Salon’s Simon Maloy catches out Republican Senator John Barrasso—who recently claimed the Affordable Care Act “very clearl[ly]” limits subsidies to states that set up their own exchanges—openly acknowledging four years ago that Obamacare subsidies were to be available on all exchanges.
Maloy’s story mostly speaks for itself. In early 2011, Barrasso wanted to amend (and fatally undermine) the ACA by letting states opt out of the law’s core requirements, while preserving the value of the subsidies people in those states were entitled to under the law. Under his plan, states would have been able to resist Obamacare without sacrificing its financial benefits. This is entirely consistent with the behavior of every single Republican in Congress at the time.
But there’s one important detail to add. The ACA’s legal challengers can’t easily fall back on the excuse that Barrasso was simply clueless about what the law said and did. Because as he was pushing his amendment, he was also going around saying his opposition stemmed from having read the bill.
In this one, contemporaneous C-SPAN appearance alone, Barrasso said, “I have read the whole thing,” (39:00) and “having read this whole law, I think it doesn’t accomplish [its goals]” (44:15).
Either Barrasso wasn’t being honest about having read the law then, or he isn’t being honest about how clear it is now. Assuming Barrasso isn’t going to cop to lying about having read the bill text, he should at the very least now admit that it isn’t as clear as he claims today. But he can’t do that. Because if the law is ambiguous, then Obamacare will win before the Supreme Court.