It appears that the GOP will finally get a solidly right-wing Supreme Court. I may not be the first to use this analogy – but Republicans in pursuit of their conservative goals are like a dog trying to catch a car it’s chasing; success might mean the end of them.
Why so? Well, just consider one of the huge issues that a 6 to 3 conservative majority on the Court will rule on within the next year – the future of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Republicans have been trying desperately to repeal this law since the day it was passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010. Wealthy Libertarian donors like the Koch brothers, helped the GOP flood the media with fear-mongering attacks before Obamacare took effect in 2014, ominously warning of government-controlled health care. Almost all GOP-led states refused to cooperate in implementing Obamacare and 22 initially refused to accept the Medicaid expansion it provided.
Since 2014, the non-expansion states have dwindled down to 12. In some cases, state lawmakers legislated the reversals, others were accomplished by ballot initiatives, where voters took matters into their own hands. In August, Missouri became the sixth Republican-controlled state where voters expanded Medicaid by ballot initiative and the seventh state to take advantage of greater Medicaid coverage since President Trump was inaugurated. Voters want health care insurance!
A July 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 75% of Americans favorably viewed the Medicaid program, including 65% of Republicans. A recent Economist/YouGov poll determined that 65% rated health care as “very important.” Consequently, it’s no surprise that the attempt by President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare in the summer of 2017 is given as a primary reason why Democrats regained control of the U.S. House in 2019.
Health care is a big issue in rural America, which is home to the Republican base. University of North Carolina researchers found that 120 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, with a record number of 19 closing in 2019. According to a February 2020 report by the Chartis Center for Rural Health, there are 453 rural hospitals that are vulnerable to closure. Of the 216 that are labeled “most vulnerable,” 75% (162) are located in states that have not expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.
Still, Republicans have continuously attacked the Affordable Care Act in court, particularly its individual mandate that imposes a tax on individuals who don’t have health care insurance. In a case before the Supreme Court in 2012, however, Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal justices to uphold the individual mandate as constitutional.
But after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the individual mandate tax penalty to $0 in 2017, 20 Republican-controlled states sued the Trump administration, claiming that without this penalty, the entire law must fall. Later that year, a federal district court judge in northern Texas agreed with them and so did the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2019.
Consequently, on November 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin considering if the entire Affordable Care Act must be struck down, with a decision expected next spring. Although the law remains in place, health care insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans hangs in the balance, along with the fate of hundreds of rural hospitals and Obamacare’s protections for an estimated 102 million of our citizens who have preexisting conditions.
Recently, Trump has been promising that those with preexisting conditions will be covered under his soon to be released health care plan. But there is absolutely no evidence that such a plan exists. He is blatantly lying in an attempt to remove health care as a campaign issue. Numerous Republicans who are up for reelection this year are promising constituents that they will protect those with preexisting conditions too. They are also lying.
The almost 400 pages of newspaper columns and blogs I have written since 2014, have attempted to document the fallacies of conservative ideology and the damage that GOP policies would do to this nation. Since 2011, Republicans have proposed federal budgets that would reduce Medicaid funding dramatically and turn Medicare into a premium support program where retirees would be at the mercy of profit-minded insurance companies. These budgets would cut trillions of dollars from food stamps and the other social safety net programs over a 10-year period.
But here’s the thing. Conservatives rarely get any of their policies enacted into law. Even with total control of the government during 2017 and 2018, they failed miserably in repealing Obamacare and were unable to pass much from their legislative wish list except a tax cut for the wealthy. There’s a good reason for this; Americans would vote most Republicans out of office if they attempted to significantly change Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs for the elderly and the poor.
Trump administration failures in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic are looming large as we approach November 3rd. Americans have a clear picture of what happens when Republicans are in control. Millions have already cast their ballots and millions more will do so during early voting. The cowardly GOP Senators who enabled this incompetent president and refused to hold him accountable for his unconstitutional acts are in fear of losing their jobs. Some GOP Senators are warning of a blue tsunami and a “Republican bloodbath.”
Voters, bring it on!