In the previous post I relied on my own memory of the extensive public debate in 2009/10 for the proposition that the limitation of the Obamacare subsidies to policies purchased on exchanges created by a state was a very intentional feature designed to coerce the states into creating exchanges. Today, various web denizens have been going out and doing some homework as to exactly who said what when.
My favorite comes from Jonathan Gruber. For those who don't know him, he is a professor at MIT who is often described as the "architect" of Obamacare (and, for that matter, also of Romneycare in Massachusetts before that). Gruber is known for having worked closely with the White House in coming up with the structure of Obamacare, and then moving over to work with the Congressional staff to come up with the language. Gruber gave a speech on January 18, 2012 describing how the Obamacare structure works to coerce states to set up exchanges. Here's some video from the speech:
Here's the key quote:
I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.
Others have additional video of Gruber at other times making similar statements to the same effect. Well, that was then and this is now. Earlier this week on MSNBC, now striving for a favorable decision in the D.C. Circuit Halbig case, Gruber said of the limitation of subsidies to state-created exchanges:
It is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it's a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states.
With multiple videos of himself saying exactly the opposite of what he is saying now, you would think that this guy would be too embarrassed to show his face in public. Instead he's taking the offensive. Of course, he is uttering these bare-faced lies to give some cover to the courts in the hope that they will endorse hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes and spending not approved by the Congress. And also to fool those of the people who were not paying attention back in 2009. Some might call this "fraud." Elsewhere in the MSNBC transcript, Gruber now calls the reading of the statute that the subsidies are only available on the state-created exchanges "criminal" and "insane." Silly me -- I had somehow thought that even when a statute contains an obvious typo (like referring to the year 3015 instead of 2015) that they still need to send a correction bill back through Congress and get it passed to fix the thing. Don't they enact a "technical corrections" bill a few months after every complicated new tax law goes into effect?
So are the courts really going to rule in the end that the statute says exactly the opposite of what we all know it says and thereby give the IRS the ability without Congressional authorization to impose hundreds of billions of dollars of taxing and spending on the economy? So far, every Democrat-appointed judge to rule on the matter says that's how it works.
In case you aren't reading the stuff, I've collected a couple of examples of the statist thinking on why it's OK to do away with our republican form of government in favor of rule by the whim of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. For example, here is Andy Koppelman in the New Republic:
If the argument is ultimately accepted by the Supreme Court, then about 4.5 million low- and middle-income workers in those states who are already receiving assistance from Obamacare will abruptly lose their benefits—not because they did anything wrong, but because this destruction furthers the political war. Their personal disasters are not unintended side effects of the litigation, but the very goal that the challengers are seeking.
Or here is Tim Jost blogging at the American Constitution Society (a little irony in the name there?) site:
Should the plaintiffs ultimately win, millions of Americans will lose their premium assistance and probably their health insurance. The individual health insurance markets may collapse in several states. This is mean-spirited litigation, intended to deny health insurance to those who Congress intended to help. It is to be hoped that in the end the courts will interpret the law as it was meant to be interpreted, and uphold the IRS rule.
So in this world view, the most important value is that favored members of the elite get to pass out taxpayer-funded "benefits" to those officially designated as poor and downtrodden. The bureaucrats get to decide how much money they get to pass around and how much taxes to impose, with Congress cut out of the loop. Having "low and middle income workers" "lose their benefits" leads to "personal disasters," and seeking such a result is "mean-spirited." There's no particular room here for any value to be placed on our Constitution or on maintaining our republican form of government. And do these people see any problem in having the IRS -- formerly thought to be a "non-political" agency -- lead the charge on this hyper-partisan attempt to rescue a failing statute not supported by one single Republican? Not that I have seen.
The incredible thing is that 36 states continue to resist a statutory structure that had been thought to be so coercive that they would be forced to crumble immediately. More than a few able-bodied Americans find the whole idea of the government paying for their health care to be insulting and demeaning. I sure do.