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Another laughably over-the-top attempt to scare young adults from signing up for affordable health care.

As Juliet Lapidos at The New York Times explains, the Koch brothers have turned their eye and their millions toward "sabotaging health care, one lie at a time":
A Koch-brothers funded conservative group, Generation Opportunity, is out with a wildly misleading, pernicious set of ads aimed at sabotaging the Affordable Care Act by discouraging young people from signing up for health insurance exchanges. [...]  

Signing up for an exchange isn’t an act of political (or sexual) submission. It’s just a way to get insurance if you don’t have a job or your employer doesn’t provide it. The Generation Opportunity crowd surely knows that and obviously doesn’t care because its priority now, as ever, is bringing down President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. The group also doesn’t care about the possibility that some number of young people, scared by its ads, will forgo access to affordable care, get sick, and go bankrupt paying their medical bills.

The ads are ripe for parody and not particularly effective. Besides that, you're targeting a group that supports Obamacare by some 60% and is more likely than other groups to sign up for exchanges. Remember, the same target group is online more than any other and is exposed to more information about Obamacare than any other group. Do the Koch brothers really believe an ad like this will scare millions to opt-out?

Eugene Robinson says that the real danger for Republicans is that Obamacare will succeed:

Republicans scream that Obamacare is sure to fail. But what they really fear is that it will succeed.

That’s the reason for all the desperation. Republicans are afraid that Obamacare will not prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare — that Americans, in fact, will find they actually like it. [...] Keeping premiums under control will require persuading lots of young, healthy people to buy insurance — and thus, in effect, subsidize those who are older and sicker. That is why a group called Generation Opportunity, funded by the ultraconservative Koch brothers, plans to tour college campuses with disgusting ads in which a creepy Uncle Sam subjects a young woman to a pelvic examination.

The GOP message: Whatever you do, don’t buy health insurance. It may be — shudder — good for you.

Benjy Sarlin at MSNBC:
A small band of conservative Republicans is leading a guerrilla campaign to defund the Affordable Care Act even if it means a government shutdown (or worse, default). But they’ve run up against a vicious counterattack along the way. Not from Democrats, who are enjoying the show with a big bucket of popcorn, but from fellow Republicans who think they’re on a political suicide mission.

This isn’t just a fight between the elites, either. A new poll by CNBC finds that while 54% of Republicans who identify as “Tea Party” favor shutting down the government in pursuit of defunding Obamacare, only 36% of other Republicans support the idea. Despite their shared hatred of the ACA, the latest tactical fight has finally pushed conservatives and moderates to dissolve the political bands that have connected them.

Much more on this and other top stories below the fold.

Lots of talk this week about whether the GOP's "Cruzification" (e.g., its embracing of irrational tactics and goals like tying Obamacare defunding to a government shutdown) is really a rational decision on paper to avoid bruising Tea Party primaries.  The Washington Post's Dana Milbank argues that the crazy Cruz strategy is just another mode of political self-preservation:

The only way these Republican lawmakers would lose their seats is if they were ousted by a challenger in a low-turnout primary dominated by conservative activists and distorted by an explosion of independent expenditures by ideological groups. The surest way to keep their spots, therefore, is to vote against anything and everything President Obama supports — Obamacare above all. [...]

One of the most honest assessments of the Republican position came from Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.), who explained last week why he favored the shutdown showdown: “All that really matters is what my district wants. And my district is overwhelmingly in favor of my position.” An enlightened officeholder might decide that other things matter, too: his oath to the Constitution, the national interest and his obligation to lead people and not just reflexively to follow public opinion. His constituents may not be aware of the hit the economy takes from a government shutdown and a default — but Massie should.

Massie’s position is shortsighted — but it is rational. Until Republicans can fix their truly insane primary system, it may be the only logical response.

Joel Achenbach:
There’s game theory behind these maneuvers. Quixotic behavior has its rewards. There is no longer a “national conversation,” as some people call it. There are partisan conversations, and fringe conversations, and deep-down-the-rabbit-hole conversations. If you are a GOP congressman and know you have to run for re-election, you don’t want to be challenged on your right flank, so you advocate legislation that rationally advances your re-election prospects even if it has zero chance of becoming law.
Not sure how catering to the fringe ensures long-term viability as a national party, but there it is anyway.

Turning to income inequality, David Horsey looks at how the GOP continues its stalwart allegiance to the top 1%:

Unable to enact their own agenda, Republicans spend their time undercutting Mr. Obama's efforts. Their latest act was Thursday's passage of a House bill to cut $39 billion from the federal food stamp program, effectively telling 3.8 million Americans to find some other way to pay for their groceries.

Apparently, House Republicans have not figured out that the huge increase in the food stamp program over the last few years came about, not because there were suddenly millions of additional deadbeats trying to live high off of the taxpayers, but because there are millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the economic downturn who have been unable to find work.

Perhaps the Republicans think if enough of these people go hungry they will be inspired to go where the big money is and become hedge fund managers and CEOs. After all, the 1-percenters have plenty to eat. Why can't everyone be just like them?

Donna Brazile:
So shame on this Congress for fighting dirty during working people's hour of struggle.

Polls show Americans haven't approved much of Congress lately. But there is a way to gain favor. If this Congress wants to make cuts, why not look at the Pentagon, notorious for waste? Or check out the Department of Agriculture, which made about $28 million in inappropriate farm assistance payments, according to a compilation of government waste reported in Business Insider.
Or perhaps lawmakers could start with themselves? Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, tried to shame her colleagues into cutting less from the food stamp program (called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP).

Finally, on the topic of gun violence, The Denver Post agrees with President Obama that the "new normal" is unconscionable:
Even the horrifying murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., last year did not disconcert Americans to the point of demanding action from Congress.

"It ought to be a shock to all of us, as a nation and as a people," Obama said of the Navy Yard massacre. "It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation."

But the mildest transformations on gun laws are met with apoplectic fits by opponents of gun control.  [...] even after mass shootings that might have been averted through modest gun control measures, those sensible laws will encounter implacable opposition.

The new normal? Maybe that's exactly what it is.

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