* A counter-mobilization is in the works on unemployment insurance. Rep. Keith Ellison has a petition drive, sponsored by CREDO, going calling on Congress to not go on vacation until they extend the benefits. I suspect this will get more traction than people think. As Duncan Black points out, this is a good place to make a stand and force Republicans to go on the record opposing help for the vulnerable.
* The almost unanimous opposition of outside conservative organizations to the budget deal hasn’t broken the House GOP conference, it seems: there are reportedly enough Republican votes enough to pass the compromise. Does this represent the tipping point for Heritage Action and their brethren? John Boehner, for one, is about sick to his back teeth of those toads.
* Digby has an interesting question: What Dickensian anti-poor policy could we offer Republicans in search of a deal to get them to agree to extend unemployment insurance?
* Excellent, excellent news: The FDA is reportedly going to start phasing out the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock:
Under its new plan, the agency has changed the rules so that food animal producers will no longer be able to use antibiotics to make animals grow faster. And if producers need to give the drugs to a sick animal, they will have to get a prescription from a veterinarian.
As usual, this sort of thing will all depend on how strict the enforcement is. (And the stricter the better). But for anyone who likes, you know, not dying of bacterial infections, this is a small bit of relief.
* Chart of the day, courtesy of Business Insider: The states, ranked by their performance on implementing Obamacare. Vermont is absolutely crushing the competition, and somewhat surprisingly, Oregon is doing terribly. Quick, strategic maple syrup drops!
While the website serving people in 36 states is still not perfect – insurers are concerned about getting incomplete or inaccurate consumer information — navigators and insurance brokers say that since major repairs were done over Thanksgiving weekend, the system is working most of the time…more than 110,000 people signed up for plans in November, more than four times the number in October
This still isn’t close to fast enough, but if the rate of acceleration continues, then the administration should hit their enrollment goals. (In other words, Obamacare’s second derivative is looking good.)
* Good point from Steve Benen: with over a million people now on Obamacare, the GOP’s “repeal and replace it with nothing” is every day less tenable. In a way, this is their own fault; we’ve seen how much of a firestorm arises when a few people lose insurance and the replacement isn’t ready yet. Straight taking it away would make even Paul Ryan blanch.
* Paul Krugman suggests what must never be suggested: Republicans could be badly overestimating the strength of their anti-Obamacare political strategy going into 2014.
* With Healthcare.gov on its legs, the next big question is whether the administration can sell recalcitrant Republican states on Medicaid expansion. They’ve even got a conservative-compromise, in the form of letting very poor buy private insurance on the exchanges rather than folding them into Medicaid proper.
* Good related point from Brian Beutler: this is a good way to tell which Republicans actually care about their constituents’ health. The administration is bending over backward to get poor folks in conservative states coverage, and the feds are paying for nearly all of it. To still refuse is flatly cruel.
* Oh, and yeah, this’ll work: a bunch of House Republicans want to meet with Obama to discuss their replacements to Obamacare. I’ll believe that when I see it laid out in detail and scored by the CBO.