CLOSINGS: View Closings

Trump court move on Obamacare bolsters Democrats' midterm message

The Trump administration's decision not to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act could deal Democrats a si...

Posted: Jun 11, 2018 5:04 PM
Updated: Jun 11, 2018 5:04 PM

The Trump administration's decision not to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act could deal Democrats a sizable win going into the midterm elections, handing a party already prepared to run on health care a cudgel to use against vulnerable Republicans.

Voters, both in interviews and a series of polls, have consistently said that health care is the issue they care the most about going into the midterm elections and Democratic candidates have responded by making it the cornerstone of their attacks on Republicans.

On Thursday, the Trump administration clearly outlined their position on key -- and popular -- provisions in the Affordable Care Act, telling a court that the law should be invalidated and that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. In the legal filing, the Department of Justice argues in favor of invalidating protections for those Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Just prior to the Trump administration's announcement that it would no longer defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in an ongoing case brought by Texas and other states, several career Justice Department attorneys withdrew from the case.

"It's pretty simple: new legal position, new team. It's not uncommon to make this kind of switch," a department spokesperson said Thursday night.

But Marty Lederman, who worked in the Obama Justice Department and now teaches at Georgetown Law School, says the move was unprecedented.

"Perhaps such a mass withdrawal of DOJ attorneys from a case has happened before," he wrote in a post for the legal blog Balkinization on Friday morning. "If so, however, I am not aware of it."

It's not that attorneys withdraw from cases, but rather that so many did so at one time, according to Lederman.

Lederman also wrote that attorneys from the federal programs section of the department's Civil Division often make "very aggressive and unlikely-to-prevail arguments in defense of federal programs and statutes" and that the division is not "timid." He added that lawyers can request to be reassigned from a particular case when they have moral or other "serious qualms" about the government's actions, but they "rarely" seek the court's permission to withdraw.

"For three such respected DOJ attorneys to do so simultaneously -- just hours before a major filing, and without replacement by any other career lawyers other than a rookie -- is simply flabbergasting."

And it didn't take long for Democrats to respond to the Trump administration's new posture.

"The Trump administration is coming after the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with pre-existing conditions and it's time for us to draw a hard line," Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat up for reelection in 2018 said in a fundraising letter to supporters on Friday. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm ready to fight this with both fists up."

Andy Kim, a former Obama administration staffer, is making coverage of pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health care a key part of his campaign against Rep. Tom MacArthur in Central New Jersey, the author of the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House but failed in the Senate last year.

"I urge Congressman MacArthur publicly demands that President Trump defends protections for pre-existing conditions and upholds the ACA immediately, so our premiums and medical bills don't skyrocket even further," Kim said in a statement responding to Thursday's decision.

And Tim Hogan, a spokesman for Health Care Voters, a Democratic group looking to mobilize voters on the health care issue, called the decision a "blatant sabotage of the Affordable Care Act" and "something Republican members of Congress will have to explain to their constituents."

The ACA now requires insurance companies to offer coverage to everyone regardless of their medical history. Prior to the ACA, insurers often rejected applicants who were ill or had pre-existing conditions, or only offered them limited coverage. Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

These two provisions, along with rules that allow children to stay on their parents' health plan until they are 26 years old, have proven popular with Americans.

Republicans have tried to blunt this tactic with a revival of what launched them into power in 2010: By arguing Democrats are hellbent on taking over all aspects of the health care system.

On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the administration's decision in prepared remarks to a conservative summit in Denver.

"And the Department of Justice is ending the lawlessness that too often took place under the previous administration," Sessions said, according to the prepared remarks.

"Late last night, we informed a Texas court that we would not be defending the constitutionality of the Obamacare mandate," he continued. "It is a rare step but a necessary one when it comes to this monumental and historic governmental move in the American health care system."

As the debate over the Trump administration's decision raged, the National Republican Campaign Committee largely ignored the issue, instead noting that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a range of health care options are "on the table" if Democrats take back the House in November.

Democrats don't mind this comparison, in part because polls have shown that not only is health care a top issue for many voters, but it's an issue that helps Democrats.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday -- before the Trump administration decision was unveiled -- found health care was the top issue for all voters and that it's an issue where Democrats have an overwhelming advantage.

Among those who said health care was the most important issue, 21% prefer GOP control of Congress, 67% Democratic control.

Also, 39% of registered voters in today's NBC/WSJ said they are enthusiastic or comfortable with a candidate seeking to repeal Obamacare, compared to 49% who said they have reservations or were very uncomfortable with a candidate seeking to repeal the health care law.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
Rochester
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 19°
Mason City
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 23°
Albert Lea
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 21°
Austin
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 28°
Charles City
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 18°
Colder Conditions To Start The Workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Kindness tree on display in Rochester

Image

Advice for safe holiday decorating

Image

Aaron's Sunday Night Forecast

Image

Active shooter police standoff resolved after 9 hours

Image

Standoff in Albert Lea after 3 people shot

Image

Christmas tree shopping

Image

MC 'grateful' to play, adjusting with schedule changes

Image

Small business Saturday

Image

Sean's Weather 11/28

Image

Sidelined in quarantine: Coach Fennelly talks about his experience away from the game

Community Events