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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Linda Greenhouse, "Law in the Raw": Slaw Through a Straw

And in the aftermath of Paul Krugman's inane opinion piece on Monday, we are blessed with yet another "objective" analysis from the op-ed page of The New York Times concerning the Affordable Care Act. In a Times opinion piece entitled "Law in the Raw," Linda Greenhouse writes of the US Supreme Court decision to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell:

"These two provisions, part of a 900-page statute that was cobbled together without going through the usual House-Senate conference committee in which it might have been cleaned up, are the source of the confusion. The answer to the problem, as the Fourth Circuit panel found unanimously in the King case, is obvious. It’s a basic principle of administrative law that when a federal statute is ambiguous, courts defer to the agency’s interpretation — here, the I.R.S. regulation that makes the tax credits available without regard to whether the exchange is state or federal."

Okay, but is the Affordable Care Act "ambiguous"? John Steele Gordon's article in Commentary entitled "Paul Krugman at It Again" provides powerful evidence that the statute says exactly what it intended to say:

"[Krugman] writes, 'you can ask the people who drafted the law what they intended, and it wasn’t what the plaintiffs claim.'

OK, let’s do that and ask Jonathan Gruber, one of the main architects of ObamaCare. In 2012, long before this controversy arose, he was asked at a public forum about subsidies being limited to the exchanges set up by the states. He says that limiting the subsidies to state exchanges was entirely on purpose, in order to coerce the states into setting up the exchanges. 'I think what’s important to remember politically about this,' he says, 'is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.'"

Jonathan Gruber? Why is there not a single mention of Gruber in Greenhouse's op-ed? Just this past week we learned of MIT Professor Gruber's take on Obamacare:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

Obamacare was purposefully written in a "tortured way"? The "stupidity of the American voter" was "really really critical for the thing to pass"? "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage"?

Apparently, Greenhouse thinks none of the above has anything to do with a discussion of the Affordable Care Act's "ambiguity."

Yeah, right.

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