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“Mitt Romney, The Godfather Of ObamaCare”: Wrong Argument, Wrong Candidate

Remember the line Rick Santorum took against Mitt Romney in March? The race for the Republican nomination was not quite over, and the former senator, referencing health care policy, told voters in Wisconsin, “Pick any other Republican in the country. [Romney] is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.”

Yesterday’s developments help reinforce the fact that Santorum had a point.

Consider today’s Boston Herald. For those unfamiliar with the outlet, the Herald is an unabashedly conservative paper, which goes out of its way to boost Republican candidates. Its front page headline this morning reads: “For Romney, Obamacare Ruling’s Just What The Doctor Ordered.”

Contrary to conventional wisdom, an anti-tax backlash over the Supreme Court’s blockbuster decision upholding Obamacare could propel Mitt Romney all the way to the Oval Office, national Republicans said…. President Obama had originally promised the overhaul wouldn’t tax the middle class, and Republicans quickly seized on the ruling to point out that is exactly what the law does.

“Chief Justice John Roberts has all but gift-wrapped the election for Republicans with this ruling,” said Keith Appell, a GOP consultant based in Washington, D.C. “Now every single Democrat will have to defend the largest tax increase in American history during a bad economy in an election year.”

As a matter of policy, this is deeply silly. The mandate remains a tax penalty that will only apply to free riders — about 1% of the population, according to the CBO, who can afford insurance but refuse to get it.

But even if we put this aside, there’s that nagging detail the Boston Herald and other Republicans keep overlooking: Mitt Romney’s health care law in Massachusetts, his crowning accomplishment in government, has an identical mandate and an identical tax penalty. If Obamacare’s mandate must be considered a tax increase, Romneycare’s mandate must also be considered a tax increase.

Indeed, we can make this even more explicit: Mitt Romney is the only public official in American history to approve and implement this specific tax increase.

The conservatives who rushed yesterday to fill Romney’s coffers are supporting the godfather of Obamacare — the guy who imposed this health care mandate (read: tax increase) before the president was even elected. It’s exactly why Santorum called him the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama,” and why in retrospect, Santorum had a point.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 29, 2012

July 1, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Decency Is Irrelevant”: Romney Still Palling Around With Trump

Last month, reality-television personality Donald Trump reiterated his support for a ridiculous, borderline-racist conspiracy theory, but that didn’t stop Mitt Romney from cozying up to him.

As of last night, the Republican presidential hopeful is still palling around with the guy. ABC News reported yesterday afternoon that the Romney campaign’s “Dine With the Donald” luncheon had been postponed, but a Romney/Trump dinner last night in New York was not.

Although the lunch event was rain checked, tonight’s dinner fundraiser at the private residence of Martin Zweig will go on as planned. The dinner — which is reported to have raised millions of dollars and will host more than 50 guests — starts at 6:30 p.m., at Zweig’s residence in the Pierre Hotel, touted as one of the most expensive homes in Manhattan.

“Despite the multitude of erroneous reports today, I can assure you Mr. Trump and Gov. Romney both look forward to seeing one another this evening,” Cohen added.

Of course they will.

Remember, in May, when reporters yesterday whether Trump’s ugly antics gives him pause, Romney was unconcerned. “You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

In other words, decency is irrelevant — the Republican presidential candidate should partner with anyone, no matter how vile, so long as it furthers his ambitions and gets him more votes.

As of last night, that still appears to be the case.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 29, 2012

July 1, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Facing The Reality Of Politics”: Will Red State Governors Opt Out Of Medicaid Expansion?

While supporters of Obamacare are cheering the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the law, the celebration may

be short-lived as focus begins to shift to the one key aspect of the Affordable Care Act that was limited by the decision – the expansion of Medicaid to bring health insurance to approximately 17 million previously uninsured Americans.

As originally drafted and passed into law, states that failed to adopt the expansion and offer Medicaid coverage to anyone earning less than 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level risked losing 100 percent of the money they receive from the federal government towards their state run Medicaid programs, even as currently offered.

In the ruling handed down on Thursday, the court held that such a penalty was unconstitutional and that the federal government is not permitted to punish the states in such a manner, leaving it to the states to decide if they want to stand pat with the Medicaid programs they currently operate or accept the expansion —and the federal largesse that comes with it.

Under the law, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost of expansion for three years, 95 percent for the two years that follow and 90 percent of the costs thereafter. The expansion will allow the states to provide the benefit to many more low income Americans without taxing their state budgets at all for three years and then only slightly in the years that follow.

Currently, the federal government picks up the tab for about 55 percent of the costs of a state Medicaid program.

Those governors who are strong objectors to Obamacare will, no doubt, feel a strong ideological urge to reject the expansion and leave things as they are. But is that really going to fly? After all, conscientious objection to Obamacare is one thing but the reality of politics is something else entirely.

So far, there have only been angry ‘rumblings’ from Republican governors like Sam Brownback of Kansas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who say they will continue their objection to the ACA by refusing to begin organizing a healthcare exchange in their respective states and wait for the outcome of the November election. Other governors, such as Texas’ Rick Perry, who has refused federal money in the past, are staying a bit quiet on the subject, saying only that they will look into the matter and make a decision at a later time.

While it is to be expected that GOP governors—particularly those who refused to implement the requirements of Obamacare until they heard from the Supreme Court—would engage in a bit of sabre rattling, we can expect few, if any, to be foolish enough to pass up the opportunity to expand their Medicaid programs when Washington is offering such an exception deal for them to do so.

As National Journal’s Ron Brownstein points out, the 26 states that sued to block the Medicaid expansion contain over half of the nation’s unemployed and an even greater percentage of the nation’s uninsured population. Texas—one of the plaintiff states in the healthcare lawsuit—alone accounts for slightly over 6 million of the uninsured, 2 million of whom would gain coverage under the Medicaid expansion.

Additionally, because the federal government picks up virtually all of the costs attached to covering more people through expanded Medicaid, the program represents a massive transfer of money to those red states that tend to have less generous Medicaid programs already in existence. As a result, a state like Texas, with a rather sparse program, is going to get an enormous sum of federal cash where Massachusetts, which already has a generous program, will get very little in federal funding.

Are these red state governors really going to sit by and watch the taxes their citizens pay to the federal government flow to the benefit of their neighboring states as the recalcitrant governors allow their own residents to miss the benefit of that money?

I don’t think so. Ideological opposition is one thing—denying access to health care to voters who could certainly use it when, to do so, would cost the state a relatively tiny amount of money, is just dumb politics.

The pressure will not come only from the voters.

If there is one lobby that is highly supportive of the Medicaid expansion it is the nation’s hospitals. For them, covering millions of low income Americans means dramatically less free medical services being doled out to people who cannot pay. With more of those who have depended on free emergency room care as their sole means of getting health care now eligible to have Medicaid coverage, hospital balance sheets can be expected to look a lot better in the coming years.

Expect lots of huffing and puffing on this topic in the coming days.

Expect GOP governors to continue pressing the case that a Romney victory means saving their states from the further economic distress that these politicians will claim to be the fate of expanded Medicaid.

But remember that this Medicaid expansion is the bargain of the century for each and every state in the union that does not already offer generous Medicaid programs—especially the red states—and that beneath the inevitable bluster, there isn’t a Republican or Democratic governor in the country who doesn’t understand that passing up a sweet deal like this will bring unhappy political results.

My prediction?

Medicaid expansion, as written in the Affordable Care Act, will take place in every single state in the nation, without exception.


By: Rick Ungar, Contributor, Forbes, June 30. 2012

July 1, 2012 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“For Women Only”: Five Health Care Mandates Republicans Support

Republicans are in complete upheaval over Obamacare, fired up by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law yesterday. They have continuously claimed that the government is ramming this legislation down the throats of the American people, and now they are calling it an unwanted financial burden on everyday Americans. In fact, the individual mandate — the portion of the law that Republicans most vociferously oppose — wouldn’t even affect most Americans.

It might be time for Republicans to take a look back at their own record of health care legislation that they did like — and that forced American people, particularly women, into a lot of things:

Forcing women to get transvaginal ultrasounds: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell wanted to force every woman seeking an abortion to go through the extremely uncomfortable and medically unnecessary procedure of a transvaginal ultrasound — sticking a medical wand far into a woman’s vagina to get a clearer ultrasound image.

Ordering women to cremate and bury their miscarried fetus: A huge abortion omnibus bill in Michigan could force women who miscarry to cremate the miscarried fetuses. This comes at no small expense to the woman: cremation of a fetus costs hundreds of dollars, and interment can be additional thousands. The bill has been passed by the Michigan House, and is awaiting a vote by the Michigan Senate.

Requiring doctors to lie to female patients: In Kansas, Republicans tried to force doctors to tell women that they faced risk of cancer from having an abortion. That is patently untrue, and making doctors say that it was true would be, in effect, requiring them to lie to their patients.

Making a dying woman consult two doctors before she can get a life-saving abortion: The New Hampshire legislature just overrode a veto by the Governor, forcing through a law that bans “partial birth” abortions. The law only reinforces federal law, but has the additional requirement that any woman who is exempt from the abortion ban because her life is at risk must visit not one but two doctors before she can get the procedure to save her life. For many rural women, especially those facing life-threatening conditions, this is near impossible. 

Mandating people pay extra to give medical device companies a tax break: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) worked so hard to protect medical device companies from having to pay, that he has instead passed their costs onto the consumer — regular Americans — by increasing the cost of health coverage.

By: Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress, June 29, 2012

July 1, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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