Home | About | Donate

“Medicare-for-all” Means Something. Don’t Let Moderates Water It Down.


What issue of constitutionality do you foresee here? As far as I can tell, one of the beauties of an expanded Medicare-for-all Single Payer system is that it is pretty much constitutionality unassailable.
It is complicated private pay systems like Obamacare that are more subject to judicial review.


In fact, I think Roberts acknowledged that when he signed on to affirm the ACA in the first place. To say Medicare-for-all is unconstitutional would be to say that Medicare as it exists today is unconstitutional and that ain’t gonna happen.


The 14th Amendment is unassailable, yet was used by the Fuller Court to give corporations rights while denying the same to African Americans. Judges critical of the Warren Court that actuated the 14th Amendment sit on the bench now. Read about Bush vs Gore if you think anything is unassailable. Nothing is unassailable if a determined majority wants to assail something. After all, our Chief Justice, who went on about calling “balls and strikes” just overturned a 40-year opinion regarding fair share that was, heretofore, unassailable (on free speech grounds, no less).

McConnell wants the Court for a reason. It ain’t because he thinks Medicate for All is unassailable. I can imagine a government first amendment violation of Blue Shield’s right to speech holding away in this court.


What Fuller Court case(s) are you referring to here?


I can imagine a world where the people take control and do what’s right and logical and most cost-effective and does what it takes to overrule a Supreme Court that tries to undo those changes. Your imagination seems rather limited. I don’t subscribe to your world view – one of limited expectations and desires. I’m with Lennon. Your with whom?

Oh, I know, Hillary and the DNC, the mistress and masters of low expectations.


I can imagine sipping a cool one while shuttling between clouds in my flying car! I’ll let you read about the Fuller Court (and the the Lochner and Taft Courts too if you want to educate yourself on what the Supreme Court can do in real life to progressive interests). The idea that the current Court is going to be swayed by a magical argument in favor of Medicare for All seems as laughable as the Taft Court being swayed by minimum wage laws (violation of the 5th Amendment).


The belief that a massive bureaucratic nightmare paid for by taxes (more than likely just added to the debt) is somehow “free” boggles the mind.


I’m the first one to tout the importance of the Supreme Court and consideration of that in Presidential elections - but that’s a pretty silly argument KC. Sure - a completely crazy court can just ignore the law and throw out any liberal or progressive legislation without justification - but the difference between Kennedy and Roberts as median Justice just doesn’t get us there. Even the conservative majority of this court is on record defending the government’s ability to tax and provide payment for medical services. Further, insurance companies can still advertise and sell policies for concierge or other services not covered just as they do now under all of the single payer plans under discussion). I have no idea what Insurance Company speech you would be talking about.


Respectfully, I disagree. I think progressives are going to wake up to a lot of settled law that is actually unsettled, just like they did when the Taft Court reversed state-based minimum wage and child labor laws after it was seated on 5th and 14th Amendment grounds. Only, for this Court, it is the 1st Amendment that is the tool of choice, wielded to thwart the regulatory state.

Just look at the recent Janus decision, settled on 1st Amendment grounds. Unions have long had to quarantine dues related to political expenditures from contract negotiations etc., but the Court found this violated the 1st Amendment. Even paying fair share for representation during contract negotiations was a violation of Janus’s 1st Amendment rights, compelled speech. Kagan reacted angrily to it because, essentially, the ruling wrecks stare decisis and, as she notes, “wreaks havoc on entrenched legislative and contractual arrangements” for no real speech related reason. She called her colleagues fakers, basically.

The idea that Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and our Chief Justice, all proponents of anti-regulatory 1st Amendment jurisprudence, would turn trick on Medicare for All seems crazy. They are on the Court to thwart the regulatory state.


Sorry to double post, but I thought you might take an interest in this:

The case is being heard in California’s Central District. The case is oriented around Alito’s opinion in Janus.


Any health care system that preserves a role for the insurance industry is unacceptable.


Coverage should be comprehensive

Medicare (from the government’s perspective) is not comprehensive. part A does not cover outpatient services or prescriptions. And the other parts don’t count since those are just like insurance.

Health care should be free at the point of use

Medicare Part A is not free. There is a 20% coinsurance. I really don’t like “free”, and the right-wing has taken full advantage of this word, by saying, “Oh those stupid liberals, demanding everything for free.” Then we say it isn’t free, it’s paid by taxes, so they say, “Oh those stupid liberals, demanding that I pay more for taxes.”

Why are we not demanding a Canadian-style single-payer? How are they getting away with calling Medicare parts A through D “single payer”? And how on earth do people like this author get away with referring to a single-payer health care system as “radical”? There’s a new twist on American exceptionalism. In the rest of the world it’s taken for granted, but here it’s a radical idea.


Chief Justice Roberts’ Martin-Quinn score is now where Kennedy was in 2012 so I just don’t see the median justice being as drastically affected as you are pretending (the data for all Supreme Court Justices going back over 80 years is at http://mqscores.lsa.umich.edu/measures.php). Clearly we have a reactionary Supreme Court right now that is handing down all kinds of bad decisions and having Merrick Garland as the median Justice would have made a huge difference in future cases. However, there is no need to overemphasize the difference between Roberts and Kennedy. Kennedy was very conservative on the “regulatory state” issues you are talking about - no different that Roberts. Kennedy was more liberal on cultural issues like LBGTQ rights and a woman’s right to control her body while Roberts was a little less inclined to overturn precedent (The Mayfair case being a typical example).


Yes, but I don’t think you are giving Roberts due justice as a conservative jurist (you aren’t the only one). He appears ready and willing to overturn precedent when consistent with Republican anti-regulatory business politics. Hell, it was Roberts that made the Medicaid expansion in the ACA a state-based referendum. The idea that the Court isn’t going to be a throttle around our necks for years to come and that Roberts is going to save us seems laughable, but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

For some perspective on Roberts, I urge you to read Scott Lemieux and labor historian Eric Loomis. I believe they’ve done a great job wrecking the hopeful myths some liberals are trying to construct. On voting rights, labor rights, and corporate rights, Roberts has been an old school constructionists dream. I’ll add this great take-down of Kavanaugh by Matthew Yglesias too:

Assuming Kavanaugh is seated, do you really have confidence that Medicare for All would make it through the Court unscathed? I sure don’t. That being said, I still think it’s worth it to give it a shot. Put the onus on Roberts.


I’d suggest that to achieve your goal, or even the lesser “Medicare for All”, which is a joke given the methods currently used to force people to get regular insurance “as a supplement” and still charges deductibles and co-pays the efforts should focus on getting the big money out, which appears to need the Constitutional amendment that Jim Hightower called for in 1985.

I am also concerned that so many want the gov’t in charge. That’s the gov’t that told us “fat bad, sugar good”, “cholesterol bad”, that subsidizes CAFOs–, the source of the E Coli from Hell and other bacterial adaptations to excess antibiotics as well as poisoned water supplies, and that promotes prescription drugs over dealing with nutritional deficiencies and tries to ban supplemnents by calling them drugs and won’t allow Health Savings Accounts to spend money on natural medicine. And the list goes on.

First, get the money out!


No - I think understand Roberts’ reactionary beliefs pretty well and don’t see him as savior whatsoever. I am making three key points (you seem to be discussing other issues):

  1. Kavanaugh replacing Kennedy has zero effect on overturning single payer laws. That’s because Kennedy would be more likely to overturn them than Roberts so only Roberts vote matters on that. (unfortunately Kavanaugh’s appointment will likely overturn Roe v Wade and chip away drastically on gay rights - so it is still very bad news).

  2. A simple single payer law is less subject to judicial review than a complicated law like the ACA was, and

  3. Roberts is a bit more likely to respect precedent than Kennedy was and with respect to health care I think he certainly would not overturn his own decision in NFBI v. Sabelius and the idea that the government has the right to tax and pay for health care services when done through an act of Congress.


We disagree. I think Robert’s first Amendment jurisprudence, jurisprudence he’s now wielding like a knife, will wreck Medicare for All in ways we don’t fully foresee if it comes to fruition. Of course, we don’t know what the law will look like, but Roberts has proven to be skeptical of price controls, oversight bodies, and Chevron deference as well. All three are pillars of what we’d need to have a successful Medicare for All system. There are already cases in circuit courts to undermine all three. In other words, I’m not hanging my hat on his ACA jurisprudence (which, as I note, upended longtime precedent with respect to Medicaid), he’s got bigger things he’s clearly working on.

As I note, if the Fuller Court can read Jim Crowe into 14th Amendment, then the Roberts Court can read what it wants to to create inhibitions to Medicare for All. Nothing is unassailable for a majority determined to assail something. Just look at what Roberts has done with respect to the Civil Rights Act, which was long settled law, right?


Well, the racist Plessy v. Ferguson decision and those disastrous Laizze-Faire decisions of the Fuller Court were 120 years ago - and perhaps I am a little more hopeful than you. I do note that the members of the Fuller court were appointed by pro-business Presidents of both parties and was followed by the success of Democratic Socialists in many political battles and the Progressive era that created some of the most important democratic reforms of the 20th century.


Followed by the 1920s Taft Court which reversed all those seemingly settled issues that progressives thought resolved. And, if you were a union organizer in 1890, what happened in the mid-1930s didn’t mean much to you.

Not all hope is lost of course if we vote, and I’ve been a huge advocate, unabashedly, of strategic voting. But I’m inclined to go with a lot of the fairly astute legal folks I read that we are in for a pretty stark difference than what we are used to regarding the Court. Think about it: would you have imagined a Court twisting in circles to destroy the legal enforcement voting provisions of Civil Rights Act? That happened in a ruling that most pro-voting legal observers felt ignored the substantive record and previous precedents. We are basically going back-and-forth over what’s next.


No one is advocating for a massive bureaucratic nightmare, but some are advocating to replace the massive bureaucrat nightmare we have now. with the vastly more efficient Medicare system we have right now - and any taxes (or premiums) to pay for it would be a fraction of what is being paid right now for our existing massive bureaucratic nightmare.