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Memo Pad Politics


Justice Scalia & Bryan Garner Book Talk and Signing (Photo: Brian Calhoun via Flickr)

The amicus briefs filed in the challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be argued before the Supreme Court on March 4 illuminate the Great American Political-Cultural Divide.

Those who filed briefs in defense of Obama’s legislation are recognizable: the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. There is a different anthropology among those who filed briefs supporting the plaintiffs who are challenging tax subsidies for low-income buyers of health care insurance policies.

Texas’ African-Americans for Life considers abortion and contraception “a tool by some who wish to target the African-American community.”

Colorado’s Mountain State Legal Foundation is “dedicated to bringing before the courts those issues vital to the defense and preservation of individual liberties, the right to own and use property, and the free enterprise system.”

The American Civil Rights Union is “dedicated to defending all of our constitutional rights, not just those that might be politically correct.”

Senator John Cornyn of Texas is named on the amicus brief filed by 16 congressional Republicans, an unlikely choice to lead any health care pleading.

At 26.8 percent (24.81 percent after ACA enrollment), Texas leads the nation in the percentage of residents lacking health care coverage. It also leads the nation in the number of eligible residents, 1,046,430, who are shut out of Medicaid. Texas, like 25 other Republican-led states, has rejected the Medicaid expansion provided through the ACA.

King v. Burwell is a fight over five words in the statute: “Exchange established by the State.

The ACA creates insurance-market exchanges through which anyone can purchase private health insurance policies. In an attempt to subvert the law, most states governed by Republicans refused to establish exchanges. But the law also created a federal exchange, where residents who are denied access to state exchanges can purchase insurance. Currently, state and federal exchanges provide subsidies for low-income purchasers of insurance.

According to the plaintiffs, one phrase in a section of the statute describing the subsidies — “Exchanges set up by the State” — restricts the subsidy program to state insurance exchanges, although other language indicates that Congress intended to extend subsidies to all insurance buyers who meet the law’s income qualification.

This lawsuit isn’t what it claims to be.

Contradictions and hypocrisy underlie the intent of the plaintiffs and the politicians supporting them.

Consider the plaintiffs.

David King and three other residents of Virginia, which has no exchange, qualify for subsidies provided through the federal exchange. They are asking the Court to overturn the subsidies, because, on ideological grounds, they object to the ACA’s mandate requiring individual health care coverage.

Consider the elected officials.

John Cornyn, for example. Or Florida’s Marco Rubio, or Utah’s Jake Garn, or Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. All signed the anti-subsidy amicus brief filed with the Court, and all represent states whose Republican governments refused to create exchanges. They are petitioning the Supreme Court to hand down a decision that will strip subsidies from low-income residents in the states they represent.

It requires at least four justices to decide to hear a case. The activist and Republican majority on the Roberts Court has decided to hear the appeal of a lawsuit filed and financed by ideologues determined to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

To decide on behalf of the plaintiffs, the justices will have to ignore principles by which they have decided cases requiring them to interpret the meaning of statutes. Yale Law School professor Abbe Gluck explains in an article published by Scotusblog.

Republican justices, she writes, in particular Antonin Scalia, are “textualists” who have “repeatedly emphasized that textual interpretation is to be sophisticated, ‘holistic’ and ‘contextual,’ not ‘wooden’ or ‘literal,’ to use Justice Scalia’s words.”

She quotes Scalia’s explaining textualism in an opinion handed down in June 2014, in which the justice describes “the fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.”

Gluck also quotes four of the five Republican justices who published a joint dissent in the 2012 case that upheld critical provisions of the ACA. They address the very subsidies that are now before the Court: “Congress provided a backup scheme; if a State declines to participate in the operation of an exchange, the Federal Government will step in and operate an exchange in that State. That system collapses if the federal subsidies are invalidated.”

The preceding sentence is critically important. The Republican justices know “the system collapses if the federal subsidies are invalidated.”

Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.

Originally posted at The Washington Spectator.

Photo: Brian Calhoun via Flickr



  1. Godzilla March 3, 2015

    If the SCOTUS rules that the subsidies are illegal, which I doubt will happen, the system will not collapse, it will simply reboot. A huge number of people already owe the IRS money because they got “too much” of a subsidy, at least that’s the talk going around these days. This should not be a surprise, considering the failure of the rollout of the program at it’s inception. While I think that the SCOTUS will keep the ACA intact, it would not surprise me if they ruled otherwise, which of course would cause a “BIG CRISIS” that big brother needs to step in and save the day. That, if it were to occur, would be following the model of the Nazi’s, to a tee. The Republicans will follow right along with the “crisis” claim and “fix” it. Although it will simply be the same, it may have a new name.

    The Fascist government currently in DC may, do what they wanted all along and go “Single Payer” if the SCOTUS rules against it. This is the end game anyway, so why worry?

    1. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

      If you are in the middle of medical treatment right now, you better worry.

      1. Godzilla March 4, 2015

        Obama will just sign another Executive Order. There will be no negative affects on the 8 million or so who get the redistribution payments.

  2. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

    Here is why the US congress was cheering so much for bibi.

    Health care in Israel is universal and participation in a medical insurance plan is compulsory. All Israeli citizens are entitled to basic health care as a fundamental right. Based on legislation passed in the 1990s, citizens join one of four health care funds for basic treatment but can increase medical coverage by purchasing supplementary health care. In a survey of 48 countries in 2013, Israel’s health system was ranked fourth in the world in terms of efficiency.

    1. Godzilla March 4, 2015

      Move to Israel if you like it so much

    2. Godzilla March 4, 2015

      I do have to ask though. Considering the problems with the VA, which is 100% government run healthcare for JUST veterans, why on earth would any sane person want the same government to run the healthcare for every single person in the country? Are Liberal’s incapable of learning anything from the past?

      1. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

        plagued by staffing shortages, delays and funding shortfalls, the health services they do receive are the best in the nation.

      2. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

        So how did veterans feel about the February 26, 2014 vote where 41 Republicans voted against a sweeping bill to help veterans? American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger expressed his frustration with the outcome by stating, “There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That’s inexcusable.”

        1. Godzilla March 4, 2015

          The law that Obama wanted to defund in his recent budget proposal? The law that doesn’t help veteran’s get to closer healthcare facilities because it doesn’t use drive miles but “as a crow flies” to determine distance? Really? I’m in the VA system, as is my father, I think I probably know quite a lot about it, like how long it takes to get an appointment, how far one has to travel for simple blood work and how many veteran’s have died waiting for an appointment. This is what government run healthcare is. ANYTHING run by the government is wasteful and full of corruption.

          1. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            Yes. We need a VA hospital in every town, every city, and every county.

            All’s we need is the funding.

          2. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            No, we need laws that are written by people with some brains. The healthcare, when you can get it, is good. Just an example, I had surgery last March. I had several follow up appointments, as would be expected. Here’s what the day of appointment is. Up at 4:30 am, leave by 5:15, drive 90 minutes. Wait for bus to arrive for the final 75 minute drive to the place of appointment. Appointment takes 20 minutes once you get to see the doctor. Wait till 12:00 to catch returning bus, travel 75 minutes back to car, drive another 90 minutes to get home. Home by 3:00 pm on average, depending on weather and traffic. 10 1/2 hours for one 20 minute appointment. Even with the new law that Obama wanted to defund before it was a year old, this is still inevitable. The law helped very few people. Vets don’t need more government garbage, we only need our lives simplified by less government hoops to jump through for what we have earned.
            HR 1172, above. Do we really need a stupid law to do this ? Now, you can understand the wastefulness of the federal Government. I would have voted it down too! Unnecessary legislation is wasteful.

          3. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            You told me to “move to Israel”

            So I will tell you to move closer to the VA hospital.

            So there!

          4. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            ROFLMAO Good one!

          5. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            The answer to all of humanity’s problem is simple.

            Just MOVE!

          6. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            I wish we could convince those on welfare of this.

          7. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            Bill’s Blocked By Republican’s Since President Obama Took Office.

            Here’s a concise extraction for easy viewing for those who are INTERESTED IN VETERANS ISSUES and need to know which party supports veterans and which party does not.

            The rejected Bills are named:

            H.R. 466 – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act became H. R. 2875.

            H.R. 1168 — Veterans Retraining Act

            H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization

            H.R. 1172 — Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans

            H.R. 1293 — Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009

            H.R. 1803 — Veterans Business Center Act

            H.R. 2352 – Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act

          8. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            Where did this nonsense come from, Media Matters?

          9. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            Republican Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives are looking to end VA healthcare benefits for disabled veterans – that’s for over 1.3 million veterans who are Priority 7 & 8.

            According to the Congressional Budget Office “Option 35,” the cuts would leave 130,000 veterans with no healthcare alternative. This means veterans with conditions not recognized by the VA, like certain diseases from Agent Orange exposure, would have to pay for healthcare out of pocket if they had not other service connected disability.

          10. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            You would be surprised by the constant changes in the system. Not all Vet’s are guaranteed 100% healthcare, that’s been a fact for decades. I only qualify due to Desert Storm and the problems that are associated with being over there. Those who didn’t serve over there during the same period of time do not get full coverage. Could you provide links for your copy and pastes, I would like to research more on these subjects.

          11. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            It is my opinion that any one that is brave enough to volunteer for the armed forces should get 100% healthcare with zero out of pocket. No matter how they served.

            I mean, do you have much of a choice of what you do once you are enlisted?

            If you want to research something check out McCains voting record on help for the vets.

            Your jaw will drop.

          12. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            I agree with you ! One has no choice when enlisted. For the record, I don’t support McCain or any other politician at the federal Level. I believe they are all corrupt and do not work for us, they work for their donors. They don’t all become millionaires because they’re paid well. We can do better and should demand better.

          13. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            Almost forgot, many of the Bills you mentioned above are mostly redundant and are already part of the benefits Vets are offered. As far as the level 7 and 8 vets, they are not Agent Orange victims. I’m not sure where you got that from, but it’s incorrect.

          14. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            It’s sickening to think another 22 veterans will die by suicide today and every day we fail to expand mental health care for our vets

          15. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            I couldn’t agree more.

          16. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            Sadly, when many Republicans talk about members of the armed services making a “sacrifice” for their country, they seem to think that part of the package is abandoning them when they get home. Rather than put even a single cent towards helping, they’d rather cut spending and kill programs. Especially if – like last year’s senate veteran bill – it was supported by President Obama. Political gamesmanship over human decency is the GOP default position.

          17. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            It seems that both sides talk one way and do another. I have lost all faith in politicians at the federal level. I didn’t like Bush2 and I really don’t like Obama, he’s just Bush on steroids. I would bet that you and I could sit down and solve most of the problems this country has and be done within a week. They play a game in DC, one that we aren’t invited to.

          18. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            It seems that both sides talk one way and do another. I have lost all faith in politicians at the federal level. I didn’t like Bush2 and I really don’t like Obama, he’s just Bush on steroids. I would bet that you and I could sit down and solve most of the problems this country has and be done within a week. They play a game in DC, one that we aren’t invited to.

          19. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            You will never get it.

            The same people that you vote for are the ones hurting you.

          20. anothertoothpick March 4, 2015

            These cuts are just an attempt to split the oyster shell in half to steal the pearl. Once 1.3 million bodies get cut out of the VA system, politicians will have an easier time justifying further cuts to VA programs.

          21. darkagesbegin March 4, 2015

            the only institutions more wasteful and corrupted are those that have been turned over to “private enterprise”

          22. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            We haven’t had that problem in decades, business’s are all “regulated” these days. Our current state of Fascism should make you happy.

          23. latebloomingrandma March 4, 2015

            Hmmmm– I thought our POTUS was a Marxist.

          24. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            More like a Fascist. He’s trying hard to be a Fascist dictator too!

          25. Sand_Cat March 4, 2015

            You haven’t got the vaguest clue what he’s trying to do or be, and it’s obvious from all the crap you’ve dumped here.

          26. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            Then again, after this email, you could be right after all:

            Obama Supporters Endorse Karl Marx for President in 2016


          27. Sand_Cat March 4, 2015

            Yeah. Idiot.

          28. latebloomingrandma March 4, 2015

            For profit prisons being one example.

          29. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            For profit prisons are severely regulated, not even close to being a “private business” in terms associated with a free market.

          30. Sand_Cat March 4, 2015

            Yes, of course it’s regulated. You are really, really full of it. Do you really believe what you’re shoveling? I guess I have to give you points for memorizing all the GOP talking points and dressing them up so well.

          31. KDJ54 March 4, 2015

            I agree, I think we should immediately de-fund all government programs and shut them down. The military, FBI, funds for local police and firefighters, schools, universities, transportation, airline security, food inspection, border security, etc., etc. All of them inefficient scabs on the societal body politic. The sooner the better, because only then can we reach the right wing/libertarian nirvana, where he/she who has the most can keep it as long as they have enough money to hire the muscle needed to keep the rest of us moochers off their pile of money.

          32. Godzilla March 4, 2015

            That wouldn’t work very well. What would be nice is if we could purge the Federal government of the corrupt. Get rid of outdated laws, remove the ABC departments the authority to write regulations and put it back where it belongs, in Congress. Maybe an Independent Organization made up of average citizens review laws, before they are voted on. Remove, for life, any politician who’s is found to have broken any law (yes ANY). We could close quite a few agencies that are not Constitutionally authorized (there is only 21 things written, I think we are way past that number) such as the Department of Education. The TSA hasn’t caught one terrorist since it’s inception, I think we can do better at much less cost and hassles (do we really need Granny in a wheelchair getting groped?). The States can handle the work of the EPA. We should keep the FDA, minus the corrupt, same goes with the USDA. WE have a good system, it’s just broken and overblown. We, as American’s should demand better.

          33. Sand_Cat March 4, 2015

            Yes, let’s purge it of the corrupt. But then, you might have to stop voting for your favorite Senator or Congressman, and I could stop voting for ANYBODY BUT the kind of people you support.

          34. Sand_Cat March 4, 2015

            No, things run by the government are inefficient because a certain party – I won’t name it – works very hard by any means necessary, both when it is in power, and when it isn’t to assure abysmal government performance because they know their complaints about the government being the problem and unable to run anything well are lies. Government can do things well (or better than the alternatives) when it is united in a determination to make things work for the American people. Unfortunately, the aforementioned party is united as never before to tank the current administration, and they don’t care who they have to hurt or how much damage they have to do to the nation to accomplish it.

        2. Jmz Nesky March 4, 2015

          Because it was part of Obama’s project once the pubs scuttled it in favor of privatization then they got pissed because he dared to implement it. It’s no different from the proposition the pub leader wrote up then filibustered and defeated because Obama LIKED IT!!

      3. jointerjohn March 4, 2015

        Sure! Just unwilling to cling to the things that aren’t working. ACA is not government run healthcare, the providers and insurers are private. It was designed that way by the republicans who first conceived it.

  3. Whatmeworry March 4, 2015

    The only folks damaging Obamacare is Barak. He’s rewritten the law 20 times. From funding to covering illegals

    1. Daniel Max Ketter March 4, 2015

      Umm, I agree we should provide more funding for immigrants. The Affordable Care Act is a great accomplish, best thing the democrats have done since Jimmy Carter punched opec in the nose and got our gas prices down. God bless our labor unions for their service to their country. If you see them with a sign, shake their hand and refuse to cross their line if you are a american.

  4. Whatmeworry March 4, 2015

    The only folks damaging Obamacare is Boehner. He’s rewritten the law 20 times. From funding to covering immigrants


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