GOP set to blame Dems for yanking health coverage from millions

(Washington Post) But in an interesting twist, Republicans are also looking ahead to a possible Supreme Court ruling gutting subsidies for millions in three dozen federal exchange states — Arizona included — and they see the possibility of using that outcome against the Democrats.

As you may have heard, Dem Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is mounting a challenge to Senator John McCain of Arizona. The Hill reports this morning that Republican strategists expect to use Kirkpatrick’s vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2010 as a weapon against her, in what is emerging as an “early litmus test on Obamacare’s power in the 2016 election cycle.”

But in an interesting twist, Republicans are also looking ahead to a possible Supreme Court ruling gutting subsidies for millions in three dozen federal exchange states — Arizona included — and they see the possibility of using that outcome against the Democrat, as well:

The election could also be reshaped by a major Supreme Court ruling next month that threatens to eliminate healthcare subsidies for nearly 8 million people – including 150,000 in Arizona. 

“The shoe’s going to drop this year and next, and it’s not going to be pretty,” said Sean Noble, a GOP consultant and former chief of staff for former Rep John Shadegg (R-Ariz.). 

Such talk may be nothing more than bluster, but take it as a marker: You may be seeing a whole lot more of this. Here’s why: As I detailed recently in this handy chart, the very same states where the largest numbers of people stand to lose subsidies are also home to some of the most competitive Senate races of the 2016 cycle: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio. In all those states, anywhere from as many as nearly 200,000 to 1.5 million have qualified for subsidies.

It may not be an accident that one of the most prominent GOP plans to temporarily extend subsidies comes from Senator Ron Johnson, who faces a tough reelection fight in Wisconsin, where the fallout from an anti-ACA ruling could be peculiarly bad.

The idea of Republicans blaming Democrats for millions losing subsidies would, in a way, be the perfect coda to the up-is-down, Conservative Entertainment Complex Hall of Mirrors saga that is King v. Burwell. Republicans cheered on this lawsuit explicitly as a way to accomplish what they failed to accomplish through the legislative and electoral process. The current plans for a temporary extension of subsidies that Republicans are floating would also repeal the individual mandate, and thus appear less designed as an actual fix, and more about drawing an Obama veto for the blame-game that will follow.

Meanwhile, Republicans have voted countless times to repeal all of Obamacare for all of its beneficiaries. Democrats will highlight this, and also draw attention to how easy it would be for Republicans to pass a simple one sentence fix that would make the subsidy problem disappear for millions of their own constituents — if they wanted to. Republicans themselves are saying they must come up with a temporary fix plan — or, at least, that they must appear to want to do that. Yet it’s not clear whether Republicans can pass even a fix packaged with a repeal of the mandate, let alone a clean temporary extension of subsidies.

That may ultimately compel Republicans to try for a Plan B. As I noted yesterday, the GOP default plan may be to pass nothing, and blame Obama for creating a law that resulted in the Court gutting health coverage for millions, after lulling all those people into a false sense of economic security that was then snatched away by his incompetence.

It’s possible we may see that in multiple Senate races as well. Are Democrats prepared for this?

Credit: Greg Sargent – The Plum Line blog – The Washington Post