Republicans Signal Support for King v Burwell

Orrin HatchRemember the good ol’ days when Orrin Hatch was considered a right wing loon? That was fun. Now, of course, he’s one of the more reasonable Republicans in Congress. Well, he and Lamar Alexander and John Barrasso took to The Washington Post on Sunday to trumpet the news, We Have a Plan for Fixing Healthcare. And contrary to the repeated claims of Jonathan Chait, these three establishment Republicans are cheering on the Supreme Court in King v Burwell. If the Supreme Court finds that “the administration acted illegally” and “[m]illions of Americans may lose these subsidies,” well never fear: “Republicans have a plan to protect Americans harmed by the administration’s actions”!

I hit back on the idea that Republicans were coming around to see that this case was toxic, It Is Still Best That King v Burwell Fail. This recent OpEd by the three amigos shows that the Republican Party thinks that in this case, as in all others, they can finesse their way through any problems that arise. Basically, they are just pushing Ben Sasse’s idea that Congress would pass a temporary funding bill until they replaced Obamacare with something that doesn’t turn the nation into North Korea. And they have a plan!

Just kidding! As Ezra Klein reported, Republicans Say They Have a Plan if the Supreme Court Rules Against Obamacare. They Don’t. But before I talk about that, let’s suppose that they did. This Congress is going to pass a temporary funding bill?! They can’t even manage to pass a bill to embarrass the president. Are we really supposed to believe that they could manage to get half of the Republican majority in the House to sign onto extending Obamacare? You’d have better luck getting them to pass a resolution that Satan is their lord and master. And I don’t use that comparison lightly, given that most of those Republicans think that Obama and “his” law are Satanic.

So what is this cunning plan? First, as mentioned, they will extend the existing subsidies for some length of time — Sasse mentioned 18 months, so let’s figure that, because the three elephants of the apocalypse didn’t tell us. Then, they will replace it with a new plan. Are you ready for it? Because this is it in its entirety:

[W]e will give states the freedom and flexibility to create better, more competitive health insurance markets offering more options and different choices.

The rest of the article is just the usual boilerplate about “Obamacare’s costly mandates and rules.” And there is this exciting news, “We have had many discussions with our Senate and House Republican colleagues on this issue, and there is a great deal of consensus on how to proceed.” There is apparently so much consensus that this is why they only mention one thing that Obamacare already allows! And that shows what the real point of the article is. It is meant to signal to the Supreme Court that it is okay to gut Obamacare with this silly lawsuit.

Remember, this isn’t Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert writing this OpEd. This is a trio of establishment figures. This is the Republican Party giving its okay to the conservative hacks on Supreme Court to screw over 11.5 million people (it’s only 6 million if you only look at those directly effected). I still think that the lawsuit will be defeated. In which case, The Washington Post has given the Republicans an opportunity to claim that they too want to help working Americans, even though they clearly could not care less.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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