In the face of today’s U.S. Appeals Court ruling that tentatively strips a half million Michigan residents of a $4,700 healthcare tax credit, let’s check out some good news first where GOP attacks on the Affordable Care Act have backfired on them spectacularly — then we’ll get to the Bill Schuette-led tax hike. (Which by the way, is conflicted by another court’s decision today, so the whole matter is destined for higher review. It’s unlikely to stand-up in the U.S. Supreme Court — they tend to focus on the intent of the law, and prefer uniformity where federal tax law is concerned.)
GOP Attacks Doomed to Fail
A recent Brookings Institute analysis of anti-Affordable Care Act spending in 2013 found that the ads generated increased enrollment, instead of less. Ads attacking the new healthcare law out-spent those in support by 15 to 1, with $450 million pouring into media outlets with the intention of scaring consumers away from the program. The author of the report, Niam Yaraghi, speculated that the ads may have frightened people into enrolling for fear GOP lawmakers may actually someday be successful in its repeal if they don’t take advantage of the affordable healthcare program now.
Using the Department of Health and Human Services ACA reported enrollment data as a ratio against those that potentially could enroll, Yaraghi found that during the 2013 enrollment period, 11 percent was the national average, with Michigan coming-in at a hair under 17 percent of those eligible. Negative ads in Michigan were mostly focused on the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek market areas, where $17,359 was spent to sway residents away from the program.
The bulk of 2013 spending was concentrated in districts where there are hotly contested congressional races this year. Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina got slammed with ads. Well over $2 million went to an attempt to dissuade North Carolinians, yet 17.3 percent of those eligible persisted through the troubled enrollment maze to sign-up.
The Brookings report found that the ads backfired primarily in blue states. Michigan, at least in federal elections, remains solidly Democratic, so anti-ACA rhetoric could be a campaign deficit.
Stupid Politicians Persist
Yet, in spite of the data, Michigan GOP contenders are still employing the tactic to attack their opponents in the looming primary.
In the mid-state 4th Congressional District, spanning 15 counties from Wexford in the north-west portion of the state, down to Shiawassee in the south-east, candidate Paul Mitchell, a Republican, has chosen to take-on Tea Party endorsed, John Moolenaar over that very topic, citing his opponent’s support for the ACA in his “Big Checks” ad, shaming the lawmaker saying he:
“Voted to create a Michigan Obamacare exchange, and led efforts to pass the budget that expanded Medicaid and funded Obamacare.”
Moolenaar, not to be out-Tea-Partied by his challenger, has sworn a pledge from Repeal Obamacare.com, to ditch the Affordable Care Act. (Great, cuz just what Americans need in congress right now is another lawmaker bent on attempting to rollback, into perpetuity, a popular public policy — fifty attempts is apparently not enough.) Moolenaar’s website “reports”:
On-line political pledges, of any kind, should remain just as suspect as any other form of absolutism. They represent a new nadir in the divisive beast that is politics. In a way, they are just as invasive a species as third-party issue ads — very much like those that tried to bring down the ACA.
Here are the sum total of Michigan politicians to date that signed the pledge to do-away with affordable healthcare (from the website):
A name that is conspicuously absent is Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. He’s been wasting tax-payer dollars abusing the power of his office to file reams of amicus curiae in various federal venues attempting to sway cases to appease the far-right, while thumbing his nose at the majority of Michigan’s electorate.
His most recent effort, meant to piecemeal dismantle the ACA, resulted in a decision that could cause half a million Michigan taxpayers to lose a healthcare tax credit of $4,700, but the argument is not nearly over. In his brief, the attorney general argued that the ACA only allows tax credits for enrollees who live in states with state-based insurance exchanges. In 2012, Schuette was front and center fighting against a state-based exchange.
His Democratic challenger, Mark Totten had this to say about Schuette’s action:
“Today’s decision is the culmination of Schuette’s crusade to strip nearly $5,000 a year from a half million Michigan families and ship our tax dollars to New York and California. This case is not really about Obamacare, which remains the law of the land; it’s about Bill Schuette trying to score political points with the most extreme fringe of his party, even at the cost of hurting Michigan families.”
Schuette will fail in this pursuit. He’s little more than a cheap political hack — a hairdo with a law degree.
Extreme politicking and absolutism should have no place in Michigan.
For more on Schuette’s tax hike click here.