President Donald Trump got elected in part on a promise to end Obamacare as we know it. His party took over control of both houses of Congress and 65 of 99 state legislative bodies, and Democrats are said to have lost more than 1,000 legislative seats because of the unpopular law.
Since taking office, Trump has eliminated the individual and employer mandates and come within one vote by a spiteful political enemy of overturning the entire law.
But on Monday, news emerged the administration has argued in a new court filing the entire Affordable Care Act should be thrown out, and the Washington Post responded with a story that calls this “a potential political gift” for Democrats “on an issue that damaged Republicans badly in last year’s midterm elections.”
“Trump surprises Republicans – and pleases Democrats – with push to revive health-care battle,” read the headline on the story by Toluse Olurunnipa and Seung Min Kim.
Trump told reporters the Republican Party “will soon be known as the party of health care” before explaining the push to Senate Republicans in a lunch on Monday. The Post reporters asserted without evidence this is bad for him because the law “has grown in popularity since Trump was elected.”
Democrats, they wrote, “immediately seized on the administration’s filing, calling it the latest attempt by Republicans to strip health insurance from Americans.”
They said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already has a plan to bolster Obamacare and quoted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of 14 announced Democratic presidential candidates, saying, “Trump and his administration are trying to take health care away from tens of millions of Americans – again. We must fight back again with everything we’ve got.”
Olurunnipa and Kim wrote without evidence that the 2018 midterms had been “dominated by the health care issue” and that Republican congressional leaders had “planned to move on from their years-long effort to repeal Obamacare.”
But aside from liberal publications seeking to convert election results to policy, there is little evidence health care played a major role in the 2018 elections. Democrats won the House by capturing suburban seats where Trump himself was the big issue and because more than 40 Republican members – including the speaker and four committee chairman – declined to run for re-election.
The New York Times blamed it on “Republican leaders’ unswerving decision to align themselves with Mr. Trump and his overwhelmingly white, rural base rather than politically vulnerable moderates in Congress who hailed from the country’s population centers and represented the political middle.”
But Senate candidates who aligned themselves with Trump, such as Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Braun of Indiana and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, performed ahead of expectations.
The Post provided a political roadmap for the Democrats. “By resurfacing old battles about stripping away popular elements of the current health-care system, Trump is likely to embolden and unite Democrats who seek to make health care a top issue in 2020,” they wrote, citing Amy Walter of the left-leaning Cook Political Report. “Democrats who have been divided in recent months over proposed Medicare-for-all legislation can now coalesce around the idea of protecting the ACA’s most popular provisions.”
The Post reported that, according to the Urban Institute, 20 million Americans would “lose” their health coverage if the Supreme Court were to uphold a decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the entire law is invalid now because it no longer can be considered a tax under the new American Jobs and Tax Cuts Act.
It again failed to mention that more than half those 20 million would “lose” health coverage because they would opt out.
And it quoted Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), saying “I just won my Senate race and I talked about health care, a lot.”
It does not mention that his opponent was saddled with persistent allegations of racism and never was considered a serious threat.