Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration had 24 million reasons to be unhappy on Monday: that’s the number of Americans who would lose their health insurance under the Republican-crafted American Health Care Act by 2026, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The major findings of the CBO estimate:
The AHCA would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017-2026.
The biggest savings would come from reductions in Medicaid and the elimination of subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.
The biggest costs would come from repealing changes to the Internal Revenue Code caused by the ACA.
In 2018, there would be 14 million more uninsured people than under the current ACA law.
This figure will continue to increase by 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026.
By 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be without health insurance, compared to 28 million people for current projections under the ACA.
The reduction in insurance coverage between 2018-2026 would be in large part from states discontinuing the Medicaid expansion program offered under the ACA.
In 2018 and 2019, average premiums for single policyholders would be 15-20 percent higher than under the current law. Average premiums would start to decrease in 2020.
By 2026, average premiums for single policy holders would be 10 percent lower than under the current law.
However, the savings on premiums (or lack thereof) vary by age:
For a 21-year-old: 20-25 percent less
For a 40-year-old: 8-10 percent less
For a 64-year-old: 20-25 percent higher
Medicaid spending would decrease by $880 billion from 2017-2026.
By 2026, Medicaid spending would be 25 percent less than what the CBO estimates currently under the ACA.
Republicans – who had previously cited CBO estimates as evidence to attack the ACA – had been preemptively attacking or trying to question the credibility of the agency in the days leading up to the estimate’s release. Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, told Fox News, “We will see what the score is, in fact in the past, the CBO score has really been meaningless.” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters, “We disagree strenuously,” with the CBO’s findings.
Not all Republicans were optimistic about the proposed law, even before the CBO estimate was released. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned House Republicans that they would be risking their majority if they voted for the AHCA, and told them, “Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.”
Democrats attacked the AHCA almost immediately after its unveiling last week, because it finally gave them a concrete Republican policy proposal to target after nearly seven years of a vague and undefined “repeal and replace” pledge Republicans offered as an alternative to the ACA. The CBO estimate will provide them with quantifiable data for campaign ads and talking points to target Republicans running for election or reelection in the 2017 and 2018 cycles.
In a statement, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said, “Donald Trump’s ‘insurance for everybody’ pledge was a big fat lie.”
“The CBO, which is headed by a Republican-appointed director, just made it clear that Trump’s health care plan will cause up to 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance. At the same time, the plan slashes Medicaid, drives up the cost of care for older Americans, and defunds life-saving services provided by Planned Parenthood. The only winners here are Trump, and the corporations and rich people who get to pocket new tax breaks.”
“Of course, instead of admitting that the bill would leave millions without health insurance, Republicans are desperately trying to discredit the CBO with more ‘alternative facts.’ The American people are smarter than that.”
Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, issued a statement saying, “Every single House Republican owns this catastrophic bill and should be prepared for backlash at the ballot box, particularly given the anticipated loss of coverage for 14 million people as early as next year.”
UPDATE: Politico viewed a White House assessment of the AHCA which estimated 26 million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 – two million more than the CBO estimate. The explanation for the document from White House Communications Director Michael Dubke was, “This is OMB trying to project what CBO’s score will be using CBO’s methodology.”
“I commend Alexis Frank for jumping into this race. Democrats in the 5th District are looking forward to a substantive primary campaign to hear how all the candidates would work to improve people’s lives. With Donald Trump and his rubber-stamp Republican Congress threatening to cause great harm to millions of Americans, the stakes could not be higher. Whoever 5th District Democratic primary voters choose, I am confident that Democrats will be unified behind a nominee with an agenda to bring South Carolinians together and expand opportunity for all.”
This means Parnell’s hope of winning the nomination by default as the only Democrat in the race is over. He and Frank will have to compete for the party’s nomination in the primary, scheduled for May 2. Candidates from both parties still have until Monday, March 13 to file the papers to get in the race. If one or more Democrats decide to do so, and neither Parnell nor Frank are able to get a majority of the vote on May 2, there is a runoff scheduled for May 16 if necessary.
UPDATE: I just spoke with Frankie Norstad, who helped launch Alexis Frank’s campaign. The paperwork was filed this afternoon, and her staffing, website, social media, campaign fundraising, etc. should be up and ready to go by Monday.
Some biographical information about the candidate, all from Norstad:
Alexis Frank is a 26-year-old mother of two children married to a U.S. Marine currently based in North Carolina.
She was born in Hartsville, S.C. and is a graduate of Rock Hill High School, where her mother is still a teacher. Her brother teaches at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, and is openly gay.
She enlisted in the Army Reserve at 17, and worked as an Army paralegal for six years.
She is two weeks away from graduating with a degree in Project Management.
This is her first run for elected office.
Frank first thought about running for the seat a little more than two weeks ago, after she saw an online video produced by Norstad looking for candidates to run in the upcoming special elections. She made the decision to run this morning.
Norstad: “This girl is hope and passion bottled up and delivered.”
A series of special elections in Georgia, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina being held over the next three months to fill vacant congressional seats are widely seen as an early test of whether or not Democrats are able to harness some of the energy of the anti-Trump protests and turn it into tangible electoral results. All were held by Republican congressmen, and all four states have been traditionally Republican in presidential elections.
South Carolina has been a difficult state for Democrats on the ballot in recent years. It is one of the reddest states in the country, and the Fifth Congressional District has been voting progressively more Republican over the past several years. Mulvaney ousted Democratic incumbent John Spratt 55-44 in the 2010 Tea Party wave election, and was reelected in each subsequent election by 11-21 points until his resignation. According to Parnell’s communications director John Kraljevic, a centrist Democrat can win the district running on a positive message about the party’s positions than on opposition or obstruction to President Donald Trump or House Speaker Paul Ryan. “It’s easier to run for the ideals of the Democratic Party and the ideals of people back home than to run against any particular individual.”
Kraljevic said that a winning map for Parnell would require the candidate to keep the margin in York County – which is predominantly Republican – close, while running up the vote margin in neighboring Chester, Fairfield and Sumter counties. Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop University, agreed with that assessment, but noted that Parnell’s victory strategy would require strong turnout among Democratic voters who tend to vote less regularly in off-year or special elections. If Parnell is able to tap into an anti-Trump movement in the district, he might be able to buck this historic trend.
Another factor working against Parnell is the fact that York County, the fastest growing region in the state, is becoming more Republican because of people from Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding areas moving 25 minutes away across the state line because of South Carolina’s lower taxes. These transplants tend to be white, college-educated, wealthier, and Republican – with most growth in the areas of Tega Cay, Lake Wylie and Fort Mill. On top of that, the district’s Black Voting Age Population (BVAP) dropped from 29.45 percent after the 2010 census under the old district lines to 26.46 percent under the new district lines. A victory in this election by Parnell or any other Democratic candidate, though an uphill battle, would be seen as an upset.
In a statement, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison said, “As we wait to see whether there will be a Democratic primary, today’s announcement ensures that 5th District voters will have at least one candidate with sensible ideas on how to expand opportunity for all and fulfill Congress’s constitutional role as a check against a power-hungry President.”
Candidates have until Monday, March 13 at noon to file the paperwork to enter the race. According to a state party official, if no other Democrat enters the race, Parnell becomes the Democratic nominee by default with the full support of the South Carolina Democratic Party. If one or more other Democratic candidates decide to enter the race, there will be a primary, in which the state party will remain neutral, but will get behind whoever emerges as the nominee.
In contrast, the South Carolina Republican Party has a deep bench of candidates throughout the state. Seven candidates have already declared for the Republican nomination in this race. According to Huffmon, two of them – Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman – are state legislators with strong name recognition in York County, and a third – Chad Connelly – is a former state Republican Party chairman. The primary election is scheduled for May 2, with primary runoffs scheduled for May 16 if necessary. The general election date is set for June 20.
HELENA, Mont. – Rob Quist, a political novice from Flathead Valley, won the Montana Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the state’s at-large seat in the House of Representatives. Quist, a musician, will face off against the Montana Republican Party’s nominee in a special election scheduled for May 25 to fill the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, who was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior last week.
“I really feel like I’ve been representing the state of Montana all my life, through my music,” Quist told reporters after his victory. “Instead of playing music and providing entertainment for people, we’ll be giving speeches and hopefully trying to energize people.”
“I really feel that with my connection to the people of the state of Montana, and they recognize that I’m someone that stood up for Montana values all my life,” he added. “I really don’t feel like I’m the underdog here.”
Former Rep. Pat Williams agreed with that assessment, saying “Rob Quist has a bit of an upper hand because he’s known throughout Montana, particularly in eastern Montana, small towns, and the bigger cities. They know him, so he’s going to do well.”
Dawn Gandalf, Vice-Chair of the Sanders County Central Committee, addressed the issue of the party not reaching out to rural communities and voters, which was the subject of at least one meeting during the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting in Atlanta last week. “To have the state start getting involved in recognizing rural communities, it’s been a problem in our state because we are such a huge state,” she explained. “All the attention and funds have gone to the seven or eight top cities, urban cities, and nothing to the outlying. So on the outlying communities, you have people who are voting, but they’re neglected and there’s no support.”
Quist won the race on the fourth and final ballot 90-69 in a head-to-head matchup with State Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Billings). Curtis became the party’s nominee in the 2014 Senate race against Steve Daines, after interim Senator John Walsh dropped out of the race because of a plagiarism scandal. Quist’s victory was announced by Williams, who was the last Democrat to represent Montana in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1997.
“I feel better about Democrats’ chances now than I’ve had in quite a number of years,” Williams said during an interview. “In my opinion, this is going to be a very good race for Democrats.”
One early sign of energy among the Democratic base in the state was the Women’s March in Helena on January 21. Gandalf said that while organizers originally estimated a turnout of 1,200, the actual number who came to the march was 10,000.
That energy may not necessarily be limited to Montana. Dan West, a former Obama administration political appointee at NASA who ran for the party’s nomination in this race and dropped out after the second ballot, felt optimistic about this race getting national attention and support from Democrats outside the state. “The national party is eyeing [this special election]. There’s no other races happening right now to funnel money away,” he said during an interview. West added that he would send out an email to his Obama alumni network to urge them to support Quist in this race.
During his closing speech before delegates began voting, Quist offered unequivocal defenses of the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood, public lands, and public education. Despite the fierce opposition to Republican-controlled Washington that has been building within the Democratic base nationwide, Quist is running on a platform of state issues that matter to voters, not hardline opposition or obstructionism. “He’s not running against Paul Ryan or Donald Trump,” Gallatin County Vice-Chair Elizabeth Marum said. “He’s running to put everyday average Montanans at the forefront of his optics, and we have a lot of needs.”
The Montana Republican Party is holding its nominating convention tomorrow. Several Democrats said they expect businessman Greg Gianforte – the GOP nominee in the 2016 gubernatorial race – to win the nomination. Gianforte lost his race in the same election that saw Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke win statewide by 20 and 16 points last November.
When asked what Quist and the Montana Democratic Party need to do to win, Williams said, “What Democrats have to do to win is continue to talk to seniors, workers, and Indian tribal people. With that combination, and a couple of other things thrown in, they used to win, and they can again.”
HELENA, Mont. – Montana Democratic Party delegates were still divided on the third ballot, with no winner emerging. The results:
160 votes were cast.
Rob Quist: 72
Rep. Kelly McCarthy: 37
Rep. Amanda Curtis: 51
Kelly McCarthy, the lowest-vote getter, was eliminated from the fourth and final ballot, which will be Rob Quist and Amanda Curtis in a head-to-head matchup. McCarthy lost five votes from the second ballot, while Quist and Curtis increased their tallies by 10 and four votes respectively. A minimum of 81 votes are necessary to secure the nomination.
HELENA, Mont. – Montana Democrats were not able to pick their congressional nominee on the second ballot. The results:
160 votes were cast.
Rob Quist: 62
Rep. Kelly McCarthy: 42
Gary Stein: 1
Rep. Amanda Curtis: 47
Dan West: 8
Dan West dropped out of the race after the second ballot. Gary Stein was eliminated as the lowest vote-getter on the second ballot. Voting on the third ballot is underway, with Rob Quist, Kelly McCarthy and Amanda Curtis as the remaining candidates.
HELENA, Mont. — None of the eight candidates running for the Montana Democratic Party’s nomination for the upcoming state congressional election came away with a 50 percent plus one majority after the first ballot. The results announced by Montana Democratic Party Chairman Jim Larson:
158 votes were cast.
1 vote was spoiled and did not count.
Rob Quist: 57
John Meyer: 0
Rep. Kelly McCarthy: 38
Gary Stein: 6
Tom Weida: 0
Link Neimark: 0
Rep. Amanda Curtis: 39
Dan West: 17
There is currently a ten-minute break before the second ballot, which will consist of Quist, McCarthy, Stein, Curtis, and West. Under the rules, Meyer, Weida and Neimark are eliminated.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Miller was first elected to represent Virginia’s 50th district in the House of Delegates in a special election in 2006 and, with the exception of 2011 when he ran for reelection unopposed, has been reelected by a low-50 to low-60 percent margin. The 50th district includes the Washington DC suburbs of the city of Manassas and part of Prince William County. According to official results from the Virginia Department of Elections, Hillary Clinton won Prince William County 57-36. This means Democrats will probably see the 50th District as an even bigger pickup opportunity this fall if Miller is elected Clerk of the Court and the Virginia GOP has to defend his open seat. Lee Carter is the only Democrat currently running for this seat, although if Carter resigns from the seat, it is possible more Democrats and certainly more Republicans will get in the race and compete for their respective party’s nomination.
Aside from the reference to “drain the swamp” in the voiceover narration, it’s worth noting what the ad does NOT mention:
Donald Trump (though presumably implied by the “drain the swamp” line)
Republican Party (Montana or national) – the ad and his website say “Paid for by Greg for Montana”
Repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act
Muslim ban or Travel ban
Building a wall on the Mexican border
He’s running entirely on local issues, with no mention of the Trump/Ryan agenda. Also worth keeping in mind is that Gianforte benefits from some name recognition over the other candidates in the Republican field as he was the Republican candidate for governor in 2016. (He lost to incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock 50-46, in a state Donald Trump won 55-35.)