* Sabrina Siddiqui has the latest on the rapidly shrinking GOP debt ceiling strategy, from a GOP aide who admits it’s pretty much over:
“Following informal conversations with a broad range of members, it is clear we cannot get 218 Republican members to support a debt limit increase along with either Keystone or the insurance company bailout,” the aide said. “We’re exploring a range of other options.”
Legislative extortion is hard when you can’t unite on what to extort. Of course, Republicans don’t have 218 votes to pass a clean debt limit increase, either, so it’s time to pick up the phone and call Nancy Pelosi.
* Indeed, here is what Republicans have been reduced to:
Top Republicans are considering attaching a whole laundry list of provisions to the debt ceiling that do precious little to decrease the deficit, but would instead only serve to attract enough Democratic support to move the legislation onto the Senate.
Hmm. Or, if Republicans want Dem support, maybe a clean debt limit hike is the better way to go?
* The Associated Press has a terrific fact check of all of the dissembling we’ve heard from GOP officials about the CBO report’s supposed finding that Obamacare will kill two million jobs. Note this:
Workers aren’t being laid off. They are taking themselves out of the workforce, in many cases opening job opportunities for others…the predicted withdrawal from the labor market is no more a killer of jobs than today’s surge of retirements by baby boomers entering old age. If anything, it could open job opportunities for people who can’t get in the workforce now.
* Meanwhile, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf had this to say at today’s hearing about the suggestion that these are “lost” jobs:
“The reason we don’t use the term ‘lost jobs’ is there is a critical difference between people who like to work and can’t find a job — or have a job that’s lost for reasons beyond their control — and people who choose not to work,” he explained. “If someone comes up to you and says, ‘The boss says I’m being laid off because we don’t have enough business to pay,’ any other person feels bad about that and we sympathize for them having lost their job. If someone says, ‘I decided to retire or stay home and spend more time with my family and spend more time doing my hobby,’ they don’t feel bad about it — they feel good about it. And we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.”
Yes, but what would he know about it?
* Dylan Scott flags another important quote from Elmendorf, about what is really happening to people who are voluntarily reducing hours due to Obamacare — which goes to the heart of why this might be a good thing:
“It could be spouses, but they could be primary earners who decide to scale back their hours and may not leave the work force altogether,” he said. “It can be older people that decided to retire earlier than they would have been able to otherwise and it also includes younger people.”
“So we are talking about a situation where there is a husband and wife and they are both working and they have a baby and one of them decides to not work or to reduce their hours in order to stay home with the baby,” [Dem Rep. Tim] Ryan said. “They would fall into this category.”
“Yes, Congressman,” Elmendorf said.
In the Republican mythology around this report, these are either victims of Obamacare’s job-destroying ways or folks who have been lulled into a state of dependency.
* Paul Krugman gets past today’s spin wars and ferrets out a rather important tidbit from the report, one concerning how the CBO judges Obamacare’s actual progress:
The exchanges will cover 6 million people, not the 7 million we expected! The number of uninsured will fall 13 million, not 14 million! In short, CBO thinks that reform has been only mildly set back by the healthcare.gov mess, that at this point it’s going pretty well. And by the way, these are predictions we’ll be able to test in real time, unlike the labor force estimates, which will get lost in statistical noise.
Dems who get spooked by every GOP attack that is thrown their way would be well advised to remember: What really matters is whether the law works over time.
* Indeed, David Plouffe, who famously warned Dems against “bed wetting” during the 2008 campaign, comes back with another warning for Dems spooked about the CBO report:
“There will be 10 more moments, at least, that will be declared to be decisive moments that will determine the 2014 election,” Plouffe told ABC News. “And none of them will be.”
How many “game changers” have to turn out not to be game changers for folks to stop with this nonsense?
* Relatedly, Jonathan Bernstein nails what’s wrong with reading doom for Dems in the CBO report: Republicans have been lying about Obamacare for years now. Will more GOP lies about this report will change many more minds? Of course not.
* Brian Beutler on the perfect storm of press incompetence, eagerness for Obamacare doom stories, and Republican mendacity that created what has to be one of the worst media performances in quite some time.
* Steve Benen really nails this:
Let me get this straight. Over the last 24 hours, we’ve learned several noteworthy facts about the Affordable Care Act from the non-partisan CBO: it will lower unemployment; it will reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion; it will increase wages; it will bring coverage to tens of millions of Americans; and there’s no evidence at all that the law will increase part-time employment over full-time employment.
And despite all of these relevant details, Republicans and a few too many reporters still believe the CBO’s findings are bad news for Democrats and proponents of the health care law.
Yep, it sure is strange.
* And a very nice piece by David Cay Johnston on what the Founding Fathers really believed about inequality and the proper distribution of wealth. Hint: The Tea Party version of the founding is nothing but a cartoon.