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“Collapse Of Their Credibility”: GOP Desperate To Defund ObamaCare Now Because They Know Its Popularity Is About To Skyrocket

Why are the Tea Party Republicans so desperate to defund ObamaCare right now? Because they know that once it goes into effect its popularity will skyrocket.

They know that once it is fully implemented, it will be impossible to take away the many benefits of ObamaCare. It is one thing to prevent something good from being passed by Congress. It’s quite another to take something away from the voters.

The Republicans know that once it is in effect, it will be impossible to tell the millions of Americans who have a pre-existing condition that they have to return to the days when they either were denied insurance coverage or had to pay an arm and a leg to get it.

They know that once it is in effect, it will be impossible to end the affordable coverage that will soon be available to the millions who are not covered by their employers and will have access to health insurance through the health insurance exchanges – where prices have come in lower than projected.

They know that once it is in effect, it will be very difficult to end coverage for the millions who will for the first time have health insurance through expanded Medicaid.

They know that once it goes into effect, it will be very hard to convince Americans to turn the health care system back over to the big insurance companies.

Most importantly, they know that all of the many ObamaCare “horrors” they have predicted – from “death panels” to price increases to a “government takeover” – will not happen.

As a consequence, they believe that once ObamaCare is fully implemented their credibility on the subject will collapse, support for major new progressive initiatives will increase, the popularity of the President – and of Democrats in Congress – will go up, and their chances of hanging on to the House or taking the Senate in 2014 – and the White House in 2016 – will decline.

All of that is why the Tea Party Republicans are so desperate to stop ObamaCare. That’s why they will risk shutting down the government or defaulting on America’s obligations – on the chance that they can force President Obama and the Democrats to delay its implementation and allow them to live to fight another day.

They are desperate. And to achieve their narrow ideological goal, they are willing to use the same desperate measures that other marginal movements have adopted around the world: they have taken a hostage. Except their hostage is not one person – it’s 320 million people – it’s the American economy.

The success of their hostage taking strategy faces two virtually insurmountable obstacles:

First, the President has made clear that he is not willing to negotiate at all over the debt ceiling or ObamaCare.

Many of these hostage takers are the same people who would demand, categorically, that the American government should never negotiate with hostage takers, because to do so only encourages them to take more hostages and make more demands.

President Obama apparently agrees with them. He knows that if he negotiates with people who are willing to collapse the American economy just to get their way, that they will then use the same threat again and again. And he is unlikely to budge, since he is obviously unwilling to sacrifice his signature initiative — ObamaCare.

Second, many key GOP stake holders think that the Tea Party’s willingness to shut down the government or cause a default is sheer madness and would severely damage the GOP brand. Democratic pollsters Jim Carville and Stan Greenberg wrote in a memo last Wednesday:

The Republican Party has a serious brand problem, and it keeps getting worse. The GOP is viewed unbelievably negatively, and even Republicans themselves agree that it is deeply divided.

Polls show the Republican brand problem manifesting itself in the Virginia gubernatorial race, and in Senate races across the country. And if Republicans damage their brand even worse by shutting down the government, we think that they could trigger a revolt that might even imperil their House majority in 2014.

The GOP demand that President Obama and the Democrats surrender or face a government shutdown or default is like a combatant in a war demanding that the other side surrender or he’ll blow his own head off. From a purely political point of view -if it weren’t so bad for the country and economy – you’d have to say: “Go ahead, make my day.”

All the polls show that if either a shutdown or default takes place, the Republicans will take the blame by a factor of at least two to one.

And after they have taken the blame, in the end they will collapse. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial page said recently:

The evidence going back to the Newt Gingrich Congress is that no party can govern from the House, and the Republican Party can’t abide the outcry when flights are delayed, national parks close and direct deposits for military spouses stop. Sooner or later the GOP breaks.

So while the state of desperation in evidence among Tea Party Republicans at the prospect of ObamaCare going into effect — and becoming very popular — might be understandable, their desperate strategy of holding the economy hostage in order to kill it is downright suicidal.

Then again, while suicide bombers end up as victims of their own actions at the end of the day, there is no question they can inflict enormous amounts of pain and suffering on everyone else.

By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post Blog, September 20, 2013

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“So What If the Syria Solution Is Messy”: President Obama Got Putin And Syria To The Table, And That’s What Matters

The U.S. came close (we are told, anyway) to bombing Syria in retaliation over the alleged use of chemical weapons in the civil war there. Since then, democracy-challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped in, and is helping to broker a deal by which another bad actor, Syria, would give up its weapons.

That should sound like a pretty good outcome, if it works out. But in Washington, the conversation has been all about image and what has become known in Beltway speak as “messaging.”

President Obama has been criticized for looking weak – first, more than a year ago, for not being tougher on Syria, and now, for vocalizing his understandable reluctance to bomb a Middle Eastern country. He’s been accused of offering mixed messages, by saying the U.S. needed to enforce the “red line” against chemical weapons, but then saying he took no pleasure in doing so. He was criticized for thinking about bombing without consulting Congress, then chided as indecisive for listening to those criticisms and asking for Congress’s opinion (though not its advance approval, Obama was quick to note).

Then Putin wrote a critical op-ed in The New York Times, criticizing the U.S. for its assertion of “exceptionalism,” and saying the rest of the world had grown tired of being pushed around by America.

There is some legitimacy to much of this criticism. But the more important point is, so what?

Who cares if Obama didn’t deliver an unequivocal, we’re-going-to-bomb-them speech, especially if such a speech would lock us more securely into a wartime box? Was it the threat of an attack that got Syrian leader Bashar Assad to talk to Putin? Was it Putin’s desire to gain some level of legitimacy and credibility on the world stage that led him to talk to Assad? Was it Putin’s own concerns about chemical weapons being used by insurgents in his own country that led him to get involved? Who cares?

Being an adult, being a diplomat, and, yes, being a leader means staying focused on the final goal – not on how you got there. So what if Putin wags his finger at the U.S. in an American newspaper? He can bully us on Facebook if he wants. Does it matter, if the end result is Syria giving up chemical weapons without the U.S. having to risk American lives or spend American dollars to make it happen?

Obama had indeed gotten himself into something of a box by drawing a “red line” against chemical weapons (and it should be noted that many of his critics on the right were some of the ones pushing him to get tough on Syria). But Assad was in a box, too. He didn’t want to get bombed. He threatened retaliation if he was bombed – and didn’t really have much to back that up. But politically, he couldn’t be viewed as giving in to Obama or to Secretary of State John Kerry. His only face-saving measure was to deal with someone like Putin – an “imperfect messenger,” to borrow a phrase from Anthony Weiner. But Putin was probably the only person who could deliver it.

Style points do matter, sometimes. But they are not an end in themselves. Looking tough or decisive is not success. Getting rid of the chemical weapons is what will count as a win.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, September 20, 2013

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Syria | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Money For Medical Bills Grows On Trees”: New Koch-Funded Front Group Tells Youth They Are Better Off Uninsured

For a new Koch-funded front group for young people, money for medical bills apparently grows on trees.

Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit financed with $5.04 million from a fund controlled by the Koch brothers’ lobbying team, just launched a new television advertisement to kick off an anti-Obamacare campaign. The ads, which provides no actual information about healthcare reform and instead seem designed to scare people away from doctor visits, have already been dissected by many in the media. What’s more revealing is Generation Opportunity’s real agenda, which was explained to Yahoo News in a story unveiling the new campaign (emphasis added):

Their message: You don’t have to sign up for Obamacare. “What we’re trying to communicate is, ‘No, you’re actually not required to buy health insurance,’” Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg told Yahoo News in an interview about the campaign. “You might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for you and better for you.”

So, the big idea here is that young people should decline health insurance? Having no health insurance is “better for you?” When a car accident happens, or someone is sent to the hospital needing critical care, who picks up the bill? For slash-and-burn Koch groups, that doesn’t seem to matter.

Notably, the young men and women hired by Generation Opportunity are provided health insurance, says organization’s communications director David Pasch, who spoke to over the phone. Lucky them.

Ethan Rome, the executive director of Health Care for America Now, says young Americans without health insurance will be “buried by bills and unable to recover for the rest of their lives.” “What they’re advocating is seriously unconscionable,” says Rome in response to Generation Opportunity’s call for youth to go uninsured.

Generation Opportunity also told Yahoo News that it will be passing out pizza and hosting tailgate parties to promote its campaign of opposing health insurance.

These antics, of course, are nothing new for the Koch brothers and their endless array of front groups. In the nineties, Koch-funded fronts fought healthcare reform by sponsoring a “broken-down bus wreathed in red tape symbolizing government bureaucracy and hitched to a tow truck labeled, ‘This is Clinton Health Care.’ ” They also fought environmental regulations, from acid rain to industrial air pollutants, not through sound policy arguments but by sponsoring populist-appearing agit-prop. More recently, Koch fronts have paid for moonbounces and other festival-type forms of outreach to lobby on issues critical to Koch Industries’ bottom line, like weakening the Environmental Protection Agency rules that affect Koch-owned facilities.

In the end, Koch operatives seem willing to use any marketing device that works, regardless of the truth or how it might affect regular people. In this case, encouraging young Americans to abandon health insurance is worth scoring political points against healthcare reform.


By: Lee Fang, The Nation, September 19, 2013

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Health Care, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Too Complacent About American Bloodbaths”: Reasonable Laws Could Solve Shooting Rampages

Last week’s horror at the Washington Navy Yard barely interrupted the stale political chatter, the dueling poll-tested messages, the sensational reports on the latest celebrity divorce or stint in rehab. While the newest mass shooting did preoccupy reporters for a couple of days, its import — at least judged in headlines and cable hours — quickly faded.

It was just another day of horrifying gun violence in America. The public has grown inured to the death toll, complacent about the destruction. If 20 dead babies at Sandy Hook didn’t move us to act, well, what will? When will the United States recover from this insanity — this sense that we cannot or should not rein in guns?

The “rampage” shooting has become a feature of contemporary culture, a peculiarly American perversion. It occurs in a few other countries, but not with the frequency with which it strikes here. This sort of crime — this kind of atrocity — generally stars an angry and deranged man determined to take out his wrath on strangers before going out in a blaze of glory. And there has been a troubling uptick in bloodbaths like this over the last decade.

The gun lobby would no doubt point out that, overall, gun violence has declined over the last several years. That’s true. As crime of all kinds has decreased, so have murders and assaults with firearms. But the “rampage” mass shooting has become more deadly even as more routine gun violence, the sort associated with monetary gain or personal revenge, has decreased.

Earlier this year, the Congressional Research Service issued a report, “Public Mass Shootings in the United States,” that catalogued 78 mass shootings between 1983 and 2012. They accounted for 547 deaths and an additional 476 injuries. The Washington Post has pointed out that half of the deadliest of those — Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Binghamton, Fort Hood and the Navy Yard — have occurred since 2007.

Experts have begun to focus, appropriately, on missed signals about the mental state of accused shooter Aaron Alexis, who told Rhode Island police officers that he was hearing voices. Certainly, the United States needs to do much better in providing mental health care to every citizen who needs it.

But it would be much more practical to focus on reining in guns. As any therapist would tell you, it’s very difficult to predict which patients may turn to violence. Alexis reportedly saw doctors at the Veterans Administration, but he told them he didn’t present a danger to anyone.

Sensible firearms measures would fill in the gap that our mental health system can’t straddle. Such limits would curb the bloodshed without infringing on the rights of any citizen who wants to hunt wild game or defend his home. Shouldn’t it be at least as difficult to get a firearm as it is for me to get a prescription for a sinus infection?

Take the simple matter of a waiting period. Alexis apparently purchased his pump-action shotgun two days before the massacre. With a few more days, various law enforcement and military entities may have pieced together his arrests for firearms violations and a report of his auditory hallucinations, which was apparently forwarded to naval authorities.

Other sensible measures — including a ban on high-capacity magazines — might not have deterred Alexis, but they would have curbed the violence from other shootings. And they would not infringe on the rights of the average gun owner. The Second Amendment does not espouse unlimited freedom to own the most dangerous firearms on the market.

Is the mass shooter the biggest crime problem remaining in America? By no means. But gun deaths are still a huge public health concern.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. will see more deaths from firearms than from car accidents by 2015.

Since the 1960s, we’ve made a series of law and policy changes that have reduced the carnage on our highways. We’ve done the opposite with firearms as various states have approved laws allowing guns in bars, parks and even churches.

That’s a recipe for more bloody rampages.


By: Cynthia Tucker, The National Memo, September 21, 2013

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Anti-Everything Party”: The Finger Of Blame For A Government Shutdown Points Only One Way

Sorry to subject you to another post about the pending government shutdown (It’s Friday—shouldn’t I be writing about robots? Maybe later.), but I just want to make this point briefly. As we approach and perhaps reach a shutdown, Republicans are going to try very hard to convince people that this is all Barack Obama’s fault. I’m guessing that right now, staffers in Eric Cantor’s office have formed a task force to work day and night to devise a Twitter hashtag to that effect; perhaps it’ll be #BarackOshutdown or #Obamadowner or something equally clever. They don’t have any choice, since both parties try to win every communication battle. But they’re going to fail. The public is going to blame them. It’s inevitable. Here’s why.

1. Only one side is making a substantive demand

The Democrats’ position is let’s not shut down the government, because that would be bad. They aren’t asking for any policy concessions. The Republican position, on the other hand, is if we don’t get what we want, we’ll force the government to shut down. So from the start, Republicans look like (and are) the ones forcing the crisis.

2. The demand Republicans are making is absurd and everyone knows it

Even many Republicans admit that it’s ridiculous to think Barack Obama would destroy his signature accomplishment, the most meaningful piece of domestic legislation in decades. If I say to you, “Would it be OK if I took your car, killed your dog, and burned down your house?” and you say “No, that would not be OK,” no one is going to accuse you of being the unreasonable one.

3. The Republicans have done this before

It happened when Bill Clinton was president (you can look here if you’ve forgotten how that turned out), and we’ve been through this cycle of threats of a shutdown more recently. Everyone is familiar with the pattern, and nothing about this particular iteration is going to be understood any differently. Which leads us to the most important reason:

4. Republicans are the ones who hate government, and Democrats are the ones who defend it

This is the heart of it. After so many decades of Republicans saying that government is evil, trying to slash it in a hundred ways, and more recently saying that they don’t think a shutdown would be all that bad, it will be all but impossible for them to convince people that they’re the ones who want government to stay open. Even if it were true (which it isn’t) they wouldn’t be able to convince people of it. They’re the anti-government party. That’s who they are. They worked very hard to create that image. So the universal default assumption is that when there’s a question of who’s responsible for shutting down the government, Republicans are the ones who are doing it, and persuading people that the opposite is true just isn’t going to happen.

I’m sure that at some point, Republicans will start arguing that because of some procedural detail (i.e. that the House passed a continuing resolution), they’re the ones who are moving forward while responsibility for the shutdown lays with Barack Obama. No one bought that when Newt Gingrich was Speaker (remember, that shutdown was triggered by a Clinton veto of a spending bill), and no one’s going to buy it now.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, September 20, 2013

September 22, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Government Shut Down | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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