Democrats have insisted that they’re not running from Obamacare, despite the disastrous and politically embarrassing rollout of the law. In fact, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) recently told CNN that incumbents and candidates from her party “will be able to run on Obamacare as an advantage.”
If that’s truly the case, that Democrats will run on Obamacare next year, then why did the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) delay the open enrollment period for 2015 until after the mid-term election?
That’s right, folks. HHS announced on Friday that it is pushing back the open enrollment period to November 15, 2014, according to Bloomberg. Open enrollment was set to begin on October 15, just weeks before the November 4 mid-term election.
Why would HHS do this? It’s a sign that the administration expects health insurance premiums for plans on the state and federal Obamacare exchanges will be much higher than anticipated. Stories of “sticker shock” would be a big problem for Democrats running in competitive races across the country. Any technical issues user experience would also be a non-factor.
News broke late Saturday evening that a historic deal had been reached between Iran and six countries — including the United States, Russia, and China — that would limit the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons.
The “historic” deal would require the regime in Teheran to destroy its 20 percent uranium and freeze the 3.5 percent stock the country has currently produced for its nuclear energy program.
The Washington Post explains that 20 percent uranium is “needed for research reactors that produce isotopes for cancer treatment and other applications, such as agricultural to enhance fertilizers.” The paper notes that this level of enrichment is “only several steps away from being boosted to weapons-grade levels at more than 90 percent.”
In return, there would be no further sanctions against Iran for at least six months, provided that the regime allows daily inspections and follows through on the destruction of the higher levels of enriched uranium.
“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” said President Barack Obama in a televised statement late Saturday evening. “Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.”
It has long been joked that President Obama’s statements come with expiration dates, the half-life of which is rapidly decaying. We have a new example. Earlier this week at a Wall Street Journal event, he said that he would be open to a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.
“If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like,” Mr. Obama said. “What we don’t want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done.”
Nevermind that this is how legislation was passed for the first nearly 200 years of our government’s history, this was seen as a huge concession. Even something as unified in our recollection as the New Deal was actually a series of bills and programs enacted over nearly a decade in the 1930s.
But apparently that approach is no longer viable in the age of the grand bargain and comprehensive reforms. Today White House Press Secretary Jay Carney simultaneously announced and enforced the expiration date on Obama’s previous statement on immigration reform earlier this week by declaring that the President wouldn’t sign any bill that wasn’t all-inclusive.
“In the end, this has to be comprehensive,” Carney told reporters during the daily White House briefing.
A few days ago, Reason’s Nick Gillespie had a must-read piece that The Daily Beast, to their credit, saw fit to run, in spite of the fact that it lays out, in horrifying detail, how the millennials are running away from home (that home being The Obama White House):
Back in 2008, Barack Obama seemed like the coolest cat to hit the national scene in a long time, almost scientifically engineered to appeal to idealistic young Americans. He was the perfect combination of a dream dad and an older brother who could run you ragged up and down the basketball court, wink and nod about smoking dope, and hip you to some older but still cool music, you know? In 2008, the Pravda of youth culture, Rolling Stone, slathered the future president with praise for being so with it that he even knew how to use…an iPod. We were all pretty sure that his eventual Republican challenger, John McCain, had stopped listening to music when Rudy Vallee went electric or Stephen Foster released his Chris Gaines record or something, but there Obama was, listening to Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma, Sheryl Crow, and even Jay-Z. “I have pretty eclectic tastes,” Obama told Rolling Stone. He even went on to invoke “Maggie’s Farm,” Dylan’s classic song of generational defiance and opting out. “It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric,” explained.
Yeah, well, it’s all over now baby blue.
During an appearance on CNN’s Crossfire, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) declined to endorse his home state colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for reelection next year.
The comments came during a discussion on internal strife in the Republican Party, including primary challenges to incumbents who don’t always vote in a manner with the fiscally conservative views they espouse on the campaign trail. Van Jones, a former Obama Administration official turned pundit, asked Scott if he was supporting Graham.
“You know, as you three have heard recently, I am up for reelection myself. I’m going to make sure that Tim Scott gets out and knocks on as many doors as possible,” the junior South Carolina senator demurred.
“No endorsement for Lindsey tonight?” asked Jones, to which Scott replied, “I’m certainly going to work really hard for Tim Scott reelection.”
It’s not uncommon for a politician who is up for reelection not to endorse in other races during primary season for fear of upsetting supporters. Scott, who was appointed to the seat in December, may truly just want to ensure his own reelection rather than getting involved in another race. That’s one take.
Americans have been inundated with stories about the Obamacare meltdown, there has been some news about the NSA and domestic surveillance programs in the last few days, and none of it is good.
TechDirt reported on Tuesday that Justice Department is fighting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order to release the government’s secret interpretation of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Section 215 of the 2001 anti-terrorism law has been used to justify domestic spying programs employed by the NSA, despite a clear limitation on whom the government can collect information. At some point since its passage, however, the government came up with its own interpretation that says something entirely different.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who sponsored the law, contends that the NSA is defying congressional intent as the provision only allows intelligence agencies to seize records related to an actual investigation into terrorist activity.
“The phone records of innocent Americans do not relate to terrorism, whatsoever; and they are not reasonably likely to lead to information that relates to terrorism,” said Sensenbrenner in a speech last month at the Cato Institute. “Put simply, the phone calls we make to our friends, our families, and business associates are private and have nothing to do with terrorism or the government’s efforts to stop it.”
Sheila Salter is a small business owner from North Carolina, founder of early2surg, a marketing company specializing in the surgical device industry. She is not happy that the health plan she had was taken from her and now has to purchase a much more expensive government-approved plan on the Obamacare exchanges.
Salter showed members of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee a chart comparing her pre-Obamacare plan cost her $202 a month and the plan she was offered through the exchange. The plan through the exchange has more than doubled her premiums. With the “essential benefit” mandate, the plan will cost her $584 per month, or more $4,584 each year.
“When I hear people talk about oh, you know, go to the exchanges, shop, shop, shop. You have one plan, okay? That plan includes the benefits listed in the left-hand column. Now you can see Sheila’s plan,” Salter told the committee, chaired by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). “Sheila’s plan was the one that I chose. I chose my services. I’ve done that all these years. I chose those services, chose that deductible for $202 a month.”
“Now, with Obamacare, I have to have those ten essential benefits. Now I challenge anybody in this room to look at the services that I selected for myself, noting that I’m 61. I now I don’t look it, and I have no children or history of alcohol or drug abuse. Yet. Okay, because this is driving me to drink,” she said to laughter in the room. “But does anybody here really think that I need all the services on the left-hand column? I don’t think so.”
The Obamacare disaster has put Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is a tough spot. Not only is he finding discontent from vulnerable Democrats who are fearing for their political futures, Nevada’s largest paper is calling on Reid to consider Republican healthcare ideas because of the Obamacare “meltdown.”
The Las Vegas Journal-Review isn’t buying lines from President Barack Obama and other congressional Democrats who claim that Republicans who oppose the law don’t have any healthcare policy alternatives. The paper points to a comprehensive reform package introduced by Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA) with a number of ideas from which to draw.
“Rep. Price’s plan is lacking in paper weight — it’s 250 pages, compared with the more than 2,000 pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its accompanying thousands more pages of regulations — but it’s heavy on ideas that would make health insurance and medical care more affordable,” wrote the Journal-Review’s editorial board.
Shortly after last week’s brutal Quinnipiac poll was released, we noted that there was a significant decline in President Obama’s support from young people, a generation frequently referred to as “Millennials.”
While this crucial bloc of Americans overwhelmingly backed President Obama in his re-election, their support began to wane in mid-to-late June, around the time the NSA spying controversy became public knowledge.
The Quinnipiac poll isn’t a one-off. The Obamacare disaster has, seemingly, intensified young Americans’ frustration with him, as the details of this week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll show, via Rare:
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday shows young adults, the voting bloc President Obama wooed and won by sweeping margins in 2008 and 2012, have withdrawn their support of the president’s pet project.
During her visit to Florida earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters that launching the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, on October 1 “was a bad call” (emphasis added):
On Tuesday, Sebelius told the AP it would work for most users by the end of the month, but would still require fixes because of the magnitude of the first-of-its-kind project.
“We recognize that there will still be periodic spikes, glitches, whatever that people will experience,” she said.
When asked why officials pushed ahead with the Oct. 1 launch date despite warnings the site hadn’t been properly tested, Sebelius said they were hoping to give consumers as much time as possible to enroll before coverage begins in January.
“We were hoping to maximize that,” she said. “Clearly that was a bad call.”
Administration officials are now trying to spin the problems with the website by claiming that it’s working for 90% of people who have been sent “try us again” emails. But a Gallup poll released this week found that 63% of uninsured Americans who have visited both state and federal exchange website report a negative experience. Just 34% said they had a positive experience.