Outrageous Ruling On Obamacare Subsidies Is A Call To Arms For Liberals





In a major blow to the Affordable Care Act, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled this morning in Halbig V. Burwell that states without their own insurance exchanges cannot receive federal subsidies to pay for healthcare. If this ruling stands – the Obama Administration will challenge it and stands a very good chance of winning – middle- and low-income Americans who have reaped the benefits of subsidized healthcare under the Affordable Care Act will be subject to higher prices than they can afford. While last month’s Hobby Lobby ruling was a travesty, this ruling is more wide-reaching and potentially devastating to the Affordable Care Act as a whole. Without subsidies, the GOP can claim, as it has all along, that the Affordable Care Act renders healthcare more expensive for Americans. The mandate will backfire, forcing Americans who are no longer entitled to subsidies to shoulder greater costs, potentially creating a backlash against a law that has expanded coverage to millions of Americans so far. It is tempting to dismiss longshot rulings like today’s as empty GOP desperation, but each and every joke of a case is symptomatic of a broader threat to progressive legislation: conservative judicial activism. After all, it only takes one successful ruling, upheld by conservatives on the Supreme Court, to cripple a law. And today’s is just one of many.

Take a look at the decision here

There is tremendous hypocrisy in the GOP’s constant claims of an “imperial presidency” for relatively minor executive actions even as they use the judiciary to cripple a law passed in both houses of Congress. Think about this for a second: two un-elected judges playing word games with quotes lifted out of context from a long, extremely complex piece of legislation could theoretically decide the nature of America’s healthcare system. Before we laugh off rulings like today’s, we should consider how a quack like Scalia might react to a ruling that we consider ridiculous.

The media has focused on high-profile and fruitless challenges to Obamacare in Congress, such as Ted Cruz’s petulant government shutdown and John Boehner’s frivolous lawsuit. However, Republicans cannot currently inflict lasting damage on Obamacare through Congress because Democrats still have enough seats to block challenges and, if worst comes to worst, Obama can wield the veto pen. Boehner, meanwhile, lacks the standing and precedent to challenge the president’s discretion to enforce a law in accordance with changing conditions. The courts pose the real danger, as they need neither electoral majorities nor standing to tear apart the law.

The conservative movement that came to power with Reagan’s election in 1980 and held the presidency for most of the next three decades (with the exception of Bill Clinton’s presidency) allowed the Republican Party to stack the courts, both federal and local, with activist judges bent on imposing a reactionary vision on the country. The Obama and Clinton Administrations have done their best to reverse this disaster, but the damage is not yet undone. As long as conservatives control the courts, all liberal accomplishments in the legislature are subject to crippling sabotage. The Supreme Court already struck down Obama’s Medicaid expansion, depriving millions of Americans of healthcare. If, on top of this, federal subsidies are denied to more than half the states, the Affordable Care Act as it was passed will be unrecognizable. All that without the GOP winning a single vote in Congress. With such a precedent established, will future Democratic presidents dare risk taking on healthcare reform and other ambitious goals?

All is not lost if today’s ruling serves as a lesson for liberals. It is not enough to vote in presidential elections, watch Congress pass ambitious progressive legislation, then stay at home in the midterms and hope for the best. If we do not elect durable majorities in Congress that allow our president to appoint and confirm judges to the Supreme Court, the DC Court of Appeals and other key judicial posts, all of our grassroots activism, all of our get-out-the-vote efforts will be for naught. We should not see today’s ruling as cause for despair, but rather a reminder of just how much is at stake moving forward. Obamacare still stands, but we cannot assume that it will inevitably survive as the one, shining example of Obama’s legacy; that kind of self-satisfied complacency can only lead to disaster. The composition of our Congress in 2015 could very well determine whether liberals build a strong judicial presence that will last for a generation or allow Republicans to maintain their dominion over the courts. The composition of our Congress in 2015 will determine President Obama’s ability to appoint a progressive voice to the Supreme Court. With Ginsberg likely to retire soon, we cannot allow the GOP to stall the confirmation of a progressive justice or perhaps worse, force Obama into appointing someone who does not bring a progressive vision to the bench.

Today’s ruling isn’t just about Obamacare. It’s about the capacity of government to pass ambitious, complex, multi-faceted progressive legislation to benefit the American people. In other words, its about liberalism as a tenable political philosophy. If courts can pick away at every government program piece by piece for blatantly political reasons, how can we accomplish any liberal priorities? After all, dealing with climate change, inequality and other pressing issues will, if anything, require even more ambitious legislation than the Affordable Care Act. In terms of healthcare alone, can we ever have a single-payer option if Obamacare, a relatively modest attempt to improve healthcare in America, fails? Healthcare subsidies may not seem as sexy or pressing to average voters as a blatant attempt to deny women their reproductive rights, but it is incumbent on liberals to explain what’s at stake before it’s too late. Regardless of whether it stands, let today’s ruling be a call to arms.

13 Replies to “Outrageous Ruling On Obamacare Subsidies Is A Call To Arms For Liberals”

  1. We must vote like our lives depend on it…If things are bad now think of what a Republican Senate and House would be like. If you voted for President Obama you need to support him now, he needs us more than ever. What kind of country do we want to live in?

  2. Obama has always said WE will do it ALL of us… But when you have a group of no more than 30% of the population dictating to the rest what can be done.. Moderates Liberals and Independents need to simply vote left for a few elections and show their support to make our country better

  3. The judges who made this ruling were both nominated by Republican presidents.
    Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge GRIFFITH.
    Concurring opinion filed by Senior Circuit Judge RANDOLPH.
    Dissenting opinion filed by Senior Circuit Judge EDWARDS.

    Judge Griffith was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in June 2005 (by George W. Bush)
    Judge Randolph was appointed United States Circuit Judge in July 1990 (by George H.W. Bush)
    Judge Edwards was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter in 198

  4. The D.C. court was a 2 to 1 decision, its not the end of Ocare; not even close. First thing to know is, there will been ‘en blanc’ appeal of the ruling, where all 5 judges will determine the ruling’s veracity, incl. 2 new Obama appointees. that means 3 Obama appointees will get to overturn the ruling, & undoubtedly will.

  5. Judge Raymond Randolph is quoted as saying Obamacare was “an unmitigated disaster” long before he made his ruling yesterday. Griffin is no better and has been known to be opposed to Obamacare since it’s inception. The Republicans have used the words “activists judges” to criticize our President’s appointees, but it appears when judges appointed by Republican presidents blatently show their political decisions, it’s acceptable. There is no doubt in my mind that Republicans have held up the President’s nominees for vacant judiciary seats on purpose, and with yesterday’s ruling it’s obvious why.

  6. I expect the ruling to be overturned. I’m not overly worried about it. the problem with dems is that, while the right is not happy unless it is lying, angry, fear mongering and hate mongering, the left is not happy unless they are worried about something.

    I expect the dems to keep control of the senate, and make significant gains in the house. the gop have nobody to blame for this but themselves. their thinking and attitudes are circa 1514, not 2014.

    they have angered and attacked so many people, dems will vote in the midterms.

  7. Red states: “We choose to opt out of the ACA exchange program, because we care more about right wing ideology than we do the health and welfare of our constituents.”

    Red states: “Since we chose not to participate, our constituents are not eligible for these subsidies. Therefore we conclude that the federal funds provided under the exchange program are unconstitutional.”

    Conservative appellate judges: “Sounds good to us.”

    Furthermore, I would imagine that Alito, Thomas, and Scalia are all champing at the bit, anxious to f*ck over millions of American families who desperately wish to have access to affordable preventative health care.

  8. We have to get every Democrat to actually go to the polls and vote blue in November.We have to start now getting people registered along with their proper photo IDs.

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