GOP senator: Dems are only pretending to care about the ACA

As Grassley says Dem support for the ACA is a "charade," it's worth appreciating the degree to which the health care debate is descending into madness.
Image: President Obama Signs Health Care Reform Bill
President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Health Care for America Act during a ceremony with fellow Democrats in the East Room of the White House March 23, 2010 in Washington, DC. The historic bill was passed by the House of Representatives Sunday after a 14-month-long political battle that left the legislation without a single Republican vote.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

From the start of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings this week, Democrats have been focused on one issue above all others: health care. With the future of the Affordable Care Act pending at the Supreme Court, and far-right justices positioned in the majority, Democrats want Americans to know that the nation's health care system is in real peril.

According to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), however, this is all just an elaborate ruse. Here was the Iowa Republican's pitch this morning to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

"Democrats want to distract from the fact that they don't really care about Obamacare. You heard that since Democrats started their presidential primaries probably about two years ago. They want government-run Medicare for All. That's what you heard in the Democrat [sic] primary."

The longtime GOP senator added, "This is all a charade."

For those who weren't watching, Grassley read these comments from a prepared text. This wasn't an instance in which a politician casually peddled nonsense informally; the Iowan actually intended to say these words.

With this in mind, it's worth pausing to appreciate the degree to which the debate over health care is headed toward madness. Last night, for example, Donald Trump once again said that he supports protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, while Joe Biden intends to take those protections away.

To the extent that reality still has any meaning, this is as ridiculous a lie as the president has ever told. As we discussed last month, Biden helped pass the Affordable Care Act, which created the protections Trump and his party are desperate to eliminate. What the Republican president argued last night, in effect, is that Americans should trust Trump more than Biden to protect Obamacare's core benefits -- which is both hilarious and the opposite of the truth.

But Grassley's rhetoric is hardly any better. As Democrats fight tooth and nail for the ACA, and make the law the centerpiece of their strategy in this week's Barrett hearings, the senator believes it's just a trick. Sure, Democrats say they support the Affordable Care Act -- the landmark law they wrote, passed, and championed for the last decade -- but they secretly don't care about it at all.

Grassley knows this because he watched the Democratic presidential primaries -- a process in which Joe Biden won with relative ease after making clear that he opposes Medicare for All and intends to build on the existing ACA system.

The argument is obviously absurd, though I find myself dwelling on a follow-up question: if Grassley's right and Dems "don't really care about Obamacare," shouldn't they want Amy Coney Barrett to rule against it, so that they could move forward with their fiendish plot to replace it?

Instead spending this week practically begging Barrett not to tear down the current system, wouldn't Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee be doing the opposite?