Happy Hour Roundup

October 24, 2013

* The administration has pushed back the purchase deadline for Obamacare by six weeks, and Republicans are now carping this proves they were right to demand a delay of the individual mandate during the shutdown crisis. Brian Beutler punches this full of holes. This small delay is about fixing the law, not destroying it, as Republicans are trying to do.

* On a related note, gawp at this hearing where House Republicans raised hell over…a commented-out bit of HTML. Seriously. As Kevin Drum says, “this kind of thing is just embarrassingly ignorant.”

Sarah Kliff reports on a darkly hilarious angle of that same hearing, as contractors scramble frantically to blame anyone but themselves. Nothing like a wounded corporation in full CYA mode, especially one that survives on government contracts.

* Ed Kilgore makes a sharp observation about the problem of perspective Republicans have who are “investigating” the Obamacare rollout problems: “there is simply nothing these pols can honestly say that reflects regret over healthcare.gov’s failures, or a desire to fix them.”

* My favorite Paul Krugman writing is usually his New York Review of Books work, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s about the new Bill Nordhaus book and climate change. This point is particularly well-made:

As for the problem of inefficient domestic policies, I come back to the point that despite the complexity of our economy, most of the emissions problem seems to be quite simple: stop burning coal to generate electricity. Given the basic political will to take on the problem at all, this really shouldn’t be that hard. The problem, of course, is that such political will is lacking in the country that must lead on this issue: our own.

When it comes to climate policy, just killing coal-fired power plants would be an excellent start.

* A new patent reform bill actually has a chance of passing, and Tim Lee has a good breakdown. Patent trolling is the rare issue that’s horrible enough to both parties, and important enough to diverse powerful interests, that it might actually crack the Congressional logjam.

* Hilarious.

* On a related note, Jonathan Bernstein argues we need to fix that executive branch nomination process. Here’s an area where a blue-ribbon commission might be just what the doctor ordered.

* David Dayen reads a CFPB report about student loans and finds much of the same horror that has plagued the mortgage market for years. Once again, the loan services are major villains. But it’s also a reminder that this particular agency is doing good work.

* Paul Waldman offers a prediction: “Feigned Republican outrage over the ACA web site is going to be just as effective in reversing the GOP’s current fortunes as feigned Republican outrage over Benghazi was in undoing Barack Obama’s re-election bid.”

Republicans are gloating up a storm over the problems of Healthcare.gov, but their hearings are a farce, and the party can’t seem to plan strategically at all.

* Francis Wilkinson makes a great point: Republicans still don’t have an actual agenda: “There will be no real ‘winning’ for Republicans in Washington until there is something approximating realistic Republican policy.”

I’m reminded of the famous phrase about Anna Karenina: “no one may build their happiness on another’s misery.”

* Paul Glastris argues that liberals need to expand the scope of their thinking. Single-payer would be nice, but it’s strange that it represents the leftmost pole of the debate — why don’t we consider single-provider, like the Veterans Administration?

What else?

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Greg Sargent | October 24, 2013