Could Georgia’s 10th Congressional District runoff take a page from the Mississippi U.S. Senate race?
Tim Bryant spoke on the radio the other day about a mailer he received urging Democrats to vote for trucking executive Mike Collins in the Republican runoff in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. Collins is running against minister Jody Hice, whose comments about Islam, women and gays have caused a stir.
A reader sent us the mailer itself, which we present above. It was attached to an absentee ballot application. The argument:
“Due to the gerrymandering of our Congressional district, it is nearly impossible for a Democrat to get elected… We, as citizens of the 10th Congressional District, cannot afford a Congressman like Jody Hice. Why you ask? Here are just a few reasons why Hice is too radical to represent us in Washington.”
The mailer does not say who paid for it – and the only reported outside spending on mailers in the race has been by a gun rights group for Hice – so we can’t say for sure it is the Democrats. Hice was willing to assume in a fundraising appeal:
“Democrats are trying to do in Georgia what they did in Mississippi. We must not allow liberals to decide another Republican election.”
He’s referring to the Thad Cochran-Chris McDaniel GOP runoff last month, in which crossover votes from black Democrats appeared to provide the incumbent senator’s slim margin of victory.
H/T Right Scoop
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) blasted Democrats for expressing “fake outrage” and claiming the investigation into the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi is purely political. He cited some of the “lessons” he learned while serving in the Army to make his point.
“A couple lessons I learned in the Army were you moved to the sound of gunfire and the most important step in the troop leading procedures is to supervise the execution of you orders,” he said. “When Americans were fighting for their lives in Benghazi, Barack Obama did neither. He sent no quick reaction force and didn’t even stay in the situation room to supervise the execution of his orders. We expect more from the lieutenants in the army than our president gave us that night.”
Cotton accused the Obama administration of covering up the president’s “failure of leadership by stonewalling.” However, Congress is determined to uncover the truth, he added.
Democrats “express great outrage at politicizing” Benghazi, he continued. However, he suggested their outrage is extremely selective.
“When I was leading troops in Iraq in 2006, men and women who were being shot at and blown up by al Qaeda, where was the outrage as they fundraised endlessly off the Iraq war?” he asked. “Where was the outrage as they viciously attacked our commanders? Where was the outrage when they said soldiers were war criminals? Where was the outrage when they said the war was lost? Where was the outrage when they said only high school dropouts join the Army?”
The congressman then revealed one more lesson he learned while in the Army: We leave no man behind. And we will not leave these four men behind.”
The Washington Free Beacon has the video:
In a near party-line vote, California state Democratic legislators killed a bill on Tuesday that would have banned the state’s Obamacare exchange from hiring felons convicted of financial crimes.
Critics of the bill said the legislation was overly restrictive and could be “discriminatory under federal civil rights law,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
The bill’s backer, Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare), said she simply intended to help protect California Obamacare customers’ sensitive information from financial crimes.
“I believe in second chances but not giving those convicted of forgery or fraud access to people’s Social Security numbers or tax returns,” said Conway. “Today’s vote by the majority party means that consumers who sign up for a plan through Covered California will still be at risk of having their private information compromised by those who have committed financial crimes.”
California Health Line reports that between June 2013 and November 2013, 31 individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanors were approved as Obamacare enrollment counselors, including crimes of battery, burglary, forgery, shoplifting, and welfare fraud.
Pennsylvania Democrats were caught on surveillance tape reportedly accepting cash bribes in return for opposing voter ID in the Pennsylvania legislature. Gifts of Tiffany’s jewelry were also given to Democrat legislators from Philadelphia, reportedly in exchange for “NO” votes on a Pennsylvania voter ID bill that passed in 2012.
Despite this evidence, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has not charged any officials. Kane is a Democrat.
Kane’s excuse for her inaction? Racism: some of the legislators caught on tape accepting bribes were black Democrats from Philadelphia. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
In a statement to The Inquirer on Friday, Kane called the investigation poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism, saying it had targeted African Americans.
Those who favored the sting believe Kane killed a solid investigation, led by experienced prosecutor Frank G. Fina, that had ensnared several public officials and had the potential to capture more. They said they were outraged at Kane’s allegation that race had played a role in the case.
Before Kane ended the investigation, sources familiar with the inquiry said, prosecutors amassed 400 hours of audio and videotape that documented at least four city Democrats taking payments in cash or money orders, and in one case a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet.
Fine – a Pennsylvania Democrat won’t do anything about other corrupt Pennsylvania Democrats. But what about Eric Holder? After all, Holder has shown a tough-as-nails willingness to go after elected officials who accept gifts in exchange for official actions.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That adage has more application than usual in California, where Democrats hold all of the statewide offices and supermajorities in the legislature. They can enact any policies they want, with only the judicial branch offering belated checks on their power. And when I say belated, that’s literally the case with state Senator Rod Wright, whom a jury found guilty in January of committing eight felonies regarding his residency and eligibility for the office he held.
Normally, politicians who get that kind of a verdict have the decency to resign. If not, the body in which they serve would almost assuredly eject them – but not California Democrats:
Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a move to expel their Democratic colleague Sen. Rod Wright by sending a Republican proposal to the Rules Committee, where it could permanently stall.
Sen. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale, introduced a resolution to expel Wright from the Senate because a jury found him guilty of eight felonies last month for lying about living in the district he represents.
“This will be precedent-setting,” Knight said as debate on his measure was being quashed on a 21-13, mostly party-line vote.
Democrats insist that Wright does not need to resign until after sentencing, because the judge could overturn the verdict. That’s a possibility, but it’s rare. Judges almost always abide by the verdicts of juries in criminal cases, especially because they have the opportunity themselves to dismiss charges if they determine that the state has not met its burden of substantiating the charges for a jury to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the past, a jury verdict of corruption has been enough to press for resignations from the California legislature. Democrats insisted yesterday that a resignation wasn’t necessary because Wright has been stripped of his committee assignments, and – I’m not making this up – he’s on paid leave, and apparently only since Tuesday.
Ms. Boonstra is featured in this ad from Americans for Prosperity, via the Weekly Standard, “Ad: Obamacare ‘Jeopardized My Health’.“
Remember, when cancer survivor Edie Sundby took to the Wall Street Journal in November to slam ObamaCare after her insurance was cancelled, the devilish ghouls of the radical left, led by the despicable monsters at the Soros-backed White House mouthpiece Think Progress, viciously attacked her like wolves on an injured rabbit.
How long until the monstrous left goes after this woman, who is literally fighting to survive after the ObamaCare monstrosity eviscerated her existing healthcare coverage? Never forget: There’s no depths to which leftists won’t sink to demonize and destroy those who would dare resist their evil agenda.
More thoughts from Ed Morrissey, at Hot Air, “Democrats stuck in stage 3 of ObamaCare grief?“
A Sonora mechanic is in so much pain that he can barely walk, but he can’t seem to find a doctor to fix his ailing back after he and his wife switched their insurance coverage through Covered California.
Chris Dunn reached out to CBS13 hoping we could get answers.
He needs his surgery yesterday. But instead of scheduling his date, he and his wife are navigating a confusing maze of doctors and insurance plans.
“Then it goes down, my feet are numb, like I can do this, and I can’t feel it at all,” he said.
His ailing back has him in almost constant agonizing pain. He walks with a limp and hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in months.
“I can’t sleep on my back,” he said. “I roll around all night, because I can’t lay flat. I can’t lay anywhere for more than five, 10 minutes.”
He’s still working, despite the pain. But finding a surgeon to fix his back has turned into a full-time job of its own.
“We get this coverage and go to the best doctor to fix Chris, and they tell us we’re out of network,” said his wife Tammy.
In January, they transitioned from an Anthem Blue Cross Plan over to Blue Cross Covered California (Obamacare). She says they had to switch to avoid the premium skyrocketing, but didn’t realize their provider network would be smaller.
We took their concerns to Covered California’s Dana Howard to get answers.
“A lot of people, this is the first time they’re purchasing insurance,” he said.
For privacy reasons, he couldn’t comment on the specific case, but said in general that consumers should do their research before purchasing plans.
“I would suggest they contact the plan to make sure what doctors are available to them,” he said.
Tammy says she finally found an in-network doctor, but the problems don’t end there. We looked him up using the couple’s plan info, and the Blue Cross website shows him as in-network.
But that same doctor’s officer told Tammy he won’t see patients with insurance from Covered California.
“It’s like we’re a second-class citizen,” she said. “We can’t get the coverage we need.”
For Chris, it’s another stop in a long road to the surgery he needs.
“To this point where it feels like I’m going to be in pain,” he said. “I can’t find nobody to do it.”
CBS13 wasn’t able to reach the doctor tonight, and a late-hour contact with Blue Cross didn’t get to the bottom of it, so we’re still pushing for answers.
Once again, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) hit it out of the park today on FOX News. Gowdy blasted Democrats for their new rallying cry urging Americans to avoid the work trap.
“Well, how would you like to run for reelection if you were in the House and the Senate based on Obamacare with its rising premiums, worse coverage and now we’re trying to convince you that you’re better off writing poetry than you working and getting money? I certainly wouldn’t want to defend that in a midterm election… If you need any more evidence, or “smidgen” of evidence to use his word, how disastrous this health care law is, the architect doesn’t even want to implement it!“
Democrats from President Obama on down have been touting Obamacare’s sign-up numbers. Even after the system’s disastrous rollout, they like to point out, roughly three million people have signed up for private insurance, while 6.3 million have signed up for Medicaid.
“Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage,” Obama said in the State of the Union speech. “Nine million.”
The number is a little larger now, since the figures are a few weeks old. But there is strong new evidence to suggest the administration’s claims are grossly exaggerated and deeply misleading. Obamacare is not doing nearly as well as the president wants you to believe.
First, Medicaid. This week, the health consulting firm Avalere found that only 1 to 2 million of the 6.3 million who signed up for Medicaid were new enrollees brought into the program by Obamacare. The rest were people who were eligible and would have signed up for Medicaid irrespective of Obamacare, in addition to people who were already on Medicaid but were renewing their status. (The researchers reached their conclusion by comparing the Obamacare sign-ups with a recent period before the new health law went into effect.)
If the Avalere report is accurate – and experts are taking it seriously – then less than one-third, and perhaps less than one-quarter, of the new Medicaid sign-ups cited by the administration were previously uninsured people gaining coverage because of Obamacare. That’s a major shortfall.
The numbers are important not only for policy, but for politics. In recent months, as the failures of the Obamacare website left the administration reeling and its supporters disheartened, Democrats often pointed to the number of Medicaid sign-ups as an example – the only example – of a shining success for Obamacare. Now that success looks a lot less shiny.
“It’s a surprise because of all the outreach and the fact that Medicaid is free – there is no premium paid by individuals,” said health care analyst Bob Laszewski. “This really is perplexing – they can’t give it away!”
Then there are the roughly three million people said to have signed up for private insurance. In mid-January, the Wall Street Journal reported that a relatively small percentage of the new sign-ups were previously uninsured Americans gaining coverage through Obamacare. The rest were people who were covered and lost that coverage in the market disruptions largely caused by Obamacare.
A McKinsey and Co. survey cited by the Journal found that just 11 percent of private insurance signups were people who previously had no coverage. Other surveys found that about one-quarter of new sign-ups were previously uninsured.
Whatever the precise number, it appears that a large majority of the activity in Obamacare private coverage sign-ups is essentially a churn operation: The system throws people out of their coverage, and then those people come to the system to sign up for new coverage, and that is reported as a gain for Obamacare.
Put the two together – Medicaid and private insurance – and it’s clear the response of the nation’s uninsured to Obamacare has been far less enthusiastic than the administration claims. Which means that the Affordable Care Act has gotten off to a terrible start at its core mission, insuring the uninsured.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated there are 57 million uninsured people in the United States. Even if Obamacare worked perfectly, an estimated 31 million would remain uninsured when the law is fully in effect. And if Obamacare continues to sputter and fail as it has so far, that number of still-uninsured could be much higher. Was it worth roiling the nation’s health care system to achieve such lackluster results?
It’s still possible Obamacare will catch on. But if the predictions of several health care experts are right, it will likely cause still more dislocation later this year in the small-group market, which has more people in it than the individual market that was cast into chaos late last year. More people will have their coverage cancelled, forcing them into the still-troubled federal exchange. And when they buy coverage to replace what they had, the administration will claim more success for Obamacare. Meanwhile, the White House will continue to point to inflated Medicaid numbers as even more evidence of success.
Put aside the political debate: Something is essentially wrong with Obamacare.
The Progressives love to tout the separation of church and state, especially when it comes to prayer in public schools. But when it comes to the public schools in New Haven Connecticut, Communists seem more than welcome.
(Front Row Left) Former Democrat State Senator Ed Gomes, (Front Row Center) Democrat State Representative Edwin Vargas and (Front Row Right) Laurie Kennington, president of Local 34 clerical and technical workers at Yale. (Back Row Seated) John Olsen, former Communist award recipient and President emeritas Conn. AFL-CIO At the 2013 CPUSA Amistad Awards (Pic from PW/Henry Lowendorf)
The Bell News reports that last month two State Democratic Politicians and a Local Union President accepted awards from the Communist Party USA at an event held in a public high school:
According to an article on the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) News, People’s World, in December of 2013 a Communist award ceremony was held in a New Haven Connecticut public high school auditorium where the Democrat State Rep, Former Democrat State Senator and the local Union President all received awards:
NEW HAVEN, CONN. – From the opening video and drumming to the remarks of the awardees, songs, youth slide show and finale, an atmosphere of unity and optimism inspired the entire multi-racial audience at the 2013 People’s World Amistad Awards, held in the auditorium of Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School…
…In his closing remarks Rev. Scott Marks brought the crowd to its feet as he called for door-to-door organizing that will “move forward” the fight for jobs and other needs. “I will not go back!” he exclaimed passionately.
Marks and all the awardees praised the vision and work of the Communist Party in their communities. The event was held on the occasion of the CPUSA’s 94th anniversary.
Former state Senator Ed Gomes, a steelworker, state representative Edwin Vargas, a teacher, and Laurie Kennington, president of Local 34 clerical and technical workers at Yale all accepted large framed posters of the Amistad statue that stands in front of New Haven City Hall, cheered on by family, friends, co-workers, elected officials and union and community leaders.
Read more at The Bell News.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has discovered that a mere 24% of the uninsured think Obamacare is a good idea, while 56% of the uninsured think it’ll have negative effects.
That’s a steep decline for its support in only the past three months, when polls indicated that 35% of the insured were in favor of the program. It’s a 20-point rise in the percentage of the uninsured who think it’s a bad idea, in the same time-frame.
Even more damning, 42% of the uninsured believe that the new law will negatively affect their family. Only a third shared that view in September.
It’s not just the 5.6 million Americans whose insurance has been cancelled that are against Obamacare. It’s newest opponents? The uninsured.
This spells huge trouble for the Administration, who are banking on young and healthy enrollees to counter-balance the older, sicker individuals who sign up. A Harvard University Institute of Politics poll found that only about 21% of uninsured Americans between the ages of 18-29 plan to sign up for Obamacare.
It looks like sign-ups will fall far short of the Administration’s projected 3.3 million sign-ups before the end of the year.
The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn on Thursday, when Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare.
The rule change means federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote super majority that has been required for more than two centuries.
The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominations. But the vote, mostly along party lines, reverses nearly 225 years of precedent and dramatically alters the landscape for both Democratic and Republican presidents, especially if their own political party holds a majority of, but fewer than 60, Senate seats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of a power grab and suggested that they will regret their decision if Republicans regain control of the chamber.
“We’re not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer,” McConnell said. “Some of us have been around here long enough to know that the shoe is sometimes on the other foot.” McConnell then addressed Democrats directly, saying: “You may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” he said.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned Democrats against the rule change on Wednesday, saying that if the GOP reclaimed the Senate majority, Republicans would further alter the rules to include Supreme Court nominees, so that Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the nation’s highest court.
The vote to change the rule passed 52-48. Three Democrats – Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) – joined with 45 Republicans in opposing the measure. Levin is a longtime senator who remembers well the years when Democratic filibusters blocked nominees of Republican presidents; Manchin and Pryor come from Republican-leaning states.
Infuriated by what he sees as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama’s nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called “nuclear option” by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millet, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The Senate voted 57-40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett’s nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate Parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber’s president pro temp, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.
Senators began voting about 12:15 p.m. The final vote was 52 in favor of changing the rule, 48 against.
The Democratic victory paves the way for the rapid confirmation of Millett and two other nominee to the D.C. appeals court. All have recently been stymied by GOP filibusters, amid Republican assertions that the critical appellate court simply did not need any more judges.
But the impact of the move is be more far-reaching. The means for executing this rules change – a simple-majority vote, rather than the long-standing two-thirds majority required to change the chamber’s standing rules – is more controversial than the actual move itself.
Many Senate majorities have thought about using this technical maneuver to get around centuries of parliamentary precedent, but none has done so in a unilateral move on a major change of rules or precedents. This simple-majority vote has been executed in the past to change relatively minor precedents involving how to handle amendments; for example, one such change short-circuited the number of filibusters that the minority party could deploy on nominations.
Reid has rattled his saber on the filibuster rules at least three other times in the past three years, yielding each time to a bipartisan compromise brokered by the chamber’s elder statesmen.
But no deal emerged by the time debate started Thursday morning. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the main negotiator who brokered recent deals to avert such a showdown, as well as one in 2005, met with Reid on Wednesday, but neither side reported progress.
The main protagonists for the rules change have been junior Democrats elected in the last six or seven years, who have alleged that Republicans have used the arcane filibuster rules to create a procedural logjam that has left the Senate deadlocked. Upon arriving in 2009, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said, he found that “the Senate was a graveyard for good ideas.”
As he recounted in a speech this week, Udall said, “I am sorry to say that little has changed. The digging continues.”
As envisioned earlier this week, Democrats would issue a new rule that would still allow for 60-vote-threshold filibusters on legislation and nominees to the Supreme Court.
Republicans, weary from the third rules fight this year, seemed to have adopted a resigned indifference to this latest threat, as opposed to the heated rhetoric in mid-July when the issue last flared up. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, mocked the idea that the Democrats would leave in place the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominations, in the event that a GOP nominee wins the White House in 2016.
He made clear that if that occurred, and the GOP reclaimed the Senate majority, the Republicans would then alter the rules so that Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the Supreme Court. “If [Reid] changes the rules for some judicial nominees, he is effectively changing them for all judicial nominees, including the Supreme Court,” Grassley said Wednesday.
Reid’s move is a reversal of his position in 2005, when he was minority leader and fought the GOP majority’s bid to change rules on a party-line vote. A bipartisan, rump caucus led by McCain defused that effort.
At the time, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was the No. 2 GOP leader and helped push the effort to eliminate filibusters on the George W. Bush White House’s judicial selections. Eight years later, McConnell, now the minority leader, has grown publicly furious over Reid’s threats to use the same maneuver.
Democrats contend that this GOP minority, with a handful of senators elected as tea party heroes, has overrun McConnell’s institutional inclinations and served as a procedural roadblock on most rudimentary things. According to the Congressional Research Service, from 1967 through 2012, majority leaders had to file motions to try to break a filibuster of a judicial nominee 67 times – and 31 of those, more than 46 percent – occurred in the last five years of an Obama White House and Democratic majority.
Republicans contend that their aggressive posture is merely a natural growth from a decades-long war over the federal judiciary, noting that what prompted the 2005 rules showdown were at least 10 filibusters of GOP judicial nominees. To date, only a handful of Obama’s judicial selections have gone to a vote and been filibustered by the minority.
This must have been one of those backroom deals we heard so much about…
Stuffed inside the Obamacare law passed by Democrats (with no Republican votes) is a provision that will reimburse insurance companies up to 80% of their losses due to Obamacare.
Melissa Francis reported on FOX News:
“Marco Rubio has been out highlighting the fact that there is this ‘risk corridor’ where written into this law that nobody read is this idea that is insurance companies have 3% higher costs than they estimated as a result of who’s in these pools, they can recoup 50% of that money from the government, from you and me. 8% higher than what they estimated, they can recoup 80%! …This bailout of the insurance companies is the next big thing we’ll all be talking about.”
And, here we thought Democrats hated insurance companies.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is reportedly offering legislation that would repeal the provision altogether, arguing it raises the possibility of an insurance industry “bailout.”
Donald Douglas links a great piece on our president’s Truth Deficit Disorder
At the San Diego Union-Tribune, “President Obama’s obnoxious bait-and-switch“:
The last time we had a Democratic president who wanted to overhaul the entire U.S. health care system, his measure never even got out of a single congressional committee.
Why? Because Bill Clinton had no compelling response to an insurance-industry ad campaign in which “Harry and Louise” talked about the president’s proposal and the likelihood it would force them to lose their current health coverage and choose from a handful of government-approved options.
The ad campaign was so potent because it understood that most Americans are satisfied with their health coverage — and thus fear change.
The blowback Democrats faced because of the Clinton health initiative led to a Republican takeover of the House in November 1994 for the first time in nearly a half-century.
Barack Obama knew this history. So when he became president in January 2009 and began his push for a similarly ambitious overhaul of U.S. health care, he told people over and over that if they liked their health plan, they could keep it. There were no caveats. No strings attached. If you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor.
It’s quite possible that the president said this so many times that he came to believe it. But it is a matter of fact that three months after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, the Obama administration issued rules that will force the cancellation of vast numbers of policies. This is from the administration’s own words in the Federal Register: “The Departments’ midrange estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013.”
So three years and four months ago, the Obama administration anticipated that some 90 million Americans would be forced to change their coverage. Yet as recently as last month, the president once again said, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”
This is White House dishonesty on an epic scale…
Indeed it is, but that is the leftist way, and President Obama is an ideologue, Clinton was a politician. And, the Democrats in 2010 were dead set on shoving this law down our throats. Those famed harry and Louise ads would not have helped in 2010. No amount of public outcry against Obamacare worked. No polls showing the people did not want Obamacare worked either. The Left saw an opportunity, and took it. That is the problem with Democrats today isn’t it? They have moved so far Left that they are no longer even Liberals, they are Leftists.
Several Democratic senators are calling on the Obama administration to delay enforcement of the health care law’s individual mandate, joining their Republican colleagues in saying it would be unfair to penalize Americans for failing to buy insurance when the primary sign-up website doesn’t work.
The Democratic dominoes began to fall quickly Wednesday, after Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., circulated a letter urging President Obama to extend enrollment beyond March 31, 2014.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in a statement released late Wednesday, said: “I believe, given the technical issues, it makes sense to extend the time for people to sign up.”
Shaheen and several moderate Democrats supporting her, including Pryor, are up for re-election in 2014, and no doubt taking note of the widespread discontent with the launch of HealthCare.gov.
But political motivation aside, the sudden support from moderate Democrats for delaying the mandate threatens to force President Obama’s hand.
Republicans are already crafting bills to delay the requirement on individuals to buy health insurance. The GOP has the numbers to pass such a proposal in the House; with 15 Democrats, they might be able to muscle something through in the Senate.
Then Obama would have to decide whether to veto.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is not up for election next year, is working on a bill that would delay the IRS penalty for one year for anyone who does not get insurance.
This comes as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., drafts a separate bill to delay the requirement until the system has been certified as working for six straight months.
The White House, while defending the health care law and vowing to fix the problems with the website, has not explicitly ruled out the possibility of delaying the individual mandate. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, also backed Shaheen’s call in a written statement Wednesday.
“I have repeatedly said this law is not perfect and have proposed changes to make it work for Alaska families and small businesses,” he said. “Given the recent website issues, I also support extending open enrollment season. I want to work with the administration to ensure that individuals are not unfairly penalized if technical issues with the website continue.”
Other Democratic senators that spoke out in support of Sheehan Wednesday include Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
Shaheen, in her letter to Obama wrote: “As website glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans. I also fear that people that have tried, and failed, to enroll online may become frustrated and not return to the website to try again at a later date. … Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll.”
Other Democrats were less gentle in their complaints.
“The president should man up, let us know who was responsible, who was in charge here and fire them,” Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said “somebody ought to get fired.”
Editorial pages in newspapers across America have been similarly rough on the roll-out, and the law itself.
Obama’s hometown newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, wrote: “The bugs aren’t just in the software. They’re in the law itself.”
Amid the complaints, the administration says its newly hired team of specialists is working around the clock to fix the site. Officials also met Wednesday with top insurance industry executives.
The meeting included representatives from insurance giants like Humana, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
A statement from America’s Health Insurance Plans described it as a “positive and productive meeting” that allowed CEOs to give an “on-the-ground perspective of how open enrollment is proceeding,” including the “ongoing technical challenges.”
Not all Democrats are joining the call for a delay.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urged the administration to fix the problems but stick to the current set of deadlines.
Some analysts claimed that individuals would have to sign up by mid-February in order to be registered by the end of March and avoid the IRS penalty. But a White House official said Wednesday that is not the case, and the deadline continues to be March 31.