Jonathan Cohn: How Obama, Reid, And Pelosi Stopped Republican Extortion. Three Reasons The Democrats Won
It’s over. The Senate voted yes. The House voted yes. President Obama signed the bill and, on Thursday, the federal government is open for business again. But in a narrower political sense, this was one of those (relatively) rare Washington battles in which one side clearly prevailed. It was the Democrats. When this episode started, they said they were determined not to make major concessions simply because Republicans were threatening shutdown and default.
Sure enough, here we are—with a new continuing resolution, a higher debt limit, and no major changes in law. Democrats achieved the policy outcome they had sought, while establishing a precedent for the future: No more negotiating while under such threats. So what did Democrats do right? How did they hold it together? Among the many factors, three come quickly to mind.
Administration officials have said they never expected so many initial visitors and that the high demand is a good sign. Both claims are true. In fairness, federal officials operated under tremendous political and logistical constraints, the kind few outsiders can grasp. Private developers don’t have the same stringent standards for privacy and security, for instance. And given the enormous challenges of trying to integrate so many systems—some new, some old—nobody seriously expected the launch of Obamacare’s federal websites to take place without glitches
People trying to get insurance have been remarkably patient, which tells you something important about how dysfunctional and frustrating the old insurance market was. Obamacare’s architects assumed that most states would opt to run their own marketplaces with federal officials running only a few. The assumption proved wrong: Pretty much any state with a Republican governor or Republican legislative control said no, adding to the administrative burden on HHS. But 14 states plus the District of Columbia are managing their own markets.Mostly it’s places you would expect—progressive outposts like California, Washington, and New York—where Obama and his policies are most popular. But Kentucky, where a Democratic governor and group of dedicated officials have worked diligently to deliver the law’s benefits, is also on the list.
Now that the government shutdown crisis is over, leaving the GOP brand in tatters, the news is filled with chatter about Republicans “reassessing” for the battles that come. As Karen Tumulty’s piece asks: “What will it take to save the Republicans from the self-destructive impulses of the tea party movement?” If Republicans do want to enter into the normal give and take of governing — a big “if,” to be sure – it will require a willingness to rely on an alliance of non-Tea Party Republicans and Democrats to get things done.
Republicans didn’t lose the shutdown fight because Obama is trying to destroy their party. They lost it because the Tea Party fantasy outcome was never going to happen. It was rooted in a deeply unhinged view of how governing should work that Dems were never, ever, ever going to accept. It took GOP leaders too long to accept this and act accordingly.
In fact, one of the most insightful analyses of Obamacare’s federal site came from John Green, co-producer of Vlogbrothers—who tried applying for insurance via an Obamacare exchange (one the federal government is running for Indiana) and then compared the experience to applying for insurance the old way, via an insurance company website. Even with the delays and server errors, he found, Obamacare was quicker and easier—mostly because, under the old system, he had to reconstruct several years of his medical history down to every exam and test.
President Obama spoke briefly yesterday, announcing the re-opening of the federal government, and sharing some thoughts on how to help the country get moving in the right direction again. Specifically, the president stressed the importance of immigration reform – four times. The push came on the heels from similar remarks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said, “I look forward to the next venture, which is making sure we do immigration reform.” As it turns out, congressional Republicans don’t quite see it that way.
A prominent House Republican intends to help destroy the legislation because, he claims, Obama is “trying to destroy the Republican Party.” Presumably, then, that’s an outcome Republicans prefer to inflict on themselves? Stepping back, here’s my question for congressional Republicans: what is it, exactly, you intend to run on in 2014? I don’t mean that in some kind of obnoxious, snarky, way; I genuinely want to know.
Framed through the windows of the spare limousine, President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the motorcade with Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and personal aide Reggie Love, Oct. 19, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Think Progress: New Jersey Supreme Court: Same-Sex Couples Can Begin Marrying Monday
The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an arguably unprecedented decision Friday: though they still plan to hear out a case challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, they are going to allow same-sex couples to begin marrying in the state in the meantime. The lower court’s decision will take effect at 12:01 AM Monday morning. In an order denying the Christie administration a stay of the lower court’s marriage equality ruling, the Court posited that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act so “changed the landscape” that the harm to same-sex couples being denied federal benefits was too blatant to ignore
this outcome is not a final guarantee that the right to marry is a permanent fixture for same-sex couples in New Jersey, but it is incredibly encouraging. Though the Court reserved its right to nullify any marriages that take place until they rule, they have explicitly stated their expectation that the state will lose and marriage equality will prevail.
President Barack Obama waves from the Colonnade to visitors as they tour the White House grounds during the 2012 White House Fall Garden Tour, Oct. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, with veteran James Sperry and his daughter, Hannah, pause for the national anthem prior to Game 1 of the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 19, 2011. The First Lady and Dr. Biden attended the game as part of their Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama listens to the University of Texas Pan American Mariachi Aztlan band in the Grand Foyer before signing the Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with third and fourth grade students during a surprise visit to Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., Oct. 19, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)