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The Midterm Election Is a Referendum on the Social Safety Net

Whether Democrats gain the House or the Senate or neither, the 116th Congress will decide the fate of public spending on America’s most vulnerable families.
Advocates in Helena, Montana, rally in support of a bill to protect the state's Medicaid expansion.
Advocates in Helena, Montana, rally in support of a bill to protect the state's Medicaid expansion.Matt Volz/AP

In run-up to Tuesday’s midterm election, U.S. voters have been hearing a lot about immigration, voting rights, and broken checks and balances. But health care is every bit as important to voters. While the Trump administration is closing its argument by drumming up nativist fears over the border, voters at the polls will be deciding the future of the social safety net.

If voters were not exactly aware how much social spending hinges on this election, that’s because conservative candidates have worked very hard to distract voters from their views (and votes) on the newly popular Affordable Care Act. With the politics of health care suddenly topsy-turvy, it’s worth looking at the benefits of social spending writ large.