The Corner

We Meant to Do That

Yuval, this — of course — is hilarious.

I like to imagine that whichever self-satisfied Max Baucus staffer was most responsible for drafting the Affordable Care Act expectorated his morning latte all over that CRS report, and reeled backward in his chair, clutching his temples as echoes of Barack Obama’s “. . . if you like your plan, you can keep it . . . keep it . . . keep it” and Pelosi’s “. . . pass the bill to find out what’s in it . . . what’s in it . . . in it . . .” crashed around his consciousness.

But just as Secretary Sebelius strong-armed insurers into complying with regulations on preexisting conditions that quite simply don’t appear in the bill, and just as Congressman Waxman intends to bully corporations into taking tax hits to paper over the fact that the bill incentivizes them to dump workers into the subsidy regime, I fully expect for Congress to find an extra-legal work-around for the purported loss of their health-insurance plans.

I was going to write about how this bill has already become a terrific argument for Scalia-style textualism in statutory interpretation, because it makes clear that if “intent” is to guide our interpretation of the law, the Democrats in Washington are going to have a field day retroactively “intending” that the bill fix its own internal contradictions and deliver on progressive promises that aren’t anywhere to be found within it. But textualism alone just won’t cut it when law includes “a broad array of complex and contradictory provisions,” since anyone who’s taken freshman logic knows that absolutely anything follows from a contradiction.

So really, what this mess calls for is a smaller, shorter, clearer, stronger, better bill — the kind that could only have resulted from free, open, and copious debate and a sincere effort to focus on issues with broad bipartisan support. Now, if only somebody — anybody — had called for such a process before it was too late!

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