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“A Two-Year Anchor Around The Neck Of Every Republican” Trump Lawsuit Reignites Health Care As The 2020 Issue

By March 27, 2019No Comments

On Monday night in an extraordinarily callous move, the Trump Administration announced that it would fully support a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. This decision comes less than six months after health care led Democrats to an overwhelming victory during the midterm elections. By once again trying to strip millions of their coverage, one thing has become clear to everyone watching: health care will be a defining issue of the 2020 elections, and Republicans are once again setting themselves up for defeat.

Vox: Trump Just Guaranteed Health Care Will Be A Huge Issue In The 2020 Election. “President Trump just guaranteed health care will remain a dominant issue through the 2020 presidential campaign, opening up a massive vulnerability in his reelection bid…The Justice Department’s move is stunning, considering the price House Republicans paid in the 2018 midterms for attempting to repeal the law in Congress. Health care was the top issue for voters, beating out the economy, immigration, and guns. The voters who named health care as their top issue overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates — helping flip control of the House from Republicans to Democrats.” [Vox, 3/26/19]

New York Times: Democrats Pivot Hard To Health Care After Trump Moves To Strike Down Affordable Care Act. “For Democrats, the Justice Department motion to invalidate the health law could not have come at a more opportune time. With the special counsel’s report failing to find a criminal conspiracy between President Trump’s campaign and Russia’s efforts to influence the election, Ms. Pelosi — who was celebrating her birthday on Tuesday — was already pressing to move her party back to the kitchen-table issues that they believe will shape the 2020 campaign. In 2018, Democrats campaigned — and won — on their pledge to keep the law’s protections for pre-existing medical conditions, and are planning to roll out their own health care agenda with much fanfare at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.” [New York Times, 3/26/19]

CNN: Unlike Mueller, Health Care Will Likely Be A Top Issue In 2020. “The biggest 2020 news this week is not the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. It’s that President Donald Trump’s administration has asserted for the first time that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down. Health care has consistently been listed by voters as a top issue to their vote…I would expect health care’s importance to 2020 voters to go up in the coming weeks and months. When health care has been in the news previously during the Trump administration, its importance to voters has risen.” [CNN, 3/26/19]

Wall Street Journal: Democrats Signal Renewed Focus On Health Care After Mueller Findings. “House Democratic leaders are signaling a renewed emphasis on health care and other issues over opposition to President Trump even as they press for the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about obstruction and Russian election interference… Pointing to a filing by the Justice Department late Monday that asked a court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Clyburn said health care is ‘the No. 1 thing on people’s minds.’” [Wall Street Journal, 3/26/19]

Politico: Dems Roar Back On Health Care After DOJ Looks To Erase ACA. “Following a surprise announcement from the Trump administration that it agrees with a ruling that would invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act, Democrats seized on the same health care messaging that helped drive them to victory in 2018.” [Politico, 3/27/19]

Washington Post: “Many Democrats Appeared Eager To Pivot Back To Health Care, An Issue That Cut Their Way During Last Year’s Midterm Elections.” “Many Democrats appeared eager to pivot back to health care, an issue that cut their way during last year’s midterm elections, after a summary of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report suggested it was far less damaging to Trump than many had expected. Democrats planned to roll out new health-care legislation Tuesday afternoon and saw an opportunity to capi­tal­ize politically from a new legal filing by the Justice Department late Monday that said the Trump administration backs a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act.” [Washington Post, 3/26/19]

Bloomberg: Trump Health-Care Miss Gives Democrats A Perfect Pivot. “Just as things were starting to look better for President Donald Trump, he seems intent on squandering any political advantage. Republicans lost big in the 2018 midterm elections due in large part to failed efforts to dismantle the increasingly popular Affordable Care Act. Instead of learning a lesson, the Trump administration is doubling down…The decision is a gift for Democrats, who plan to release a set of bills on Tuesday afternoon that would shore up the law. It allows them to refocus on an issue they know is a winner and unite the party behind a common cause as they figure out where to go next in health care.” [Bloomberg, 3/26/19]

Buzzfeed News: Democrats Are Thrilled With Trump Reigniting The Pre-existing Conditions Debate. “Fresh off some of his most triumphant days in office, President Donald Trump has expanded his attack on the Affordable Care Act, a move that has baffled Republicans and Democrats alike…the anti-Obamacare lawsuit and the pre-existing conditions debate have been nightmares for Republicans. Pre-existing conditions became one of the main lines of attack for Democrats during the 2018 midterms, and even Republicans concede it worked. Democrats signaled they are happy to take up that fight again in the 2020 election cycle.” [Buzzfeed News, 3/26/19]

Reason: “Heading Into Next Year’s Election, Democrats Will Almost Certainly Attempt To Capitalize On The Trump Administration’s Decision Not To Defend The Rest Of The Law.” Arguably the single most effective argument Democrats had in last year’s midterms was that they would preserve Obamacare and its preexisting conditions rules. That is was exit polls indicate, and it is also what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) told fellow House Republicans behind closed doors earlier this year. Heading into next year’s election, Democrats will almost certainly attempt to capitalize on the Trump administration’s decision not to defend the rest of the law, including the Medicaid expansion that provides health coverage for millions and the subsidies for middle class people buying private insurance on the ACA’s exchanges. (Even before last night’s filing, Democrats signaled they would make Obamacare a major campaign theme.)” [Reason, 3/26/19]

NPR: “Upending The Law Could Prove Politically Dangerous For The Trump Administration And Republicans Who Are Backing The Law’s Repeal.” “The ACA’s popularity played a role in Democrats’ success in the 2018 elections, when they took back the House. Upending the law could prove politically dangerous for the Trump administration and Republicans who are backing the law’s repeal.Democrats were quick to criticize the move.” [NPR, 3/26/19]

Philip Bump, Washington Post Columnist: “The Trump Administration’s Renewed Focus On Eliminating Obamacare Is A Baffling Political Move.” “On Election Day, the importance of health care was revealed in exit polling. Four in 10 voters said that health care was the most important issue, and Democrats won those voters by a 3-to-1 margin. In other words, a full 30 percent of the electorate said that they considered health care to be the most important issue and then voted for a Democrat in their local House race…That lawsuit against the ACA was a key part of Democratic rhetoric…It’s hard to overstate what a strange political decision this is for Trump.” [Washington Post, 3/26/19]

Andy Slavitt For USA Today: Trump Wants To Drop A Neutron Bomb On The Affordable Care Act. Over To You, 2020 Voters. “Only 24 hours after what he sees as a vindication of his presidency by Attorney General William Barr, President Donald Trump took the most radical, aggressive and harmful move of his presidency when he filed papers to ask the courts to support the complete elimination of the Affordable Care Act. And in doing so, Trump just framed the stakes of the 2020 election.” [USA Today, 3/27/19]


Elected officials, experts, and political commentators agree — health care will be the issue of 2020:

Joe Scarborough: “Health Care Will Be The Issue That Determines Who Wins Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, And Florida — And The White House.” [Morning Joe, 3/27/19]

Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg Political Reporter: “This Is A Helluva Gift From The Trump Administration To Democrats.” “This is a helluva gift from the Trump administration to Democrats. Health care was the #1 issue for 2018 voters and Dems won those voters 75-23% running on ACA and pre-existing condition rules, which DOJ now says should be voided.” [Sahil Kapur Twitter, 3/25/19]

Dan Sena, Former Executive Director Of DCCC: “Mr. President, With Respect. You Just Lost A Historic Number Of Seats On This.” “Mr. President, with respect. You just lost a historic number of seats on this. You controlled all three chambers and missed the mark then. Age taxes and weakening coverage for prex conditions isn’t a winning strategy for you. Trust me on this one.” [Sena Twitter, 3/27/19]

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): “They Are Literally Teeing This Up As An Issue For Democrats For The Next Year And A Half.” “‘It’s hard to figure out,’ said Sen. Chris Murphy. ‘They literally are teeing this up as an issue for Democrats for the next year and a half. They’re not even making a laughable attempt to save the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act.’” [Buzzfeed News, 3/26/19]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY): This Legal Position Is “A Two-Year Anchor Around The Neck Of Every Republican.” [Buzzfeed News, 3/26/19]

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA): It’s “Not Only Immoral, It’s A Really Bad Political Decision For Them.” “‘It’s really outrageous. I don’t understand if Republicans weren’t present for the last election, but if there was an issue that was deeply critical, it was health care,’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said after the meeting. It’s ‘not only immoral, it’s a really bad political decision for them,’ she added.” [Politico, 3/26/19]

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): Trump Has “Revived The Most Important Issue In The 2018 Election.” “‘It turns the page back to our issue,’ said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The Trump administration has ‘revived the most important issue in the 2018 election and they couldn’t have done it more convincingly than to say that Trump and his White House are out to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.’” [Politico, 3/26/19]