Happy Hour Roundup

December 30, 2013

*Obamacare sign-ups have topped 1.1 million, the administration announced, suggesting the government is making up some lost ground after a rocky launch this fall.

*A CNN/ORC poll says the war in Afghanistan is now literally the most unpopular war in U.S. history.

*A good antidote to ginned up Obamacare horror stories: solid reporting by local press about real people being helped. This series from the Roanoke Times, “Freed from a prison of costs,” is a great example and today’s installment is particularly good:

But with the plan starting over on Jan. 1, he faced another $5,000 mountain of a deductible and more high premiums.

By then, though, there was an alternative. Having closely followed news reports about the Affordable Care Act, Auldridge knew that insurance companies could no longer hold his medical history against him. He also knew that his low income made him eligible for subsidized private insurance sold through a government-run marketplace.

On the website HealthCare.gov, Auldridge found a plan offered by Coventry Health Care that cost just $111 a month. Better yet, the deductible was only $1,750.

For many single people in his income bracket, the plan might look expensive, Auldridge said. “To me, it looked like a godsend.”

*The legal battle over Utah’s Amendment 3, which prohibited same-sex marriage, is awful messy. Richard Socarides has a good summary:

The Utah situation has been novel in several respects. First of all, the decision was not widely anticipated. Shelby based it on the Supreme Court’s ruling, this summer, in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act on the grounds that gay Americans were entitled to equal “dignity” and that the Constitution protected their “moral and sexual choices.” It’s hard to know if Utah officials had any warning signs, but if they did, they surely should have been better prepared. They could, for example, have asked the judge in advance to delay implementation of any possible ruling pending appeal. That they did not do so seems to have handicapped them: since the weddings have already begun, the state can’t really claim to be seeking to preserve the status quo by stopping them.

*Republicans may only control one half of one branch of government, but they dominate the network Sunday shows. Steve Benen has the breakdown.

*Everybody assumed 2013 would be the year Wall Street lobbyists beat back financial reform. Mike Konczal explains how, and why, that didn’t happen.

*The Minnesota legislature passed a measure requiring that individuals who receive welfare benefits be tested for drugs, but (surprise) local officials charged with the implementation say it’s basically a waste of time and money.

*The New York Times editorial board notes with pleasure that more and more states are turning away from the death penalty, but hopes the Supreme Court follows suit sooner rather than later.

*Speaking of the death penalty, Grover Norquist told an ALEC conference earlier this month that he thinks the United States should bring back decapitation.

*Politico treats Tim Pawlenty very, very gently here, but there’s still an interesting point: the so-called Sam’s Club Republican now spends his days advocating for the interests of the country’s biggest financial institutions.

*Jason Linkins has a typically hilarious piece on how nobody in the GOP appears to have actually read that infamous “autopsy report” on the party after the 2012 elections.

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Ryan Cooper | December 30, 2013