Republicans say a bit too much about their health care problem

"As a mother of seven, Judge Barrett clearly understands the importance of health care," Grassley said. Perhaps the Iowan hasn't fully thought this through
Chuck Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill on Feb. 12, 2020.Alex Brandon / AP

Though Democrats have generally earned a reputation for being undisciplined, especially when it comes to political messaging, the party's members on the Senate Judiciary Committee were uncharacteristically on-point yesterday as Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation process got underway.

Senate Democrats came to the first day of the Supreme Court hearings Monday with a singular message: Health care coverage and protections for millions of Americans are at risk if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. Like a choir singing in unison, Democrats carried the same tune, in different vocal ranges. Each showed photos of constituents who have battled illness and stand to lose potential lifesaving treatment if the Affordable Care Act were axed, demonstrating an unusual level of harmony for a party not known for message discipline.

For their part, Republicans recognize their vulnerability on the issue -- the party is, after all, trying to strip tens of millions of American families of their health security -- but they're eager to tell voters there's nothing to fear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, said yesterday that "no one" seriously expects the Supreme Court to tear down the ACA.

This would probably come as a surprise to Donald Trump, who said the exact opposite two weeks ago.

But at yesterday's Senate hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) went further, declaring, "The left is also suggesting Judge Barrett's confirmation would be the demise of the ACA and the protection for pre-existing conditions. That's outrageous. As a mother of seven, Judge Barrett clearly understands the importance of health care."

Perhaps the Iowan hasn't fully thought this through.

Before his passing, Justice Antonin Scalia was a father to nine, but that didn't stop him from voting to destroy the nation's health care system -- twice.

For that matter, Barrett is already on record having been deeply critical of the ACA, her familial circumstances notwithstanding.

But what I find truly amazing are the implications of Grassley's assertion: people who care about families understand the importance of health care, and those who understand the importance of health care wouldn't dare be so callous as to destroy the nation's existing system.

Oh? Then why is it, exactly, that Grassley's party and president are enthusiastic supporters of the case that intends to tear down the ACA?

Or as Paul Waldman put it yesterday, "In other words, no one who has family members she loves could possibly be so callous, so villainous, so monstrous as to agree with the position of the entire Republican Party and rule the way Republican states and a Republican administration demands. How could you even suggest such a thing?"

If Grassley is prepared to announce his opposition to his own party's pending Supreme Court case, I'll be eager to read his statement on the matter. In the meantime, however, the Iowan's comments appear to do far more damage to the GOP than the Democrats he's accusing of making "outrageous" arguments.