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.
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.”
The legality of President Barack Obama’s “administrative fix” has come into question by legal scholars who, correctly, note that the administration doesn’t have the authority to arbitrarily delay enforcement of politically inconvenient provisions of Obamacare.
The criticism isn’t coming from critics of the law, but also those who voted for it. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) told CBS News that the legality of the move was one of the reasons he voted for the Republican-proposed Keep Your Health Plan Act, despite a veto threat from the White House.
Rahall was asked if voted for the Keep Your Health Plan Act because he thought President Obama’s fix didn’t go far enough. “I voted yes, perhaps that was part of the reason,” Rahall told CBS News. “But the main reason was, I’m not sure he had the legal underpinning to do what he did.”
President Barack Obama bowed to pressure from congressional Democrats worried about the impact that insurance cancellations could have in the 2014 mid-term election by announcing an “administrative fix” to the law.
“Already people who have plans that pre-date the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. That’s what’s called a grandfather clause that was included in the law,” President Obama told reporters at the White House.
“Today we’re going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law too effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect,” he said. “[I]nsurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be cancelled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been cancelled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.”
The administrative fix, which will be carried out through regulatory fiat, will let insurers continue to offer plans already in effect that are slated to be canceled at the end of the year, if they so choose. It would also require insurers to let inform consumers about plans available on the federal and state exchanges.
Sue Klinkhamer, a former district director for Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), had joined a growing number of Americans who have seen their health insurance premiums rise because of Obamacare, and she’s livid about it, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Klinkhamer, who has coverage through Blue Cross, was recently told that her policy would be canceled at the end of the year, but she was given other options. Those options, however, are more expensive than the policy she currently has.
The Chicago Sun-Times obtained an email from Klinkhamer, in which she expressed her dismay and anger, to her former boss and colleagues.
“I spent two years defending Obamacare. I had constituents scream at me, spit at me and call me names that I can’t put in print. The congressman was not re-elected in 2010 mainly because of the anti-Obamacare anger. When the congressman was not re-elected, I also (along with the rest of our staff) lost my job,” wrote Klinkhamer. Foster was defeated in 2010, but ran again in 2012 and won.
“I was upset that because of the health care issue, I didn’t have a job anymore but still defended Obamacare because it would make health care available to everyone at, what I assumed, would be an affordable price. I have now learned that I was wrong,” she explained. “Very wrong.”
Klinkhamer had been paying $291 per month for a policy with a $3,500 annual deductible. The cost for a similar plan under Obamacare will be $647. She could also pay for $322 for a plan with a $6,500 annual deductible.
The federal health insurance website isn’t the only problem with Obamacare, even though its received the brunt of attention since its miserable, humiliating launch at the beginning of the month. The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, President Barack Obama’s hometown paper, reflected on some of other problems with the law and called for a year delay in the individual mandate.
“Not long after she uttered that infamous phrase [“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it…”], Pelosi got her way. She stampeded House Democrats to vote for a massive, complex Obamacare plan that few lawmakers in either party had time to understand. She and Democratic Senate leaders ramrodded Obamacare without a single Republican vote,” noted the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board on Friday.
“Democratic lawmakers voted for a bill without a clear idea of how well it would work,” they explained. “Now they know.”
The Tribune contended that Obamacare is “faltering under its own bureaucratic weight,” pointing to the trouble with the websites. These troubles, they note, has caused many Democrats to break with the administration and call for accountability, which could put HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ job in jeopardy.
Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) joined the chorus of Democrats urging relief for Americans who could be hit with ObamaCare’s individual mandate tax because of the ongoing problems with the federal health insurance exchange website.
“Since October 1st, millions of Americans have attempted to access healthcare.gov to try to learn about the health insurance coverage they’re required to buy. And every day, we’re learning more and more about the problems they’re facing,” said Barrow on Wednesday. “Folks are frustrated, and rightfully so.”
Barrow introduced legislation at the beginning of the year that would repeal a few of the most controversial provisions in the law, including the individual mandate and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB, also referred to as “death panels”). He has also co-sponsored a measure introduced by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) to repeal the employer mandate.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is as classless as ever.
The controversial Florida Democrat sent out an email on Monday features an image of a burning cross — using it to spell “Tea Party” — and the body of the email features comments he made during a recent interview with Al Sharpton on MSNBC.
“I think that ordinary Americans are with the President. They’re appalled by the Tea Party’s tactics,” Grayson told Sharpton. “At this point, the Tea Party is no more popular than the Klan.”
“They simply want to bring about the End of Days, as quickly as possible,” said Grayson of the Tea Party. “That’s the ultimate Tea Party Republican desire, to bring about the End of Days. The Republican Party has become the largest suicide pact in history. And I hope they don’t take us with them.”
Grayson, who is unapologetic about the email, isn’t new to controversy, though this may be his most distasteful example to date. In 2009, he threatened to imprison an activist who created a website that was critical of him. He also accused Republicans who opposed ObamaCare of wanting the sick to “die quickly.”
House Republican leadership was dealt an embarrassing blow yesterday when they had to pull their own spending plan and debt ceiling package off the floor because they didn’t have enough votes to pass it.
The day began with House leaders talking about their own bill, despite progress between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The House package would have funded the federal government until January 15 and extended the debt ceiling until February 7, roughly the same dates as the Reid-McConnell deal.
But there were a couple of aspects to the package drew opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats, including the two-year delay of the medical device tax and the ending the special subsidies for members of Congress. The House plan would have also required President Barack Obama to purchase coverage through the ObamaCare exchange.
The House proposal caused Reid and McConnell to postpone their talks, prompting some senators to question House leaders for getting involved when a deal in the Senate was close. Reid blasted Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) from the Senate floor, accusing him and other House leaders of trying to “torpedo bipartisan progress with a bill that can’t pass the Senate and won’t pass.”
“I’m disappointed with John Boehner, who’d, once again, try to preserve his role at the expense of the country,” added Reid.
The political stalemate in Washington that has led to a government shutdown has Democrats salivating at the prospect of winning back the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term election.
MoveOn.org, a leftist organization, released a set of polls earlier this week showing that 24 Republicans could be vulnerable next year, alleging that the government shutdown “has significant electoral implications” in the district they represent. The polls, which were conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), were immediately seized upon by Democrats, who need a net-17 seats to win control of the chamber.
While it’s true that many polls show Republicans taking the brunt of the blame of the government shutdown — though a recent CNN poll shows that blame is pretty close to evenly spread — Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst and namesake of the Rothenberg Political Report, disputes the notion that control of the House is up for grabs.
“Is the House in play now? Of course not. My newsletter’s most recent race-by-race assessment, completed just days before the shutdown began, found that the most likely overall outcome next year is a small gain for one of the parties,” wrote Rothenberg, who spent a fair amount of the column picking apart the Public Policy Polling surveys.