SCOTUS Saves ObamaCare — and the GOP’s 2016 Prospects

English: Depiction of the Senate vote on H.R. ...
Depiction of the Senate vote on H.R. 3590 (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) on December 24, 2009, by state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The US Supreme Court handed down its ruling in King v. Burwell on Thursday (June 25), putting to rest the question of whether or not certain subsidies created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) would remain available.

The Court ruled against the clear language and intent of the law. In so doing, it greatly improved the Republican Party’s slim chances of maintaining its Senate majority, and possibly even winning the White House, in 2016.

Yes, really. Here’s why:

The first thing to understand is that the subsidies language in the ACA was a standard “spoils” move, made with an eye toward helping Democrats win elections.

In states which established insurance exchanges under the law (in other words, states run by Democrats), low-income voters would receive federal subsidies to purchase health coverage. In states which didn’t do so (in other words, states run by Republicans), they wouldn’t. This would shore up support for the Democrats in their own states. If it hurt them at all, it would only hurt them in states that were already Republican anyway. And maybe not even there (Republicans would get some blame for denying the subsidies to their constituents).

Crass vote-buying? Yes. The executive branch took the edge off any potential red-state damage to Democrats by going ahead and delivering the subsidies even though the law didn’t allow them, knowing that Republicans would complain and make themselves the bad guys in the eyes of low-income voters in their own states. Which they promptly proceeded to do.

At the Supreme Court level, the Democrats won coming and going. A ruling against the subsidies would be blamed on the Republicans; a ruling for the subsidies was an affirmation for a Democratic president.

The second thing to understand is that the Republicans don’t make political hay on ObamaCare by actually repealing it or even significantly damaging it, but by COMPLAINING about it. They dodged a bullet with King v. Burwell. The court’s ruling allows them to keep complaining about it for political benefit in 2016, instead of facing down mobs of pitchfork-carrying, formerly Republican low-income voters in their own states who lost subsidies.

The third and final thing to understand is that the Republicans will never repeal the ACA. Heck, it was their idea in the first place! Republican president Richard Nixon suggested its core principal, the “individual mandate,” in 1973. A Republican congressman (Newt Gingrich) and a Republican think tank (the Heritage Foundation) suggested it again in 1993. Republican governor Mitt Romney implemented it in Massachusetts in 2007.

The only thing Republican politicians don’t like about ObamaCare is that it has a Democrat’s name on it. Which makes sense, since it’s a giant corporate welfare program of the kind politicians of both major parties love, thinly and unconvincingly disguised as “health care reform.”

It is, in other words, the practical application of HL Mencken’s dictum: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.





Note to Candidates: Count Contributions Carefully

Great presidential puzzle
Great presidential puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The fallout continues from last week’s massacre at an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. In an online manifesto of sorts, accused killer Dylann Roof credits an organization called the Council of Conservative Citizens with inspiring his racist agenda.

Now, it turns out, at least three Republican presidential candidates (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum) and one likely candidate (Scott Walker) have received campaign or PAC contributions from CCC’s president, Earl Holt III. All four are returning the contributions or donating similar sums to charities.

But there’s more to this story. Writing in the Washington Post, Will Greenberg and Tom Hamburger report that “[t]here is no evidence that the campaigns, including those of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum, were aware of the group’s background.”

That’s probably not true. If it IS true, it makes those candidates look, well, incompetent.

The Council of Conservative Citizens, which “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind … and to force the integration of the races,” has been been scandalously associated with the Republican Party since at least as far back as the 1980s.

Numerous Republicans, including US Representative (and later, to the shame of the Libertarian Party, its presidential nominee) Bob Barr, US Senator Trent Lott, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee, then lieutenant governor of Arkansas, have addressed the group’s events and been called out for doing so.

In 1999, Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson asked Republican CCC members to disassociate themselves from the organization.

And in two presidential campaigns, Rand Paul’s father, Ron Paul, was dogged by associations with CCC, including a scheduled (but either missed or “disappeared”) appearance on its “Political Cesspool” radio show and contributions from CCC activist Virginia Abernethy.

CCC is not a new problem for the GOP. It’s been a problem for nearly 30 years. Presidential campaign staffers have been down this rabbit hole in previous election cycles.  Anyone running a serious campaign for the GOP’s presidential nomination knows — or SHOULD know — that CCC-linked money comes with scandal attached to it.

No, I’m not accusing these four candidates of being racists. But in politics, it matters who you hang out with and whose checks you cash. In the information age, a computerized contributor blacklist (“return checks from X”) just isn’t that complicated to implement … and only returning the money after you get caught doesn’t cut the mustard.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.




“Gun Control”: The Answer Is NO

English: MP-446 "Viking" 9mm Handgun
English: MP-446 “Viking” 9mm Handgun (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times,” US president Barack Obama said after last week’s shootings at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. “[O]nce again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

Hillary Clinton, front-runner for the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential nomination, chimed in as well: “How many innocent people in our country, from little children, to church members, to movie theater attendees, how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?”

The upshot, of course, is that Obama and Clinton want Congress to pass yet another round of victim disarmament (“gun control”) legislation. And they’re more than willing to do a little happy political dance on the graves of the latest nine victims to advance that agenda.

To steal a line from Obama himself, let me be perfectly clear: “Gun control” isn’t about guns, it’s about control.

How do we know this? Because the evidence is clear. If the goal is to reduce violent crime, “gun control” not only doesn’t work, but has the exact opposite effect.

There’s a strong and near-universal correlation between violent crime and “gun control” laws. American cities with the most draconian “gun control” laws routinely report the highest violent crime rates in the nation. Areas with fewer restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, conversely, report the lowest violent crime rates. Violent crime rates routinely drop rather than rise when and where restrictions on gun ownership and carry are eased.

Above and beyond the blatant falsehoods concerning intent — for Obama and Clinton certainly know the foregoing facts, which are a matter of public record — “gun control” is also illegal, immoral and impossible.

It’s illegal because neither the plain text nor the intended meaning of the Second Amendment are unclear. The “supreme law of the land” forbids both federal and state governments to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms in any way, shape, manner or form.

It’s immoral because each of us has an inalienable human right to defend our own lives. To forbid us the tools to do so is to openly abet all of our would-be murderers.

And it’s impossible because so many Americans already own so many guns (rough estimate: 250 million guns in the hands of 100 million Americans), and with new technologies like 3D printing have the ability to manufacture so many more at will, that we will buy, sell, trade and gift them among ourselves whether the politicians like it or not.

Obama and Clinton don’t have to like it. That’s how it is whether they like it or not. “Gun control” is a utopian fantasy if its goal is to reduce violence, a dystopian fantasy if its goal is, as is clearly the case with these two, to reduce us under an absolute despotism.

The answer to both fantasies is “no.” It’s going to stay “no.” Get used to it.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.