Steve Benen: Key ‘Obamacare’ provision delayed until 2015
News from the Obama administration about the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act caused quite a stir last night, but it’s worth pausing to appreciate the extent of the impact …. I think some of the reactions to the one-year delay have been a little excessive. Maybe it’ll be easier to tackle this in Q&A form.
* What’s the employer mandate? In practical terms, the policy name is a bit of misnomer — there is no actual “mandate.” Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are told they need to offer health care coverage to their employees, but those who choose not to pay a fairly modest tax penalty. As of last night, that penalty won’t kick in, at the earliest, before 2015.
* Won’t this mandate discourage those businesses from hiring? It’s been an important part of the criticism, but Obamacare extends all kinds of breaks to these employers to help subsidize the insurance and soften the blow of increased costs.
Spandan (The People’s View): How the Professional Left’s Blind Obama Hatred Got them Played by a Far-Right Nutjob
Some outlets reported last week that NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden was caught into a bit of hypocrisy: public chat records indicate that back in the ancient times of 2009, he wanted leakers “shot in the balls.” Yeah, he said that. But that’s not all he said. Oh, no. The Technology site Ars Technica posted extensive public chat logs from Snowden, then using the monkier TheTrueHOOHA, that confirms what I had suspected since finding his campaign contributions to Glenn Greenwald’s straight crush Ron Paul.
So let’s talk about this man that has been granted hero status by the Left’s loudest prognosticators and provocateurs….
As we watch the Republicans in states like North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Texas attempt to pass draconian bills affecting things like women’s right to chose and citizen’s access to the ballot, I can’t help but say that I smell a sense of desperation. Its almost as if they know they are a dying beast and are in a hurry to do as much damage as possible prior to their demise.
Despite a heavy period of news that included the Boston Marathon bombings and the Jodi Arias trial, MSNBC’s second-quarter ratings plunged to their lowest level since 2007.
…. “The Rachel Maddow Show” suffered its lowest-rated quarter in terms of total viewers since 2008. And June alone was the lowest rated month ever for Maddow in both total viewers and in the 25-54 group.
—-> New host Chris Hayes continues to pull in sluggish ratings for “All In With Chris Hayes,” which in its first full quarter on air provided MSNBC with the lowest-rated 8 p.m. hour in the 25-54 demographic since 2006.
Steve Benen: Since I raised some concerns about David Brooks’ column, it’s only fair that I note there’s been some follow-up on the story.
To briefly recap, Brooks built his entire column around a falsehood: the bogus claim that President Obama “hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration,” despite the detailed, already published plan, built on mutual concessions from both sides, the White House already released.
…. Though the walk-back is welcome, Greg Sargent helps highlight why Brooks still has some room to improve his argument …. And then Brooks made one more mistake: he argued with Ezra Klein. This interview is an absolute must-read – really, it is….
Jonathan Cohn: I have a big scoop, straight from an extremely reliable White House source: The Obama Administration has endorsed means-testing of Medicare.
For some time now, Republicans have been saying that wealthy seniors should pay more for Medicare …. New York Times columnist David Brooks seconded the plea in the New York Times. Apparently Obama has been listening. According to my administration source, the president would support means-testing.
Huge news! And who was my reliable source? The White House website. See, this isn’t a new proposal. It’s part of last year’s budget….
… the failure to recognize, or at least acknowledge, that the administration has already proposed serious means-testing is widespread in Washington — and emblematic of a broader truth in the budget debate….
Read Charles Pierce on David Brooks here – nooooooooo extract would do it justice.
TPM: Top Senate Democrats excoriated the competing House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act hours after it was unveiled Friday.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the author of VAWA, derided the legislation as “partisan” and said it omits critical measures designed to protect vulnerable populations like Native Americans, immigrants and the gay and lesbian community.
“Next week, the House of Representatives plans to revert back to its partisan version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act,” Leahy said in a statement. “The Republican House leadership has decided to replace the Senate-passed version with a substitute that will not provide critical protections for rape victims, domestic violence victims, human trafficking victims, students on campuses, or stalking victims. This is simply unacceptable …..”
Washington Post: The number of double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers has plummeted over the past four years, according to a Friday report from the Obama administration.
Researchers combed through data available from the 15 states that publicly post all requests for rate increases in the individual market. They found that, in 2009, 74 percent of all requests came in above 10 percent. By 2012, that number had fallen to 35 percent. Preliminary data for 2013, which only cover a handful of states, shows 14 percent of rate increases asking for a double-digit bump….
TPM: A few weeks ago, Tom Teves, of Phoenix, sent his senators a letter. His 24-year-old son, Alex, was killed last year in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater massacre, and he wanted to tell them Alex’s story and encourage them to take action on guns.
What he got in response, he said, were cold, impersonal form letters from Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans. Neither of the letters even addressed the Colorado massacre. In fact, they brought up an entirely different shooting, the schoolhouse killings in Newtown, Conn., and mentioned each senator’s ongoing support of the Second Amendment. It was like Alex Teves’ death hadn’t gotten through to the senators or their staffs.
Now, Tom Teves has shared the letters he received with TPM. He did so after his wife confronted McCain in-person Wednesday with her son’s story and a question about guns at a town hall event in Phoenix. McCain’s response included the remark that Caren Teves needed “some straight talk” on the issue of assault weapons.
Michael Tomasky: Deluded Republican Reformers – Conservative pundits’ ideas about fixing the GOP are totally meaningless, says Michael Tomasky, until they deal with the problem of their party’s rage-driven fanaticism.
Conservative pundits and intellectuals have spent the past week or two ….. talking about how to save the Republican Party. They have lots of ideas — some good, some not so good, most very sober-minded policy prescriptions …. The party they purport to support and care about has been engaged in burning down the house of American politics for three or four years now, and they are saying nothing about it; and until they say something about it, everything else they say is close to meaningless.
President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan as they stand in the West Wing Lobby of the White House, Feb. 22 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, Michelle Obama, VP Biden and Dr Jill Biden will host the 2013 Governors’ Dinner at the White House on Sunday
First lady Michelle Obama and host Dr. Mehmet Oz dancing with third graders from the Terence C. Reilly #7 School in Elizabeth, N.J. during a taping of “The Dr. Oz Show,” on Friday, Feb. 22 in New York. The episode will air on Thursday Feb. 28
And, one more time (that’s a lie: I’ll probably post it every day for the next four years):
NYT: Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, standing before the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln began his political career, announced his candidacy for the White House on Saturday by presenting himself as an agent of generational change who could transform a government hobbled by cynicism, petty corruption and “a smallness of our politics.”
…. It was the latest step in a journey rich with historic possibilities and symbolism. Thousands of people packed the town square to witness it, shivering in the single-digit frostiness until Mr. Obama appeared, trailed by his wife, Michelle, and two young daughters….
…. The formal entry to the race framed a challenge that would seem daunting to even the most talented politician: whether Mr. Obama, with all his strengths and limitations, can win in a field dominated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who brings years of experience in presidential politics, a command of policy and political history, and an extraordinarily battle-tested network of fund-raisers and advisers.
…. “If a campaign is premised on personality, then no, I don’t think you can stay fresh for a year,” he said. “But if the campaign is built from the ground up and there is a sense of ownership among people who want to see significant change, then absolutely. It can build and grow.”