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Move On Everybody, It Just Doesn’t Matter



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The ugliness of the GOP schism will probably have a long half life, as various parties feel the need to point fingers and shout “I didn’t do it!” But if at all possible, I think conservatives and Republicans would be well-served by putting these disagreements behind us, like family fights at a Thanksgiving table that are best forgotten. If this were a very special episode of a 1980s TV show, we could resolve all of this with a simple break-dancing competition. But as that is not a viable option at this juncture, neither is any other emotionally or intellectually satisfying settlement to this argument. Last night on Twitter, I got into a wholly civil disagreement with our friend Hugh Hewitt who, I gather, sees Ted Cruz as the unalloyed and blameless hero in this drama. He says:

The House leadership spent the summer silent, and arrived without a plan or a message. Cruz filled the void they created.

And:

Question set for Cruz critics: 1. Is Obamacare as bad as he said it was? 2. Does public understand that more or less now?

I agree with much of that, and my answers to the two questions are “Yes” and “Yes.” But these strike me as silver-lining rationalizations. The core promise of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee wasn’t “We’re going to fill the leadership vacuum in a branch of Congress we weren’t elected to!” Nor was it, “We will educate the public on how bad Obamacare is!” Their core promise was that they were going to defund Obamacare (without needing Democratic votes!) and that their legislative brinksmanship was worth the risks because after October 1, there was no chance of getting rid of it. I bring this up not to relitigate the fight, but to be simply honest about where I am coming from.

But here’s the thing: Hugh may be right. Perhaps raising awareness about Obamacare alone was worth it. I certainly think the prognostications of GOP doom are almost as overblown as the Beltway hysteria over the government shutdown was in the first place. So maybe hammering home the message that the GOP is foursquare against Obamacare — and that Obamacare is a disaster —  is a sufficiently valuable long-term message that it was worth going through all of this. Or he may be wrong. Obviously I have my hunches. 

But here’s the important point: It’s all unknowable, certainly in the short term and probably in the long term as well. If the Obamacare program crashes as badly as its website has, public outrage will be sufficiently broad and deep that Republicans will benefit enormously from being able to say “We told you so!” How much of that benefit will be thanks to Cruz & Co. simply can’t be quantified.  I would bet that the shutdown plays a relatively minor role in the 2014 and 2016 elections. But even if the shutdown plays a big role, that would be all the more reason for Republicans to find the best and most unifying way to talk about it. Endless internecine screaming about what went wrong is exactly what Obama wanted out of this. Why give it to him if it won’t produce anything worthwhile? As an intellectual or historical question, I think it’s a great thing to debate. As a political touchstone, it’s poisonous.

The House will likely vote on whatever crap sandwich (to borrow a phrase from Speaker Boehner) the Senate sends over and it will probably pass with more Democratic votes than Republican ones. And then this chapter will be over. After which, the wise course would be to say, “What happened happened” and move on to finding a coherent strategy everyone on the right can more or less get behind. An argument based entirely on the phrase “Well, if you listened to me” — as Ben Howe rightly puts it here – would be entirely unproductive. 

Of course, this is one of those areas where the self-interest of individuals, groups, and factions may be at odds with the collective interests of the Republican party or the conservative movement. Politicians need to justify themselves to their constituents. Interest groups need to get right with their donors and keep the money coming. Nobody wants to be the one left standing when blame is passed around. More important, a lot of people are just really pissed off and really worried about not just the party but the country. When emotions run that high, lashing out is only natural. What happens next matters a lot; what just happened may matter as a historical question. But as for the political question of who is to blame, maybe the best course would be to repeat after me, “It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter.”

Bernstein: House GOP Acting Like Segregationist Dems



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Journalist Carl Bernstein continued his vilification of the “rabid” House Republicans by comparing their resolute stance in the current battle in Washington to the Democrats’ persistent opposition to integration.

“You have to go back to the party, the Democratic party of segregation to find this kind of scorched-earth politics putting the national interests nowhere and putting ideology and ideology above all else,” Bernstein said on Morning Joe on Wednesday.

Last week, Bernstein likened GOP members to Senator Joe McCarthy.

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Wednesday Links



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Fifteen photos of spiders battling dangerous foes.

Video: Superman’s 75th anniversary.

Americans’ interest in hemorrhoids has skyrocketed.

These images show just how differently cats and humans see the world.

Weird album covers.

Tiffany meets Tolkien: Gorgeous Lord of the Rings stained-glass-style art.

ICYMI, links from Monday are here.

Web Briefing: April 17, 2014

Hockey Sticks and Stones



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Readers have asked me how self-proclaimed Nobel laureate Dr Michael Mann’s suit against me and National Review is proceeding. I have a few words about it, in a piece on free speech, in today’s National Post of Canada:

As masters of devastating put-downs go, Dr. Mann isn’t exactly Oscar Wilde. Nevertheless, plonking and leaden and witless as his insults are, he has a perfect right to make them. Unfortunately, he’s one of those pathologically insecure types who feels he should be able to dish it out but that he shouldn’t have to take it.

I also have a few words to say about the judge.

I was talking to my comrade from Canada’s free-speech wars, Ezra Levant, who’s currently being sued by Khurrum Awan, one of the big losers of that campaign, and we discussed how, when you’re in a libel suit, your lawyers always advise you to clam up about it in case anything you say irritates the judge. And I said to Ezra that, when a hardware store owner is sued for defamation, it doesn’t impact his ability to sell hammers and two-by-fours and drywall. But, when guys who write about free speech and Islam and climate change are sued and agree to keep quiet about their cases, it’s effectively furloughing them (to use a current word) and handing a victory to the plaintiff before you’ve even started.

So Ezra’s writing about his case, and I’m writing about mine, and our respective judges will just have to cope with it as they see fit.

PS Mr Awan is fortunate I’m not as dweebily litigious as he is:

Maclean’s published another story by Steyn in April 2006 where he cited the Quran out of context and called Muslims “sheep-shaggers,” Awan said.

Er, no. That wasn’t me, that was the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Bonus! Muslim community leader goes on the BBC and calls for mass execution of homosexuals:

Gays would be executed in an ideal world, a leader of the Muslim community in Luton, England has said.

Abdul Qadeer Baksh made the comment during an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio.

And without fear of prosecution. Fancy that!

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The Joy of Oppression



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Why would some of America’s finest college students yearn to be oppressed? To find out, you could head to a nearby university and speak with the wretched of the dorms. Or, you could check out my piece for NRO’s Education Week, ”The Wannabe Oppressed.”

Gravity and Lightness



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Are all the showdown shenanigans and partisan ill-will getting you down? Go and see Gravity. Yes, it’s a story about a couple of astronauts stuck in earth orbit after their spacecraft is shattered by space debris – but it’s not nearly as ponderous as that high-concept synopsis might lead you to believe. This is a movie with a light touch and a positive outlook on the human condition: Sure, we’re in a valley of tears, but we move on with smiles and courage as well. George Clooney is as charming as he almost always is (the few movies that have him play a somber character feel to me like a misuse of his natural gifts); but the real show-stealer is Sandra Bullock, who carries most of the film. She credibly plays someone who is simultaneously highly intelligent (M.D.-cum-astronaut) and an Everywoman dealing with fears and griefs of a kind that all flesh can relate to.

This is a pro-humankind movie, and unashamed to be so. It does not have a “religious” message, in the sense in which our culture generally talks about religion (i.e., beating one another over the head with our opinions about God). But it does portray, with great realism, Man’s deep desire to reach out beyond his circumstances (this reaching out is what religious folks call “prayer”; Sandra Bullock’s character grapples with this in the film).

Gravity deals with some important existential issues, but it is, primarily, a first-class entertainment. Strongly recommended.

Women’s Health and the GOP



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A new web ad in Virginia shows how conservatives can make a credible and effective claim to be representing women’s interests. It is by now a cliché to observe that “women’s health” is a liberal code phrase that really refers to an abortion-centric political outlook. But the fact that this is a frequently used talking point does not mean that it is false, and the issue of health-safety regulations in abortion clinics makes this abundantly clear. I can readily imagine how the pro-choice women of the 1970s who taught me about life — family members, friends, teachers, etc. — would have reacted if I had said there should be lower standards for the cleanliness of abortion clinics than for other medical facilities. Typical of the misogynist-male worldview! they would have said. The idea that just because it’s a clinic for women, it’s okay to turn it into an unsafe, substandard ghetto! If men’s clinics were this unsafe, they’d turn clinic cleanliness into a sacrament!

But now, it’s ostensibly “pro-women’s-health” politicians who oppose the health regs. Why? Because other agendas and interest groups are more important.

This particular ad targets Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on this issue. It may be too late by now to save the campaign of Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who is in deep political trouble for a variety of reasons; but the issues the ad raises, and the approach it takes, do not stand or fall with the political fortunes of the GOP candidate in one particular off-year governor’s race. In close races, next year and beyond, voters should be asked what they think “women’s  health” means — and if they think the answer is “more than just increased access to abortion,” they will have a pretty clear choice to make.

(Thank you to Cheryl Felicia Rhoads, who did the voiceover for the ad, for bringing it to my attention.)

Lowry: If GOP Can Save the Sequester, Fights Will Not Have Been ‘Complete Debacle’



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If the Republicans manage to save the sequester in any deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government, the fights will not have been a complete debacle, National Review editor Rich Lowry said Tuesday night.

“If the can is kicked down the road a couple of months, the Democrats hate the sequester so much that it is possible to get a deal… It’s not inconceivable to me that you could have a delay in [Obamacare’s] individual mandate in exchange [for] some relaxation of the sequester cuts,” Lowry said on Special Report

George Will: GOP Ought to Feel Empowered



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Because Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and his cohorts inflamed the Republican base, the GOP feels embattled when it ought to feel empowered, George Will said Tuesday night.

Speaking during a panel appearance on Special Report, Will asserted that the arguments over spending and entitlements have shifted “radically in the Republicans’ favor.”

“Three years ago, we were talking about the Simpson-Bowles approach. The framework was going to be: cut some entitlements or cut the growth of entitlements in exchange for tax increases,” Will said. But because of the sequester, Republicans can give “Democrats billions to spend now in exchange for trillions cut in the out years.”

My Run-In With Cory Booker’s Landlord



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I went searching on Tuesday for Cory Booker’s landlord, in the wake of video released by the Daily Caller in which two of the Newark mayor’s neighbors say they haven’t seem him in years and that he in fact never lived at the home he has been claiming as his residence for the past seven years. Our brief encounter ended with him shouting me off of his property without cause.

Ife Okocha owns the three-story brick house on Newark’s Hawthorne Avenue where, according to Booker, he lived until late September. Okocha, who filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and 2012, indicated in his filings that he leases the house, on a month-to-month basis, to “Dept. of Police/Mayor.”

A source with knowledge of the situation tells me that Okocha has complained frequently that Booker does not pay rent on time. Okocha, says the source, also maintained that the mayor “doesn’t even live there.”

I have spent a considerable amount of time in Booker’s Newark neighborhood over the past few weeks. I have never seen him near his home, but I’ve seen several police officers. On Friday, a police officer poked his head out of a second-floor window while I was chatting with a Newark resident on the sidewalk. On a previous occasion, a man stuck his head out of the same window to ask what I was doing on the property and referred me to another officer who sat in the driveway in an idling sports car.

When I arrived at Okocha’s home in suburban Monmouth County, N.J., his wife, Grace, assured me that “the mayor pays his rent” and that “the mayor lives there.” Her husband, who she said was sleeping after working a night shift (he is a nurse at a New Jersey VA hospital), “doesn’t talk to reporters,” she told me. As I got up to leave, she took a phone call. “I’m not saying anything,” she told the caller.  

I returned to Okocha’s home a few hours later hoping to find him awake. He answered the door and, before I could introduce myself, demanded, “Get away from here! Get away from here! Get away from here and go back.” I asked if he might be willing to talk to me, but he resumed his tirade, pointing his finger and shouting, “Get away from this property right now!” His wife is right that he doesn’t talk to reporters, but he does shout at them. 

Bison Is No Rino



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I like the cut of this bison’s jib, and, if he were to form an exploratory committee, would gladly support him in 2016.

Stunned Republicans React to Canceled Vote



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Referring to his plan to preemptively send the Senate a House-passed bill, Speaker John Boehner told his conference this morning that he’d “rather throw a grenade than catch a grenade.” But with his right-wing troops abandoning him again, it was the speaker who was left holding the bomb.

After a day of furious negotiating with fellow Republicans over how to tweak a bill he had unveiled in the morning, it was left to stunned members of his leadership team to confirm to reporters that the vote had been canceled.

“They’re trying to work it out,” said Representative Greg Walden, the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman.

Pete Sessions, chairman of the Rules Committee, kept in character and put a positive spin on an obvious disaster for the GOP.

Boehner “made a decision that what we’re going to do is allow us to take the night and make sure all of our members know what’s going on. We’re trying to make sure that what we’re doing, people know about and they can prepare and study for,” Sessions said, going on to pin the lack of action on the Senate. “You know what? We’re waiting for the Senate to get their work done. We had no reason to necessarily have to do anything,” he added, when I asked him what it says about the House GOP that Boehner couldn’t bring the bill to the floor.

“It’s all over. We’ll take the Senate deal,” says a senior GOP aide. Senator Mitch McConnell’s office quickly noted to reporters that the Kentucky Republican would be taking back the lead.

A key moment in the fight came when Heritage Action announced it was “key voting” against the bill. Support was already flagging, and the decision made up the minds of many members sitting on the fence.

“People are thinking about primaries, they really are,” says a GOP chief of staff.

Although leadership had been working to amend the bill throughout the day to cater to GOP critics, the final iteration Boehner landed on provoked head-scratching among much of the GOP conference.

Conservatives had pushed to eliminate the repeal of the medical-device tax, worrying that it appeared to be crony capitalism benefiting a small business constituency, and to apply the Vitter amendment’s language to staffers as well as lawmakers, thinking it appeared hypocritical.

Leadership went along with both changes but added nothing new to the bill. One argument in favor of that, put forward by Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, was simplicity. Womack said including only one additional provision would have made it far easier to beat the messaging war drum in favor of the bill.

But for many others, the smallness of the “Vitter amendment,” coupled with removing what was a significant, if targeted, policy victory, provoked confusion and wrath.

“You ever think you’d see the day where Republicans would demand removing language that delays a tax?” wondered a third GOP aide. “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone.”

The canceled vote was no Twilight Zone episode, however, but something far too familiar. Republicans eagerly compared it to the fiscal cliff’s famous “Plan B” episode, when Boehner brought lawmakers into a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement, said the serenity prayer, and told them the vote was canceled.

The Christian rite accompanying legislative chaos today was Florida representative Steve Southerland’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” — “all three verses,” said Representative Michael Burgess (Texas) afterwards in amazement.

But Southerland is an undertaker by trade, and the song is normally sung at funerals. It’s hard not to see’s today’s failure as the death of the House GOP’s role, in at least this standoff.

Reid, McConnell Continue Talks as House Flounders



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Following the news that House Republicans have canceled a vote on a GOP plan to end the budget stalemate, Senate leaders Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) are re-upping their efforts to craft an agreement.

“Senator Reid and Senator McConnell have re-engaged in negotiations and are optimistic that an agreement is within reach,” said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson. “Given tonight’s events, the leaders have decided to work toward a solution that would reopen the government and prevent default,” added Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman. “They are optimistic an agreement can be reached.”

 As of Monday evening, the Senate leaders were said to be close to a deal. According to the Treasury Department, the country’s borrowing authority will run out on October 17.

House GOP Cancels Vote



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My sources tell me House Republicans have postponed tonight’s vote on their plan to end the fiscal impasse. “The votes aren’t there,” says a leadership aide. “We’ve been amending the bill all day, but we’ve been unable to get people around this strategy.” 

This development leaves Speaker John Boehner with few options as Thursday’s debt-ceiling deadline nears, and it throws the action back toward the Senate, which has been working on a bipartisan package.

Daily Kos Blogger: Obamacare Will Double My Premiums



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Tirge Caps, a blogger at Daily Kos, says that in 2013, pre-Obamacare, he pays $150 a month for a health insurance plan from Kaiser. His wife pays $168. However, under Obamacare, their rates will nearly double, to $284 and $302, respectively:

My wife and I just got our updates from Kaiser telling us what our 2014 rates will be. Her monthly has been $168 this year, mine $150. We have a high deductible. We are generally healthy people who don’t go to the doctor often. I barely ever go. The insurance is in case of a major catastrophe.

Well, now, because of Obamacare, my wife’s rate is gong to $302 per month and mine is jumping to $284.

I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any fucking penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?

Oh, ok, if we qualify, we can get some government assistance. Great. So now I have to jump through another hoop to just chisel some of this off. And we don’t qualify, anyway, so what’s the point?

I never felt too good about how this was passed and what it entailed, but I figured if it saved Americans money, I could go along with it. I don’t know what to think now. This appears, in my experience, to not be a reform for the people.

What am I missing?

I realize I will probably get screamed at for posting this, but I can’t imagine I am the only Californian who just received a rate increase from Kaiser based on these new laws.

Read the comments section to see how Tirge’s compadres reacted to his situation.

Girls Allegedly Harassed by Transgender Student In Bathroom, Threatened with ‘Hate Crime’ Charges if They Complain



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When a male transgender student of Florence High School, Colo., began allegedly harassing girls in the women’s bathroom, the girls and their families took their concerns to the school. However, school officials reportedly told the girls and their parents that the boy’s rights as a transgender person outweighed the girls’ rights to privacy. It apparently outweighed their desire to not be sexually harassed in public-school restrooms as well. When the girls and their parents continued to voice opposition, school officials further threatened the concerned students that they would be kicked off of athletic teams or charged with hate crimes if they continued to oppose the boy’s “rights.”

The Pacific Justice Institute took up the girls’ cause, sending a strongly worded letter to school officials in an effort to protect students’ privacy and speech rights. “This is a nightmare scenario for the teenage girls—some of them freshmen—and their parents at this school,” wrote the PJI in a press release. “This is exactly the kind of horror story we have been warning would accompany the push for radical transgender rights in schools, and it is the type of situation that LGBT activists have been insisting would not happen.”

The student allegedly uses boys’ and girls’ restrooms as he chooses, and, according to some students, makes sexually harassing comments toward girls he meets in the restroom. The school has not made any effort to ensure that the boy adheres to a single, consistent gender identity.

“LGBT activists are sacrificing the safety and sanity of our schools to push an extreme political agenda,” Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute said. “This battle is no longer confined to California or Colorado; it is spreading to every part of the nation. It is crucial that we act now to prevent a crippling blow to our constitutional freedoms.”

PJI is demanding that the schools respect privacy rights without forcing girls out of the majority of their restrooms, as the school has suggested.

Via Weasel Zippers.

UPDATE: This post has been altered from its original form. More information on the story follows.

Keep reading this post . . .

How Are Things Going in Obamacareland?



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We all know about the terrible technical difficulties that people are experiencing while trying to enroll in the health-care exchanges. Well, as it turns out, the contractors that were in charge of building the website didn’t have much time to do work on it. First, the contract was awarded in December. According to the New York Times:

Confidential progress reports from the Health and Human Services Department show that senior officials repeatedly expressed doubts that the computer systems for the federal exchange would be ready on time, blaming delayed regulations, a lack of resources and other factors.

Deadline after deadline was missed. The biggest contractor, CGI Federal, was awarded its $94 million contract in December 2011. But the government was so slow in issuing specifications that the firm did not start writing software code until this spring, according to people familiar with the process. As late as the last week of September, officials were still changing features of the Web site, HealthCare.gov, and debating whether consumers should be required to register and create password-protected accounts before they could shop for health plans.

How big are the remaining problems? Pretty big it seems:

One person familiar with the system’s development said that the project was now roughly 70 percent of the way toward operating properly, but that predictions varied on when the remaining 30 percent would be done. “I’ve heard as little as two weeks or as much as a couple of months,” that person said. Others warned that the fixes themselves were creating new problems, and said that the full extent of the problems might not be known because so many consumers had been stymied at the first step in the application process.

The whole thing is here.

Also, this morning Wonkblog published an interview with Robert Laszewski, the “president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a policy and marketplace consulting firm that has him working closely with many in the heath industry as they try to navigate the Affordable Care Act.” Laszewski makes the following statement about how much of the exchanges’ problems have been fixed:

There’s no evidence of any improvement so far. I say that factually, not as a shot at them. The question then is will they get there in time?

The whole thing is a must-read. Now some are speculating that one advantage to the administration of slowing down the enrollment process is that it prevents people from finding out what the cost of their premiums would be without subsidies. Manhatan Institute’s Avik Roy explains:

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

Why? He adds:

The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that cost “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and that you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

Now at some points the technical glitches will be fixed, at least one can hope so, and people will finally get through to the exchanges and manage to enroll. That’s when some people will realize that their premiums are much higher than they expected or than they previously paid. But it may get worse because they may also find out that for this higher price tag, they have to pay a remarkably large amount of their health-care spending out of pocket. Here is the Chicago Tribune:

Adam Weldzius, a nurse practitioner, considers himself better informed than most when it comes to the inner workings of health insurance. But even he wasn’t prepared for the pocketbook hit he’ll face next year under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

If the 33-year-old single father wants the same level of coverage next year as what he has now with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals, his monthly premium of $233 will more than double. If he wants to keep his monthly payments in check, the Carpentersville resident is looking at an annual deductible for himself and his 7-year-old daughter of $12,700, a more than threefold increase from $3,500 today. . . .

To promote the Oct. 1 debut of the exchanges, the online marketplaces where consumers can shop and buy insurance, Obama administration and Illinois officials touted the lower-than-expected monthly premiums that would make insurance more affordable for millions of Americans. But a Tribune analysis shows that 21 of the 22 lowest-priced plans offered on the Illinois health insurance exchange for Cook County have annual deductibles of more than $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for family coverage.

Those deductibles, which represent the out-of-pocket money consumers must spend on health care before most insurance benefits kick in, are higher than what many consumers expected or may be able to stomach, benefit experts said.

In that context, I am curious why anyone would think that it is unreasonable to fight really hard to get rid of this law. Also, I wonder how long it will take for the American people to be asking for a single-payer system.

An Illegal Immigrant Is Heading Up the Efforts of an Obamacare Navigator Subcontractor



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An illegal immigrant is heading the efforts of one of New York’s Obamacare navigator subcontractors, the Center for Immigration Studies reports.

Maria Marroquin, a Peruvian national and former DREAM activist, is a health-education organizer for Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, an organization that the state designated as a subcontractor for in-person assistors and navigators.

Ms. Marroquin, who has been in the country illegally since she was 13 years old, was arrested in 2011 when she was one of seven students who sat in a downtown Atlanta intersection to protest the lack of support for the DREAM Act. Last year, she reportedly applied for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States before they turned 16 and who are younger than 30. 

Her LinkedIn page shows that Marroquin has been involved with several left-wing causes. She lists herself as a co-founder and lead organizer of DreamActivist Pennsylvania, “an undocumented-led activist group that fights to build immigrant power in our communities,” which has the tag line “Undocumented, Unafraid and Unapologetic.” She was also a co-founder and organizer for DreamActivist.org, a “multicultural, migrant youth-led, social media hub for the movement to pass the DREAM Act and pursue the enactment of other forms of legislation that aim to mend the broken immigration system.”

 

Fitch Ratings Agency Puts U.S. on ‘Rating Watch Negative’



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Fitch has put the United States’ AAA credit rating on “rating watch negative,” citing the absence of a debt-ceiling increase and brinksmanship in Washington. Fitch already had a longstanding “negative outlook” for the U.S.’s triple-A rating, and this move amounts to one more step down.

“Although Fitch continues to believe that the debt ceiling will be raised soon, the political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default,” Fitch said in a press release. The agency also warned that “failure by the government to honour interest and/or principal payments on the due date of U.S. Treasury securities would lead Fitch to downgrade the U.S. sovereign IDR to ‘Restricted Default’ (RD) until the default event was cured.”

“We would also downgrade the rating of the affected issue(s) [the bonds on which payments are missed] to ‘B+’ from ‘AAA’, the highest rating for securities in default in expectation of full or near-full recovery,” but “the Country Ceiling would likely remain ‘AAA’,” Fitch said.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 60 points on the news.

The Hidden Heartlessness of the Obamacare Rollout



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The Left loves to think of itself as compassionate, and — indeed — many of my more liberal friends are among the most caring people that I know.

So why does the Left cling so tightly to timetables and systems that not only risk rendering legal compliance with Obamacare mandates impossible but also place many families at real risk? Today, during our daily ACLJ radio show, Jay Sekulow Live, we asked listeners to call and tell us about their experiences with the exchanges. Of course we heard stories of repeated failures and frustrations, but also truly distressing stories of families dropped from their catastrophic care plans because of Obamacare (insurers were no longer offering plans that weren’t compliant with ACA minimal standards) only to find out they not only can’t yet replace their lost insurance, the new coverage (if they could get it) offers less real coverage for far more money. You can listen to a selection of those calls here.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the “do you hate Obamacare more than you love your country?” MSNBC crowd that oppenents of Obamacare might actually care about real people — how they get their health care, whether they can afford the health insurance they’re required to buy, and whether the government is competent enough to create a program that can even work.

Eventually, the current news cycle will end, and (I agree with Ramesh) discussion about whether the Republicans missed an “opportunity” to highlight Obamacare’s failings will fade to irrelevance. We’ll be left with the reality of a program that will directly affect the daily lives of many, many more millions of Americans than those who follow the political news cycle. And for many of them, Obamacare means financial hardship, health-related uncertainty, potentially punitive taxation, and fewer employment opportunities.

So, my answer to the MSNBC question is another question: “Why do you love Obamacare more than you love Americans?” 

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