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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Democrats sound alarm as courts target ACA

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In case you missed it, Democrats are weighing in after a federal appeals court ruled the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and sent the case back to a district court to determine whether the rest of the law could continue to exist without it. While the mandate was essentially eliminated with the Republican tax bill's passage in 2017, Democrats are sounding alarms, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice.  

Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted President Trump is "turning to the courts to sabotage it." Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed the Trump administration is cheering on efforts to "destroy protections for pre-existing conditions, coverage for kids up to 26, Medicaid expansion and more." The DNC, DCCC, DSCC, DGA also criticized Republicans following the ruling. In a statement, DNC Chair Tom Perez said "Make no mistake: health care is on the ballot in 2020."

Health care remains one of the top issues, if not the top issue, for Democrats heading into 2020. According to CMAG/Kantar Media, which tracks political ads, health care was by far the top issue that appeared in Democrats' TV ads in 2019, with 1.1 million airings through December 5th. 

Meanwhile, Republicans' top issue in ads in 2019 was pro-Trump messaging, followed by health care with 71,136 mentions. At a rally in Michigan Thursday night, President Trump called the ruling a victory and promised the "greatest health care." However, his administration has yet to release a health care plan after efforts to repeal and replace the ACA failed in 2017. 

FROM THE CANDIDATES

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a health care policy Thursday detailing what his campaign says are "achievable reforms that will deliver better, affordable health care for all Americans."  CBS News Campaign Reporter Tim Perry reports that the four part plan would: extend tax credits for individuals and families with insurance premiums amounting to more than 8.5% of their income, allow families with expensive employer- sponsored insurance to buy health plans with federal subsidies, creating a permanent federal option and conducting "aggressive" efforts to sign people up for insurance.

"Every American deserves coverage and quality affordable care – and we will get it done." Bloomberg said today at an event where he unveiled the plan in Memphis, TN. "We'll make sure that people who like their private insurance can keep private insurance, and also provide coverage to the uninsured. We don't need Medicare for All proposals that are more likely to re-elect Donald Trump than expand coverage to the uninsured."

According to Bloomberg's plan he would instead "build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA)."  Other proposals in the plan include eliminating surprise medical bulls, capping out-of-network hospital prices and lowering drug costs by authorizing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.  Bloomberg's plan calls for capping annual out-of-pocket prescription drug prices at $2,000. 

For more on his policy click here.

CORY BOOKER

Cory Booker wrapped up his tenth swing through Nevada on Thursday, his voice still hoarse from the flu the campaign says took him off the trail over the weekend, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. The New Jersey Democrat had a packed schedule, from rolling out two new endorsements in the state to showing off his Spanish (and Spanglish) skills at a roundtable with Latino organizing group Mi Familia Vota. The trip comes as Booker's campaign says they are taking to the airwaves with their first television ad buy, running a 30 second spot on cable during tonight's Democratic presidential debate in some 22 markets, including across the four early voting states. 

"You're only going to see this ad once because I'm not a billionaire," Booker says in the ad titled "Together," which makes no mention of his recent letter urging the party to open up its debate qualifications. "I won't be on tonight's debate stage, but that's okay because I'm going to win this election anyway."

Booker is spending debate night phone banking in Iowa and heads on a four day bus tour that will hit the central, northwest and southeastern parts of the state before Christmas reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster

JULIAN CASTRO

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is taking his message about changing the primary order directly to Iowa airwaves, reports Brewster. His campaign is launching a new ad in the Hawkeye State featuring a clip from his recent town hall in Des Moines where he told Iowans why they should no longer get to go first in the nominating process. 

"It's time for the Democratic Party to change the way that we do our presidential nominating process," Castro says in the ad, which features some video of him campaigning in Iowa. "I've said very bluntly it's time for a state other than Iowa to go first so that our nominating process actually reflects the diversity of our country or of our party." 

Castro first raised the issue of changing the primary process in a television interview while in Iowa last month. He has continued to raise the issue while campaigning in the state since then. During a recent campaign stop he said the DNC is "on notice" for 2024 and added that "if a chair of the Democratic Party has not pledged to do that for 2024, that person should not be the chair of the Democratic Party."

DEVAL PATRICK

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick won't be on the debate stage for the sixth Democratic presidential primary debate in California Thursday evening. But he'll be making a platform for himself by live tweeting his responses to debate questions on Twitter, CBS News campaign reporters LaCrai Mitchell and Nicole Sganga report. 

Hours before he's slated to digitally insert himself into the debate conversation, Patrick has rolled out his first batch of policy proposals, which vaguely outline big ideas on issues that are sure to resurface in Thursday evening's debate—healthcare, immigration reform, and foreign policy.

"This election season has been rich in policy proposals…Democrats up and down the ballot are offering many important and bold solutions to our nation's biggest and most persistent challenges," said Patrick in the introduction of today's rollout. "At the same time most people don't live their lives in policy silos."

In his "Renewing the American Dream Policy Platform," Patrick gives few details of how to accomplish his goals, but says that it's important for voters to first understand why he's committed to unifying the country. Some of the proposals are ideas that other Democratic contenders have touted—expanding a public options within the Affordable Care Act, bringing an end to private prisons and decriminalizing marijuana.

Patrick, who has spent the past month shuttling between the first two early primary states, held a policy roundtable discussion in New Hampshire on the heels of the rollout. He told reporters today that while many of his policy ideas reflect those put forth by other candidates, he hopes his experience will distinguish him from the pack. 

"The policy choices are, in many cases, similar," Patrick said, later adding. "I don't think anyone else has the range of experience in actually delivering on some of these things."

BERNIE SANDERS

Bernie Sanders has jumped to lead among one of Nevada's largest unions notes Tin. The Vermont senator went from 16 percent in August to 33 percent in a straw poll this week of SEIU Local 1107 members who are registered Democrats in Nevada, ahead of Elizabeth Warren at 20% and Joe Biden at 17%. 

While the union local isn't planning to officially endorse a presidential candidate this cycle, nearly every White House hopeful has sought to court the support of the some 20,000 healthcare and public service workers they represent. And all the candidates have been invited to speak at their leadership summit next year in Las Vegas, where their member leadership will be polled to inform SEIU's national endorsement.

STATE-BY-STATE

IOWA & NEW HAMPSHIRE

A USA Today/Suffolk University Poll out today illustrates Americans' mixed feelings on whether early primary contests in Iowa and New Hampshire -- both among the top ten whitest states in America -- should continue despite the country's changing demographics. 

According to Brewster and Sganga, the survey of 1,000 registered voters shows indecision on more than just the presidential primary contenders. Fifty-seven percent of those polled said that holding the opening contests in Iowa and New Hampshire proved a good system "because it forces candidates to talk directly to voters." Still, a 52% majority also contested Iowa and New Hampshire's early voting was a bad system because it does not "reflect the nation's diversity." Overall, 38% of those polled said Iowa and New Hampshire should continue their tradition of voting first, while 33% said no, and 28% were undecided.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

Immediately after Wednesday's night's House vote on impeachment articles, the GOP outside group American Action Network (AAN) launched a $2.5 million digital and television ad buy directed at 29 Trump-district Democrats, says CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro

Nine of the districts, most of which Mr. Trump won by 6 points or more, will have 30-second television ads running through the holiday season. The attack ads say the lawmaker "ignored us" and call the impeachment a "politically motivated charade that lets the Washington elites decide the election, not us." 

The latest buy makes it a total of $11 million the GOP advocacy group has spent so far this year. By comparison, Democrats' House Majority Forward PAC announced a $2.5 million ad buy last week to promote the passage of H.R.3, a bill named after late Congressman Elijah Cummings that aims to lower drug prices.

AAN's ad buy is not targeted at one Trump-district Democrat, Collin Peterson of Minnesota. It also spared Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who left the Democratic Party on Thursday. 

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a statement that Van Drew "owes the people who worked to elect him an apology for betraying their trust." Internal polling from earlier this month showed Van Drew could have had a tough Democratic primary, as 60 percent of likely Democratic primary voters wanted someone new to replace him, and that 71 percent would be less likely to support him if he voted against impeaching President Trump (which Van Drew did). 

The House Majority Forward PAC also called for a refund from the once-Democrat incumbent. Meanwhile, the three Republicans that filed to unseat Van Drew are all staying in the race to beat Van Drew.

One supporter Van Drew has is Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who both endorsed the newly Republican Congressman during a Thursday meeting in the Oval Office. Van Drew said he thinks the Republican party is "just a better fit" and that he's thought about switching parties before. He also said he was facing pressure from the more progressive wing of his party, and he thinks that tolerance of moderate "blue dog" Democrats has gone away.

Meanwhile, one of the president's biggest supporters in the House, Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, announced Thursday morning that he would not seek re-election. He is the 29th House Republican to either retire, resign or run for Senate or Governor. By comparison, ten House Democrats are either retiring, resigning or running for higher office. 

Meadows is the second lawmaker this week from North Carolina to announce retirement. Though the redrawing of districts made it clear for George Holding and Mark Walker that they'd face much harder, competitive races in 2020, Meadows' newly redrawn 11th district doesn't make it that much more competitive. Though it was redrawn to include the city of Asheville, it is a city that voted by double digits for Trump in 2016. 

In a statement, Meadows said he'd continue to support the president in some capacity. "My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning. This president has accomplished incredible results for the country in just 3 years, and I'm fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come," he said in a statement.

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