Archive for the ‘Obamacare’ Tag

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here’s my take. The crisis has been resolved, but this respite is temporary. We’re bound to have more standoffs and brinkmanship in the months and years ahead. To understand why, you must recognize that, for the tea party, the stakes could not be higher.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz put it plainly at the recent Values Voter Summit in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We’re nearing the edge of a cliff, and our window to turn things around, my friends, I don’t think it is long. I don’t think it’s 10 years. We have a couple of years to turn the country around or we go off the cliff to oblivion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Cruz dominated the summit’s straw poll, taking 42 percent of the vote, more than three times his nearest rival. Cruz’s national approval rating might be an abysmal 14 percent, but to the base of the Republican Party, he’s an idol.

The current fear derives from Obamacare and what it will do to America, but that is only the most recent cause for alarm. Modern American conservatism was founded on a diet of despair.

In 1955, William F. Buckley Jr. began the movement with a famous first editorial in National Review declaring that the magazine “stands athwart history, yelling stop.” Hardline conservatives have been yelling stop ever since.

John Boehner tries to tie into this tradition of opposition when he says in exasperation repeated, “The federal government has spent more than what it has brought in in 55 of the last 60 years.”

But, one might respond, what have been the results over these past 60 years? The United States has grown mightily, destroyed the Soviet Union, spread capitalism across the globe and lifted its citizens to astonishingly high standards of living and income.

At the end of his 1961 speech that launched his political career, Ronald Reagan said,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But the menace Reagan warned about, Medicare, was enacted. It’s provided security to the elderly. There have been problems regarding cost, but that is hardly the same as killing freedom.

After all, the right-wing Heritage Foundation ranks many countries as “more free” every year. For example, Switzerland and Australia and they all have universal health care.

For many conservatives today, the “rot” to be excoriated is not about economics and health care but about culture. A persistent theme of conservative intellectuals and commentators, in print and on Fox News, is the cultural decay of the country.

But compared with almost any period in U.S. history, we live in bourgeois times, in a culture that values family, religion, work and, above all, private business.

Young people today aspire to become Mark Zuckerberg. They quote the aphorisms of Warren Buffett. They read the Twitter feed of Bill Gates. Even after the worst recession since the Great Depression, there are no obvious radicals, anarchists, Black Panthers or other revolutionary movements except for the tea party.

Now, for some tacticians and consultants, extreme rhetoric is just a way to keep the troops fired up. But rhetoric gives meaning and shape to a political movement.

Over the past six decades, conservatives’ language of decay, despair and decline have created a powerful group of Americans who fervently believe in this dark narrative and are determined to stop the country from plunging into what they see is imminent oblivion. They aren’t going to give up just yet. The era of crises could end, but only when this group of conservatives makes its peace with today’s America. They are misty- eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory and yet passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, capitalist and welfare-state democracy that America actually has been for half a century, a fifth of this country’s history.

At some point, will they come to recognize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1310/20/fzgps.01.html

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By Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas, Published: October 15 at 8:29 am

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll 74 percent of Americans disapprove of how the Republicans are handling the budget negotiations. That’s three-out-of-four Americans.

Numbers like that shouldn’t happen on highly visible issues in a competitive, two-party system. But when they do happen they can’t go on for very long.

Republicans know they need a way out. In the Senate, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell may have found one. Their deal would fund the government until January 15th and raise the debt ceiling until February 7th.

The deal would also create a bicameral budget committee that will report back by December 13th, and it delays Obamacare’s reinsurance fee (more on that here) and strengthens the law’s income verification procedures.

The thing about these concessions is that none of them is actually a concession — for either party. Democrats have been begging for a budget conference for six months, and in recent weeks, Republicans began begging for one too. The reinsurance fee doesn’t matter much to Obamacare and organized labor has been begging Democrats to get rid of it. The income verification is already in Obamacare, but the Obama administration was lagging on it.

“Democrats won’t say it too loudly just yet, but the emerging budget agreement leaves Republicans with remarkably little to show for forcing the first government shutdown in 17 years,” writes Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown. “They barely nicked Obamacare and their poll numbers are in tank.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/15/wonkbook-this-number-is-the-reason-republicans-will-end-the-shutdown/

 

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Stewart “It must be a pretty eclectic group (of states), with many different reasons, to explain why they would turn down federal money to bring health care to their working poor, or maybe there was just one reason.”

Reporter “All of those states have Republican governors or legislatures that are controlled by Republicans.”

Stewart “Oh, which makes it really hard not to see this as just the latest example of that hit game show sweeping part of the nation, What Do You Hate More: Poverty Or Obama?  Brought to you by spite.  Spite, the emotion that makes you turn down millions of dollars that would go towards health care for the working poor, because you hate the President.”

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-october-10-2013/medican-t—-taker–states

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By JONATHAN MARTIN
The hard-line stance of Republican House members on the government shutdown is generating increasing anger among senior Republican officials, who say the small bloc of conservatives is undermining the party and helping President Obama just as the American people appeared to be losing confidence in him. ….

“Fighting with the president is one thing,” said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. “Fighting with the president and losing is another thing. When you’re in the minority you need to look really hard to find the fights you can win.”

The complaints come from fervent opponents of the president’s health care overhaul, who say that the shutdown is overshadowing discussion of the problems associated with the law and ruining any chance for revising it.

“This is a huge distraction,” said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee. “Instead of that being the conversation, we’re talking about the government shutdown, and the average citizen can’t help but say the Republican Congress isn’t helping.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/04/us/politics/gop-elders-see-liabilities-in-shutdown.html?hp&_r=0

Quote of the Day   1 comment

Stewart “For those just joining the story in progress, our government is going to shut down in 57 of your earth minutes because House Republicans are refusing to fund the government unless the rest of Congress delays implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, also known as the end of America as we know it for reasons no one is able to clearly explain.”

Stewart “Are you familiar with how the world works? Did you see the Giants game on Sunday? OK, they lost 31 to 7. And you know what the Giants didn’t say after that game? If you don’t give us 25 more points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the bleeping NFL.”

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-september-30-2013/jon-stewart-s-rockin–shutdown-eve

My letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner October 1, 20013   Leave a comment

Dear Speaker Boehner,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure about the current shutdown of the government of the United States Of America.  It is clearly obvious that this did not have to happen.  You could have easily put through a clean CR and kept our government open.  You have chosen to represent a minority of Americans against the wishes and needs of the majority of Americans.  You have failed to do your job, in every sense of the word.

Most Americans want to be able to purchase affordable health care, and now that a Republican based system to achieve that has been enacted into law, you have chosen to abandon your principles.  You have chosen to leave a system in place where every company in the United States saw annual rises in health care costs of between 10 and 20 percent, putting them on track to be able to not afford to cover their workers.  You have chosen to leave a system that make it difficult or impossible for an honest working American to be able to purchase health care on his or her own.  Now that a Republican based plan to change that has been enacted, you are fighting it for reasons that baffle the mind of competent thinkers.

What have you gained by shutting down our government?  The Affordable Care Act is in place and American citizens will be able to purchase health care.  They are now obligated to do so, which raises the insured pool and spreads the risks.  You lost this fight a long time ago, because Americans want to be able to afford health care and live healthy lives.

Your speeches make me think you are doing this as a matter of principle, but what principle wants to actively deny Americans from being healthy?  We spend billions of dollars each year to kill lots of people all around the world.  How could we not spend billions to make sure our own people are healthy?  Jesus advocated healing the poor, and you have chosen to make it difficult for the poor to be able to see a doctor.  At some point, you really have to ask yourself who you really serve.

You have been one of the weakest and most ineffective leaders of the House Of Representatives in my lifetime.  By actively choosing to shut down the government for no reason, you will be forever compared historically to Newt Gingrich.  If that was your goal, you have achieved it.

Please send a clean CR to the Senate and get our country open again.  After that, the only honorable thing to do is to resign your position as Speaker Of The House, and resign from Congress.  If most Americans did their job like you have, they would be fired immediately.  Considering the economy you have created, I understand your reluctance to do so, but it’s your only honorable way out at this time.  You have actively chosen to work against the majority of the citizens of the United States of America.  In the cold light of day, resignation is your only honorable more.

Sincerely,

Tim

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Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas, Published: September 30 at 8:36 am

Here’s how today’s Wonkbook was supposed to start: We’re about 16 hours from open enrollment in Obamacare going live. The law, which has dominated American politics for three years even as it’s been an abstraction to most Americans, is about to become very real.

But here’s how it actually has to start: We’re about 16 hours away from a government shutdown. That’s more than enough time for the House and Senate to both pass a bill averting a shutdown. But the odds of that happening are increasingly remote — and that’s because Obamacare is set to begin in 16 hours.

On Saturday, Speaker Boehner agreed to load the continuing resolution with a one-year delay of Obamacare, a repeal of the medical-device tax, and a “conscience clause” assuring health-care providers they don’t need to offer birth control if they don’t want to. They wrote a bill, in other words, that the Senate can’t accept. His right flank was ecstatic.

“Chants of ‘Vote! Vote! Vote!’ echoed through the room,” report Robert Costa and Jonathan Strong. “Standing in the back, Boehner’s deputies watched the scene and smiled. ‘People went bonkers,’ says Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona. Representative John Culberson of Texas was so enthused that he yelled, ‘Let’s roll!’ after hearing Boehner’s remarks. Culberson later told reporters he was alluding to the cry of United 93 passenger Todd Beamer.”

All this for a bill that House Republicans know the Senate will reject.

So the federal government will probably shut down tonight. And, at about the same moment, Obamacare will go live, as the shutdown does little to impede the law.

There’s a silver lining in this for Obamacare, as well as a real danger.

The Obama administration has been a bit afraid of October 1st. After all, no major product launches without a hitch, and Obama is more major, and facing more politicized scrutiny, than almost any product the federal government has ever launched. The fear was that things would go wrong on October 1st and the press, looking for dramatic stories of Obamacare glitches, would swarm the anecdotes, giving the public the impression that the law was a failure even as most of it was working fine and the bugs were being quickly fixed.

But with a government shutdown and a looming debt-ceiling crisis obsessing the media and the country, the media simply has less bandwidth to cover the rollout of the health-care law. That gives the administration, as well as the states, a bit more breathing room to find and fix bugs in the early days without seeing the law declared a failure.

The downside for the law is that less focus on Obamacare means fewer people hearing that the insurance marketplaces have gone live, and thus fewer people knowing they should go and sign up for coverage. The Obama administration, some of the states, and a consortium of outside actors all have plans to promote the law through paid media in the coming weeks and months, but the launch could’ve earned them a lot of valuable free media.

But all of this speaks to why the Republican Party is so frightened. Until now, Obamacare has been an abstraction. You can repeal an abstraction. Tomorrow, it becomes a reality. And reality is a lot harder to repeal.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/30/wonkbook-obamacares-october-surprise/