Recent Posts From Jason Pye
We likely won’t have solid numbers until next month, but various media outlets have reported that “enrollments,” a loosely defined term, through the federal and state Obamacare exchanges have increased since the beginning of the month.
The New York Times noted on Tuesday that enrollments on the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov, have jumped to “more than 50,000” in the first two weeks of November, from last month’s dismal total of 26,284.
Similarly, California has seen enrollments “nearly double” on its state exchange, according to the Los Angeles Times, and that Connecticut and Kentucky “are outpacing their enrollment estimates.” Supporters of the law have seized on this, essentially saying, “There’s interest! States with functioning websites are getting enrollments.”
Yes and no. No one denied that there would be increased interest in the exchanges before the end of the year. Many want to ensure that they’ve enrolled before December 15 so that their coverage would be in place by the beginning of the year.
The Obama Administration anticipated that California would report 91,000 enrollments in October. They reported 35,364, roughly 39% of the initial estimate. Even if the numbers have nearly doubled and sustains that pace, the Golden State is still lagging.
Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Miami on Tuesday to meet Obamacare “navigators,” those tasked with providing assistance to people who want to sign up for a health plan on the exchanges, when the federal Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, crashed on someone trying to enroll: (emphasis added):
Sebelius, wearing green, walked through the front doors of North Shore Hospital near Miami Shores where she shook hands with hospital staff and members of the Epilepsy Foundation who are staffing the Obamacare Navigation center housed off the hospital’s lobby. There she met with the team helping South Floridians to sign-up on line or on paper.
“So she is being helpful,” asked the secretary to a couple sitting at one table of a navigator. “Absolutely,” they responded.
At a second table, the secretary met Carmen Salero who was trying to sign up online. As the secretary and Salero made small talk, CBS4′s Brian Andrews noticed the site crash on the lap top in front of them.
“The screen says I’m sorry but the system is temporarily down,” Andrews pointed out. “Uh oh,” responded the secretary. “That happens every day,” said Salerno, “it must mean a lot of people are on there trying to get coverage.”
Well, that’s embarrassing.
The hits just keep on coming. On top of the last week’s brutal Quinnipiac poll and the equally terrible Washington Post/ABC News survey released on Tuesday, new numbers from CBS News show President Barack Obama’s approval rating down to 37% and opposition to Obamacare rising to 60%:
President Obama’s job approval rating has plunged to the lowest of his presidency, according to a new CBS News poll released Wednesday, and Americans’ approval of the Affordable Care Act has dropped to its lowest since CBS News started polling on the law.
Thirty-seven percent now approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, down from 46 percent in October — a nine point drop in just a month. Mr. Obama’s disapproval rating is 57 percent — the highest level for this president in CBS News Polls.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has come under intense scrutiny this year due to its targeting of the conservative and Tea Party organizations that were trying to apply for tax-exempt status. For many, that scandal highlighted the need to do away with the embattled agency and find a better, less privacy invasive way for the federal government to collect revenue.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has taken up this cause. He has introduced H.J. Res. 104, a measure to repeal the 16th Amendment of the Constitution, which authorizes the federal government to levy and collect the income tax.
“Viable alternative plans for raising revenue fairly to support constitutionally enumerated functions of the federal government have been proposed. As long as the 16th Amendment is in place and lobbyists dominate Washington, these alternatives will never be considered,” said Bridenstine in a press release.
Bridenstine is a cosponsor to the Fair Tax Act, which would also repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax. The “Fair Tax” would establish a 23% national retail sales tax. His office said that his 16th Amendment repeal measure also had support from activists who back the flat tax.
The Oklahoma Republican contends that the current tax system is too complex, unfair, and discourages entrepreneurial spirit of Americans and job creation. He also noted that the time needed for taxpayers to comply with the tax code is burdensome.
It’s no secret that Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post blogger who writes from a “conservative perspective,” is not a fan of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). She had frequently written screeds attacking his foreign policy views, which she erroneously labels as “isolationism,” and his approach to politics.
Rubin is, strangely, obsessed with Paul. She’s also written missives against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), classlessly calling him a “jerk” because he got under the skin of some of his Republican colleagues for challenging them on gun control legislation.
But Rubin’s latest post on Paul is breathtakingly incoherent and downright silly. She assails Paul for comments he made earlier this week on Fox News about proposed sanctions against Iran.
“The Kentucky right-winger apparently didn’t learn anything from the reception to his speech at the Heritage Foundation earlier this year, which suggested containment as an option for Iran.” wrote Rubin on Tuesday. “In a Fox appearance, he came out with this muddled mess: Containment ‘shouldn’t be our policy. But I don’t think we should also say the extension of that, that we will never have containment as a policy. Containment actually, for 70 years, was a great policy.’”
President Barack Obama isn’t just struggling with falling approval ratings and rising public opposition to Obamacare. The Hill reported yesterday that he’s also finding growing concern among congressional Democrats and their aides who are worried that the botched rollout of the law could hurt the party (emphasis added):
President Obama’s relationship with congressional Democrats has worsened to an unprecedented low, Democratic aides say.
They are letting it be known that House and Senate Democrats are increasingly frustrated, bitter and angry with the White House over ObamaCare’s botched rollout, and that the president’s mea culpa in a news conference last week failed to soothe any ill will.
Sources who attended a meeting of House chiefs of staff on Monday say the room was seething with anger over the immense damage being done to the Democratic Party and talk was of scrapping rollout events for the Affordable Care Act.
“Here we are, we’re supposed to be selling this to people, and it’s all screwed up,” one chief of staff ranted. “This either gets fixed or this could be the demise of the Democratic Party.
“It’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen it,” the aide said of the recent mood on Capitol Hill. “It’s bad. It’s really bad.”
In a video from his campaign, Ben Sasse, a Republican running for Nebraska’s open Senate seat, blasted President Barack Obama’s so-called “administrative fix” that could mitigate some of the insurance cancellations that Americans have experienced because of Obamacare. The fix, however, is emblematic of a larger problem, as Sasse explained.
“The President did not actually fix anything. But he did provide a constitutional crisis,” said Sasse. “Understand, President Obama cannot legally do what he proposed to do [last week] and them media let him get away with claiming.”
“He can’t fix part of a law by fiat. Our President is not a king. He doesn’t get to make decrees. He doesn’t even have a line-item veto under our current system of government,” he continued. “The only branch of government under our Constitution that has any power to change this law is the Congress.”
The White House is facing intense pressure from lawmakers to hold someone accountable for the botched Obamacare rollout that has plagued the administration for well over a month. Even Robert Gibbs, a former White House official, has said that someone will have to answer for the disaster.
But it seems that President Barack Obama isn’t prepared to hold anyone responsible, based on comments made earlier this week by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Carney told reporters that the team tasked with fixing the problematic federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov, is focusing on their work and implementation. He added that “Monday morning quarterbacking is not what we’re engaged in.”
Asked whether there could be a time that someone is held accountable for the botched rollout, Carney said, “Well, hypothetically, you could say that.”
“I think it’s also the case that personnel changes happen all the time. And I wouldn’t necessarily associate any particular one with any incident, which is — I’m just offering that caution,” he added.
Now, Carney’s comments, obviously, gave President Obama some room to make changes if the website is still not fully functional by the self-imposed November 30 deadline. It does seem that they’re hoping the will eventually blow over.
President Obama said last week that he was ultimately responsible for the botched rollout of the law, adding that the onus was on him to “do something about it.” He also said, however, that he was never told that that the website wasn’t functional.
Opponents of the 2010 healthcare reform law have long-called it by the pejorative moniker, “Obamacare,” just like they did in 1993 when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton rolled out her healthcare reform proposals. Opponents dubbed it “Hillarycare.”
The Obama Administration and congressional Democrats embraced the label. The Department of Health and Human Services purchased Google ads to promote “Obamacare” and President Obama approved of the label in an October 2011 campaign speech.
But Politico noted yesterday that the White House and administration have reversed course amid President Obama’s falling approval ratings and growing public opposition to the law and are now referring to Obamacare as the “Affordable Care Act,” the title of the legislation passed by Congress:
Remember that time President Barack Obama said that he “did not have enough awareness about the problems” with the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov? It turns out that he was, in fact, briefed about a private consulting team’s report that raised significant concerns with the development of the website:
Bits and pieces have leaked out over the past few weeks about flaws in the site’s development process. Monday night, however, Republican lawmakers who oppose Obamacare released a report and recommendations prepared by McKinsey & Co at the government’s request in March 2013.
It cited, among other things, a rushed process that left insufficient time for testing and a focus by officials on getting people enrolled versus making the system work right.
The consequence, it said, could be system failures that could make enrollment slow or at times impossible for consumers, which is exactly what happened.
Questioned about the McKinsey study, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president had been briefed on it in the spring.
But he said the president’s familiarity with the report and recommendations did not contradict previous statements from the White House that described Obama as surprised by the scope of flaws in HealthCare.gov.
Obama was told that the problems identified by McKinsey were being addressed, Carney said. And Obama had never claimed to be unaware of “red flags” about the site, only of their seriousness.