Opinion: Dismissing mid-term myths
Here is a handy guide to the midterm myths that have taken flight this year:
The big issue is immigration.
Not so. President Donald Trump and others may be focused on the caravan of migrants, but that’s not the public’s preoccupation, at least beyond Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The country’s concern this fall is clear. It’s health care.
Indeed, the latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows that seven out of eight likely voters consider health care at least somewhat important to their vote in the midterms—and more than half rate it ‘’very important.’’
A study by the Wesleyan Media Project found that nearly half the television advertisements by candidates for the House and Senate mentioned healthcare—and nearly a third of the gubernatorial ads did as well. It’s the clear emphasis of Democrats, who in the last two midterm elections aired ads mentioning healthcare less than 9 percent of the time. This time Democrats are mentioning it nearly 55 percent of the time. But the Democrats are not alone. Republicans mention healthcare in about a third of their ads.
So if the Democrats take control of one or both houses of Congress, a single-payer health care system is all but assured.
Not so. Any such bill would surely be vetoed by Trump. But that sort of legislation is not going to get to his desk. Some Democrats, to be sure, are talking about a single-payer plan, or a Medicare-for-all scheme, but not all Democrats agree. In fact, the Progressive Policy Institute, a moderate Democratic group, issued a report last week that set out seven different alternatives to the current health-care landscape. In other words, Democrats might back six plans other than single-payer, particularly since that Rasmussen poll shows that Americans, by a two-to-one margin, prefer free-market competition among health insurers to more government regulation as a way of restraining costs.
‘’’Instead of getting bogged down trying to explain what 'Medicare-for-All' really means,’’ the report states, Democrats ‘’should focus on what unites them–the moral imperative of universal coverage. If, as seems increasingly likely, the midterm elections go in their favor, there will be ample time to debate what comes next in health care."
If the Democrats take over the House the president will be impeached.
Not so. Democratic leaders from Nancy Pelosi of California (the likely speaker in a Democratic House) to Jarrold Nadler of New York (the likely chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings begin) say they’re not focused on impeachment.
Moreover, Nadler, a shrewd Capitol Hill strategist, indicated that he will not countenance impeachment hearings if it is clear the Senate would not convict Trump. Since conviction requires a two-thirds vote—not once achieved to impeach a president in all of American history—there is no likelihood the Congress would remove Trump from office.
That does not mean, however, that the president has no worries about a Democratic House. If the Republicans lose control of the chamber, the Democrats will take control of all the House committees and, with the subpoena power that is the sum of all White House fears, could mount multiple investigations of the administration and the Trump campaign that could paralyze the president and distract him from his agenda.
No one really knows what will happen Election Day.
True enough. But on Nov. 7 we will tell you we saw it all along.
David Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.