Saturday, July 18, 2015

Scalia and Shakespeare

The scene: A dark cave. In the middle a cauldron boils. Thunder. Justice Scalia dissents.

“The Court predicts that making tax credits unavailable in States that do not set up their own Exchanges would cause disastrous economic consequences there. If that is so,” writes Justice Scalia, “wouldn’t one expect States to react by setting up their own Exchanges?
That is, using Scalia’s hyperbole, a “bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery” meaning, “The more authority given to states, the more legislatures like Wyoming’s will find ways to assure Obamacare doesn’t work. Look at the mischief we caused allowing states to choose whether to expand Medicaid. That was some kind of witches’ brew.”

The President says the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. The witches say, “Double, double toil and trouble; repeal and replace, fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

They gathered round the cauldron. Eyes are red, throats are dry, long fingernails extend from bony fingers. Fire and smoke fume from nostrils. Partisans focus on their Obamacare talking points.

“Double, double toil and trouble; train wreck, socialism, repeal and replace, fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

Fifty times they voted to repeal it, a presidential election was a referendum on the law, its opponents lost, dozens of candidates spent millions promising to “repeal and replace” Obamacare and not one offered a plan to do so, two failed trips to the Supreme Court, an entire television network dedicated to misleading the public about the law, and yet it remains.

“Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog, adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, lizard's leg, and owlet's wing; for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

The timid witch in the corner says, “Why work so hard to harm vulnerable people? Is this Kool-Aid any different than Wyoming legislators guzzled when they denied healthcare to 17,000 low income working people?”

The witches screech, “In the poison'd entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone, days and nights has thirty-one; Swelter'd venom sleeping got, Boil thou first in ' the charmed pot!”

The timid one inquires, “You stir the brew you hope will kill the law but it will also kill people. The country would be better off you brewed your own plan to help fix the country’s broken healthcare system?”

Pretending not to hear a word, they kept stirring as they chanted, “Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake. Repeal, repeal, repeal.”

The other says, “If this brew is successful the budget deficit will increase by tens-of-billions of dollars. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Some of them and their children may even die.”

The gathered witches snarled wryly and sang. “Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.”

But, says the timid one, “People who couldn’t afford health insurance are now insured. The uninsured rate has declined by nearly 10 million under Obamacare. Isn’t that a good thing? We used to think so, didn’t we?”

The witches ignore the siren and continue stirring the brew, mixing ingredients. “Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf; witches' mummy; maw and gulf of the ravin'd salt-sea shark.”

“Bu-bu-but…for the first time in history, healthcare costs have declined.”

The other witches cared not and continued brewing a concoction to kill the law. “This will be the one,” they say. “Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd. Harpier cries, 'tis time! 'tis time!”

Growing less timid, the voice cries, “If the Congress drinks your awful brew, people with pre-existing conditions can’t be insured, sick people’s policies will be canceled, young people won’t be covered under their parents’ policies, insurance companies will not be restrained in how much they spend on lawyers to fight claims and advertising to misrepresent their policies.”

The plotting witches chant. The cauldron boils. The timid witch asks, “Just what will you replace Obamacare with?” They bellowed, “Gall of goat, and slips of yew sliver'd in the moon's eclipse; Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips; repeal, repeal, repeal.”

With thanks to William Shakespeare.


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