The 4th Circuit has the most plausible, commonsense reading of a badly drafted part of a 2,400-page statute. The alternative is that Congress included in Obamacare the seeds of its own destruction, giving naysaying governors the power to kill it—without ever saying so. The history of passing this law was full of devious twists and turns, but that form of willful self-destruction is not among them.
The anti-Obamacare crowd however, obviously disagreed, and last week some conservative columnists unearthed the smoking gun. Ryan Radia, from the libertarian think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discovered a video of one of Obamacare's leading architects, Jonathan Gruber, seemingly agreeing with the conservative interpretation. The same day, John Sexton at Breitbart released an audio clip of Gruber making the same argument at a different venue. Needless to say, the entire world of conservatism was utterly ecstatic about this brilliant display of ownage. As conservative writer, Moe Lane says:
Possibly the most damning thing about this video is that Jonathan Gruber stated, quite forthrightly, that the decision to deny subsidies to federal exchange policies was deliberate, and designed to push states into starting their own exchanges. That is… extremely unhelpful to the current Democratic narrative.
Now, this might make Gruber and the pro-Obamacare crowd look bad, but this supposed smoking gun managed to do something else as well. It changed the argument that the plaintiffs were using in Halbig, from arguing on technical grounds, to arguing on the original intent of the law's framers.
Therefore, this brings up a question that I haven't really seen anyone ask. If the original intent of the Obama administration was to only allow subsidies to be available to states with their own exchanges, then....shouldn't Obama have been cheering the D.C. court ruling? Think about it. If that was the original plan, then the D.C. court ruling made sure that everything would be going, well, according to plan, right? Why is the Obama administration disputing the decision if that's what they wanted all along?
I've seen some conservatives argue that Obama didn't think that the Republican governments in many states would go through with their threats of not setting up their exchanges, but now that it's apparently clear many still won't, Obama has to pretend he never supported the original idea to begin with.
But that makes no sense. Remember, according to the story revealed in Gruberghazi, the law was supposedly set up so that if Republicans refused to build their own exchanges, the Democrats could then use the fact that the states would be losing millions and billions of dollars in subsidies to attack Republicans.
But guess what? The Democrats can still do that! They can hammer Republicans relentlessly on their decision to screw over the people in their states, and hopefully have them eventually give in. In fact, you would think this was excellent timing because this is something that the Dems can use to attack Republicans in the midterms. The point here is that nothing has changed!
Furthermore, if Republicans truly believe that Obama is lying about the original intent of Obamacare, then they should attempt to call his bluff. Present a bill that would simply change the text of the law to make it clear that subsidies would be available to people on either exchange. If the Republican theory is true, then Obama would refuse to sign it, and then they would have all the proof that they need that Obama, and not them, is the one who really wanted to make getting insurance much harder for poor people.
Of course, they won't do that cause they themselves don't believe the crap they're spewing, and they don't want there to be any fixes to what they see as the worst piece of legislation since the dawn of civilization.