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States’ Rights. Again.

Judge.jpgOpponents of the Affordable Care Act are cooking up yet another legal challenge—this to the authority of the federal government to create exchanges in states which refuse to do so and then offer the subsidies that make coverage affordable to those between 133%-400% of the federal poverty level. Estimates are that 23 million will gain coverage through the exchanges, and 18 million of these will be eligible for the subsidies.

The argument is that the literal language of the ACA only allows subsidies in exchanges “established by the state.”  Does “state” mean the states, or does it mean the acting government authority, be it state or federal? May states’ nullify this enormous portion of the ACA simply by refusing to act on the exchanges?

The question for now is could the plaintiffs find a federal judge who might rule their way on this. Easy to believe there is one out there. Could this claim make its way to the Supreme Court? Highly unlikely. But that’s probably not the point here—more delay and obstruction that promotes the creeping Western European-style socialism narrative, and canard, in the run-up to November is more likely the point.

Opposition to moderate legislation from Washington to promote the general welfare in all areas of governance remains under attack to a degree we haven’t seen since Impeach Earl Warren signs proliferated across the South during the fight for civil rights. I saw a prominent billboard driving south on Highway 17 in Brunswick County this week. It screamed: THIS COUNTRY CANNOT SURVIVE FOUR MORE YEARS OF BARACK OBAMA.

Whether one agrees with the administration’s positions or not, it’s best we not look to Chicken Little to inform crucial policy decisions on jobs, health care, deficits, immigration and other pressing challenges. But that’s the relentlessly right-wing line that Fox, Americans for Prosperity, American Crossroads and other founts of corporate cash in politics keep shouting from the rooftops. At the same time they keep pushing ways to take the vote away from those inclined to go against their candidates. As the same elements did in the Civil Rights Era.

The voters are concerned mostly about jobs and the economy, but the right-wing will continue to make this election a referendum on the very legitimacy of the federal government. While the sky isn’t falling, the response of swing voters to messages that are arguably extremist will be historic.

Monday morning update: The New York Times is reporting this morning that a bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives to repeal the IRS rule that allows subsidies in federally-created exchanges. The assault on healthcare reform continues unabated.