A key Senate Obamacare opponent accused President Obama of “bullying” in his latest remarks about the subsidies case at the Supreme Court and made clear Congress won’t clean up his mess.
The high court is expected to rule on King v. Burwell any day now.
But Obama told reporters in Germany that the justices shouldn’t have taken the case in the first place.
The president was asked at a G-7 press conference what he would say to states and Obamacare advocates as “your administration has given very little to no guidance on how states can prepare” for potential fallout of the ruling.
“What I can tell state leaders is that under well-established precedent, there is no reason why the existing exchanges should be overturned through a court case. It has been well documented that those who passed this legislation never intended for folks who were going through the federal exchange not to have their citizens get subsidies,” Obama replied.
“That’s not just the opinion of me. That’s not just the opinion of Democrats. It’s the opinion of the Republicans who worked on the legislation. The record makes it clear. And under well-established statutory interpretation approaches that have been repeatedly employed not just by liberal Democratic judges, but by conservative judges like some on the current Supreme Court, you interpret a statute based on what the intent and meaning and the overall structure of the statute provides for.”
So, Obama continued, “this should be an easy case.”
“Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up. And, you know, since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who’ve looked at this would expect them to do,” he said. “But look, I’ve said before and I will repeat again, if in fact you have a contorted reading of the statute, that says federal-run exchanges don’t provide subsidies for folks who are participating in those exchanges, then that throws off how that exchange operates. It means that millions of people who are obtaining insurance currently with subsidies suddenly aren’t getting those subsidies. Many of them can’t afford it. They pull out. And the assumptions that the insurance companies made when they priced their insurance suddenly gets thrown out the window. And it would be disruptive not just, by the way, for folks in the exchanges but for those insurance markets in those states generally.”
“So it’s a bad idea. It’s not something that should be done based on a twisted interpretation of four words, in, as we were reminded repeatedly, a couple thousand page piece of legislation.”
But, he added, “I’m not gonna go into a long speculation anticipating disaster.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) responded in a statement that “instead of bullying the Supreme Court, the president should spend his time preparing for the reality that the court may soon rule against his decision to illegally issue tax penalties and subsidies on Americans in two-thirds of the country.”
“Let’s be clear: if the Supreme Court rules against the administration, Congress will not pass a so-called ‘one-sentence’ fake fix,” Barrasso stressed.
“Republicans didn’t create the ongoing mess – but we are prepared to help the American people who have been hurt by President Obama’s unlawful actions and his failed law.”