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Republican governor realizes he has to save Obamacare to be re-elected

Wisconsin’s firebrand Republican governor Scott Walker is in trouble in the polls, and he’s getting desperate.

By Matthew Chapman - February 23, 2018
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

After years of insurgent right-wing politics, new polls have spooked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker so badly that he is doing the unthinkable: proposing to save Obamacare.

According to a report in Politico, “Walker wants to prop up his Obamacare market with a $200 million program that would compensate health insurers for high-cost patients so they don’t hike premiums for everyone.”

He even wants to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions, another critical part of Obamacare.

It’s a strange move for Walker, who built a proud reputation for blocking Wisconsinites from getting health coverage.

For years, he pushed to repeal Obamacare entirely. He endorsed Republican repeal proposals last year. He refused to either build a state insurance exchange or expand Medicaid. He even submitted a proposal to force Medicaid recipients to hold a job and to submit to drug tests, which Trump is almost certain to let him do.

But Walker, who is seeking a third term in office, seems to have realized all of this is starting to put him in political trouble.

The bills to outright repeal Obamacare may have died last year. But the GOP is trying to blow it up with a bunch of smaller actions, from the repeal of the individual mandate in the GOP tax scam to Trump’s expansion of junk “short-term” and “association” plans that would pull healthy people out of the market. So Republicans will now be on the hook for millions of real people who lose coverage.

Walker no longer wants to be tied to that, and for good reason: His polls are terrible. A national survey by Morning Consult this month put Walker among the 10 most disliked governors in America, with a net negative approval rating of 7 points. In fact, after Illinois’ Bruce Rauner, Walker is the least popular incumbent Republican governor running for re-election this year.

It does not help that Walker’s economic record is among the worst in the nation, and that his desperate plan to bribe a foreign tech manufacturer to build a factory in his state is a flop.

Despite Walker’s reputation as a consummate survivor, this is not a storm he can afford to weather. He has not suddenly started caring about health insurance for all; he just doesn’t want to own the consequences of his party’s attacks on working families. Wisconsin should not be fooled, and treat his bid to save Obamacare for what it is: a repudiation of himself.


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