Obamacare

The Post-Supreme Court Obamacare Standoff Has Already Begun

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Whitehouse.gov

The Supreme Court has yet to release its decision in King v. Burwell, which challenges the legality of the administration's decision to allow subsidies in Obamacare's federal exchanges, but the post-game political battle has already begun.

On Monday, President Obama criticized the court for even taking the case, and on Tuesday he followed up with a speech making a argument for the law and its place in American politics.

Yesterday, the debate continued in a Capitol Hill showdown between GOP legislators in the House and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. 

In his remarks on Monday, President Obama said that Congress could "fix" a Supreme Court ruling against the administration with a one-sentence fix allowing subsidies in the federal exchanges. Basically, he said that the if the Court rules that the administration has acted illegally, the GOP-controlled Congress should rewrite the law to bless the administration's illegal actions. 

The major question that the assembled Republican represenatatives had for Burwell, then, was whether or not the administration would sign anything besides a one-sentence fix extending the subsidies into the federal exchanges. 

Burwell was not exactly forthcoming with a direct answer, instead saying repeatedly that the administration would be open to at least considering any tweak that improves "affordability, quality, and access." What exactly does that mean in practice? It's hard to say with certainty.

But as Reuters notes, Burwell seemed to indicate that the administration would not be interested in the sort of legislative response suggested by Sen. Ron Johnson, who has proposed extending the subsidies for those who already have them through 2017, while repealing the individual and employer mandates, as well as the law's coverage requirements. New enrollments in the exchanges would be allowed later this year, but new enrollees would not be eligible for subsidies. Basically, it would preserve subsidies temporarily for those who have them now while unraveling some of the law's other major components and setting the stage for some TBD health policy overhaul in the coming years. 

Presuming that Republicans could agree on such a plan and pass it in both the House and the Senate, which is not at all certain, President Obama would likely then issue a veto, and then a protracted political tug-of-war would ensue, with Republicans arguing that they had voted to preserve the subsidies for those who have them, and Democrats arguing that, because Republicans refused to compromise by giving Democrats exactly what they want, Republicans were really to blame. 

I don't think it's at all clear how an extended standoff like this, which could easily last through the next presidential election, would play out, but this week's jockeying on both sides makes it clear that the post-SCOTUS battle has already begun. 

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  1. Anything bad is clearly the fault of the Republicans.

  2. Of course I fully expect the Stupid Party to pass some legislation that preserves this bucket of shit.

    1. It is the Democrats’ job to pass horrendous legislation that grows the State as much as possible.

      It is the Republicans’ job to figure out how make the Democrats’ big government plans work and to pay for them.

      It’s called separation of powers and they all have their jobs to do. Why do you have our form of government?

      1. It is the Democrats’ job to pass horrendous legislation that grows the State as much as possible.

        It is the Republicans’ job to figure out how make the Democrats’ big government plans work and to pay for them.

        My brother made interesting observation that way in 2012; he did not want Romney to win for no other reason than management of Barry’s disasters should not improve.

        Let the clown who dreamed the shit up, and the moron electorate who picked him, enjoy fruits of their folly completely.

        1. I had similar thoughts. If Romney had been elected, he’d have spent four years arguing it was all Obozo’s fault – while further entrenching and expand the bureaucracy.

          With an Obozo win, he has to reach back as much as 6 or 7 years to blame Bush – and he has to live with (some) of the crap he created. Note: Many of the provisions of Obozocare have been illegally DELAYED until Obozo is out of office.

    2. McConnell wants to prove that the Senate is “back in business,” i.e., “doing something,” i.e., passing “bi-partisan” legislation, no matter how bad it is.

      1. “Just do something!”

      2. And the Republicans are cowards. They don’t want the ball in their court, because then they would be compelled to act and thus need a plan, which they don’t have.

        Nearly all of them used the promise of repealing Obamacare to get elected or re-elected. Yet, they have done nothing since taking office. They could have nuked this piece of shit, or at least most of it, with reconciliation. Have you heard much about this now?

        I don’t think they are serious about repealing it.

        1. The House has voted for full repeal 54 times. Maybe if they voted a 55th time you’d be happy.

          1. Well, the Republican-controlled Senate needs to actually step up.

            1. This. And the fact that they cast these votes when the Senate was firmly in the hands of the Democrats. In effect, they were symbolic votes. There has been little movement from the Republicans in either chamber since the election to kill this fucking law.

              1. There has been little movement from the Republicans in either chamber since the election to kill this fucking law.

                And people wonder why I say there is no difference that makes a difference between the two parties, and won’t vote for either of them.

  3. …if the Court rules that the administration has acted illegally, the GOP-controlled Congress should rewrite the law to bless the administration’s illegal actions.

    Passed without a single GOP vote.

  4. Is there ever a time that the Republicans aren’t entirely at fault?

    1. Sure, back when everything was the Whigs’ fault.

    2. Yes.

    3. I read a claim that the pre-Cambrian extinction wasn’t their fault, but then it was immediately challenged by Tony.

      1. Well, it’s not their fault now but it will be in about 350 years after time travel is perfected when they jump back to the pre-Cambrian to effect mass extinction. Then it’ll be their fault.

  5. I don’t think it’s at all clear how an extended standoff like this, which could easily last through the next presidential election, would play out,

    This. Given the law’s unpopularity, Congress might well put in a one-year “fix” explicitly to time it so that subsidies will expire right before the election.
    That would make ObamaCare the central issue of the 2016 election season.

  6. In his remarks on Monday, President Obama said that Congress could “fix” a Supreme Court ruling against the administration with a one-sentence fix allowing subsidies in the federal exchanges.

    They could have tried to do this when Democrats still controlled the Senate and preempted the entire thing. But then they wouldn’t have scored any political points. Plus its tons of fun to play around with people’s financial futures.

    1. When you have to depend on your political opponents to extricate you and your alies from a mess of your own devising without any cost, you may be a delusional hack of a politician. Hell, even if the Congress ws controlled by Democrats he have to gove up something. Can he put his trust in the media spin machine pulling has butt from thefire?

    2. President Obama said that Congress could “fix” a Supreme Court ruling against the administration with a one-sentence fix allowing subsidies in the federal exchanges.

      I can think of another one-sentence fix that would also do the job.

  7. IT’S TIME TO THROW OBAMAcare INTO THE WOODCHIPPER

    1. It would take hours to go through all that paperwork.

    2. From what I understand the size of that particular law is to large to be chewed up by your standard woodchipper.

  8. any tweak that improves “affordability, quality, and access.” What exactly does that mean in practice? It’s hard to say with certainty

    But we can 100% certain that it doesn’t mean what the plain words would imply.

    1. repeal satisfies every bullet point.

    2. improves “affordability, quality, and access.”

      Yeah, this is one of those “pick any two” type of deals.

      If you want cheap and easy, don’t expect quality.

      If you want cheap and quality, don’t expect short lines to get in.

      If you want quality and access, get ready to empty your wallet.

  9. “In his remarks on Monday, President Obama said that Congress could “fix” a Supreme Court ruling against the administration with a one-sentence fix allowing subsidies in the federal exchanges. Basically, he said that the if the Court rules that the administration has acted illegally, the GOP-controlled Congress should rewrite the law to bless the administration’s illegal actions.”

    And with the current leadership, McConnell will do just that, so that he can prove that he’s bi-partisan and the Senate is doing something.

    As it stands, the leadership is dreading a decision that throws out a decision based on the actual wording of the law. Fucking cowards.

    1. Sure he will. But don’t forget what an epic petulant asshole Obama is. McConnell will do everything he can to surrender but Obama is such a petulant asshole who will have his panties in such a wad that the evil Supreme Court dared to question him, nothing McConnell will offer will be good enough. Obama will have a temper fit and turn down the surrender. You watch.

      1. Of course all this assumes the SCOTUS will actually rule based on the plain meaning of the law as written. Which is definitely questionable at best.

        1. There is some danger they might. Otherwise, Obama wouldn’t be bitching and moaning so much and trying so hard to bully them into not doing it.

          It could go either way. But I have a feeling they are going to rule correctly. Justice Penaltax seems to like to leave things to the political process.

      2. I’m confused, John. Why would Obama turn down the “fix” that he just openly requested?

        1. Everything that comes out of Obama’s mouth has an expiration date, that’s why.

          Personally, I’m at dead-center 50/50 on how this will come out. Trending toward deference to the IRS and upholding the tax credits, statute be damned.

        2. Because Obama will see McConnell’s eagerness to capitulate as a sign that he’s got a winning political hand. He’ll think he can press for more.

  10. SPEAK-O! THE GREATEST FREE-MARKET REFORM EVAH! PHAKE SKANDULL!

    /derp

  11. Preserve the subsidies, but repeal the individual and employer mandate.

    Isn’t that that the voters want? Polls show they always hated Obamacare and the individual mandate, but they liked the subsidies. Get rid of the part they don’t like, but keep some of the free aspect of it.

    And sooner or later, states that went along with expanded medicaid will find that they can’t pay for it without full federal aid.

  12. One Sentence :

    The giant piece of shit known as “Obamacare” (a.k.a the ACA), is hereby repealed, motherfucker.

  13. There was a rather clever idea that I saw on EconLog a few days ago.
    Basically it was to preserve the subsidies but tweak the regulations to allow state regulations to govern the plans offered in the exchange rather than federal regulations. You might still have the individual mandate, guarenteed issue, and community rating, but you wouldn’t necessarily have the full “essential benefits” list, so stripped down plans and catestrophic-only plans would qualify. So basically people (especially young people) could opt-out of subsidizing all the people with chronic pre-existing conditions by only buying catestrophic coverage.

    1. Catastrophic coverage makes no economic sense for most young people. They have to give you medical care even if you don’t have the money. So if you are a young person and have some kind of catastrophic injury or illness, you will get care. The problem is of course you will be charged for it. That is only a problem if you have a lot of assets, which most young people don’t. Most young people can declare bankruptcy with few or no assets lost and walk away from those bills. So buying catastrophic coverage is a complete waste of money for most young people.

      1. Um, unless you want to buy a house or get a car loan at a decent interest rate at some point.
        Bankruptcy isn’t a great idea for anyone.

        1. Then they just have to wait it out before getting either. In this economy, most young people are going to wait before buying a house anyway.

    2. “So basically people (especially young people) could opt-out of subsidizing all the people with chronic pre-existing conditions by only buying catestrophic coverage.”

      But the *whole point* is to have healthy people paying more money into the system without using it in order to cover the people with chronic pre-existing conditions. That’s why the universal mandate was seen as such an integral part in the first place. Get rid of that, and the whole house of cards falls apart.

      1. Yes. but it is all going to fall apart anyway. The even more basic assumption was that giving people insurance was, because of the preventitive care unicorn, going to reduce overall medical costs. In fact, since people who are forced to pay for insurance they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased are likely to use it and get more care and run up more cots than they did before, getting people to buy insurance is going to increase overall costs.

        1. “people who are forced to pay for insurance they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased are likely to use it and get more care and run up more cots than they did before, getting people to buy insurance is going to increase overall costs”

          Exactly. Why there was an expectation that the people, largely poor people, being forced to pay into the system were not going to *use* the system they were being forced to pay for is utterly beyond me.

      2. Get rid of that, and the whole house of cards falls apart.

        Your point being?

  14. I don’t think it’s at all clear how an extended standoff like this, which could easily last through the next presidential election, would play out…

    Isn’t it obvious? “Those EVUL RETHUGLIKKKANZ will take away your Obamacare, ban contraceptives, and put y’all back in chains if they win the White House, so vote Shrillary!”

    1. It’s going to take a lot of GOP evil to stir the base enough to turn out en masse for Hillary. I don’t know that even Santorum is capable of frightening Democrats enough to get excited about that prospect.

  15. “[…]I don’t think it’s at all clear how an extended standoff like this, which could easily last through the next presidential election, would play out[…]”

    Sort of like the Doc fix; temporarily extended indefinitely.

  16. “In his remarks on Monday, President Obama said that Congress could ‘fix’ a Supreme Court ruling against the administration with a one-sentence fix allowing subsidies in the federal exchanges. Basically, he said that the if the Court rules that the administration has acted illegally, the GOP-controlled Congress should rewrite the law to bless the administration’s illegal actions.”

    Congress could fix many laws by inserting the word “not” into a sentence or two. No surprise that Obama is goofy enough to pretend that this is a serious answer to the problem presented by the blackmail clause of his namesake legislation.

    He’s a bad debater, an incompetent executive, and a terrible human being, but he’s pretty good at idiotic political brawling and mugging for cameras.

  17. The GOP may not have given us this awful law, but they do run both houses now and have an opportunity to justify for the American people why they should be in control–repeal, replace, or reform the law and get it on the president’s desk. If he vetoes it, fine–it’s on the record, as it is with those who voted against the repeal/reform/replacement.

    There’s plenty of popular support for getting rid of certain parts of the law–employer mandates, individual mandates, etc.–so maybe take it apart piecemeal. Make the Dems defend keeping those unpopular parts. Give yourself something to run on for 2016.

    But if the GOP does nothing–or just passes outright repeal that enables the Left to galvanize their supporters around popular parts like the subsidies, etc.–they’ll hit a roadblock. Getting rid of the mandates tears apart an essential part of the law and will cause the rest to collapse.

  18. Why is the prez getting all wee-weed up? He just ignores that courts anyway, when he doesn’t like the decision, why is this time any different.

  19. Obama is going for a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose situation. I’m betting most of the media will do their part.

  20. We should repeal it first, and then fix it. And I mean fix it gooood!

  21. This should be the trojan horse/poison pill needed to morph medicaid and medicare onto the exchanges and implement premium support. That and free market reforms on mandates and competition could be a huge improvement in the status quo.

    They’ll fuck it up.

  22. If the Republicans were smart, they’d refuse to amend Obozocare – and only offer bills for complete repeal. This would set the stage for 2016 with the fundamental truth that:

    1) Demoncraps wrote Obozocare.
    2) Demoncraps enacted Obozocare.
    3) Demoncraps tried to coerce the states with the “subsidies” provision.
    4) Demoncraps failed to coerce most of the states
    5) Demoncraps are responsible for the language restricting subsidies
    6) Republicraps have given Demoncraps a chance to reverse their error – but
    7) Demoncraps have refused – which is why all the subsidies in most states are going away and the cost of mandatory Obozocare is soaring.

    A 100% Demoncrap problem to which the Republicraps offered a solution – which the Demoncraps rejected.

    Does not look good for the Demoncraps.

  23. If the Republicans were smart, they’d refuse to amend Obozocare – and only offer bills for complete repeal. This would set the stage for 2016 with the fundamental truth that:

    1) Demoncraps wrote Obozocare.
    2) Demoncraps enacted Obozocare.
    3) Demoncraps tried to coerce the states with the “subsidies” provision.
    4) Demoncraps failed to coerce most of the states
    5) Demoncraps are responsible for the language restricting subsidies
    6) Republicraps have given Demoncraps a chance to reverse their error – but
    7) Demoncraps have refused – which is why all the subsidies in most states are going away and the cost of mandatory Obozocare is soaring.

    A 100% Demoncrap problem to which the Republicraps offered a solution – which the Demoncraps rejected.

    Does not look good for the Demoncraps.

  24. Obuffoonery at its best. What legacy! This guy will be more bitter than Jimmy” I’ll never lie to you” Carter for a long time after term limits set us free.

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