Recent Posts From Jason Pye
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.
The millions of health insurance policy cancellations that Americans are receiving have been well-publicized and created a political firestorm for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. But it may just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
President Obama and his apologists have insisted that the health plan cancellations only hit a small portion of the public — “fewer than 5 percent of Americans,” they say, though, that equates to as many as 15 million people. But the “grandfathered plan” regulations — which are responsible for the cancellations — affect more than just a small portion of the market.
Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimates that employer-based health plans may see substantial changes in 2014 that could affect anywhere between 50 million and 100 million Americans:
A new and independent analysis of ObamaCare warns of a ticking time bomb, predicting a second wave of 50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations next fall — right before the mid-term elections.
An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.
One of the most anticipated House races in 2014 will be the rematch between Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District (UT-04). The candidates are 11 months away from the general election, and shots are already being fired by both sides:
Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love says Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is an ineffective, “squishy” moderate who has alienated Democrats and has no clout with Republicans.
Matheson says Love is a tea-party extremist who, if elected, would only add to the polarization crippling Congress.
“I am not an extremist. I’ve never been an extremist,” Love said Tuesday during a visit to Washington, D.C.. “I’ve talked to other tea-party members and, you know, the tea [partyers] have different ideas of who they are and what they believe in and what I’m telling you now is they’ve been the ones who label me. I don’t want anyone to put me in a box.”
The incumbent Democrat barely survived a challenge from Love last year. In the run up to the 2012 election, Matheson trailed by double digits, but managed to pull out a 2,646-vote win on election day.
Matheson has been trying to distance himself from national Democrats. He opposed Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid for re-election as leader of the House Democratic Caucus and has voted with Republicans on several issues, including Obamacare.
There were many reasons that President Barack Obama’s so-called “administrative fix” was so unpractical. Not only have insurers spent more than three years and considerable dollars preparing for the rollout of Obamacare only to be asked to shift course on a dime, the proposal would assuredly result in larger than normal premium increases.
Lo and behold, that’s exactly what will happen in North Carolina. The Raleigh News and Observer reported yesterday that Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the largest insurer in the state, will seek premiums increase of up to 24% on plans that will be extended through President Obama’s fix:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Tuesday that it will raise rates as much as 24 percent on 2013 individual health insurance plans that are being extended next year.
The N.C. Department of Insurance will review the proposed rates and, if it determines they are too high, it could order Blue Cross to issue refunds to customers. The agency has not set a deadline to review the proposed rates, which go into effect Jan. 1.
“The key thing is – this is one more year,” said Blue Cross spokeswoman Michelle Douglas. “It’s not saying you can keep this plan forever.”
The extension applies only to Blue Cross customers on individual plans who were enrolled on or before Oct. 1. Those who signed up after will lose their plans at the end of this year. However, legislation before Congress would allow all Americans to buy the 2013 plans, not just those who enrolled by the Oct. 1 deadline.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and most members of the Democratic conference voted today to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for executive nominations, excluding Supreme Court appointments, after Republicans blocked three appointments to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Executive nominees now need only 51 votes to win confirmation from the Senate. The change was approved by the Senate by a vote of 52 to 48. Three Democrats — Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined every Senate Republican to vote against the rule change.
Reid complained that Republicans had forced him to call for the change in Senate rules because of, what he called, “unprecedented obstruction” and claimed that the it’s “something both sides should be willing to live with to make Washington work again.”
“The American people are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock. The American people – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock,” said Reid from the Senate floor. “The American people want Washington to work for American families once again.”
The rule change is an attempt to change the narrative. President Obama and Democrats have talked up “gridlock” in government to get attention off of the problems with Obamacare. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made that point to colleagues this morning.