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You Ever Think They’re Not Acting?


I’m beginning to think that Donald Trump is not going to take care of everyone’s healthcare:

The lawsuit at issue seeks to invalidate the entire health care law. Previously, the Trump administration had only supported challenges to parts of Obamacare without backing its complete invalidation — an outcome that would throw the U.S. health care system into chaos if an alternative system is not put into place by Republicans who have so far been unable to agree on a plan. The current challenge to the law was brought by a group of state GOP attorneys general.

Monday’s Justice Department letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said federal lawyers would file a brief in support of a district court judge’s finding that the individual mandate included in the Obama-era law is now invalid as a tax because the GOP Congress reduced to the fine to zero dollars, and the government cannot levy a zero-dollar tax.

The move to support that ruling is, in effect, an endorsement of scrapping the entire law — a break from the administration’s previous support for only a partial repeal of the law that would have left many of its provisions, including the expansion of Medicaid intact.

“It’s weird. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense legally and it doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of the way DOJ normally approaches these things. DOJ normally tries to make litigation go away and tries to defend federal statutes,” said Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law who has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act. “The substantive arguments in favor of that position aren’t very strong and you can’t find very many people who think the arguments in favor of that position are strong.”

Of course, as long as John Roberts remains the median vote of the Court — not a trivial condition! — this suit has virtually no chance of actually destroying the ACA, but is handing Democrats a nice political gift. The “we support healthcare reform, just not this healthcare reform” con Republicans have been running for decades — with lots of inexplicable help from liberals– is finally over.

And since one of Krugman’s very few blind spots was his stubborn insistence on the idea that the Heritage Plan to destroy Medicaid, Medicare, and indeed all comprehensive health insurance public or private represented the Good Old Days when Republicans Really Favored healthcare reform, I’m happy to see this:

The point is that it’s no longer possible to see any of this as part of a clever political strategy, even a nefariously cynical one. It has entered the realm of pathology instead. It’s now clear that Republicans just have a deep, unreasoning hatred of the idea that government policy may help some people get health care.

Why? The truth is that I don’t fully get it. Maybe it’s anger at the thought of anyone getting something they didn’t earn themselves, unless it’s an inheritance from daddy. Maybe it’s a sense that a lot of gratuitous suffering is or should be part of the human condition, or God’s plan, or something. I try to understand how others think, but in this case I really do find it hard.

Whatever the reason, however, the fact is that whatever they may claim, today’s Republicans hate the idea of poor and working-class Americans getting the health care they need.

The thing about today’s federal Republicans is that on this issue they’re exactly the same as those on any day of the party’s history.

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