

  171. Nikki says:

    @Cycloptichorn: Actually, he (and I think a few others) didn’t know until a few days ago when I pointed it that oral contraceptives are used for things other than preventing pregnancy. Doug posted that Viagra is prescribed to treat an actual disease. I started to see red about right then.

  172. Nikki,

    Actually I am well aware of that fact. However, that doesn’t mean I believe the government should force employers to provide it has a benefit of employment.

  173. KariQ says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    I know his position, but at least it’s an acknowledgment that the issue is more complicated than just contraception. At this point, that’s so rare that it seemed worthy of recognition.

    @Hey Norm

    It’s actually worse than that…he wouldn’t let anyone give evidence in favor…man or woman.

    Issa’s hearing is a travesty, agreed, but part of the point that I was trying to make (wall of text, I know, I don’t blame you if you didn’t read all of it) is that women aren’t being heard from in this debate. We are being talked at, talked to, and talked about, but we are rarely actually speaking. So having a man arguing for the rule, while nice, wouldn’t solve the whole problem.

    Honestly if the Republicans had any brains at all, Issa’s hearing would have had nothing but women panelists arguing why requiring contraceptive coverage was wrong. The visuals would have worked so much better for them. Instead the first panel was all male. How stupid is that?

  174. Tim D. says:

    @Barb Hartwell: Yeah, I agree with your analogy. There are a handful of low cost preventative treatments — like vaccines and contraception — where it just makes sense to have them widely and cheaply available. Although of course no one is calling for mandatory contraception use, so the analogy does break down a little =)

  175. Nikki says:

    It amounts solely to a bunch of terrified old men attempting to use the force of law to counter the loosening of their control over women.

  176. Okay then I will say it — I oppose a law that would require employers to provide coverage for ANY medication in their health plans. For that matter, I oppose any law requiring employers to provide health insurance as a benefit.

    Satisfied?

  177. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Okay then I will say it — I oppose a law that would require employers to provide coverage for ANY medication in their health plans. For that matter, I oppose any law requiring employers to provide health insurance as a benefit.

    Satisfied?

    As if we didn’t know Doug? So what’s you’re alternative? A universal single payer system?

  178. Tim D. says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Satisfied?” Not really.

    I also am not too happy about getting our health care through employers. My question earlier was *if* employers provide health care coverage to employees, are they permitted to discriminate against women (or gay folks, or the obese, etc.) in the process? Yes or no?

  179. It depends what you mean by “discriminate”

  180. Joe,

    I’ve written about that before, perhaps I need to do that again. It’s not really something that can be addressed in comments

  181. Tim D. says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Wait, so which forms of workplace discrimination are we allowing now? I mean the word in the sense of the Civil Rights Act, which was the basis for the EEOC decision in 2000.

  182. Moosebreath says:

    Brummagem Joe,

    “So what’s you’re alternative? A universal single payer system?”

    Ha. People dying in the streets if they are unlucky enough to not be able to bear the cost of a major medical problem. Anything to avoid taking a dime from the 1%.

  183. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    It’s not really something that can be addressed in comments

    Don’t be ridiculous. Most of the options can be summarised in three or four sentences or less.

  184. Joe,

    I have no doubt that the people of Iowa think that what they do is important. Considering that their caucus doesn’t even result in the awarding of delegates, it’s quite obvious that it isn’t.

  185. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I have no doubt that the people of Iowa think that what they do is important. Considering that their caucus doesn’t even result in the awarding of delegates, it’s quite obvious that it isn’t.

    Er….getting mixed up Doug? What has this got to do with healthcare? You weren’t involved with organising that Maine caucus were you? (lol)

  186. KariQ says:

    @Tim D.:

    Honestly, I think Doug’s position is pretty clear. If an employer wants to provide “insurance” that covers only trips to Dr. Nick Riviera, then he’s fine with that, and the government has no business insisting that the insurance should cover trips to real doctors. It’s logically consistent, at least. I don’t think that it’s practical in the real world, like many libertarian positions, but it’s clear where he’s coming from and he isn’t pretending that the issue is “religious liberty” when it’s clearly not.

    That puts him way ahead of the Republican Party.

  187. Brummagem Joe says:

    @KariQ:

    It’s logically consistent, at least.

    Oh it’s entirely consistent as was his rejection of govt intervention to save the auto industry (all the other rationalisations were total nonsense which is why he never responded to the detail). The dire consequences in terms of social and economic costs (not to mention the human suffering) that would flow from both positions are of no interest to Doug because in some magical way it will sort itself out. The economic, political and social dislocation doesn’t matter in the scheme of things provided the principle is adhered to. It’s essentially an entirely nihilistic view that bears an uncanny resemblance to Communism and Trotskyism.

  188. Rob in CT says:

    Doug’s a libertarian, people. We all know what that means re: healthcare. It means the preferred system would be to remove Medicare, Medicaid, and presumably the VA too, and go with a completely “market-based” system. No government controls, or minimal ones (grudgingly accepted at best).

    Yes, it’s consistent. It’s also a pipe dream for two reasons (one of which Doug knows): 1) You can’t get there from here; and 2) It would suck.