Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

NOTE TO COLORADANS: You can get virtually identical insurance on your state’s Exchange—and continue to receive the same subsidies to pay the premiums that you received THIS year. Really.

More than 22,000 Coloradans were informed in the past month that their health coverage will be canceled at the end of the year, state insurance authorities disclosed this week, a spike in cancellations already roiling the state’s fierce campaigns for the Senate and governor’s seat.

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s running to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, pounced on the news as evidence that Obamacare is disrupting coverage for Coloradans and that Udall, who voted for the law, shares in the blame.

It’s unclear, though, if Obamacare is the reason for the latest wave of canceled plans. The cancellations are nearly all the result of a decision by Humana, a major national insurance company, to cancel offerings for people who buy health insurance on their own. About 3,800 were the result of financial instability at a smaller insurer, SeeChange, which offered plans to small businesses.

The sudden surge, however, comes at an inopportune time for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, both of whom are fighting for their political lives and have been staunch defenders of the health law. Hickenlooper was one of just more than a dozen governors to build a state-run Obamacare exchange last year.

It’s unclear why Humana canceled policies that covered nearly 18,000 people, but the company is participating in Colorado’s exchange this year, offering plans to consumers who live in Colorado Springs and Denver. Although many insurers have canceled plans that fail to meet the minimum standards of Obamacare, Colorado insurance officials noted that Humana had the opportunity to continue its offerings through 2015. Plans may be canceled for many reasons besides failure to comply with Obamacare, too, they noted.

Health cancellations ripple in Colorado, Kyle Cheney, Politico, today

Hmm.  I no longer expect any Democratic candidate for anything–okay, I can think of three, but only three, exceptions: Gary Peters and Mark Schauer in Michigan, and Kay Hagan in North Carolina–to actually respond clearly and directly on-point to this kind of stuff.  But Udall and Hickenlooper could, theoretically, surprise me by pointing out, first, that almost certainly a high percentage of beneficiaries have been able to afford that policy because of the federal subsidies courtesy of the ACA, and, second, that every single one of these folks will be able to get a similar policy, through the Exchange–and receive the same financial assistance via the ACA that they received this year.

Udall and Hickenlooper won’t, of course, point out these things.  Nor, I guess, will the political-news media, which also could, theoretically.  But I thought I’d mention these theoretical possibilities, anyway.

Aaaaargh.

UPDATE: I just thought of a fourth one: Bruce Braley of Iowa.

SECOND UPDATE: And Rick Weiland of South Dakota!  He’s running aggressively as a liberal.

Tags: , , , , , , Comments (3) | |

Sooo …. which of Obama’s economic policies do you want to repeal or defeat, Repubs?? And replace those policies with whose–I mean, what–economic policies, exactly? Do tell!

Barack Obama wanted to galvanize Democrats when he insisted this week that his economic policies are on the ballot in November. Instead, the soundbite has already become the centerpiece of new Republican attack ads.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell uses the clip in a new commercial, shared first with POLITICO. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts turned his own ad earlier Friday morning. And New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown is using the clip in a web video against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“Alison Grimes says this election is not about her support for Barack Obama and his failed policies,” a narrator says over footage of a Grimes commercial that showed her shooting a gun. “But Obama himself says a vote for Alison is a vote for his policies.”

Obama’s comments Thursday came in front of a supportive crowd in Illinois during a speech billed as an attempt to refocus the national discourse on his economic agenda.

“I am not on the ballot this fall … But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them,” he said.

GOP ads pounce on Obama’s economy comments, James Hohmann and Kyle Cheney, Politico, today

The article goes on to say that Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and New Hampshire Repub. Senate nominee Scott Brown will run similar ads in their respective states.

To which I say: Please do.  It is, after all, Obama himself, not Obama’s actual economic policies—which most people have no clue about—that creates the problem for the Democrats.  Much less is the problem for the Dems the Senate Democrats’ proposed economic policies— which most people have no clue about.  The economic policies that the Senate Republicans are blocking.

Obama prefaced those comments with some actual specifics about the results thus far of one set of his policies, Obamacare. Justic Sink of The Hill reported yesterday (H/T Paul Waldman):

“There’s a reason fewer [Republicans] are running against ObamaCare — because while good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world,” the president said.

The day after the anniversary of rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, Obama argued that a “dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of healthcare” had led to more individuals being covered and prices staying lower.

“If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are,” Obama said. “That’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of our pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like an $1,800 tax cut.”

And, Obama said, the cost of government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid are decreasing alongside the costs of private insurance.

“Healthcare has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits,” Obama said. “Healthcare is now the single biggest factor driving those deficits down.” …

“In just the last year, we’ve reduced the share of uninsured Americans by 26 percent,” Obama said. “That means 1 in 4 uninsured Americans — about 10 million people — have gained the financial security of health insurance in less than one year.”

The president also argued that the availability of insurance through ObamaCare meant young entrepreneurs were freed “to strike out on your own and chase that new idea,” rather than remaining in jobs that provided medical coverage.

It’s great that Obama finally deigned to speak publicly about the specifics—including specific results—of one of his policies, Obamacare.  He generally doesn’t do speaking publicly about the specifics (and certainly not specific results) of his policies, or, regarding most of his and the congressional Dems’ economic policies, even the existence of their policies and policy proposals.  Which may be why no one knows the specifics, or even the generalities.

But, the press being the press, and the political punditry being the political punditry, what matters is that Obama said the words, “I am not on the ballot this fall … But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.”  “These policies” could mean … well … it doesn’t matter.

As it happens, a majority of the public, even in “red” states, aren’t all that keen on the prospect of the Koch brothers’ policies becoming Congress’s blatant policies.  So the new Republican ads about Obama’s policies being on the ballot should be countered not only with a demand to know which specific economic, fiscal and regulatory policies these candidates want to repeal but also with reminders that the Koch brothers’ policies are on the ballot, too.

Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Comments (4) | |

Scott Brown says no one should work at a minimum-wage job in the U.S. forever. Instead they should move to Canada. Or Germany. Or France. Or …

I’m encouraged any time government functions. We’re a very philanthropic society. We always want people to have safety nets. Medicaid is meant to be a temporary measure to provide benefits for people who are in difficult circumstances. It’s not meant to be going on forever.

— Scott Brown, when Politico reporter Kyle Cheney asked him whether he supports New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion.

So if he’s elected to the Senate he’ll propose a really large increase in the minimum wage. Expect Walmart and McDonald’s to make sizable donations to Jeanne Shaheen’s reelection campaign committee.  Luckily for us Dems, they’re people and can do that.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (1) | |