Idiot Congressman Wants to Force Supreme Court Justices into ObamaCare Exchanges

A Congressman wants to force Supreme Court Justices to get their health care through the ObamaCare exchange.

Supreme Court Justices 2

A Congressman wants to force Supreme Court Justices to get their health care through the ObamaCare exchange.

The Hill (“House bill would force the Supreme Court to enroll in ObamaCare“):

A House Republican on Thursday proposed forcing the Supreme Court justices and their staff to enroll in ObamaCare.

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.

“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.

“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.

Babin’s potential legislation would only let the federal government provide healthcare to the Supreme Court and its staff via ObamaCare exchanges.

“By eliminating their exemption from ObamaCare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he added.

Let’s stipulate at the outset that this is mere grandstanding and has zero chance of being passed into law.  Still, the sheer absurdity of this is remarkable.

First off, it’s plainly unconstitutional. The opening clause of Article III states that “Judges . . . shall . . .  receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.” Given that health coverage is now a significant part of Americans’ compensation and that federal employees’ coverage is heavily subsidized, moving the Justices from their present insurance package to the diminished fallback of the exchange is clearly in violation.

Second, it’s just nonsensical. Nobody was “forced” to get their healthcare through the Obamacare exchanges before yesterday’s ruling. Nobody is being “forced” to get their healthcare through the exchange now. The exchange is a mere fallback position for those whose employers don’t provide coverage, those who are unemployed, or those who otherwise can’t afford or are ineligible for coverage.

Third—and relatedly—Federal Judges aren’t so much “exempt” from ObamaCare as unaffected by it. While I opposed the Act’s passage, for a variety of ideologically conflicting reasons, that I would somehow be forced into an exchange was not among them. Those of us with good jobs simply have better options available to us. Presumably, Supreme Court Justices, who are on the Executive scale, have better insurance packages available than I do but all federal employees have a plethora of highly subsidized options. In my previous jobs—in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors—I’ve always had good coverage. Indeed, the only time I was uncovered was the three years I was in graduate school over twenty years ago.

UPDATE: I see that Steven Taylor already posted this under a more cryptic title. Our takes are similar.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. You probably could have just titled this post “Idiot Congressman.”

    On second thought, that can refer to any one of 435 individuals.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    Keep in mind this idiot is from Texas where 44% of the population believes the Federal Government is going to send in the Army and declare Marshall Law.

  3. More seriously, they’ve already done this with the Legislative Branch. Thanks to grandstanding, when the PPACA was being debate someone snuck in a provision that basically eliminated the health care coverage for Congress and required everyone to buy insurance through the exchange. The thing is that, because of the way that compensation works on Capitol Hill, the only way they could do it was to also eliminate health care coverage for Congressional staffers and other employees on Capitol Hill. Apparently, they do get some kind of subsidy as the law allows private employers to pay instead of providing coverage on their own

    Still, this is immensely, immensely stupid. Grandstanding, that’s all.

  4. stonetools says:

    While I opposed the Act’s passage, for a variety of ideologically conflicting reasons

    James, when are you and Doug gonna confess that you were simply wrong about the ACA, and that it is in fact a successful social insurance program that like Social Security and Medicare, is a good example of what the government should be doing to correct the imperfections of the free market and to help the poor and the unfortunate? Especially since you can avail yourself of VeteranCare, the most socialist health care program there is…
    BTW, do you know that conservative folk hero Fredriech von Hayek supported universal health insurance?

  5. James Joyner says:

    @stonetools:

    James, when are you and Doug gonna confess that you were simply wrong about the ACA, and that it is in fact a successful social insurance program that like Social Security and Medicare, is a good example of what the government should be doing to correct the imperfections of the free market and to help the poor and the unfortunate? Especially since you can avail yourself of VeteranCare, the most socialist health care program there is…

    BTW, do you know that conservative folk hero Fredriech von Hayek supported universal health insurance?

    I support universal health insurance, too, and have for at least 30 years. My objections to ObamaCare were manifold and ideologically diverse. I object to propping up the insurance based model, which makes no sense, while simultaneously requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, which makes it not insurance. I like that ObamaCare helps cover some people who weren’t covered but think it actually contributes to pushing costs up because of the subsidy to insurance.

  6. Scott says:

    Sen Grassley during the writing of the ACA took Congress and their staffs out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan and forced them to seek health insurance on the DC Exchange. An act which I’m sure really pissed off the staffs. Office of Personnel Management bailed them out by offering the equivalent government subsidies of employer provided healthcare. Perhaps Rep Babin would propose invalidating those subsidies. That would make him popular.

    Really, I swear some of these idiot congressmen don’t even understand how their own health insurance works never mind figuring it out for the rest of the country.

  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Which is ludicrous when you consider that 5 of them already qualify for Medicare, and three more of them will within the next 10 years. This is essentially the “Screw Elena Kagan” Act.

    Or soapbox grandstanding to no real purpose. Take your pick

  8. gVOR08 says:

    Does this mean they’ll wait ’til next week to impeach Roberts?

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Perfect as the enemy of the good.

    Obama’s a very pragmatic guy. He got what could realistically be gotten.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    @James Joyner:

    I object to propping up the insurance based model, which makes no sense, while simultaneously requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, which makes it not insurance.

    I agree with you on this James and that was my main objection. I could never understand why private insurance companies with their %20+ overhead should be involved in health care at all.
    @gVOR08: You are correct – this was the best Obama could hope to get.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: They didn’t “sneak it in”, Doug. TheRepubs were quite vociferously public about insisting that if Congress was going to force the ACA onto the American tax paying public, they should not be exempt from it’s horrors as well. When somebody pointed out that this was just a neat way of screwing their staffs (and pi$$ing them off in the process) the gov’t subsidies were put in commensurate with their existing pay packages.

    Strangely enough, I haven’t heard any complaints from Capitol Hill staffers.

  12. Guarneri says:

    EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

    Politician publicly grandstands and self congratulatory commentariat points this out!

    EXTRA………..

  13. C. Clavin says:

    A Congress-critter from Texas? Where almost 25% of the people don’t have health insurance and the State doesn’t want them to have health insurance? This all makes perfect friggin’ sense. The only thing that makes more sense is that Bristol Palin is pregnant….again.
    I’m amused by the vitriol caused by the SCOTUS not going along with a cynical partisan assault on the insurance of millions of people.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    private insurance companies with their %20+ overhead

    The ACA limits their overhead, to less than 10% IIRC.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    but think it actually contributes to pushing costs up because of the subsidy to insurance.

    Health care inflation has dropped to far more in line with core inflation. Don’t pay attention to the requests for as much as 50% increase in rates. Insurance companies (as well as utilities) always ask for astronomical increases, then as it goes thru the regulatory process they always drop down. Health care experts expect an uptick but nothing like the scare #s conservatives are citing and still well below what the inflationary rate was pre ACA.

    It is still early, and time will tell how it holds up, but so far so good.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Republicans haven’t managed to come up with their promised replacement for Obamacare in the 5 years they’ve been promising to do so…but they can pull this kind of BS.
    The best thing about the SCOTUS ruling in King.Burwell is that it saved Republicans from having to actually govern, and left them to meaningless political stunts like this.
    We are all better off for it.
    How any intelligent being can vote for today’s Republicans is beyond me.

  17. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    I object to propping up the insurance based model, which makes no sense, while simultaneously requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, which makes it not insurance.

    Ok,but just so you know it is YOUR party that objected vociferously to the single payer model, or indeed any universal health insurance model at all. It is double think to oppose the ACA on the grounds that it should have been a more radical reform, yet to still support the Republican Party. In this case, you cannot serve both logic and the Republican Party’s position on universal health insurance.
    As for Doug, I suspect he’ll pull an Ayn Rand- he’ll oppose the ACA until sometime in the future when he needs it-then the scales will fall from his eyes…

    As for this Republican stunt, it is idiotic are all the Republican positions on the ACA. They are apparently going to double down on their idiocy during the 2016 electoral campaign-which as a liberal, I love. Keep charging up that hill into those machine guns…

  18. Tyrell says:

    The two biggest problems are the mandate and the IRS. People do not respond well to threats and punishment, especially young people. A better idea would be incentives. That would attract more young people. Incentives could be tax deductions, some sort of vouchers, and privileges.
    The IRS is in control of our lives enough. People do not need them controlling their health decisions. We should not have to answer to the judgement throne of the IRS for going to the wrong doctor or skipping a “visit”.
    I have some other ideas that I will address later concerning the faults in this health plan.
    I have written some of my state legislators about the medicare problem. They have not responded.
    The “Supreme” Court justices health plan: “what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander”, and this applies to some of their other decisions also. They should have to live by some of their rulings. Especially since they are not accountable to the people.
    Breaking news: terrorists strike in France !

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @James Joyner:

    I support universal health insurance, too, and have for at least 30 years.

    And yet you support the political party which makes that preferable solution impossible…while simultaneously being against the only solution possible.
    Go stand in the corner and think about your behavior, young man.

  20. I see that Steven Taylor already posted this under a more cryptic title. Our takes are similar.

    Flippancy has its disadvantages.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:

    We should not have to answer to the judgement throne of the IRS for going to the wrong doctor or skipping a “visit”.

    Please provide a link or some sort of proof that the IRS is dictating your doctor or the scheduling of your health care.

  22. Scott says:

    @Tyrell:

    The IRS is in control of our lives enough. People do not need them controlling their health decisions. We should not have to answer to the judgement throne of the IRS for going to the wrong doctor or skipping a “visit”.

    Tyrell, this is not remotely close to reality.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools:

    Ok,but just so you know it is YOUR party that objected vociferously to the single payer model, or indeed any universal health insurance model at all.

    To be fair, Republicans did propose the model for Obamacare.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    They should have to live by some of their rulings.

    I know this will come as quite a shock to most on the Right, but just for the record? They do. Every single one of their rulings apply just as much to them as they do to you or me.

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: Thank you for confirming that conservative objections to Obamacare are largely based on believing their own BS circulating in their echo chamber.

  26. J-Dub says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Strangely enough, I haven’t heard any complaints from Capitol Hill staffers.

    Probably because any of them worth their salt saw this is a great opportunity to go work as a lobbyist for twice (or more) the money.

  27. J-Dub,

    It is an admittedly small sample size but several people I know who worked on the Hill have moved on elsewhere in the past two years or so.

  28. stonetools says:

    Dr. K lowers the boom on conservative opposition to the ACA. After listing the ACA’s successes ( and recounting conservatives’ numerous failed predictions of disaster), he concludes:


    Put all these things together, and what you have is a portrait of policy triumph — a law that, despite everything its opponents have done to undermine it, is achieving its goals, costing less than expected, and making the lives of millions of Americans better and more secure.

    Now, you might wonder why a law that works so well and does so much good is the object of so much political venom — venom that is, by the way, on full display in Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion, with its rants against “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” But what conservatives have always feared about health reform is the possibility that it might succeed, and in so doing remind voters that sometimes government action can improve ordinary Americans’ lives.

    That’s why the right went all out to destroy the Clinton health plan in 1993, and tried to do the same to the Affordable Care Act. But Obamacare has survived, it’s here, and it’s working. The great conservative nightmare has come true. And it’s a beautiful thing.

    Yup.

  29. edmondo says:

    @gVOR08:

    Obama’s a very pragmatic guy. He got what could realistically be gotten.

    Since he ruled out universal health care from the very beginning, it really is hard to tell, isn’t it?

    And Medicare for all could have been passed through reconciliation, the same way that the Bush tax cuts were passed. But he didn’t try that one either.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.

    Brian Babin is wasting valuable oxygen that could otherwise be utilized by intelligent life (or put another way, about 6.9 billion people on this planet and outside his congressional district.).

  31. Dumb Brit says:

    Is he likely to try to get them to be gay-married next?

  32. Tony W says:

    @Dumb Brit: I’m sure we’ll be hearing from O’Reilly tonight how gay marriage is now compulsory in blue states.

  33. Grewgills says:

    @edmondo:
    Do you really think Nelson, Cooper and the rest of the blue dogs would have ever gone along with that? What color is the sky in your world?

  34. David M says:

    @Grewgills:

    Even if you get the blue dogs to go along, passing Medicare for all through reconciliation is a worse plan than passing Obamacare through regular order. Health care policy is complicated, and the reconciliation process is not designed to pass anything that detailed.

  35. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “I support universal health insurance, too, and have for at least 30 years. My objections to ObamaCare were manifold and ideologically diverse. I object to propping up the insurance based model, which makes no sense, while simultaneously requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, which makes it not insurance. I like that ObamaCare helps cover some people who weren’t covered but think it actually contributes to pushing costs up because of the subsidy to insurance.”

    “I like that ObamaCare helps cover some people who weren’t covered but think it actually contributes to pushing costs up because of the subsidy to insurance.”

    Please read Krugman, and follow his links.

    “My objections to ObamaCare were manifold and ideologically diverse. I object to propping up the insurance based model, which makes no sense, while simultaneously requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, which makes it not insurance. ”

    Which comes down to objecting because it wasn’t as good as alternatives which were not on the table. Please, James – you have a Poli Sci Ph.D. – use it.

  36. Barry says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Strangely enough, I haven’t heard any complaints from Capitol Hill staffers.”

    The GOP ones would either know better, or be former staffers.

    I saw some complaints back when that happened.

  37. Barry says:

    @Tyrell: “The two biggest problems are the mandate and the IRS. People do not respond well to threats and punishment, especially young people. ”

    What part of ‘getting it done at all’ is so hard to comprehend?

  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Tyrell:

    The IRS is in control of our lives enough.

    Heh. I know of one organization that agrees with you completely about that — the IRS. They would love to simply administer the tax code, but no — Congress keeps piling other programs on for them to administer. Welfare programs like Earned Income. PPACA provisions. And on and on. Partly because it doesn’t look like welfare if you call it a ‘tax’, but mostly because the IRS has statutory access to data that other agencies aren’t allowed to have, and that Congress doesn’t want to give them.

    …for which Congress also then refused to budget for the tasks they’ve assigned the IRS, so that they have to do all of this with makeshift staff, woefully underfunding their core mission of keeping the US solvent by enforcing the tax code THAT CONGRESS WROTE.

    Yeah, the IRS would love to get you out of their lives, too.

  39. Kim says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You can add Idiot writer and idiot responders to this story. Why NOT add the justices to the Obamacare program? They created it !

  40. Kim says:

    @Ron Beasley: Hey Ron, Any chance you remember Waco ? So what you are saying is the government would never send in FEDS to control our citizens ? How about a little history lesson RON ? Remember KENT State ?

  41. Kim says:

    @Ron Beasley: Are you kidding me ? The insurance companies are making far more NOW with Obamacare than before Obamacare. And they are being supported with “kickbacks” onthe backs of the American taxpayer. Get real guys, Obamacare is the biggest insurance scam in history !