The Power of the Purse Hangs in the Balance

supreme court

Supreme Court Washington DC USA

Patterico @ 7:36 am

I’m going to give you the very simple version of yesterday’s ObamaCare decision. (Full analysis here.)

Congress didn’t appropriate the money for certain payments to insurers. Therefore, Obama cannot spend it. The end.

One other interesting point that I learned reading the opinion: the same does not apply to subsidies to individual taxpayers. Congress does not have to appropriate money for that every year. Once Congress classified them as tax credits, the money was permanently appropriated, because the IRS already has authority to draw money on the Treasury to pay tax refunds/credits. The only way to repeal this is to pass a new law that repeals the subsidies, and get that law signed by the President.

This is a hugely important decision. Not just for ObamaCare but for our nation. If it is overruled, on standing grounds or on the merits — under the “we’ll rewrite any law to save ObamaCare because it’s Too Big to Fail” principle that generally obtains in the Supreme Court on ObamaCare cases — then the power of the purse is dead. The President will be able to spend money on anything he likes, and Congress can go hang.


Well, well, well! Chief Justice Roberts may get one more bite at the apple to demonstrate that he really is a conservative. He was the swing vote in the Obamacare ruling, and with an 8 seat Court, if he sides with the conservatives, the lower Court ruling stands!!

The concept of erasing the congressional power of the purse entirely might be a bridger too far even for some liberal Justices!

Categories: Political

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5 replies

  1. >>”Therefore, Obama cannot spend it.”

    So far that pesky little thing called “the law” has not stopped Obama from doing anything he wants to do, so I can’t muster too much excitement.


  2. Unfortunately, I suspect that the “rewrite any law to save ObamaCare because it’s Too Big to Fail” excuse will come into play here. Instead of reading the literal wording of the law and using that as the intent, many justices will take into consideration the impact and upheaval that will follow if they reject the administration’s interpretation and go “easy” on them. It ought to be plain and simple, if Congress didn’t authorize payments to the insurers, they simply don’t get paid. Period.


  3. O said ‘so sue me.’ The House did, and O just lost. According to the Wall Street Journal this is the third time this year the courts have repudiated “the constitutional law professor’s” loose interpretation of our governing document, the other two being his executive actions on immigration and his Clean Power Plan. Just think…it only took them seven years to muster the courage to tell him no.


  4. It goes to the Appeals Court of the District, which I believe is New Orleans, the most conservative of the appellate courts.

    But the point is that, unless overturned, the original judgement stands.

    If multiple judgements come in federal courts, it goes automatically to SCOTUS unless they remand it to the appellate chain, and our decision is FIRST in order of precedence. Crazy, but that really does count, as all other decisions must be derivative!.


  5. For some reason I thought this went to an appeals court first. And with that, Obama would win. Not many conservative judges anymore in federal courts. But if it goes to the Supremes! Well howdy!


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