Chaos averted, ObamaCare survives, GOP relieved/angered

Obama_AffordableCareAct

ObamaCare lives.

By a 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion, the Supreme Court has decided that federal health-insurance subsidies will still be available even in Georgia and other states that refused to set up their own health-insurance exchanges.

By affirming the legality of those subsidies, the court wisely sidesteps what would have been total chaos in the insurance market and in Washington. And while large chunks of the Republican base will be deeply disappointed, I suspect that a lot of GOP politicians in Washington and here in Atlanta are breathing a big sigh of relief. The ruling allows them to continue to pretend to have a better alternative to ObamaCare, without having to explain what that alternative would be or attempt to pass it.

The Supreme Court also sidestepped doing serious long-term damage to its own credibility. The argument put forth by opponents of ObamaCare was obviously bogus on factual and legal grounds; nothing in the congressional debate or subsequent implementation of ObamaCare supported the narrative they attempted to weave.

If the Court had used that specious argument to overturn a major policy initiative, setting off all kinds of economic, political and human turmoil in the process, it could no longer be viewed as a dispassionate, apolitical judicial entity but as just another partisan institution. Chief Justice Roberts, to his credit, refused to be drawn down that path.

UPDATE:

In reading Roberts’ majority opinion, I’m struck by the importance that he gives to the concept of fairness in reading and interpreting the Affordable Care Act. He writes, for example, about seeking “a fair construction of the statute,” observing that “A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.”

The implication is that opponents of the act are giving it an unfair reading, a reading that is totally at odds with the rest of the legislation. That is clearly the case, and Roberts’ opinion is actually a pretty thorough smackdown of those who attempt to make that argument.

It goes unmentioned in his opinion, but nowhere in the congressional record is there any hint that subsidies would be available only in states that established their own insurance exchanges, as opponents now try to claim. Likewise, when Georgia officials decided several years ago not to create a state insurance exchange, nobody — Republican or Democrat — raised the possibility that as a result of that decision, Georgians would be barred from  receiving federal subsidies. The same is true in the debate in every other state across the country: Nobody, including the law’s opponents, understood it the way that opponents now claim it was written.  It was only much later, upon the discovery of the words “established by the state” in an obscure part of the law, did Republicans begin to claim that the law meant something entirely different than everybody understood.

As Roberts further notes, the crucial four-word phrase on which opponents base their entire argument, the extraneous four-word phrase that would supposedly bring the whole edifice crashing down, is buried in what the chief justice calls “the ultimate ancillary provision: a sub-sub-sub section of the Tax Code.”

Finally, Roberts notes that the four-word phrase in question, if interpreted as opponents demand, would “likely create the very ‘death spirals’ that Congress designed the Act to avoid.” “It would destabilize the individual insurance market in any state with a federal exchange,” leading to huge rate increases and reductions of 65 to 70 percent in the number of people covered. He concludes that no fair reading of the law could lead you to believe that Congress intended such a disastrous outcome:

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

As a result of today’s ruling, we can now turn our attention back to Congress and the Republicans who control it. If they want to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as they have claimed for the past five years, they still have the power to at least put their alternative on President Obama’s desk. Yes, he would veto it. But the American people would then have a stark choice — ObamaCare, or the option put forth by the GOP — and the 2016 presidential election could become a referendum on those two alternatives.

But we all know that will not happen. It will not happen because the Republicans have no alternative. Even among themselves, within the House and Senate Republican caucuses, they cannot come to a consensus about the approach to take. Reaching such a consensus would require Republicans to compromise with Republicans, and even that they cannot do.

 

Reader Comments 0

1461 comments
fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

"And you still did not do it all by yourself.  You did NOT built it alone despite your selective pout and self grandiose"


Oh geez.... the "you didn't build that' BS.  Let me tell you something clown, In all the weekends, in all the nights, and it all the 14 hour days I've put into building my business, NOT ONCE have you and any of those damn people from the government showed up and offered to do a thing to help me.  NOT ONCE.  Take your loser attitude and stick it where the sun don't shine.  


Unbelievable....

LeninTime
LeninTime

@fiftythreepercenter 

OT ONCE have you and any of those damn people from the government showed up and offered to do a thing to help me.  NOT ONCE

***
Classic case of a business owner who doesn't understand basic economics.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

"Just consider yourself a lucky Joe"


Yes friends, everybody who makes more than the average liberal is "lucky".  It's not that they worked 2 jobs to get through college, showed up for work 5 days/week for 10 years, got promoted, and made a name for them selves....


IT'S BECAUSE THEY WERE FRIGGIN' DAMN LUCKY!!


Geez.....It could not get any more clear why you liberals are getting left behind.....

KUTGF
KUTGF

@fiftythreepercenter  Yes, you were the only one who worked.  Really?  How idiotic you little rant.


And you still did not do it all by yourself.  You did NOT built it alone despite your selective pout and self grandiose

KUTGF
KUTGF

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has refused to release his long-form birth certificate and passport records, despite demanding the same from Barack Obama during the 2012 election

-----------------


Oh how I do love watching Trump run.  LOL 

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

I look forward to Republicans passing legislation giving me more bigger federal income tax cuts.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Numbers_R_Us Do you think Obama will sign the legislation, just like he did the most recent Obama tax cuts?

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

I think that Roberts and Kennedy indirectly did the Republicans a big favor. ObamaCare will be a huge campaign issue for Republicans and the Democrat presidential nominee, presumably Hillary Clinton. will be forced to defend it. If the decision had gone the opposite direction the Democrats would be off the hook and Republicans would have very likely been on the hook.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

@Recon2/3 

Obamacare is the law. Gay marriage will be too. Republicans will run on campaign

finance reform.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Just now sussing that bit of political calculus out?

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

In the future Congress will submit all legislation to the Supreme court for approval

before sending it to the President. Save a lot of time.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@barkingfrog If ALEC had submitted PPACA legislation like they were supposed to, we wouldn't be having these problems now.

Bulls_3y3
Bulls_3y3

@FIGMO2 don't forget today's ISIS attack on Tunisia & France...  Tell me again whats Obama's strategy???  Oh thats right he doesn't have one...

ZAZ
ZAZ

@FIGMO2 If we had W, Rumsfeld, and Cheney in the saddle these guys would be toast.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

So.  How much will mandated auto insurance go up this year in Georgia.  I hear Ralph gave the insurance companies whatever they asked for.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

That 6-3 ruling sure does have Republicans mad at the Supremes.  Perhaps the Koch boys just didn't spend enough on those little get togethers with Scalia and Co.

Bulls_3y3
Bulls_3y3

@OldEngineer  replacement plan???  Why would the GOP participate in socialists activities???  The DEMs created the monster, now Hillary will face the wrath of the people at the polls...

TBS
TBS

I think the 50 or so repeal vote is in order

I can only laugh when some of the same people who cheered on the repeal votes now say it's a waste of time for Republicans to vote on one of their better plans because Obama will veto

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Chaos averted?

SCOTUS's job is not to prevent chaos. Obamacare was born of chaos, it should've died DUE to that chaos.

If Roberts wanted to write law, or rewrite in this instance, he should've been a legislator, not an SC justice.

Thanks, GWB...compassionate conservatism rules.  

Paul42
Paul42

@FIGMO2

Then there's this quote from the majority opinion:

""In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined —'to say what the law is.' ... That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."

Paul42
Paul42

@FIGMO2

Didn't read the majority opinion, let alone take a course where you'd learn about the role of the Court, did you?

(You really think Justice Kennedy, who strongly dissented in the first PPAA ruling and called it 'vast judicial over-reaching" then sided with the majority in this case, thought he was rewriting the law?  That's inconsistent.)

From the majority opinion:

"In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined—“to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. 


Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter. 


Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt. The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is Affirmed. 



http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-114_qol1.pdf

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@Paul42 @FIGMO2  "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."


I'd sure like to see some evidence of this. All I've seen is mandates, fewer options, double-deductibles, and skyrocketing costs of coverage we are now mandated to buy (double in two years with larger increases on the way). "ACA", spelled out, is a lie.

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

Now that Obamacare is done we need to discuss transportation in Ga.(shock) 

luckjoe
luckjoe

I work and pay for my home, healthcare, food and thanks to the Democratic party I pay for a housing, healthcare and food for a lazy liberal. Now Obama wants to bring section 8 housing to my neighborhood to totally tank the value of my home.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@luckjoe  All part of his "Share the Wealth" agenda. Which really means take from those that do and give to those that won't.

TBS
TBS

Just consider yourself a lucky Joe

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@luckjoe I was preparing to sell a house here in Georgia about 25 years ago and one of my neighbors asked me not to let it be sold to "those people" because they didn't want their house value to drop.  

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@luckjoe 

see also:

http://www.eschatonblog.com/2015/06/the-big-bennies.html

Once a upon a time we had a thing which was reasonably called "Welfare." It wasn't generous, but it was a thing. It is 95% no longer a thing. There are some government benefits that poor people can get access to, but other than Medicaid they're so meager as to barely deserve mention. They're important to the poor people who have to jump through hoops to get the pittance, because when you're poor every little bit really matters, but the point is that it is just a little bit.

steveatl
steveatl

@luckjoe I don't have kids but I pay for lazy kids to go to public school!!! I'm outraged!!! And for lazy people who's houses catch on fire, or want to read books in libraries!