Obama-founded Organizing for Action is taking credit for defeating legislation that would have repealed Obamacare.
“Last week marked a huge victory in our fight to save Obamacare,” Saumya Narechania, National Issues Campaign Manager for OfA writes in a new mass email to supporters bearing the subject line “Sabotage.” “Because of the grassroots pressure our movement put on key senators at their offices, at rallies, and during town halls, we defeated Mitch McConnell’s dangerous repeal plan.”
Whether OfA is entitled to this much credit is arguable, of course.
But then Narechania switches gears, accusing those who want to get rid of the looming catastrophe that is Obamacare of being saboteurs.
The other side has “undercut the law at every turn since the day they took office: cutting resources for enrollment organizations with key community presences, spreading a fake narrative about how the marketplace is failing, and misusing money set aside to help drive sign-ups. Now, we face yet another threat: The administration is threatening to refuse to make Obamacare’s cost-sharing-reduction (CSR) payments — a move that experts believe will lead to a jump of 20 percent in premium costs for millions of Americans.”
Hold on there, pardner.
These CSRs, as they’re called, are bailout payments that benefit insurance companies, propping up the Obamacare status quo by bolstering the so-called health care insurance exchanges.
They are “payments to insurers for lowering deductibles and co-payments,” analyst Christopher Jacobs writes at the Federalist. But it’s not the Trump administration that is holding up the CSRs — it’s the courts.
In May 2016, Senior Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the CSRs were unconstitutional. At time of writing, the ruling still stands.
That case, according to Jacobs,
centers around Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies, which provide additional assistance to help low-income individuals pay for things like co-payments and deductibles. While the Obamacare law explicitly appropriated funds to subsidize premiums on insurance exchanges, it did not provide such an appropriation for these cost-sharing subsidies. The Obama administration acknowledged this in 2013, requesting such an appropriation from the House of Representatives. But months later, the administration did an about-face and proceeded to start paying cost-sharing subsidies to insurers. The House viewed this action as a unilateral usurpation of its most important constitutional prerogative — to fund, or refuse to fund, government programs.
Rejecting what she called the “extra-textual arguments” advanced by the Obama administration, Judge Collyer found
Paying out [cost-sharing subsidies] without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution. Congress authorized reduced cost sharing [in Obamacare] but did not appropriate monies for it, in the [Fiscal Year] 2014 budget or since. Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.
So if it is true that President Trump and congressional Republicans are refusing to appropriate the funding Narechania is griping about, they are on the side of the constitutional angels, not saboteurs.
Of course, sabotaging Obamacare would be fair game, and it would be nice if Republicans actually tried to do that.
But they haven’t, so Organizing for Action is — surprise, surprise — caught in a lie.