Tomorrow, members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to vote on a (newly amended) plan to dismantle Obamacare and replace it with a new scheme that could cost millions of Americans their insurance coverage.
Reichert represents a backwards-L-shaped district covering Auburn, Enumclaw, Cle Elum, and Leavenworth. It's no Seattle-style socialist paradise, but it's not necessarily a Republican stronghold either. The Democrats (setting aside all their internal bullshit for a moment) believe it's winnable. Reichert is presently on their 2018 target list.
In this week's Stranger, we've looked at all of Washington's Congressional districts, including Reichert's, to see how many people in each district stand to lose coverage under Trumpcare.
In Reichert's district alone, nearly 22,000 people receive insurance through the healthcare exchange established under Obamacare. We don't know exactly how many of those people might drop out of the exchange if the Republican "repeal and replace" bill passes (the state estimates 100,000 people will dropout statewide but doesn't have estimates by Congressional district). But we do know at least 48,512 other people in Reichert's district—people who are not covered through the healthcare exchange, but instead through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion—are at risk of losing their coverage. The Medicaid expansion, which was a major feature of Obamacare, is threatened under Trumpcare.
Now, check out another number in this week's piece, the percent of voters in Reichert's district who voted for Donald Trump: 42.5 percent. Meanwhile, Reichert is clocking in at 90.9 percent on FiveThirtyEight's Trump Score, which measures how often members of Congress vote in line with the president.
Given that a majority of Reichert's constituents declined to back Trump, it's not clear why he's marching in such lockstep with Trump, nor is it clear why Reichert would believe his constituents support Trump's plan to repeal Obamacare.
Consider some other data points:
• In 2008, 56.1 percent of District 8 voters voted for Barack Obama, while 41.4 percent voted for John McCain.
• In 2012, after redistricting made the district more conservative, Obama won 49 percent to Mitt Romney's 47.4 percent.
• Last year, Hillary Clinton won 45.4 percent of the District 8 vote, while Trump won 42.5 percent.
True, neither Clinton nor Trump won a majority of 8th District voters in 2016. And yes, Republican Reichert was elected by 8th District voters in 2016 (and in 2012, and in 2008).
But Obama signed the Affordable Care Act—his signature achievement—in 2010. That made the 2012 election a sort of initial referendum on the policy. In 2016, as Clinton promised to keep and expand the health care law, voters in the 8th District had another chance to weigh in on it. Both times, more voters in District 8 sided with the candidate defending Obamacare than with the candidate representing the party bent on repealing Obamacare.
Reichert's constituents clearly weren't prioritizing killing Obamacare in 2016. So why is Reichert prioritizing killing it now?
Reichert Watch: Every time Reichert takes a party line vote that hurts his constituents or introduces needless legislation or does anything at all, we'll add it to the list.
• On March 9, he voted for the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
• A week later, after a Congressional Budget Office analysis found the plan could leave 24 million people across the country without insurance by 2026, he defended it.
• Before that, Reichert made misleading statements about threats posed by his own constituents.
• Recently, he voted for the SCRUB act, which creates a regulatory committee to identify and eliminate regulations that don’t directly increase the GDP. The committee’s goals align with White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s plan to “deconstruct the administrative state," but the irony of commissioning a regulatory agency to cut back on regulations is lost on no one, especially not tax payers who are being charged $30 million for the favor.
• Reichert twice voted against forcing Trump to show Congress his tax returns (once in committee and once in a roll call vote), which may illuminate conflicts of interest and business ties with Russia.
• Reichert was the only Washington Republican who voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.
• In 2014, he proposed a bill that would ban welfare recipients from using benefits to buy weed, despite the fact that such purchases were already illegal.
• In 2010, he voted to maintain “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell."
• That same year, Reichert suffered significant brain trauma when a tree branch fell on his head. The resulting hand-sized blood clot that formed in his brain went untreated for two months.
• In their 2006