In Tuesday's New York Times, Robert Pear — probably the best-sourced reporter on Obamacare — retraced his steps and conducted interviews "with more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans involved in writing the law." His conclusion: "None supported the contention of the plaintiff."
Ex-Senator Olympia Snowe, for instance, was the most hotly pursued Senate Republican because she seemed like the Republican likeliest to vote for the final bill. She was on the Finance Committee, which drafted the core legislation, and the Gang of Six, which refined it. Snowe ultimately voted against the bill, but she's unequivocal in her interview with Pear:
"I don’t ever recall any distinction between federal and state exchanges in terms of the availability of subsidies," said Olympia J. Snowe, a former Republican senator from Maine who helped write the Finance Committee version of the bill.
"It was never part of our conversations at any point," said Ms. Snowe, who voted against the final version of the Senate bill. "Why would we have wanted to deny people subsidies? It was not their fault if their state did not set up an exchange." The four words, she said, were perhaps "inadvertent language," adding, "I don’t know how else to explain it."Pear also quotes ex-Senator Jeff Bingaman, who sat on both the Finance Committee, which drafted the main legislation, and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which drafted companion legislation that was ultimately folded into the Finance bill. "In all the discussion in the committees and on the floor, I didn’t ever hear anybody suggest that this kind of distinction between federal and state exchanges was in the bill," he says.
Pear's piece underscores the absurdity of the argument against Obamacare: it asks that you believe Congress and the Obama administration built a doomsday device into Obamacare to punish states that didn't set up their own exchanges, and then never mentioned it to anyone — they kept it from the interest groups pushing for Obamacare, from the agency estimating Obamacare's cost, from the journalists covering Obamacare, from the members of Congress voting on Obamacare, from the agencies implementing Obamacare, and from the states.
And on top of all that, they are arguing that the law clearly says all this, even though no one who voted for the law believes it says any of that. As I've written before, this is less an argument than it is an attempt at a Jedi mind trick.