The Affordable Care Act was passed without a single Republican vote and without any Republican input. The law says what it says because that is the way Democratic legislators wrote it. Defenders of Obamacare argue that if the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, insists on ruling on what the law says rather than on what the Obama administration wishes at any moment it would say, than the results will be absurd. But as NRO points out here, Obamacare, under the guidance of Obama/Reid/Pelosi, was written as an absurd law from the beginning.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, a case that threatens to undermine the basic architecture of Obamacare — if it is decided on what the law actually says rather than on what the Obama administration wishes it would say at any given moment.
The language of the so-called Affordable Care Act is, on this matter at least, straightforward: Health-insurance buyers are eligible to receive subsidies when they buy plans on exchanges set up by the states. The problem for the Obama administration and for congressional Democrats is that the states and their people behave as though they have minds of their own, as though they were something other than administrative subdivisions of the federal government and clients of the Democratic party. As a result, most of the states refused to set up Obamacare exchanges – only 14 of them did so. The White House, flummoxed by this development, had the federal government step in and set up its own exchanges, and then announced – with no legal justification whatsoever – that subsidies would be available on these exchanges, too.
Lest you suspect that we are taking an opportunistically narrow reading of the law, let us revisit the words of Jonathan Gruber, the architect of the Affordable Care Act:
What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits – but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.