The Obamacare-IRS Scandal

AP Photo/Don Ryan
AP Photo/Don Ryan

There is a lawsuit that could bring President Obama’s federal healthcare crashing down under the weight of its own lawlessness.  Judicial Watch filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs who are making the plain, obvious point to the United States Supreme Court that President Obama (or any other president) should not be permitted to rewrite federal statues in brazen violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers.

The plaintiffs in David King et. Al. v. Sylvia Burwell are appealing a July ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that found the broad application of Obamacare subsidies were proper and lawful. The suit names the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Treasury Department as defendants.

At its heart, the lawsuit argues the meaning of words and whether the government can lawfully Orwellian doublethink and change the meanings of words such as “State.”  Under Section 36B of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, tax subsidies are restricted to individuals who purchase health insurance “through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Similar wording occurs in eight other locations throughout the ACA. In establishing the regulations governing the tax subsidies, however, the Obama administration declared that the phrase “Exchange established by the State” refers to state exchanges, regional exchanges, subsidiary exchanges, and a federally-facilitated exchange. In our brief, we argue that the decision by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to extend ACA tax credits to individuals purchasing health care through “’federal exchanges’ does not harmonize with the clear purpose of Congress” and could jeopardize the balance of powers.

Once again, the fundamental question here is should a president be permitted to ignore federal law? This question was addressed in a critical 2013 decision (In Re Aiken County) from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which said that “[u]nder Article II of the Constitution and relevant Supreme Court precedents, the President must follow statutory mandates so long as there is appropriated money available and the President has no constitutional objection to the statute.”

The DC Circuit opinion raised fundamental constitutional concerns about allowing a president to ignore federal law, and Judicial Watch’s lawyers point to the Supreme Court to this key point from the decision:

It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would  be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law… Our decision today rests on the constitutional authority of Congress and the respect that the Executive and the Judiciary properly owe to Congress…

So, the stakes are clear. If the Obama administration has its druthers, our constitutional system could be significantly altered to the point where it no longer has any meaning and our elected representatives in Congress no longer have authority in our public policy. Team Obama seeks to replace congressional policy choices about who is eligible to receive refundable tax credits with their own policy preferences. In our constitutional system, this kind of action should be a non-starter.  The plain language of the Obamacare law shows there is no ambiguity as to what Congress intended, and we highlight that Congress’ decision to:

provide refundable tax credits only to individuals who purchase health insurance coverage through an Exchange established by one of the states was Congress’ attempt to strongly encourage states to establish Exchanges…Authorizing the receipt of refundable tax credits to individuals who purchase health insurance through an Exchange established by the federal government would not incentivize the states to create Exchanges; quite the opposite in fact. Therefore, the IRS Rule therefore directly contradicts Congress’ policy choice.

If the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, an estimated 87 percent of individuals who enrolled through the website could lose their taxpayer-provided subsidies. Insurance through Obamacare is too expensive for most people unless they receive taxpayer subsidies. That’s why this case could deal a death blow to Obamacare.

Jonathan Gruber, the controversial Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and Obamacare architect, has helped proponents of the truth. Gruber spilled the beans during a January 18, 2012 presentation at a conference sponsored by Noblis (a non-profit government contractor). It was during this presentation that Gruber confirmed that if states did not set up their own exchanges, the federal government would not give their health care applicants income tax subsidies.

To quote another federal court which looked at this whole corrupt mess and also ruled against Obama’s lawless misuse of the IRS to dole out Obamacare exchange subsidies contrary to law, the Obama administration’s legal position “leads us down a path toward Alice’s Wonderland, where up is down and down is up, and words mean anything.”

Orwell and Lewis Carroll would both recognize and recoil in horror at the abuse of law, logic, and language by the Obama administration. The dishonest despotism of the Obama presidency is now before the Supreme Court. The High Court ought to consult Carroll’s work for how to describe this president’s absurd claim that “State” means “Federal”:

“Contrariwise,’” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

If “logic” holds any sway with its justices, the Supreme Court will uphold Obamacare against this president’s attack upon it. And in upholding Obamacare, a law based on lies and economic fantasies, the Supreme Court may help hasten its legitimate end.


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