GOP Now Fears Backlash from ‘Sad Sack Stories’ about People Dying If Supreme Court Kills Obamacare Subsidies

The Supreme Court will rule as early as June on a Republican lawsuit seeking to revoke subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act to cover the cost of health-insurance premiums for low-income workers. If the court rules in the Republicans’ favor in King v. Burwell, more than 7 million Americans will be forced to cancel private health insurance coverage paid for, in part or in whole, with government subsidies.

SEN. RON JOHNSON: [Pres. Obama will] have the ads all racked up with the individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer. He’ll have all those examples as well so…

RADIO HOST JAY WEBER: And the sad sack stories about who’s dying from what and why they can’t get their coverage.

JOHNSON: Right.

The suit is based on a line of poorly constructed language in the ACA that suggests subsidies are only available from state-run insurance exchanges. The problem is that in 2010 — as a partisan gambit to hobble the Obamacare rollout — about 30 governors, mostly Republicans, opted not to stand up state exchanges thereby forcing their constituents to purchase insurance from federal exchanges. Because their subsidies do not come from state exchanges, it’s these low-income, mostly red-state workers, who will lose their insurance if Republicans prevail in King v. Burwell.

A few Republicans in Congress seem to be waking up to the fact that they could face unintended consequences if the Supreme Court rules in their favor. Sen. Ron Johnson, a tea partyist from Wisconsin who is up for reelection next year, may have spoken for many of his co-ideologues during an interview with right-wing radio host Jay Weber in Milwaukee last week:

JOHNSON: Unfortunately, President Obama’s response to an adverse decision — in other words one that actually follows the law — would be really simple. Just a one-sentence bill allowing people’s subsidies to flow to federal exchanges and/or offer the governors, ‘Hey, we know you got those federal exchanges. Just sign the bottom line. We’ll make those established by the state.’ And of course, he’ll have the ads all racked up with the individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer. He’ll have all those examples as well so…

WEBER: And the sad sack stories about who’s dying from what and why they can’t get their coverage.

JOHNSON: Right.

Because he was speaking inside right-wing bubble, Johnson apparently felt emboldened to smear 164,000 of his own constituents, whom he views as moochers and among whom are some who are “sad sacks” with terminal illnesses — and to disparage a law that funnels millions of tax dollars into the coffers of giant corporations, many of whom doubtless donate hefty portions of the millions they’ve reaped to the campaigns of anti-government Republican pols like Ron Johnson.

Let’s hope these Wisconsin voters and his fatcat corporate donors do not find out what Sen. Johnson really thinks about them.

This sort of illogical bloviating is nothing new, of course. In their relentless drive to kill Obamacare, Republicans have piled up the paradoxes. Chief among them is the fact that the individual mandate was developed by the Heritage Institute as the conservative alternative to health insurance reform. It was first rolled out in 2005 by Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, when he was governor of Massachusetts. Obamacare is their plan.

Another irony: Ron Johnson slimes low-income people who receive the subsidies “on the backs of taxpayers,” but as then-Gov. Romney said in 2005, “When [the uninsured] show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care, paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is.”

It seems passing strange out here in Realityville that tea party-types like Ron Johnson are desperate to get rid of Obamacare and return to the old socialist system that Romney described. Why do they prefer the former status quo over their own plan, which, at its core, is an enormous money-laundering scheme for private carriers. The Heritage mandate is designed to enable insurance corporations to wring millions in profits from taxpayer dollars, essentially for doing nothing — health-insurance companies are just paywalls between patients and care providers. Why would any sane Republican oppose a system that gives free money to their corporate masters? It makes no sense.

The final paradox here is that, despite 50 attempts to repeal Obamacare and years of yammering about replacing it, Republicans have yet to come up with a viable alternative. Why? They can’t because, as noted, Obamacare is the Republican plan.

Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution summed up the pickle the GOP has put itself in:

The train is coming, they see it coming, they’ve been praying for the coming of this train for six years now and they find themselves standing in the middle of the track, staring at the train as it looms larger and larger and … they cannot move. They cannot act.

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