Joni Ernst ran against Obamacare, but now loves it more than her motorcycle

Joni Ernst's 2014 campaign for US Senate in Iowa was very much like the marketing campaign that Marvel comics puts into motion for its female superhero movies.

Ernst, sporting a tough, rugged masculine 'do, plastered the airwaves with photos of herself in her National Guard outfit (she is a lieutenant colonel!). She did photo ops of herself riding a motorcycle. She even fired a gun in a campaign ad, promising to "unload" on Obamacare!

Ernst is one, tough, conservative lady!

I mean, she was. Flash forward more than 2 years later, and she is fighting against the repeal of Obamacare. Oh, if you ask her, Ernst will still say she wants Obamacare repealed, but she wants exceptions for the most expensive subsidies and regulations contained within Obamacare itself.

Ernst insists she still wants to dismantle the law, but admits it’s not quite as simple as the “repeal and replace” mantra seemed in 2014.

Why not?

“We have to take this up and move cautiously,” she said after an event in Cedar Rapids, a Democratic bastion.

Indeed, now Ernst is using the word “deliberative” when describing her state of mind about replacing Obamacare. She emphasizes that pre-existing conditions must be covered and that children up to the age of 26 be able to remain on their parents’ insurance plan, both of which the Republican alternative would require.

“She’s very concerned about the Medicaid states. Hers is one of them. The present solution in the House is not something that is easily supportable,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who campaigned tirelessly for Ernst.

Let's examine these one at a time:

1) Pre-existing conditions. If people can get insurance after the fact, after they get sick, they have no incentive to pay insurance premiums before they get ill. That added expense raises the cost of premiums dramatically for the rest of us who are responsible, and have health insurance all along. Let's say Ernst is riding a motorcycle and her husband, Gail (her husband's name is Gail), sits behind her, holding onto her waist like a supportive husband, as they go for a masculine power drive. They make a sharp turn into the parking lot of a biker bar and they fall off, and Joni gets a head injury. She has no insurance. Should Ernst be entitled to sign up for insurance after the fact? That's like signing up for homeowner's insurance after your house has burned down and expecting coverage.

2) Children covered until the age of 26. This requirement also raises premiums for all of us. Even if you don't have any 25-year-old children who need insurance, the one-size-fits-all insurance policy raises rates for everyone. And since when are 25 year olds considered children?

3) Medicaid expansion. Right now the federal government is paying 100% of the cost of that. But states are expected to pick up an increasing share of the bill in a few years, which will bankrupt them. Ernst doesn't care about the future; she only cares about being reelected now. She cares about not reducing "coverage" for Iowans (with taxpayer subsidies), but doesn't care about the other Iowans who are made to subsidize them.

If these parts of Obamacare survive, premiums will continue to be high, and states will risk insolvency when it comes time to pay the bill on Medicaid expansion.

But hey, doesn't Joni look hot on her bike? Like the Terminator!

The Ernstinator II: she came from the past, to make sure Obamacare has a future.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at

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