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They stand there like tin soldiers, the cream of the crop of Wisconsin's Republicans — Scott Walker, Brad Schimel, Leah Vukmir, Kevin Nicholson — all gleefully in line with their great leader, Donald Trump, to take us back to the days when 50 million Americans didn't have health care coverage because they couldn't afford it, kids were kicked off their parents' policies by age 21, and insurance companies could refuse coverage at their whim, especially to those with pre-existing health problems.

Their ilk has spent the greater part of this decade seeking to destroy what they derisively labeled "Obamacare," and when they couldn't outright repeal it, they set out on a devious mission to chip away at its structure whenever the opportunity arose to try to make it fail. The uncertainty caused by GOP lawmakers has created insurance-market turmoil.

Despite all, Obamacare is still strong, providing affordable coverage to millions of Americans through subsidized insurance exchanges and an expansion of Medicaid in most states to help insure the very poor.

Yes, it's true that insurance premiums are rising. That's what the chipping away by Trump's tax laws and changes by Congress have done. When, despite having the majority in both houses of Congress and control of the presidency, they couldn't kill the Affordable Care Act, they did their best to hobble it, even refusing to fund educational efforts to alert people how to get coverage, and now, being the charlatans they are, they claim that it has failed.

What makes it all so sad is that none of them, much less the president of the United States, has had a plan to replace Obamacare. So instead of helping make it better by fixing the pieces that weren't working as well as hoped, they've embarked on a plan to kill it with a thousand cuts and return to those good old days when people died because they couldn't afford to go to the doctor.

The latest is Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the Trump administration will no longer defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions.

Sessions, though, has had to take a back seat to our own attorney general, Brad Schimel, who has enthusiastically joined a federal suit to declare the requirement for people to have health insurance unconstitutional. Schimel's actions were authorized by Scott Walker even as the governor, in a cynical election year maneuver, announced a special $200 million health care "stabilization" fund to hold down premium costs next year — costs that were precipitated by his seven years of sabotaging the ACA at every opportunity.

Having held his finger to the wind, Walker determined that Obamacare had suddenly become popular among the citizenry and Walker's re-election success might be in jeopardy if he didn't alter his strident opposition, which has included absolute refusal to expand Medicaid for the working poor. His political track record, though, demonstrates that his sudden help on premiums will suddenly disappear if he's re-elected.

The two candidates for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate to challenge Tammy Baldwin, state Sen. Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson — the man who believes that any veteran who supports a Democrat needs to have his or her head examined — are both aboard the Trump-Walker-Schimel anti-health care train, again offering no alternative but a return to those days when insurance companies ran the show.

But why should we be surprised?

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These are the same people who turn a blind eye to the Trump administration's horrendous practice of pulling immigrant kids away from their parents and sending them hundreds of miles away in an attempt to dissuade illegal immigrants from coming to the U.S., even those seeking asylum from life-threatening conditions at home.

Surely we can't expect them to consider the children and families whose lives continue to be upended by politicians who believe government shouldn't be involved with helping people afford medical care, can we?

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. 

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