July 24, 2014

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was even studying up for the LSAT and getting ready to do battle with law school applications. Then my much loved and respected uncle suggested that maybe I didn't want to be one after all, because learning how to argue both sides of a thing means you never need to actually have morals, just a strong argument.

Jonathan Turley proves the wisdom of that warning. By twisting himself in the same pretzel knot as the right wing judges on the DC Circuit court in order to defend them, he lost sight of the bigger picture.

To me, this whole nontroversy over subsidies was ridiculous. Why on earth would a national exchange have been part of the ACA at all, if not to cover people who had no access to a state exchange in the exact same way those on state exchanges got coverage?

Turley gives himself away in an earlier op-ed for the LA Times about the Halbig case, where he refers to "massive government subsidies."

His primary argument, however, completely misinterprets the Affordable Care Act's intent with regard to the tax subsidies. He starts with the premise that states were given incentives for starting up exchanges and disincentives for not starting up exchanges. That's not true. There were no disincentives, which is why so many governors opted out. The incentive was federal funding for the costs to establish an exchange, but there was no downside to not establishing one.

For those of us who lived through the agonizing hell of getting this from committee to the President's desk, we won't soon forget the public option battles. One of the sweeteners added to the bill when the public option died was a federal option that mirrored the FEHB plan offered to all federal employees. The reasoning behind that was that consumers would have access to insurance at least as good as what Congress had.

Does anyone think that there was intent to tie that option into a requirement that states maintain their own exchanges?

Turley is just flat wrong. Cato is cheering him on, and he's certainly one of the constitutional experts behind Boehner's lawsuit on Obamacare, so I think we can conclude two things from his appearance with Megyn Kelly. First, he's so obsessed with limiting the power of the executive that he really believes nothing else matters. And second, he's being paid well to oppose the Affordable Care Act in general and Obama in particular.

In Turley's case, the letter of the law has overtaken the spirit of the law, and now he's discarded his morals in order to find a way to strip his fellow citizens of the first affordable health insurance they've had in years.

Slow clap. Huzzah.

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