September 25, 2013 at 8:50 am #97075
The President addressed the United Nations.
President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton met in New York at the Clinton Global Initiative to discuss the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, the opposition to the law, and the future of health care.
As you make it through Hump Day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful daySeptember 25, 2013 at 8:50 am #97076
Good Morning, EveryoneSeptember 25, 2013 at 8:53 am #97077
Here’s why Obama won’t delay the individual mandate
By Sarah Kliff, Published: September 24 at 3:19 pm
The White House is no stranger to Obamacare delays. Over the last three years, it has held off on multiple health law provisions as it races to get the Affordable Care Act off the ground.
Don’t expect it to happen during this round of budget negotiations.
Congress needs to pass a new continuing resolution to fund the government by Oct. 1 in order to avert a government shutdown. Republicans want to include a one-year delay of Obamacare in that legislation. There’s also some discussion of delaying the individual mandate by one year and still allowing the rest of the health care law to go forward. They figure that the Obamacare has already delayed significant parts of the legislation — why not delay a few more?
But all the delays so far do have one thing in common: They erased political headaches for the law while barely denting the number of people that the health overhaul will cover in 2014. The delays Republicans are asking for now would cause major political and substantive headaches for the law while sharply reducing the number of people it covers.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, without an individual mandate, 11 million fewer people would gain coverage next year.
That would happen for two reasons. First, fewer people would buy health insurance coverage without a federal law requiring them to do so. Second, the people who signed up would likely be sicker people, who really thought they would use the coverage. That would cause premiums to spike, making the market a tougher sell for healthy people.
“Clearly the individual mandate is much more of a cornerstone, holding the individual market together,” Linda Blumberg, an economist at the Urban Institute, says.September 25, 2013 at 8:54 am #97078
September 24, 2013 5:07 PM
Bibi Wrestles With Himself
By Ed Kilgore
As though Barack Obama doesn’t have enough on his plate in dealing with Syria, Iran and the U.S. Republican Party, he’s scheduled to meet with another unfriendly force-to-be-reckoned-with next week: Bibi Netanyahu. TAP’s intrepid Israeli correspondent Gershom Gorenberg takes a look at this encounter, and suggests Bibi’s actually the one who should be worried since the threads of his own foreign policies are getting very tangled:
Obama and Netanyahu must always discuss two issues, Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace, which they see in ways so different that they are not quite talking to each other. Netanyahu’s goals next week are to get Obama to commit himself to conditions for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program that Tehran will reject and to avoid paying with any concessions to America’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian talks. Syria will also be on the agenda. As always, Netanyahu will try to get Congress to take his more hawkish stance against the president, with encouragement from AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group. But there are contradictions—logical, strategic, political, and personal—in Netanyahu’s stance that weaken him even before the conversation with Obama begins.
First, the logical problem: Netanyahu categorically insists that any relatively moderate rhetoric from Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is “spin,” obscuring his intentions. The problem is that Netanyahu also insisted that all extreme statements from Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were precise expressions of what he planned to do. By this measuring stick, all Iranians have the same policy and can be trusted only to the extent that they are as crude as Ahmadinejad. Negotiating with Iran is therefore a dangerous waste of time.
All in all, Netanyahu is in an unfamiliar position of weakness himself as he meets with Obama:
He truly believes that Israel stands alone and must therefore decide itself on how to deal with Iran—and also that the United States must do what is necessary to protect Israel. The former belief precludes seeking accommodation with Washington; the latter makes accommodation essential, not just on Iran but on the Palestinian issue as well.
Netanyahu, in other words, will arrive at the White House with a strong voice and a set of expectations that don’t hold together. He will arrive in a weaker position than at previous meetings.September 25, 2013 at 8:55 am #97079
September 24, 2013 3:57 PM
Higher Ed’s Mysterious Tipping Point
By Daniel Luzer
A common background worry many education policy analysts have is that college costs are rising so rapidly that the country may be reaching a “tipping point.” Students and their families may conclude that college just isn’t worth it anymore. They haven’t, but they may also not realize how much they’re paying.
As Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology President Bill Path wrote earlier this year:
The general public watches helplessly as the cost of college tuition goes up every year. They have observed that more and more students are burdened with overwhelming school loan debt after college. They have seen unemployment lines growing longer across the country, and have noticed a rise in the number of recent college graduates waiting in these lines. Out of loyalty and respect to its many revered institutions, the public has been very slow to hold higher education accountable in such affairs. But make no mistake — if substantive changes do not take place, the tipping point of public opinion will shift to be against higher education. Even now, many college graduates are recognizing they have been ill-prepared for today’s workforce, and they are beginning to ask, “Was my college education worth it?”
We’re not there, but a lot of the problem may have to do with just how complicated its become for students to discern how much education really costs, and how they might pay for it.September 25, 2013 at 8:57 am #97080
Why a Single Trader Was Willing to Lose Millions Betting on a Romney Win
By Josh Voorhees
new academic paper suggests that during the home stretch of the 2012 presidential election a single trader lost between $4 million and $7 million placing Intrade bets on Mitt Romney—most likely in a bid to make the presidential race appear closer than it really was.
The paper from Columbia University’s Rajiv Sethi and Microsoft Research’s David Rothschild found that the single anonymous trader accounted for about one-third of all bets made on Romney during the final two weeks of the campaign. So, regardless of motivation, it’s clear the trader played an out-sized role in determining an Intrade line that was all too often used by pundits and political journalists to suggest the presidential race remained a toss-up until the very end.
The more interesting question is why Trader X would wager so heavily on the GOP nominee at a point when publicly available data increasingly pointed toward an Obama victory. Of course, interesting questions often come with obvious answers. Here’s the three possible reasons the authors examined before largely settling on the one that makes the most sense in the world of politics:
(i) the trader was convinced that Romney was underpriced throughout the period and was expressing a price view, (ii) he was hedging an exposure held elsewhere, or (iii) he was attempting to distort prices in the market for some purpose.September 25, 2013 at 10:11 am #97081
Timing is Everything: How Ted Cruz’s Government Shutdown Gambit is Helping Democrats
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 | Posted by Spandan C at 3:10 PM
Ted Cruz is conducting a talk-a-thon on the Senate floor, hoping to force his colleagues to defund Affordable Care Act as condition to keep the government running beyond September 30. But Republicans in the Senate are abandoning Ted Cruz and the Tea Party like the plague. And Ted Cruz’s tactics are actually playing out in the Democrats’ favor.
House Republicans last week passed a bill that actively takes funding away from implementing the Affordable Care Act, a measure they attached to the Continuing Resolution, the bill to keep the government funded and running. They did so all the while knowing, of course, that Senate Democrats will strip the Obamacare defunding provision from the bill, keep the government funding, and send it back to the House. Then, Speaker Boehner would have the choice to put the Senate-passed bill to a vote and pass it or conference with the Senate.
The question isn’t whether these things will happen, but when. Timing is all important here, and Ted Cruz’s move is moving the timing in favor of Democrats. Unless both houses of Congress act, the government shuts down on Tuesday, October 1. The closer to that date the Senate passes its bill, the less time House Republicans have to either posture or to negotiate, increasingly leaving them with the lone choice of voting on the Senate bill as is.September 25, 2013 at 10:12 am #97082
Jamming the President on Keystone XL
Wed Sep 25th, 2013 at 09:23:18 AM EST
Smart people understand that Ted Cruz’s antics are working against the Republicans by allowing Harry Reid to delay the passage of a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government to the very last moment, leaving John Boehner with a take-it-or-leave-it dilemma. But there is also a potential downside to letting everything go to the last minute. If the House Republicans are smart and somewhat restrained, they could approve the Senate’s CR but attach approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to it and force the Senate into a take-it-or-leave-it situation. There are enough pro-energy Democrats, like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, that such a provision could pass the Senate. And then the president would be in the position of having to veto the CR and allow a government shutdown or acceding to the Keystone demand and cutting the State Department’s deliberative process off at the knees.
The president might not mind a brief government shutdown that is unambiguously the Republicans’ responsibility and that is understood to be about their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. He’d be much less happy with a shutdown that is understood to be about his refusal to approve the Keystone pipeline.
But I said that the Republicans would have to be restrained in order for this plan to work. If they limited their demands to the pipeline, they might be able to jam up the president. But the rumors that have been circulating have said that they want to attach the Keystone demand to the debt ceiling, and that they want Medicare and tax reforms as part of the package. Boehner is fishing for votes, and the Keystone provision may be insufficient, by itself, to get Boehner the majority he needs. In any case, he’d have to attach it to the CR, not the debt ceiling, in order for this gambit to work.
Still, it’s something to be mindful of as we come down to the wire.September 25, 2013 at 10:23 am #97083
At the intersection of self-defeating and self-aggrandizing
By Steve Benen
Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:00 AM EDT.
The last time I checked, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was still on the Senate floor, taking his pointless talk-a-thon past the 16-hour mark. I don’t doubt that the far-right Texan is pleased with himself — Cruz loves both attention and the sound of his own voice, and this spectacle offers both — though I can’t help but wonder if the Republican realizes the extent to which he’s undermining his own supposed cause.
Even on the surface, Cruz’s marathon session is without meaningful purpose. Is he blocking a vote on a bill? No. Is he persuading skeptics to reconsider their position? No. Is he making a powerful policy argument? No, he’s barely talking about policy at all. Rather, this is about Ted Cruz hosting a lengthy and high-profile celebration of Ted Cruz — the far-right senator scripted some political theater and cast himself as his star, giving himself lines that position him as the Last Honest Man in Washington. I can only assume the senator ordered roses for himself, and left them waiting on his desk for his return, at which time he’ll take a long bow in front of the largest mirror he can find.
As a New York Times editorial noted, Cruz’s “combination of grandiosity and pure nastiness helps explain why the senator has become the least popular man in WashingtonSeptember 25, 2013 at 10:25 am #97084
The Morning Plum: Ted Cruz’s stance on Obamacare is the GOP’s stance on Obamacare
By Greg Sargent, Updated: September 25, 2013
As Ted Cruz’s filibuster continues to drone on this morning, two new pieces of news illustrate yet again the degree to which the GOP’s continuing crusade against Obamacare is unmoored from basic constructive governing norms and is completely disconnected with the American people’s conception of the same.
First, there’s the news that the Obama administration has released a new report showing premium prices are estimated to be lower than expected in three dozen states (more on that soon). And second, a new New York Times/CBS News poll signals Republicans are now on very dangerous ground as the shutdown fight proceeds. It finds:
* Eighty percent of Americans, including 83 percent of independents and 75 percent of Republicans, say threatening a government shutdown is not an acceptable way to negotiate.
* Americans say overwhelmingly that Republicans are not trying to work with Obama by 70-23. By contrast, 51 percent say Obama is trying to work with Republicans.
Republicans are rapidly distancing themselves from Cruz’s tactics. But it needs to be reiterated, as Jonathan Bernstein spelled out yesterday, that in broad terms, Cruz’s stance on Obamacare is not fundamentally different from the overall GOP stance on Obamacare. House Republicans have endorsed defunding Obamacare and have even voted only to keep the government open if Obama and Dems unwind the Affordable Care Act. It remains to be seen whether House Republicans will actually pass something funding the government that doesn’t include a defunding of Obamacare.
Which is to say that, for all the criticism of Cruz, the Republican posture is opposed by 80 percent of Americans, who don’t see it as a fundamentally acceptable way of governing.
What’s more, Republicans are actively committed to undermining Obamacare through a tactic that risks wreaking far more destruction and havoc than anything Cruz is doing. They are currently drawing up a wish list of demands they will make in exchange for raising the debt limit — including the delay of Obamcare — which is to say, they are going to demand extensive concessions in exchange for not destroying the economy. If Americans don’t view threatening a government shutdown as a legitimate way to negotiate, imagine how they will react if we breach the debt ceiling and the economy crashes, all because of the GOP drive to delay a law that has survived a national election and a Supreme Court challenge?September 25, 2013 at 10:26 am #97085
Health insurance ‘for less than the cost of your cellphone bill’
By Steve Benen
Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:47 AM EDT
The timing could have been better for the right. On the one hand, the political world marveled at the spectacle on the Senate floor, where far-right senators condemned a federal law that brings health care security to millions of Americans.
And on the other, while the pointless political theater played out, the political world also learned that the maligned law continues to work even more effectively than expected.
The Obama administration on Tuesday provided the first detailed look at premiums to be charged to consumers for health insurance in 36 states where the federal government will run new insurance markets starting next week, highlighting costs it said were generally lower than previous estimates. [...]
“I can tell you right now that in many states across the country, if you’re, say, a 27-year-old young woman, don’t have health insurance, you get on that exchange, you’re going to be able to purchase high-quality health insurance for less than the cost of your cellphone bill,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, speaking at a health care forum in New York City with former President Bill Clinton.
The political bookends were almost amusing: Republican senators were talking about higher-than-expected premiums while the Obama administration was boasting about lower-than-expected premiums. Only one side of the divide knew what it was talking about, and it wasn’t the former.
The information was published in this HHS report, which comes less than a week before the open-enrollment period begins through exchange marketplaces. On the whole, for silver-level health care plans, the Obama administration found that premiums will, on average, be 16% more affordable than the original estimates published by the Congressional Budget OfficeSeptember 25, 2013 at 11:36 am #97088
Mainstream Republicans in worse shape than Ted Cruz
By Jonathan Bernstein, Updated: September 24, 2013
Senator Ted Cruz Speaks At The Heritage Action Defund Obamacare Town HallTed Cruz is engaged this afternoon in a faux-libuster — he’s taken the Senate floor and threatened to speak for as long as he’s physically able, but it’s totally irrelevant to the parliamentary situation. He’s not delaying the next Senate procedural vote on the continuing resolution, which is scheduled for tomorrow whether or not Cruz is still standing by then. He’s just using the Republican allotted time.
Meanwhile, while Cruz has presumably been preparing for his extended remarks, he’s been steadily losing votes. His “outside” strategy may get him plenty of press coverage, but he’s proving terrible at actually doing the job of lining up votes.
But the truth is that Cruz’s faux-libuster — not actually a filibuster at all, but just a pointless speech in support of a losing strategy that will do exactly zero about the issue — perfectly typifies the GOP position on health care.
The truth is that it’s totally legitimate to bring up problems with health care reform on a budget bill, and use it to pressure the White House to make changes to improve the system. Republican constituents really are complaining about problems with the Affordable Care Act, which like every government program ever won’t be perfect.
But Republican politicians aren’t (contrary to what Cruz says) listening to those constituents. They’re not preparing fixes for real problems with Obamacare; indeed, they’re mostly trying to undermine the program.September 25, 2013 at 11:56 am #97089
Yesterday at 10:52 AM
Why Obama Can’t Pay a Debt-Ceiling Ransom This Time
By Jonathan Chait
The debt-ceiling showdowns of 2011 and last spring both resolved themselves without triggering an economic meltdown, and so most people have come to assume the same will happen again this fall. I have been sounding the tocsins of doom for months. One cause for my alarm is that the Republican Party has grown even more rabid. Just as it responded to John McCain’s 2008 loss by moving right, it responded to Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss by moving right again. Republicans in Washington have completely abandoned any thought of pursuing their goals through compromise or other normal political channels, instead redoubling their tactic of extracting concessions by fomenting crises. Incredibly, in the face of a reelected Obama and a plunging deficit, the GOP’s demands for raising the debt ceiling are now more extravagant than the ones it issued in 2011.
There’s a second reason why a debt default crisis has grown far more likely: President Obama cannot negotiate the debt ceiling this time.
This reality is starting to dawn on the Republicans only very slowly. Republican leaders have spent the last few months trying to avoid a different, and far less severe, crisis, a government shutdown, by promising their members to hold the debt ceiling hostage. They shared the complacent, this-time-won’t-be-different conventional wisdom that has permeated Washington. It is slowly beginning to dawn on them that Obama may not submit this time around.
David Drucker reports that House Republicans are “intent on forcing President Obama to the negotiating table” over the debt ceiling. Republican senator Orrin Hatch writes a Wall Street Journal op-ed today imploring Obama to fork over a ransom to lift the debt ceiling:
Since Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, Congress has lifted the debt ceiling 45 times. Only a handful of those debt-ceiling hikes included any changes to budget policy. The historic rule has always been that, when the debt ceiling needs to be raised, Congress raises it without extracting concessions in return. If the two parties happen to be negotiating budget policy, they do it on a separate track and append the debt-ceiling increase to the final vote.September 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm #97090
From Team No.Fucks.To.Give:
David Plouffe @davidplouffe 2m
Ted would not go to bed. Hoping to strengthen Tea Party cred. To Iowa he soon fled. But Obamacare will never be dead.September 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm #97091
U.S. to Contact Borrowers With New Options for Repaying Student Loans
By TAMAR LEWIN
Published: September 24, 2013
When President Obama last month announced proposals to make college more affordable, many critics focused on his plan to rate colleges based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, and the debt and earnings of graduates, and eventually to link financial aid to those ratings.
Largely overlooked was a more immediate change that could make a dent in the rising number of student-loan borrowers going into default. Starting next month, the Department of Education will contact borrowers who are struggling to repay their federal loans to make sure they know all the options available to them.
“We think there are lots of people who could benefit from our income-based repayment programs but haven’t signed up, and we want to get to them before they default,” said Arne Duncan, the education secretary. “The challenge is getting the word out.”
To do that, the department is planning to send e-mails to those who seem most likely to benefit from the programs, explaining debt-relief plans based on the borrower’s income.
Efforts to rein in student debt, now at more than $1.1 trillion, and make college more affordable have been central issues for the Obama administration. It has expanded debt relief for low-income borrowers with a Pay as You Earn program for recent graduates, and simplified enrollment by putting the application online and allowing applicants to import information from their tax return.
Once enrolled in a program, low-income borrowers with high debt pay a percentage of their discretionary income every month, and after a certain time period — 20 years in the new program, 25 years in older plans and 10 years for those in public service jobs — the remaining federal debt is forgiven.
Of course, income-based programs have a downside: because the repayment period is longer than the standard 10 years, except for those in public service jobs, interest costs are higher.
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