The day’s headlines . . .
- The individual mandate, requiring the purchase of health insurance or paying a fine of 1 percent of annual income, is repealed for Americans who have had their plans canceled. The sudden change leaves some wondering whether the administration will enforce the individual mandate at all in 2014, including Chuck Todd this morning “If you put together all the different ways that they have delayed or grandfathered certain things in . . . I’m starting to wonder if anybody is ever going to pay the penalty in the first year. Is there going to be a single person that is going to be responsible for paying that $95? At this point it doesn’t look like it.” (Note that the fine is $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever amount is higher.)
- CBS News: “Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO), but was overruled by her superiors. The website was rolled out amid warnings Fryer said she gave both verbally and in a briefing that disclosed ‘high risks’ and possible exposure to ‘attacks’.”
- A growing consensus finds the Obama administration’s NSA policies indefensible: “From the moment the government’s massive database of citizens’ call records was exposed this year, U.S. officials have clung to two main lines of defense: The secret surveillance program was constitutional and critical to keeping the nation safe. But six months into the controversy triggered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the viability of those claims is no longer clear.”
- In the Iran negotiations, “A bipartisan group of 26 senators introduced legislation Thursday that threatened new sanctions against Iran, dismissing warnings from the White House that such a move could scuttle efforts to peacefully resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
- According to a forecasting model from the Washington Post’s John Sides, “Democrats currently have a 1 percent chance of retaking the House.”
Finally, today President Obama departs for his 17-day Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Must be tough to leave Washington when everything is going so well!