Federal court may breathe new life into case that could bring down Obamacare

The arguments on Obamacare’s contraception mandate weren’t the only heard about the law on Tuesday. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in another case yesterday, Halbig v. Sebelius, that could bring down Obamacare.

At issue is whether the Obama administration can legally provide tax subsidies to residents of states that haven’t established exchanges. This is a scenario that lawmakers didn’t anticipate. They didn’t expect state resistance to the law, and didn’t foresee the creation of a federal exchange.

A reading of the statutes in question (§1311 and §1321) confirms that the subsidies were meant to apply only to states with an established exchange, but the Internal Revenue Service illegally wrote rules to apply the subsidies to apply to the federal exchange as well.

Based on reports from those who witness oral arguments in the Halbig case yesterday, the challenge may well prove successful, at least temporarily:

Judge A. Raymond Randolph indicated he felt the statute was quite clear in repeating “seven times” in that section that the subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.”  He indicated that it “is not up to the courts to fix” a problem that Congress may have created for itself.  (Nor, we might add, is it up to the IRS to rewrite the statute in its regulatory interpretation.)

Harry Reid has completely lost his mind

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may be losing his mind as he desperately clings to his party’s majority in the chamber. The usual partisan bickering is to be expected, but this isn’t the norm, even for an election year.

First, Reid took aim at Charles and David Koch on the Senate floor last month, part of a targeted strategy to take Americans attention off of the still-stale economy and Obamacare. He called them “evil” and “un-American,” claiming that “Republicans are addicted to Koch.”

Americans have responded with a yawn. A George Washington University Battleground Poll found that 52% of Americans have never heard of the Koch brothers, while just 25% have heard of them. Oh, and the details aren’t likely to bring a smile to Reid’s face.

“One in four respondents, 25%, had a strong or somewhat negative view of the brothers, while 13% had a strong or somewhat favorable view,” USA Today reported. “The GW poll also tested Reid’s favorability: 24% have a strong or somewhat favorable view; 35% have a strong or somewhat unfavorable view, and 25% say they have never heard of the Nevada Democrat.”

Administration extends Obamacare open enrollment period

Just a few days after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney floated the idea, the Obama administration has extended the Obamacare open enrollment period, originally slated to end on March 31, for those who have created an account on federal exchange website, Healthcare.gov, but haven’t yet completed the sign-up process:

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.

The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.

Since the administration isn’t going to put checks in place to ensure that the potential enrollee is telling the truth, this is tacit extension of the deadline for everyone, not just those who tried to sign-up in the six-month open enrollment period.

Today in Liberty: FEC wants answers from Harry Reid, pollster warns Democrats on Obamacare

Today in Liberty is a daily roundup of recent political news and other interesting stories presented with liberty-minded commentary. We frequently keep tabs on liberty-minded politicians and candidates in these updates. We also inject some humor on occasion. Click here to receive Today in Liberty every morning via email.

— Harry Reid’s campaign expenditures come into question: So…the FEC wants details about $16,786 in “holiday gifts” purchased for donors and supporters of Friends of Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader’s campaign name. “The gifts,” Jon Ralston reports, “were purchased from his granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid, who is a jewelry vendor in Berkeley, CA. The gifts were later passed on to donors and supporters, a Reid spokeswoman told me.” Reid’s campaign tried to hide the disbursement by listing his granddaughter’s name as “Ryan Elisabeth” rather than disclosing her full name. The FEC has given Friends of Harry Reid until April 25 to respond to its inquiry.

Obamacare regulatory burdens outweigh benefits

The heavy regulatory and paperwork burdens that Obamacare has brought to businesses and states is not worth the costs, according to a new study by the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank.

While most have focused on the premium and deductible increases that many Americans are seeing when they sign up for a health plan, the study, authored by Sam Batkins, takes a look at another aspect of the law that hasn’t received nearly as much attention.

“From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local governments and affected entities,” wrote Batkins. “What’s more troubling, the law has generated just $2.6 billion in annualized benefits, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs.

“In other words,” he continues, “the [Affordable Care Act] has imposed 2.5 times more costs than it has produced in benefits.”

To put the paperwork hours into perspective, Batkins compared the burden under the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to that of Obamacare. “At more than 159 million paperwork hours, the ACA is in a class by itself,” he noted. “To date, Dodd-Frank, an equally transformational law, has imposed ‘only’ 60 million hours of paperwork.”

The study, for example, notes that Americans will spend 7.5 million hours complying with the individual mandate and business owners will have to spend 40.2 million hours dealing with reporting requirements.

Today in Liberty: Join Amash’s Rebel Alliance, Celebrate Human Achievement

“Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.” — Will Rogers

— Why buy coverage when you don’t have to?: Serious question. Obamacare’s individual mandate is meaningless, at least for the first two years. So meaningless in fact that Americans can escape it by claiming virtually any hardship. “Filed for bankruptcy in the past six months? Had medical bills you couldn’t pay in the past two years? Been a victim of domestic violence? Received a shut-off notice from a utility company? If you don’t want to buy insurance under Obamacare, you don’t have to. No penalty,” Politico explains. “The individual mandate may be the most despised part of Obamacare, but the reality is that it’s much smaller than people think. It’s riddled with exemptions, hardships and other loopholes that allow millions of people off the hook for enrollment by March 31.”

— Keep Calm and Join the Rebellion: Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) end of quarter money bomb began this morning. As of 7:15 am, he’s already raised $6,021.14. Amash is facing an establishment-backed primary challenger. “We’ll fight their army of starched collars and pinstripe suits with a different type of army — the grassroots,” the campaign says via Facebook. “The great news is that we far outnumber them. For every $1,000 check a lobbyist can cut to Brian Ellis, I’m confident there are 100 grassroots supporters who can send Justin $35 at www.justinamash.com.

Democrats can’t “fix” a train wreck

There were no balloons and confetti this weekend to mark the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. The law has come the most polarizing issue in the country, one that is almost certainly going to play a role in the 2014 mid-term election.

CNN host John King went through the most recent poll numbers from Pew Research this weekend, noting that Obamacare “is on life support,” as 53% of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, while just 41% approve.

Facing the real possibility of a Republican wave this fall, Democrats have pivoted on the “fix” Obamacare message, one that didn’t do much good for them in the recent Florida special congressional election. Peter Suderman recently explained that the “fix” message doesn’t really make much sense because Democrats aren’t saying how they would do to actually address problems with the law:

Administration may extend Obamacare enrollment deadline for some

The White House has hinted that it may extended the Obamacare enrollment deadline for Americans who experienced technical problems on the state and federal exchanges, much like the administration did in December for those who wanted to sign up for health insurance coverage at the beginning of the year.

“March 31 was the deadline, as was the case for the December deadline, we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday, pointing them to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for further explanation.

“We want to make sure, as we did in December, on that deadline, that folks who have begun the process are able to complete it,” said Carney. “We certainly expect, naysayers notwithstanding, that there’s going to be continued interest right up to the deadline, and that interest will probably increase as we approach the deadline.”

Today in Liberty: Republicans should brace for a bitter fight in 2014, Obama ups ante against Kony

“Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes — and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?” — Barry Goldwater

— What’s to come for Republicans: Erick Erickson has some wise words over at RedState this morning about what Republican-base voters should expect from Democrats, who are staring down potentially heavy losses this year. “What the Democrats will do to offset their turnout operation is voter suppression efforts. They will use every story possible to embarrass Republicans. Attacks on the Republican base; mischaracterization of statements; taking remarks out of context; highlighting unknown Republicans at the local, county, and state level who’ve said something that can be spun — you name it, the Democrats will do it,” wrote Erickson. “They will abandon the case for themselves and instead try to keep Republicans at home or embarrass them into voting for a Democrat. You will see the full media bias as national news networks, newspapers, and web sites focus on random local Republican politicians demanding to know if Candidates X, Y, and Z support that person’s remarks.”

Harry Reid thinks all of these Obamacare stories are lies

In a recent, shameful rant on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) railed against issue ads highlighting horror stories from Americans who have been impacted by the consequences of Obamacare.

“Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told,” Reid complained. “All of them are untrue, but they’re being told all over America,” he said, before specifically targeting a Michigan woman, a cancer patient, who has been forced into a health plan she can’t afford.

The horror stories about Obamacare have been frequent — ranging from, but not limited to higher health insurance premiums and/or deductibles to a lack of in-network medical providers to canceled health plans — and they’ve uncovered serious flaws with the law.

The Washington Free Beacon has put together a short video touching on some of these stories, covering news reports from all 50 states. Just remember what Harry Reid says, everyone of these people are all liars. Or something:


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