Apparently unable to come up with any alleged high school hijinks or embarrassing yearbook captions, Democrats have decided to make Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination all about Obamacare. Good luck with that.
It didn’t take long for Democrats to settle on their messaging plan for Barrett’s confirmation. If confirmed by the Senate, she will cast the deciding vote to overturn Obamacare, they say.
“It’s no mystery about what’s happening here. President Trump was trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act,” Joe “Big F-ing Deal” Biden said over the weekend. “The Republican Party has been trying to eliminate it for a decade. Twice already, the Supreme Court has upheld that law.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told his colleagues “We must focus like a laser on health care because Judge Barrett’s record is so clear on this issue.” He claimed in a press release that a vote for Barrett “is a vote to eliminate health care for millions.”
Democrats point to Barrett’s criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts’ 2012 ruling on Obamacare, in which she correctly characterized what he did by saying he “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”
For those who don’t remember, Roberts ruled that the federal government had no right ordering Americans to buy insurance, but then essentially rewrote the law to claim that what Obamacare was doing was simply taxing people who didn’t buy government-approved plans.
“Had he treated the payment as the statute did — as a penalty — he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power,” Barrett wrote in a 2017 Notre Dame University Law Review.
But the idea that Barrett’s confirmation will guarantee Obamacare’s demise is fatuous. No one could have predicted that Roberts would rewrite the statute so it could pass constitutional muster. And the case heading to the Supreme Court is, by many accounts, a weak one.
What’s more, Democrats are flat out lying about the impact the Supreme Court’s overturning Obamacare would have. Schumer says, for example, that “it’s a virtual certainty that over 150 million Americans health care will be hurt dramatically.”
Really? There are only 8.3 million people enrolled in Obamacare exchanges this year, and 12 million on Medicaid thanks to Obamacare’s massive expansion of the program. How Schumer gets from that to 150 million? By claiming that everyone will lose preexisting condition protections, when in fact most are already protected because they get coverage through work or from the government.
In any case, if the court were to overturn Obamacare, Congress would immediately get to work passing something to replace it. Trump and the GOP have pledged that any replacement plan will protect preexisting conditions. But a Republican alternative would give consumers more choices and would not force them to buy something they don’t want.
The reason Democrats are making hay about Obamacare isn’t that they think it will scotch Barrett’s nomination, nor do they honestly believe that it will mean the death of Obamacare.
They do think, however, that it will let them replay the 2018 midterms, where they won control of the House based on scaring voters by trotting out the same sorts of Obamacare lies.
But this isn’t 2018. And while health care was a top issue then, it isn’t now.
In 2018, 81% of registered voters said that health care was either the most important issue (27% said this) or very important (54%), according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in September 2018. It was second only to “corruption in Washington.” Exit polls showed that the issue was a big factor in several Democratic victories that year.
Also, public support for Obamacare in late 2018 was close to its peak – it hit 53% in November, Kaiser’s monthly tracking survey showed.
Today? Well, let’s. We’ve had a pandemic, an economic shutdown, and riots in the streets for months. There’s been no effort to repeal Obamacare by Republicans, and Trump has done several things to make insurance affordable to those priced out of the Obamacare marketplaces.
As a result, health care now ranks below the economy, coronavirus, criminal justice/policing, and race relations on the public’s list of priorities. Just 10% now say health care is the most important issue when deciding their vote for president. Among swing voters, only 11% rank it as No. 1, according to the latest Kaiser survey.
Even among Democrats, only 14% say health care is the most important issue in the 2020 elections.
Meanwhile, support for Obamacare has sagged to 49%.
If Democrats want to fight the last war, by all means let them. If nothing else, it will show voters which party is out of touch with their biggest concerns today.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board