The Mind-Boggling Libertarian Legal Game Plan to Repeal Obamacare

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The Mind-Boggling Libertarian Legal Game Plan to Repeal Obamacare

(Photo: flickr / cc / Fibonacci Blue)

Dave Weigel explains something that I had not fully understood before --- the Obamacare repeal legal game plan:

At least 4 million people, who signed up for Obamacare in states that chose not to set up exchanges (or in the case of Oregon, tried and failed to set up their own), are currently panicking about the threat of erased subsidies and higher payments. Why do I attribute this to libertarians? Like I wrote in 2013, and like Alec MacGillis has been writing, the Halbig case's chief advocate was Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute scholar who had previously campaigned to stop states from setting up their own exchanges.

Cannon's goal, stated bluntly and frequently, was that Obamacare had to be brought down by any means necessary. States that did not set up exchanges were in a better position to sue the government. Fewer people in the exchanges meant higher overall costs. To insurers, the "death spiral" was an apocalypse scenario; to Cannon, it meant freedom.

"A victory for the Halbig plaintiffs would not increase anyone’s premiums," he wrote Monday.* "What it would do is prevent the IRS from shifting the burden of those premiums from enrollees to taxpayers. Premiums for federal-Exchange enrollees would not rise, but those enrollees would face the full cost of their 'ObamaCare' plans."

This is the Leninism I'm referring to in my headline. Cannon's no socialist—quite the opposite!—but he saw a solution to the Republican crisis of watching people grow used to new entitlements. Rip the entitlement away, weaken the system, and a painful short term would give Congress no choice but to undo the law. Take away some of the beams, and what do you know? The roof collapses.

An what "undoing" the law means in this context is removing the requirements for pre-existing conditions and the basic package of coverage --- which means that people affected will go uncovered or pay an unaffordable price for an inadequate policy. You know, like it used to be. Which in their minds was a great system apparently.

Remember, this is how they really feel about this:

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Digby

Digby is the pseudonym of progressive political blogger Heather Parton from Santa Monica, California who founded the blog Hullabaloo.

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