Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., is the latest Republican lawmaker to announce he will not seek re-election.
“After what will be 10 years in the United States Congress representing the good people of Florida’s Heartland, it’s time to ‘hang ‘em up’ as my old football coach used to say,” the Florida lawmaker said in a statement on his official website Monday.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Rooney’s decision wasn’t too surprising, citing his reported frustration with Washington.
Rooney said he hoped to someday serve Florida again “in a “different capacity.”
Fall retirement announcements are nothing new. On average, 22 House members retire each cycle, Roll Call reported. But this year has seen a record number of GOP lawmakers leaving Capitol Hill, according to NPR.
Here’s the list of Republicans, in the House and Senate, who have announced they will not seek re-election:
Embattled Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, announced on Nov. 30, 2017, that he was retiring from Congress.
Barton’s announcement came after pressure for him to end his re-election bid mounted. Barton, 68, apologized after a nude photo of him surfaced on social media. He said he engaged in consensual sexual relationships while he was estranged from his second wife.
“I’ve always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I’ve been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas,” Barton told the Dallas Morning News in November. “There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice … so I am not going to run for re-election.”
Jason Chaffetz of Utah resigned from Congress in June 2017.
“My life has undergone some big changes over the last 18 months. Those changes have been good. But as I celebrated my 50th birthday in March, the reality of spending more than 1,500 nights away from my family over eight years hit me harder than it had before,” Chaffetz said at the time.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced on Sept. 27, 2017, that he will not seek a third term in 2018.
Corker, 65, had previously said that he “couldn’t imagine” serving more than two terms. Corker has often feuded with President Trump.
Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said on Sept. 7, 2017, that he would not seek re-election. The seven-term congressman told Fox News that he made the decision both for personal reasons and because “the polarization around here is pretty severe.”
Dent, 57, has been openly critical of Trump. He voted against party lines and a repeal of ObamaCare last year.
Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., announced in July 2017 that he would not seek re-election.
In announcing his retirement, Duncan, 70, thanked conservatives who supported him against “recent attacks against me from the far left.”
“I have decided I wanted to spend less time in airports, airplanes and traveling around the district and more time with my family, especially my nine grandchildren, who all live in Knoxville,” Duncan said. “I love my job, but I love my family more.”
Roll Call reported that Duncan’s sister, state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, could launch a bid for his empty seat.
After multiple accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct and inappropriate behavior surfaced, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he won’t run for re-election.
The House Ethics Committee said earlier in December 2017 that it was expanding a probe into sexual harassment allegations against the lawmaker, which would include an investigation into whether he retaliated against a former staff member for complaining of such behavior. Congressional sources said Farenthold paid an $84,000 settlement using taxpayer money.
In a video posted to his campaign Facebook page, Farenthold said he “allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional.” However, he continued to deny the sexual harassment claims against him.
“It accommodated destructive gossip, off-hand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional,” Farenthold, 56, said. “And I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and – too often – a failure to treat people with respect that they deserved. That was wrong.”
“An unprofessional work environment is not a crime, but it’s embarrassing to me and to my family. It reflects poorly on the institution of Congress, on my colleagues and on my constituents, and they deserve better,” he said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Farenthold was “making the right decision to retire,” citing the “unacceptable behavior that has been alleged.”
But Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal K. Perkins slammed Farenthold’s decision not to run for re-election as “simply not enough,” calling it a “PR stunt.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced on Oct. 24, 2017, that he would not seek re-election. Flake is an ardent critic of Trump.
Flake, 55, faced a tough re-election campaign in Arizona against Kelli Ward, a physician who has also challenged Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Trump has previously said that it was “great” that Ward was running against a “toxic” Flake.
In announcing that he wouldn’t run for re-election, Flake said the GOP is becoming a “backward-looking minority party.”
“It is clear in this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free-trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has for so long defined itself by its belief in those things,” Flake said.
Arizona Rep. Trent Franks announced on Dec. 8, 2017, that his resignation would take effect immediately, despite previously announcing that he’d leave the House in January due to sexual misconduct allegations against him.
He attributed the change in date to his wife’s admittance to the hospital but reports later surfaced alleging Frank repeatedly pressed a former aide to carry his child, offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate.
Franks’ announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it was looking into whether he “engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”
Franks, 60, maintained that he never physically intimidated, coerced or had sexual contact with any member of his staff. He said he discussed surrogacy issues with some of his female staff which made them “uncomfortable.”
The conservative congressman said that “in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff and noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation.”
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen said he will retire at the end of his term.
The New Jersey Republican, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, was facing his first competitive re-election race in decades.
Frelinghuysen, 71, was first elected in the 1994 GOP wave that put Republicans in control of both chambers. He hails from a New Jersey political dynasty that dates to the late 1700s. His father, Peter, served in the House for two decades.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced on Nov. 9, 2017, that he would not seek re-election, saying it is “the right time to step aside.”
The Virginia lawmaker, who has been in Congress since 1993, said he has discussed whether to run for re-election with his wife, Maryellen, every two years. This year’s conversation, Goodlatte said, was different.
“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte, 65, said in a letter.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy announced on Jan. 31 that he would not seek re-election or any other political office.
The South Carolina Republican, who until recently also sat on the House Ethics Committee, said he would be “returning to the justice system.”
“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” the 53-year-old said. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”
Gowdy also oversaw the divisive House investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack.
Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., announced in January 2018 that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term. The House Administration Committee chairman said he tried to make Congress more transparent and accountable during his tenure.
Harper, 61, was first elected in 2008. He said “10 years will be long enough” for him to have served in Congress.
Harper was an ardent supporter of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training in the U.S. House. His committee held a hearing in November 2017 regarding sexual misconduct involving current House members.
After the hearing, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the House would begin to require anti-harassment and anti-discrimination trainings for members and their staff.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is the longest serving Senate Republican. He announced on Jan. 2, 2018 – after weeks of speculation – that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term.
The 83-year-old said Trump told him during a recent visit to Utah that he was a “fighter.”
“But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching,” Hatch said in a video message posted on social media.
“I’ve authored more bills that have become law than any member of Congress alive today,” Hatch also said, adding that one of his “proudest legislative achievements” was his work with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which ensures religious freedoms are protected.
Hatch’s decision not to run for re-election is largely seen as a path for Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, to run for the open seat.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, announced on Oct. 31, 2017, that he will not run for re-election in 2018.
“Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the US Congress in 2018. Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” Hensarling, 60, said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Hensarling also added that he wants to spend more time with his family.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will retire at the end of his term, he announced on Jan. 10, 2018.
Issa, 64, only barely won re-election in 2016. He beat his Democratic challenger, Douglas Applegate, by less than one percentage point for California’s 49th congressional district.
This seat was seen as a toss-up that could potentially go to a Democrat in 2018, even prior to Issa’s impending retirement.
“Representing you has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Issa, who has been in Congress since 2001, said in a statement.
But Issa could come eventually return to Congress. He is reportedly considering running for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s seat, should the Republican decide to retire as well.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., announced on Jan. 25, 2017, that she would not seek re-election or run for another office.
Jenkins, 54, said she wanted to return to the private sector although she was highly rumored to be a possible gubernatorial candidate in Kansas.
Longtime Texas Rep. Sam Johnson announced his retirement on Jan. 6, 2017.
“For me, the Lord has made clear that the season of my life in Congress is coming to an end,” Johnson, 87, said.
Johnson is an Air Force veteran who was a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., will retire from Congress at the end of his term. The 71-year-old assumed his seat in 1995.
LoBiondo’s retirement opens up a seat in a potential swing district. Trump won it in 2016, but former President Barack Obama took the district in 2012.
The GOP lawmaker has differed from his party on certain issues. He voted against the budget framework and has expressed concerns about Republicans’ tax plan, specifically the move to eliminate certain state and local deductions.
In a letter to his campaign chairman on Jan. 25, 2018, Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., reportedly said he would not be seeking re-election.
“After consultation with my wife Carolyn and with my three sons, and after prayerful reflection, I write to inform you that I will not seek re-election to the United States Congress for the 7th Congressional District in 2018,” Meehan wrote, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The decision, the 62-year-old reportedly said, was made following reports that he allegedly used taxpayer money to fund a settlement to a former aide who claimed he sexually harassed her. Meehan called the revelations “a major distraction” and said he needed “to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter.”
On Jan. 23, 2018, Meehan acknowledged telling a longtime former aide that he considered her a “soul mate” and admitted acting “selfishly” after learning that she was dating someone else. The former aide filed a sexual misconduct complaint against the lawmaker last summer and he allegedly used taxpayer money in the settlement.
GOP Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania announced on Oct. 5, 2017, that he would resign his position in Congress. The news followed reports that the lawmaker, who has publicly been staunchly anti-abortion, had an affair and asked his mistress to get an abortion when they believed she was pregnant.
Murphy, 65, said he will “take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties.”
In a Twitter message, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, announced that he will not seek re-election.
“I am grateful for the honor and privilege to represent the best people in America, Texas’s Second Congressional District. Thanks to the good Lord, I’m in good health, but it’s time for the next step,” Poe, 69, said on Nov. 7, 2017.
He added that he’s planning to spend more time with his grandchildren. All 12 of them were born since he’s been in Congress, Poe said. He assumed office in 2005.
After serving seven terms in Congress, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., said he would not seek re-election on Sept. 6, 2017. A former sheriff, Reichert, 67, represents a district that is being targeted by Democrats in 2018. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the area in the 2016 election.
Reichert said the decision to retire from Congress was “the right one for my family and me.”
After nearly 10 years in Congress, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., said he will not be running for re-election.
Rooney, 47, said in a statement that “it’s time to ‘hang em up’” and thanked his constituents for “allowing [him] the opportunity to serve them in Washington.”
“I look forward to serving Florida again in the future in a different capacity. Keep the faith. Slainte!” the congressman said.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Rooney’s decision was not too surprising, given his frustration with Washington. The publication also said Rooney was “deeply affected” by the shooting at a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game in June 2017.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., announced on April 30, 2017, that she would not seek re-election. Ros-Lehtinen, 65, has been a congresswoman since 1989.
“The most difficult challenge is not to simply keep winning elections; but rather the more difficult challenge is to not let the ability to win define my seasons,” she said.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen is considered a moderate Republican who was not a strong supporter of Trump.
On Jan. 8, 2018, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., announced that he would not seek re-election.
Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that he wanted to completely focus his final year as committee chairman on the “urgent threats facing our nation.”
Royce, 66, is serving out his 13th term.
In an announcement detailing his decision to not seek re-election, Royce cited the tax cut bill passed in December and the crackdown on the global ivory trade as some of his accomplishments.
Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, 57, told the Washington Examiner that even though he doesn’t plan to seek re-election, he still hopes to work with Trump on passing a large infrastructure bill before he leaves Congress.
The Pennsylvania Republican announced on Jan. 2, 2017 that he would not seek re-election in November. He told the publication that as he would not be coming back to Washington as a congressman, he could better work with parties on both sides of the aisle during his remaining time in office.
Rep. Lamar Smith, a 70-year-old Republican serving Texas, announced Nov. 2, 2017 that he would be retiring from Congress at the end of his term.
Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has served in the House of Representatives since 1987.
Luther Strange, R-Ala., was appointed to Jeff Sessions’ old Senate after he was picked to be the attorney general.
But Strange, 64, lost in the special primary election earlier in 2017 to Roy Moore. Moore became the GOP nominee for the Senate and eventually lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
In his farewell speech to the Senate in December, Strange encouraged his fellow lawmakers to remain committed to bipartisanship.
“To lose the art of balance and compromise in this body is to lose something essentially American,” he said.
Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi, 55, announced on Oct. 19, 2017, that he would resign from Congress in early 2018 to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable as the association’s president.
Serving as a Republican congressman for 17 years, Tiberi’s final day in Congress was Jan. 15, 2018.
Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., announced on Sept. 11, 2017 that he would not seek re-election.
Trott, 57, will retire at the end of his second term. His district is Republican-leaning, but analysts told the Detroit News that a Democrat could flip the seat.
Republican lawmakers running for governor
Having served in Congress for four terms, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., announced in August 2017 that she would run for governor in her state.
“Most people in politics say the right things, but they never fight for the right things,” Black said in a video announcing her candidacy. “They’re too meek or maybe even too weak … I don’t back down.”
Black, 67, was the first female chair of the powerful House Budget Committee, and she was in that position during the nation’s tax overhaul. She resigned as chairwoman last yearto focus on her gubernatorial race.
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., officially launched his bid for governor in January 2018.
A former Navy lawyer, DeSantis, 39, is an ardent support of Trump and was praised by the president on social media last year.
“Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!” Trump tweeted a month before DeSantis made his official announcement.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, announced in the summer of 2017 that he would finish out his current term but then run for governor of Idaho in 2018 instead of re-election, according to HuffPost.
Labrador, 50, is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Instead of seeking re-election in 2018, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., announced in November 2016 that she will run for governor instead.
Noem, 46, officially kicked off her gubernatorial bid last year.
New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce opted to run for governor of his state instead of re-election.
Pearce, 70, has been a congressman for more than 12 years. He told the Albuquerque Journal that as governor he would focus on the exodus of young people leaving the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Biden nominee Neera Tanden pulled as head of OMB over mean tweets — and anti-Asian racism
What happened to Neera Tanden is racist, and we can’t ignore how that influenced the White House’s decision Tuesday to pull her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden’s confirmation failure makes her the first of President Joe Biden’s picks to be disqualified. It’s no coincidence that she also happens to be an Asian American woman.
Anti-Asian bias has a specific set of stereotypes that go along with it, and we need to recognize and condemn how they played into Tanden’s confirmation hearings.
Selected by Biden to head the office that plans and oversees the implementation of the federal budget, Tanden came under relentless fire for her posts on Twitter. With the Senate split 50-50, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s opposition meant she would need to find support from at least one Republican. And arguably the most moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, ruled it out.
Media coverage of Tanden’s saga has tended to focus on her tweets, which Manchin and others labeled “overtly partisan” and “mean.” (In the case of Collins and many other Republicans, the attacks were also very personal.) During her time as leader of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, Tanden tangled on Twitter with political figures on the right (typical was the line that “vampires have more heart than Senator Cruz“) and the left, notably Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and his supporters during his run for president.
I’m going to refrain from making comparisons to “the former guy” or any of his appointees’ actions and behaviors either in person or online because that’s too easy and folks are calling out that hypocrisy on their own. I don’t have a lot to say about whether she was qualified to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget other than that she was. I don’t even have more to say as a progressive about how her centrist positions and actions disappointed me, like they did others.
The point that does need to be made, however, is that whatever the background noise around this confirmation fight, there is no question that racism factored into it. Anti-Asian bias has a specific set of stereotypes that go along with it, and we need to recognize and condemn how they played into Tanden’s confirmation hearings.
There are variations in the stereotype for different Asian ethnicities — Tanden identifies as Indian American— but generally the contours of the stereotypes and expectations of Asian American women are the same:
We are allowed to do “body work” for people —file your nails, wash your laundry, clean your house, take your temperature, change your kids’ diapers — but either do so anonymously or have names easy enough for English speakers to pronounce.
When we’re allowed to be the boss, we are often stereotyped as unscrupulous and inscrutable; we become the mean and stingy Asian boss lady behind the cash register.
Tanden’s journey through these anti-Asian stereotypes was fraught with two equally bad choices. She could try to fit someone’s Asian stereotype and make others more comfortable by meeting their expectations and not eliciting alarm — at the cost of being an inauthentic version of herself.
Tanden doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes that would have allowed her to skate past the gantlet of scrutiny. She’s loud and in charge. She tweets like the best (or worst) of the boys. She doesn’t play up her role as a mother, nor does she project a fun-loving “Momala” air, like Vice President Kamala Harris. And she wanted to be in charge of an agency with the word “budget” in its name. In other words, she ran up against all the no-nos for Asian American women.
Tanden also faced stereotypes that Asian Americans of all genders face. Asian Americans are viewed as the perpetual foreigners in our own homelands. From the frequent microaggression of being asked “No, where are you really from?” to Executive Order 9066, which interned American citizens of Japanese ethnicity in 1942, Asian Americans constantly fight to belong, to be accepted and to be trusted as Americans.
This bias bleeds into the concern that Asian Americans have dual allegiances or are part of a cabal set on taking over the West — the yellow peril. A full year of having Donald Trump call it “the Chinese virus” has not helped with getting people overcome this bias — instead, it has contributed to an astronomical rise in anti-Asian violence, most viciously against senior citizens.
Paradoxically, Asian Americans are also supposed to be the “model minority.” In 1966, a New York Times reporter published an article about how “well Japanese Americans” were doing and germinated the stereotype that Asian Americans are the “model minority,” a race that is high-achieving and doesn’t need government support.
The model minority myth has the triple effect of wedging Asian Americans against other communities of color (if we’re the “good” race, who’s the “bad” one?), erasing a long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination in the U.S. and, most perniciously, making the needs and experiences of Asian Americans invisible, because why should we be noticed or have the right to complain when we have it so good? This denial of our experience is evident in how silent most of America has been about Tanden’s identity in discussing her treatment.
As many Asian Americans have learned over time, you’re only the model minority until someone else decides you aren’t.
Anti-Asian biases featured in the confirmation hearings for Tanden whether or not senators were aware of it. It’s time for us to name the implicit biases and assumptions that Asian Americans face so we can be judged from a place of consciousness. Is Tanden more “mean” than other appointees, or are we offended by Asian American women who are assertive and want to lead? Is Tanden more “partisan” than other appointees, or are we just not sure we can trust her for some vague reason? As many Asian Americans have learned over time, you’re only the model minority until someone else decides you aren’t.
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Obamacare would get a big (and quiet) overhaul in the Covid relief bill
WASHINGTON — The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed the House on Saturday would make one of the biggest changes to the Affordable Care Act in over a decade, and it could set the stage for a broader overhaul of the health care program — but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard much about it.
The reforms, which would include temporarily expanding subsidies to purchase insurance and making them available to people of all incomes for the first time, have gotten little attention from either party.
For Democrats, who spent last year debating whether to move to a single-payer system, the more minor changes are uncontroversial and are therefore discussed less than other features of the bill.
Republicans, who have increasingly downplayed their opposition to the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, have made little mention of them in messaging against the bill.
And industry groups, which spent tens of millions of dollars on ads and lobbying campaigns against previous Democratic health care proposals, are largely supportive this time.
“These ACA changes have really flown under the radar and not attracted major opposition from Republicans,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health policy research organization.
The biggest ACA-related item in the American Rescue Plan, which the House passed last week, would address one of the most persistent complaints about the law among customers and political opponents alike: sky-high premiums for people who don’t qualify for federal tax credits to help pay them.
The tax credits can go a long way for those who qualify — in many cases, it’s possible to find a plan with zero premiums. But everyone making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($51,520 for an individual) falls off a “subsidy cliff” and has to pay full price. Premiums vary widely depending on local health care costs, and plans often are so expensive that customers forgo insurance.
For the next two years, the American Rescue Plan would expand the tax credits to higher earners and cap the maximum premium anyone is expected to pay at 8.5 percent of their income. It would boost tax credits at lower incomes, as well: People making less than 150 percent of the federal poverty line ($19,320 for an individual) would be expected to pay $0 in premiums for a benchmark plan, for example.
For those with lower incomes, the bill would boost incentives for states to expand Medicaid by having the federal government pick up the tab for new recipients. Twelvestates, including Florida, Georgia and Texas, have refused to accept Medicaid dollars through the ACA. It’s unclear whether the bill would affect their calculations.
The changes, which would be temporary, closely mirror Joe Biden’s health care agenda from the presidential campaign, and Democrats are expected to try to make them permanent down the line.
But they also are low-hanging fruit politically. Unlike with other health care reforms, there are few obvious “losers” beyond fiscal hawks worried about adding to the deficit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and top lobbying groups representing insurers, hospitals and doctors have all endorsed the measures, which would pump more money into the system without asking them to cut costs or pay new taxes.
“The industry has been generally supportive of the ACA coverage provisions in the covid relief bill,” Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, said in an email.
Brian Blase, a National Economic Council member in the Trump administration, described the overall Democratic approach as “talk about how evil health insurance companies are but continue to funnel them money.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the added subsidies would cost $34 billion and that they would insure 1.3 million more people by next year. Blase said that if the subsidies are extended permanently, they could cost the government significantly more by encouraging smaller businesses to offload their workers onto the ACA exchanges.
While some conservative policy thinkers like Blase have criticized the proposal over its cost, congressional Republicans seem less sure how to message against it. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California never brought it up in his floor speech opposing the relief legislation, focusing instead on other elements of the $1.9 trillion bill.
Many Republicans faced attack ads in 2018 and 2020 for their opposition to the ACA, and the party has largely pivoted to attacking “Medicare for All” instead, even as the Supreme Court considers a Republican-led lawsuit to overturn Obamacare.
But the detente among Democrats, Republicans and big business may not last long.
Democrats are already discussing creating a public insurance option that would compete with private insurers in a future bill. There’s also a push to allow some older Americans to buy into traditional Medicare.
Past public option frameworks have called for reimbursing doctors and hospitals at rates tied to Medicare, which tend to be much lower than what private insurance pays. Proponents argue that that would pressure insurers and providers alike to lower prices. Polls have long found broad bipartisan support for the idea, and Biden has called for both a public option and lowering the Medicare age to 60.
But moving more Americans to government plans is likely to mean less money for doctors, hospitals and specialists. While some proposed versions would adjust rates upward somewhat to ease the transition, a coalition of health care industry groups spent big on ads opposing a public option last year and would be likely to do the same again. Republicans, who have shown little enthusiasm for the idea, would be sure to follow suit.
“The health care industry would fight a public option with everything they have,” Levitt said.
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