Writing at Democracy, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez observes that conservative organizations have invested heavily in state-level political races and policy proposals — giving them a legislative advantage there even as Democratic policies often remain more popular overall. As he notes,
Across much of America, conservatives can mount powerful state legislative campaigns through three well-funded networks that operate as complements to one another. Think tanks affiliated with the State Policy Network (SPN) spew out studies and prepare op-eds and legislative testimony. Paid state directors and staffers installed by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) sponsor bus tours, convene rallies and public forums, run radio and television ads, send mailers, and spur activists to contact legislators. And inside the legislatures themselves, many representatives and senators, especially Republicans, are members of [the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)], which invites them to serve alongside business lobbyists and right-wing advocacy groups on national task forces that prepare “model” bills that the legislators can advance at the state and local level, with assistance from ALEC staffers. Year in and year out, this three-pronged approach ensures that a steady diet of conservative proposals is on the menu for legislative consideration and public discussion—and when political openings appear, dramatic policy changes can result.
This excellent piece at the New York Times provides a clear overview of the ACA’s seven biggest accomplishments — and the threats posed to each of them by Congressional Republicans. A great place to start if the debate over individual mandates and high risk pools seems confusing! Sample explainer:
1) Obamacare insured millions through new insurance markets.
The health law reduced the number of uninsured Americans by an estimated 20 million people from 2010 to 2016. One of the primary ways it did so was by creating online markets where people who didn’t get insurance through work or the government could shop for a health plan from a private insurer. The law offered subsidies for Americans with lower incomes to help pay their premiums and deductibles.
What would happen? The Republican bill is expected to eliminate the subsidies. This would make insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans and sharply reduce the number who buy their own health coverage.
The Affordable Care Act certainly wasn’t perfect, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Republicans dislike it primarily because it was implemented by Obama. (In fact, it was based on Mitt Romney’s pioneering healthcare plan in Massachusetts, and was designed as a the type of market-led program that Republicans are generally quite fond of.) The LA Times has a useful breakdown of some common Republican talking points on the supposed shortcomings of the ACA — nearly all of which appear to be baseless.
We know that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) is desperate to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What he never has been able to explain adequately is why.
Oh, sure, Ryan has offered some rhetorical explanations. He says Obamacare is “collapsing.” That it’s in a “death spiral.” That it’s a “struggle” for Americans. He says a “much, much better system” could be put in its place.
Ryan made all these points, and more, during a town hall meeting Thursday evening aired by CNN. The hour-long session didn’t yield an explanation for Ryan’s haste to take action that could upend insurance coverage for more than 20 million Americans. It did underscore, however, that his description of and position on the law are based on misconceptions, misrepresentations and lies.