Have fun with this, guys.
We've just got one more month before the Supreme Court issues its King v. Burwell
decision, which means that Republicans—the ones in charge of Congress—have just a few weeks to figure out if they're going to do anything to help the 8 million people who could be losing their Obamcare subsidies. They sort of have an idea to pursue, Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-WI) temporary extension of subsidies, which is really just veto-bait
and a way to blame President Obama if the subsidies end. Even that, though, is just too much for House extremists
who will refuse to vote on anything that keeps any part of the law alive for any length of time.
Any plan that includes subsidies, even for a brief period, would be "real problematic," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. "We have to say: 'Here’s our replacement that will make health care better,' but not any type of fix to the plan," he said.
That group of more than 30 lawmakers hasn’t taken a formal position on the issue, but conservative opposition could make it hard to pass legislation in the House.
"That view suggests Obamacare was the right answer and that's not what Republicans promised last fall," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.). "This is a golden opportunity. If Republicans squander this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare, they squander an opportunity to actually win the White House. It’s not the time to support and extend Obamacare."
There's not going to be any help forthcoming from Democrats, either. They'll demand a permanent fix and nothing else, and the problem Johnson has is that his legislation makes it very clear that a permanent fix is ridiculously easy. He's included the language to do it, just with an expiration date which is conveniently after he might be re-elected in 2016.
The basic problem for Senate Republicans is that they represent states that will be hit very hard economically if the court strips subsidies, because those are the states using federal exchanges. Twenty-two of the 24 Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2016 are in these states, and they have to run state-wide, not in specially carved-out heavily Republican districts, like their House colleagues. As we've seen demonstrated time and time again, their House counterparts aren't very good at the big, long-term strategic thinking. They also just don't give a damn about the Senate.
All that is going to make it pretty difficult for Republicans to blame Obama if the court does its worst.