Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, isn’t exactly known for carrying water for Republicans. But you wouldn’t have known that on Monday night when he sat down with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss ObamaCare.
During the nearly 11-minute interview, Stewart grilled Sebelius about the break big businesses have received and asked why individuals, especially those who may not want to participate in the law, aren’t getting the same treatment.
Stewart began the segment with a dig at the glitches that the health insurance websites have experienced since they were rolled out last week. “We’re gonna do a challenge,” he told Sebelius as he pulled out a laptop. “I’m gonna try and download every movie ever made and you’re gonna try sign-up for ObamaCare, and we’re gonna see which happens first.”
Sebelius began touting the exchanges, claiming that people will have a chance to compare insurance plans “[f]or the first time,” ignoring the fact that there have long-been websites, such as eSurance, that have allowed consumers to shop and compare and contrast between plans that fit their needs.
Opponents of ObamaCare tried to warn Americans, particular those who are covered through an individual health insurance policy, that their premiums would go up because of the law. But many either didn’t listen or dismissed the concerns.
But the San Jose Mercury News recently took note of complaints about the dramatic increase in premiums that two supporters of President Obama will see because of ObamaCare (emphasis added):
Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.
Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.
“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,” Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”
The Obama Administration won’t say how many Americans have enrolled in a health insurance plan through the ObamaCare exchanges. The White House has been touting the number of hits the exchange websites have had since their launch at the beginning of the month, despite many reports of glitches.
But during an interview this weekend, President Barack Obama couldn’t say how many people had enrolled for coverage. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew completely avoided the question. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was unable to provide numbers last week and during his briefing yesterday with reporters. He did say, however, that data would be released on a monthly basis.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) released a new ad last weekend mocking the launch of the ObamaCare state exchanges, which were plagued with glitches and problems, making for a frustrating experience for those who tried to buy health insurance coverage.
The RNC’s ad showed video of President Obama touting the exchanges, which were launched last Tuesday, cutting to news reports documenting the glitches, not just with the website, but also one reporter’s frustrating experience calling into the 800-number provided on the exchange website. At the end of the ad, the RNC notes that President Obama “gave big business a break from ObamaCare,” a reference to the administration’s delay of the employer mandate, and asks, “Why not you?”:
A Dairy Queen in Washington state had been making their own homemade sauces for customers. But because of ObamaCare’s menu-labeling requirements, a little publicized provision of the law, they’ve had to switch to a pre-packaged sauce or discontinue sauces.
“Due to the nutritional labeling requirements of ObamaCare, we have to serve pre-packaged, pre-made fry sauce,” said the franchisee in a letter, made available by The Quinton Report. “We can no longer make our own as we have done for many years. The additional cost to us is substantial, about $5,800 per year.”
“I regret to say, we are forced to pass the cost of pre-packaged fry sauce, for take-out, along to you the customer. We will serve pre-made bulk fry sauce in the lobby at no additional charge,” the letter continued. “It is for the same reason we have had to discontinue our Buffalo Sauce and Habanero Ketchup, which were made in-store.”
“Please be assured we are doing our very best to keep the cost to you, our customer, down while still maintaining the quality you have come to expect from us,” the letter added.
This provision of ObamaCare (Section 4205) requires restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to disclose the caloric content of menu items to their customers. It also applies to grocery and convenience store chains.
Though his approval rating is still underwater, President Barack Obama has seen his numbers jump slightly since early last month, according to a wide-ranging poll released on Friday by Fox News. But ObamaCare remains unpopular and blame for the government shutdown is spread around evenly.
The poll found that President Obama’s approval rating now stands at 45%, while 49% disapprove of his job performance. That’s up from 40/54 in September. Congress, on the other hand, saw its approval rating fall, from an already abysmal 17/75 last month to 13/81 in October.
President Obama’s approval ratings on key issues have increased slightly. He sees a 7-point jump on healthcare, from 38/58 in September to 45/51 in October. His approval rating on the economy didn’t see as high of a jump, but it did increase slightly from a tepid 37/60 last month to 40/56 this month.
The uptick in President Obama’s numbers can probably be attributed to the government shutdown. To this point, the White House has been more effective in their messaging to the American public than congressional Republicans, who face hurdle due to the media’s general deference to President Obama. It is important to note, however, that his approval ratings are still underwater across the board, and has been underwater since almost mid-July.
But when it comes to President Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare,” as we’ve come to know it), Americans’ still aren’t fans and would like to see changes.
If you were hoping the impasse over the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare would be solved over the weekend, you no doubt woke up to disappointing news this morning. Today is the seventh day of the government shutdown and it appears that the White House and Congress are no closer to a resolution.
While ObamaCare was the initial focus of House Republicans, they’ve now shifted their strategy to get a deal that would fund the federal government and raise the debt limit, which will be reached in 10 days.
The White House believes that they “are winning,” according to an anonymous source quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and that “[i]t doesn’t really matter” how long the government shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had harsh words in response to that quote, telling reporters on Friday that “[t]his isn’t some damn game.”
Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, has announced $400,000 ad buy in four states — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina — targeting vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014 for their refusal to defund ObamaCare.
Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AK), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) have all voted against House-passed spending measures to avert or end a government shutdown, siding President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The ads, all of which can be watched below, have the same script, just substituting the names of the senators in the states where they will be run. The ad targeting Pryor will serve as an example.
“Mark Pryor promised to represent you. Instead, Mark Pryor is working for Harry Reid and Barack Obama to protect ObamaCare,” says the narrator of the ad as headlines and other imagery is displayed. “Why won’t Mark Pryor stop the shutdown and defund ObamaCare.”
“Three days into the Democrats’ government shutdown, Senators Begich, Pryor, Landrieu and Hagan have a decision to make: stand with President Obama to protect a failed law that is hurting the country or reject partisan politics to protect the people they’re supposed to represent,” said Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, in a release announcing the ad buys.
Whether they like it or not, congressional Republicans may have squandered their chance to deal on the debt ceiling because of the current government shutdown.
House Republicans are absolutely right when they say that President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been unwilling to negotiate on a Continuing Resolution that would keep the government open. But they made a tactical political mistake by trying to defund and delay ObamaCare through a measure that would keep the federal government running.
Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the 2010 healthcare law, and they want it repealed. They’re seeing the effects of the law through higher insurance premiums and its effects on workers as many employers drop or change benefits, cut hours to avoid mandates and/or have scaled back plans to hire. Republicans have won the messaging battle on ObamaCare.
But early polls show Americans placing more blame on Republicans for the government shutdown than President Obama and Democrats. This isn’t entirely self-inflicted; after all, the media isn’t exactly doing them any favors by framing the narrative in a manner that helps the White House.
Wednesday didn’t bring much in the way of a resolution to the government shutdown. There was, however, some talking between the White House and congressional leaders, the first real discussion since the government shutdown began.
As the second day of the government shutdown began, it seemed that the war of words between all sides would continue. In an op-ed at USA Today yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wrote that President Barack Obama. “For years, the president has said that in a divided government, no one gets 100% of what they want,” he wrote. “But when will his words match his actions?”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) floated the idea of opening negotiations on tax reform, through a conference committee, if House Republicans would pass a so-called “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) and bring the government shutdown to an end. That idea was quicky dismissed by a spokesman for Boehner.
Word broke in the afternoon that President Obama would host congressional leaders from both parties to the White House to for talks on ending the shutdown, which was the first real discussion since the shutdown began on Tuesday.
While the meeting lasted for 90 minutes, there were no signs that the sides were any closer to an agreement. The Hill reports that the White House now wants to tie the debt ceiling to the CR while Boehner is sticking by his guns, demanding concessions on ObamaCare.