The brief filed by Donald Trump's Justice Department in support of striking down the Affordable Care Act is truly remarkable, at every level. The timing: he is telling the Supreme Court to essentially dismantle the nation's healthcare financing system and take coverage away from at least 23 million people while a pandemic is surging. Also the timing: there is an election in 129 days. The argument: even hardcore, anti-ACA wonks are calling it specious and ridiculous. The very core at that argument: every Republican who voted for the Trump tax cut scam three years ago was really voting to overturn the entirety of Obamacare.
That bill zeroed out the penalty for not purchasing insurance under the individual mandate. Note that it did not repeal the mandate, or anything else in the law, but made it moot. But that's not what Trump's Solicitor General Noel Francisco says. "Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these […] integral provisions," Francisco writes in his brief. "The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate." Well, have fun with that, Senate Republicans!
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Those same Republicans are being remarkably quiet today about Obamacare. It was a daily subject for them from when negotiations on the bill began in 2009 until the 2018 election. They took literally hundreds of votes in the House to repeal parts of or the entirety of the law. When they won the White House with Trump in 2016, the Senate went whole hog by trying to repeal the entire law, and failing on the infamous vote in which McConnell allowed Sen. Susan Collins to vote with Democrats. Little did he know that the late Sen. John McCain would foil him. So much for Collins "brave" pro-ACA vote! Now the White House is telling the Supreme Court that she intended to overturn the whole law after all.
The Republicans finally stopped talking about Obamacare repeal when the blue tsunami of 2018 put the House back in the hands of Democrats, and when the top issue for voters was health care in general and specifically the protections the law gave people with preexisting conditions. Gosh, that must be worrying the likes of Susan Collins. Her brow is going to be in permanent fret from now until November 3.
All snark aside, how remarkably dangerous and irresponsible this brief from the Trump administration is can't be overstated. Particularly coming this week, when coronavirus infections in the U.S. are at record levels and the primary response from Trump and team is to end federal support for testing. Instead of stepping in to overrule the administration and actually save lives, McConnell's Republican Senate is enabling him.