Feb 14, 2019

Democrats are divided on how to tackle the ACA lawsuit

Nancy Pelosi speaks at a conference about the White House's targeting of the ACA's pre-existing conditions. Photo: Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images

Congress could easily get rid of the GOP lawsuit that threatens the entire Affordable Care Act — if Democrats want to force the issue. But two of the smartest pro-ACA legal experts are divided over whether that’s a good strategy.

Refresher: The lawsuit, filed by Republican attorneys general, argues that the ACA’s individual mandate is invalid because Congress has zeroed out the penalty for not having insurance — and the penalty, not the mandate it was enforcing, is what the Supreme Court upheld in 2012. A great many legal experts consider the GOP's argument a long shot, but it won the first round of legal proceedings.

There's an easy fix: Just repeal the mandate. It's not in effect, and realistically, Democrats are unlikely to ever raise the penalty back above $0.

What they're saying:

  • Go for it, says University of Michigan law professor Nick Bagley. At best, Democrats would neutralize a lawsuit that could undo the ACA. At worst, they'd be putting Republicans on the record about the future of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Not so fast, argues Washington & Lee's Tim Jost. He's afraid that if Democrats attempted such a fix but failed, conservative judges could take it as a tacit admission that there’s a problem, and use that as a pretext to strike down the ACA.

Go deeper: Andrew Sprung, one of the Internet's best ACA resources, spoke to both Bagley and Jost and has a good roundup about all this on his blog.

Go deeper

GM to exit Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

GM's Holden brand is popular among racing fans down under, and it's been a regular fixture at events like the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar Race in Australia. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General Motors is retiring its celebrated Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand after 160 years and winding down operations by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

The big picture: GM also intends to "sell its Rayong factory in Thailand to China's Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand by the end of this year," AP reports. "The downsizing is part of a long-running strategy at GM since the Detroit-based company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009," per Bloomberg.

In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

A family is rescued from a property in Nantgarw, Wales, on Sunday. The storm comes a week after the U.K. was battered by storm Ciara, which killed two people, per the BBC. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

Sanders accuses Bloomberg of trying to "buy" the 2020 election

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. Photos: Drew Angerer; Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into 2020 rival Michael Bloomberg at a Las Vegas campaign event Saturday, saying the billionaire and former New York mayor is trying to "buy the presidency" by paying millions of dollars in advertising.

Why it matters: Bloomberg has surged in national polling recently, having poured millions of dollars into campaign ads largely targeting Trump. His candidacy has become an obvious foil for Sanders, whose grassroots campaign railing against billionaires and the establishment has vaulted him to front-runner status.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy