Monday, September 30, 2013

Last Call For, Well, You Know

House Republicans have now passed a bill that adds a one year delay to the individual mandate on Obamacare, something that will of course make the Affordable Care Act  not work very well at all.  The Senate is in the process tonight of telling the House to go to hell as they stand firm.

The bigger problem is that the shutdown is now all but assured, and that several hundred thousand people are going to be out of work until further notice, putting a huge crimp the economy, not to mention all the government services that will now be denied to millions of Americans.

But it looks like any shutdown may be short lived as I predicted earlier today, as House Republicans are beginning to revolt.

New York representative Peter King is leading the charge, and his fellow New Yorker Michael Grimm is close behind him. The group told leadership on Saturday they have 25 members who are willing to bring down the rule. 
That number of defections would defeat the rule, which, like all such votes, is a party-line affair. “How many of them are going to follow up today with the pressure and everything else, I don’t know,” King told me in a phone interview. 
King wants to pass a clean continuing-resolution bill. “This is going nowhere,” he says about the standoff with Senate Democrats. “If Obamacare is as bad as we say it’s going to be, then we should pick up a lot of seats in the next election and we should win the presidency in 2016,” he says. “This idea of going through the side door to take something you lost through the front door — to me, it’s wrong.”

The vote did pass to begin debate on the rule change, but then the Tea Party amended it to add the one-year delay of the individual mandate.  The Senate is going to reject it, and the shutdown will begin at midnight unless something amazing happens.

Eventually though enough Republicans will jump ship to push a clean CR.  When that happens, the shutdown will end.

Orange Hell

What'll it be, John Boehner?  Hero or goat?

Despite his backroom pleas and carefully crafted strategies, Boehner — a veteran of the shutdown battles of the mid-1990s — was unable to convince a hard-line faction of House GOP lawmakers that they should save their legislative brawls for the debt ceiling fight, where Boehner thought he could drag President Barack Obama to the negotiating table. 
Unless there is a last-minute deal, the U.S. government will shut down Monday at midnight, immediately furloughing hundreds of thousands of federal workers. The vast majority of public and private polling shows that Boehner’s House Republicans will get blamed for the stalemate. Boehner and his top aides know it — after all, it was the speaker who privately warned his leadership team that this shutdown could cost him his majority. 
It’s a pivotal moment for Boehner, perhaps the biggest crisis of his speakership, and he’s heading into it with a weak hand. The best Boehner can hope for is a draw. At worst, he could be endangering his troubled 17-seat majority as well as his own hold on the speaker’s gavel.

Once again the fate of America depends on John Boehner's ability to not be the worst House Speaker in modern US history.  

Good luck with that.

Boehner’s options, however, are dictated — and significantly limited — by his conservative flank. Hard-line Republicans, like Reps. Tom Graves of Georgia and Jim Jordan of Ohio, are keeping their powder dry, saying they will decide how to proceed when the Senate reacts to the latest House funding measure. 
In public and private, many of these conservatives are spoiling for a fight. On conference calls and in conversations on the House floor, many conservatives say they need a shock to the political system to have a chance of extracting something from Obama. This isn’t a government shutdown, they say, but rather a slowdown. They are betting the American public won’t turn on House Republicans like they did in 1996, when the GOP lost nine seats, and President Bill Clinton won a second term in the White House.

The lunatic asylum expects Obama to cave, 100%.  So what happens when enough moderate Republicans come up to Boehner and say "With the Democrats, we have enough votes to tell the Tea Party to go to hell.  We have a deal. Will you bring it up for a vote?"

What will he do?

What do you think he'll do?  That he'll have the moral conviction to do the right thing and pay the piper for his own blunders?

When do Republicans ever do that?

We'll find out.  But don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, Obamacare Marches On

So what about the states where Republicans have all but abandoned state insurance exchanges to rot and die, and thousands of Americans along with them?  The Obama administration is expected to announce new multi-state insurance plans available in 30 states tomorrow.

The administration plans to unveil the program on Monday, the official said, even as Congress fights over the future of President Obama’s health care law, intended to provide coverage to more than 25 million people within three years. 
Federal officials said they had signed a contract with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to offer health insurance next year in the marketplaces, or exchanges, of 30 states and the District of Columbia. In later years, the officials said, they hoped to see at least two multistate plans in every state, as Congress envisioned. 
Under its federal contract, Blue Cross and Blue Shield will offer different products in different states — a total of more than 150 products, including health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations, which give discounts for using selected health care providers. In many of the products, consumers will have access to a nationwide network of doctors and hospitals
The federal government negotiated the benefits and premiums for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield products, so this plan carries a federal seal of approval. 
In negotiating with insurers, the Office of Personnel Management leveraged more than 50 years of experience in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the nation’s largest employer-sponsored health insurance program, covering more than eight million federal employees, retirees and dependents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are, by far, the most popular among federal employees, with more than 60 percent of the enrollment. 
Under the 2010 health care law, the federal government was supposed to sign contracts with at least two multistate plans. But the application from Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the only one approved. Five other companies expressed interest and may file applications in the future, federal officials said. By 2017, at least two multistate plans are supposed to be available in each state.

What the multistate options are is the beginning of national, single-payer public option health insurance plans for all Americans.  If you're wondering why the Republicans are threatening to destroy America to stop Obamacare, you now know why.

StupidiNews, Shutdown Eve Edition!

In non-shutdown news...

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