What Do GOP Gains Mean for Healthcare? Abortion Rights?
This article originally appeared at The Media Consortium.
The Republicans gained ground in last night's midterm elections, recapturing the House and gaining seats in the Senate. Future House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) wasted no time in affirming that the GOP will try to repeal healthcare reform.
A full-scale repeal is unlikely in the next two years because the Democrats have retained control of the White House and the Senate. However, Republicans are already making noises about shutting down the government to force the issue. The House controls the nation's purse strings, which confers significant leverage if the majority is willing to bring the government to a screeching halt to make a point.
Don't assume they'll blink. The GOP shut down government in 1995, albeit to its own political detriment. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his allies have sworn a “blood oath” to shut down the government, regardless of the consequences. The Republicans may actually succeed in modifying minor aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the controversial 1099 reporting requirement for small business.
The most significant threat to the implementation of healthcare reform may be at the state level. Republicans picked up several governorships, and the Affordable Care Act requires the cooperation of states to set up their own insurance exchanges. Hostile governors could seriously impede things.
Mixed results for radical, antichoice senate candidates
As a group, the eight ultra-radical, antichoice Republican Senate candidates had mixed results last night. Three wins, two sure losses and three likely losses that haven't been definitively called. Voters didn't seem thrilled about electing senators who oppose a woman's right to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
Two cruised to victory: Rand Paul easily defeated Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky. Paul is one of the most extreme the of a radical cohort. As Amie Newman reported in RH Reality Check, Paul doesn't even believe in a woman's right to abort to save her own life. In Florida, antichoice standard bearer Marco Rubio defeated Independent Charlie Christ.
Another radical antichoicer, Pat Toomey, who favors jailing abortion providers, narrowly edged out Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.
Two were soundly defeated. Evangelical code-talker Sharron Angle lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and anti-masturbation crusader Christine O'Donnell lost to Chris Coons in Delaware.
The last three radical antichoice senate candidates were down, but not, out as of this morning. Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett leads Republican Ken Buck by just 15,000 votes out of over 1.5 million ballots cast, according to TPMDC. Planned Parenthood launched an 11th hour offensive against Buck because of his retrograde stances on abortion, sexual assault and other women's issues, as Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent.
This morning, Tea Party Republican Joe Miller was trailing behind incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who challenged him as an independent, but no winner had been declared. In Washington State, Democrat Sen. Patti Murray maintains a 1 percent lead over radical antichoicer Republican Dino Rossi.
Are fertilized eggs people in Colorado?
Coloradans won a decisive victory for reproductive rights last night. Fertilized eggs are still not people in Colorado, as Jodi Jacobson reports for RH Reality Check.
Amendment 62, which would have conferred full person status from the moment of conception, thereby outlawing abortion and in vitro fertilization. It also called into question the legality of many forms of birth control, including an array of medical procedures for pregnant women that might harm their fetuses. The proposed amendment was resoundingly defeated: 72 percent against to 28 percent in favor. This is the second time Colorado voters have rejected an egg-as-person amendment.
Blue Dogs and antichoice Dems feel the pain
Last night was brutal for corporatist Democrats who fought the more progressive options for healthcare reform and Democrats who put their antichoice ideology ahead passing healthcare. In AlterNet, Sarah Seltzer reports only twelve of the thirty-four Democrats who voted against healthcare reform hung on to their seats. The Blue Dog caucus was halved overnight from fifty-six to twenty-four. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones speculated that the midterms would mark the end of the Stupak bloc, the coalition of antichoice Democrats whose last-minute brinkmanship could have derailed healthcare reform.
Did foot-dragging on healthcare hurt Democrats?
Jamelle Bouie suggests at TAPPED that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by passing a healthcare reform bill that won't provide tangible benefits to most people for years. The exchanges that are supposed to provide affordable insurance for millions of Americans won't be up and running until 2014.
In Summer 2009, Former DNC chair Howard Dean predicted that the Democrats would be penalized at the polls if they failed to deliver tangible benefits from healthcare reform before the midterm elections. That's why Dean suggested expanding the public health insurance programs we already have, rather than creating insurance exchanges from scratch.
Sink, sunk by Scott
Andy Kroll of Mother Jones profiles Rick Scott, the billionaire health clinic mogul, corporate fraudster, and enemy of healthcare reform who spent over $50 million of his own money to eke out a very narrow victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida governor's race.
Apparently, many Floridians were willing to overlook the fact that Scott had to pay a $1.7 billion fine for defrauding Medicare, the largest fine of its kind in history. Scott also spent $5 million of his own money to found Conservatives for Patients' Rights, one of the leading independent groups opposing healthcare reform.
Pot isn't legalized in California
California defeated Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for personal use. David Borden of DRCnet, a pro-legalization group, writes in AlterNet that the fight over Prop 19 brought legalization into the political mainstream, even if the measure didn't prevail at the polls. The initiative won the backing of the California NAACP, SEIU California, the National Black Police Association, and the National Latino Officers Association and other established groups.
So, what's next for healthcare reform? The question everyone is asking is whether John Boehner will cave to the extremists in his own party and attempt a full-scale government shutdown, or whether the Republicans will content themselves with extracting piecemeal modifications of the healthcare law.