The Trump administration’s surprise decision to press for a court-ordered demolition of the Affordable Care Act came after a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Monday, where the president’s acting chief of staff and others convinced him that he could do through the courts what he could not do through Congress: repeal his predecessor’s signature achievement. …
…Mr. Trump has declared that he has kept his promises, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Grogan argued, and as a candidate he campaigned on repealing the health law. His base of voters would love it. Besides, they argued, Democrats have been campaigning successfully on health care, and Republicans should try to claim the issue for themselves. This could force the matter.
The base will really love it when they lose their health care, dontcha think? Paul Krugman provides this chart to show us how Trump kept his promises to just one red state, West Virginia.
By all accounts William Barr was opposed to filing the court challenge that his Justice Department filed on Monday, which tells us that he sees his role not at the nation’s chief legal representative but as Trump’s personal lapdog. Law professor Nicholas Bagley writes in the New York Times,
The irresponsibility of this new legal position is hard to overstate. It’s a shocking dereliction of the Justice Department’s duty, embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, to defend acts of Congress if any plausible argument can be made in their defense.
It’s also the case, Professor Bagley continues, that the court ruling that found all of the ACA to be unconstitutional is widely considered to be “outrageous” and indefensible.
Indeed, even the Trump administration couldn’t bring itself to argue that the entire law should be scrapped. It agreed there was a constitutional problem, but said that the right remedy was to keep most of the law in place. Only those parts requiring private insurers to sell coverage at the same price to healthy and sick people alike — the protections for people with pre-existing conditions — would have to be struck.
Try to imagine what goes on in the mind of someone who thinks striking down protections for people with pre-existing conditions is a good idea.
That, too, was an outrageous position. It flouted the Justice Department’s duty to defend, a solemn duty, and one that goes to the heart of the rule of law. Without it, the sitting administration could pick which laws it wanted to defend in the courts and which it wanted to abandon. Laws could rise or fall based on nothing more than partisan disagreement. That’s inconsistent with a constitutional system that assigns to Congress — not the president — the power to legislate.
And so, at the confirmation hearing on his nomination to become attorney general, Mr. Barr said that he would review the Justice Department’s position in the Texas lawsuit. Apparently he did just that — but instead of mounting a vigorous defense, he doubled down on killing Obamacare. It’s as if Mr. Barr said to his predecessor, Jeff Sessions: “You thought your position was crazy? Hold my beer.”
Well, if there’s one thing the base likes, it’s crazy. The crazier the better.
GOP @RepMullin says that ACA coverage “sucks” and that bipartisan health care talks aren’t working.
[Democrat @repbenraylujan tries to cut in]
Mullin: “I said I wasn’t going to yield, you can shut up now.”
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) March 27, 2019