ObamaCare Opportunity

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By James Taranto,

from The Wall Street Journal,

The Supreme Court could break a stalemate.

An example comes from NBC’s Maggie Fox—no relation, we think, to the competing network—in a Saturday piece titled “Here to Stay: Why the New Republican Congress Can’t Gut Obamacare.” She offers five reasons, at least one of which is obviously false. “Voters like it,” Fox asserts, then immediately acknowledges the opposite: “Ask voters if they like Obamacare, and many will say no—48 percent in the latest NBC News poll.”

Chances are you don’t read a lot of liberal commentary; after all, that’s our job. But if you did, you’d quickly get bored. For the past year or so, practically every other sentence has been “ObamaCare is working”—although since last week’s election, one also hears the refrain “ObamaCare isn’t going to be repealed.” The constant need for reassurance is a classic symptom of Obama Compulsive Disorder.

Actually, she could have reduced the five to one, the first on her list: “The veto.” President Obama is dug in, there’s no sign of Democratic defection (and in the Senate, several of the Dems likeliest to defect have just been booted from office), and Republicans are nowhere near a veto-proof majority, even in the House.

Yet all that notwithstanding, there is a good chance ObamaCare will be “gutted.” All it would take, as we explained yesterday, is a Supreme Court ruling that upholds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Bizarrely, NBC’s Fox’s Saturday piece makes no mention of the high court’s grant of certiorari in King v. Burwell. To be sure, her headline doesn’t preclude the possibility that someone other than the Republican Congress could “gut” ObamaCare. But a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would put congressional Republicans in a position where they might be able to extract real concessions from Obama.

The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone—a man so prescient, he predicted the Republican wave way back in 2012—makes the case:

Republicans will have majorities in both houses in 2015. If there is demand for making the subsidies available in the 36 states where they would be barred . . ., Republicans might demand something in return. Like a major rewriting of Obamacare.

Suddenly, the GOP would have leverage over the president. He would very much want the subsidies—currently established by extralegal administrative fiat—restored, and that would be impossible without Republican votes.

Which isn’t to say that Barone’s optimistic scenario will necessarily pan out. It’s possible Republicans will fail to agree on which concessions to demand; some may refuse to vote for anything short of full repeal. If the Republicans do agree, their demands may be more than Obama is willing to accept. Republicans won’t want to “save” ObamaCare, Obama won’t want to “gut” it, and it’s not certain that there’s a compromise that would allow both sides to avoid their undesired outcomes.

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