Tom Toles: Political Cartoons from Tom Toles – The Washington Post


Tom Toles: Political Cartoons from Tom Toles – The Washington Post.

Commentary: The fate of the Obamacare subsidies in the Supreme Court : SCOTUSblog

It seems inevitable that the Supreme Court is going to take up the issue.  The Obama administration has said that it will ask all the judges of the D.C. Circuit to rehear that case.  And there is a good chance it will win there.  The court is now tilted heavily in favor of Democratic appointees who are less likely to think that the rule exceeds the federal government’s authority.

But even if that happens, the case seems too close and too important for the Supreme Court to pass it up.  Whatever the right answer to the legal issue is, no one can doubt its significance to millions of Americans.  And while the administration publicly argues that the challenge is meritless and politically motivated, the language of the statute actually makes the legal claim very serious.

We can’t yet tell for sure when we will get a final answer.  For the case to be heard in the Court’s upcoming term, a petition for review would have to be filed by early November.  The challengers could easily meet that schedule by appealing the case they lost in the Fourth Circuit.  But the Justices may wait to step in until the D.C. Circuit is completely done with its case, which could take an extra six months.  If so, then a decision would have to wait another year.  Time is probably on the administration’s side, because as a practical matter the courts will be less and less likely to strike down the subsidies as more and more Americans get the benefit of them to buy health insurance.

Commentary: The fate of the Obamacare subsidies in the Supreme Court : SCOTUSblog.

Putin Panic « The Dish

There’s always a moment – sooner or later – when a regime propped up by lies will have to account for an empirical reality that refutes it and threatens to bring the entire edifice down. That’s the potentially game-changing significance of MH17, it seems to me.

Here’s Putin’s strange 13 minute address to Russians today on foreign policy – after his deeply weird televised address at 2 am. He’s visibly panicking; and the faces of his colleagues are quite a study.

Notice the petulant raging at Ukraine and then the litany of paranoia and isolation: “we know what’s really going on.” No wonder the Russian population had to be talked down from widespread panic at the thought of an imminent invasion by the West! That’s how far Putin had ratcheted up the hysteria – a very dangerous place for a leader with nukes to be in. A reader who has been monitoring the Russian Internet writes:

As you can imagine, the last few days have been a rollercoaster ride on the runet. The first reaction to the downing of MH17 was panic. They were trying to shoot down Putin’s plane! Two doubles took off fromRussian President Vladimir Putin Visits SamaraAmsterdam at the same time, one filled with corpses who all had new passports and totally new Facebook pages!

The second wave of the pro-Putinists was despair – “It is all over now! The only thing standing between us and slavery to Western interests is our beloved Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!”

Now, already, it seems that they are quickly realizing that “everything has changed.” The anti-Putin journalists and posters are becoming much more courageous than they have been in recent months about opposing Putin directly. Here is a piece from, the Russian version of Salon:

“The nighttime address to the nation was something unprecedented, and even more unprecedented was its content, in the sense that there was no content in this speech at all. Why did Putin call up his press service, cameramen, make-up artists, and internet site workers and many others at 2 in the morning? Just to repeat once more that there would have been no tragedy if there hadn’t been any war in the Donbass, to call for peace negotiations and inviting ICAO aviation experts to the site of the crash? Couldn’t these two and a half points waited until the morning?”

The pro-Putin people have seen their arguments fall to pieces against the reality of the situation. Putin is being portrayed as in a total panic. The anti-Putin forces are worried about what he might do in such a state, but he is no longer being seen as the magician in control.

All of which makes me appreciate the deliberativeness of Obama’s response, praised by my reader earlier today. Putin is blustering, lying, and using the crudest of means to impose his will on Ukraine. Obama is just slowly raising the costs – and those just got a lot more onerous for Russia. Today, the Europeans finally approved of a host of new sanctions, yet to be implemented. That may give Putin some room to climb down. But it won’t be easy. That’s the look on Putin’s face. It’s called rattled.

Continue reading: The Best Of The Dish Today « The Dish.

Obamacare rulings: Two courts differ on heath insurance subsidies, but the bad decision will soon be reversed.

One more reason I feel confident that the D.C. Circuit’s three-judge panel is on the losing end of this tug of war: Obamacare is increasingly popular. One recent survey found that 74 percent of newly covered Republicans are satisfied with the health coverage they’re getting through the law. Throw in newly covered Democrats and independents, and the rate goes up to 78 percent. Do all those governors who refused to set up state exchanges want the people in their state to be stripped of subsidies now? Does the Supreme Court want to pick up this ax and throw it? Surely the answer is no. Let’s count on the D.C. Circuit to come to its senses in the next round. If that happens, and no other full appeals court strikes down this part of the law, these cases will sputter out. As they should. It’s time to stop picking at the statute’s loose threads and move on to a new national project.

Continue reading:via Obamacare rulings: Two courts differ on heath insurance subsidies, but the bad decision will soon be reversed..

Halbig v. Burwell Ruling: Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit Could Backfire on GOP | New Republic

There’s no use sugarcoating it: An adverse Supreme Court ruling would throw the ACA into chaos in three dozen states, including huge states like Florida and Texas. The vast majority of beneficiaries in those states would be suddenly unable to afford their premiums (and might even be required to reimburse the government for unlawful subsidies they’ve already spent). Millions of people would drop out of the insurance marketplaces. Premiums would skyrocket for the very sick people who need coverage the most.

But that’s where the conservatives’ “victory” would turn into a big political liability for red- and purple-state Republicans. An adverse ruling would create a problem that could be fixed in two ways: With an astonishingly trivial technical corrections bill in Congress, or with states setting up their own exchanges. If you’re a Republican senator from a purple stateWisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and othersyou’ll be under tremendous pressure to pass the legislative fix. If you’re a Republican governor in any state, many thousands of your constituents will expect you to both pressure Congress to fix the problem, and prepare to launch your own exchange.

Conservatives would like to believe that they could just leave something as deeply rooted as Obamacare permanently hobbled, or that they could use the ensuing chaos as leverage, to force Democrats to reopen the books, and perhaps gut the law in other ways. I think they’re miscalculating. Just as government shutdowns and debt default threats don’t create leverage because the public doesn’t support inviting chaos in pursuit of unrelated goals, I don’t think an adverse ruling in Halbig will create leverage for the GOP.

Continue reading: Halbig v. Burwell Ruling: Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit Could Backfire on GOP | New Republic.

Halbig and King Rulings: What They Mean for Obamacare | New Republic

If somehow the case made it to the Supreme Court and the lawsuit prevailed there, those 7.3 million people would stop receiving federal money. Without that assistance, they’d suddenly have to pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars more for their insurance. (The average premium increase, according to an Avalere Institute study that my colleague Danny Vinik has cited, would be 75 percent.) Many of these people would stop getting insurance altogether.

That wouldn’t be the end of the story. Most likely, HHS would find some way for state officials to “take over” ownership of the marketplaces, even if it meant effectively contracting out much of the management right back to HHS. But those state officials would still have to take some kind of action. Some might not, at least right away.

One plausible scenario is that a familiar political disparity emerges. States like Arizona, Michigan, and Ohiowhere Republican officials have already found a way to embrace the law’s Medicaid expansion, in spite of opposition from fellow Republicanswould agree to the new arrangement or start running the exchanges on their own. It’d be an even better deal for their states than the Medicaid expansion, since the federal government picks up the entire cost of subsidies. And, as Brian Beutler notes, they’d be under enormous pressurefrom insurers, hospitals, and most important, consumersto take the money on which so many people already relied.

But in more clearly conservative states that have held out on Medicaidincluding behemoths Florida and Texasthe tax credits might really disappear. Just like that, millions would see their premiums jump and/or lose insurance altogether. A

Continue reading: Halbig and King Rulings: What They Mean for Obamacare | New Republic.

This Executive Order Is Totally Gay « The Dish

This morning, President Obama signed an EO prohibiting federal contractors and employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in their hiring practices. Passing along a draft of the order, Geidner highlights what will likely be its most controversial feature:

Notably, the draft of Obama’s order contains no additional religious exemptions for the sexual orientation or gender identity provisions beyond those already contained in the existing executive orders, a request made by some religiously affiliated leaders. At the same time, however, the order does not take action requested by some civil rights groups to rescind an executive order issued by President George W. Bush. The Bush order provides an exemption to Executive Order 11246 for any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to hire people of “a particular religion.”

That strikes me as a reasonable position, although I find any enmeshment of government funds with religious groups to be corrosive of both. My preference would be for no religious exemption at all – for reasons I laid out here.

When Obama’s intent to sign the order was announced on Friday, Dreher lost it:

I’ve been telling y’all for years now that the advance of gay rights will come at the expense of religious liberty. This is a prime example. Note that the pro-Obama religious leaders weren’t asking Obama not to issue the executive order banning discrimination against gays in federal contracting; they were only asking for tolerance for religious organizations that serve the public good, but cannot for reasons of religious principle obey the new dictate. There will be no toleration. Error has no rights.

Not if you take public money, Rod. The government should not be countenancing discrimination against a group of its own citizens, period. What the religious right is asking for is to have the government largess and to discriminate on top of it. No dice. Mataconis counters:

As a start, of course, Dreher engages in some extreme question begging here, because one has to wonder exactly how refusing to hire someone solely because they are gay, lesbian, or transgendered, or discriminating against them in salary or work conditions based on those facts, has suddenly become “religious liberty.” …

As for the broader issue, what people like Dreher seem to be arguing is that employers with strongly held religious beliefs should be able to discriminate based on sexual orientation notwithstanding a generally applicable law such as the regulations discussed here. If that’s the case, though, then does that mean that an employer who claims to have a religious objection to women working outside the home should be able to refuse to hire married women, or that someone who claims to have a religious objection to racial equality should be able to refuse to hire blacks? Where, exactly, should the line on what a valid “religious belief” is be drawn, and who gets to draw it?

It gets drawn at gays and women alone. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

This Executive Order Is Totally Gay « The Dish.