Trump joins anti-vaxxers to attack Obamacare

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

Last week, the Trump administration asked a federal appeals court to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Their argument is fundamentally flawed in numerous ways, not the least of which is the fact that it relies on a dissenting opinion that is explicitly at odds with a binding decision by the Supreme Court’s majority.

On Wednesday, a handful of conservative groups weighed in with amicus briefs supporting this attack on Obamacare. They include an organization founded by failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R)Citizens United (yes, that Citizens United), a very short brief authored by one of Trump’s personal lawyers, and two anti-vaxxer groups.

The case is Texas v. United States.

Last month, a very different mix of groups filed briefs urging the court not to repeal Obamacare. That, much longer list of organizations, includes many of the major players in health care — such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, AARP, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and a number of economists and legal scholars.

Meanwhile, the only health care focused groups siding with Trump are the two anti-vaxxer organizations. The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons is a conservative group closely associated with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that, according to the New York Times, “publicized discredited medical theories, including possible links between vaccines and autism and between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.”

Meanwhile, the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom distributed a document urging people to “think twice before getting the flu vaccine.” Though that document offered no medical reason why flu vaccines are harmful, the organization was concerned that “many hospitals force doctors, nurses and other workers to wear masks or lose their jobs if they choose not to be vaccinated.”

In case there’s any doubt, none of these briefs make sound legal arguments. The anti-vaxxers rely on the same dissenting opinion that forms the backbone of the Trump administration’s brief, and they also make the unique argument that not repealing Obamacare in its entirety would be an “improper judicial line item veto” — though the Supreme Court struck down a law permitting the president to make line item vetoes, courts invalidate only some parts of a broader law all the time.

Similarly, the Roy Moore organization makes an argument that was rejected by Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2015, and that would also require courts to strike down President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reforms. The brief from Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, doesn’t even engage with the two most important issues in the case — whether any court has jurisdiction to hear this case, and whether the bulk of the law can be saved if courts strike down a single provision that literally does nothing at all.

Yet, despite the weakness of the arguments against Obamacare, and despite the fact that the only groups willing to defend the Trump administration’s effort to repeal the law is a ragtag band of cranks and science-deniers, there is a very real chance that the appeals court hearing this case will back Trump’s play.

Eleven of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s 16 active judges are Republicans. Nine of them are hardline conservatives who are likely to back nearly any argument that would undercut Obamacare. Five of the Fifth Circuit’s members are Trump judges.

The Trump administration, in other words, is betting that they’ve stacked the courts with enough political hacks that they can convince the judiciary to do what Congress quite explicitly refused to do during Trump’s time in office — repeal the entire Affordable Care Act.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Ian Millhiser is a Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Kenyon College and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Duke University. Ian clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and has worked as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center’s Federal Rights Project, as Assistant Director for Communications with the American Constitution Society, and as a Teach For America teacher in the Mississippi Delta. His writings have appeared in a diversity of legal and mainstream publications, including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Slate, the Guardian, the American Prospect, the Yale Law and Policy Review and the Duke Law Journal; and he has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Fox News and many radio shows.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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