By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 6, 2014
A Twitter feud between left-wing and right-wing pundits caught my eye last week.
The spat was launched by this tweet:
The difference between intellectual honesty () and a hackish attempt at oppo marginalization: ()
— Matt Welch @mleewelch 10:51 AM – 29 Jul 2014
Welch is the editor in chief of Reason, the libertarian magazine produced by the Los Angeles–based Reason Foundation. His tweet praised an article written by Reason senior editor Peter Suderman and published in Reason while panning one written by Brian Beutler, a senior editor at The New Republic, and published in that left-leaning magazine.
The articles promote dueling interpretations of the issue that many people refer to as Halbig. The tag comes from the plaintiff in one of a handful of pending lawsuits that seek to cripple the right’s favorite whipping boy, the Affordable Care Act.
The key to Halbig — beyond, of course, understanding that conservatives are obsessed with (a) opposing anything associated with Obama, especially (b) the health care reform law that is familiar known as Obamacare — is the question of whether one provision in that law means what it appears to say in the narrowest and most literal possible meaning.
This is the position on the right wing. As a result, they assert, buyers in states that did not establish their own online health-insurance marketplaces are ineligible for the tax credits that they were promised. In many cases, these subsidies make the coverage affordable.
Should this argument prevail, it could affect more than 7 million residents in the 36 states that rely on HealthCare.gov. (That’s the federally run website for comparing and purchasing health insurance plans offered by private companies; the site was created for residents of states that declined to create their own online exchanges.)
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