Politics

Republican midterm strategy on health care, pre-existing conditions: Lie

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 07: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (3rd L) shares a laugh with Republican members of Congress after signing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood during an enrollment ceremony in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Remember when this photograph happened? It was right after the House voted to repeal Obamacare in January 2017.
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For the first time since 2010, Republicans really, really don’t want to have to be running on health care. Since talking about Obamacare repeal is far too dangerous in 2018, they’re resorting to the tried and true: lies. Whether it’s about what Democrats intend to do with health care, or what Republicans have been doing for almost 10 years, they lie.

Democratic challengers in swing districts are being hit with an onslaught of ads saying that they are all trying to take grandma’s Medicare away by supporting socialized medicine. When they’re not. Even Politico says that the ads “range from misleading to outright false.” The campaign manager for Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath says the ad Paul Ryan’s PAC is running against here is “bullshit. […] These are just ridiculous lies.” And Republican strategist Ford O’Connell admits it, saying that clearly Democrats have the advantage on health care “So now you’re watching the Republicans sort of move the goalposts.”

That doesn’t mean that they’re not recycling the old Obamacare talking points. The ads the NRCC is running against challengers say that Democrats support “government takeover of health care,” and to “end Medicare as we know it.” Scaring seniors, their most reliable voting base, will always be their go-to strategy.

Flat-out lying about their own policies is part and parcel of that. Like the plans to turn Medicare into a voucher program Ryan has been nurturing—and Republicans have been voting for again and again for years. But the really astounding lies vulnerable Republicans are trying to run on is how they are trying to keep Obamacare provisions that everyone loves now. It is particularly satisfying, however, that long-term incumbents like Reps. Pete Sessions (TX) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA) are feeling vulnerable enough to have to run away from their voting records.

They’re not alone. Reps. David Young (IA), Kevin Cramer (running against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in ND), Leonard Lance (NJ) are all cosponsoring a resolution from Sessions in which they’re trying to have it both ways. It calls for Congress to “preserve patient protections, especially ones to prevent anyone from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions” even if they repeal Obamacare. When they’ve all voted umpteen times in the past (60? 70?) to repeal the law and its various provisions, never with any accompanying bill to “preserve patient protections.”

Rohrabacher even has the chutzpah to run an ad in which he talks about his daughter’s fight against leukemia, and says “For her and all our families, we must protect America’s healthcare system. That’s why I’m taking on both parties and fighting for those with preexisting conditions.” Of course he voted for Trumpcare! And of course he’s voted all along with every Republican to repeal every part of Obamacare that ever came up for a vote. If it wasn’t so galling, it’d be a laugh riot.

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