HH: Here to tell you that Obamacare is not going to be amended or repealed until we get a new president. There was a Supreme Court ruling today, 6-3, that the federal subsidies are going to stay just as they are. Joining me to talk about this and the much more pressing issues, actually much more pressing issues of terrorism in the world, none other than Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read everything Mark writes over at www.steynonline.com. Mark, your first reaction to the 6-3 decision today?
MS: I think it’s actually a disgraceful decision. As you know, Hugh, I’m not a believer in Supreme Courts that are as supreme as America’s Supreme Court is anyway. I don’t believe there’s any reason why free people should be ruled by nine black-robed regents. I don’t accept that proposition. But if you do, then those nine judges have to exercise their power with a certain humility. The idea that words no longer have plain meaning, that the words, “established by the state,” can now mean established by whatever, I think is very disturbing not just for health care, which is a disaster in this country, but for almost any law. I mean, essentially if they are now in this interpretive business entirely disconnected from the plain meaning of language, then I don’t see why any statute since the first settlers got here couldn’t actually be rewritten on the basis they did with this one.
HH: Yeah, the Chief Justice writes in his opinion, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.” And he went on to write that the Court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever,” oh, wait, that’s not, that’s what Scalia wrote. “The Court’s decision reflects a philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpreted distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery.” And Scalia added, “It’s up to Congress to design its laws with care, and it’s up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility.” You know, Roberts is basically keeping his flag where he planted it, but Kennedy switched sides. Were you surprised by that?
MS: No, no I wasn’t, because I mean, what I find, I mean, I generally agree with Scalia’s take on this, and that’s why I think it’s extremely disturbing for the rule of law, and for a system of checks and balances. I mean, we are, Roberts and the majority purport to divine Congress’ intent and to say that this was, these four words were inappropriately phrased. In fact, as Scalia pointed out, they went to quite a lot of trouble to fine tune what they meant by established by the state. At a further point in the law, they go on to explain that if a territory wishes to set up its exchange, for example Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands or whatever, then for the purposes of the law, they, too, shall be covered by this phrase, established by the state. So in other words, the people, the legislators, the people who wrote the law, had, gave these four words some thought, and they decided that the words established by the state meant states, obviously, but they also meant territories for the purpose of this legislation. Nowhere do they say it’s the Secretary of Health and Human Services or the World Health Organization or the U.N. Secretary-General or Justin Bieber or anybody else. They were actually quite specific about that, and it is disturbing to me not so much because of health care. Health care is a disaster, and it’s going to, it’s slowly going to collapse on the American people unless it is seriously corrected. But it has potentially disastrous, if this is the level of jurisprudence that the nine most eminent jurists are going to bring to the interpretation of law, then this country’s done for.
HH: Justice Scalia said we really should start calling this law SCOTUSCare. It got a laugh from the Court. But the Roberts quote that I wanted to read is, “in this instance, the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former and avoids the latter.” Now I got a pretty interesting email from one of my law partners, Mark, who is a Democrat, saying look, clearly what’s going on here is that Roberts realized the toxicity in the political system has reached such a high level that he imperils the Court if he strikes down Obamacare, and that he’s leaving it to the political branches to fight it out and trying to keep the Court in place. What do you make of that argument?
MS: Yeah, we had that argument last time round when he did his previous pretzel ruling on, that eventually decided it was perfectly lawful to force every single American to purchase a product from a nominally private company. And we were told that he did that because the toxicity of the decision to strike that down would damage the Court’s reputation. So now again, with a care for the Court’s reputation, he’s twisted himself into a pretzel again. Presumably the same considerations will apply when it comes to same sex marriage. In that case, there is no point to a Supreme Court. If they can’t take the heat of decisions that go against the zeitgeist or the popular mood or whatever fancies and foibles are in the air, then there is no point to a Constitutional Court. If he’s saying we can’t take the heat, fine. Then let the legislators who have to account to the citizens, let them take the heat. What polling booth do you go to, to vote out John Roberts? What polling booth do you go to, to vote out Anthony Kennedy? Scalia’s line is not a joke. It is SCOTUSCare. They’re actually, the judicial branch is in effect now actually legislating and broadening the terms of the law. And that is something that ought to be extremely disturbing to anyone, particularly a Constitutional Court, but to anyone who gives any thought as to whether we’re a land of laws or a land of men.
HH: What’s more disturbing is actually what the President said afterwards, Mark. Again, no one should ever expect graciousness from this President, but here’s what he said.
BO: It has changed, and in some cases, saved American lives. It set this country on a smarter, stronger course. And today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
HH: He’s trying to shut down what is clearly the intent of the Republican Party, which is to make sure it’s not here to stay, because it’s failing, Mark Steyn. On top of all this, deductibles have skyrocketed. That’s why we have MyDiscountHealth.com, because people can’t afford to go to their deductible anymore. We have Medicaid spreading like kudzu, and it’s terrible care and people don’t want to see those patients, and we have skyrocketing premiums that are going to go higher when the Cadillac tax is gone.
HH: And so the President’s trying to shut the door on reform of a disaster through the political branches.
MS: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s why what John Roberts said, I thought, was astounding to me, that he said the intent was not to destroy the private health insurance market, but to improve it. The effect of Obamacare has been to destroy private health care. Deductibles and what you pay under your deductible now bear no relation to the cost of actually insuring yourself against getting a particular illness, or the cost of care for that illness if you happen to get it. I went, I have a high deductible plan. I went to a hospital here. I had an X-Ray and an MRI. And under my high deductible, I had to pay $4,200 dollars for that, because the old 40% cash discount and everything is all gone now. $4,200. I could have flown first class to Bermuda, had it done at the King Edward VII hospital in Bermuda, flown back first class, and still have come out $2,000 ahead. And that is the insanity of this, that we now have neither a public system nor a private system, but some monstrosity of a push me, pull you that has been enabled not only by the President and a feckless Congress with its thousand page unread laws, but now from the nine robed regents who are supposed to be the masters of the universe at untangling all the messes that the sleazy politicians make. It’s a disaster for every branch of government.
HH: Well, I’ve got, there’s some pushback here, and I’ll make the argument another time. People want to vent about Roberts today. There is an argument that a political branch makes the stew. The Republicans have to run straight at it and promise to repeal it. Hillary endorsed it today, Mark, and she planted her flag on Obamacare as it exists, the nightmare that it is, and the Republicans have a very clear field. And the only advantage of this, the only, and we have a minute to the break and we’ll come back and talk about the real story of the day, the Iran deal, is that people cannot blame us. I mean, we didn’t punch a hole in it, the Court didn’t punch a hole in it. This is Obamacare. This is what he wanted. It’s what the health care you got. He designed it. Is there not that silver lining?
MS: I think not, because I’m getting the sense now that what will happen to squishy finger-in-the-windy Republicans is that more and more of them will start to talk less and less about repealing, and more and more about figuring out a way to live with it.
HH: Oh, we’ll talk about that after the break.
MS: And the Americans have less health care freedom now than Continental Europeans do. That’s the…
HH: I agree with that, but I think you’re wrong about the Republicans. We’ll talk about it after the break. Mark Steyn staying for a second special edition of the Mark Steyn Thursday.
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HH: We are all exercised. I had thought the Roberts Court would strike down the federal subsidies. They did not. I always see the silver lining, which is it’s an anchor around the Democrats’ neck. Hillary tweeted out her congratulations. Obama did his victory lap and his spike of the football. Fine. They own it. They bought it. They broke it. It’s a nightmare. But let’s turn to the far more important subject, Mark. I talked today with Daniel Silva, who has a great new novel out, The English Spy.
MS: Oh, yeah.
HH: And you know, he’s terrific, and it’s about the Iranians and the Russians. He actually gets Putin better than anyone else. He gets the Iranians. But today, five former senior advisors to President Obama sent him a letter. Unfortunately, it’s going to be completely covered over by the news of the Obamacare decision, saying don’t sign this deal. It’s Dennis Ross, it’s David Petraeus, it’s three other senior, and a bunch of other people, too, but three Obama advisors saying this is a bad deal. Do you think he will stop this deal?
MS: No, no I don’t. And by the way, just on Daniel Silva, he’s an absolutely beautiful writer. And what I like about him is that in the last few years, I’ll find myself rounding a corner in the Netherlands or in Switzerland, or in Egypt, and I’m suddenly reminded by some little passage in one of his books. And he’s terrific like that. And the other thing that he gets, he’s not a partisan in any sense, but he gets the rhythms of the world.
MS: And he understands those brilliantly. He understands the forces that are in play, that the political class is not always on top of. And that’s what makes this Iran deal so bizarre and so perplexing, because even Obama officials, and even people who are in no sense hawks or conservatives or anything else, understand that this deal is bad for the United States of America. It bigs up Iran in a way that can do no good for any of our allies. And that doesn’t just mean Israel. That means the Arab, the Sunni Arab monarchies, and at a certain level, too, the Europeans who will end up being destabilized by a nuclear Iran.
HH: And that’s why, that’s, this will get buried by the headlines, but I want people, their letter says the agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure. It will, however, reduce that infrastructure for ten to fifteen years, and it will impose a transparency inspection regime with a goal of not actually dismantling it. But they go on to say but it’s not enough, and that’s Petraeus, Ross, Gary Samore, how was President Obama’s chief advisor, General James Cartwright, who was the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Obama, and Robert Einhorn, a longtime State Department proliferation expert who was there devising the sanctions. His own team, Mark Steyn, but no one will notice this. The media seems almost deaf and dumb, like the OPM hack, which I’m also going to talk with Silva about, because he gets what you do with that data. The OPM hack is a Titanic-level disaster for us.
MS: Absolutely. I mean, whatever hapless bureaucrat was testifying yesterday said, conceded that they’ve got over 30 million Americans’ personal data. And I mean, these are the 30 million who matter. I mean, if someone gets, if the Russians or the Chinese or whoever get my personal data, they can’t use it to access a government building in Washington. The information that they’ve taken from 30 million key Americans will prove very useful to China and to whoever they decide to share it with. But at a certain level, we live in incredibly frivolous times. And the dying media is prepared to protect the administration on this in a way that it would not do if this had happened on Bush’s watch or on Reagan’s watch.
HH: And so the question for people like me and you is how do we communicate it? And I began to think about what the OPM hack, I think they got all the witness protection program stuff. I think everyone in the witness protection program is investigated by the office of special investigations at OPM.
HH: I was the general counsel and deputy director there. I think they got all that. I think they got the name of every scientist at Livermore.
HH: I think they got the name of every contractor everywhere. They can, and what the Silva novel points out, you can blackmail people. It’s very easy to do.
MS: Yes, that’s the thing. I mean, for example, if you talk, if you think about science, and you put these brilliant scientists, and you think of the leverage that a foreign power could bring to bear on them, and if you just put it in the terms of that prison break in upstate New York, where a couple of people were, a couple of people on the inside were persuaded to help these guys out, that’s all you need to actually, if you, that’s all a foreign power needs. If it finds the right person with the right weakness, and they’ve basically now got everyone, every federal employee since 1985, they’ve got them all out there, all the guys with the badges and the government numbers, as you say, the scientists at the big government institutions, and they are, all they have to do is find the right weakness for half a dozen people here and there.
MS: And Silva is great on that kind of stuff in his books.
HH: Let me play for you one more clip. This is Devin Nunes. He was sitting across a table from me on Face The Nation last week. I was off camera with David Ignatius when he said this, and both of our jaws dropped.
DN: We face the highest threat level we have ever faced in this country today.
JD: Including after 9/11?
DN: Including after 9/11. And there’s a couple of reasons why. One is the flow of fighters that went from Europe and other Western countries like the United States…
HH: And he goes on to say, Mark Steyn, the second reason is because they’re radicalizing young people at the rate, Stanley McChrystal told me in this studio a couple of weeks ago, a hundred million social media contacts a day.
HH: You saw the ISIS pool video. Everyone’s trying to say amid the Obamacare decision, amid all the news of the day we’re going to get whacked. Have you heard that loud and clear?
MS: Yes, yes I have, and what’s fascinating is we think these guys are just like kind of backward, medieval lunatics. But they use social media, our, the Western world uses social media to post cat videos. These guys use it to get inside the heads of people who hold Western passports. And we’re told that Obama is so cool because he’s got a Twitter feed, and he’s on Facebook and all the rest of it. But he doesn’t use it for anything. And until our social media, what we’ve got here is medieval fanatics who use 21st Century technology better than Obama and the rest of the West does. And if you don’t think that that’s not going to have some serious consequences sometime down the road, then you know, just stay in your little bubble and watch your cat videos until the mushroom cloud goes up.
HH: Yeah, they used James Cameron-level underwater video photography to film the drowning of their five tortured people.
HH: Underwater film technology.
HH: They’ve got a city of Mosul, they have capacities that no one seems to get. And the most dangerous man in the world is the bomb maker in Yemen that was told to me by Mike Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA, and he’s not not telling people how to do this, Mark Steyn.
MS: No, and the point about the underwater photography, it’s the point about a lot of their snuff videos, is how well done they are. They’re attracting not just losers like the Charleston guy who killed those people in that church. They’re attracting highly-skilled, middle class citizens from Western nations who have a big hole in their heart where their sense of identity is. And they go off and they bring all their expensive Western education skills to things like this video, and in the broader scheme of things, how to overthrow the United States and the rest of the Western world.
HH: And meanwhile, we’re watching a trans-gendered illegal alien heckle the President in the East Room.
MS: Yeah, and the President says cut it out, you’re in my house. I used to call it Barackingham Palace as a joke. I didn’t think he’d take it seriously.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.