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Feb 10

King v Burwell and the Rights of the Rich

Obamacare - GOP: I told you it would fail...The more I read about King v Burwell, the more it seems clear to be defeated. It is the most recent attempt to destroy Obamacare — this time by disallowing subsidies to people purchasing insurance on federal exchanges. The net result would be to harm middle class people in Republican led states. The idea is apparently to make people so angry at the arbitrary injustice that they would demand the law’s repeal. I’ve always thought it just as likely that the people would be angry at the Republicans who did this, and demand that the state level Republicans stop being so spiteful and take the free money from the federal government.

Aside from that, the case is just bad. It is based upon a single sentence in the 20,000 page healthcare bill. Consider an analogy. Suppose I made a statement:

I am against murder. Murder is wrong in all circumstances. I understand that people usually have justifications for the murders that they commit. But it is always wrong to be against murder. Because murder is wrong. Nothing more need be said. It is immoral to murder.

This is clearly a statement against murder. And that is the case, even though one of the sentences mistakenly read, “But it is always wrong to be against murder.” Clearly, that sentence is a mistake. It would most likely have been an editing error, combining “it is always wrong to murder” and “I am completely against murder.”

This is what the plaintiffs in King v Burwell are doing. Now some have countered that this one sentence changes what the bill means. The problem is that the sentence doesn’t exist in isolation. An enormous amount of the bill assumes just the opposite. It uses “state run exchanges” as a synonym for any exchange run by a state government or the federal government. In other words, the word “state” is used as a synonym for the government.

What this all means is that if a number of justices find for the plaintiffs, it’s going to look really bad. No one is going to find it shocking that many of the justices are nothing more than partisan hacks. But it will be another nail in the coffin of the Supreme Court’s good reputation.

What is more telling, however, is what it says of the conservative movement generally. Even if this challenge to Obamacare goes down in flames with a 0-9 finding, it will still be the case that a majority of the conservative movement thought and will continue to think that this was a reasonable challenge to the healthcare law. And that shows a shocking lack of belief in democracy. It doesn’t matter that the law was enacted using all of our democratic processes — in the full light of day. And it did that despite the organized and unethical efforts of the power elite. Yet they are willing to use absolutely any tactic to destroy the will of the people. And that includes harming their very own constituency.

We aren’t talking about zoning laws here. If the conservatives manage to prevail in this effort, it will result in untold disruption. As it is, many poor people who would now have health insurance don’t because of the spitefulness of state level Republicans. Some have died who wouldn’t have otherwise. If healthcare becomes unaffordable because of King v Burwell, they same thing will happen — and even more will die. And that’s a price that conservatives think is worth paying for winning a single battle in their fight against the president.

The conservative movement in this country is committed to their ideology. But that ideology is vacuous. It believes in “freedom” but doesn’t care at all for practical effects of its policies on freedom. Thus we get policies to increase the freedom of those who are already the most free, while it greatly reduces the freedom of the rest. It believes in “life” but doesn’t care at all for the practical effects its policies on life. So it pushes for laws that reduce the number of legal abortions, which manage to be more than offset by the number of illegal abortions.

Ask almost any conservative about healthcare and they will tell you that they want everyone to have access to healthcare. But the current healthcare law isn’t how they want to do it. So they are willing to deprive tens of millions of Americans of healthcare in the name of providing Americans access to healthcare. Because the practical consequences never matter. If Dick Cheney might have to pay an extra dollar for his next heart transplant, the conservatives are there to protect his freedom to low cost heart transplants. If that means that poor children die of unnecessary illnesses, nothing can be done. We can do anything we want to help the poor — as long as it doesn’t harm the power elite in the slightest. And that “slightest” includes even the potential for harm.

If you want to understand what is wrong with the conservative movement, you need look no further than King v Burwell. The poor and the middle class just don’t matter. If they could bring back droit du seigneur, they would. Because they know that the rich are just better. And they should be treated accordingly.

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