Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Last Call For The Next GOP Shutdown

And so it begins:  with Obamacare going live January 1, 2014 and state insurance exchanges up on October 1, increasingly desperate Republicans are running out of time to stop Obamacare.  Their last ditch effort is now to threaten a government shutdown over funding for the program.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) declared on Monday that he and other congressional Republicans would be willing to shut down the federal government in order to block further implementation of President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Speaking on Fox News, Lee said Republicans determined that refusing to fund Obamacare was the "last stop" before the individual mandate and the law's health insurance exchanges are set to go into effect at the beginning of next year.

“Congress of course has to pass a law to continue funding government -- lately we’ve been doing that through a funding mechanism called a continuing resolution," Lee said. "If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of Obamacare, we can stop it. We can stop the individual mandate from going into effect.”

But Lee is bluffing.  There's nothing he can do and he knows it.  He's already given up the game.

Lee added that his effort, which he said was backed by "13 or 14" Senate Republicans and a host of House Republicans, wouldn't target popular Obamacare provisions that already had gone into effect, like a measure that allows children to remain on their parents' health insurance until the age of 26.

Lee's talking about at most shutting down the government over the individual mandate, a fight the GOP has already lost in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.  He's bluffing.  The wingers know it too, and they're pissed:

Congress should completely defund Obamacare by October, when the government next runs out of money. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there are times for half-measures, and there are times to get the job done. If Republican leaders intend to vote only on an individual mandate delay, then this half-measure will serve only to keep Obamacare limping along now to wreak its havoc and ruin on the economy later.

Republican leaders are understandably wary of being blamed for a government shutdown at the next showdown about running out of money (yet again).

But Congress must not do anything to prop up this faltering law. For the moment the Obama administration declared the employer mandate would be delayed until after a tough election, this debate transcended a fight over health care and became a fight about transforming our constitutional system of separate but equal branches of government.

This is now about ceding power to a runaway executive branch that the Constitution simply does not allow.

Except of course the Supreme Court indeed ruled that the Constitution does allow it. Any wonder then that the GOP plan over the month-long recess is to snow job voters at home during town hall meetings?

While Republicans have a familiar rhetoric, leadership does suggest that members seek out diverse groups during the break with “Meetups” — forums to “ensure the Member is engaging with all demographics.”

“Potential groups to organize Meetups around include women, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and millennials,” the kit explains.

As always, don’t forget to assign a staffer to live-tweet the event with photos, Vines and a consistent hashtag. The memo loves the budding Vine app, which has traditionally been used as a means for frat brothers to share their drunken misadventures in six-second bursts, not as a means for House Republicans to spread their limited-government message.

To get the conversation rolling in the right direction, the playbook suggests planting questions: “Prepare a few questions in advance in case the conversation slowly starts.”

“Invite at least 3-4 people with whom the member already has an established relationship,” the memo instructs. “This will strengthen the conversation and take it in a direction that is most beneficial to the member’s goal.”

Make sure you throw in a few minorities to look good.  Use social media.  Plant a few questions.  Forget it, Republicans.  You lost on this, there's nothing you can do other than drag your feet kicking and screaming, and the voters will cure you of that pretty quickly.  But if you're willing to shut down the government over this, go ahead.  I'm sure the Democrats would be thrilled to actually pick up seats in the sixth year of a Democratic president's time in office.

The Next SCOTUS Test

The next big case for the Supreme Court later this year could determine the future of abortion in the US.  Kate Sheppard at MoJo recaps the fight in Cline vs Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and the coming battle over "medical abortions".

Roe v. Wade, watch out. The Supreme Court will venture into the abortion debate later this year when it considers the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law restricting the use of oral medications for abortions. The case could have major implications for the 16 states that have passed laws limiting the use of drugs that induce abortions.

Oklahoma's governor signed the state's medicine abortion law in May 2011, putting in place new restrictions on the use of RU-486 (also known as mifepristone or Mifeprex) and any other "abortion-inducing drug." The law mandates that doctors follow the exact protocols for the drugs that are described on the Food and Drug Administration-approved label. Off-label use of drugs is legal and fairly common, and in the years since the drug was first approved for use in 2000, doctors have found that RU-486 and other drugs can be effective at lower doses and can be done with fewer visits to the doctor's office than outlined on the FDA label. Doctors have also found that RU-486 is effective up to nine weeks into a pregnancy, not the seven weeks for which it was originally approved. Oklahoma's law bans doctors from using that new knowledge to help their patients.

After Oklahoma's governor signed the law, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued—and won. A trial judge struck down the law in May 2012. When Oklahoma appealed to the state Supreme Court, it lost again. The state then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which indicated in June that it would consider the case. Reproductive rights groups say Oklahoma's law—and similar ones in other states—are a transparent attempt to limit access to medication abortions. The groups argue that the new laws would make medicine-induced abortions virtually inaccessible, since the drugs are so frequently used off-label. "What this law will do is deny women the benefits of nonsurgical options for terminating a pregnancy," says Julie Rikelman, the director of litigation at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "We think it's an extreme law."

Remember, states like North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio have recently passed laws that require women to jump through the same ridiculous hoops (waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, mandatory counseling, etc.) to use RU-486 as they would for surgical abortion procedures.  These states also require a doctor in order to prescribe it (not a nurse practitioner) and the doctor must be on-hand to give RU-486 to the woman.

Ohio's law goes further, redefining "fetus" and "pregnancy" to be from conception, meaning that technically, the same ridiculous measures a woman would have to go through in order to get RU-486 would be required for birth control like Depo Provera or an IUD.

Something to think about.  I'm sure there's already 4 votes to side with the anti-choice side as is, if not already 5.  If so, it could be end of medical abortions in the US, and in some cases, the end of birth control as we know it too.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Still Rising

Hey folks, a not-so-gentle reminder that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster didn't just go away because the US press stopped covering it.

A Japanese utility has said its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is likely to have leaked contaminated water into sea, acknowledging for the first time a problem long suspected by experts.

Experts have suspected a continuous leak since the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. had previously denied contaminated water reached the sea, despite spikes in radiation levels in underground and sea water samples taken at the plant. Japan's nuclear watchdog said two weeks ago a leak was highly suspected, ordering TEPCO to examine the problem.

Surprise, after 28 months, TEPCO finally coming clean on the fact that radioactive water has leaked and most likely is probably still leaking into the Pacific.  Workers and cleanup crew there face serious health risks as a result.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, the operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, said Friday that about 2,000 people -- 10 percent of those who were part of the emergency crew involved in the cleanup after the plant’s meltdown in 2011 -- face an increased risk of thyroid cancer due to exposure to nuclear radiation.

And that risk continues to grow as the waters off the bay continue to be contaminated.  Little coverage on that, it seems.  But the problem's still there, folks.


Related Posts with Thumbnails