David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

One reason the GOP is making so much noise about the surprise climate change deal with China is that the lack of action by China has long been a central line of attack on any US efforts to take action on carbon emissions. So long as China wasn't moving, what difference would it make if the US moved, other than to further disadvantage US business? At least that's how the GOP argument went.

Climate Desk has a great reel up showing just how prevalent this line of attack was from Republicans.

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You can't assess the Supreme Court's surprise jump today into the Obamacare subsidies pseudo-controversy without appreciating that there was a big organized effort in the conservative legal community to create the political and legal space for the Supreme Court to intervene. Part of that effort involved working to delegitimize in advance the pending en banc decision of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals as purely political and without legal foundation. Here's the full rundown on what was being done on the outside to push the Supreme Court toward the decision it made today.

Nicholas Bagley at The Incidental Economist doesn't attach as much significance as I do to the decision of the Supreme Court to take up the Obamacare subsidies issue in the absence of a split of the circuit courts. But he thinks it's very significant that at least four justices were willing to take the case:

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The Supreme Court in a surprise move has decided to take up the issue of whether the tax subsidies that are essential to the Obamacare economic model are available on the federal exchanges. The tendentious argument from Obamacare opponents is that the law itself, in one obscure provision, only provides for subsidies on exchanges set up by states -- even though that was clearly not what the law as whole means or what Obamacare proponents in Congress or the White House intended. So just to be clear, this is a very significant legal attack on the law, even though it was a laughable line of attack when it was first initiated.

Today's move by the Supreme Court is a surprise because the full DC Circuit Court of Appeals is about to review the same issue in the Halbig case. Oral arguments are scheduled in Halbig next month. Nothing is certain, of course, but the full DC Circuit is expected to reverse an early decision of a three-judge panel that invalidated the subsidies. So that was supposed to be the next big legal decision on the issue.

But in the meantime, anti-Obamacare plaintiffs in another similar case asked the Supreme Court to review the decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the subsidies. That case, King v. Burwell, is what the Supreme Court agreed to take today.

Here's the rub.

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