The Corner

Prospects

Brother Hugh Hewitt thinks it highly unlikely that the full Supreme Court will rule against Obama on the Chrysler and GM takeovers. Alas, he is probably right: Justice Kennedy surely doesn’t want to be lacerated as a latter-day version of the early New Deal Court that struck down FDR’s initial programs such as the National Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act.  

I believe it was James Macgregor Burns, in his FDR biography The Lion and the Fox, who shrewdly argued that those Court decisions of 1934-36 actually did FDR a great favor by decisively ending the really bad and unworkable NRA and AAA programs. (I’m on the road and don’t have my copy handy to check.) Hmmm. The GM and Chrysler bailouts are proving unpopular with the public; maybe Obama would appreciate a reprieve, and a requirement that Congress share the blame for the bailout by voting to delegate the power to the executive branch. (Remember, by the way, that the AAA was struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court in the famous Schechter case, not by a closely divided Court: See Amity’s fabulous account of this in The Forgotten Man, and also Hadley Arkes in his unduly overlooked classic, The Return of George Sutherland.)

Meanwhile, I’m wondering if the conventional wisdom about what’s going to happen over the summer is wrong — the conventional wisdom being that health care is a higher priority for Obama and Democrats than the Waxman-Markey climate-change farce. Despite the hesitation of coal-state Democrats, the massive giveaways in Waxman-Markey is providing enough political cover to get the bill through the House by brute force. The Senate Environment committee is starting markup on its own bill. Prediction:The Senate version will end up giving away 100 percent of the carbon allowances, and might buy off enough votes to pass it there too. Meanwhile, there still isn’t a health-care bill in draft form yet, and some restiveness is appearing among some Blue Dog Democrats. Changes to health care will be felt immediately, while the costs of the climate bill are being postponed for several years, making it a safer vote. I wonder if we might have this all backwards — climate bill this year, health care next year . . . if at all.

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