Author Archives: Paul Mirengoff

Obamacare architect explained intent behind allowing subsidies only on state exchanges

Featured image Jonathan Gruber, a professor at MIT, is widely is regarded as the architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare. Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Halbig, he asserted that the provision of Obamacare limiting subsidies to the state exchanges was a “typo.” Indeed, he found it “criminal” to suggest that Obamacare was intended to work this way. But William Jacobson (via one of his readers) has unearthed video from 2012 in »

Pro bono law morphs into left-wing lawfare

Featured image Do you remember Shirley Sherrod? She’s the former Department of Agriculture official caught on camera saying she denied a white farmer the full measure of benefits she could have given him, before later describing how she ended up rejecting this racist approach to her job. The late Andrew Breitbart posted excerpts of the Sherrod video that failed to include the part about how she overcame her racist impulse and ended »

Bruce Braley couldn’t be bothered with VA oversight hearings

Featured image Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Iowa, landed in hot water when video emerged of a fundraiser with trial lawyers at which he ridiculed Sen. Chuck Grassley for being an Iowa farmer. Now we learn, via the Des Moines Register, that Braley missed 75 percent (15 of 20) of meetings of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which provides oversight for the immensely troubled Veterans Administration. One »

Drafting error vs. drafting miscalculation

Featured image Sean Davis, a former congressional staffer, examines the claim that the provision in Obamacare limiting subsidies to those participating in state exchanges was the product of “drafting error.” He finds it laughable. I discussed what a legislative drafting error looks like here. Davis sees it the same way: When I worked in the Senate. . .it was not uncommon to find obvious errors in bills and amendments. Sometimes you would »

Montana Dem Senator revealed as plagiarist

Featured image The New York Times is reporting that Montana Sen. John Walsh plagiarized “at least a quarter” of his 2007 master’s degree thesis for the U.S. Army War College. According to the Times, Walsh copied an entire page nearly word-for-word from a Harvard paper, and each of his six conclusions is copied from a document from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace without attribution. The Senator’s response? “I didn’t do anything »

Shocker: GAO sting reveals Obamacare fraud

Featured image The National Journal reports on a sting operation conducted by the Government Accounting Office to test the strength of Obamacare’s eligibility-verification system. To no one’s surprise, the verification system failed the test. Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts. The total amount of the subsidies for the 11 approved applications was about $2,500 per month. The investigators created fake identities by inventing Social »

IRS experts say Lois Lerner’s hard drive was just scratched

Featured image The IRS’s claim that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was irreparably damaged always seemed laughable to attorneys who (like John and me) have been involved in disputes over electronic discovery, as well as to IT professionals and their trade association. Now we learn, via Byron York, that IRS’s own IT professionals dispute this claim: Top IRS officials told congressional investigators that Lois Lerner’s hard drive — the one containing emails that »

The steep price of Israel’s Gaza pullout

Featured image As always, once the serious fighting starts, Israel is receiving most of the blame for the current battle in Gaza. And in an important sense, Israel actually is to blame. Had it not pulled out of Gaza, it would not now be fighting this war. This war, like the several before it, is the entirely predictable consequence of Israel’s inability to police Gaza. As a result of the pullout, Hamas »

Is Hillary Clinton washed up?

Featured image Robert Merry is a veteran Washington journalist. John and I had lunch with him once when he was in charge of Congressional Quarterly. It was a pleasant encounter, though he seemed disappointed and perhaps a little bit put off by our support for the war in Iraq. Merry is also a historian and a scholar of the presidency. He wrote a rather good biography of James Polk and a flawed »

Drafting error vs. poor draftsmanship

Featured image Obamacare by its express and unambiguous terms limits Obamacare subsidies to people using health care exchanges “established by the State.” Thus, subsidies to people in the federal exchange are not permitted, as these exchanges obviously are not established by the State. However couched, the argument that subsidies should nonetheless accrue to people in the federal exchange boils down to the notion that the limiting language of the statute is the »

What’s next after Obamacare’s defeat in Halbig v. Burwell? [updated]

Featured image As Steve has noted, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia today invalidated the IRS regulation that provides for insurance subsidies to millions of lower-income Americans using the federal Obamacare exchanges. The ruling means that in 36 states, Obamacare subsidies will not be available, making its insurance coverage unaffordable to many Americans and potentially crashing the system. The Court’s ruling, by a vote of 2-1, is clearly correct. »

Israel seems ready to tune John Kerry out

Featured image In his recent “hot mic” moment, John Kerry responded to news of civilian deaths in Gaza with these words: It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. Hell of a pinpoint operation. We’ve got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight. The truth is that Kerry’s desire to “get over” to the Middle East has nothing to do with any lack of precision in Israel’s military operations. »

George Will and the narcissistic view of American foreign policy

Featured image Scott did an excellent job of responding to George Will’s defense of diplomacy as the proper response to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Scott is particularly persuasive in answering Will’s claim that “United States policy has taught certain regimes the importance of having nuclear weapons.” It would be interesting to know just how pacific U.S. policy would have to be in order to unteach the importance of having nukes. Will »

Gaza, Russia, and the media

Featured image Last night, my wife channel-surfed her way into a bad neighborhood — RT, the Russian government’s news network. There, she saw a report about a “wave” of world wide “mass protests” against the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza. RT has also posted an article with this headline: “In our millions, we’re all Palestinian: Wave of protests worldwide demand end to Gaza slaughter.” The first paragraph of the article scales back »

What’s next in Eastern Ukraine?

Featured image Leon Aron of AEI takes a sober look at what’s likely to happen next in Eastern Ukraine. He begins by noting that, although new sanctions are likely to be imposed against Russia and are likely to be painful, they are not likely to cause Putin to permit the pro-Russian separatists to suffer defeat: After half a year of deafening war-mongering propaganda, the rebel’s defeat would be an enormous blow to »

The Russian reset: Hillary’s “brilliant stroke”

Featured image The worse Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian separatists he sponsors behave, the worse it is for Hillary Clinton. After all, her most publicized and most significant action as Secretary of State was the infamous “Russian reset.” So how does Hillary Clinton handle questions about the reset? The same way she handles most tough questions — badly and with plenty of false claims. Here, via Mario Loyola, is Clinton’s answer last »

Say the nonsensical thing

Featured image Scott correctly observes that we can count on President Obama to say the wrong thing. To make matters worse, all too often Obama says nonsensical things. Consider his remarks yesterday about the downing of the Malaysian airliner by Ukrainian separatists. Obama declared: We need to know exactly what happened, and everybody needs to make sure that we’re holding accountable those who committed this outrage. To this standard-issue mush, Obama added »