Daily Mail

Democrats Go On The Offensive Over Obamacare After Justice Department Asks Court To Overturn Law

* Trump's DOJ asked a court to invalidate the entirety of Obamacare
* Federal judge had ruled it unconstitutional and now the administration agrees
* Fallout brought Democrats out of the woodwork to change the political subject away from the president's victory in the Mueller probe
* But Trump seized the moment to declare that Republicans would soon be known as 'the party of healthcare'
* Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others seized on the GOP's lack of an obvious plan to cover insurance-seeking Americans with pre-existing medical conditions
* Pelosi responded to a six-month-old Trump tweet about protecting those Americans, labeling it 'lies'

Daily Mail — March 26, 2019

By David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor and Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor and Emily Goodin, U.S. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com and Wires

Democrats credit the fight over health care with helping them recapture the house. A couple dozen members of the New Jersey Citizen Action group protest outside the Capitol as the Senate holds a second day of voting on health care legislation on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A defiant Donald Trump predicted Tuesday that Republicans would soon own the politically divisive healthcare issue as he took incoming fire for walking away from his predecessor's signature medical insurance law.

'The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of healthcare. You watch,' he told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump was entering a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans who were sure to ask him about a Justice Department decision to stop defending the Obamacare law in court and surrender to a judge who had declared it unconstitutional.

Anticipating the explosive development might smother even the stormy coverage of Robert Mueller's Russia-probe endgame, the president announced his rebranding of the GOP on Twitter before he took the short ride up Pennsylvania Avenue.

'The Republican Party will become "The Party of Healthcare!"' he tweeted.

As Democrats clobbered his Justice Department for asking a federal court to invalidate the Obamacare law, President Trump seized the moment to declare that Republicans would soon be known as 'the party of healthcare'

Democrats spent Monday recovering from Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report's findings and plotting a way forward after Trump's exoneration from allegations of election-year collusion with Russia.

By Tuesday morning, however, the Trump White House had turned the page for them.

'I believe that the Mueller report has been done,' said Democratic House Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. 'It's a chapter that's closed.'

But 'this administration opened a new chapter when it moved to invalidate the Affordable Care Act,' he said on CNN.

'That's the number one thing on people's minds. People are worried, especially my part of the country about children being born with diabetes and how they are going to get health care. People are worried about themselves.'
Trump was on Capitol Hill for a working lunch with Senate Republicans

He rattled off a list of deadly diseases that count as 'preexisting conditions' when Americans apply for new medical insurance policies, saying that a guarantee of covering them is one of the most popular elements of the Obamacare law.

'Prostate cancer is prevalent in the low country of South Carolina. And breast cancer. How are they going to get medical treatment they need? For this administration to open the chapter, I think we have to reconnect our conversations with the American people,' said Clyburn.

He said prescription drug pricing is 'absolutely' an area where Democrats could work with the Trump administration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked up the Democrats' healthcare agenda Tuesday even as she tried to deflect talk of forcing the president out of office.

'Impeachment is not on the table until it is on the table. So its not a question of that. This is not about that. This is about us doing our work,' she said.

'Today we're introducing our healthcare bill, tomorrow we'll be doing climate. We're on our agenda.'

On her political Twitter account, Pelosi cited an October 2018 tweet in which the president claimed the GOP favored protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions.

'All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don't, they will after I speak to them,' the president had written. 'I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!'

'Lies,' Pelosi wrote.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called the move to abandon Obamacare a 'slap in the face to American families.'

It's 'a devastating blow to Republicans who promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions,' he said Tuesday on the Senate floor Tuesday.

And moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the DOJ's decision to let Obamacare wither on the vine — 'to even go more broadly in failing to defend the law' — is 'very disappointing.'

O'Connor ruled on a lawsuit brought by a coalition of 20 Republican-led states including Texas, Alabama and Florida, that said a Trump-backed change to the U.S. tax code made the law unconstitutional.

The 2010 law, seen as the signature domestic achievement of Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, has been a flash point of American politics since it passed, with Republicans including Trump repeatedly attempting to overturn it.

Democrats made defending the law a powerful messaging tool in the run-up to the November elections, when polls showed that eight in 10 Americans wanted to defend the law's most popular benefits including protections for insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions. The strategy paid off and Democrats won a broad 38-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

'The Department of Justice has determined that the district court's judgment should be affirmed,' Assistant U.S. Attorney General Joseph Hunt and other federal officials wrote in the Monday letter. They said they would file a more extensive legal briefing later.

Obamacare survived a 2012 legal challenge at the Supreme Court when a majority of justices ruled the individual mandate aspect of the program was a tax that Congress had the authority to impose.

In December, O'Connor ruled that after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill passed by Congress last year that eliminated the penalties, the individual mandate could no longer be considered constitutional.

A group of 17 mostly Democratic-led states including California and New York on Monday argued that the law was constitutional.

'The individual plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the resulting law because they suffer no legal harm from the existence of a provision that offers them a lawful choice between buying insurance or doing nothing,' they wrote in court papers.

About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the U.S. government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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