Friday, February 25, 2011

The Chutzpah Files

I'm sure this is not the most original insight into the current austerity debate in Congress, but it's interesting to me that the Republican economic recovery plan insists on inflicting "painful" cuts, "belt-tightening" and "shared sacrifice" (thereby appearing as the mature, thoughtful adults willing to make the tough decisions on spending), yet the raison d'ĂȘtre of the GOP is to cut the marginal tax rates on the highest earners...

...Does it not seem odd to Republican voters that a particular class of Americans are exempt from our shared sacrifice in the name of the common good?  Their argument seems to be: "hey, we realize how odious it looks to cut taxes on the wealthy, and we really wish we didn't have to keep funneling money to them, but it's the only way to make the US solvent again!" Does not pass the smell test.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fallacious Health Care Logic

Will Wilkinson is one of those bloggers that offers a fresh and usually non-ideological take on economic and political issues . After complimenting him for his great posts, I now feel alright saying that I feel on health care, his logical, non-ideological take has seemed to go astray. Here is him lamenting the sheer genius of Judge Vinson's opinion striking down the individual mandate, and subsequently the rest of the PPACA:

Now, the inclusion of a severability clause is not strictly necessary for a judge to void only part of a bill on constitutional grounds, which is why liberal legal eagles were hoping that the Democrats' failure to do so would not be a problem. However, as National Review's Avik Roy argues in an excellent post, Judge Vinson makes an independently compelling case for the inextricability of the individual mandate, but really drives it home simply by citing Obamacare's own advocates and the text of the bill itself. "In order to overturn Judge Vinson’s ruling upon appeal," Mr Roy notes, "it will be necessary for the government to rebut itself: to disprove its own arguments that the individual mandate is essential to PPACA."

This is a ridiculous line of argument. If I say that my tires are a bit flat, and I have a high likelihood of having a blow out and careening off the road, does that mean I can never defend how good of gas mileage my car gets, or how I really enjoy its stereo system? If I say that my shower head is malfunctioning and spraying water at a very slow pace, do I refrain from showering altogether? If a particular writer makes one bad argument, does that mean I should refrain from reading his material altogether? These all seem to be justifiable conclusions from Mr. Wilkinson's logic. By saying that some system will malfunction without a particular part working properly is not the same as saying the system itself is flawed. Judge Vinson could have used any of the above analogies as logical justifications for why fixing the adverse selection and premium death spiral should occur in a constitutional manner without striking down the entirety of the bill. In fact, the conservative creator of the individual mandate idea has recently suggested just that. If only logic were actually the issue here.