The court case that could expose Walker and the Republicans for who they really are. | WisCommunity

The court case that could expose Walker and the Republicans for who they really are.

During this term of the U.S. Supreme Court the case of King v. Burwell will get heard and decided.

To summarize, anti-healthcare forces are challenging the health care law based on clumsy wording contained in one sentence of the 1,000+ page act. That wording refers to premium subsidies available to those enrolled in an exchange "established by the state."

Hence the legal challenge. The plaintiffs argue that those states, like Wisconsin, and other states under the control of Republicans which opted not to create their own exchanges, are not eligible for the premium subsidies.

Lower courts rejected this argument because precedent requires that challenges to wording in legislative acts must be weighed in context, that is, taking the law as a whole and the ACA wording makes it clear congress intended subsidies to be available in those states operating under the federal exchange.

Legal scholars appear to lean in favor of the court upholding the law with John Roberts again casting the deciding vote. It was Roberts who voted in favor of the constitutionality of the law and those scholars posit it would be crazy for Roberts to trash the law now on something this flimsy.

But this court in the past has seen ideology trump common sense, witness the Voting Rights Act decision.

I don't think the discussion of this case has quite captured the earthquake that would ensue and how this could unravel the presidential aspirations of Scott Walker and other Republican governors.

Walker has established his cold-hearted Republican credentials by rejecting the Medicaid expansion and voicing his hostility to the health care law as a whole.

So picture this scenario. It is June, 2015, the beginning of the presidential campaign fundraising season and the Supreme Court finds in favor of the plaintiffs and guts the law. One month later the subsidies would end.

Immediately there would be 72-point headlines screaming the end of Obamacare as we know it.

The next day there would be the reactions with Democrats proposing a legislative fix while Republicans, Walker included, would be doing their happy dance.

But, then there comes the third day of news and the consequences of those facing the loss of their health insurance--about 140,000 families in Wisconsin based on the most recent count.

And many of those would suffer severe consequences. Stories would start to trickle out, on a daily basis, of someone facing the end of their cancer treatments, some other family facing financial ruin, or little Susie unable to get the surgery to fix her cleft palate.  It would be inevitable that someone will die as a result. The stories will then become a flood.

The presidential campaign would grind to a halt as Republicans attempt to answer charges they are dancing on the graves of their own constituents. They would certainly come up with some kind of feeble alternative to the health care act but those will prove inadequate.

The debate would drag on into the entire election season and dominate the 2016 congressional and presidential campaigns with Republicans constantly on the defensive being forced to justify why only people in Democratic states are entitled to access healthcare.

The year 2016 could provide the referendum on health care that the country never really had. It would also lay bare the mendacity of Walker and the Republican Party. Denying people healthcare is not a winning strategy.

Sure, polls have shown that people have mixed feelings about Obamacare, but bear in mind, most people are unaffected by the law. They get their insurance elsewhere. But reading about the real world consequences of losing your insurance will strike a nerve with every voter.

And, for once, the debate will reveal that the idea of a compassionate conservative is an oxymoron.

Published

December 20, 2014 - 1:35pm

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