Conservatives get a big 2014 boost from ‘fatal blow’ to Obamacare

posted at 2:41 pm on July 22, 2014 by Noah Rothman

At first blush, a federal appeals court’s decision on Tuesday that dealt what many considered to be a near” fatal blow” to the Affordable Care Act could also appear to be a blow to Republicans’ hopes for retaking the Senate in November.

Obamacare supporters are enraged. The decision in Halbig v. Burwell, which invalidated the federal government’s ability to provide subsidies for those Americans who purchased insurance through a federal health insurance exchange, could mean a major increase in premium rates for more than half of the 8 million who enrolled in ACA plans.

The appeals court ruled that, as written, only those who purchased insurance through state-level exchanges can access federal financial support. “That would invalidate an Internal Revenue Service regulation that tried to sort out confusing wording in the law by concluding that Congress intended for consumers in all 50 states to have subsidized coverage,” the Associated Press reported. 36 states declined to establish their own exchanges, preferring instead to use the federal exchange.

state_health_insurance_exchange_decisions

The law’s design was no accident. The ACA was constructed with the aim of encouraging states to establish their own exchanges. Even Vox.com accurately describes the incentive structure in place: “If a state set up its own exchange, its citizens would receive subsidies. If the state didn’t, its citizens wouldn’t.”

It stands to reason that ACA supporters would enthusiastically oppose this decision and express that enthusiasm at the ballot box in November. However, at second glance, it seems more likely that Republican voters will be motivated by this development.

Why? Consider that Democrats are likely to breathe a sigh of relief when the “nuclear option,” advanced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and passed along party lines, saves Obamacare’s bacon.

The Obama administration confirmed on Tuesday that they plan to pursue this remedy. The White House added that, in spite of this court ruling, federal subsidies will continue to be provided to those who enrolled through federal exchanges. Meanwhile, ruling on a similar case on Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals came to the opposite conclusion as the D.C. appeals court citing “Congress’s clear intent.”

For Democrats, nothing has changed. For Republicans, however, the reviled health care reform law is back on the ballot.

It is hard to think of a more galvanizing development for conservatives than a panel of judges rescuing Obamacare from its own fatal flaws only as a result of Senate Democrats’ maneuver aimed at limiting minority Republicans’ rights.

That is, on a macro level, where Republicans will benefit from this ruling. But there are also state-specific factors resulting from this development which can help advance individual Republican candidates’ electoral prospects.

For example, take the state of Oregon.

The federal government awarded Oregon $10 million to set up its own exchange, but that problematic web portal was a chronic disaster. All the Beaver State had to show for their investments were a series of laughably bad, folk art themed enrollment advertisements which were mocked even by ACA supporters.

Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority spent a total of $248 million to create a website that never worked. In the end, the state scrapped the exchange and elected to use the federal government’s exchange portal instead. Now, those consumers who purchased insurance through that exchange face the terrifying prospect of their formerly cheap insurance growing prohibitively expensive.

Enter Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby. She faces an uphill battle in her bid to unseat Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the fall. The GOP standard-bearer, a pediatric neurosurgeon, raised just half of what her opponent raked in during 2014’s second quarter. The state’s Democratic-leaning electorate, predisposed already to support the incumbent, would require a major incentive to support Merkley’s challenger which previously did not exist.

That incentive may have just arrived in the form of Halbig. The Republican firm Harper Polling found in April that a majority of Oregonians disapprove of the ACA and Halbig is only likely to put Merkley in the uncomfortable position of defending an unpopular law. A law which now provides many of his state’s health care consumers with insurance they know they will not be able to afford.

That is a story that will be repeated in battleground states all over the country. When pollsters begin to ask voters just how likely they are to vote in the coming midterms after Labor Day, expect nearly every conservative-leaning voter to reply with an emphatic, “Very.”


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Remember Mississippi.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Remember Mississippi.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Remember America

Electrongod on July 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Eventually the chief justice will get another shot at Obamacare. We’ll see if he’s still wobbly.

aunursa on July 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.

libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Conservatives get a big 2014 boost from ‘fatal blow’ to Obamacare

This is Noah’s version of “Mission Accomplished” lol

coolrepublica on July 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Eventually the chief justice will get another shot at Obamacare. We’ll see if he’s still wobbly.

aunursa on July 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

He’s wobblier than a wheel with a busted bearing.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Eventually the chief justice will get another shot at Obamacare. We’ll see if he’s still wobbly.

aunursa on July 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

He’s not ‘wobbly’. He’s playing for the other team.

ElectricPhase on July 22, 2014 at 2:47 PM

This is Noah’s version of “Mission Accomplished” lol

coolrepublica on July 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

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But what it means to you, is _______________________________________
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listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

OT: BTW Obama hates Apollo 11 Astronauts – no cameras allowed

faraway on July 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM

I wonder what King Putt will offer (under the table of course) to HIS SAVIOR Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John “It’s a TAX” Roberts to save his sorry azz this time?

Missilengr on July 22, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Why am I having a flashback of “hanging chads”?

MichaelGabriel on July 22, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Eventually the chief justice will get another shot at Obamacare. We’ll see if he’s still wobbly.

aunursa on July 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Chief Justice Roberts is fundamentally no different than John Boehner or Mitch McConnell – they all are afraid of the mainstream media and prefer to ‘go along to get along’ as opposed to standing on principles.

That’s not being wobbly – that’s being cowardly.

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A

— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

It won’t last. Too many Democrat appointed judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals when it comes before all of them. It’s a shame that justice is dispensed based not on the law but on the political ideology of the judge(s) hearing the case.

iamsaved on July 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Reid’s nuclear option, which put 3 new Obama-appt judges on the DC Circuit, could save Obamacare.
10:37 AM – 22 Jul 2014

Watch and see. If they lose the Senate, Reid will put 3 more Wide Latinas on the Supreme Court in the Lame Duck.

They don’t want to do that before they absolutely have to because of the political shitstorm that will cause. Packing the DC Court of Appeals went unnoticed but has almost the same effect.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

It won’t last. Too many Democrat appointed judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals when it comes before all of them. It’s a shame that justice is dispensed based not on the law but on the political ideology of the judge(s) hearing the case.

iamsaved on July 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Which delegitimizes the courts.

Why should anyone be compelled to abide by the decision of a political hack made in defiance of the law?

It will destroy the authority of the courts in the end.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I don’t understand why Fox doesn’t issue a cease and desist to Vox.

They are clearly trying to confuse people.

faraway on July 22, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I don’t understand why Fox doesn’t issue a cease and desist to Vox.

They are clearly trying to confuse people.

faraway on July 22, 2014 at 3:00 PM

It’s from the Vox parody account, but one could certainly see Ezra Klein arguing that the Good Intentions Clause applies.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Please read Justice Roberts opinion in full before calling him wobbly. It makes it impossible to raise the penalty for not buying Obamacare.

The penalty amount was set low to get the bill passed – with the premise that it would be increased later.

Increasing it will make it an unconstitutional mandate instead of a ‘tax’ according to the opinion. That means that they can’t increase the penalty to force young, healthy people to buy it.

Obamacare is already dead. It has no workable funding mechanism. Thanks to John Roberts.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

faraway on July 22, 2014 at 3:00 PM

That’s Ezra Klein for you. He’s an inconsequential ideological zealot who suffers from illusions of grandeur.

Pretty much so the face of Liberalism these days ;-)

lineholder on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

I wish I could buy into the thinking behind the post …

Perhaps time will show it to be correct.

I fear the opposite will be true …

That instead, it will energize the left.

I’m not a lawyer, so it’s easy for me to agree with the DC court’s majority, I am afraid that the full DC court might overrule this decision (with three new appointees). From my own, non-lawyerly interpretation, that would be a disregard for the words of the ACA, as well as the original intent of Congress, when they wrote it … carrots and sticks to encourage states to set up their own exchanges.

Regardless, I’m not so sure the right is going to be any more fired up than they already are (Mississippi, not withstanding), but a heretofore lethargic left may now have a reason to vote, come November.

Grinch on July 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Obamacare is already dead. It has no workable funding mechanism. Thanks to John Roberts.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Don’t be silly, we’ll just borrow some more cash from China.

Ukiah on July 22, 2014 at 3:13 PM

I get the outrage, but I think connecting a Senate rules maneuver to people not losing subsidies for health insurance is too convoluted to work in an election campaign.

LukeinNE on July 22, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Obamacare is already dead. It has no workable funding mechanism. Thanks to John Roberts.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

That plus the fact the Employer Mandate will never be allowed to happen.

Basically all that was accomplished in the last few years with Obamacare was to add a couple of million more people to the Medicaid rolls that Doctors refuse to see.

Johnnyreb on July 22, 2014 at 3:20 PM

It is hard to think of a more galvanizing development for conservatives than a panel of judges rescuing Obamacare from its own fatal flaws only as a result of Senate Democrats’ maneuver aimed at limiting minority Republicans’ rights.

This.

Obamacare was bad law. It was written in secret without any input. It was passed with no opposing votes.

It deserves all the scorn it can get.

itsspideyman on July 22, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Regardless, I’m not so sure the right is going to be any more fired up than they already are (Mississippi, not withstanding), but a heretofore lethargic left may now have a reason to vote, come November.

Grinch on July 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Because of Mississippi I don’t give a shit whether the GOP gets the Senate or not.

What difference will it make?

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Shhhhh…..we don’t talk about obamacare around here anymore.

everdiso on July 22, 2014 at 1:27 PM

RINO in Name Only on July 22, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Obamacare is already dead. It has no workable funding mechanism. Thanks to John Roberts.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Don’t be silly, we’ll just borrow some more cash from China.

Ukiah on July 22, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Well, funding it that way would only work if we went to a single payer system.

Which was probably the plan all along. But with the messed up rollout changing public opinion about gov’t run health care I think it will be hard to get that passed now.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Well, funding it that way would only work if we went to a single payer system.

Which was probably the plan all along. But with the messed up rollout changing public opinion about gov’t run health care I think it will be hard to get that passed now.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Obamacare was supposed to fail by design.

But it wasn’t supposed to explode on the launch pad.

Government is incompetent at doing anything. It can’t even pull off a designed failure.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 3:25 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A

— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014
Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Your legal erudition is appreciated to the gentle point of affection. Posting links to the ocular and aural ipecac that is Ezra is not.

M240H on July 22, 2014 at 3:26 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A

— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014
Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Your legal erudition is appreciated to the gentle point of affection. Posting links to the ocular and aural ipecac that is Ezra is not.

M240H on July 22, 2014 at 3:26 PM

After reading some of the subsequent comments, I clicked.

Well done, RWM.

M240H on July 22, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Don’t be silly, we’ll just borrow some more cash from China.

Acquaint yourself with HB2847 aka FATCA. That law went into effect on July 1st. Watch as the world flees from the dollar because of it.

DanMan on July 22, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Problem is, the GOPe shot themselves in the foot with the Mississippi debacle, effectively costing them an easily winnable seat. Turtle McConnell has a plausible shot at losing his seat, too.

So even if they were to upset in Oregon, the takeaways from this post would effectively be negated.

Myron Falwell on July 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A

— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Your legal erudition is appreciated to the gentle point of affection. Posting links to the ocular and aural ipecac that is Ezra is not.

M240H on July 22, 2014 at 3:26 PM

After reading some of the subsequent comments, I clicked.

Well done, RWM.

M240H on July 22, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Note the source: @vauxnews

Have to admit, that’s clever. Verrry subtle.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Suddenly, retaking and being able to hold the Senate is a little more important.

formwiz on July 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Ogabe is depending on his supreme hacks Kagan and Sotomayor to foist it upon the peons anyway.

… and if necessary to remind Benedict Roberts of the detailed photos of his er, misbehavior, at the Cub Scout jamboree.

viking01 on July 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM

I still think Republicans can only win 51 seat in the senate. Democrat will win in Mississippi, and in KY.

BroncosRock on July 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

…you are going to have to wait for her talking points to come in l2g… from her posts…you can tell when she drools on her own…or has the hard copy in her hands!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 22, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Noah, first you cited this:

“That would invalidate an Internal Revenue Service regulation that tried to sort out confusing wording in the law by concluding that Congress intended for consumers in all 50 states to have subsidized coverage,” the Associated Press reported. 36 states declined to establish their own exchanges, preferring instead to use the federal exchange.

Then you described THIS as “accurate”:

Even Vox.com accurately describes the incentive structure in place: “If a state set up its own exchange, its citizens would receive subsidies. If the state didn’t, its citizens wouldn’t.”

IF it was so simple that even Vox.com got it correct, howinell did the AP (not to be confused with OUR AP) get it so wrong…

Newtie and the Beauty on July 22, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A

— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014
Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 4:27 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A
— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Ezra couldn’t have said it better

Newtie and the Beauty on July 22, 2014 at 4:30 PM

It makes it impossible to raise the penalty for not buying Obamacare.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Why is that?
Just raise it. Once done, “what cha gonna do about it chumps?”
This tactic has been repeated over and over and over with this regime. It works. Remember the GM takeover?..F&F?..firing meddlesome IG’s?..Benghazi?..NSA?..IRS?..EPA? simply declaring an existing law “Unconstitutional”..the planned invasion of criminals crossing the border and then dispersing them to various areas across the country to undisclosed locations, almost like an attack plan?..etc.etc. Raise a penalty? Pfffft.

Mimzey on July 22, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Which was probably the plan all along. But with the messed up rollout changing public opinion about gov’t run health care I think it will be hard to get that passed now.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:23 PM

The VA example has taken that off the table. Single payer is dead for the next 4 years at least.

The left will say:

“the Congress needs to fix the law so everyone is subsidized and only high-minded generous Dems will do that so vote out those mean old GOP types who are so old fashioned that they think things have to be paid for and people should be accountable or some other obsolete Protestant Work Ethic nonsense”

The GOP red state candidates will have to counter by saying that ACA is beyond fixing and should be repealed. In blue states GOP candidates will probably call for a compromise fix or at least say they cannot say what they would do until the SCOTUS rules in 2015 or later.

KW64 on July 22, 2014 at 4:58 PM

It makes it impossible to raise the penalty for not buying Obamacare.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Why is that?
Just raise it. Once done, “what cha gonna do about it chumps?”
Mimzey on July 22, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Because the Supreme Court said that if it’s raised to the point where it “forces” people to sign up it becomes a mandate not a tax – and a mandate is unconstitutional.

kcewa on July 22, 2014 at 6:18 PM

The Libs will say that the GOP needs to fix Obamacare or they will lose in November and the GOP will believe them

Brock Robamney on July 22, 2014 at 7:12 PM

This is Noah’s version of “Mission Accomplished” lol

coolrepublica on July 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

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But what it means to you, is ___________________________
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listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

.
Still no response, huh ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:30 PM

This is Noah’s version of “Mission Accomplished” lol

coolrepublica on July 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

You’re not supposed to eat Play Dough.

98ZJUSMC on July 23, 2014 at 12:59 AM

There was a conflicting legal ruling today, also, about the ACA. Why are most stories only about the one conservatives are happy about?

tanarg on July 23, 2014 at 1:11 AM

There was a conflicting legal ruling today, also, about the ACA. Why are most stories only about the one conservatives are happy about?

tanarg on July 23, 2014 at 1:11 AM

.
Because we’re BIASED … but I wouldn’t mind looking at it, if you provided a ‘link.’

listens2glenn on July 23, 2014 at 1:34 AM