Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cruising the Web

Michael Cannon, who has been arguing that the Obamacare subsidies violated the actual text of the law, as a two to one panel on the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled today, explains how winners outnumber losers if the subsidies are struck down.

Of course, if the D.C. Circuit should hear the Halbig case in an en banc review, we'll see the impact of Harry Reid's nuclear option as it put a majority of Democratic appointees on the court. That might get today's decision reversed, but this case is going to go to the Supreme Court. And, while the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of the administration today, there are still two district courts in Indiana and Oklahoma that need to rule on this issue. So we'll have to wait until this goes before the Supreme Court. John Roberts will get another crack at a creative interpretation of the nexus of the IRS and Obamacare.

What is clear, no matter how this ends up, is that this was a terribly written law. This is what happens when Congress ignores legislative process and cobbles together a bill in backrooms without any input from the other party or really from anyone else. Then, due to Scott Brown's election to the Senate thus ending the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority, the Democrats had to push through the bill without any changes possible in a conference committee as would normally have been done. We've seen all sorts of problems with how the law was written thus making Nancy Pelosi's prediction that we had to pass the law to find out what was in it. It is humorous that the Democrats are basing their argument in this case on legislative intent. How can we discern their intent when none of them read the bill before they voted on it?

I deeply wish that this could be the absolute last time that Congress pushes through a bill skipping regular process, but I know it won't be. Both parties are guilty and the results are almost always bad.

Paul Mirengoff explains the difference between a drafting error in a law and poor draftsmanship. Obamacare was clearly the latter. Andrew McCarthy explains why the mistake at the basis of the Halbig decision today was a feature, not a bug. It was no error.
The Left now claims that this was the result of a drafting error. Even if that were true, Obamacare advocates would lose, assuming we are still governed by the rule of law. Only Congress can fix Congress’s drafting errors — judges, much less presidents and executive branch agencies, do not get to do this.

But this was not a drafting error at all. The point was to coerce the states into setting up exchanges, and the Left’s premise in structuring Obamacare as it did was its assessment that Obamacare, and especially its subsidies, would be popular. Obamacare turned out to be unpopular, however, and state governors and legislators did not suffer any political blow-back for refusing to help implement it. There was no ministerial drafting mistake; there was a mistaken assumption that the public would rally behind the policy, creating political pressure on state governments. Because statists think Obamacare is a good idea, they figured everyone would be brought around to that conclusion.
Ramesh Ponnuru also makes this point.
Yet nobody disputes that the law allowed states to refuse to expand Medicaid, which also frustrates that goal. The law as enacted tried to get the states to go along with the expansion by denying all Medicaid funds to holdouts. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not use such a blunt instrument: It could withhold some Medicaid funds but not all of them.

The withholding of tax credits from states without exchanges could similarly have been meant to induce them to establish them. In that case the lawmakers just overestimated how powerful an inducement it would be, and eventually the administration, facing a disaster for its policy and political ambitions, used the IRS to nullify the inducement altogether. The states called the feds’ bluff.

Well there goes one cover-up story.
Top IRS officials told congressional investigators that Lois Lerner's hard drive -- the one containing emails that could shed light on the IRS targeting scandal -- was irreparably damaged before it was destroyed completely in 2011. But now, investigators have had a chance to talk to the technical experts inside the IRS who actually examined Lerner's computer, and the experts say the hard drive in question was actually just "scratched," and that most of the data on it was recoverable.

The IRS computer experts also told the committee that they had recommended seeking outside help in recovering the data from Lerner's computer — something IRS management declined to do.

So why did the State Department issue a travel warning for Israel yesterday? Why is it more dangerous this week when rockets sent into Israel have declined due to Israel's ground invasion than it was in the previous two weeks when there were many more rockets being sent into Israel? Noah Pollak has an idea about this strange timing.
The answer may be that the Obama administration is using the travel warning to exert pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire. It could be a shot across the bow – a deniable but very real signal to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Obama administration’s support for Israel’s operation in Gaza has come to an end, and that there will be consequences for its continuation. And at the same time the State Department was delivering a blow to the Israeli tourism industry, Kerry was showing solidarity with Gaza by announcing a $47 million aid package, much of which is slated to be administered by UNRWA, the corrupt and terror-linked UN agency that has been in the news for storing Hamas rockets in one of its schools.
Typical of this State Department and administration.

Just as a reminder, this is how Hamas acts to endanger its own civilians.
They hid at the El-Wafa hospital.

They hid at the Al-Aqsa hospital.

They hid at the beach, where children played football.

They hid at the yard of 75-year-old Muhammad Hamad.

They hid among the residential quarters of Shujaya.

They hid in the neighbourhoods of Zaytoun and Toffah.

They hid in Rafah and Khan Younis.

They hid in the home of the Qassan family.

They hid in the home of the poet, Othman Hussein.

They hid in 84 schools and 23 medical facilities.

They hid in a cafe, where Gazans were watching the World Cup.

They hid in the ambulances trying to retrieve the injured.

They hid themselves in 24 corpses, buried under rubble.

Noted anti-capitalist Michael Moore owns nine houses. Of course.

The Senate race in North Carolina this year is going to be a tight one. Neither side can be complacent, but don't put all that much faith in the recent PPP poll showing Kay Hagan up seven points against Republican Thom Tillis. And don't buy Nate Cohn's argument that the Republican wave has died down. Jay Cost explains why.

Byron York summarizes the difference between Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.
Clinton is offering Democrats her resume. Warren is offering them a plan.

Does this surprise anyone? The GAO has found that it's not all that difficult for people with fake identities to get subsidies under Obamacare.

Ted Cruz responds to a plot line on HBO's "True Blood" in which vampires murder Texas Republicans at a Cruz fundraiser while the show uses some some really ugly language about Cruz and his supporters..
Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends….

Jeff Jacoby observes the increasing anti-Israel feeling among Democrats. It's a real change from how the Democratic Party used to support Israel.
But on the left, the Israeli-Arab dispute itself has been redefined. Liberals used to see the stakes with no illusions: A small Jewish democracy, an outpost of liberal Western values, was surrounded by brutal Arab dictatorships that denied its very right to exist. That moral clarity has eroded, partly because of facts on the ground over years of conflict — but ultimately through a skillful war of ideas, first launched on the radical left, to reframe the conflict by making Israel the villain and casting Palestinians, who had never been considered a nation, as an oppressed underdog seeking independence.

This intellectual assault began, as Muravchik details, when the Soviet Union, angered by Israel’s defeat of its Arab clients in 1967, engineered a propaganda campaign to delegitimize Zionism. Moscow embraced the PLO, assiduously promoting its significance to the global “anti-imperialist struggle.” The campaign was fought on many fronts, from academia to the United Nations to the media. Over time the anti-Israel narrative gained such traction that the Jewish state, though still a humane and liberal democracy, became one of the world’s most reviled nations.

Needless to say, Israel’s policies are always a legitimate target for honest criticism, as Israelis themselves — often among their government’s harshest critics — would be the first to assert. But critics ought to acknowledge that Israel’s choices are made by a democratic government confronting relentless security threats from an enemy sworn to its destruction. To fail to recognize that moral context is to miss what matters most — to be blind to the conflict’s essence.

Yet wherever the left holds sway, Israel is seen through jaundiced eyes. There has been an unprecedented moral inversion, illustrating the power of a noxious idea to seep from the ideological fringe to the mainstream.

President Obama can't seem to get his rear-covering stories straight. Time and again, we've been told that he didn't know about the problems in the VA or with the IRS or Fast and Furious or that his Justice Department was spying on reporters until he heard the reports on the news. But last night he told a fundraiser something different.
Mr. Obama told supporters that he doesn’t watch the news because, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”
I guess that's all part of his "I'm smarter than anyone else around" image, but he needs to remember his own CYA stories.