Republican celebrations over a D.C. Appeals court ruling that would deny tax credits who people who bought their insurance through the federal health care exchange hit a new pitch on Thursday.
A “smoking gun” video seemed to reveal Romneycare/Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber suggesting that that Democrats meant to deny those credits to residents of states who refused to build exchanges. Two other instances of Gruber making similar comments were also uncovered on Friday.
Democrats have been arguing that the full context of the law makes it clear the subsidies would go to those who purchased coverage in either the state or federal exchanges.
The hypothesis on the right is that these credits were meant to be a lure to get states to build their exchanges. When about three dozen mostly Republican-led states refused that lure, the administration, allegedly, just started acting as if residents of all fifty states get the credits, despite the language of the law.
Shorter: Gruber was telling the truth back then and Democrats are lying to make Obamacare work.
But if Republicans purposely chose a path that would deny middle-class workers tax credits they certainly weren’t honest about it.
“There was no discussion of potentially disqualifying NJ residents from receiving subsidies when Chris Christie refused to allow the state to operate its own exchange,” Barbara A. Buono, the former New Jersey State Senator who was the Democrats nominee for governor in 2013, told me.
Christie vetoed the state legislature’s attempt to create an exchange — twice.
Buono and other Democrats blasted him because this meant the state was denied millions in federal funds that could have gone to outreach. But the tax credits were never an issue.
The governor’s refusal to build an exchange was celebrated by Michael F. Cannon, one of the architects of the strategy of using the law’s language to cancel subsidies for millions.
If she thought Chris Christie was purposely trying deny voters tax credits, Buono would have made it a campaign issue.
New Jersey did at least expand Medicaid expansion. If Republicans’ glee continues and the tax credits are thrown out, the result would be red states subsidizing blue states, which have all expanded Medicaid and, on average, offer their residents better health care.
To anyone who thinks about this prospect for a moment, it’s insane. Republicans in Michigan are already criticizing Attorney General Bill Schuette who joined the lawsuit to throw out about $4700 in tax credits per year for Michigan families.
Republicans are willing to punish their own voters to scuttle a law that is unlikely to be repealed unless Ted Cruz wins the White House in a landslide election.
The metaphor that comes to mind is an animal that’s caught in a trap and is chewing its own limb off. Except the limb here is tax credits that pay for millions to get health care.
[Photo credit: Chris Savage | Eclectablog]