Worse than Obamacare: Housing Case Lets Feds target ‘Unconscious Racism’

Anthony KennedyAs bad as the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obamacare was, the other decision it handed down on Thursday, in Texas Housing v. Inclusive Communities, is even worse.

Like the opinion in King v. Burwell, in which the Court effectively rewrote the plain language of the so-called Affordable Care Act, in Texas Housing the 5-4 majority decided that Congress had allowed claims of housing discrimination to be brought based on population statistics, when in fact it has never done so.

Now, plaintiffs do not need to show there was actual racial discrimination, or an intent to discriminate. Instead, they can just point to the racial makeup of a neighborhood and infer that discrimination must have happened in order to bring a lawsuit and force communities to re-engineer themselves.

The Court comforts itself by claiming that racial quotas still cannot be used to integrate communities. In fact, it has weaponized racial quotas in the hands of the federal government.

It is perhaps just a coincidence that the Texas Housing decision comes as the Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a policy designed to pressure wealthy communities to build “affordable” housing in their midst.

The goal in Texas Housing, however, is not just to diversify neighborhoods, but to uncover what Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, calls “unconscious prejudice.”

The dissent, written by Justice Samuel Alito, points out the absurdity of using “disparate impact” as a measure of racial discrimination. By the same logic, he writes, minimum wage laws must be racist, because they can be shown to have a disproportionately negative effect on young black males, who are priced out of the labor market. Alito also notes that neither the 1968 Fair Housing Act, nor its 1988 amendments, allowed “disparate impact” to be evidence of racial discrimination.

Yet that is how the Court has interpreted the statutes, on the argument that disparate impacts might be evidence of racial discrimination.

That may be reasonable in cases where money is not a main factor–like college admissions, for instance, where the fact that Ivy League universities admit Asian-American students at a lower rate than other schools makes for a possible case of discrimination. It is not reasonable, however, to use such statistics when the underlying factor is money–when there are some neighborhoods that are simply more expensive than others.

The courts cannot be expected to rearrange the socioeconomic structure of society–except, perhaps in the fevered imagination of a young radical named Barack Obama, circa 2001.

How bad is this decision? The federal government expected to lose–so much so, in fact, that it spent years settling cases on “disparate impact” before they could reach the Supreme Court, lest that tool of intimidation be taken away.

The Court has now affirmed one of the federal government’s most abusive tactics: the threat of racial discrimination lawsuits. And the biggest losers, Alito points out, are the poor, because now local efforts to improve poor neighborhoods can be blocked by lawsuits alleging racial discrimination when the rent is raised.

In the Obamacare case, the Court pretended to know what was really in the minds of legislators in spite of their explicit words (and evidence of their actual intent). In Texas Housing, the Court has ruled that the federal government can decide what is really in the minds of ordinary people, whether they intend to discriminate or not.

You may not know you are a racist–but you are, now.

​Inside the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling

 

WASHINGTON — When word of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act reached the courthouse steps Thursday morning, supporters were jubilant.

But inside the courtroom, the mood was tense as Chief Justice John Roberts summarized the 6-3 ruling upholding billions of dollars in subsidies for Americans in every state to buy insurance.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets,” said Roberts for the majority, “not to destroy them.”

Opponents argued Congress wrote the law to make tax credits only available to people who buy health insurance though exchanges “established by the state.”

But only 16 states actually created their own exchanges — so that would leave empty-handed more than six million people in 34 states who buy insurance and get subsidies through the federal Healthcare.gov website.

Roberts acknowledged the law “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” but said the opponents’ approach would lead to a “calamitous result” and that it was “implausible that Congress meant the act to operate in this manner.”

His opinion sparked a blistering dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia, who took the unusual step of summarizing it from the bench.

Calling the Court’s reasoning “absurd,” “interpretive jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce,” Scalia said the law was clear — and accused the Court of rewriting it once again to get the result it wanted.

It was three years ago that the Court, again led by Roberts, upheld another key provision of Obamacare. Scalia said the cases together show “the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to… uphold and assist its favorites.”

Scalia said, “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”

Scalia and Roberts were in some ways much more heated than in their opinions three years ago, when conservatives felt Roberts betrayed them.

This was the last significant legal threat to Obamacare. Now the fight shifts to the political battlefield.

Get ready for the Left’s version of the Tea Party

the Left's version of the Tea PartyIt was always inevitable that Hillary Clinton’s polling numbers were going to start softening as the Democratic presidential race got started in earnest. But while there still may not be any real threat to the former secretary of state’s frontrunner status for her party’s nomination, it’s a little breathtaking how quickly she’s been brought down to earth.

In the vital early state of New Hampshire, for example, Bernie Sanders – an irascible 73-year-old socialist – is now within 10 points of Mrs. Clinton, according to a recent Suffolk University poll. On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona (a Clinton supporter) even floated the idea that Sanders could win Iowa and/or New Hampshire.

However well Sanders may eventually do (it’s likely that Cardona was just trying to manage expectations for Clinton), it’s next to impossible that he’ll actually be able to steal the Democratic nomination away from Hillary. The junior senator from Vermont is old, eccentric and lacking anything approaching conventional charisma – not exactly a winning formula for ending up in the Oval Office. But what’s most notable about his campaign is how it exposes the deep divisions now running through the Democratic Party.

Think about the dynamics at work here for a moment: Democrats are about to bid farewell to a two-term president who’s disappointed his most ideologically aggressive supporters, cost his party countless congressional seats and seen his approval ratings plummet amidst questions about his competence to do the job. He’s being succeeded by an aging also-ran who doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm among the rank-and-file. And the only candidate who’s getting anyone excited is a kooky septuagenarian with an agenda so extreme that he’s barely recognizable as a member of his party.

Sound familiar? Substitute George W. Bush for Barack Obama, John McCain for Hillary Clinton, and Ron Paul for Bernie Sanders and you’ve got the Republican Party circa 2008. Not a desireable historical precedent if you’re a Democrat.

This is partially a function of the fact that the two major parties are each more ideologically homogenous than ever before. Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats are endangered species in the modern political landscape – and they’re probably only a few elections away from becoming entirely extinct. Today, the Republican Party is an unambiguously conservative coalition centered around the South, the Midwest and the Interior West, while the Democrats are an equally unmistakable progressive party anchored to the West Coast, the Northeast and parts of the Great Lakes region.

When everyone in a party roughly agrees on first principles, the result isn’t increasing harmony – it’s a more fervent attempt to draw distinctions between one another. That’s what happened when the Tea Party started mounting attacks on the “Republican establishment” in 2010. And that’s what likely to happen as the Democrats’ progressive wing – wherein Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, not Sanders, is the real ringleader – increasingly grows to resent the insufficient liberalism of party leadership.

American politics is a matter of coalition-building. In flush times, a party’s constituent groups focus on the issues that unify them rather than the areas where they disagree. When things get rough – or when they get a little too used to holding the reigns of power (as tends to happen in the course of two-term presidencies) – those bonds start to weaken. At that point, someone who agrees with you on 80 percent of the issues can become an enemy simply on the basis of not being sufficiently ideologically fervent.

These things often work themselves out in the long run. After a few election cycles, for example, the GOP seems to have found a modus vivendi that accommodates both Tea Partiers and conventional Republicans. Democrats will probably find that equilibrium eventually, but it’s usually a very long journey – with a lot of bloodletting. Based on what we’re seeing today, the civil war in the Democratic Party is just getting started.

Written by Troy Senik for the Orange County Register.

Obama’s new EPA rules

Obama's new EPA rulesGood for Mike Pence. There are millions of Americans now who, on a variety of issues, are getting ready to forcefully state, “I will not comply!” I see that my state of Oklahoma won’t lick the boots of the EPA either. That gives me a happy. What the EPA is doing will destroy the energy industry here in the US… skyrocketing prices to already hard-hit Americans and causing power shortages to a beleaguered nation. Indiana doesn’t stand alone as a state… they are joined by Oklahoma, Texas and believe it or not… Progressive Wisconsin, who has already made moves to not comply. There is a long list of other states, especially in coal country, that will not have any part of this insanity as well. Obama can stuff his Clean Power Plan and power his Marxism with it.

From Western Journalism:

Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence — once considered a possible 2016 contender in the race for president — has told the current occupant of the White House to take his EPA rules and…well, shove off, so to speak. The Hoosier State, says Pence in a strongly worded letter to President Obama, is ready to ignore the administration’s tough new climate rules for coal-fired power plants.

The Hill reports that the defiant governor — who is a former six-term congressman — didn’t mince words in his message to Obama about very aggressive rules set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Hill quotes from Gov. Pence’s letter to Obama:

“If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply,” Pence wrote.

“I believe the Clean Power Plan as proposed is a vast overreach of federal power that exceeds the EPA’s proper legal authority and fails to strike the proper balance between the health of the environment and the health of the economy,” he continued.

Pence is not the only state leader to express deep reservations about the EPA crackdown on power plant emissions. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), according to The Hill article, has instructed her staff to ignore the regulation.

“Leaders in Texas and Wisconsin have voiced strong objections to the rule and expressed doubts that their states would comply,” but have reportedly stopped short of completely rejecting the EPA imperative.

“The rule is expected to significantly harm the coal industry, causing the shutdown of more than 20 percent of coal-fired power plants and greatly reducing the demand for coal,” says The Hill post.

The politics of power production, as National Journal reports, is clearly at play in current gubernatorial campaigns, especially in Appalachian states where coal production is a big economic issue.

In Kentucky and West Virginia, says the National Journal article, Democrats vying for the governorships are having a tough time of it.

“Democratic candidates again are trying to position themselves as being pro-coal enough for voter support. And if these two candidates can’t inoculate themselves from connections to Obama’s—and the national Democratic Party’s—coal agenda, it’s difficult to see other Appalachian Democrats doing so anytime soon.”

Democrats in Appalachian states don’t stand a prayer of getting elected unless they take a strong stand on this against Obama and the EPA. The very lifeblood, the energy that powers our nation, depends on this and it is a line the leaders in these states will not cross. When you start enforcing cold and hunger on Americans, they are going to stand on their hind legs and attack. We are now beginning to see which leaders have a spine and which are jellyfish Progressives in disguise. Our power grids are already under heavy cyber threat and now Obama wants to shut off our lights and heat. Pence’s threat isn’t so much a threat as a statement of non-compliance. One of many, many more to follow.

Is EPA Helping Green Groups Raise Funds in Exchange for Favorable Research?

The EPA is working on regulations that could drive a final nail into the coal industry, which currently supplies almost half the nation’s electricity. (Photo: Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

On first glance, this is a rather routine story in the environmental policy wars.

A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change said researchers had found that if rules being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions were enacted, it would mean 3,500 fewer premature deaths per year.

This was a necessary piece of the puzzle for the EPA as it works to implement regulations it says would, by 2030, reduce carbon emissions to 30 percent below their levels in 2005. Industry experts say these regulations would drive a final nail into the coal industry, which currently supplies almost half the nation’s electricity. So, to justify the regulations, significant health benefits must be demonstrated.

Such stories have become expected in environmental policy. The government announces an aim or policy change, and the research community gets together, using taxpayer dollars, to confirm the government’s approach is the best option. Those who support it post it to their Facebook pages; those who don’t ignore it.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

Researchers from Harvard University, Syracuse University and four other institutions used climate models to predict the impact the EPA’s proposed carbon emissions reductions would have on human health. And not surprisingly, it turned out the government’s plan was not just among the options that would produce positive results but was, in fact, the best way to achieve the goals.

But there was a line in this story that sets it apart. Jonathan Buonocore, a research fellow at Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, told U.S. News the EPA did not participate in the study or interact with its authors.

But it seems the agency did participate and did interact with the authors.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. (Photo: State Department/Sipa USA/Newscom)

Emails discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request by Steve Milloy, a former editor at JunkScience.com, found a string of correspondence to set up meetings and conference calls to, in the words of one such email, “discuss methods for our next set of analyses.”

The chain of emails went back and forth as the researchers and the agency both sought to add participants to the call. The fact the research showed precisely what the government wanted it to and that the government’s own proposal, when mimicked by researchers, produced the best results further raise suspicion.

Driscoll seemed to grasp this when he told the New York Times it was “a coincidence” that one of the models so closely resembled the federal proposal.

Milloy does not buy that explanation, and he doesn’t buy that this research was not coordinated with the agency to maximize effectiveness in promoting the coal regulations.

Despite the fact the study’s authors “received or were involved in $45 million worth of research grants from the EPA,” The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Associated Press described the researchers “simply and innocuously” as researchers and scientists, Milloy lamented in a recent post at JunkScience.com. “Absent some unimagined explanation, these emails flatly contradict the claims [of independence] made in the Harvard and Syracuse media releases and in statements to media [by the researchers themselves].”

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Image

The Daily Signal asked both the Harvard School of Public Health and Syracuse University if they stand by their characterization of the researchers as “independent” in press releases on the study. Neither responded.

The scientists who produce this government-favored research not only have begun to cash in at taxpayers’ expense, but they’ve also begun to ask the agency for help with fundraising.

Milloy uncovered an email in which Driscoll asks Ellen Kurlansky, an agency staffer, for her assistance and advice on raising money for another project.

“I wanted to see if I could arrange a short call with you to discuss fundraising [on a meeting related to mercury poisoning]. We are making some progress on the planning for this meeting, but it would help if I could raise a little a money to help pay for some initial expenses.”

This coziness is not healthy, said David Kreutzer, an energy economics and climate change policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation.

“The science can be judged on its own, but the independence of the researchers is undermined when emails show they were soliciting funds from the EPA even as they were writing up their study reviewing the impact of significant EPA rules.”

A woman holds a sign against climate change in Midtown Manhattan in New York on Sept. 21, 2014, while taking part in the People's Climate March calling for action against climate change. (Photo: Richard B. Levine/Newscom)

The government is not nearly so accommodating for scientists who don’t toe its preferred line.

Willie Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, co-authored a paper published in January that found the models used in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are laced with mathematical errors. Soon then endured an avalanche of criticism of his funding sources and implications he had shaped his findings to please them.

It mattered not that he got only about $60,000 per year from the one “compromised” source or that the compromised source was the Smithsonian or that he had not known where the Smithsonian got the money it paid him.

Then, a few days after the New York Times piece on Soon appeared, Congress got into the act. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., ranking minority member on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to seven universities asking for documents on climate change research connected with scientific skeptics who have questioned the premise of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.

This was followed by a letter from Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other outfits “to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators.”

Indeed, the deck remains stacked against those who dare to stray from the government message on global warming, and the conflicts of interest seem concentrated on the researchers and scientists who accept government money, according to William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University.

“Unless you accept the alarmist position and the dictates of the [Obama] administration, you cannot typically receive government funding,” said Happer.

Repealing Obamacare Is Good for the Economy

Contrary to yesterday’s post about the widely divergent costs of ObamaCare’s repeal, today we have a totally different opinion from The Daily Signal.

(Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Newscom)

The fiscal year 2016 budget resolution passed by Congress in May requires the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to include the macroeconomic feedback effects of changes in policy on the budget when evaluating major legislation (CBO and JCT are the official number crunchers of Congress).

Specifically, Section 3112 of the resolution requires CBO and JCT to “incorporate the budgetary effects of changes in economic output, employment, capital stock, and other macroeconomic variables resulting from such major legislation.”

Put another way, when Congress considers a bill that cuts taxes or removes work disincentives, CBO and JCT are now required to estimate the budgetary effects of those policies resulting from changes in the economy or employment.

This new requirement is a fundamental transformation from traditional “static” scorekeeping which assumes that macroeconomic factors, such as the level of employment or economic growth, are unchanged by policy

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

These new “dynamic” estimates aren’t perfect by any means. However, they will provide policymakers with a better assessment for how legislation will actually affect the federal fisc.

Repealing Obamacare would increase the gross domestic product by 0.7 percent—equivalent to an additional $1,400 in the pocket of each household per year.

The new dynamic scoring rule was recently tested in response to a request from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to estimate how the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would affect the deficit and the economy.

For the first time, the CBO and JCT found that repealing Obamacare would increase the gross domestic product by 0.7 percent and that effect alone would reduce projected deficits by $216 billion over the 2016 to 2025 period.

This may sound trivial, but a 0.7 percent increase in GDP is equivalent to an additional $1,400 in the pocket of each household per year. CBO also found that repealing Obamacare would increase capital stocks and the number of people working over the next 10 years.

CBO and JCT also found that that repealing Obamacare would reduce the deficit over the next five years but would then steadily increase the unified budget deficits. However, that assumes Congress will allow both the 40 percent excise tax on high cost health care plans and an automatic reduction in Obamacare subsidies to kick in by 2018, both which seem increasingly unlikely to actually happen.

It also assumes that $802 billion in Medicare cuts will also be realized even though the program’s chief actuary has warned that should these take place many seniors will lose access to providers or their current coverage through the popular Medicare Advantage.

There are also several concerns with the presentation of the analysis that are critical to understanding the effects of Obamacare repeal. For instance, the estimated changes on direct spending and revenues including the macroeconomic feedback do not include a breakout of on-budget and off-budget effects. However, it’s important to have these pieces so that budgeteers have a clear idea about how much money is being borrowed from Social Security to fund the Obamacare coverage expansion.

Those concerns aside, the provision of this dynamic analysis is a significant step forward for those interested in a more honest discussion of how legislation affects the federal budget.

Paul Winfree is the director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Drew Gonshorowski focuses his research and writing on the nation’s new health care law, including the repercussions for Medicare and Medicaid, as a policy analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. He also studies economic mobility and the Austrian school of economics.

Mass Confusion on ObamaCare Cost of Repeal

Here are two reports about the costs of ObamaCare’s repeal. They are so widely divergent that the electorate would be hard-pressed to reconcile them, much less understand them.

The first is a news brief from http://theweek.com/:

Repealing ObamaCare could increase U.S. debt by $137 billion June 19, 2015

The release of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation report Friday offered some dismal predictions for budget deficits if ObamaCare is repealed. In the first analysis of the issue in three years, the CBO said that if Obama’s healthcare reform is repealed, the U.S. deficit will increase by as much as $137 billion in the next 10 years. The added debts would stem from the increased number of uninsured Americans, and the consequential rise in Medicare costs. An estimated 19 million additional Americans would become uninsured by 2016 if ObamaCare were repealed.

The second report is from Reuters as reported by http://www.msn.com/:

Obamacare repeal would boost 10-year deficit by $353B: CBO

Murillo reads a leaflet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California© REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Murillo reads a leaflet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California

Repealing President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law would increase the U.S. budget deficit by $353 billion over 10 years, congressional forecasters said on Friday, more than triple the red ink compared to an estimate three years ago.

But the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation said the deficit increase would only be $137 billion if economic feedback effects were considered, a sign of a new Republican mandate for increased use of “dynamic scoring” that includes the economic impact of legislation.

The new estimate comes as Republicans mull options for replacing the Affordable Care Act if the Supreme Court rules against the law’s mechanism by the end of June.

The CBO and JCT said the main positive economic effect of an Obamacare repeal would be an increase in labor supply as Americans lose healthcare subsidies, boosting U.S. tax revenues. The agencies previously had estimated that more people nearing retirement age would limit their work and income to obtain federal insurance subsidies.

Based on the “static” budget analysis used most often by the CBO and JCT, the $353 billion deficit increase for 2016-2025 period increase compares to a $109 billion increase estimated for the years 2013-2022.

The higher deficit estimate stems partly from the shifting of the budget window to a time when the law is more fully implemented. Repeal would increase deficits by $275 billion over the 2023-2025 period.

The CBO and JCT also have lowered healthcare cost estimates since 2012, so a repeal of Obamacare’s health coverage provisions would produce less direct savings than estimated previously.

Overall, based on static scoring, a repeal would reduce federal outlays by $821 billion over 10 years but this would be offset by an estimated reduction in revenues of $1.17 trillion.

(Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Lambert and Bill Trott)

As I said above, these are two totally divergent reports. Which one do we believe? Or is this just another scare tactic by the left?

How the Supreme Court could send Obamacare into a ‘death spiral’

 FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2014 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington. Americans’ confidence in all three branches of government is at or near record lows, according to a long-running and widely respected survey that’s meas

AP Photo/File

WASHINGTON (CNN) — It is D-Day once again for Obamacare, the President’s hard-won health law, which stands again before the Supreme Court.

Opponents are asking the Supreme Court to determine a critical question: does the text of the law authorize tax subsidies for 6.4 million Americans who have already received help to afford health coverage?

As the justices work toward a self-imposed June deadline, they will seek to answer that question, knowing that if they side with the challengers the ruling could severely destabilize the structure of the entire law. Here are five questions to understand what is going on:

A foundation of the law is the establishment of “exchanges” — marketplaces set up by the government but through which individuals can purchase competitively priced private health insurance. It also authorizes federal tax credits to low and middle-income Americans to help offset the cost of the private insurance policies.

Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have set up their own exchanges; the remaining 34 rely on marketplaces run all or in part by the federal government.

The President and his supporters say the aim of the law was to provide the subsidies for all eligible individuals nationwide.

“This is now a part of the fabric of how we care for one another,” the President said in a speech touting the law at Georgetown last week. “This is health care in America.”

Challengers say those four words — “established by the State” — in a section of the law make clear that subsidies are only available to those living in the 16 states that set up their own exchanges.

Michael Carvin, the lead lawyer representing the Virginia plaintiffs, argued in Court that the IRS — an agency charged with implementing the ACA — was wrong to interpret it as offering subsidies to more than 5 million people living in states that have federally run exchanges. He said that Congress limited the subsidies in order to encourage the states to set up their own exchanges, but when only a few states acted the IRS tried to “fix” the law.

“If the rule of law means anything,” Carvin argued in court papers, “it is that text is not infinitely malleable, and that agencies must follow the law as written — not revise it to ‘better achieve’ what they assume to have been Congress’s purposes.”

A ruling against the government wouldn’t nullify the law, but absent a fix by Congress or the States, it would destabilize it. If millions of American were to lose the tax subsidies and as a result not buy insurance, it would cause premiums to skyrocket in the individual market because there would be less healthy people in the pool.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli told the justices in March that it was “abundantly clear’ that some states would not establish their own exchanges and that if the challengers win, those living in states with federally facilitated exchanges would “face the very death spirals the Act was structured to avoid.”

Some 6.4 million enrollees in the affected states could lose their subsidies as soon as Aug. 1, depending on how the court rules. The subsidies are what make Obamacare plans affordable for most enrollees. Some 87% of those participating receive this government assistance, which comes to an average of $272 a month. Cindy and Joe Connolly would likely be uninsured if they didn’t receive subsidies. They used to have coverage through Joe’s job as a machine repairman, but lost it after he was laid off.

The couple, who live in the Cincinnati suburb of Amelia, Ohio, signed up for Obamacare as soon as it became available. This year, they pay only $233 a month for a policy that would otherwise cost themmore than $1,000.

Earlier this year, Joe, 64, developed cardiac problems during a routine stress test. He was rushed to the hospital, where his overnight stay exceeded $35,000.

Having affordable health insurance takes one worry off the couple’s plate.

“If something happens, we’re not going to lose our home and everything we worked for,” said Cindy, who is 63.

A ruling against the Obama administration could send Obamacare into a death spiral.

It’s likely that millions of enrollees would discontinue coverage after losing their assistance, experts said. But the sicker customers would likely stay because they need the insurance no matter what the cost, said Mike Kreidler, vice chair of the National

Association of Insurance Commissioners’ health committee.

“Insurers would have to raise rates considerably because they’ll wind up with sicker people,” said Kreidler, who is also insurance commissioner for the state of Washington, which would not be affected by the ruling.

Soaring rates might prompt some remaining customers to leave the market next year.

Several members of Congress have proposed alternatives, but many want to eliminate the so-called individual mandate, which requires that nearly all Americans obtain coverage. This is a key provision because it brings younger, healthier people into the exchanges, who help lower premiums because they don’t need as much care.

States could try to set up their own exchanges to meet the new standard. Pennsylvania and Delaware have already received conditional federal approval to set up their own exchanges for 2016.

Creating an exchange is not such an easy task, however. One of the biggest hurdles is political will. Many of the states with federl marketplaces are run by Republican governors and have Republican-dominated legislatures who have said that they want nothing to do with Obamacare.

And then there are financial and technical complications. The feds are no longer giving states seed money to develop exchanges, and exchanges have to be self-supporting by next year. Also, one only needs to look at the early days of healthcare.gov to know how technically complicated and time consuming it is to create a health insurance exchange.

The other option is for Congress and the White House to work together and fix those four words – “established by the state.” But the White House, which has been fiercely protective of the Affordable Care Act, has suggested it would not accept further changes to the law and Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, have suggested they would try to use the opportunity of fixing the four words to seek other changes.

Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell has said that invalidating the subsidies would cause “massive damage” to the health care system. If this were to happen, it would be up to states and Congress to figure out a way to help those who could no longer afford coverage, she said in mid-June.

By Ariane De Vogue and Tami Luhby

Copyright 2015 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Will Obama Intimidate Roberts and the Supreme Court On ObamaCare?

President Obama, June 8

Sometime in the few days, the Supreme Court is likely to render its long-awaited opinion in King v. Burwell, a case challenging an IRS rule granting tax credits to individuals in the 34 states that did not adopt a state health care exchange, as contemplated by the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

At issue is whether the ObamaCare statute’s failure to authorize tax credits for those who purchased health insurance from a federal exchange, instead of “an Exchange established by (a) State,” as specified by the statute, is a fatal flaw that unravels the tightly wound and highly controversial legislation that’s the signature policy achievement of this administration.

We’ve seen this movie before — reruns of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts to vilify the court whenever it threatens to disagree with him, as it did in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the decision in 2010 that precluded the government from regulating political expenditures by nonprofit corporations.

Less than a week after the Citizens decision came down, with the justices sitting directly in front of him in the House of Representatives chamber, Obama addressed the nation in a State of the Union address and scolded the court for its decision.

He charged, inaccurately, that the decision would allow American elections to be “bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities.”

This transparent effort to intimidate the court, and especially Chief Justice John Roberts, was repeated in the days leading up to the court’s 2012 decision on the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

On April 2, 2012, before the court issued its ruling, Obama seemed to warn the court, saying he hoped that it would not take an “unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Unprecedented? In 1935, the same court threw out as unconstitutional both the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Industrial Recovery Act, two main pillars of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 anti-depression recovery program, saying that they impermissibly expanded presidential power.

Obama added that if the court were to overturn the mandate, and thus ObamaCare, it would be an unambiguous act of judicial activism: “An unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

When the court upheld ObamaCare by a 5-4 vote with Roberts siding with the four liberal justices, some thought that he, seeing himself as responsible for the court’s legacy, had been affected by the administration’s threatening rhetoric and wanted to keep the court out of the political cross-hairs during the fall election.

Now, with a decision on King v. Burwell pending, the same refrain has returned.

Once again, as in 2012, the president sounded a strikingly familiar tone. “If … you have a contorted reading of the statute … it would be disruptive,” he contended. He went on to say that a “twisted” interpretation of the statute adverse to his position was “a bad idea,” noting he was “optimistic” that the court would ultimately “play it straight” — Obamaspeak for “agree with me.”

Once again, the focus has been on the chief justice. During oral argument in March, Roberts was relatively subdued. But Solicitor General Donald Verrilli mentioned that if the court were to hold against the IRS, “the tax credits would be cut off immediately, and you will have very significant, very adverse effects immediately for millions of people.”

Justice Samuel Alito cut him off and offered a quick solution. “Would it not be possible,” he wondered, “to stay the (order of the court) until the end of this tax year, as we have done in other cases?” That is, couldn’t the court simply postpone the effective date of its decision to give Congress the time to correct any deficiency? Verrilli had no choice but to concede his point.

In a matter of days, we will know what the court has decided and whether the president’s strategy has worked a second time. However the court ultimately rules, the politics of division — which affect America’s institutions as well as its people, and of which this president is and continues to be an avid and reckless practitioner — will have lasting effects that will take years of serious and concerted effort by a less partisan president to correct.

• Thomas M. Boyd, a former assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration, is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of DLA Piper.

 

The Best Anti-Poverty Program is a Job

President Obama recently acknowledged what every sane person knows to be true: The best anti-poverty program is a job. Obama said this at a recent conference on poverty.

But he continues to repeat a falsehood over and over. This is the claim that the poor work just as hard as the rich do. Well, yes, many people in poor households heroically work very hard at low wages to take care of their families. No doubt about that. Yet the average poor family doesn’t work nearly as much as the rich families do. And that’s a key reason why these households are poor.

The most recent Census Bureau data on household incomes document the importance of work. Census sorts the households by income quintile, and we will label those in the highest quintile as “rich,” and those in the lowest quintile as “poor.” The average household in the top 20 percent of income have an average of almost exactly two full-time workers. The average poor family (bottom 20 percent) has just 0.4 workers. This means on average, roughly for every hour worked by those in a poor household, those in a rich household work five hours. The idea that the rich are idle bondholders who play golf or go to the spa every day while the poor toil isn’t accurate.

The finding that six out of 10 poor households have no one working at all is disturbing. Since they have no income from work, is it a surprise they are poor?

As for rich households, 75 percent have two or more workers. For the poor households, that percent is less than 5 percent.

Of course, hours worked doesn’t account for all or even most of the gap between rich and poor. But it does account for some of it. One of the more pernicious concepts is the notion of “dead-end jobs.” No, the surefire economic dead end is no job at all. There’s no climbing the economic ladder if you’re not even on the first rung.

Marriage is also a very good anti-poverty program. Married couples are almost five times more likely to be in the highest income quintile (33 percent) than in the lowest quintile (7 percent).

Without a father in the home, there is usually at most one full-time worker. Married couples are more economically successful for many reasons, not least of which is that they can and often do have two people working and bringing in a paycheck. So divorce and out-of-wedlock births have a lot to do with the income inequality. Budget expert Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institute found that if marriage rates were as high today as they were in 1970, about 20 percent of child poverty would be gone. What is worrisome is that a record 47 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 have never married.

What is to be learned from all of this income data? First, one of the best ways to reduce poverty is to get people in low-income households working—and hopefully 40 hours a week. By the way, one reason raising the minimum wage won’t help lower poverty much is that it will help far fewer than half of the poor who have no job at all. And if it destroys jobs at the bottom of the skills ladder, it may lead to fewer people working and exacerbate poverty.

This data also reinforces the case for strict work requirements for all welfare benefit programs. When welfare takes the place of work it actually contributes to long-term poverty. It isn’t cold-hearted to be in favor of work programs. It is providing a GPS system to help the poor find a way out of poverty.

Finally, getting married before having kids is a great way to avoid falling into the poverty trap.

Yes, there are way too many working poor in America, and that problem needs to be addressed by programs like the earned income tax credit that supplement low-income wages. But there are way too many non-working poor in America. That’s a problem liberals seem to want to do nothing about.

Stephen Moore, who formerly wrote on the economy and public policy for The Wall Street Journal, is a distinguished visiting fellow for the Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation. Read his research.

Originally published in The Washington Times