Tuesday, November 2, 2010 will be recorded in the history books as one of the most historic and tumultuous in the annals of American politics. Just two short years after a relative political neophyte named Barack Obama swept across the political landscape, winning the presidency, increasing Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, and driving out record numbers of youth and minorities to the polls with his steady mantra of “Hope and Change”, it seems some of the luster has faded.
Indeed, it is precisely because America saw little hope in their smooth-talking but results-deficient president that they turned on him and his party resoundingly. Even up to Election Day he was rallying the Democrat troops, and Speaker Pelosi was proclaiming that Democrats would retain control of the House, yet the rest of America had seen the writing on the wall for months. As it turned out, the American people had placed their hope in changing the balance of power.
With a smattering of races across the country still too close to call and undergoing recounts, here is what we know. The Republican Party has picked up at least 61 seats in the House, giving them their largest majority there since 1946, and five in the Senate, rendering Democrats impotent in any attempts to ram through any more controversial legislation. Republicans have picked up nearly a dozen governorships, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. The state legislatures in North Carolina and Alabama have turned Republican for the first time since the end of the War Between the States. This was part of the 11-state pick-up for Republicans of state legislatures.
This historic Republican wave ended the tenure of some of the longest serving Democrats, including Ike Skelton (elected in 1976), John Spratt (1983), Paul Kanjorski (1982), Rick Boucher (1982) and Russ Feingold (1992).
“Last night was devastating, no question.” - MoveOn.org
The dust is still settling on last night’s returns. We’re going to hear a lot of analysis over the mid-terms and what it means for both the new majority for House Republicans, Democrats that survived in both chambers and President Barack Obama.
As it currently stands, Republicans gained over 60 seats in the House and six in the Senate. They also picked up at least nine governerships and 19 state legislatures. The states where the GOP made significant gains make up a chunk of the electoral college.
Keith Olbermann and others can deny it all they want, it was a historic night. Newt Gingrich, who was behind the Republican Revolution in 1994, is calling last night “a more decisive repudiation” than what President Bill Clinton faced. The Republican Party will enter the 112th Congress with their largest majority since 1928, during the Hoover Administration, and the largest pick-up for either party since 1948.
Podcast: Immigration, Crist Party Switch, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell On Hold AGAIN, 2010 Elections, Guests: Mike Hassinger & Doug Deal
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.”
There is a provision in Obamacare that was key to getting insurers to back the law that protects them from financial losses they may incur if too many sick and unhealthy people end up in the risk pool.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) plans to introduce legislation, likely this week, that would repeal the “risk corridor” provision of the law, which would get taxpayers off the hook for a bailout in the event that insurers faces losses:
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the provision could amount to a bailout of the insurance industry, which stands to lose if the troubled Obamacare exchanges fail to enroll enough people to make the system financially viable. Obamacare enrollment has already been stymied by glitches at the healthcare.gov sign-up site and it could be dampened again under an administrative fix President Obama proposed this week to resolve problems with millions of cancelled policies.
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said the Tea Party-aligned senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate is concerned that the fix Obama proposed would increase the likelihood that insurance companies would need a federal bailout. And the existing law would effectively give Obama a blank check to deal with it, he said.
“We need to protect taxpayers from having to bail out anyone as a consequence of Obamacare,” Conant said in an email exchange with the Washington Examiner. “Rubio’s bill will fully repeal the ‘risk corridor’ provision in Obamacare, preventing a bailout.”
The problems with the federal Obamacare exchange website have driven even more Americans to back a one year delay of the individual mandate, a controversial provision of the law that requires virtually all Americans to purchase health insurance coverage.
Amid the fury over the embarrassing launch of the federal health insurance exchange, the Obama Administration has announced a delay in the enforcement of the individual mandate, the provision of ObamaCare that requires nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance or face a punitive tax.
The delay, announced late Wednesday, aligns enforcement of the individual mandate with the end of the open enrollment period for the exchanges, which ends on March 31, 2014. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated on Monday that the temporary delay was in the works.
Prior to the delay, an uninsured individual would have had to purchase health insurance coverage by February 15 to avoid the individual mandate tax. The tax for 2014 is $95 or 1% of gross income, whichever amount is greater. But the delay now brings the mandate inline with the end of the exchanges.
“What the administration is doing today is probably best described as a tweak to the individual mandate: They are allowing anyone who purchases coverage during open enrollment (up through March 31) to not face a tax penalty for those three months they spent uncovered,” Sarah Kliff explained at the Washington Post. “This is only true for people who buy coverage through the marketplace.”
“How much this change had to do with HealthCare.gov’s technical problems isn’t totally clear. On the one hand, it certainly helps alleviate some of the time pressures on the administration if it can give shoppers six additional weeks to purchase coverage. On the other, it’s easy to see this change getting made in any situation,” she added.
During the daily press briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t answer a simple question about the problems plaguing the federal exchange website in relation to the individual mandate.
Jon Karl of ABC News asked Carney if the White House would delay the individual mandate due to the problems with the federal exchange. Carney deflected initially, leading Karl to fire back, “Well, why not? Why not delay? You are going to charge people a fine for not enrolling.”
Carney went into a long-winded, deflective answer in which he said that people who are in a state that hasn’t expanded Medicaid won’t be hit the individual mandate tax and that the administration is focused on implementing the law.
“We’re three weeks into a six month enrollment period,” Carney told Karl. “Our focus is on making the Affordable Care Act work and making sure Americans have access to these plans, not on figuring out whose to blame for a problem that clearly exists and we need to fix.”
The individual mandate is a provision of ObamaCare that requires Americans to purchase health insurance coverage or face a punitive tax. The tax in 2014 will $95 or 1% of gross income, which ever is greater. It increases each year thereafter. This unpopular provision is considered to be the heart of the law at the Obama Administration hopes that young and healthy Americans will sign up for coverage to offset insurance costs on the sick and elderly.
While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have received a bump in Public Policy Polling’s most recent national survey of 2016 Republican presidential candidates, the latest national poll from Quinnipiac shows that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tops the field.
The poll, conducted between September 23-29, found that Paul takes 17% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) aren’t far behind, with 13% and 12%, respectively.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) is in fourth with 11%. Cruz is tied with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with 10% a piece.
“The race for the GOP nomination remains wide open with a handful of candidates bunched together in low double-digits,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a release on the results. “Sen. Ted Cruz’ high-profile role opposing Obamacare has added him to that group, but he probably will have to find other ways to keep his star rising.”
“Over the last several months, Sen. Marco Rubio’s star has fallen a bit and Sen. Rand Paul’s has risen a bit, while Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Christopher Christie and Congressman Paul Ryan have essentially been flickering in place,” he added.
Here’s a look at latest Quinnipiac poll compared to the one that the organization took back in April.
It looks like conservatives in the House of Representatives have succeeded. Robert Costa reported late yesterday afternoon at the National Review that Republican leadership will allow a vote on a Continuing Resolution (CR) that defunds ObamaCare, though what comes after that remains in question:
Leadership sources tell me the House GOP will soon vote on a continuing resolution that simultaneously funds the federal government and defunds Obamacare. Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are expected to announce the decision at Wednesday’s closed-door conference meeting.
Here’s how my sources expect this gambit to unfold: The House passes a “defund CR,” throws it to the Senate, and waits to see what Senator Ted Cruz and his allies can do. Maybe they can get it through, maybe they can’t. Boehner and Cantor will be supportive. But if Cruz and company can’t get it through the Senate, the leadership will urge Republicans to turn their focus to the debt limit, avoid a shutdown, and pass a CR that doesn’t defund Obamacare.
Conservative members in the House and outside grassroots and pro-growth groups have been pushing hard to kill a plan backed by leadership that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. They’ve rallied behind an alternative proposed by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) that would delay and defund ObamaCare until 2015. Graves’ measure now has 79 co-sponsors, according to his office.