Three months after a federal court struck down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that created Obamacare, the Department of Justice announced that it will back the court’s landmark decision, escalating the Trump administration’s attacks on the un-American 2010 legislation that nationalized a huge chunk of the nation’s economy.
Predictably, Democrats, Republican squishes, and insurance companies unjustly enriched by Obamacare denounced the Trump administration’s move. Democrats, in particular, are eager to keep the issue of health care alive so they can run on it in 2020 and in every election until the end of time.
It was Dec. 14, 2018, that U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas held that in 2017 when Congress effectively repealed the mandate that forced Americans to buy health insurance that body “sawed off the last leg it [i.e. Obamacare] stood on.”
“The court finds the individual mandate ‘is essential to’ and inseverable from ‘the other provisions of’” the Obamacare statute and is therefore unconstitutional, O’Connor wrote.
Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, who was part of the legal team that vanquished Obamacare in the lawsuit, told The Epoch Times in December that the ruling was “the third chapter in the trilogy” of significant challenges to Obamacare.
“The entire Affordable Care Act when it was originally crafted by Congress was built around the individual mandate penalty, the premise that the way to fund and to make viable this entire regulatory scheme was by compelling individuals to purchase health insurance. Hard-written into the statute in many ways is how it’s an essential component and how the regulatory scheme doesn’t function without the individual mandate penalty.”
In NFIB v. Sebelius in 2012, the Supreme Court deemed the mandate a valid exercise of congressional taxing power because it generated revenue, rejecting the government’s argument that the mandate could be justified under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
Because the mandate penalty was reduced to zero by Congress, it no longer would generate revenue and could not be seen as an exercise of congressional taxing authority, Henneke said.
At the time President Trump celebrated O’Connor’s decision with a Twitter post.
“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”
After calling the ruling “Great news for America!” Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and then-incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to “get it done!”
The Hill newspaper reported March 25 that the Justice Department sent a letter to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals advising the court that its new position was that the Dec. 14 decision should remain intact while it goes through the appellate process. Previously it was the department’s position that only the preexisting condition coverage protections of the law should be struck down.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the agency said in the letter.
The political legitimacy of the huge government takeover of the American healthcare sector has long been in doubt because it had no GOP support in Congress. Although some Republican lawmakers voted for Democrat Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, not a single Republican lawmaker voted for Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the disastrous so-called healthcare reform law. Because of Obamacare, insurance premiums throughout America have skyrocketed and bureaucratic red tape has strangled patient choice.
Before O’Connor’s ruling, Obamacare had withstood major legal challenges.
In NFIB v. Sebelius Chief Justice John Roberts went rogue, infamously siding with left-wing justices on the Supreme Court in a tortured, nonsensical judicial opinion that was widely ridiculed. On a 5-to-4 vote the all-encompassing 2,000-page statute was upheld as constitutional on the theory that the individual mandate, which required consumers to buy health insurance even if they didn’t want it, was somehow a valid exercise of the congressional power to tax. The same court also upheld the individual mandate in 2015 in King v. Burwell in a 6-to-3 vote. In 2017, Congress effectively nullified the mandate by reducing the tax penalty for not purchasing insurance to zero effective next year.
Texas, 18 other states, and consumers then launched a lawsuit arguing the law as amended in 2017 was unconstitutional because the individual mandate was so key to the Obamacare program that it could not operate in its absence. Sixteen states took the opposite tack and insisted the revised law be upheld.
On cue, Democrats attacked the Trump administration for supporting O’Connor’s ruling.
“In 2020, we need to elect a president who will make health care a right,” leftist Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the administration’s position would tie an “anchor around the neck of every Republican for the next two years.”
“At a time when all this Russia news came out and it’s not what voters are interested in, leave it to the Trump administration to turn it back to health care, which is why we’re in the majority,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.).
Lawmakers said Trump visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a luncheon. Without going into specifics, he called on lawmakers to coming up with something better than Obamacare.
Whatever that may be it should protect people with preexisting conditions, the president said, according to Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
“He just mentioned it in passing that there was litigation moving through the courts, but litigation takes a while and he wanted to see us revisit the subject,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said, according to The Hill.
RINO Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) blasted Trump for backing O’Connor’s ruling, calling the move “very disappointing.”
The Department of Justice is required to defend “duly enacted laws, which the Affordable Care Act certainly was,” said Collins, presumably with a straight face.
Status quo-defending Beltway insiders aren’t worried about O’Connor’s ruling.
They dismiss all conservative, Constitution-respecting judges like O’Connor as cranks and fully expect the courts to undo his decision.
Their expectation, unfortunately, is well-founded.
This article by Matthew Vadum appeared March 27, 2019, at FrontPageMag.