A winning Democratic issue: Fighting the health care saboteurs

Dems have been handed a midterm election message that basically writes itself: "We're the party that wants to protect your health care. The Trump Republicans are sabotaging it

This photo taken Thursday, July 27, 2017, shows a man walks by an healthcare insurance office in Hialeah, Fla.

This photo taken Thursday, July 27, 2017, shows a man walks by an healthcare insurance office in Hialeah, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Assuming they’re smart enough to realize it (and that’s a big assumption), Democrats have been handed a midterm election message that basically writes itself: “We’re the party that wants to protect your health care. The Trump Republicans are sabotaging it.”

If you’ve missed the Trump regime’s latest strategy for destroying Obamacare – and imperiling coverage for millions of Americans with preexisting health problems – you’re certainly excused. We were all focused this weekend on Trump’s concerted efforts to wreck the western democratic alliance in the service of his Russian master. It was indeed amazing to see him betray America in plain sight. In reel life, the brainwashed traitor in “The Manchurian Candidate” required a hypnotizing game of cards before he performed his perfidious deeds. Trump does it without cards.

Anyway, here’s the latest on the domestic front: A current lawsuit in federal court, filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general, seeks to kill Obamacare on the grounds that the entire law is unconstitutional. (Never mind the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court definitively ruled in 2012 that Obamacare is constitutional.) It is therefore Trump’s duty to fight this frivolous Republican attack on the health care law, because, after all, the Constitution requires that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But last Thursday, servile Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump regime’s lawyers will not bother to defend the law; in his words, the Justice Department will “forgo defense.”

Despite all their failed congressional repeal efforts, they never stop trying, do they? Their explicit message is that Republicans don’t care if millions of sick and disabled people with preexisting health conditions wind up losing the coverage that’s guaranteed under Obamacare; they don’t care if insurers cap the coverage of chronically sick people, a practice now banned under Obamacare; they don’t care if young adults up to age 26 are thrown off their parents’ health plans, currently a family-friendly feature of Obamacare. Yet it just so happens that most Americans strongly support all those Obamacare provisions.

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Meanwhile, some health coverage premiums are soon expected to spike. That’s a direct result of Republican meddling. When GOP lawmakers concocted their recent tax cut law, they decreed that people will no longer have to pay any penalty for failing to buy health insurance. To compensate for that reduced pool of customers, some health insurers are raising their rates accordingly. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office says that 67 percent of the projected hikes will be attributable to the aforementioned Republican meddling. And Ralph Northam, the Virginia Democratic governor who won his ’17 race by championing health care, is honing the political message; he says the higher premiums can be traced to the Trump GOP’s “active sabotage of the health care system.”

This is the issue for Democrats to run on in 2018, not impeachment. Likely Democratic voters – who, miracle of miracles, might actually show up in droves for a midterm election – are already furious about Trump’s lawless abuses; there’s no need for Democratic candidates to state the obvious. And constitutional issues are somewhat abstruse. They don’t necessarily affect the average voter’s everyday life – unlike the cost and availability of health care, which is arguably the most intimate issue of all.

Northam’s victory in swing-state Virginia makes the point. In the exit polls, 4 in 10 voters said health care was the most important issue. No other issue came close. Of those who chose health care, 77 percent cast their ballots for Northam, who eviscerated the Trump-endorsed Republican. And the latest stats show the same potential pattern. A new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, released last Thursday, says that health care is the top-ranked issue – and that, among the voters who say health care is most important, 67 percent want the Democrats to control Congress (only 21 percent want the Republicans). And among all registered voters, only 39 percent said they were “enthusiastic” or “comfortable” with a candidate who still wants to repeal Obamacare.

Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family Foundation, which closely tracks Obamacare, said the other day that “27 percent of non-elderly adults have preexisting conditions. Arguing in court that protections for them should be eliminated, as the Trump administration is now (essentially) doing, could provoke a backlash in an election year.”

Fortunately, the party and its allied groups appear to be getting this. Huge advertising campaigns will reportedly target House Republican incumbents who voted last year for the ill-fated bills to kill Obamacare. Democrats will essentially argue that one party is trying to protect health care – and the millions of vulnerable Americans who depend on the reform law – while the other party is trying to take that health care away.

Republican incumbents in swing districts – especially in blue states like New Jersey – are already back on their heels. Tom MacArthur, who has a tough re-election race in central Jersey, is clearly discomfited by the Trump regime’s decision not to defend Obamacare in that federal lawsuit. Despite the fact that last year he played a big role in the attempted repeal effort (pushing a provision that would’ve raised rate and imperiled coverage for many with preexisting health problems), he insisted last Friday that protecting people with preexisting health problems “is a pretty essential pact with the American people.” At least three other House Republicans in competitive races rushed out similar statements; rest assured, they’d prefer to be talking about anything else, like immigrant gang members.

Bottom line: If the Democrats can’t win on the health care issue, and take the House in the November midterms, they should go join the Whigs in a museum.

On a lighter note, I saw this on Twitter:

Justify wins the Triple Crown, and refuses an invitation from the White House. Asked why, he said: “If I wanted to see a horse’s ass, I would’ve finished second.”

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