You can’t defund Obamacare; misc items

I wrote a hard news story about the prospects of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) being struck down in 2010, where I predicted that the individual mandate to carry health care insurance would be upheld as a tax. I was right back then and I think it’s even more interesting now, because that’s the reason you can’t really “defund” Obamacare.

Even with a government shutdown, citizens are still required to pay their taxes, and Obamacare is paid for almost entirely by taxes. You can’t “defund” it with anything short of an amendment to the law that gets rid of the taxes (which should send the government back into trillion-dollar budget deficits because you didn’t also get rid of the subsidies/spending), or full repeal.

Republicans don’t have the votes to do either of those things so trying to shut down the government is less about defunding Obamacare than it is about a bunch of rookie Congressmen throwing a temper tantrum over a faux fight that they simply cannot win.

* * *

Some miscellaneous issues to cover:

We don’t have a debt crisis. We didn’t have one in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, this year, and we won’t have one over the next five years. The difference between debt at 80% of GDP and 120% of GDP is about $10 billion per month in interest payments at current rates:

Debt: $12.8 trillion (80% of GDP)
Interest: $20 billion/month ($240B/year)

Debt: $19.2 trillion (120% of GDP)
Interest: $30 billion/month ($360B/year)

The United States could afford debt at 150% of GDP and still be just fine in the short term. If the budget were balanced in the next few years and remained so, it could deal with debt at 200% of GDP just for the rest of eternity. Although it wouldn’t actually be 200% for all of that time because GDP increases over time and it would eventually fall to 100% even with no a penny of it paid back. That said, the deficit is plummeting and is projected to fall even further in 2014 and 2015, so debt as a percentage of GDP is going to fall over the next few years even with no spending cuts of any kind.


The digital flood seems to have abated. Now I know what it’s like to be re-tweeted by an account with two million followers:

First, I’m sorry if calling Disney retarded offended anyone. Had I known that my Tweet would have been seen by more than 154 people (it’s now been seen by millions) I would have chose my words more carefully. It’s easy to rant and say stupid things when your prime audience is 30 live Twitter accounts and 120 abandoned ones.

Second, no, I don’t care that you think Julian Assange is a scumbag. I don’t care about him personally and I don’t find his character in any way relevant to the value of transparency in government through whistleblowing.

The Fifth Estate posterAnd if you don’t think that the editors of the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, and other news outlets should suffer the exact same fate you wish would fall upon Assange, then I don’t really give a shit what you think on the subject at all. Just being honest here.

Assange is like any other person, capable of doing both good things and bad things. I support his advocacy of government transparency, although not every single thing he does. I also support WikiLeaks wholly apart from Assange and I wish there were other viable and effective transparency organizations like it in every country in the world.

I know one thing for sure, the United States has had more vigorous and fruitful debate since the second age of enlightenment began than it has had in all the years between Watergate and the Iraq War, while not one person has been provably harmed as a result of whistleblowing. That stands in stark contrast to the hundreds of thousands of people killed, millions of people injured and harmed in other ways, and the countless violations of civil liberties by the NSA that has been revealed.


Every time Politifact does something this stupid, it harms the entire fact-checking industry. This has absolutely got to stop. This is killing the reputation of fact checking. It’s typical false-balance Village media crap assimilating a once great and useful site into the collective.

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