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Tomi Lahren, conservative firebrand, bashes Obamacare while benefiting from it

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 7/31/2017 Samantha Schmidt
Chelsea Handler and Tomi Lahren attend Politicon at The Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. © Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP Chelsea Handler and Tomi Lahren attend Politicon at The Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif.

It was a much-anticipated debate between two celebrities at completely opposite ends of the political spectrum: liberal comedian Chelsea Handler and conservative firebrand Tomi Lahren.

And it was no surprise that the conversation on Saturday, less than two days after Senate Republicans’ failed to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, touched on health care. Handler and Lahren faced off at Politicon, a bipartisan convention known as the “comic-con for politics,” a “place where entertainment and politics meet” in Pasadena, Calif.

Lahren, a vocal Trump supporter, bashed the ACA as she has done before, saying she believes universal health care is a bad decision and that Obamacare “fails the very people that it’s intended to help.”

After Lahren launched a slew of attacks against the law, Handler asked her, “Do you have a health care plan or no?”

“Luckily I am 24 so I am still on my parents’ …” Lahren said.

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The irony was not lost on the audience, which immediately erupted in shouts, cheers and laughter. Lahren admitted that she benefited from a major provision of the ACA that allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. Previously, the cutoff was 19, or 22 for full-time students.

Handler defended Lahren, instructing the audience to settle down.

“Stop, stop, stop, she’s being honest,” Handler said.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Lahren said. “To say there are things from Obamacare that are not positive, that’s not true.”

She said most Republicans and Trump supporters “don’t believe that every single tenet of Obamacare is bad.”

Indeed a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year found that 90 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans supported allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

Lahren said she agreed with the provision extending the cutoff age, but added that if that benefit was stripped away from her, “I’m okay, I don’t need it. If it’s for the betterment of a free market system.”

Though she encouraged bipartisan discussion over such provisions in future bills, she went on to continue criticizing Obamacare, calling it a “death spiral.”

The “conversation” between Handler and Lahren was hyped as a debate, and Lahren sure seemed set on sparring, tweeting “Let’s do this.”

But Politicon representatives framed it as an interview, with Handler as host and Lahren as guest.

The two kept the faceoff friendly. And they had their fair share of agreements.

When a member of the crowd shouted out the name Scaramucci, in reference to White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, Lahren responded: “He’s a former liberal, so he is one of yours.”

“Well, you can have him,” Handler retorted.

Later, Lahren defended President Trump’s decision to reinstate the ban on transgender people in the military. She compared transgender soldiers to individuals who have asthma and can’t join.

She said the military is “not a place for a social experiment” and added that “gender dysphoria” is still considered a psychological disorder.

Handler criticized President Trump’s “lies,” bringing up the president’s exaggerated figures regarding the size of his Inauguration Day crowd, following reports that it was smaller than Obama’s in 2009.

“That’s a lie that I can live with,” Lahren said.

Handler, a show host, author and scathing critic of Trump, has drawn angry tweets from the president in response to her comments. She also supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

The fast-talking Lahren became a rising star in conservative media as a commentator on the Blaze, founded by conservative media personality Glenn Beck.

She made headlines in recent months after she sued the Blaze and Beck, claiming she was fired for publicly sharing her support of abortion rights while appearing on “The View.” The parties later settled.

During the segment on “The View,” Lahrenn said she was “pro-choice,” and that it would be hypocritical of her to believe the government should decide what women should do with their bodies.

“You know what? I’m for limited government,” Lahren said on the show. “So stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.”

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