The deeper meaning of the Obamacare fiasco

In the post immediately below, I describe four separate lawsuits challenging the legality of a crucial IRS rule authorizing tax credits for the purchase of health insurance on federally run health care exchanges. The IRS rule should be overturned because the ACA (i.e., Obamacare) authorizes tax credits (and subsidies) only for the purchase of insurance in an exchange “established by a state” under Section 1311 of the law. Federal exchanges are neither “established by a state” nor authorized by Section 1311.

The IRS rule attempts to paper over a huge crucial error committed by the drafters of the ACA — the decision to rely on state exchanges in the expectation that every state could be induced to create an exchange. Most states, it turns out, have been unwilling to establish an exchange

I believe that this error occurred, or was not corrected before passage of the ACA, as a result of the way the Act came into being. Because the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof Senate before enactment, the legislation was rushed through the “reconciliation” process. Thus, big chunks of the legislations, intended only as “placeholders,” ended up being enacted.

There’s a big lesson here, one that goes to the capacity of this country to govern itself. A friend states the lesson in terms that are stark, but not easily disputed:

It would be ideal if more attention were being paid to what, for me at least, is the real lesson to be taken from this . . . or, at least, the truly important thing to recognize. Set aside whether or not federal legislation focused on “1/6th of the national economy” is a good idea as a matter of public policy. Set aside Democrat v. Republican. Set aside Obama-this or Obama-that.

No, for me, it is the recklessness of the way Congress acted here — with utter disregard to the ultimate consequences of what it was doing — that is the story. Purely on account of partisan politics, Congress got good and liquored up, went out and got in the car, and sped down the highway at 90 mph, consequences be damned.

This isn’t about “competence” or “incompetence.” Liberal v. conservative. Socialism v. free markets. Good public policy v. imprudent public policy.

The story here is, we can’t govern ourselves. Our own governmental processes today make that blindingly clear.


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