A Texas judge’s decision to strike down Obamacare as unconstitutional was, according to Daily Kos, “a lawless act of partisan idiocy.” The ridiculous opinion will undoubtedly be reversed upon appeal. In the meantime the mere prospect of overturning the popular healthcare law, and taking health insurance away from 20 million people, is hurting the Republican Party.
For Democrats this decision could be the gift that keeps on giving. As Bloomberg reported, the case will stretch into 2020, and probably beyond, due to appeals. Which means that in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections healthcare will again be the most important issue. In fact providing affordable healthcare to all Americans may be the defining issue of the entire election season in 2020.
And it could be the issue that swings not only the presidency but also control of the U.S. Senate to the Democratic Party. Needless to say, the conservative judge’s opinion is going to cause a LOT of trouble for the Republican Party
Every election observer pointed out that healthcare was the top issue in 2018. Voters overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates on the issue of healthcare. It played a key role in helping them take back the House.
And in three RED states a majority of voters said they wanted to not only keep Obamacare but expand Medicaid.
In red-state Nebraska voters enacted Medicaid expansion via ballot initiative despite years of the GOP-controlled state legislature’s refusal to do so. Once implemented, an additional 90,000 people in Nebraska will have healthcare. That’s not a benefit they’re going to want to give up.
Sasse, like Jeff Flake of Arizona, is one of those GOP senators who talks a good game but at the end of the day he always votes for the GOP’s hateful policies.
During the Obamacare repeal debate in 2017 he tried to avoid talking about the issue. A month before the Senate vote, he told the press that the bill was more of a Medicaid reform bill than anything else.
Sasse declined to take a position on the bill, giving as an excuse that he had read only part of it. “This session is actually on the record, right?” he said, when asked by a moderator how he would vote. “There’s press here? I have nothing to announce today.”
When Sasse used the term “Medicaid reform,” he meant that the GOP’s Obamacare repeal would end the expansion of Medicaid and throw millions of people off healthcare. But voters in his own state just overwhelmingly voted to EXPAND Medicaid.
Sasse, of course, did vote for that Medicaid “reform” bill, meaning that he voted to take away the healthcare that his state’s voters just extended to its most vulnerable citizens. He also has made unsupportive comments on things like pre-existing conditions and the social safety net which will likely come back to haunt him in 2020.
For example, with respect to pre-existing conditions, Sasse said that the percentage of people who are actually “uninsurable” is very small.
“We can solve that problem,” Sasse said. “We have social welfare safety net programs that can solve that problem.”
What did he mean by “social welfare safety net programs?” Did he mean Medicaid, that he had voted to take away from millions of people?
Sasse has voted for every Obamacare limitation and repeal, which is out of step with Nebraska voters.
For the next two years, Sasse is going to have to face voters and answer questions from the press about the Obamacare lawsuit, the Medicaid expansion, and protecting people with pre-existing health conditions.
Nebraska may be a red state that could turn purple, or even blue, because of the healthcare issue. Sasse may think his conservative votes will continue to play well in the Cornhusker state, but things change over time.
In 2016 there was a surprisingly close House race where progressive Democrat Kara Eastman earned 48% of the vote against incumbent Republican Don Bacon. With 90,000 people now getting healthcare, Sasse will have a hard time convincing the people of Nebraska that they should send him back to Washington to vote to take away that healthcare.
GOP Senator Susan Collins in Maine faces a similar situation where the voters in her state have approved Medicaid expansion. She is up for reelection in 2020 and is very vulnerable due to her role in confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Likewise, in Colorado, GOP Senator Cory Gardner is up for reelection in 2020 and is considered to be extremely vulnerable. He also voted to repeal Obamacare, which was a very unpopular move among his Colorado voters.
According to Daily Kos, a group called Progressives Everywhere “has started an ActBlue page to raise money for the eventual Democratic nominees in the Nebraska, Maine, and Colorado Senate elections in 2020.”
If Democrats can win Senate seats in those three states there is an excellent chance they can take back Senate control. And thanks to the right-wing judge in Texas, it might actually happen.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.