Intentions and Results

by Don Boudreaux on November 3, 2009

in Complexity & Emergence, Economics, Health, Myths and Fallacies, Nanny State, Reality Is Not Optional

Here’s a letter that I sent on Friday to the New York Times:

Writing about health-care, Paul Krugman asserts that “conservatives … don’t want Americans to have universal coverage” (“The Defining Moment,” Oct. 30).

Among the earliest lessons that I teach my freshman economics students are (1) intentions are not results, and (2) to oppose a government program is not necessarily to object to the intentions stated by that program’s advocates.

Paul Krugman obviously teaches his students differently, for he clearly believes that (1) if government intends for Americans to have universal health coverage, then the result will be that Americans actually get universal health coverage, and (2) anyone who opposes a government program promising universal health coverage is a person who objects to Americans actually getting universal health coverage.

Mr. Krugman’s reasoning is evidence that he’s forgotten some of the most foundational lessons of economics.  Pity his students.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I’m not sure how you’re getting that he’s making either of those assumptions, but this is an interesting assertion. Do you really think conservatives want universal health insurance coverage as a goal? I thought your position has always been that a lot of people aren’t covered for very good reason and shouldn’t be forced to get covered. That’s my position too and I thought that was most conservatives’ position and many moderates’ position (and perhaps even a handful of liberals’ position). I don’t think Krugman is wrong for saying that – in fact I would criticize Krugman and others who support a mandate for WANTING universal coverage.

Justin P November 3, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Opps didn’t mean to click the liked button! “Do you really think conservatives want universal health insurance coverage as a goal?”Your confusing Conservatives with Libertarians. I’m sure some Con don’t want universal coverage, just like some dems want complete and total State control of everyone’s lives. Your the one always giving me hell for doing that, so don’t do it yourself. Second, Many Cons and Libertarians do want universal coverage, it’s just they want it through different and more importantly through Free Market means. The Market can provide everyone with millions of things, both necessary and life giving as well as luxury goods. There is no reason that the Market can’t provide everyone with health care and health insurance, if only the government would get out of the way. I do agree with you that the government, if it has to tax, should tax health insurance premiums too. They also need to allow for cross state purchase of health plans as well. And the Government has no right what so ever to force me or you to buy anything period.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I’m not confusing conservatives with libertarians. I think most conservatives think that a lot of people have good reason not to purchase health insurance and we shouldn’t want universal coverage as a goal – we should be indifferent towards it. And I should say, I don’t think this is exclusive at all to conservatives – I certainly believe that! I think very few people, if pressed, think it’s important that 100% of Americans have health insurance.RE: “I’m sure some Con don’t want universal coverage, just like some dems want complete and total State control of everyone’s lives. Your the one always giving me hell for doing that, so don’t do it yourself. “This is why I said “most conservatives”, “many moderates”, and “a handful of liberals”… precisely because I know none of these three groups are monolithic.RE: “I do agree with you that the government, if it has to tax, should tax health insurance premiums too.”Yes – I cut my comment down for length. But in case anyone was confused about this, I had initially said that Krugman was more inaccurate in his description of centrists (which he spends most of the article on) than conservatives.RE: “They also need to allow for cross state purchase of health plans as well.”I agree that would be good, but the Feds can’t force this. States have a right to regulate commerce within their state.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 3:04 pm

RE: “RE: “They also need to allow for cross state purchase of health plans as well.”

I agree that would be good, but the Feds can’t force this. States have a right to regulate commerce within their state.”

What about the dormant commerce clause? Congress has the power to allow interstate sales of health plans.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I’m sure there’s latitude to do some things – and insofar as there is they should do it. This was largely the point of the exchange, wasn’t it?My understanding of the problem, though, isn’t that selling insurance across state lines is banned – products sold within a state just have to conform to that state’s insurance regulations. So you inevitably have state-specific plans and risk pools created. When it comes to railroad track guage, maybe the feds could tell states how to regulate what is done in their state. Probably a weaker case for standardizing insurance regulation. By all means though – whatever is possible to get insurance portable across states and across jobs, it should be considered.I imagine what is and isn’t capable under the commerce clause is pretty hotly debated.

Ike Pigott November 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm

It’s the same clause they will use to make purchase mandatory.

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

justinpalmer: “They also need to allow for cross state purchase of health plans as well.”

danielkuehn: “I agree that would be good, but the Feds can’t force this. States have a right to regulate commerce within their state.”

Daniel, I think you need to do a little research about the commerce clause and the powers of Congress before making such an assertion. justinpalmer was referring to interstate, not intrastate, commerce. States have no right to regulate interstate commerce unless the u.S. Congress specifically grants them that right.

sandre November 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Daniel knows everything there is to know about everything. His answer is final. Don’t contest it.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

See my comment above on your abuse of Welton v. Missouri and Southeastern Underwriters Association. And stop assuming you know everything.

When people say “allow for cross state purchase of health plans” what they mean is “nullify state health insurance law”. It is legal to purchase health plans sold from other states – it is not legal to purchase health plans from any source that violate a state’s law.

Ike Pigott November 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Daniel…

Krugman is guilty of over-extension and hyperbole here.

Let’s look at his exact words:

“For conservatives, of course, it’s an easy decision: They don’t want Americans to have universal coverage, and they don’t want President Obama to succeed.”

Very simplistic.

It would have been more accurate to say:

“Many fiscal conservatives don’t want to get saddled with a plan they believe is doomed to cripple the industry while creating an irreversible entitlement. Since President Obama is putting his name behind the plan, they don’t want him to succeed in wrecking a large segment of the economy.”

But that way, Krugman doesn’t get to sit behind his unspoken inferences, that conservatives are uncaring racists, and only oppose this “sensible public option” because they want the black president to fail.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Exactly. I’m ONLY responding to Krugman and Don’s point about conservatives and the goal of universal coverage. I don’t see how Krugman is wrong about that, and like I said my major disagreement with Krugman on health insurance is that he DOES desire universal coverage.

And the sad thing is, he does stand by his unspoken inferences – like conservative racism. He’s put that zinger out there both implicitly and explicitly. I don’t know about this “he thinks they all are racist” self-pity, but he certainly thinks many are, and he’s not shy about it.

Ike Pigott November 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

…and yes. Krugman has explicitly stated his position that Conservatism (and opposition to Obama) is rooted in racism.

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.

Krugman’s predilection is to believe that opposing Obama is knee-jerk racism — and his readers don’t have to have it spelled out for them.

Seth November 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm

I agree Ike. Misrepresenting your opponents’ is a common tactic in debates. While that tactic would have earned me an F in my high school composition class, it seems to be well accepted by many in the real world.

I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to gain an accurate understanding of the opponents’ view and build an argument for that. If I needed to do that to earn a passing grade in high school, seems like we should have that expectation for a Nobel laureate.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm

“I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to gain an accurate understanding of the opponents’ view and build an argument for that. If I needed to do that to earn a passing grade in high school, seems like we should have that expectation for a Nobel laureate.”

Lust for power has obviously blinded Krugman. Emotions can easily override intellect. Certain people cannot resist their desire to command and control, and Krugman is obviously part of the tyrannical machine.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm

“I’m not sure how you’re getting that he’s making either of those assumptions…”

It’s the typical Daniel Kuehn leadoff.

Guys, why do we feed the attention monger? Danny’s lonely and has to mince words in order to get people to post. You guys are just enabling a slimy master baiter.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm

It sounds like you have a good grasp of what Don was saying – I don’t. If you actually do, maybe you can explain to me why those assumptions (which would be pretty sad for Krugman’s students) are clear from what Krugman is saying. I doubt Don says anything without having a good reason to – and I imagine he’s perfectly capable of telling a reader why he says the things he does. And if you don’t want to respond, don’t write a three paragraph post telling everyone you don’t want to respond.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 5:15 pm

“t sounds like you have a good grasp of what Don was saying – I don’t.”

But you’ll argue with it nonetheless. See what I mean, folks? Dan needs attention! His posts are cries for help from deep in the soul of a lonely individual.

Maybe if we could give him a group hug he’d feel better.

Seth November 3, 2009 at 6:26 pm

To Don’s point, I’m conservative and I don’t object to universal health coverage. But, I agree with you, I don’t want to get there by government mandate.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Great – I’m sure you have a lot of company among other conservatives as well as liberals. I’m not sure why it’s seen as such an important goal for people, personally.

And reading your exact verbiage, I suppose I “don’t object” to universal health coverage either :)

Seth November 3, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Do you object to universal health coverage? Not objecting and having it as a goal is not the same thing. I don’t object to arranged marriages, but arranged marriages for everyone certainly isn’t a goal of mine. Don’s letter doesn’t say anything about having a goal.

I agree. But I don’t wonder so much why it has become such an important goal. It’s an emotional issue and people are easily duped. Show them one story about a person where it appears they were denied treatment because of free market capitalism and they’re all for it. Society sets a low bar in critical thinking in fields such as left wing columnists and journalists. On most of those stories, if you scratch a micron deeper you can that the person is really the victim of a system saddled with government interference.

A few weeks ago, a story ran on the local news about a family in England that couldn’t get the required treatment for their baby because “their insurance” wouldn’t cover it (the reporters never mentioned their insurance was NHS). The grandparents, who live in my town, raised the funds to bring the baby to the states and get the treatments to have a chance at life. We never see these stories. It’s heart breaking when a person can’t treatment. But that happens in all systems.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 7:01 pm

No, like I said I don’t object to universal coverage, but I don’t want universal coverage. Isn’t that a rather irrelevant point? Who would be up in arms at the idea of universal coverage? I suppose maybe someone. The Krugman line that Don quoted was that conservatives “don’t want Americans to have universal health coverage”, the opposite of which is that they would “want Americans to have univesal health coverage”. It does all get mushed up – which I think is exactly a reason not to get heated up over what anybody says about it, either Krugman or Don.Your third paragraph is especially good – even if we settle a question about coverage, that doesn’t even begin to speak to the more complicated question of care. Which is exactly why I don’t think we should fetishize coverage or be afraid to say to Krugman “universal coverage is not something that I want”.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:07 pm

DK – most people here are libertarians, not conservatives. Not that it means much in the big picture.

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Do you really think conservatives want universal health insurance coverage as a goal?

I don’t see where Don makes such an assumption. He’s merely critiquing Krugman’s blanket assertion abut “conservatives”.

Of course he’s not pointing out Krugman’s implicit assumption that “universal coverage” = government provision of same.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 7:34 pm

RE: “I don’t see where Don makes such an assumption. He’s merely critiquing Krugman’s blanket assertion abut “conservatives”.”

Krugman’s blanket assertion was “conservatives … don’t want Americans to have universal coverage”, the opposite of “don’t want” being “want”.

Which was why I just asked him. I wasn’t sure exactly what he was saying – was he just saying that some percentage of conservatives want it or was he saying that it was a conservative position to want universal coverage. If it was clear to you, I’m all ears.

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I’m supposing Don’s intention was to undermine Krugman’s argument, an ad hominem coupling of opposition to universal coverage with conservative regressivism, that is, Krugman is casting opposition to “universal coverage” as regressive, relying on common “progressive” perceptions about conservatives as neanderthals.

Don is being a bit sly, but only a bit compared to Krugman.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Conservatives as neanderthals? I think I’ll leave this here. I was talking about Krugman and Don on universal coverage.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Of course you’re right, Sam. Dan only pretends not to understand that Krugman was trying to tar conservatives. Or maybe he doesn’t pretend. Either way, he’s the poster child of UI (useful idiocy). I predict he gets a Nobel someday.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Wow, you really have Don on the ropes here. You’ve totally eviscerated his point. Good job, Dan! I’m sure he’ll retract the post soon.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm

We all know Krugman is a total hack, that Disingenous Kuehn refuses to admit it is because he’s a shill for the DNC.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Regarding your comment about Krugman, don’t be so sure. You may have been misinterpreting him. Most of us (Don included) are not smart enough to understand him. DK is, though. Just let DK research it. As a researcher, he can research rings around guys like us! And after he does, he can tell us where we’re wrong, just like he did with Don in this post. I for one am glad we have researchers like Dan who can help get us back on track when our thoughts have gone astray.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I think I’m going to have to take out a restraining order against you.

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 7:10 am

It is quite clear that Krugman is making those assumptions — the entire statement is a staple of the liberal critique of conservatives, and certainly typical of Krugman. Conservatives are heartless and all they care about is not paying taxes. We liberals are more compassionate than Jesus because we want the federal government to force Peter to pay for Paul’s health insurance. (Krugman’s version of the Gospels has a Roman Centurion holding a sword to the back of the Good Samaritan.) What’s more, we are so compassionate that we will coerce the purchase of health insurance by any individual who obviously doesn’t know any better.

I get a kick out of how much attention a shlock like Krugman is paid by otherwise intelligent people. Of course, this makes it necessary for Dr. Boudreaux to send letter after letter to the Grey Lady, hoping against hope that a few of those readers who read approvingly Krugman’s column the day before read his response, and further that they pay attention and think about the questions at hand, and that at least a few well-intentioned readers will recognize what a charlatan Krugman is. The same battles have to be fought and won over and over and over again.

Kevin November 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I’d start with (0) stated intentions are not necessarily actual intentions.

Justin P November 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I’d only change your letter to say; “Mr. Krugman’s reasoning is evidence that he’s stopped being an economist and changed his profession to that of a political hack.”

Most of what comes out of Krugman now is not econ but political propaganda wrapped in economic jargon. He sold himself out and his Nobel to try and lend credibility to a defunct system, socialism. When The Accidental Theorist comes back, I’ll listen again, until then he goes into the same trash bin as MSNBC, Daily Kos and the rest of the Statist Propagandists.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Here is the full quote from squire Krugman:

“For conservatives, of course, it’s an easy decision: They don’t want Americans to have universal coverage, and they don’t want President Obama to succeed.”

Not exactly an assertion on anyone’s part as Krugman clearly states it. What is duplicitous of Krugman, much like our resident juvenile, is the assertion that somehow wanting Obama to fail in his socializing of America is a bad thing.

“It also includes more generous subsidies than expected, making it easier for lower-income families to afford coverage.”

There again we see the duplicitous wording of the socialist operative that leads the ignorant and mentally weak (progressives) astray. Generous subsidies do not make anything more affordable to those who could not afford them in the first place. Generous subsidies are gifts outright and pure, nothing about them alters the practical status of affordability.

“But they wouldn’t, at least according to the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that the House bill, in particular, would actually reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next decade.”

The are lies, damned lies, and then statistics, and any conclusion one wants to make from statistics can be made if one simply makes the right manipulations. But, that being said, Krugman’s assertion in putting forth that claim is an outright lie. There is simply no way that increasing the giveaway in healthcare, without eliminating total spending in other areas, can result in spending less money.

Only communists/socialist/progressives/liberals/democrats can be stupid enough to buy that one.

Krugman is no economist, he has become a shill, a cheap one at that, for the government and an ideology.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Re: “What is duplicitous of Krugman, much like our resident juvenile, is the assertion that somehow wanting Obama to fail in his socializing of America is a bad thing.”

Nobody commenting on this post, at least, has ever made such a statement. But by all means – keep tilting at windmills.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 4:58 pm

But of course Krugman implies it. Keep up the slime posts, Dan. You’d make a great politician.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 5:00 pm

I never said anything about what Krugman implies in that comment! Are you just responding to comments randomly now?

Mark November 3, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I know, Dan. You’re being unfairly represented. I’m weeping for you now. I really am.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Ok – fair enough. What do you think Krugman implies in that comment? Should we want Obama to succeed in implementing his agenda? Is Obama’s & Pelosi’s agenda really good for America?

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm

I think vidyohs’ comment was relevant and informative. I’m glad he made it. I would feel exactly the same way whether or not he compared Krugman to “our resident juvenile”.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm

It was the “resident juvenile” point I was responding to. And since I had no idea if he meant me or not, I thought I’d point out that nobody had said such a thing ;-)

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Most likely referring to muirduck. Don’t worry Daniel, we like you.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

One thing to keep in mind is that no nation with supposed universal health coverage actually has that; all nations try to get out of paying for some class of persons and they are generally successful in doing so. You are going to see the same thing in the U.S. if some sort of universal system is put into place.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 3:44 pm

And also important to note that the article initially referred to what this bill does as “near universal coverage”, afterwards substituting the term “universal coverage”. I think this is broadly recognized, and as long as everyone’s on the same page on that it’s legitimate to use “universal coverage” as short hand for coverage rates in the upper 90s where there are no meaningful obstacles to getting coverage if you want it.

ColoComment November 3, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Over 10 years ago and in cooperation with state securities regulators, Congress pre-empted regulation of multi-state offered/sold mutual funds via NSMIA. It provided a streamlined federal securities registration process and reduced the overall registration expense for mutual funds, and the individual states now can concentrate their limited resources on intra-state regulation and enforcement of securities offerings.

Why couldn’t something similar be done with health insurance?

(– Brief summary of NSMIA (from Investopedia):
Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996, the NSMIA was an attempt to update and amend previous security acts and create one uniform code that companies and regulators could follow.
This bill deals with securities, brokers, advisors, and dealers. Its goal is to provide a federally imposed set of rules, instead of having to deal with each individual state’s rules and regulations.)

ColoComment November 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm

My comment was supposed to follow from the Economiser entry. …messed that up trying to deal with the check your URL stuff…. :-(

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Both Republicans and Democrats have proposed such legislation:

“So could a proposal in the bill from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. Today, insurance generally can’t be sold across state lines. Baucus would permit states to jointly allow insurance plans sold in one state to be offered in the other. This differs from the Republican proposal to permit unlimited interstate insurance sales. The GOP approach would allow any policy sold anywhere to be sold everywhere, and effectively permit the state with the weakest regulation to write the rules for the 49 others. The Baucus variation would allow states to open their markets only to states with comparable consumer protections while simultaneously expanding consumer choice.”

I have no doubt that the staffs of Democratic and Republican senators know much more than me about the legality of ending state regulation of health insurance. Heck, I bet they even know more than danielkuehn.

Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm

It’s a fatal conceit for any of us to think we know anything about it. It hasn’t been constitutionally tested yet, despite your attempt to read your own views into Southeastern. Justice Black said very clearly that insurance was subject to anti-trust regulation at the federal level and that all other facets would have to be looked at individually.And because of McCarren-Ferguson there hasn’t been a need to.If anyone, including myself, pretends to know exactly what can and can’t be done they’re lying.

sandre November 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Daniel has a right to the last word, and those who deny him off that right will be prosecuted to countless, lengthy & repetitive babble

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I am disappointed that Don didn’t take Krugman to task about the conservatives-meme. Not all of us are conservatives the way I understand that term means, and he could have used this letter as a means of talking about libertarianism.

Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 12:28 am

pity his students indeed. and his readers. whoever they are….

Randy November 4, 2009 at 12:42 am

Test

A.J. Lenze November 4, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I’m not a conservative, but *I* don’t want Americans to have universal health coverage. I’m pro-choice: I want Americans to have a CHOICE whether to buy coverage or not. Krugman and his ilk propose to FORCE everyone to buy health coverage – whether they want to or not. Is this still America?

Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Exactly! And yes, thankfully it is still America :)

ColoComment November 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Per your summary, they are moving in the right direction, but I don’t see either of those proposals as true federal pre-emption; more like selective state-to-state reciprocity similar to state CCW reciprocity.

John Dewey November 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Were you replying to me, ColoComment? If so, we view the Republican proposal differently.

The Republican Party claims its proposal will allow unfettered interstate sale of insurance. Despite danielkuehn’s arguments to the contrary, the interpretation of the Commerce Clause and the McCarran-Ferguson Act have already been settled. If the Republican proposal is enacted, the language in this new Act would prevent a state from banning interstate sales of health insuarance. The language in this new Act would prevent a state from imposing its own mandates on the insurance offerred by a company from another state.

wholesale kids clothing November 5, 2009 at 5:42 am

Well, you really have Don on the ropes here. You’ve totally eviscerated his point.
Good job, Dan! I’m sure he’ll retract the post soon.

wholesale kids clothing November 5, 2009 at 5:42 am

Well, you really have Don on the ropes here. You’ve totally eviscerated his point.
Good job, Dan! I’m sure he’ll retract the post soon.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Congress clearly has the power to set national standards (which may be as sparse as they want) and pre-empt the whole issue under the Commerce Clause. The dormant commerce clause argument would have to be judicially enforced, and I agree that’s much trickier with regard to health regulation.

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 5:09 pm

danielkuehn: “I’m sure there’s latitude to do some things”

Not sure what you mean by that sentence. Have you read much about the commerce clause and the McCarran-Ferguson Act?

The Commerce Clause has been interpreted by the Supreme Court very strongly. In Welton vs Missouri:

““the fact that Congress has not seen fit to prescribe any specific rules to govern inter-State commerce does not affect the question. Its inaction on this subject . . . is equivalent to a declaration that inter-State commerce shall be free and untrammelled.”

In United States v. SouthEastern Underwriters Association, the Supreme Court ruled that:

“insurance transactions across state lines constituted interstate commerce, thereby logically establishing their immunity from discriminatory state taxation”.

In response, Congress quickly passed the McCarran-Ferguson Act in 1946, which:

“gives states the authority to regulate the “business of insurance” without interference from federal regulation, unless federal law specifically provides otherwise.

The implications of the strong interpretation of the commerce clause, coupled with the exception in McCarran-Ferguson I’ve highlighted above, is very clear to me. The U.S. Congress can very quickly and very clearly end the prohibition and state regulation of interstate sales of insurance. If the U.S. Congress wishes to do so, it can invoke its constitutional powers under the Commerce Clause and prevent states from enforcing any regulation of health insurance.

Methinks November 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm

John Dewey,

My understanding of the commerce clause is that to “regulate interstate commerce” means to “keep state commerce regular”. That is, the federal government must ensure that states do not stop the free flow of goods between states.

If that is the correct interpretation, then by not invoking the commerce clause to end the prohibition on interstate purchases of health insurance, the federal government is actually ignoring the commerce clause and is derelict in its duties.

If interstate purchases were allowed, I’m not sure if state regulation would matter much.

Curious what you think.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 5:51 pm

RE: “Not sure what you mean by that sentence. Have you read much about the commerce clause and the McCarran-Ferguson Act?”Latitude under the commerce clause, I mean. In which case, McCarran Ferguson is no constraint at all because it can just be amended or repealed (to answer your question I haven’t read the act itself but I’ve read about it). Same with the commerce clause – read about it, but obviously I’m not a lawyer. And even if I were it’s not like everyone agrees on how much authority the commerce clause gives anyway. I’m simply saying that the states have the right to regulate commerce within their borders. The federal government also has the clear right to regulate interstate comemrce. Any interpretation of the commerce clause to the end of easing interstate purchase of health insurance is going to have to grapple with both of those plain facts.I’m certainly not shy about the Congress using the commerce clause, but I think you’re reading more support for your argument into those cases than the cases merit. In Welton v. Missouri the question was over the differential regulation of products produced out of state and those produced in state. That’s not the question in health insurance – the question in health insurance is that the same regulations within a state apply to all insurers selling in that state – whether those insurers are based in the state or not. So I’m not sure why you think Welton v. Missouri necessarily applies. The Southeastern case is obviously more relevant because it addresses (1.) that selling insurance is commerce, and (2.) that, since it is commerce, the federal government has the authority to regulate it. But it doesn’t go very far in explaining how it can regulate it – in fact Justice Black’s opinion explicitly says that they aren’t looking into a number of questions – only the antitrust question – and that other facets of regulation will have to be taken up individually. To begin with, Southeastern simply established that selling insurance was commerce. I’m not disputing that. But it also only specifically addressed taxes, regulation, and licensing that “discriminated against interstate commerce”, not taxation, regulation, and licensing in general. To quote Justice Black’s majority opinion in the Southeastern case:”Certainly there cannot but be serious doubt as to the validity of state taxes which may now be thought to discriminate against the interstate commerce, cf. Philadelphia Fire Association v. New York, 119 U.S. 110 , 7 S.Ct. 108; or the extent to which conditions may be imposed on the right of insurance companies to do business within a state; or in general the extent to which the state may regulate whatever aspects of the business are now for the first time to be [322 U.S. 533, 582] regarded as interstate commerce. While this Court no longer adheres to the inflexible rule that a state cannot in some measure regulate interstate commerce, the application of the test presently applied requires ‘a consideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances’ in order to determine whether the matter is an appropriate one for local regulation and whether the regulation does not unduly burden interstate commerce”.He goes on to state that this ruling will necessarily result in a “flood of litigation” to answer the question of what other areas of state insurance regulation the federal government can supercede besides antitrust. But as he says throughout, the Southeastern case deals primarily with antitrust. McCarran-Ferguson was passed soon afterwards precisely for the purpose of stemming this flood of litigation by assuring the states that the federal government had no designs on further regulation. But that doesn’t change Black’s statement: that Southeastern dealt with antitrust, that other facets of interstate commerce were obviously now suspect too, that not all regulation would be denied to states, and that these other facets of interstate commerce would each have to be investigated in turn.And that’s really all I’m saying – I’m not an expert on the commerce clause. I don’t know where the Constitution and the law comes down on specific facets of insurance regulation, but I think if the federal government starts making broad declarations to states it’s going to be challenged and it SHOULD be challenged.I think you’re substantially overstating your case and overstating the certainty of the commerce clause and overstating the power of the federal government. I only see three clear things coming out of these rulings: (1.) that insurance is definitely commerce, (2.) that insofar as states do regulate insurance they have to treat in state insurers and out of state insurers equally, and (3.) the federal government definitely has anti-trust authority over insurance. The case gets pretty weak when you move beyond those three points.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm

And for God’s sake, if you disagree with me today just tell me how you disagree with me – don’t accuse me of arguing in bad faith.

mcwop November 3, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Correct, ERISA is one such example.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

A question, though – do those national standards nullify higher state standards? California has higher emissions standards than the feds do, for example. And many states have higher minimum wages. These aren’t in violation of interstate commerce, are they?

Mark November 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Dude, that’s exactly what you do! Post after post. You argue just to argue. It’s a pathology. That’s why I’m guessing you live totally alone because most people can’t stand your M.O.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

You think way too highly of me. I’d strongly disagree.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

No, it’s not. Do you see how, above, I simply said I thought he was wrong. I didn’t append any snide remarks about how he shouldn’t talk unless he does some research. If you have a problem with the fact that I disagree with things people say, I’m not sure what to tell you – that’s what goes on in discussions about major policy.

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm

daniel kuehn: “I think you’re substantially overstating your case and overstating the certainty of the commerce clause and overstating the power of the federal government. “

I haven’t read all of your long post. I have to go into a meeting right now. But I’m fairly confident that if you believe I’m overstating the certainty of the commerce clause, you probably do not understand how the Supreme Court has interpreted the commerce clause.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Please read it – I lost a lunch hour to that. Hopefully I can disabuse you of the notion that I’m just spouting off without thinking about these things. It’s a cheap shot.

Seth November 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

In your original post to Don’s letter you ask, “do you really think conservatives want universal health coverage as a goal?”

Don did not write about having it as a goal, he wrote about objecting to the intention: “he [Krugman] clearly believes that…anyone who opposes a government program promising universal health coverage is a person who objects to Americans actually getting universal health coverage.”

You and I are clear cases of exactly what Don wrote about. The point: Your original question was irrelevant to Don’s post.

And…thanks for the comment on my third paragraph.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm

“You and I are clear cases of exactly what Don wrote about. The point: Your original question was irrelevant to Don’s post.”

Yes, Dan is a master of the non sequitur.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Which is exactly why I mentioned that it gets mushed up (and why I phrased my initial post in the form of a question!).

Krugman talked about wanting universal coverage.
Don talked about objecting to universal coverage.

I was just trying to find where they overlap. Because if we’re going to get technical about language I agree with both of them – I think generally conservatives don’t want universal coverage (so Krugman is right), but I don’t think they object to universal coverage (so Don is right).

The point: Insofar as my original question was irrelevant to Don’s post then Don’s post was irrelevant to Krugman’s statement. Insofar as it was relevant to his post than his post is addressing Krugman’s statement… and since it’s all confused, it seemed best to just ask him what he really thinks :)

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Krugman talked about wanting universal coverage.
Don talked about objecting to universal coverage.

I was just trying to find where they overlap.

If I truly wasn’t speaking to Don’s point then Don wasn’t speaking to Krugman’s point.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm

You’re the only one here with such ‘questions’ Dan. You should thank all the people who respond to you for the attention you’re getting.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Are you serious, Mark? I corrected Ike earlier for letting Krugman off too easy. I reminded him that Krugman doesn’t just implicitly call conservatives racists, he explicitly calls them racists all the time. In what universe is that pretending not to understand? I’m just saying I’m not touching that issue with a ten foot pole. I don’t particularly care about these inter-ideological fueds. I care what Krugman thinks about politics and economics.

I have yet to read a substantive point you’ve raised. All eight of the things you’ve said have been about me. You complain about the discussion being about me but you’re the ONLY ONE DISCUSSING ME, except when I occassionally try to get you to stop. Sam, Ike, johndewey, etc. have all been talking about substance with me.

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm

that Krugman was trying to tar conservatives.

He was trying to tar opponents of universal coverage using “conservatives” as tar.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:07 pm

DK – you’d be surprised about how many progressives do view anyone who doesn’t share their views else as neanderthal-ish. Whatever that means. Are we supposed to believe the real neanderthals were uncaring brutes? Talk about speciest!

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm

I just thought you wanted to wanted to understand the purpose of Don’s letter and why he wrote what he wrote.

What Don thinks conservatives think abut universal coverage is irrelevant. In fact, what conservatives think about universal coverage is irrelevant to the thrust of Don’s argument.

And yes, there is a fairly common perception among many “progressives” that conservatives, as a class, are backwards, knuckle dragging, neanderthals. Even I sometimes think that about certain members of that clan.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm

1. Should we want Obama to succeed: I’m with Limbaugh on this. If it’s good, we should want him to succeed. If it’s bad, we shouldn’t. I don’t see the point of all the hysteria over this line. I wanted Bush to fail on most things, but succeed on some things too.

2. I think a lot of Obama’s agenda is good for America, some of it isn’t. I’m not really sure I know what Pelosi’s agenda is so let’s just say I support the president on a lot of things and I can take Pelosi on a case by case basis :)

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

They have not been talking substance WITH you. The substance has been one-sided. You’ve been flatulating, buddy, and it stinks!

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Well shucks, if Obama was suddenly a libertarian I’d be all for his success. But I’m not deluding myself.

Tell me DK – what parts of the Obama agenda are good for America? Heck, one thing I’d hoped he’d already done is withdraw from Afghanistan. Instead he perpetuates the useless quagmire. You take Pelosi on a case by case basis? Can you name me one good piece of work she’s done?

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Oh definitely. I’m just saying that’s where I exit the discussion :)

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Why, too rough for you DK? Don’t want to ruffle progressive feathers?

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm

The stimulus, his position on Guantanamo, I wish he had pulled back more from Iraq but his initial pull back was good to see, the fact that he’s not neglecting Afghanistan (although I’d like to hear a more realistic mission there than the one we’ve currently got), his initial opposition to the mandate (although he’s dropped that), the fact that he’s come around to taxing benefits like salary, his reappointment of Bernanke was a minor thing I suppose but great in my book, his support for an IMAC means he’s serious about making Medicare more sustainable, and his openness to discussions with non-friendly nations. Probably some others. The decision to remove the missile shield, to back the mandate, and a number of other big ticket things have been problematic but I never expected I’d agree with him on everything. And right now, honestly, if you get macroeconomic policy and the wars somewhere close to right that’s about all I’m getting my hopes up for so I’m relatively satisfied.

With Pelosi, like I said – I don’t know what her agenda is. I don’t follow her. I can take her on a case by case basis. You give me a case, I can give you a sense of whether I think it’s a good idea or not.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for proving my point.

I suppose you enjoy doing this, so I’ll leave you to it now.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Dan’s not worried about being disliked. He just wants to “point out” stuff in his pseudo-intellectual, I’m-gonna-get-my-PhD way and use clever emoticons ;-)

As long as people keep interacting with him, he’s happy. Makes him feel alive.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:25 pm

1. Stimulus – this has been covered to death on this website. Safe to say, it’s been proven to be a ridiculous failure. Or not, if you’re a member of the teacher unions.2. Guantanamo – he still has not shut it down, and even so what was wrong with it?.3. Bernanke – fine.4. Renouncing missile shield – capitulation to Russia and North Korea. Appeasement.DK – I challenged you on Pelosi and you won’t answer. This is why so many call you Disingenous Kuehn.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Yeah, with Pelosi he needs to go case by case. Apparently he can’t see the leftward pattern there.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Well you asked me what I thought :) I wasn’t trying to convince you.
I’m glad you gave my Bernanke comment a stamp of approval ;-)

RE: “DK – I challenged you on Pelosi and you won’t answer. This is why so many call you Disingenous Kuehn.”

I told you from the beginning I don’t follow Nancy Pelosi’s career so I coudln’t tell you. I could guess at what she probably thinks, but I’d just be guessin a standard liberal list. I don’t follow her. THAT’S my answer. For the third time – give me a case and I’ll tell you if I like her position or not. You’re the one dodging the question!

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Do I strike you as someone that is particularly concerned about ruffling people’s feathers? No – I just don’t really care.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Give it a rest. I don’t keep her voting record on my Google Reader and since she’s never ran in an election that I vote in I’ve never taken the time to scrutinize it. I’m not sure what to tell you. She strikes me as being more liberal than I am. Happy?

Mark November 3, 2009 at 8:35 pm

“Do I strike you as someone that is particularly concerned about ruffling people’s feathers? No – I just don’t really care.”

No, you love it. Clearly you have some sort of intellectual Napoleonic complex that you’re working through with us.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Perhaps that’s true about some conservatives, but what about progressives? Don’t they have plenty of knuckle-draggers? Supporting union thugs and terrorists shamelessly?

Mark November 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm

“I just thought you wanted to wanted to understand the purpose of Don’s letter and why he wrote what he wrote.”

He doesn’t want to understand…he wants to bait.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

The purpose of Don’s letter seemed to me to address whether conservatives want or don’t want universal coverage, and what would lead one to think they want or don’t want it.

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I don’t have a characterization for progressives.

Many do seem to think their good intentions are sufficient to take us to the promised land. How about “illusional”?

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Well, he’s young and a bit callow, but smart.

Mark November 3, 2009 at 9:14 pm

That’s what they said about Che in the early days.

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 9:17 pm

It is the power of the Commerce Clause which prevents state laws and regulations which interfere with interstate commerce. I do not see how minimum wage laws interfere with interstate commerce. Perhaps you can make a hypothetical case, but I cannot imagine how it would be relevant.The Air Quality Act of 1967 and amendments to that law enacted in 1977 specifically allowed states to set tougher emissions standards than the EPA’s national standards. Again, the power to regulate interstate commerce lies with the U.S. Congress. Only when Congress specifically grants exceptions does the state law supercede federal law, or can state law interfere with interstate commerce.

Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm

hahahahaOK, now I’m just starting to think this is an act. Good one.

Sam Grove November 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Go back and read Don’s last line.

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Sorry for not replying earlier.

I think it is a little complicated. U.S. courts have adopted the “dormant commerce clause” doctrine:

” a restriction prohibiting a state from passing legislation that improperly burdens or discriminates against interstate commerce. The restriction is self-executing and applies even in the absence of a conflicting federal statute.”

If Congress had not written legislation to allow or to end the prohibition on interstate purchases of health insurance, the dormant commerce clause doctrine would prevent states from such prohibition.

As I replied to daniel, the McCarran-Ferguson Act allows states to sharply regulate insurance sales. IMO, Congress has not been derelict in its duties, but rather has legally yielded to the states the right to restrict interstate sales of insurance. Congress could, of course, very quickly repeal McCarran-Ferguson.

For what it’s worth, the wikipedia article states that Scalia and Thomas:

“have rejected the notion of a dormant commerce clause.”

John Dewey November 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

I read your post. I disagree with your conclusion that:

“The case gets pretty weak when you move beyond those three points.”

MWG November 3, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I don’t see dan as “working through” his Napoleonic complex. I think it’s more like mental masturbation to him.

Mark November 4, 2009 at 12:38 am

You’re right. I haven’t seen any progress either.

Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Well since Black’s decision was pretty clearly delimited in it’s scope, I’m not sure why you disagree (and your lack of an explanation leaves me pretty helpless in understanding). But hopefully at least you’ll realize that you aren’t the only one here that thinks critically about what you write.

Methinks November 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Oh, I do enjoy your posts so, Mark. On the mark.

Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Go back and read his first line! Either way, I was pretty explicit on what I was responding to.

Methinks November 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Maybe I don’t understand this, but it seems that the dormant commerce clause doctrine restricts states from preventing interstate commerce.

I realize there is no restriction to regulate insurance intrastate and the commerce clause doesn’t refer to intrastate commerce. If I understand it correctly, I believe the McCarran-Ferguson Act pertains to intrastate commerce.

When I said that I think congress may be derelict in its duties under the Commerce Clause, I was referring to allowing the prohibition of interstate commerce in health insurance, not the right of each state to regulate insurance companies doing business specifically in their state.

Securities Broker Dealers have similar regulatory issues. However, BDs are allowed to have customers in a state in which they have no office and which does not regulate them.

I guess I don’t understand why the dormant commerce clause is not preventing states from the prohibition on buying insurance from an insurance company housed in another state.

Sam Grove November 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I did read it. Don does not attempt to refute Krugman’s assertion, he exposes Krugman’s logic.

So I guess we have to appeal to Don to explicate the purpose of his letter since you don’t seem interested in my explanation.

Don?

Mark November 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Don – don’t wade into this discussion! It’s too dangerous! Dan is an econo-Sith Lord. You wouldn’t survive the encounter!!!

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