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Other views: Tough times for Obamacare

Other Writers

Tough times for Obamacare

Michael Tanner in National Review Online: Believe it or not, it might be neither President Obama nor the Democratic party that has had the worst month in Washington so far. That dubious honor may actually belong to Obamacare.

Start with the election itself. Every winning Republican senatorial candidate campaigned on the idea of repealing the health-care law — not refining, amending, or improving, but repealing. Exit polls showed that a quarter of voters saw health care as nearly the most important issue in the election, second only to the economy. Roughly half of voters overall felt the law went “too far,” and in many key states the proportion was much higher. With Republicans taking control of the Senate and expanding their majority in the House, we can expect an onslaught of bills to repeal the law or cut out important parts of it. While the presidential veto will likely prevent full repeal, the law’s supporters can expect to spend the next two years fighting a defensive war.

The elections didn’t work out much better for Obamacare at the state level. With a few notable exceptions, such as John Kasich in Ohio, most of the Republican governors elected or reelected last week are opposed to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. If Democrats were counting on time and special interests to eventually wear down opposition by governors, they are likely to be disappointed.

The ballots had hardly been counted when the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case that even the law’s supporters call an “existential threat.” In accepting the case of King v. Burwell, even before the D.C. Circuit Court had completed its en banc hearing on a related case, the Court signaled that a number of justices have significant concerns about how the Obama administration has disregarded the law’s plain language that limits subsidies to “exchanges established by the States.”

If the Court rules against the administration, not only will it mean an end to subsidies in 37 states, it will also effectively kill both the employer mandate and the individual mandate in those states. At that point, the administration would have no choice but to open up the law to wholesale revision.

A high rebuke on gay marriage

Damon Root in Reason: On Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court declined to halt a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit which had overturned an Arizona constitutional amendment banning bail for undocumented immigrants charged with serious crimes. As a result, the Arizona amendment is now invalid and cannot be enforced by the state, though state officials may still try to get the Supreme Court to hear their appeal. But even with an appeal pending, the amendment has no force.

What's especially notable about this action by the Supreme Court is that Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, used the opportunity to rebuke his fellow justices for their refusal last month to hear any new gay marriage cases. Here is what Thomas had to say in today’s denial of application for stay:

“I join my colleagues in denying this application only because there appears to be no ‘reasonable probability that four Justices will consider the issue sufficiently meritorious to grant certiorari.’ That is unfortunate. We have recognized a strong presumption in favor of granting writs of certiorari to review decisions of lower courts holding federal statutes unconstitutional. States deserve no less consideration. Indeed, we often review decisions striking down state laws, even in the absence of a disagreement among lower courts. But for reasons that escape me, we have not done so with any consistency, especially in recent months.”

President Obama’s silent majority?

George Neumayr in The American Spectator: Last week President Obama consoled himself after his party suffered heavy losses by noting that “two-thirds” of voters didn’t show up to the polls. Obama presented himself as the voice of this nonvoting silent majority. He had “heard” them. Through telepathy apparently, he knows that they want him to continue his failed progressive agenda.

Richard Nixon once claimed a “silent majority” for himself too. But he never had the audacity to suggest its members didn’t vote. Nixon’s silent majority voted but didn’t protest. Obama’s apparently protests but doesn’t vote.

Obama may have set a new precedent for politicians on the losing side of an election. They can now poison the results by suggesting all the people who didn’t vote disapprove of them. Almost four out of 10 voters didn’t vote in Obama’s election in 2008. But back then he wasn’t in the mood to listen to nonvoters. He was too busy promising a “fundamental” transformation of the country. As the most inspirational politician of his generation, he was going to usher in an era of maximum political participation.

His starry-eyed supporters were talking about how he was going to create a “new way of being on the planet.” Now they can’t be bothered to vote. Jon Stewart told CNN that he hadn’t voted, but later dismissed the comment as a “joke.” It didn’t appear to be a joke. In his clarification, he said that he had voted but he didn’t establish whether that occurred before or after the “joke.”

Obama implies that he owes it to these nonvoters to stay the liberal course. He interprets both excitement and apathy as endorsements of his agenda. He attributes the unpopularity of “Washington” to the absence of action.