In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court saved President Obama’s signature health care law and, as countless news organization said this morning, ensured his legacy.
The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces. It staved off a major political showdown and a mad scramble in states that would have needed to act to prevent millions from losing health care coverage.
Great news for those of us who like the thought that people will be able to get the health care they need. But you know who else it’s great news for? Republicans.
As Steve Benen writes, you won’t hear them crowing about it publicly, and on the record they will continue to say all sorts of nasty things about the law and now the Supreme Court. But if you have your eye on the next election cycle, Republicans don’t mind the survival of Obamacare at all.
Heading into this morning, some basic policy truths were clear. We knew, for example, that congressional Republicans have made no progress in creating an alternative to the Affordable Care Act — despite more than five years of broken promises — and in all likelihood, they never would.
We also knew that most of those who would suffer from a plaintiff victory in King v. Burwell would be middle-income families in red states who would naturally look to their GOP representatives for help. Those same representatives would face enormous pressure from right-wing institutions to let the American health care system burn and treat affected families like collateral damage in a political war.
And then there were the Republican governors — some of whom also happen to be presidential candidates — who would have been under pressure to create exchange marketplaces in their states to prevent constituents from suffering. Of course, those same governors would have simultaneously faced equal pressure from partisans and ideologues to do exactly nothing.
Let’s say the words together just so we can better understand how silly politics can be: Republicans have fought the Affordable Care Act like no other initiative of the Obama Administration. They have made it the centrepiece of their attack on big government and the liberal nanny state. Now that it’s the law and actually helping some of the same people they hope will support their party, they will continue to criticize it but also count themselves lucky they don’t have to be held accountable for its demise.
My head hurts.