Monday, November 10, 2014

Morgan Griffith on the Possibility of Change

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

25 Years Without the “Iron Curtain”

As a student of history, I feel it important to note the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, described by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill as an “Iron Curtain” dividing Europe.  Much of the population doesn’t remember this – they were either too young or not yet born.  But for roughly 30 years, I was a part of a generation that had lived with the threat of the Soviet Union and nuclear war.

I went to college with a student whose father had escaped from Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.  As a boy, I witnessed the Czechoslovakian Uprising of 1968.

Why did they fight?  Why did they want to be free, whether in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or East Germany?  Because they wanted the liberty and the freedom that we have here in these United States.  They wanted the prosperity that a generally capitalistic society could give them, as opposed to what resulted from communism or strict socialism.

Let us not forget: no matter how appealing the goals of those two economic systems may be, those systems never function as they are intended to.

How are we in the United States able to maintain our society and our freedoms in the face of so many threats from around the world – the threats posed by Soviet Union in my younger days, the threats today posed by others?  It is through the continued desire of our people to be free, and the ability of our military to keep outside forces from dominating our country.  I thank everyone who speaks up for American freedom and our God-given liberties and rights.  And particularly during this week where we celebrate Veterans Day, I thank each and every veteran who served in order to defend those rights.

To watch the Berlin Wall come down, knowing that an imprisoned people were now free, was a joyous occasion.  “The fall of the Wall has shown us that dreams can come true,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a November 9 event commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall.  “Nothing has to stay the way it is, however big the hurdles are.”

The Supreme Court and Obamacare

As you remember, I called on the Obama Administration to release 2015 health insurance rates by Tuesday, October 28 – a week before the recent elections – to increase transparency and ensure that the American people were not kept in the dark for political reasons.  Unfortunately, the Administration did not do this.

Instead, on Sunday, November 9, they announced that people could begin viewing and comparing rates on the Obamacare website starting Monday, November 10.  For those who opt in or are forced onto Obamacare, open enrollment begins five days later on November 15.  Not much time to study the options.  Of course, in many parts of rural Virginia, there aren’t many choices.

Jonathan Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been referred to as Obamacare’s “chief architect,” said last year, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”  Apparently, the Obama Administration hasn’t changed their feelings about transparency or they would have given us the insurance rates before now.  Gruber went on to say, “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

Many people are of the view that Obamacare’s legality is settled.  However, given several unresolved challenges, this is not necessarily the case.

On Friday, November 7, it was announced that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, a case the interpretation of the health care law as it relates to Obamacare subsidies.   As summarized by the Washington Post, “The question in this challenge is whether the subsidies should be available to all Americans who qualify or only to those who purchase insurance through exchanges ‘established by the state,’” with challengers arguing that the Administration is violating the text of the law by providing subsidies in federally run exchanges in states that have chosen not to set up their own exchanges.

In fact, Jonathan Gruber referenced above said in 2012, “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

Of course, Gruber has since said that phrase was “a mistake.”  Will the Supreme Court agree with his original statement and rule against the Obama Administration?  A decision should come next spring.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at"