Wall Street Journal
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) wants her constituents to believe that she is a different kind of Democrat, one who supports her home state’s oil and gas industry, which accounts for nearly a tenth of its economy. But a recent Wall Street Journal report noted that Landrieu’s political action committee has given tens of thousands of dollars to help elect anti-oil and anti-gas Democrats:
Behind the scenes, however, Ms. Landrieu has been working just as hard to make sure she’s irrelevant. Through the auspices of JAZZ PAC, her leadership political action committee, she has from 2006 to 2012 contributed some $380,000 to re-elect some of the most ardent Senate opponents of the oil and gas industry. One result is a bloc of liberal members who easily cancel out Ms. Landrieu’s votes and guarantee the defeat of legislation designed to help Louisiana.
Ms. Landrieu has taken in more than $1 million in donations since 2004. Energy contributors include Marathon Oil, Murphy Oil, Sunoco, Coastal Land & Drilling, and lobby firms that do work for energy companies. Ms. Landrieu repays that support by funneling their money into the campaigns of members who routinely vote to undermine Louisiana oil and gas.
An example: In March 2012, Ms. Landrieu’s fellow Louisiana senator, Republican David Vitter, managed to get a vote on an amendment that would have implemented a 2008 offshore drilling plan to allow new oil and gas leases throughout the Outer Continental Shelf. Ms. Landrieu voted for the amendment.
The Obama Administration is relying heavily on uninsured Americans to enroll in health plans through the state and federal health insurance exchanges to meet their already long-shot enrollment goals. But a poll released last week showed that the uninsured are very skeptical of Obamacare, in what is an ominous sign for the administration.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that just 24% of the uninsured believe that Obamacare is a good idea, while a stunning 56% believe the law will have a negative impact on the healthcare system.
The numbers show an 11-point decline from September, according to the Wall Street Journal, when 35% of the uninsured believed that Obamacare was a good idea. The negative sentiment toward the law has risen markedly since then, to the current 56% from just 32% three months ago.
What’s more, the poll showed that 42% of the uninsured believe Obamacare will be bad for them and their families. Just 16% expect the law will have a positive impact.
The administration estimated that 700,000 people would enroll in health plans on the Obamacare exchanges in the first two months of the open enrollment period, October and November. Numbers released last week by the Department of Health and Human Service showed that just 364,682 people had selected plans (ie. not necessarily enrolled) through the exchanges through November.
During testimony before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, an Obama Administration official admitted that as much as 40% of the IT systems needed to support the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, still need to be built so that the scheme can function properly.
“How much do we have to build today, still. I mean, what do we need to build — 50%, 40%, 30%?” Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) asked Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“I think it’s — just an approximation — we’re probably sitting somewhere between 60% and 70% [completion],” said Chao, a key official in construction of the website, adding after a follow up that payment systems to insurers still need to be built.
That’s right, folks, the payment system that would send premiums to insurers for the health plans purchased on the federal exchange has not been built.
Not only did President Barack Obama tell Americans that they could keep their health plans under Obamacare, he also said on numerous occasions that they could keep their doctors. Like his health plan promise, there was no ambiguity or nuance to the statement.
“Under the reform that I’ve proposed, if you like your doctor, you’ll keep your doctor,” said President Obama on July 29, 2009. “If you like your health care plan, you will keep your plan.”
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” he said, again, on March 10, 2010. “I’m the father of two young girls –- I don’t want anybody interfering between my family and their doctor.”
Despite that promise by President Obama, many Americans are losing their doctors. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that UnitedHealth Group dropped thousands of doctors from its Medicare Advantage network, leaving many seniors without access to the doctors they liked and trusted:
We’re finally getting an idea of how many enrollments were completed through the disastrous federal Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, and the numbers are ominous. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday afternoon that somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 enrollments were submitted to participating private health insurers in October:
So far, private health plans have received enrollment data for 40,000 to 50,000 users of the federal marketplace, the people familiar with the figures said. The federal marketplace uses an industry-standard format to exchange enrollment information, known as an 834 transmission.
Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erin Shields Britt said Monday she couldn’t confirm the enrollment numbers. She added, “We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time.”
This number doesn’t include the enrollments from the 15 separate state Obamacare exchanges. Avalere Health reported that there were 49,100 enrollments in 12 of those exchanges, though that includes enrollments in November. That doesn’t include California, Massachusetts or Oregon, the latter of which hasn’t enrolled a single person.
So the early estimate is approximately 50,000 enrollments into private health insurance plans during the month of October, the first month in which the federal exchange was open. That’s going to go up as states that haven’t reported their numbers finally released them.
If you listen to President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the fact that millions people will lose their health insurance coverage will be forced to buy a plan is not a big deal.
After all, we’re only talking about 5% of the American public, as both Obama and Carney have put it. That’s faceless statistic that has little meaning to administration officials, politicians, and bureaucrats who’ve spent more than four years crafting the law and corresponding mandates and regulations.
But for many Americans, the changes they’re seeing in their health insurance coverage has very real consequences. In the case of Edie Littlefield Sundby, a stage-4 cancer patient, what Obamacare has done to her coverage could come at the expense of her life.
“Everyone now is clamoring about Affordable Care Act winners and losers. I am one of the losers,” wrote Sundby in an op-ed published last weekend at the Wall Street Journal.
“My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky,” she continued. “But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.”
Sundby, who received notice of cancellation of her existing coverage in January, was happy with her insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, writing complimentary of their responsiveness to her condition and the availability of the claims office.
The government shutdown was supposed to boost President Barack Obama’s standing, according to some pundits and talking heads, but it appears that Americans didn’t get that memo. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll on Wednesday showing President Obama’s approval rating a new low and that his personal favorability has taken a hit.
Does President Barack Obama have any idea of what his administration is doing? His excuse for some of the biggest controversies and scandals that have come out of his government has been that he was oblivious to them.
For example, after it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service had inappropriately targeted conservative and Tea Party groups, a White House aid told reporters that President Obama wasn’t aware of the IRS investigation until it was covered on the news. It was later revealed that White House lawyers opted not to tell him about the investigation.
President Obama gave the same line about the Fast and Furious scandal, the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists covering leak stories, and again when he was pressed about the accusations of spying on leaders of Brazil and Mexico.
A power plant in Mississippi that has been touted as an example of new clean coal technology has turned into a financial boondoggle for the Southern Company and ratepayers in the area, according to the Wall Street Journal, and that it could dissuade other power companies from taking similar projects (emphasis added):
Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County plant here, meant to showcase technology for generating clean electricity from low-quality coal, ranks as one of the most-expensive U.S. fossil-fuel projects ever—at $4.7 billion and rising. Mississippi Power’s 186,000 customers, who live in one of the poorest regions of the country, are reeling at double-digit rate increases. And even Mississippi Power’s parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said Kemper shouldn’t be used as a nationwide model.
Meanwhile, the plant hasn’t generated a single kilowatt for customers, and it’s anyone’s guess how well the complex operation will work. The company this month said it would forfeit $133 million in federal tax credits because it won’t finish the project by its May deadline.
One of just three clean-coal plants moving ahead in the U.S., Kemper has been such a calamity for Southern that the power industry and Wall Street analysts say other utilities aren’t likely to take on similar projects, even though the federal government plans to offer financial incentives.
As noted earlier today, the Obama Administration has released the rates yesterday for the state exchanges opening next month that will be run by the federal government. The rates, while lower than originally estimated, may still be unaffordable for someone trying to make it through these tough economic times.
But the senators up for re-election next year will, ultimately, have to explain to voters why they voted for the so-called “Affordable Care Act” — especially Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), members who haven’t backed down from ObamaCare from states that went for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Below we’re taking a look at some of the states where we may see competitive Senate races next year and the effects of ObamaCare, using the same information from earlier today via the Wall Street Journal.
Here is a look at what a single, 27-year-old, non-smoker living in metropolitan areas in these states can expect to pay per month when they take out a “bronze” plan on the exchange, the least expensive available, compared to the lowest-cost, pre-ObamaCare rates (percentages are rounded down):