King v. Burwell and the Democratic Abyss.

This is a somewhat interesting article on CNN about the perils for Democrats if the Supreme Court rules against the government in King v. Burwell: not least because it’s fairly clear that the author would rather that there not be any perils for Democrats at all.  Nonetheless, the article does concede that the original mad optimism that Democrats showed in thinking that the elimination of federal Obamacare subsidies would backfire on Republicans was mad optimism, and maybe not particularly justified mad optimism as that.  But there’s an even worse potential problem for Democrats: what’s their Plan B?

Because the Republicans have a bunch of Plan Bs.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001075′ ] of [Louisiana] wants to set up an alternative Health Savings Account (HSA) program. [mc_name name=’Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000591′ ] of Georgia wants to try tax credits and pooling coverage.  And there’s even [mc_name name=’Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’J000293′ ] of Wisconsin’s exquisite poison pill of a bill where Congress puts back the subsidies… in exchange for a repeal of the individual and employee mandates.  All of these plans can’t be implemented at the same time, of course.  There’s no way that they could be.  But they are, in fact, plans: and should King v. Burwell be decided against the government I expect that we’ll see a Republican consensus hammered together over a long weekend.

In contrast… the Obama administration has more or less responded to every inquiry as to what they plan to do if federal subsidies go away with an airy That’s not going to happen.  And, indeed, it might not happen: predicting US Supreme Court decisions is a mug’s game.  The problem here for the Democrats is that the Obama administration has a remarkably consistent record of being mugs. Even their greatest victory – the constitutionality of the individual mandate – was decided on something besides Commerce Clause expansion (which is what the administration used as its justification). If I was still a Democrat, I would not feel comfortable about my side’s lacking a contingency plan right now.

So what’s the Democrats’ Plan B? …Besides screaming about Republicans, of course.  And how has that been working out for people not named ‘Barack Obama,’ again?

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Simply sponsoring a law that would simply replace the federal subsidies will not fly, that Politico article above to the contrary. The Democrats can’t just ram things through Congress without amendments anymore; we can just rewrite the blessed thing to our own desires and dare Obama to veto the result.  It’s going to be interesting to see whether the Democrats in Congress have really realized that yet…