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“The Eugenics Forum”: If This Is What 2016 Is Going To Look Like, The GOP Is In Big Trouble

“In your lifetime, much of your potential — or lack thereof — can be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek,” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said at Liberty University on Monday, during a rally for the Virginia GOP’s nominee for governor, Ken Cuccinelli. “Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us?”

The senator was making an argument against abortion rights by conjuring eugenics, a pseudo-science of genetic improvement that resulted in sterilization laws across America in the 20th century. And he was possibly plagiarizing from Wikipedia to do it.

If Cuccinelli were leading in polls — even his own poll — appealing to the far right with abstruse arguments that have almost no appeal to swing voters probably wouldn’t be a very good idea with only eight days until the election.

But Paul — a Tea Party favorite — was in Virginia to shore up Cuccinelli’s support among libertarians currently trending to the Libertarian Party nominee Robert Sarvis, who refuses to identify as anti-abortion.

Until the government shutdown and polls that show him losing by as much as 17 percent, Cuccinelli had veered away from social issues, attempting to avoid pointing out that he opposes same-sex sex even as a majority of America accepts same-sex marriage. But at this point the Republican nominee is just trying to hold on to his base, hoping the electorate resembles 2010 much more than 2012.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is crisscrossing the state with his old friend, Democratic nominee for governor Terry McAuliffe. And as he did when he barnstormed for President Obama in the final days before the last presidential election, Clinton was aiming right down the center.

“If we become ideological, then we’re blind to evidence,” the former president said on Sunday. “We can only hear people who already agree with us. We think we know everything right now, and we have nothing to learn from anybody.”

McAuliffe is definitely running a far more liberal campaign than his fellow Democrats, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), who have recently won statewide elections in Virginia.

“Like the president, McAuliffe has endorsed gay marriage; universal background checks for gun purchases; an assault-weapons ban; a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally; a mandate on employers offering health insurance to include free contraception coverage; and limits on carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants,” The National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein reports, in a story examining how McAuliffe is winning as a “liberal Democrat” in purple Virginia. “He would also reverse the tight restrictions on abortion clinics championed by state Republicans led by Cuccinelli and outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell.”

The combination of these ideas moving into the mainstream along with the contrast to Cuccinelli’s fundamentalism has given the Democrat a chance to still position himself as a centrist.

While his tone can be harsh, Cuccinelli’s policies are generally in the mainstream of the GOP’s base, represented by 2016 frontrunners Paul, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former senator Rick Santorum.

Even Governors Scott Walker (R-WI) and Chris Christie (R-NJ) have defunded Planned Parenthood in their states. Still, Christie’s willingness to literally embrace President Obama has positioned him as a “moderate” in the party. If he or former governor Jeb Bush were to win their party’s nomination in 2016, presenting the GOP with its third “moderate” candidate in a row, it’s not hard to imagine the Tea Party wing of the party losing patience and finding its own nominee that would draw voters away from the Republican nominee, as Sarvis seems to be siphoning from Cuccinelli. (Perhaps that third-party nominee could even be Senator Paul, who begins his first run for president by inheriting a grassroots network built up during his father’s two presidential campaigns.)

The next president of the United States will likely have to win in Virginia. And that person is not likely to be the person discussing eugenics a week before the election.

 

By: Jason Sattler, Featured Post, The National Memo, October 28, 2013

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Abortion, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rand Paul | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“House Republicans Exhausted By Failure”: They Would Prefer To Start Working Even Less

Following up on a segment from last night’s show, it appears the U.S. House of Representatives, just nine months into the current Congress, can’t think of anything to do. The Republican leadership hasn’t scheduled many work days for the remainder of 2013, and they’re now considering a plan to scale back even further.

For the first time in months, House Republicans are facing no immediate cataclysmic deadlines, and GOP leaders are struggling to come up with an agenda to fill the 19 legislative days that are left in 2013.

Need evidence? The House votes Monday evening and will finish its work week Wednesday. After that, the House is out of session until Nov. 12. Internally, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and senior Republicans aren’t discussing coming back early from the scheduled recess, but instead, they are wondering if they’ll cancel some of the remaining days in session.

This Politico item was published yesterday, so there are really only 18 legislative days remaining until New Year’s Eve – it’s great work if you can get it – a total which may be poised to shrink.

The 112th Congress was the least productive since the clerk’s office started keeping track seven decades ago, and this current 113th Congress is on track to do even less. Presumably, the Republican majority could at least try to take up meaningful bills in the hopes of passing something, but at this point, they’re not even inclined to bother. Rather, they’re thinking about showing up to work even less.

What about the House Republican policy agenda? It apparently doesn’t exist. What about the desire to have some legislative accomplishments? It’s been overwhelmed by political lethargy. This crop of lawmakers is giving new meaning to the phrase “do-nothing Congress,” and instead of scurrying to prove themselves capable of governing, they’re content to just accept the label and go home.

As pathetic as this may be, the larger point isn’t just to point and laugh at the House’s ineptitude. Rather, one of the key takeaways of this is that House Republicans keep saying they’d love to tackle immigration reform – if only they had more time.

The problem, of course, is not with a lack of time, but rather what they choose to do with it.

I’m reminded of an item from two weeks ago, when Byron York quoted a Senate Republican staffer commenting on the House GOP. “They are a majority party that wants to be a minority party,” the aide said.

The evidence to bolster that thesis is increasingly apparent. There is such a thing as a governing party. It just so happens that the House Republican conference isn’t one of them. For those in doubt, look no further than the fact that these lawmakers have accomplished practically nothing this year, and are apparently so exhausted by their failures that they’d prefer to start working even less.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 29, 2013

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Congress, GOP | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Those Pray That You Don’t Get Sick Plans”: Replacing Poor Health Insurance Plans With Good Ones

We’ve known for several years that once the Affordable Care Act is implemented, substandard insurance plans would be replaced with better, stronger coverage. Nevertheless, as lots of folks learn that their old plans are being replaced, this has led to a variety of overheated reports featuring shocked consumers. (That insurers routinely dropped Americans’ coverage under the old system is often overlooked.)

Leading much of the coverage is a woman named Dianne Barrette, a 56-year-old resident of Winter Haven, Fla., who’s made a flurry of television appearances after Blue Cross/Blue Shield informed her that her old plan is being replaced with a new one, and her new coverage will be more expensive. “What I have right now is what I’m happy with, and I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have,” she said on CBS. “Why do I have to be forced into something else?”

To his credit, the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple took a closer look at the anecdotal evidence.

More coverage may provide a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of Barrette’s situation: Her current health insurance plan, she says, doesn’t cover “extended hospital stays; it’s not designed for that,” says Barrette. Well, does it cover any hospitalization? “Outpatient only,” responds Barrette. Nor does it cover ambulance service and some prenatal care. On the other hand, says Barrette, it does cover “most of my generic drugs that I need” and there’s a $50 co-pay for doctors’ appointments. “It’s all I could afford right now,” says Barrette.

In sum, it’s a pray-that-you-don’t-really-get-sick “plan.”

If this woman had a serious ailment and was forced to stay in the hospital for a while, her old plan would have likely destroyed her financial life permanently, leaving her bankrupt. Now, thanks to “Obamacare,” in the event of a disaster, she’ll be protected with coverage her insurer can’t take away – with no annual or lifetime caps.

In other words, the new horror story for critics of the health care law features a middle-aged woman trading a bad plan for a good plan, and health care insecurity for health care security.

What’s more, while much of the coverage of Barrette’s situation has focused on the higher monthly cost of her new, better insurance plan, there’s another detail that’s been overlooked by some: she’ll be eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The cost of the coverage isn’t what she’ll actually have to pay out of her own pocket.

If it seems like this keeps coming up, with Republicans and news outlets latching onto anecdotes that seem to cast the health care law in a negative light, only to look much better upon closer scrutiny, that’s because this keeps happening. If the law were as awful as detractors claim, shouldn’t it be easier to find legitimate victims?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 29, 2013

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Econ 101 For The Party Of Sore Losers”: Tea Party Politics And Policy Limit Economic Freedom And Growth

Our businesses, markets and citizens are breathing sighs of relief. After wasting billions and toying with America’s creditworthiness, the so-called tea party has ceased, for the moment, holding our democracy and our economy hostage. Nevertheless, the fringe faction that calls itself by this name has made it abundantly clear that it lacks the character to own up to its folly. This Party of Sore Losers (POSERS, for short) has hacked at the proverbial cherry tree and, learning nothing from young George Washington, has failed to own up. In fact, it is holding the axe behind its back, ready to hack again.

This past month, attention was appropriately focused on the short-term consequences of the government shutdown and the POSERS’ game of chicken with sovereign default – default at the national level. This is serious. As Warren Buffett emphasized during the crisis in an interview with Fortune, we’ve spent hundreds of years building up our credibility; it takes but a moment to ruin it. Worldwide, markets have enormous confidence in our financial integrity and the functioning of our government. To date, the free market believes in America’s capacity and commitment to make good on its obligations. Let’s keep it that way.

During the Reagan years, it was liberals who thought the world was ending because of mounting federal debt. Eventually the country paid it down. We must do this again, but if we’re serious about it, first we need policies that support enterprise and growth. We have come through long wars and a stubborn recession. More of our veterans need employment in the private economy, and more of our businesses need to be able to hire and to invest in innovation again.

It is under such conditions that the Party of Sore Losers thought it would play with default at the national level. This shows a blatant disregard for growth and what growth means to our nation. In their zeal, they have put the economic cart before the horse. It’s as if they truly don’t understand that the horse – private enterprise and the growth and employment it generates – pulls the cart.

Much has been written in recent weeks about what the shutdown cost the nation and what a default would have cost. If the brinksmanship that brought us there were only a one-time tactic, it would have been bad enough. As it is, this tactic was merely the latest instance in a consistent pattern of fixation on cuts and obstruction, to the exclusion of growth. If you were out of a job, would it do you much good to stop showering, doing the laundry or paying rent and utilities, all in an effort to cut expenses? It would bring your costs down, to be sure. But it wouldn’t help you get a job.

As vivid as this analogy might be, it makes the point. POSER policies block investment in infrastructure, financial transparency, food safety, pollution controls and education. These are our Internet, our shower, our breakfast, laundry and rent; these fundamentals provide the stable conditions we need to get back to work. Investment in them is something business owners repay many times over. When a stable and functioning government does its job, we entrepreneurs can do ours: creating value and hiring people without unnecessary hindrance.

There are significant dangers when the government starts doing what private industry does best. Think of the last time you were in line at a government agency, and of the level of customer service you received, compared to what you got from a company that would lose you as a customer if it did a bad job. You can vote your representatives out, but the staff at your local government agency isn’t typically up for re-election.

There are, of course, many dedicated civil servants who give you their very best. Still, overall, beware the performer playing to a captive audience. Private companies that succeed in locking you in as a customer only underscore the point. Think of the last time you were on hold with, or tried to use the latest software from, a business with which you as a customer were more or less stuck. When a company becomes the only game in town, or seduces you into signing that contract, a certain disdain for your needs often follows.

The POSERS who call themselves the tea party appear to be seized by a great fear that we will all be waiting in line at government health clinics. The trouble is that they’re forcing their version of free choice down our throats. It can be hard to see the irony in this when you’re convinced that you’re channeling the will of the people. In an interview in Business Insider just days before the recent debt-ceiling deadline, POSER Rep. Ted Yoho claimed to know what “the people” wanted. He broke it down for the rest of us: “They have chosen not to fund the government.”

How did we get to this point? Did the POSERS get so good at dismissing their perceived political opponents on ideological grounds that they started to hear nothing but their own voices? Was it the hay this faction made by obstructing government, while screaming that the president was a socialist, that allowed its arguments to become divorced from what a functioning market economy is?

However they talked themselves into it, the POSERS have demonstrated their readiness to play havoc with the most basic needs of the business owner in America. They have shown their disregard for what it means to carry on our work with some confidence that government will do its job, while we do ours. What’s so tragic about this, among other things, is that it discredits legitimate efforts to keep government out of places it shouldn’t be.

In view of what the POSERS have put us through of late, Americans of all mainstream political persuasions should be on guard. The so-called tea party may pose the greatest threat to free enterprise in decades. The POSERS would block moves to reestablish the financial transparency on which savers and investors rely. They would make us pay the costs of other people’s pollution. They would restrict the economic opportunity for immigrants on which this country’s success is based. And they would rob us of our right to enjoy or to suffer from that which we have chosen for ourselves in free elections.

Whether “Obamacare” turns out to hurt businesses and employees more than it helps them, we’re going to find out in practice. Far more threatening to private industry is the way the POSERS would cut off our economy’s nose to spite its face. One can only assume they earnestly believe themselves to be in a mortal struggle to keep government from interfering with our choices. In reality, of course, POSER economic policies limit those choices, in the ways I’ve described.

Moreover, these policies function to keep the private economy small and constrain recovery and growth, thereby perversely increasing our dependence on debt spending. We badly need to teach these ideologues the basics of cash flows, debt and investment, value generation and growth. Alas, the Party of Sore Losers has been busy teaching the rest of us a course of its own design. The textbook is titled, “Converting Resilient American Innovation into Entirely Unnecessary, Government-Induced Economic Paralysis (A Sore Loser’s Approach: 2013 Edition).”

 

By: Alejandro Crawford, U. S. News and World Report, October 29, 2013

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Businesses, Economy, Tea Party | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Hypocrisy On Obamacare”: Republicans Get The Vapors And Become Outraged About The Problems They Created

Last spring, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and the chairman of the committee, was not pleased with how things were going.

The Obama administration originally had asked for more than half a billion dollars to spend on public relations and outreach for the law. House Republicans had returned with an offer of nothing. That’s right: zero dollars. Without necessary funds, the Department of Health and Human Services worried it would not have the necessary money to pay for navigators to help people enroll in health care, for the technology needed to implement the exchanges and for the public relations campaign that was required to inform citizens about what the law actually did.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the controversial move of asking insurance companies and nonprofit organizations to donate money and help. Republicans were outraged. She asked for more money. She was refused.

Then, when she tried to move some money from the PR budget to replace cuts to other areas, Baucus became quite upset. He was concerned that if the administration did not do more to inform people about the law and get implementation going, there would be problems:

“A lot of people have no idea about all of this,” he said. “People just don’t know a lot about it, and the Kaiser poll pointed that out. I understand you’ve hired a contractor. I’m just worried that that’s gonna be money down the drain because contractors like to make money. … I just tell ya, I just see a huge train wreck coming down.”

As I’ve said before, it’s important to note that the “train wreck” Baucus was describing was a botched implementation because not enough was being done to make things go smoothly.

It wasn’t a description of the law itself but of what might occur if the government did not devote enough resources to making it work. Sebelius’ response was not surprising to those who were paying attention. She said that she was “incredibly disappointed” that all her requests for resources were being denied by Republicans.

That was then. Today, implementation has arrived, and if it’s not a train wreck, then it’s certainly close. The administration is still under fire because people cannot get the insurance they want through the exchanges. But while I will continue to point out the problems with implementation and fault the administration for mistakes they’ve made, how does one ignore the apparent hypocrisy from many politicians who are now “outraged” about the very problems they’ve helped to create.

Republicans refused to appropriate money needed to implement Obamacare. When Sebelius tried to shift money from other areas to help do what needed to be done, she was attacked by Senate Republicans. At every step, Republicans fought measures to get money to put towards implementation.

Is it really a surprise then that implementation hasn’t gone smoothly?

Federal legislators aren’t the only ones to blame. Let’s remember that original versions of the bill called for one big national exchange. This would have been much easier to implement. But conservatives declared that insurance should be left to the states and kept out of the hands of the federal government. So as a compromise (yes, those did occur), exchanges were made state-based instead of national.

As a precaution, the law stipulated that if states failed to do their duty and enact exchanges, the federal government would step in and pick up the slack. This was to prevent obstructionism from killing the law. Surprisingly, it was many of the same conservative states that demanded local control that refused to implement state-based exchanges, leaving the federal government to do it for them.

That made implementation much harder.

There have been books, webinars and meetings explaining how to sabotage the implementation of Obamacare. There have been campaigns trying to persuade young adults not to use the exchanges. It is, therefore, somewhat ironic that many of the same people who have been part of all of this obstructionism seem so “upset” by the fact that people can’t easily use the exchanges.

For goodness sake, the government was shut down just a few weeks ago because some of the same people who are now bemoaning poorly functioning websites were determined to see that not one dime went to Obamacare.

Lest you think I’m defending this month’s rollout, I encourage you to review my last article here. I still maintain that the administration has had a failure in management in overseeing and reporting on progress towards October 1. But I’m also sympathetic that they’ve had a hard job to do. I would like to see this go better. I’d like to see millions more get insurance. I’d like to see the law of the land function as well as it can, and if it doesn’t, I’d like to see Congress continue to amend it to make it work better. I’d like a better health care system.

What I cannot ignore, however, are the many people who actively worked to see implementation fail now get the vapors over its poor start. The truth is, they got what they wanted. A victory lap is somewhat warranted, not concern-trolling.

If, on the other hand, their concern is real, then I’m sure the administration would welcome their help in making things right.

 

By: Aaron Carroll, Director, Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Special to CNN, October 28, 2013

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP, Obamacare | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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