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What Roy Moore actually believes about policy

On health care, abortion, immigration, and more.

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Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

If Roy Moore is elected to the Senate on Tuesday, he’ll enter office under a cloud of credible sexual accusations, facing the suggestion by some of his peers that he should be expelled from the chamber and carrying his promise to the Alabama voters that he would stand up to Republican leaders.

But then he’ll have to start taking real votes that will actually change federal policy.

As one of the 52 Republican senators, Moore would have outsized power to shape the Republican agenda. Obamacare repeal and tax reform have hinged on Republican leaders corralling 50 of their 52 members behind a bill, and they’ve seen how difficult it can be. Now they’re adding Moore, an archconservative who gleefully ran on sticking it to the GOP establishment, to their calculus.

But while Moore’s campaign has been defined by allegations of sexual misconduct and bizarre behavior — pulling out a gun at a campaign rally, his wife’s assurances that he does not hate Jews because “one of our attorneys is a Jew” — his work in the Senate is likely to be defined by more mundane policy positions.

On some of the biggest issues facing the nation and the United States Senate, this is what Roy Moore actually believes.

Health care

Republicans still have dreams of reviving Obamacare repeal next year. But so far, the Senate hasn’t cooked up a plan that can win 50 votes.

Moore might actually make things more difficult for Republican leaders, not easier.

His campaign website says he wants Obamacare “completely repealed as soon as possible.” But absolutism from some Republicans has been part of the problem.

During a primary debate with Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), Moore said that he supported the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House earlier this year, according to PolitiFact. That bill would have slash federal subsidies for insurance and overhauled Medicaid, leading to 20 million fewer Americans having health coverage.

But around the same time, Moore said he would have opposed Graham-Cassidy, the most recent Obamacare repeal plan debated in the Senate. That bill differed significantly from the House bill by converting much of Obamacare’s spending into block grants for states, though it still would have likely led to tens of millions fewer Americans having insurance.

“I think I would have stood with Rand Paul,” Moore said, citing the Kentucky senator resolutely opposed to Graham-Cassidy. “I think it’s socialized medicine at best.”

Neither the House bill nor Graham-Cassidy had 50 votes in the Senate. But Moore’s comments suggest he wants more repeal, not less. The Senate had been trending in the opposite direction.


Moore is fanatically opposed to abortion — with his race against Democratic nominee Doug Jones neck and neck, the Republican candidate has turned to abortion as one of the main reasons for wavering conservatives to back him.

He believes that personhood should be recognized at the moment of conception, a position staked out by anti-abortion activists who want to completely eliminate the practice. From one of his opinions as a state supreme court justice, as noted by New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore:

Because a human life with a full genetic endowment comes into existence at the moment of conception, the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” encompasses the moment of conception. Legal recognition of the unborn as members of the human family derives ultimately from the laws of nature and of nature’s God, Who created human life in His image and protected it with the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”

Moore also says on his campaign website that he wants to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as the various Obamacare repeal plans would have done.


Moore is a strident anti-immigration hawk. “We must stop the flow of illegal aliens across both our northern and southern borders,” his campaign website reads. “Open borders are a threat to our national security and to our economy.”

He calls for using the military to patrol the nation’s borders. On Trump’s promised wall with Mexico, he says: “If a wall is our only option, then we should build it immediately.”

According to Time, Moore has said that he would oppose any legal status for people covered by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Program or DACA. Trump has already begun sunsetting DACA, which grants protections to upwards of 800,000 people who came to the United States as children, with the final two-year renewals going out in March 2018.

Congress, in the meantime, is discussing a more permanent fix for the DACA population. But it appears that a Moore victory would add one more “no” vote in the Senate for any such solution.

Moore also, as noted by Breitbart, has stated his support for legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) that would also cut legal immigration in half.

“DACA is wrong. DREAMer is wrong. We need to look at the RAISE Act … the Reform of American Immigration for a Strong Economy. We need to look at vetting these people coming into our country,” Moore said, per the alt-right publication. “A lot of the people on DACA simply aren’t qualified. They haven’t been asked the questions about their entry and where they stand on things. It’s been family-oriented.”


Moore hasn’t made his exact feelings about the Republican tax bill clear. He does, as any good Republican would, support cutting taxes. But White House counselor Kellyanne Conway famously insinuated, “we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through” when asked about supporting Moore.

“To paraphrase an old saying, the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes, but the truth is we are being taxed to death while our businesses are failing and our economy continues to suffer,” he says on his campaign website.

Moore would go even further than the current GOP plan, which dramatically slashes the corporate tax rate while directing most of its individual tax cuts to the rich. He is a proponent of what’s called a “fair tax.”

Under a “fair tax” plan, all income taxes would be eliminated and taxes would instead be levied on consumption. Think of it as a national sales tax.

As Vox’s Matt Yglesias put it, “taking these ideas seriously would mean an enormous tax windfall for the rich [and] higher taxes on the poor and the retired.”

Climate change

Moore, in perhaps one of his most conventional Republican positions, has cast doubt on the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate.

“Not only do scientists disagree on 'global warming,' but there is little hard evidence that carbon emissions cause changes to the global climate,” Moore wrote in a 2009 op-ed, uncovered by the Washington Post.

Otherwise, his campaign has kept relatively quiet on environmental issues. From his campaign website:

To gain independence from foreign oil, we need to foster development of our own natural resources involving nuclear, solar, wind, and fossil fuels. Coal mining and oil drilling should be encouraged, subject only to reasonable regulations.

Moore could make life harder for Republicans in lots of ways — but not all

Moore would enter the Senate as one of the most avowedly right-wing members of the Republican conference. He could make it harder for Republicans to repeal Obamacare. He is sure to be a lightning rod on any abortion-related provisions. He could complicate Congress’s pursuit of a DACA solution.

But on other issues, like taxes and climate change, Moore would probably function like a more conventional Republican. Those are areas where he is more comfortably in the mainstream.

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