Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Is Teetering and Who is Tottering? ObamaCare or the Supreme Court?

Teeter Tottering, in Washington, D.C. lingo, is perceived as swaying, seesawing, tipping up and down, and wobbling under political pressure. For me, teeter tottering evokes the image of children on the ends of a teeter totter, shifting their weights and positions to raise or lower themselves.

I thought of teetering and tottering when I read the CNN Report headline, “ObamaCare Is Once Again Teetering Before the Supreme Court.”

Its author, Ariane de Vogue, CNN’s Supreme Court Reporter, begins,

“The Obama administration most significant legislative achievement is now, once again teetering before the Supreme Court.”

The health law is presumed to be teetering because ObamaCare itself teetering. It is still looked upon with disapproval by the majority of Americans, and a Republican Congress has voted to repeal by the 30th time. It is also assumed to be tottering by the Justices, who are often split in 5 to 4 decisions, with Justice Roberts and Kennedy being the most common swingers. The Justices are caught between a rock, the phrase “established by the state, “ indicating subsidies are only available in health exchanges established by states, and a hard place, that 6 to 7 million citizens subsidized in federal exchanges might have to pay back or lose their subsidies if the health law teeter totter goes down, while the conservative and Republican side of the teeter totter goes up.

ObamaCare critics say the word of the law is the law and “opens the door to hundreds of millions of additional spending,” roughly $30 billion a year by my count.

ObamaCare supporter retort writers of the health law always intended to make subsidies available to all who qualified. Solicitor General Donald Vericelli, Jr. will subsidy spending for all was “abundantly clear” what Congress, i.e. Democrats, always mean and that a negative ruling would result in a “death spiral,” not only for the insurance industry, but for hospitals and patients without insurance as well. Besides, he may assert, the four plaintiffs who brought the case before the court do not have “standing” because they were not hurt by the health law.

I did not learn anything from Adriane de Voge’s article that I did not know already. She correctly states that there are tremendous stakes riding on the Supreme Court outcome, including the fates of 6 million who will become uninsured and the President’s legacy. Nor do I whole buy into the teeter tottering argument. We have now had 5 years of ObamaCare, and its benefits and consequences are well known. Neither its advocates or supporters are teetering or tottering. They are not children on a teeter totter, nor are the Supreme Court Justices, who are mature attorneys unlikely to be easily swayed by facile arguments from either side of the political aisle.

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