Happy Hour Roundup

November 22, 2013

* This is the sort of headline we’re probably going to be seeing a lot more of soon enough: “November surge seen in Obamacare signups in states.” And more surging is expected in December. But the law has already collapsed, and taken all of liberalism with it, so who cares?

* Noam Levey has a good piece reporting out a key point: The insurance industry remains heavily invested, to the tune of billions of dollars, in seeing Obamacare succeed. Note this:

Healthcare industry officials generally view several GOP proposals, such as  limiting coverage for the poor and scuttling new insurance marketplaces created  by the law, as more damaging than helpful to the nation’s healthcare system.

“The principle of providing the opportunity for everyone to get health  coverage and of joining everybody together in shared responsibility is the right  one,” said James Roosevelt Jr., president of Tufts Health Plan, one of  Massachusetts’ largest insurers. “No one has presented a credible  alternative.”

There’s been a lot of discussion of how Obama’s “fix” to the law angered insurers, which is certainly a real factor, but the big picture remains that if the website is fixed, you’re likely to see a huge push to bring people on to the exchanges. Of course, that remains an “if.”

* But progress on the Obamacare website is inching forward, as tech czar Jeff Zients insists it will double in capacity by November 30th, enabling 800,000 users per day, and that everyone who needs coverage by 2014 will be able to get it. Does that count as “working”? Let’s hope it’s true.

* Paul Krugman makes a point that can’t be repeated enough: The Obamacare spin wars of the moment are rendered meaningless by the question that really matters, which is whether the law will work over time. The law absolutely could still fail, but there’s another possible outcome:

In the other, which looks more likely, the enrollment process becomes sufficiently workable that by March 31 millions of people who previously lacked insurance or had more or less worthless policies have acquired real coverage. In that case reform is irreversible, Republican scorched-earth opposition turns into a political liability, and it’s a political win for Democrats — not as big a win as if the thing had worked well from the start, but still a win. Nothing else matters. Republicans can win every news cycle for the next month and nobody will remember it come November.

Yup.

* Interesting: Charlie Crist, who’s running for Florida governor as a Dem, fully embraces Obamacare and rips GOP incumbent Rick Scott for failing to act on the Medicaid expansion. With the Medicaid expansion already dividing GOP governors, it’ll be interesting to see if this emerges as an issue in multiple races.

* Conn Carroll has a candid piece explaining why it’s just not in Republicans’ political interests to coalesce around an alternative to Obamacare anytime soon. And so, for Republicans as well as Dems, the big bet is on whether the law will work over time.

* History lesson of the day: Ron Brownstein does a nice job drawing a line from the 1850s directly to today’s overheated battle over Obamacare.

* Adam Liptak talks to legal experts who explain that the real issue in blocking Obama’s nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court was not its size, but its ideological makeup. This has always been about whether this particular president should be allowed to fill vacancies on a court that’s key to moving his agenda.

* Important point from Steve Benen, that’s getting lost in all the noise: Obama now has a real opportunity to shift the judiciary to the left, for the first time in decades.

* This is remarkable: Jonathan Strong reports Republicans actually believe Dems went nuclear to distract from Obamacare’s rollout problems, so they won’t respond in kind, to avoid screwing up the ongoing bonanza they’re enjoying from the law’s collapse. Okay….

* Alec MacGillis puts the Dem need to go nuclear into a national context, reminding us that we’re already dealing with an epic level of scorched earth politicking from the right.

* Jonathan Capehart: “The right fight for Obama and Democrats.”

* Kevin Drum is good on reflexive press corps deference to GOP anger, in this case Republican rage over the nuclear option, even as no thought is given to whether Dem anger about nonstop obstruction is justified.

* Dave Wasserman has a worthwhile overview of the primaries that incumbent House Republicans are facing. Key takeway: Fear of primaries may be a greater factor in House GOP behavior than actual primary threats.

* And a great Digby rant on Politico’s latest: “How Michelle Obama became a feminist nightmare.”

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
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Ryan Cooper | November 22, 2013