Whenever Jim Jones writes in the local newspaper, I wonder how much his liberal politics have quietly been interwoven into Idaho’s laws and court rulings — both in his time with the office of the attorney general and on the state Supreme Court. Jones’ latest pitch to the public frets that President Trump will destroy Jones’ beloved Obamacare.
The president “has tried repeatedly during the last four years to cripple or kill” Obamacare, Jones wrote. He expects that Trump’s appointment of a new U.S. Supreme Court justice will lead to the court declaring the law unconstitutional. Let’s unpack all this:
Jones incorrectly says Trump should merely worry himself with “faithfully executing” the law instead of trying to upend it. Contrary to what Jones claims, Trump’s executive agencies have been dutifully implementing Obamacare’s statutes because they have to. More on that in a moment. But Trump also campaigned with the promise to get rid of Obamacare, and he’s keeping that promise. Trump is not the first president to use legislative, executive and judicial angles to override bad law, and Jones knows that. Pretending as if a president cannot or has never used the power of the presidency to combat bad laws is flatly wrong.
Because Obamacare is written so poorly, one of the things his administration has been forced to do is figure out ways to make the law functional and survivable for the individuals and families under it. That means approving regulatory changes that stabilize insurance markets and make coverage more affordable than they would be if the Trump administration did nothing. For example, this includes approving Idaho’s waiver that allows the use of short-term insurance plans that can meet a covered individual’s needs without all the costly extra bells and whistles Obamacare requires.
Jones worries that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Obamacare. Why should he worry if the law is constitutional? And if the law is unconstitutional, shouldn’t the Supreme Court hear the case and see to its demise? You’d think a former state Supreme Court justice would be interested in relieving the law books of laws that don’t pass constitutional muster.
Jones claims that millions of Americans stand to lose health care coverage if Obamacare is tossed out. But Jones conveniently forgets that Obamacare has not lived up to its one stated objective and that was to keep insurance costs down. Even the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services noted this a year ago, writing, “simply put, there are too many people without subsidies who cannot afford coverage under Obamacare. For example, when a 60-year old couple in Grand Island, Nebraska making $70,000 a year — which is just slightly too much to qualify for Obamacare’s premium subsidy — is faced with paying $38,000, over half of their yearly income, to buy a silver plan with an $11,100 annual maximum out-of-pocket limit. We should not be surprised if they make the tough decision to drop their coverage. With a similar cold reality facing millions of American families, it was inevitable that Obamacare’s affordability crisis would eventually show up in the rates of uninsured Americans.”
In other words, what good is health coverage if you can’t afford it?
It’s important to remember that Jones has spent the better part of the last several decades benefiting from government-provided health coverage. I’m not surprised that he may not understand why ordinary folks are angry that Obamacare expects us to make health insurance our biggest, growing monthly expense. But Jones does know the law. It’s shocking that he thinks Obamacare is so awesome that it doesn’t need oversight from any branch of government.