Is it possible to discern congressional intent by examining what was never said? In the wake of last week's circuit court ruling that, contrary to the Obama administration's current implementation, Obamacare does not allow insurance subsidies in federally run health exchanges, supporters of the law and reporters who covered it have argued as much. No one in Congress ever said that subsidies were limited to state-run exchanges, their argument goes, and the idea was unheard of before critics of the health law decided to challenge the administration in court.
It's true that the legislative history isn't particularly revealing. The issue of whether subsidies would be available in federally established exchanges was rarely if ever brought up prior to the law's passage.
Thankfully, writes Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman, there's no need to infer from what wasn't said. There is a clear record of congressional intent in the plain text of the legislation that Congress voted into law.