The K Law
June 24, 2012 1 Comment
A favorite approach to current pro-Obamacare opinionating is to describe in lurid detail how, if the law is ruled unconstitutional, this would have bad effects on a certain subset of the public. While it is certainly refreshing that Obamacare supporters have abandoned all pretenses of actually caring about whether it is constitutional (let alone trying to construct an argument that it is), the offense against logic and good sense still grates.
Let’s say I take over Congress and, in a meth-fueled frenzy, somehow push through a bill promising to give $732,000 from the public coffers on the next Groundhog Day to anyone whose last name begins with the letter K.
The day that bill is signed, all the K people will surely rejoice. Who could blame them? Apparently a quarter million dollar windfall is coming their way. You could write endless op-ed pieces, all of them factual, finding poor K people for whom my K law was a godsend, saved their house, paid medical bills, etc. Essentially, all K people are now richer by roughly that amount, if only in expected-value terms (since they don’t actually get the money till Groundhog Day). Some would even borrow against the coming payout, adjust their life plans, buy bigger houses, and so on.
It follows that if the K law were to be later repealed or overturned, that would indeed harm all those people. So once again you could, if so inclined, trot each of them out for a weekly op-ed on how overturning the law would have “real effects” on real people. All of them factual.
The point being, you can always say, of any law with a nontrivial economic effect, no matter how wise or idiotic the law is, that repealing it will harm some folks. So pointing that out gives us no new information. It is, literally, not news. The question is then, even leaving aside the constitutionality, is ‘repealing it will harm some folks’ a good argument for the K law? Is it even an argument at all? I see now that it is if your name is Ezra Klein, and perhaps that’s why he’s a published columnist and I’m not. My name is not Ezra Klein.