For all the railing against dysfunction in the nation’s capital, very little actually happened to overcome it — until this week. That’s why the agreement to begin putting an end to Senate filibusters of presidential nominees is a very big deal. It is an acknowledgment that the only way to stop political bullying is to confront the bully.Remember that the Congressional GOP, House and Senate has nothing to offer but obstructionism. Repeal and replace = repeal and no replace. Immigration reform = no bill. And so on.
After testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday on how Congress might go about rewriting a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to meet the Supreme Court’s requirements, a key Republican lawmaker, Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, told reporters that Congress now has its “last chance” to rewrite the law to meet the high court’s demands.Show me the bill.
He said House Speaker John Boehner and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. “are concerned about this,” but “we need to get a draft of a rewrite of Section 4 first.”
Apologies to Tom Tomorrow for the pundit headline. But Tom always makes you think.
More politics and policy below the fold.
Now, what does this tell us about Obamacare in the rest of the country? On the one hand, we should expect premiums in New York to decline by more than they will in most states. That’s because New York already has some of the Obamacare regulations that tend to make insurance more expensive: For example, state law already prohibits insurers from charging more to people with pre-existing medical conditions. Adding Obamacare to this mix means adding elements like subsidies and the individual mandate that will tend to make insurance cheaper. Things won't work out so neatly in states like Florida or Texas, which don’t have as many insurance regulations on the books already. Critics of the law will take this as vindication. A big reason insurance will get so much cheaper in New York, they'll say, is that Obamacare-style regulations already made it a lot more expensive there. That's more or less true, whether you like the regulations or not.Matthew Yglesias:
On the other hand, New York also seems to be reaping the benefits of a more competitive market. Based on the filings, it appears that some insurers are pricing very aggressively, trying to underbid competitors. Some will price too low, and end up losing money, while others may be saving in ways consumers won’t like—say, by offering very limited networks of doctors and hospitals. But the insurers will find a price that works for them. Meanwhile, people can pick and choose the plan they want, which is something many simply can’t do now because they can't really compare benefits and prices, or because they lack the money to pay for insurance in the first place. As New York officials pointed out today, per capita health care costs in the state are among the highest in the country. But these new premium rates are actually slightly lower than what the Congressional Budget Office had projected for a nationwide average. That's an encouraging sign.
Obamacare Skeptics Are Deluding ThemselvesPaul Krugman:
Conservatives think the law is unraveling. But implementing the Affordable Care Act is going to be a huge success.
Does this amount to “redistribution”? Well, yes — not as an end in itself, but yes, a lot of people will be made better off at the expense of an affluent few.Jamelle Bouie:
And Yglesias is right: there will be bobbles along the way, but this is going to become an immensely popular program. By the time Liz Cheney challenges Hillary Clinton’s reelection campaign, there will be signs at the rallies declaring “Don’t let the government get its hands on Obamacare!”
Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?
Here’s why it’s important to juxtapose this with today’s vote in the House. As the law comes online in the next five months, untold numbers of uninsured Americans will either receive benefits through Medicaid, or they’ll begin to enter the exchanges, receive subsidies, and purchase health insurance. In short order, the Affordable Care Act will have created a constituency for itself — the millions of voters who receive benefits as a result of the law. It will yield countless politicians — at all levels of government — who will want to capitalize on this constituency by working to implement it as best as possible. And this isn’t just true for blue states — you’ll see a similar dynamic in red states, where exchanges will also exist.WaPo:
It’s Republicans who are caught in a bind. Soon, they’ll either have to accommodate the law in order to satisfy their constituents, or continue their quest for repeal, and in the process, further harm their political standing.
Top Obama administration officials, appearing before a House committee to defend controversial government surveillance programs, ran into tough questions Wednesday from lawmakers of both parties, who expressed deep skepticism about the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and other communications.NY Times:
The Obama administration faced a growing Congressional backlash against the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance operations on Wednesday, as lawmakers from both parties called for the vast collection of private data on millions of Americans to be scaled back.Margaret Sullivan:
Who would have thought that “false equivalency” could turn out to be fighting words?
Hardly anything sends Times readers for their boxing gloves as quickly as does the practice of “he said/she said” reporting. (Here’s an extreme and made-up example just for the sake of illustration: “Some sources believe that the earth is flat; others insist that it is round.”) ...
On Jenny McCarthy. As Brendan Nyhan wrote in Columbia Journalism Review on Tuesday, the naming of the actress Jenny McCarthy as co-host of “The View” has reignited the protests over her debunked insistence that some vaccines contribute to autism. Mr. Nyhan’s piece took to task the false balance among media organizations in reporting this aspect of her ascension. He wrote that “the early coverage has generally failed to follow best practices for covering false or unsupported claims, giving greater reach to discredited claims that have potentially dangerous consequences for public health.”