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Lefties went apoplectic this week after the DC Circuit issued its ruling in the Halbig v. Burwell lawsuit. Their initial spin was that it was “a drafting error.” Sean Davis’ article laid out the foolishness of their spin. While Davis’ article buried the administration’s spin with irrefutable facts, something that Jonathan Gruber said might hurt them in a court of law even more. Here’s what Gruber said that’s so damning:

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.

Gruber isn’t an outsider:

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the Massachusetts health law that was the model for Obamacare, was a key influence on the creation of the federal health law. He was widely quoted in the media. During the crafting of the law, the Obama administration brought him on for consultation because of his expertise. He was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the administration on the law. And he has claimed to have written part of the legislation, the section dealing with small business tax credits.

In other words, Gruber admitted, after working on the ACA, that the subsidies were made available for people who bought their insurance through state-established exchanges to put political pressure on reluctant governors and legislators to establish state-run exchanges.

That’s supported by the legislative language of the ACA:

The statutory authority for state-based exchanges comes in section 1311 of Obamacare. The statutory authority for a federal exchange in the event that a state chose not to establish one comes from section 1321(c) of Obamacare. Right off the bat, we have two discrete sections pertaining to two discrete types of health exchange. Was that a “drafting error”?

Then we have the specific construction of section 1321(c), which allows for the creation of a federal exchange. Nowhere does this section say that an exchange created under its authority will have the same treatment as a state-based exchange created under section 1311. At no point does it say that section 1321 plans are equivalent. Why, it’s almost as though the exchanges and the plans offered by them were not intended to receive the same treatment. Was that another “drafting error”?

Most important, we have the sections of the law providing for tax credits to help offset the cost of Obamacare’s health care plans: sections 1401, 1402, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, and 1415. And how do those sections establish authority to provide those tax credits? Why, they specifically state ten separate times that tax credits are available to offset the costs of state health exchange plans authorized by section 1311. And how many times are section 1321 federal exchange plans mentioned? Zero.

I’ll repeat myself. Gruber’s quote matches up with the legislative language of the ACA. The good news is that there’s a legislative fix for this problem. Congress can pass legislation that makes the subsidies available to anyone making less than 400% of the federal poverty level, aka FPL.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that House Republicans won’t include things like repealing the medical device manufacturers tax and the individual and employer mandates.

Therein lies the Democrats’ real problem. They’ve gotten their way on every single item in the bill thus far. They aren’t interested in compromising with Republicans on a single provision in the ACA. That’s tough. It’s time for them to stop acting like spoiled brats. It’s time for Democrats to implement some of the Republicans’ good ideas.

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Sean Davis’s article utterly demolishes the Left’s argument that the DC Circuit was willing to throw millions of people off health care because of a “drafting error.” Here’s a key portion of Davis’s demolition of that argument:

Let’s take a step back to see how plausible that explanation is. There are two types of exchanges: state-established, and federally established. The statutory authority for state-based exchanges comes in section 1311 of Obamacare. The statutory authority for a federal exchange in the event that a state chose not to establish one comes from section 1321(c) of Obamacare. Right off the bat, we have two discrete sections pertaining to two discrete types of health exchange. Was that a “drafting error”?

Then we have the specific construction of section 1321(c), which allows for the creation of a federal exchange. Nowhere does this section say that an exchange created under its authority will have the same treatment as a state-based exchange created under section 1311. At no point does it say that section 1321 plans are equivalent. Why, it’s almost as though the exchanges and the plans offered by them were not intended to receive the same treatment. Was that another “drafting error”?

Most important, we have the sections of the law providing for tax credits to help offset the cost of Obamacare’s health care plans: sections 1401, 1402, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, and 1415. And how do those sections establish authority to provide those tax credits? Why, they specifically state ten separate times that tax credits are available to offset the costs of state health exchange plans authorized by section 1311. And how many times are section 1321 federal exchange plans mentioned? Zero. Was that yet another “drafting error”?

Either these progressive pundits are the worst liars in the world or the person who wrote the legislation is the most inept person ever to draft legislation. I’m voting for the former, not the latter.

It’s obvious that the bill was written properly. It’s obvious that Democrats didn’t think 36 states would opt out of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange, aka HIX.

The media’s fiction that this was a drafting error is intellectually dishonest intended at painting the judges as hate-filled conservatives who don’t care about poor people. The truth is that it’s Democrats that intentionally played politics with poor people’s lives.

They’re the people who wrote the law to not include subsidies for people buying insurance through Healthcare.gov. They’re the people who didn’t see anything wrong with the bill until after it became obvious that they’d miscalculated the popularity of the HIXs. They’re the people who made faulty assumptions.

Mr. Davis has written and/or proofed standalone legislation and legislative amendments:

When I worked in the Senate, I spent countless hours reading through various appropriation and spending bills. I also drafted hundreds of amendments, as well as a standalone public law. During the years I spent reading through proposed legislation, it was not uncommon to find obvious errors in bills and amendments. Sometimes you would see a date written as 3015 instead of 2015. Sometimes a non-existent section would be referenced, or a section number in a table of contents might be wrong. Other times, you might see a dollar figure that had too few or too many zeroes (seriously, that happened). You might even find a misspelled word or an incorrect line number every now and again. Those were true “drafting errors,” the typos of the legislative world.

The deliberate creation of a separate section to authorize a separate federal entity is not a drafting error. The repeated and deliberate reference to one section but not another is not a drafting error. The refusal to grant equal authority to two programs authorized by two separate sections is not a drafting error. The decision to specifically reference section X but not section Y in a portion of a law that grants spending or tax authority is not a drafting error.

Simply put, the Left knows that they’re in real danger of having the heart of the ACA ripped from the bill. If the subsidies disappear, the ACA, aka Obamacare, disappears, too. They know that they can’t argue the law. Arguing that is foolish. Appealing to the judges’ partisanship is the only avenue they have for winning.

At the heart of this matter is the fact that Democrats made a faulty assumption. At the heart of this matter is the fact that Democrats thought this bill would be much more popular than it is. They wrote the law based on the opinion that the ACA would pressure Republicans into supporting a terrible bill.

Democrats were wrong about that.

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The whining on the left hasn’t stopped since the DC Circuit Court’s ruling on Halbig v. Burwell. This article is a perfect example of the Left’s whining:

The Affordable Care Act was designed to offer premium tax credits (subsidies) to people to purchase private health insurance on government-run exchanges — at least those earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The belief among legislators was that the exchanges would be state-based, so the section of the law authorized subsidies to those enrolled “through an Exchange established by the State.”

Simply put, this is proof that the people writing the ACA wanted one thing but didn’t write the bill properly. If they wanted everyone “earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level” to get premium supports regardless of which exchange they bought it through, they should’ve written that into the law.

The assumption that “the exchanges would be state-based” is a sloppy assumption. Sloppy assumptions make terrible laws. It isn’t the judges’ fault that Max Baucus didn’t write the bill properly. Further, it isn’t the judges’ fault that the writing of the law was shrouded in secrecy.

Had this been a transparent operation, someone might’ve caught Sen. Baucus’s mistake. Had Sen. Baucus not made a terrible assumption, if that’s what it was, the bill might’ve been written with more clarity.

Blaming Democrats’ mistakes on Republicans is pathetic. Sen. Baucus, Sen. Reid and then-Speaker Pelosi made a series of decisions that produced sloppyily-written legislation. That’s on their heads, not the judges’ heads. It’s one thing to argue intent when the legislative language isn’t clear. It’s another to argue when the legislative language includes a straightforward, declarative statement.

At that point, that straightforward, declarative statement is what judges should base their opinion on. The Democrats’ attorneys argument is essentially that Baucus, Reid and Pelosi made a mistake in writing the bill, therefore the judges should clean up their mistake.

That isn’t the court’s responsibility. If Obama, Reid and Pelosi want to fix the law, the only constitutional remedy is to submit the correction to the legislative process. I wrote yesterday that the Democrats don’t want to do that because House Republicans might actually want to include other provisions in the bill that Democrats don’t like. That’s tough. If Obama, Reid and Pelosi didn’t want Republicans to have that type of leverage, they should’ve written the bill right the first time.

Their whining now just indicates that they’re looking for a skapegoat to blame for their mistakes. It’s time for them to put on their big boy pants and accept the fact that they put together a sloppy piece of legislation. It isn’t the court’s responsibility to clean up politicians’ messes. That’s the politician’s responsibility.

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I’ve spent the last half of Tuesday illustrating the fact that Section 36B is clearly written. In this clip, Charles Krauthammer explains that the bill’s language is exceptionally straightforward:

The language in the bill simply states that the subsidies are ony available to people purchasing health insurance through state-run exchanges. This doesn’t require guessing. It just requires the ability to believe what you’ve heard.

After Charles’ explanation, Kirsten Powers argued that the language was ambiguous. She essentially said that the intent was clear if you read the entire section. This doesn’t have anything to do with reading the entire section. The only context that’s required is the simple declarative statement.

The statement isn’t filled with caveats. It’s straightforward. It’s declarative.

What the administration and its apologists are arguing is that we should a) accept their word that they really meant for everyone of a certain income level to qualify for subsidies and b) ignore the straightforward language of the bill.

My response to that is simple. I don’t read minds to determine legislative intent and I don’t trust liberals who say that federal statutes really mean whatever liberals insist they mean at any point in history. Liberal constitutional law Professor Jonathan Turley agrees with me on that. Here’s what he said:

I’d love hearing Kirsten Powers or Ron Fournier dispute Professor Turley’s explanation. Ultimately, though, Prof. Turley is right in saying that this is about more than the ACA. It’s about which branch of government has the responsibility to correct the law. Ultimately, the question is whether the executive branch can usurp the legislative branch’s authority to write new laws.

Dishonest progressives argue that the executive branch isn’t writing new laws. They’re lying about that. The plain language of the bill says one thing and they’re saying that the straightforward wording isn’t what they meant.

Let’s remember that the ACA was written by Max Baucus in Harry Reid’s office. Dishonest progressives want me to believe that Sen. Baucus was so inept that he accidentally slipped that language into the bill. He’s written dozens of bills and hundreds of amendments to bills. I’m supposed to think that he mistakenly put in a straightforward-sounding statement runs contrary to his intent into the most important bill he ever wrote. Why would I buy into that?

Further, even if I thought that was the truth, I’d still argue that the executive branch, in this instance the IRS, has the authority to rewrite that language to mean what it wants the section to mean years after the fact. The language is clear. When the language is clear, the intent is clear.

I don’t need a clairvoyant to determine what Sen. Baucus meant. I just need a little common sense, a little reading ability and the ability to ignore misinformed liberals.

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Brian Beutler’s article attempts to make the case that Republicans might ultimately lose if the Supreme Court upholds today’s ruling:

An adverse Supreme Court ruling would throw the ACA into chaos in three dozen states, including huge states like Florida and Texas. The vast majority of beneficiaries in those states would be suddenly unable to afford their premiums (and might even be required to reimburse the government for unlawful subsidies they’ve already spent). Millions of people would drop out of the insurance marketplaces. Premiums would skyrocket for the very sick people who need coverage the most.

But that’s where the conservatives’ “victory” would turn into a big political liability for red- and purple-state Republicans. An adverse ruling would create a problem that could be fixed in two ways: With an astonishingly trivial technical corrections bill in Congress, or with Healthcare.gov states setting up their own exchanges. If you’re a Republican senator from a purple Healthcare.gov state—Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and others—you’ll be under tremendous pressure to pass the legislative fix. If you’re a Republican governor in any Healthcare.gov state, many thousands of your constituents will expect you to both pressure Congress to fix the problem, and prepare to launch your own exchange.

Conservatives would like to believe that they could just leave something as deeply rooted as Obamacare permanently hobbled, or that they could use the ensuing chaos as leverage, to force Democrats to reopen the books, and perhaps gut the law in other ways. I think they’re miscalculating. Just as government shutdowns and debt default threats don’t create leverage because the public doesn’t support inviting chaos in pursuit of unrelated goals, I don’t think an adverse ruling in Halbig will create leverage for the GOP.

I think Beutler isn’t just wrong about the leverage. I think he’s kidding himself if he thinks this puts Republicans in a difficult position.

By the time the Supreme Court rules on this lawsuit, it’s quite possible that there will be Republican majorities in the House and Senate. If that’s the case, think of this scenario:

Congress might well change Section 36B as part of a bigger bill that’s sure to include other provisions that Republicans like and that President Obama doesn’t like.

For instance, a new bill might include a change to 36B along with a change that eliminates the medical device tax, another change that changes the definition of a Qualified Health Plan, aka QHP, and a change that reduces the penalties for the employer and individual mandates.

Employers and families would certainly love a tiny penalty for not obeying the law. Young people would love being able to buy a catatrophic policy with a HSA to cover other expenses. There’s no question that eliminating the medical device tax would make medical device manufacturers happy.

At that point, President Obama signs the bill that’s essentially a fresh start that dramatically improves the ACA or he vetoes a popular bill that forces families to pay higher insurance premiums, that doesn’t repeal an unpopular tax and he alienates major parts of his base. In my opinion, that’s ‘Rock meets hard place’ territory for President Obama. The good news is that it’s great news for employers, families and young people.

All that’s required is for Republicans to pass a bill that’s filled with popular provisions. Since a majority of people don’t like the bill’s specifics, that shouldn’t be that difficult.

Finally, Beutler insists that this is judicial activism. There’s nothing activist about the DC Circuit’s ruling. They said that Section 36B meant what it said. For the record, here’s the specific language of Section 36B:

monthly premiums for such month for 1 or more qualified health plans offered in the individual market within a State which cover the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or any dependent (as defined in section 152) of the taxpayer and which were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 [1] of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The judiciary’s first responsibility is to determine whether a law is constitutional. If it passes that test, the next test is to determine whether the statute gives the executive branch the authority to take action.

In this instance, the DC Circuit ruled that the ACA didn’t give the executive branch, in this case the IRS, the authority to change a major provision of the statute.

It isn’t radical to think that the executive branch doesn’t have the authority to rewrite specific provisions of existing statutes. If the Supreme Court validates this ruling and if President Obama wants that provision changed, there’s a simple remedy: work with Congress to change that part of the ACA.

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When President Obama told Bill O’Reilly that there wasn’t even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS, Americans rolled their eyes. They knew he was full of it. They knew it because they’d gotten to know Catherine Engelbrecht and how the federal government was used to persecute her for having the audacity of participating in the political process.

Ed Rogers’ article highlights the fact that more smidgens are popping up weekly. This week, some significant smidgens showed up:

In a stunning revelation this week, it was disclosed that former IRS official Lois Lerner told colleagues, “we need to be cautious about what we say in emails” and then proceeded to ask the IRS IT department, in an e-mail, “if [instant messaging] conversations were also searchable.” When she was told they were not, she e-mailed back, “Perfect.” This is a smoking gun e-mail in that it makes plain she had a cover-up in mind. There is no other plausible explanation.

Josh Earnest, the Obama administration’s latest version of Baghdad Bob, undoubtedly will explain that Republicans are grasping at straws because their fishing expedition is going nowhere. He’ll then recite the BS that the administration has turned over tens of thousands of documents and cooperate fully with the investigation.

What Earnest won’t be able to do is explain away Jim Jordan’s interrogation of John Koskinen yielding this stunning admission:

“Has anyone at the Justice Department talked to you or anyone at the Internal Revenue Service about Lois Lerner’s lost emails?” Jordan asked Koskinen. “I have no idea whether the Justice Department has talked to anyone at the agency,” said Koskinen, who started his job last December. “They have not talked to me.”

It’s important to note that DOJ allegedly started their investigation a year ago. That admission is a major bombshell on multiple fronts. First, it says that Justice isn’t interested in investigating the IRS. Second, it sends the message to the IRS that they don’t have to worry about stonewalling Congress. These are major smidgens of corruption.

The terrible news for the administration is that their stonewalling will end, thanks to a pair of no-nonsense judges. On Thursday, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that the IRS had to explain what happened to Lois Lerner’s hard drive and emails:

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington gave the Internal Revenue Service exactly a month, until Aug. 10, to file a report, which he demanded as part of a lawsuit from a conservative watchdog, Judicial Watch, against the agency.

On Friday, Judge Reggie Walton issued a similar ruling. Greta van Susteren posted Judge Walton’s ruling:

ORDERED that, on or before July 18, 2014, defendant the Internal Revenue Service shall submit to the Court an affidavit or declaration signed under oath by an appropriate individual with firsthand knowledge that: Case 1:13-cv-00734-RBW Document 91 Filed 07/11/14

1. outlines the expertise and qualifications of the individual or individuals currently conducting the forensic examination as part of the Inspector General’s investigation;
2. outlines the expertise and qualifications of the individual or individuals who previously conducted forensic examinations or otherwise attempted to recover information from the computer hard drive at issue;
3. provides a projected date of completion of the Inspector General’s investigation;
4. states whether the serial number, if any, assigned to the computer hard drive at issue is known; and
5. if the serial number is known, why the computer hard drive cannot be identified and preserved.

During her interview on Megyn Kelly’s show last night, Cleta Mitchell noted that this can’t be filled out by a political appointee like John Koskinen because his statements are inadmissable in a court of law because they’re hearsay. His statements aren’t based on firsthand knowledge. They’re based on what someone told him, at best.

Further, Judge Sullivan’s ruling and Judge Walton’s rulings have teeth in them. Prior to this, if Koskinen or Lerner or whomever misled House committees, the most that those committees could do is refer the case to the Justice Department for investigation. Thanks to Eric Holder’s corruption, that wasn’t a stick. It was a twig, if that.

These judges, however, have the authority to appoint a special prosecutor with the ability to put people in prison if they’re found guilty in a trial.

The smidgens are adding up. The American people reached their boiling point long ago. If the IRS tries playing games with these stiff-spined judges, Judges Sullivan and Walton will reach their boiling points, too. Time is running out on the Holder Justice Department. They can’t stonewall much longer and get away with it.

In the end, the smidgens will win.

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If Patrick Condon’s article highlights anything, it’s that the courts really aren’t accessible to average citizens. With their ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court essentially said that the judiciary is only for deep-pocketed people:

The state’s high court ruled that former Republican Rep. Jim Knoblach would have to post an $11 million surety bond if he wanted his challenge to the project to continue. He said he can’t afford to post a bond of that size.

“Requiring a member of the public to come up with $11 million in a case like this is a chilling precedent to a citizen raising a constitutional challenge,” he said.

This is stunning on multiple fronts. First, the constitutional case is clear. If the Supreme Court read the merits of the lawsuit, they’d know that the lower court’s ruling was a joke and an insult to Minnesota’s constitution. Second, saying that a lawsuit can’t proceed without the litigant putting up an $11,000,000 surety bond is the fastest way to stop a lawsuit.

First things first. Judge Marek ruled that Sen. Bakk’s bill didn’t violate the Single Subject Clause of Minnesota’s Constitution because “the office building provision is linked to the rest by a common thread of “financing and raising revenue to fund state and local government operations.” In other words, the legislature can put anything it wants to pass into the tax bill if it’s something that’s linked to “state or local government operations.”

In other words, Judge Marek’s ruling essentially gutted Minnesota’s Constitution. That’s either proof that she’s corrupt or proof that she’s ignorant of Minnesota’s Constitution.

Next, it’s exceptionally elitist of Minnesota’s Supreme Court to require this surety bond. They’ve essentially said that deep pockets are required if a person wants to appeal legislative decisions. That’s stunning in its elitism.

If ever there was justification for citizens voting out judges and replacing them with judges who’ll obey Minnesota’s Constitution.

What just happened is that Judge Marek ignored Minnesota’s Constitution. Later, government lawyers convinced a judge that a pesky citizen shouldn’t really have access to the courts. Finally, the Minnesota Supreme Court completed the whitewash by agreeing with the government’s attorneys, putting the final brick in place stopping citizens from accessing judicial remedies to legislative overreach.

It’s a sad day for Minnesota’s citizens. The elitists on Minnesota’s Supreme Court just ruled that the court won’t hear lawsuits pertaining to legislative overreach unless the litigant has exceptionally deep pockets.

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This article should frighten Constitution-loving Americans across the political spectrum. Here’s why:

Schumer during remarks to the Center for American Progress argued that Tea Party groups have an unfair financial advantage over left-leaning groups because of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, at one point even suggesting that President Barack Obama go around Congress to impose stricter campaign finance laws.

“It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately,” Schumer said.

“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created [by] the ill advised decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission],” he added. “Obviously the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.”

First, it’s worth noting that Sen. Schumer’s speech is intellectually dishonest. Next, it calls into question whether he or the other signatories to his letter cherish the Constitution or whether they’re willing to sacrifice the Constitution for political expediency.

These questions are aimed specifically at Sen. Schumer and Sen. Franken:

  1. Do all political organizations have the right of free speech or do only some political organizations have First Amendment protections?
  2. If only some political organizations have First Amendment protection, who determines which political organizations have First Amendment protections and which political organizations don’t?
  3. Why do you think that the IRS is the right enforcer of who’s protected by the First Amendment?
  4. What part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights can you cite that prohibits political speech for some organizations but protects poltiical speech for other organizations?
  5. Shouldn’t the Supreme Court be the final arbiter of what’s constitutional and what isn’t constitutional?
  6. Finally, why haven’t you demanded that the IRS be investigated for targeting citizens because of their political beliefs?

The reality is that Sen. Franken and Sen. Schumer don’t think in terms of what’s protected by the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. They think in terms of what will help them politically. With them, it’s never been about constitutionality. It’s always been about what’ll help them politically.

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Last night, I heard that the judge dismissed Jim Knoblach’s lawsuit. The twisted logic behind the judge’s ruling has essentially given future legislatures a gigantic loophole that essentially nullifies the Single Subject Clause of Minnesota’s Constitution. Jim Knoblach’s argument, the DFL’s counnterargument and the judge’s ruling are found in this document:


Here’s where the judge created a gigantic loophole:

The crux of the plaintiff’s argument is that, based on legislative custom and history, the passage of Section 21 was a significant deviation from traditional practice — by its inclusion in a tax bill and consideration before a tax committee — and was the product of impermissable logrolling that violates the Single Subject and Title Clause. Where the court has found that legislation is germane to a single subject, however, allegations of legislative improprieties cease to be a proper subject of judicial review. Certainly Plaintiff has highlighted significant oddities about this legislation and its passage, but such factors only become relevant if the legislation has failed the mere filament test.

What this judge just did was rule that the DFL could’ve put other capital projects into last year’s Tax Bill:

But Judge Lezlie Marek rejected that argument, writing in her order of dismissal that the legislation did not violate the single subject requirement. The $2 billion tax bill was a sprawling piece of legislation, but Marek ruled that the office building provision is linked to the rest by a common thread of “financing and raising revenue to fund state and local government operations.”

In other words, it’s a single subject because the tax bill finances government operations. That’s absurd illogic. The Senate Office Building project isn’t part of government operations. It can’t be part of government operations until it’s actually built, if then.

By this judge’s ruling, anything can be justified if it’s ruled to be part of state or local government operations and it’s included in the tax bill. That’s a gigantic loophole for the DFL to exploit.

The lesson taxpayers should take away from this is that the DFL won’t hesitate in spending hard-working families’ money on things that aren’t needed. Last spring, the DFL voted to spend $63,000,000 on an impractical building. Here’s what we’re getting forced down our throats:

Under the approved design, 44 senators from both parties and their staffs would relocate to the new building, and 23 others — the DFL and GOP leaders and committee chairs — would keep offices in the Capitol.

The “heart” of the new building would be the main floor with large, open public gathering spaces that look out on the Capitol through a “sweeping curve” of a glass and stone wall, said Jon Pickard, the principal designer with the Pickard Chilton architectural design firm. Large committee hearing rooms, which the Capitol lacks, also would be located on the main floor.

Senators and their staffs would have offices on the top two floors. A two-level, 265-stall parking garage would be built under the building.

The House Rules Committee hasn’t voted to approve this monstrosity. DFL legislators can stop the building of this disfunctional, ill-advised project by not approving this project. If they approve Sen. Bakk’s palace, they will have proven that they’re irresponsible stewards of the public’s money. Only a fool thinks that spending $63,000,000 on this ill-advised SOB (Senate Office Building) is a wise investment.

Anyone voting for the SOB isn’t a trustworthy watchdog of the taxpayers’ money.

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George Will is right. It’s possible that 4 little words might doom the Anything But Affordable Care Act:

The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.

From a plain language standpoint, this isn’t difficult to predict. If this lawsuit makes it to the Supreme Court and if the justices rule that the plain text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which I’ll call the Anything But Affordable Care Act from this point forward, means what it says, then I’d expect a 9-0 ruling that the IRS doesn’t have the authority to change the plain text of the ABACA:

So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama’s pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama’s critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states. Pruitt is challenging the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and there are similar challenges in Indiana, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The history of the bill matters:

Congress made subsidies available only through state exchanges as a means of coercing states into setting up exchanges. In Senate Finance Committee deliberations on the ACA, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the bill’s primary authors, suggested conditioning tax credits on state compliance because only by doing so could the federal government induce state cooperation with the ACA. Then the law’s insurance requirements could be imposed on states without running afoul of constitutional law precedents that prevent the federal government from commandeering state governments.

In other words, Sen. Baucus understood that the Supreme Court would likely rule the ABACA unconstitutional if the legislation required states to create health insurance exchanges. Without that coercion, only states with out-of-touch far left governors (like Minnesota, New York and Vermont) would’ve created state-run HIXs.

As big a deal as these things are, there’s an even bigger principle at stake here:

If courts allow the IRS’s demarche, they will validate this:

By dispensing subsidies through federal exchanges, the IRS will spend tax revenues without congressional authorization. And by enforcing the employer mandate in states that have only federal exchanges, it will collect taxes; remember, Chief Justice John Roberts saved the ACA by declaring that the penalty enforcing the mandate is really just a tax on the act of not purchasing insurance, without congressional authorization.

If the IRS can do neither, it cannot impose penalties on employers who fail to offer ACA-approved insurance to employees. If the IRS can do both, Congress can disband because it has become peripheral to American governance.

If the Supreme Court gets this one wrong, then it’s over. There are tons of constitutional principles at stake here. That’s before taking the plain language of the bill into consideration.

Let’s be clear, though. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. I’m not. This is exceptionally straightforward. While it’s important from a constitutional standpoint, it also revolves around whether the justices will pretend that the plain text of the bill doesn’t mean what it means.

The original lawsuit was almost entirely about constitutional principles. This lawsuit is primarily, though not entirely, about the plain text of the ABACA. It’s difficult to think that Chief Justice Roberts will rule that the bill’s text doesn’t mean what it says.