Expect more House Democrats to announce retirements

It was a mostly foregone conclusion that Republicans would keep control of the House of Representatives even before the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Now that there’s talk of a wave election, in which Republicans could build upon their majority in the House and take control of the Senate, there may be more Democrats who decide to retire rather than face voters this fall.

“We’ve seen a number of senior House Democrats announce their retirements,” noted John King yesterday on CNN’s Inside Politics. “I’m told in the next week to 10 days look for two, perhaps three, more as Democrats decide we’re not going to win the majority back, might as well get out of Dodge.”

Sorry, Obama, young people can avoid Obamacare by claiming “hardship”

With just two weeks left in the open enrollment period, the White House is pulling out all the stops to sway young people to sign up for health plans available on the Obamacare exchanges, even enlisting the help of NBA star LeBron James and the mothers of celebrities to help spread the message.

In an appearance on Friday with radio host Ryan Seacrest, President Barack Obama made a different pitch: sign-up for Obamacare or we’re going to tax you:

President Obama warned young people that if they don’t sign up for Obamacare by March 31, they will face a penalty — if they can afford it.

“If you can afford it — you just decide you don’t want to get it because your attitude is ‘nothing’s ever going to happen to me’ — then you’ll be charged a penalty,” Obama explained.
Obama was careful to specify that people who can’t afford Obamacare will not suffer a penalty, thanks to a “hardship exemption,” but encouraged everyone to sign up.

“[Y]ou never know what kind of curveballs life throws at you,” he warned.

Obamacare premium increases eclipse previous eight years combined

During testimony last week before the House Ways and Means Committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded that health insurance premiums would go up for plans in 2015, though she downplayed the increase by claiming that they would “go up at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010.”

There are varying estimates about how much premiums have gone up over the last several years, but everyone tends to agree that the increased costs are a concern. In fact, President Barack Obama has cited premium increases as part of the larger case for healthcare reform, promising that Obamacare would reduce premiums by $2,500 per year.

But, to Sebelius’ point, let’s take a look a premium increases, not just since 2010, but going back to 2005 through data provided by eHealthInsurance.com. As you can see in the chart below, the average individual health insurance premium rose by 37% from 2005 to 2013 and by 31% for the average family premium. Keep in mind that these are pre-Obamacare premiums.

 Average Individual and Family Premiums and Deductibles (With Year-over-Year Change) 2005-2013

Here’s the kicker, folks. eHealth, the nation’s first and largest private exchange, has also released data comparing average February 2013 premiums to unsubsidized plans that were being purchased in February 2014.

Turley blasts Obama’s “uber presidency”

Jonathan Turley continues to be one of the few leftists with a conscience when it comes to the concentration of power in the executive branch. Though he agrees with many of President Barack Obama’s policies, the Georgetown law professor, who recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee, has serious concerns about the means through which he has enacted them.

In a post at his blog on Friday, Turley responded to latest major change in the law, in which the administration ostensibly delayed enforcement of the individual mandate, blasting President Obama for ignoring the Constitution and criticizing Democrats for enabling the administration: (emphasis added):

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul leads GOP field, NRA files brief against NSA spying

“A limited state with free economic systems is the soil where the liberty tree blossoms.” — Orrin Woodward

— The most transparent administration ever: Remember that promise? Yeah, about that. “More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy,” the Associated Press reports. “The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.”

Obama owns up to another broken Obamacare promise

Barack Obama

In a speech on June 15, 2009 at the annual American Medical Association conference, President Barack Obama boldly promised, [N]o matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Many Americans have already learned that these two promises have turned out to be untrue. Nearly 5 million people lost their health insurance coverage, and many have lost access to the doctors that they previously had thanks to skimpy provider networks for plans on the exchanges.

Though President Obama half-heartedly apologized for the former, which PolitiFact dubbed the “Lie of the Year,” he hadn’t acknowledged that many Americans are losing access to their doctors — at least not until today.

During an interview with WebMD, President Obama admitted that some people may lose their doctor, though he unapologetically excused this by claiming that they’re saving money.

House Democrats keep members in line on Medicare, individual mandate delay

Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer

House Republicans brought up a measure that would stop planned Medicare payment cuts to doctors, paying for it through a five-year of the individual mandate. Fresh off a disappointing special election defeat in which Medicare cuts and Obamacare played a significant role, House Democratic leaders whipped votes against the bill to try to keep the conference in line:

Democrats are furiously whipping their caucus against a Republican bill that would pay for a bipartisan Medicare fix by delaying ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

That’s a change: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) did not whip a similar Republican bill earlier this month to remove the penalty for not buying insurance in 2014. The bill passed the House and picked up 27 Democratic votes in the process.

But Democrats desperately need to circle their wagons around the healthcare law after a devastating setback in Florida this week, where their loss in a special election exacerbated worries that ObamaCare will sink the party in this year’s midterm elections.

Look, leadership doesn’t whip a vote unless they think a chunk of their members could break with the party line. In this case, you have politically unpopular, though absolutely necessary, Medicare cuts on the table in exchange for a delay of the individual mandate.

Denial: Pelosi insists Obamacare won’t hurt Democrats

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is trying to play down the impact that Obamacare will have in the 2014 mid-term election, claiming that Democrats will continue to embrace the law on the campaign trail:

Republicans are “wasting their time” using ObamaCare as an electoral issue, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday.

Days after the healthcare law was seen as a decisive issue in her party’s special election loss in Florida, Pelosi insisted GOP attacks would backfire and that Democrats would embrace ObamaCare on the campaign trail.
“I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their electoral issue, and they will find that out,” she said.

Pressed by a reporter whether Democrats should shy away from the issue on the campaign trail, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.

“No, absolutely not,” she said.

Remember when Pelosi was Speaker of the House? That was, of course, before the 2010 mid-term election, in which Republicans gained 63 seats and rendered her to “Minority Leader” status. She’s apparently forgotten that the 2010 election, which was seen as a referendum on Obamacare, and her subsequent demotion.

If Democrats are so keen on Obamacare, why is the pro-Democrat House Majority PAC running ads in toss-up districts that are critical of both the rollout of the law and ostensibly criticizes regulations that to caused millions of Americans to lose their health plans.

NE Senate: Anti-Obamacare Republican briefly aided pro-Obamacare firm

Ben Sasse has built his entire U.S. Senate campaign around the anti-Obamacare sentiment that runs deep in Nebraska. In a recent profile of the Nebraska Republican, the National Review, a conservative magazine, called him “Obamacare’s Cornhusker nemesis.”

“The Obamacare worldview is that only government can solve big problems, budget honesty doesn’t matter, and dependency is our future,” Sasse told the magazine, later adding that Republicans can repeal the law if they achieve electoral success in the next couple of cycles.

Sasse’s anti-Obamacare rhetoric, background and credentials has netted him support from several high-profile conservative personalities and groups, including Sarah Palin, Erick Erickson, the Club for Growth, and Senate Conservatives Fund. Last month, Breitbart ran a story claiming that health industry lobbyists “are making a concerted effort to sink the campaign of the Nebraska Republican.”

But the narrative that Sasse, who worked at HHS and the Justice Department, has tried to build around himself may take a hit. Politico reported this morning that the anti-Obamacare candidate once consulted with a firm that helped implement the law.

LA Senate: Democratic poll shows Landrieu down by 4 points

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) trails her likely Republican challenger by 4 points among “likely” Louisiana voters, according to a recent poll, and by 9 points among those who “definitely” plan to cast a ballot in November.

The poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics, a Democratic firm, found that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) leads Landrieu 46/42 among likely voters and 49/40 with definite voters. The Louisiana Democrat is viewed unfavorably by 52% of voters, while 42% view her favorably.

When paired against a generic Republican, Landrieu trails by 11 points among likely voters and 13% with definite voters. The difference between Cassidy’s numbers and the generic Republican may be explained by his low name recognition, as 43% of voters say they’ve never heard of him.

Louisiana has “top-two” system where voters have everyone on the ballot in the general election, even multiple candidates from the same party. Cassidy, who isn’t the only Republican in the race, would have to win outright on November 4 to avoid a December 6 runoff against Landrieu.

The Louisiana Democrat has been pulling out all the stops to try to beat back Cassidy and Republicans. A super PAC supporting her campaign recently joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in bashing the Koch brothers, this despite Landrieu having been a notable beneficiary of their contributions.


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