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Administration getting defensive over ACA ruling

Josh Earnest sounded defensive in defending the Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA, this morning in light of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. Here's part of Earnest's statement:

There's a lot of high-minded case law that's applied hear. There's also an element of common sense that should be applied as well, which is that you don't need a fancy legal degree to understand that Congress intended for every eligible American to have access to tax credits that would lower their health care costs, regardless of whether it whether it was federal officials or state officials were running the marketplace. I think that is a pretty clear intent of the congressional law. This will work its way through the legal process and we are confident in the legal case that the Department of Justice will be making.

Actually, Halbig v. Burwell isn't complicated. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plain language of the ACA was specific:

"Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states," wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. "We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance.

Simply put, the ACA's language said that the only people eligible for subsidies were people who bought their insurance through exchanges established by the states.

Earnest's argument sounds as intellectually feeble as Bill Clinton's response during a deposition where he infamously said "It all depends on what the definition of is is."

Simply put, Congress meant to put this provision into the bill to essentially point a gun at states' heads to force them to establish a state-run exchange. Without that provision, the thinking was at the time, states wouldn't establish their own exchanges.

It isn't the Court's responsibility to rewrite the language of a bill. That's the legislative branch's responsibility. If they want people who bought insurance through to be eligible for subsidies, they'll have to amend Section 36B.

That's the last thing President Obama wants, though. By the time the Supreme Court rules on Halbig v. Burwell, it's a distinct possibility that Republicans will control the US House and US Senate. If that happens, President Obama would be in a difficult position.

Either President Obama vetoes a bill that gives millions of families subsidies or he signs a bill that's certain to have lots of GOP changes to the law that he doesn't like.

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