Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category
When it comes to national security, Sen. Franken is a lightweight. This article provides additional proof of that:
Franken said Obama doesn’t have authority to bypass Congress, but he has long backed closing the military prison and handling suspects through the American judicial system. Franken said he worries Guantanamo’s continued existence has only boosted terrorist recruitment efforts, and said there are plenty of high-security prisons in the United States to house the dozens of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.
Sen. Franken isn’t serious about fighting terrorists. Check out this statement about taking on ISIL:
There are no good options on Syria. But as I’ve said, the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people and injure many more is a horrendous act, and there have to be consequences for that. Whatever action the United States takes, it has to be limited action. This can’t be an open-ended commitment, and it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground. Congress now has an important role to play, and I look forward to participating in a vigorous debate about the use of force and the best interests of our country.
Destroying ISIL isn’t possible without putting American boots on the ground. If you’re opposed to putting American troops into harms way, Sen. Franken, then just say that you aren’t really interested in doing what it takes to destroy ISIL.
There’s no doubt that Sen. Franken thinks that that’s the best poll-tested statement he could issue. Similarly, there’s no question that half-hearted airstrikes without boots on the ground is a political action. It isn’t a serious attempt to destroy ISIL. The Democratic Party, led by pacifists like President Obama and Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar, is going soft on national security again. Closing Gitmo, not taking the airstrikes on ISIL seriously and ruling out putting boots on the ground in Anbar Province and in Syria says one thing unmistakably clear.
It says that Obama, Franken and Klobuchar aren’t serious about national security.
Why wouldn’t you keep Gitmo open? Why give these terrorists the opportunity to radicalize American prisoners? Back in 2006, Amy Klobuchar said that it was important to get out of the war responsibly. In 2008, Franken campaigned on the same message. Then-Sen. Obama campaigned on getting us out of Iraq. Franken, Klobuchar and Obama didn’t talk about winning wars. I wrote about that multiple times in 2006-2008.
As George Will and Charles Krauthammer highlight, the fastest way to end a war is to lose that war. That’s what Franken, Klobuchar and Obama are about. If they aren’t about losing winnable wars, then they’re doing the same things that people who want to lose wars would do.
Politicians that aren’t interested in killing terrorists and winning wars are anti-American. Sen. Franken and President Obama, it’s sad to see that that shoe fits.
During Wednesday’s debate, one important point kept getting made. Though the DFL and Al Franken want the point to that Al Franken voted with Harry Reid and President Obama 97% of the time, that isn’t the important point. These videos highlight the truly important point:
Here’s the transcript of Sen. Franken engaging in DCSpeak:
So much of the rail use is for the Bakken crude. Now I’ve been going to the Surface Transportation Board since I got to the Senate. Captive rail is something that I’ve been very interested in. I actually worked with Sen. David Vitter, the Republican of Louisiana, to get the cost of filing a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates the railroads, from $20,000 to $350 so people can file a complaint.
Here’s Mike McFadden talking about solving the railcar shortage crisis:
Here’s the transcript:
Al, with all due respect, your lack of an energy policy and the lack of an energy policy from President Obama has caused the rail car shortage. There’s not been one pipeline built. You haven’t approved any pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline has been under the review process for 6 years. That is crazy. That is too long. Pipelines are proven to be the most effective, the most efficient, the most environmentally sensitive way to transport oil. Until you start passing pipelines, we’ll have a railcar shortage. I know how to fix this economy. I know how to get us back on the road to growth and prosperity and you are putting Band-Aids as opposed to going to root causes. We need pipelines in this country. I want everyone in this room and in this state I am for pipelines. I will get them built.
Sen. Franken essentially told Minnesota he talked to the Surface Transportation Board to show he wasn’t ignoring people. It wasn’t that he’d solved farmers’ problems. It’s that he did something.
Meanwhile, Mike McFadden told Minnesotans that he’d find a solution to the railcar shortage that’s hurting farmers and miners. He presented himself as a solutions-oriented man and as a leader. Al Franken isn’t a leader. He’s a rubberstamp. He’s kept his head down because opening his mouth on important issues would expose him as an ideologue who does what Harry Reid tells him to do.
In the past, Minnesota’s senators have been leaders. Al Franken isn’t following in those footsteps. He’s just doing what Harry Reid and the environmental extremists have told him to do.
Sen. Franken is more than justified in looking over his shoulder in his race against Mike McFadden. This poll shows the race tightening:
From the Magellan Strategies memo:
Q 8: If the elections were being held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were Mike McFadden,
Republican and Al Franken, Democrat or Steve Carlson, Independent?
Mike McFadden 42%
Al Franken 48%
Steve Carlson 4%
The race for U.S. Senate has tightened with independent voters being the largest segment of undecided voters.
Currently, 14% of independent voters remain undecided (12% among independent men/17% among independent women). Among independent voters, McFadden leads by 6 points (43% McFadden/37% Franken/7% Carlson/14% undecided).
That isn’t the worst news for Franken. This is:
Among undecided voters, Franken’s image is an abysmal 21% favorable/66% unfavorable with 100% name recognition. This leaves him with little room to grow.
That’s pathetic. Saying that Franken has “little room to grow” is understatement. Franken doesn’t connect with people who aren’t his base.
That’s why Franken doesn’t do public appearances. If you don’t meet with potential voters, you won’t get their vote.
By comparison, McFadden is travelling all across the state, meeting with people in diners in southern Minnesota and with miners on the Range. Simply put, he’s accessible and personable. As his name recognition grows, he’ll have the opportunity to close that gap further.
I hope the McFadden campaign will cut through Franken’s clutter of bipartisan this and anti-war that. Sen. Franken’s votes haven’t strengthened the economy. Corporations are doing well because the Fed is artificially propping up the economy with ‘Monopoly money’ but families are getting hit hard with higher health insurance premiums and higher out-of-pocket health expenses.
Franken has supported an economy where high-paying full-time government jobs and low-paying part-time private sector jobs are the norm. That’s foolish. Sen. Franken hasn’t voted for the things that families need to get back on their feet. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is artificially low by way too many part-time, $10-an-hour jobs.
Minnesota needs tons of high-paying full-time private sector jobs. That’s an area where Minnesota stinks. Another thing that Minnesota doesn’t need is a rubberstamp for President Obama’s failed economic policies. Instead, Minnesota needs someone with job-creating experience. Sen. Franken fits the description of the former. Mike McFadden fits the description of the latter.
Finally, this won’t help Franken:
Undecided voter’s attitudes and opinions regarding Obama and the direction of the country are more in line with a typical McFadden voter than Franken’s supporters. Void some seismic shift in the political environment; expect undecided voters to break in large part toward McFadden.
This article presents this year’s vulnerable Democrats as hawkish:
Democrat Kay Hagan didn’t mince words about the Iraq War during her 2008 Senate campaign against Republican Elizabeth Dole. “We need to get out of Iraq in a responsible way,” Hagan declared in May of that year. “We need to elect leaders who don’t invade countries without planning and stay there without an end.”
Hagan is striking a different chord these days. Locked in a tough reelection battle, the first-term senator boasts that she’s more strongly supportive of airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants than her Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, and says she’s been pressing the Obama administration to arm Syrian rebels since early last year.
“This is the time for us to come together, Democrats and Republicans, to confront the challenges that are facing our nation,” she said this month.
What’s interesting (noteworthy?) is that the terrorists haven’t changed their belief that the infidels must be killed or put into servitude. I’m confident that these doves haven’t changed their opinion of war, either. I’m certain that they’re acting hawkish now…to an extent.
Al Franken still doesn’t want boots on the ground, though he wants ISIL defeated. That’s what a focus grouped response sounds like. That isn’t a substantive answer. It’s a political answer aimed at getting him through this election. Without angry men with rifles, ground can’t be take and terrorists can’t be defeated.
We don’t need idiots in the Senate fulfilling faux advise and consent responsibilities. That’s what the Democrats are providing and it’s disgraceful. I’m betting that Sen. Hagan couldn’t have explained the definition of getting out of Iraq “in a responsible way” meant then. I’m positive that Sen. Franken can’t explain how to decapitate ISIL without putting boots on the ground. Sen. Franken is a policy lightweight and a political rubberstamp.
The only thing more frightening than getting lectured about national security by President Obama is the thought that Al Franken and Kay Hagan are giving President Obama advice on how to decapitate ISIL.
These days there is a lot of “if-only-Obama-could-lead-like-Reagan” talk by conservatives. I’ll leave it to historians to figure out years from now who was the better president. But what I’d argue is this: In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.
I don’t need years to decide who the better president was. President Obama is the worst modern president, worse than even Jimmy Carter. Friedman’s argument that “Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now” isn’t serious stuff. Obama’s world isn’t tougher to lead. It’s that President Obama won’t lead.
It’s shameful, too, that Friedman has forgotten the catastrophe that President Reagan stepped into. During the last half of Carter’s administration, it was fashionable for pundits to talk about how the world had grown too demanding for a president to handle it himself. The fashionable talk then was the need for a co-presidency. Friedman’s column didn’t dismiss this information. Friedman ignored it entirely.
When Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, doves like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Joe Biden criticized Reagan as being utterly naïve. Their opinion was that détente was the only way to manage the Soviet Union.
President Reagan emphatically disagreed. President Reagan was right.
The chief reason why Friedman can look back and say that President Reagan had it easy is tied directly to the quality of President Reagan’s decisions. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the wisdom of President Reagan’s strategy. President Reagan’s strategy was revolutionary and contrarian to everything that the establishment thought. The Soviet empire couldn’t be defeated, the realists told us. President Reagan will get us into WWIII with that Neanderthal thinking, they told us.
President Obama’s world is complicated, too, partially because his attachment to a failed ideology has informed him that being liked is more important than being feared. President Obama said that his administration’s first responsibility was to end wars, which sounds great until you think things through.
George Will recently said that the fastest way to end a war is to lose it. President Obama unilaterally repeatedly declared that war will be part of the past during his 2012 campaign. ISIL didn’t get the notice.
Shortly after 9/11, a reporter told Mayor Giuliani that, on 9/11, terrorists declared war on the United States. Giuliani’s response was that that isn’t true, that terrorists had been at war with the US for years, if not decades. It took 9/11 for us to finally confront the terrorists.
This paragraph needs dismantling:
Obama’s world is different. It is increasingly divided by regions of order and regions of disorder, where there is no one to answer the phone, and the main competition is not between two organized superpowers but between a superpower and many superempowered angry men. On 9/11, we were attacked, and badly hurt, by a person: Osama bin Laden, and his superempowered gang. When superempowered angry men have more open space within which to operate, and more powerful weapons and communication tools, just one needle in a haystack can hurt us.
That’s why President Obama’s strategy to pull our troops out of the world’s biggest hotspot was instantly viewed as foolish. That’s why President Bush’s strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists where they live was instantly seen by serious people as the right option. The Commander-in-Chief can’t afford to let “superempowered angry men” have “open space within which to operate.”
President Reagan understood the importance of confrontationalism in fighting the Soviet empire just like President Bush understood the importance of confronting terrorists in their sanctuaries.
It isn’t that Reagan had it easy. It’s that he knew what he was doing. President Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s the chief difference between presidents.
Brit Hume’s commentary of the Obama administration’s dismissing of ISIL’s threat ridicules the administration and their apologists:
Here’s the transcript of Brit Hume’s commentary:
BRIT HUME: An American Muslim convert with a Facebook page that could have been written by Osama bin Laden himself chops off the head of a former coworker. Workplace violence, says the FBI. American warplanes bomb a previously little known terror group called Khorasan. The raid is carried out under the president’s legal authority to attack on his own when there is an imminent threat. And who is this suddenly imminently threatening Khorasan? It turns out to be an al Qaeda cell populated by people who belong to what the administration likes to call core al Qaeda. You remember core al Qaeda? That’s a group Mr. Obama has claimed was decimated.
The president says America underestimated the threat from ISIS, formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq. And who did the underestimating? Why it was National Intelligence Director Jim Clapper and his colleagues. Mr. Obama told 60 Minutes Clapper has acknowledged as much. Today, though, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest, as you heard, says the president was not trying to blame Clapper. How did we ever get that idea?
What is happening here is simple. President Obama badly misjudged the strength and resilience of America’s terrorist enemies and has adopted a foreign and military policy that has allowed them to regroup and resurge. Now we can see the chickens coming home to roost. The administration would like us to think we are seeing something else.
Here’s the transcript of his brief back-and-forth with Bret Baier:
BAIER: What do you make of this intelligence failure that the President talked about on 60 Minutes?
HUME: Well, let’s assume that there was a monstrous intelligence failure and all of the intelligence agencies failed, although they didn’t, to warn the President about ISIS. By February of this year, ISIS had captured Ramadi and Fallujah…
BAIER: Two big cities in Iraq…
HUME: Two big cities in Iraq that had formerly been the focus of our activities in the past, especially Fallujah. So you think it might’ve dawned on someone in the White House, especially the President, that, gee, this little terrorist group is turning out to be much more of an army than we’ve ever seen before, doing things that usually only armies can do, that is, capturing and holding territory, maybe we ought to worry about them.
It isn’t that the intelligence community got it wrong. It’s that the things they told President Obama didn’t fit into President Obama’s script that “core al-Qa’ida” had been decimated and that the war on terror was coming to an end. Apparently, ISIL didn’t get the script. Apparently, they’re interested in establishing a nation of terrorists that’s funded with revenues from black market oil and equipped with American military equipment.
If President Obama had taken terrorism seriously, he wouldn’t have pulled all US troops from Iraq. He would’ve kept enough boots on the ground to a) prevent ISIL from re-taking Fallujah and b) gather intelligence on terrorists.
This wasn’t the intelligence community’s failure. ISIL is the product of President Obama’s willful ideological blindness. His fierce opposition to war and his insistence that the world was working out just as he’d predicted led to this predictable failure.
To conservative political junkies, the Minnesota Poll is seen as political graffiti. The Strib’s Abby Simon wrote this article summarizing the race between Sen. Franken and GOP challenger Mike McFadden. The headline will get all the attention but there’s some startling information that Sen. Franken will like. First, here’s the headline:
Franken gets the backing of 49 percent of likely voters, while McFadden gets 36 percent. Another 11 percent say they have not yet decided.
That part certainly will put a smile on Franken’s face. This part will wipe that smile off his face:
But that lead vanishes in northern Minnesota, where 55 percent prefer McFadden to Franken, who gets a little over one third. The number of undecideds also dwindles to 5 percent. The state’s Iron Range region has become politically volatile in recent elections, with fissures deepening this year over controversial issues like the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mining project that sometimes pit labor against environmentalists.
If that polling information is accurate, then it’s difficult to see Franken winning. If 55% of Iron Rangers support McFadden and those numbers have solidified, then Franken’s in some trouble. If that’s the case, then Franken’s got to outperform DFL norms in other parts of the state.
Last week, Ms. Simons called me to ask why I was supporting Mike McFadden. Here’s the quote she used from our interview:
Gary Gross, a conservative Republican from St. Cloud, says he’s indifferent to McFadden’s business background, but will back him for other reasons.
“At this point we need progrowth policies, economic policies, and Senator Franken hasn’t shown me that he’s interested in those types of things,” said Gross, 58, a self-employed blogger and researcher. “He’s pretty much gone along with the types of policies that have just kind of stuck us in the stagnation we’re in, and that would be my biggest reason for going with Mr. McFadden.”
Honestly, Franken has been a rubberstamp for Harry Reid and President Obama. The other thing about Franken is that he’s never dealt with economic issues.
Over the last 25+ years, Franken has been a mediocre comedian, a mean-spirited talk radio host and a do-as-I’m-told rubberstamp senator. There’s nothing in Sen. Franken’s resume that indicates he knows a thing about the economy.
Sen. Franken thinks that tax-the-rich is an economic plan. So does President Obama, Sen. Reid and Gov. Dayton. Sen. Franken thinks that environmental activists should have veto authority over important economic development projects. So does President Obama, Sen. Reid and Gov. Dayton.
Mike McFadden thinks that people who’ve been mining for more than a century know how to protect the environment while mining raw minerals from the ground. McFadden trusts Rangers because they’ve protected the land they live on for over a century. Most importantly, Mike McFadden knows how important the PolyMet project is to Minnesota’s economic health.
While PolyMet is the poster child for high profile economic development projects, it’s just the best example of a totally different economic philosophy between Mike McFadden, who’s helped create jobs, and Sen. Franken, who’s voted for policies that’ve kept us in this stagnation pattern.
If this race boils down to who’s most qualified to create economic growth, that headline number will disappear quickly.
Technorati: Minnesota Poll, Star Tribune, Horserace Numbers, Al Franken, Harry Reid, Mark Dayton, President Obama, Environmental Activists, Democrats, Mike McFadden, PolyMet, Iron Range, Economic Development, GOP, Election 2014
Create a crisis, then criticize others when the crisis you created hurts a key constituency. That’s a trusty tactic frequently employed by the DFL. It’s the tactic of choice Amy Klobuchar used during her testimony about railroad delays hurting the Iron Range:
“Cliffs Natural Resources’ mines in Minnesota are among a number of industrial facilities that have been significantly impacted by the national logjam of rail services in the United States.
“These conditions create substantial and irreversible negative consequences for iron ore operations because there is a finite shipping season on the Great Lakes and our operations seek to time shipments as to ensure that our steelmaking customers’ blast furnaces at the lower end of the lakes have adequate iron stocks to continue operation during the closure of the locks at Sault St. Marie,” a company statement said.
Klobuchar spoke on the issue to the Senate Conference Committee.
“Rail service disruptions are forcing mines on the Iron Range to stockpile significant quantities of iron ore,” Klobuchar said. “These disruptions hurt business and threaten jobs not only at these operations, but also at the steel mills that rely on taconite pellets to feed the furnaces.”
St. Amy of Hennepin County would have more credibility on this issue if she didn’t keep voting against the building of additional pipelines, especially the Keystone XL Pipeline. Starting with President Obama’s rejection of building the Keystone XL Pipeline, which should’ve been approved years ago, oil companies were forced to find alternative ways of getting their product to market.
When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2010, they voted to force President Obama to approve construction of the pipeline. Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken voted against it. In fact, it’s been put to a vote multiple times, with Sens. Franken and Klobuchar voting against the pipeline’s construction each time.
Now that trains are filled with oil cars, rail capacity is limited. Mining isn’t the only industry getting hurt by the railroad capacity shortage. Agriculture is getting hurt, too. Meanwhile, Democrats keep voting against building the Keystone XL Pipeline while complaining about the shortage they’ve created with their votes.
It’s time people started voting against these Democrats. They’ve done everything possible to prevent the building of the infrastructure needed to take advantage of the oil and natural gas boom. The Democrats’ unwillingness to do what’s right is based on their unwillingness to tell their environmental activist allies to take a hike.
The Democrats’ position is clear. Sen. Klobuchar’s position is clear. Sen. Franken’s position is clear. They’ve sided with the obstructionist in the environmental movement. They’ve refused to build the infrastructure that’s needed to move minerals and grains to market.
Building more pipelines would give us the infrastructure that’s required to take advantage of this great opportunity. Environmental activists and their allies in the Democratic Party are causing these problems. If the American people want to see prosperity again, they’ll have to flush this type of thinking from the political system.
Technorati: Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, President Obama, Infrastructure Shortage, Railroads, Mining, Agriculture, Environmental Activists, Democrats, Energy Independence, Keystone XL Pipeline, Republicans
Last night was Jay Carney’s first night as a senior political analyst for CNN. After watching this video, I hope CNN isn’t paying him much:
Frankly, Sen. McCain beat him like a drum. It was a flashback to the daily Carney fetal position daily briefings. This exchange is exceptionally decisive:
McCAIN: No, facts are stubborn things, Mr. Carney, and that is his entire national security team, including the Secretary of State said he want to arm and train and equip these people and he made the unilateral decision to turn them down. The fact he didn’t a residual force in Iraq, overruled all of his military advisers, is the reason why we’re facing ISIS today.
So the facts are stubborn things in history and people ought to know them. And now the president is saying basically that we are going to take certain actions, which I would favor, but to say that America is safer, and that the situation is very much like Yemen and Somalia shows me that the president really doesn’t have a grasp for how serious the threat of ISIS is.
CARNEY: Well, again, Senator, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. And I think on the question of the residual force, there was another player in that which was the Iraqi government. A, and B, it was the fulfillment of the previous administration’s withdrawal plan. And it was also the fulfillment of the president’s promise to withdraw from Iraq and not maintain a true presence, in perpetuity, which is pretty consistent with what the American people wanted and believed it was the right approach.
McCAIN: Mr. Carney, you are again saying facts that are patently false. The fact is because [Senator] Lindsey Graham, [former Senator] Joe Lieberman and I, we were in Baghdad, they wanted a residual force. The president has never made a statement during that or after that he wanted a residual force left behind. The Iraqis were ready to go. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the number cascaded down to 3,500. That was not sufficient to do anything but to defend themselves. And you in your role as a spokesperson bragged about the fact that the last American combat troop had left Iraq. If we had left a residual force the situation would not be what it is today. And there would be a lot more.
It’s worth repeating that President Obama took the position of I-know-better-than-my-national-security-team what’s needed in Iraq. That’s characteristic of a man with great hubris. That’s fine. History will judge him for that decision.
Further, Carney still sounds like the dishonest partisan hack that conducted the daily White House press briefings. He’s still peddling the BS that Iraq kicked the US out. That’s contrary to what President Obama said during a debate with Mitt Romney. In that debate, President Obamba bragged that he should get credit for keeping his promise of getting the US out of Iraq.
Carney hasn’t figured it out that a glorified desk jockey can’t argue with an eyewitness on the ground at the ‘scene of the crime.’ Sens. McCain, Graham and Lieberman talked with the Iraqi government. They don’t have to accept the Obama administration’s spin. They talked directly with the Iraqi government.
It isn’t a secret that I’m not Sen. McCain’s biggest fan. Still, if he says that he spoke with the Iraqi government and that they told him they wanted to negotiate a status of forces agreement, then I’ll trust him.
Finally, experts understand that ISIL wouldn’t have constituted itself had the US kept 20,000 troops on the ground. They would’ve been demolished before ISIL before they got to Fallujah.
Jeffrey Toobin’s article isn’t factually accurate:
As Congress originally conceived it, the A.C.A. called for each state to set up its own exchange with a Web site, which most of the blue states and a few of the red ones did. But two dozen of them did not, so the Obama Administration established a federal counterpart, centered on the Web site healthcare.gov.
First, three dozen states didn’t create state-run exchanges, not two. Next, HealthCare.gov was created in the same legislation that authorized states to build their exchanges. The Obama administration didn’t create HealthCare.gov after they saw states refuse to create state-run exchanges.
Then there’s this:
According to the D.C. Circuit majority, one line in the text of the A.C.A. makes the federal exchange invalid. The law says that subsidies are to be available through exchanges that are “established by a State,” without an explicit authorization of federal exchanges. Thus, according to the judges in the majority, five million or so people who have used the federal exchange to buy health insurance must now lose it.
That’s another inaccurate statement. It isn’t just that judges said people who bought insurance through HealthCare.gov weren’t eligible for subsidies. The US House, the US Senate and President Obama said it, too.
If the US House, the US Senate and President Obama wanted everyone to get these subsidies, they could’ve written it into the ACA’s language. What’s really at play here is that the US House, the US Senate and President Obama wanted everyone to be eligible for those subsidies but they also understood that they’d need a hammer to hold over red states to force them into creating state-run exchanges.
The US House, the US Senate and President Obama calculated that they could force red states into creating state-run exchanges by making it politically unpopular to not create state-run exchanges.
The problem with the Democrats’ bluff is that red states called the Democrats’ bluff. They essentially said that they weren’t worried about not creating a state-run exchange in their states.
Next, Toobin constructs a strawman argument:
Katzmann writes that “excluding legislative history is just as likely to expand a judge’s discretion as reduce it…. When a statute is ambiguous, barring legislative history leaves a judge only with words that could be interpreted in a variety of ways without contextual guidance as to what legislators may have thought. Lacking such guidance increases the probability that a judge will construe a law in a manner that the legislators did not intend.”
There’s nothing abiguous about the legislative language in this provision. It’s exceptionally clear. When a statute says that subsidies are only through exchanges “established by a state”, that means that subsidies aren’t available to people who bought their insurance through HealthCare.gov.
The more important point is that this should be a shot across the legislators’ bow to write clearly written statutes. If legislation can be “interpreted in a variety of ways”, then legislators aren’t doing their job. If the legislators who wrote the law can’t write it clearly, then that’s their problem. Period. The citizens who didn’t qualify for subsidies should take it out on the people who wrote the bill and the people who voted for the legislation.
Further, people who don’t qualify for these subsidies should take it out on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They’re the people who brought the bill up for a vote before anyone could read the bill. They’re the people who wrote the final bill in the privacy of their offices rather than marking it up in committees.
Here’s a whopper:
When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, every member of Congress–supporters of the A.C.A. as well as opponents–understood that the federal government would have the right to establish exchanges in states that chose not to create them. As Judge Harry Edwards observed in his dissenting opinion in the A.C.A. case, “The Act empowers HHS to establish exchanges on behalf of the States, because parallel provisions indicate that Congress thought that federal subsidies would be provided on HHS-created exchanges, and, more importantly, because Congress established a careful legislative scheme by which individual subsidies were essential to the basic viability of individual insurance markets.”
Judge Edwards is wrong. The clear language of the bill doesn’t imply that “federal subsidies would be provided on HHS-created exchanges.” It directly says the opposite.
What can be stated is that Congress wanted everyone who made less than 400% of the federal poverty level to be eligible for subsidies and that all 50 states establish state-run health insurance exchanges. Further, we can state that Congress wrote the bill the way they did to force states into creating their own health insurance exchanges.
Congress can’t have it both ways. Either they write the law to make everyone below a certain income level eligible without conditions or they write it so that only people that met specific criteria were eligible.
As the Halbig case demonstrates, textualism is as politically fraught as any other approach to judging. The Halbig case is not an attempt to police unclear drafting but rather the latest effort to destroy a law that is despised by many conservatives.
Without question, Halbig is an attempt to destroy Obamacare. The thing is whether the Supreme Court will have the courage to say that specific language means specific things or whether they’ll say that the executive branch can change a law after it’s been written by Congress, voted on by Congress and signed by the president.
What Toobin is essentially asking for is a mulligan. He’s asking for that because 36 states didn’t do what Congress had hoped they’d do. Mulligans are for golfers, not major legislation that was passed without scrutiny in the dead of night the night before Christmas Eve.