There could be billions of earth-like planets in the galaxy, but there are only seven and a half things you need to know each day. Here they are:
Thing One: World Without Care: Good news, America, you might soon not have to worry any more about Obamacare taking away your precious freedoms. Like your freedom to not buy health insurance, or your freedom to fall immediately into a crushing bankruptcy because of your pre-existing condition.
After three days of Supreme Court arguments on health-care reform, it seems there is a chance that the justices could very well toss the whole plan out, or at least toss out the mandate that people buy health insurance in order to make the plan affordable. As Dahlia Lithwick explained it in Slate earlier this week, this threat arises out of a "dark vision of freedom" among the conservatives on the court. The Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young explains what a great thing ending the oppression of the individual mandate will be for the country, with a "death spiral" of skyrocketing health-care premiums for all, as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin intended.
And the irony here is that the individual mandate that conservatives suddenly despise is no different from the tax credit being proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or the taxes we already pay for Medicare and Social Security, writes Ezra Klein at Bloomberg View. In fact, as everybody should hopefully know by now, the mandate was originally a conservative scheme designed to avoid forcing people to pay taxes. The mandate is less of a government intrusion into health care than a single-payer plan or the Ryan tax credit, Klein writes:
"That is to say, in the name of liberty, Republicans and their allies on the Supreme Court will have guaranteed a future with much more government intrusion in the health-care marketplace."
Thing Two: Nobody Knows Anything: In a shocking development that will shock you, none of the MF Global executives who testified in a congressional hearing yesterday about MF Global's collapse and the disappearance of customer funds had any idea what happened, writes The Huffington Post's David Levine. Oh, but they all did think that maybe the firm's treasurer knew what happened -- and what do you know, she took the Fifth.
Thing Three: Artful Dodgers: Magic Johnson and the other investors that bought the Los Angeles Dodgers are paying a hefty 7.3 times the team's record annual revenue, set back in 2008, compared with a more-typical multiple of three times revenue, writes Matthew Futterman in the Wall Street Journal. But it's going to be totally worth it because they'll soon be able to make kajillions of dollars on TV rights.
Thing Four: Lovers' Quarrel: Looks like there's trouble in paradise between business groups and the Republican congresspeople the business groups paid good money to elect, The New York Times reports. It seems some of these politicians are being sticklers about their small-government ideology, which means cutting off some of the government's cash flow to businesses. Somebody from the conservative PAC Club for Growth bawls to the NYT: “Free market is not always the same as pro-business."
Thing Five: Let The Deadbeats Die: A couple of horrible people, Erika Christakis and Nicholas Christakis from Harvard, explain in the Financial Times this morning why "deadbeat" homeowners shouldn't get any help from the government. It's because letting the deadbeats hang around our neighborhoods will keep "educated" people from moving in and taking their places and will ultimately destroy the fabric of our society until it's one big Lord of the Flies. You can't argue with them: They're educated.
Thing Six: Bain Retirement Plan: Willard Mittens Romney is a man of mystery! For example, how can he possibly find the humor in a story of mass layoffs? And also, why does he have such a massive individual retirement account? Well, now we know, thanks to The Wall Street Journal: Bain Capital, the private-equity company he used to run, had a habit of funneling cash from the company's investments into the IRAs of its staff, a way of keeping them from paying taxes (at least until they try to go and tap that IRA, in which case the tax rate will soar).
Thing Seven: Closing This Facebook: Facebook has halted trading of its shares on the "secondary" stock market, where rich people swap shares of private companies back and forth, in preparation for a May IPO, Reuters writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: Stay Classy, Planet Earth: The movie itself could very well be terrible, but news that there will be an Anchorman sequel is quite welcome in this newsletter, as the first Anchorman is the source of half my references.
R.I.P. Earl Scruggs.