I’ve been watching Joe Biden skillfully trap Republicans into swearing off Social Security and Medicare cuts this year. Now he’s smoking them out on other head care programs, as I explained at New York:
President Biden has done a great job in preemptively going after Republican schemes to secure cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of a debt-limit deal. He has GOP lawmakers squabbling with one another and scrambling to take these ancient targets of conservative malice off the table.
But now Biden is amplifying his message about Republican bad intent to warn of threats to other key federal programs, the Washington Post reports:
“Today, during a trip to Virginia Beach, President Biden pivoted his attack on House Republicans as they remain in a standoff over raising the debt ceiling. Biden argued that spending cuts demanded by Republicans in exchange for raising the limit would do severe damage to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and Medicaid — two programs that Democrats have used to significantly expand health-care coverage. ‘Health care hangs in the balance,’ he said.
“On a stage surrounded by signs calling for ‘affordable health care,’ Biden pointed to the dozens of attempts Republicans have made to repeal the ACA. ‘If MAGA Republicans try to take away people’s health care by gutting Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act,’ the president said. ‘I will stop them.’”
The White House issued a statement challenging the House GOP to disclose its plans for Obamacare and Medicaid, the programs they incessantly if unsuccessfully went after for much of the Trump administration. The statement served as a reminder of what would have happened had any of the various GOP health-care plans known as Trumpcare — which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and turned Medicaid into a block grant run by the states — been enacted:
“More than 100 million people with pre-existing health conditions could lose critical protections … Up to 24 million people could lose protection against catastrophic medical bills … Tens of millions of people could be at risk of lifetime benefit caps … Millions of people could lose free preventive care … Over $1,000 average increase in medical debt for millions covered through Medicaid expansion.”
And the really big numbers will be repeated again and again:
“40 million people’s health insurance coverage (through Obamacare) would be at risk.
“An additional 69 million people with Medicaid could lose critical services or could even lose coverage altogether.”
These arguments were pretty effective in the fight to stop the repeal of Obamacare, and they haven’t gotten any weaker with time.
It’s not just going to be old folks on Social Security and Medicare who will be hearing often from the president and his surrogates as the debt-limit fight and the 2024 campaign proceed. It will be the many millions of people relying on Obamacare health-insurance regulations and subsidies and on Medicaid benefits (including the families of seniors receiving long-term nursing care through Medicaid). If Republicans play Whac-a-Mole by shifting their domestic-spending budget demands from the most popular programs to slightly less popular ones, it looks as if Biden and the Democrats will already be there warning, “Hands off!” It may or may not work over the short and the longer term, but it’s better than letting the GOP succeed with vague anti-spending promises that later turn into lethally specific cuts.