To no one’s surprise, Ted Cruz has already staked out that final position. The Texas Tea Partier and presidential aspirant told Politico earlier this month he’d fight any plan by congressional Republicans to extend the subsidies into 2017, when they hope a new GOP president could replace the law entirely. RedState’s Erick Erickson is similarly urging candidates to use a Supreme Court ruling against the subsidies as an impetus to double down on the repeal message. In a post on Wednesday, he said Republicans should run ads in all 50 states blaming the debacle on the Democrats who wrote the Affordable Care Act: “They never read it, they rushed it through, and now you’re paying the price. Tell Barack Obama we need to repeal Obamacare and start over.”
Marco Rubio, a Cruz rival and Senate colleague, has endorsed the middle option, which is being hashed out in Congress by Representative Paul Ryan and others. Writing on his campaign website, Rubio said that while the ultimate goal must be to repeal and replace the entire healthcare law, “we must also recognize the reality that the ruling would leave millions without health insurance.” Without specifics, he called for providing “an off-ramp for our people to escape this law without losing their insurance.” Other leading hopefuls have been similarly vague. Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor, has said if the Court throws out the subsidies, Congress “should fix it.” But he said nothing about how. Jeb Bush has said even less on the topic, and his aides declined an opportunity to outline his views.
For Hillary Clinton, a ruling against Obamacare would be a disastrous policy outcome, but it would give her an easy campaign message that would put her on the same page as the president: Congress should simply pass a one-sentence bill clarifying that the federal subsidies are available to anyone, not merely participants in state-run exchanges.