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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Speak-o softly, and carry a big subsidy stick

While we’re all having a good time with the concentrated stupidity of ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber (who allegedly holds some sort of advanced degree from a major institution) claiming he repeatedly made “verbal typos” when clearly stating that only state-run exchanges would be eligible for ObamaCare subsidies, let’s keep an eye on the big picture.  Gruber’s “speak-o” is another way of saying that ObamaCare is fundamentally incompatible with the American system and the rule of law.  This has become a death match between ObamaCare and our constitutional republic.  Only one will survive.

This is nothing new.  The painful lesson of the Twentieth Century is that collectivism in all its forms – socialism, communism, fascism, Obama’s vision of a centrally planned economy – is incompatible with the rule of law.  There is nothing terribly complicated about the reason for this, and contrary to the ongoing delusions of Twenty-First Century academics, it is an immutable principle: law cannot be allowed to obstruct power.

Collectivism relies upon tremendous concentrations of power.  People don’t participate in collectivist schemes voluntarily, particularly those on the losing end of wealth redistribution networks.  Contrary to the infantile Democrat slogan about government being “a name for the things we all do together,” the collectivist vision is about forcing people to do things.

This doesn’t sit well with those who still retain the freedom to vote their way out of government schemes, so until collectivism’s losers can be maneuvered into permanent electoral defeat (or, better yet, made dependent on compulsory benefits, so there is no longer an absolute distinction between “takers” and “makers”) it is necessary to lie to the public a great deal.  ObamaCare is an endless stream of lies, blown into Americans’ faces from countless directions.  All of these evasions, misrepresentations, and false promises were used to conceal the amount of raw centralized power in the system.  It was disguised as something that would be almost completely voluntary.

You know the whole litany by now: if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  Insurance under ObamaCare would be significantly cheaper than it was before.  The exchange system would work so beautifully that people would flock to use it.  This new debacle concerning subsidies was part of an effort to make state participation in the ObamaCare exchange system appear voluntary – the states could refuse, if they didn’t like what they saw.  Only later would recalcitrant state governments learn that their citizens were denied access to subsidies for their health care plans, and be pressured into giving in and establishing an exchange.

The devious creators of ObamaCare underestimated how many states would refuse, so when the velvet glove slipped off ObamaCare’s mailed fist, its masters suddenly found themselves punching their own lights out.  If the courts don’t save ObamaCare from the Halbig v. Burwell decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and rewrite the law so federal exchange customers do get subsidies, it’s very possible this will all play out exactly as the collectivists who created this monstrous system intended, with the 36 resisting states hastily creating their own exchanges.

But I doubt they’ll let things get to that point, because ObamaCare is so broadly unpopular – as is President Barack Obama – that it’s equally likely the whole system will come crashing down, repealed at the demand of enraged citizens who suddenly get stuck paying the full cost of their own insurance.  Overturning the Halbig decision will demonstrate the primacy of power over law.  The power structure will simply refuse to obey the letter of the law it passed.  Their alleged “intentions,” as of today, will trump the clear wording of the Affordable Care Act, and the considerable evidence that its authors did mean to restrict subsidies to state exchanges.  In other words, it won’t matter that the Democrats who wrote and passed the ACA, or the President who signed it, failed miserably at their legislative duties.  Their will to power will matter more than the papers upon which their witless hands scrawled signatures.

ObamaCare is the biggest, most outrageous example of power triumphing over law, but it’s hardly the only one.  Immigration and border security provide another excellent example.  When law places a burden of inescapable duty on the Ruling Class, it becomes an obstacle to their power.  In theory, a nation with an impenetrable maze of confusing laws should have a government paralyzed as thoroughly as its citizens… but that’s hardly the way it works in practice, is it?  The Ruling Class simply exempts itself and its friends from troublesome laws, and ignores unappealing duties.  It cannot work any other way, if the central State is to enjoy the power it requires to enforce a collectivist vision on the entire country.  Our rulers see themselves as giants, men and women of towering wisdom and intellect.  Giants do not walk on their knees.

You will never find a socialist nation with a deep respect for the rule of law, because those ideas are in many ways diametrically opposed.  Socialist rulers must be exempt from the rules they impose on others; they must have great power to grant favors and exemptions; they must be able to re-interpret the law to fit their changing vision, rather than allowing themselves to be bound by past promises and obligations.  If ObamaCare was a “contract,” it has been broken to the point where everyone involved would be sued into oblivion.  It was presented as a contract, but it’s not.  There are no consequences for the failure to meet its promises.  The Administration still routinely lies to the American people about how the program is doing, concealing vital information about everything from enrollment figures to the payment of corporate subsidies.  It is very much a one-way street, placing a heavy burden of rules (enforced by the IRS!) onto American citizens, who will be punished severely for non-compliance… but the State doesn’t even have to obey the clearest of provisions it finds inconvenient.

It doesn’t matter what our representative government voted for in 2010, or what the American people were told to keep us mostly quiescent.  Yesterday’s lies don’t have a long shelf life in a “one man, one vote, one time” arrangement.  ObamaCare is the “settled law of the land” now, as far as the peons are concerned, so it doesn’t matter that they were tricked into accepting it.  As for the Ruling Class… well, no law is ever truly “settled” for those who have real power.  

That point will be made beyond dispute if the courts fully uphold the Halbig decision, and the Obama Administration simply ignores them and keeps ladling out subsidies.  That is what will happen, in the unlikely event judges friendly to Barack Obama and his vision of the supreme State don’t make it unnecessary by overturning the decision.  Obama and his followers would consider it sheer madness if their grand plan was ruined by a couple of legislative sentences they no longer believe are necessary.  And if that is what comes to pass – who, exactly, will force the imperial President and his trillion-dollar monstrosity to obey the law?

 

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