November 27, 2013

* Scott Lemieux digs into the contraception/religious freedom case upcoming before the Supreme Court. The legal issues are complex, but they touch on fundamental questions about whether a corporation can exercise religious freedom. Also don’t miss the strange story of how MSNBC’s Irin Carmon has gotten dragged into the case.

* On that same case, an old point from Harold Meyerson, but one worth repeating: corporations aren’t people. It will be interesting to see whether Republicans see the potential danger to their own position here. Religious exemptions from laws are not limited to conservative-themed issues — remember the peyote church?

Brian Beutler nails the hypocrisy and lack of systematic thinking endemic among centrist pundits. They agree debt is a huge problem and the country is spending entirely too much money on the elderly. But they also hate filibuster reform, which will be key to protecting Obamacare’s key cost control measures.

* Reality check of the day: According to National Journal’s latest rankings, the Senate is definitely in play for Republicans.

* This New York Times editorial makes a good point: President Obama is going to have to deal with immigration issues on his own at some point. He is currently deporting people in huge numbers, but if comprehensive immigration reform is going to die, as seems likely, then advocates will insist he address the frantic enforcement efforts.

* Obamacare’s small business website is being delayed for a year. This seems like a conservation of resources issue; the administration probably wants to focus on the more important individual website. Small businesses will still be able to use the exchange, but will have to go through a broker.

* Excellent point from Kevin Drum on the galloping Benghazi-fication of the Obamacare rollout on the right. According to new polls, majorities aren’t ready to give up on the law – except for Republicans, who believe with every fiber of their being that the law must fail. But that view is increasingly untenable:

Republicans are convinced the law is already a failure. And why wouldn’t they? The Fox News bubble has been telling them that for months. But the rest of the country is willing to give it a chance and thinks its problems will probably be solved. When they are, support will go up even higher.

* Democrats are going on the messaging offensive on Obamacare, with Senate Dems distributing a memo that urges folks to highlight stories about the law helping people. But there’s also this:

Democrats’ frustration with the administration over the bungled rollout pokes through the optimistic messaging campaign. “The problems with the HealthCare.Gov website are not acceptable, and we should continue to aggressively press the president to fix them,” the DPCC memo states.

Dems are keeping up the pressure on the administration to fix the White House, but this doesn’t equal running from the law — it’s compatible with standing behind it.

* Good point from Steve Benen about the GOP double standard on hospital layoffs. Republicans have been attacking layoffs at the Cleveland Clinic due to Obamacare, but it turns out they were neither layoffs (instead, some voluntary retirements) nor were they due to Obamacare.

* Research suggests that once implemented, Obamacare will be nearly impossible to dislodge. It’s what happened with Medicare, according to Amy Lerman. I’d caution that we didn’t have this Republican Party back then, however.

* Brad Plumer looks at Toyota’s big bet on hydrogen fuel cells. Making hydrogen by electrolysis of water is hideously energy intensive, so I’d wager this won’t be more than a niche product for very long-range automobiles, but any low-emission technology is still worth a thorough investigation.

* And an excellent piece from Mike Konczal detailing the incoherence of those who would use monetary policy to fight “financial instability.” Aside from the unemployment angle, it’s not even clear that tighter money would even help with stability — it might even make it worse.

What else?