* The Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs has released a preliminary report on the problems at the VA facility in Phoenix. Among their findings: Veterans had to wait an average of 115 days for their first appointment, far higher than the 24 days official VA data show.
They also describe a ridiculous process in which a veteran’s information is taken over the phone, then a clerk prints out a screenshot of that information from his/her computer, then that paper is sent to a different clerk, who scans it and creates a PDF, which is then sent to another office. Seriously.
* And Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is the first to create and air a TV ad about the VA scandal, to try to get people to vote against Senator Mark Begich of Alaska. There will be much more of this.
* Jed Lewison has a good take on Mitch McConnell’s absurd claim that Kynect’s fate is separate from that of the Affordable Care Act, noting that Alison Lundergan Grimes (who hit McConnell over this today) has an opportunity to go considerably further:
It’s really a golden opportunity: Not only is McConnell exposing the soft underbelly of his position on repealing Obamacare, he’s doing it with the sort of dishonesty that gives the Grimes campaign an opportunity to remind Kentucky of everything they don’t like about Mitch McConnell and his 30 years in Washington…They can’t let him get away with telling a lie this big. And if they do make him pay for his dishonesty, it’s going to have a huge impact on the rest of the campaign, because a Mitch McConnell that can’t get away with telling huge lies is a Mitch McConnell that can’t win re-election.
* And Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, who set up Kynect, has some similarly harsh words for McConnell:
Eliminating ACA means that folks with pre-existing conditions will struggle to find coverage, young adults won’t be able to stay on their parents’ coverage, women won’t be treated equally by insurers and federal subsidies for Kentuckians will end.”Senator McConnell either doesn’t understand what the ACA is, or is just trying to mislead Kentucky families for his political benefit at their expense.
* Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land aired an ad pushing back on allegations that she’s part of the Republican “war on women.” The ad didn’t say anything about issues, but Washington pundits it. As Dave Weigel explains, it was so effective that it powered her all the way up to a 14 point deficit among women.
* Conservatives are trying to tell people that the VA scandal shows that the ACA will be a disaster. Sam Baker explains exactly how idiotic a claim that really is.
* Dan Diamond looks at some of the dire predictions people made about the ACA, and compares them to, you know, reality. Spoiler alert: they aren’t the same.
* The Chamber of Commerce is trying to tell people that coming EPA regulations on existing power plants will cost the economy $50 billion per year. Paul Krugman looks at their numbers and finds that even if you believed their study, it would still be a bargain:
So, is $50 billion a lot? Let’s look at the CBO’s long-term projections. These say that average annual US real GDP over the period 2014-2030 will be $21.5 trillion. So the Chamber is telling us that we can achieve major reductions in greenhouse gases at a cost of 0.2 percent of GDP. That’s cheap!
Still uncertain: how Democrats in tough Senate races will respond.
* Confused about how to tell your 538 Senate projections from your Upshot projections from your Monkey Cage projections? The wise Sam Wang breaks it down, explaining how to understand all these different projections.
So what are we left with? Polls show repeal is far less popular than the law itself; high-profile Republicans are trying to argue that some popular benefits will remain intact no matter who wins upcoming elections; and some GOP governors who swore to oppose “Obamacare” in every possible instance are suddenly warming up to Medicaid expansion.
* On the other hand, Mississippi senator Thad Cochran, faced with a Tea Party challenge, has an ad out boasting that he “voted against Obamacare over 100 times.” Any garden variety House GOP lawmaker can vote against Obamacare 50 times, but it takes a real conservative to vote against it 100 times.
* Simon Malloy asks for a moment of silence to mourn the Republican “repeal Obamacare” message. “It’s not dead yet, but it has fallen victim to a deadly terminal illness: nuance.”
* And speaking of nuance, Jonathan Bernstein explains that the political science shows that Obamacare could actually hurt both Democratic and Republican candidates in this year’s elections. Wait, what? That would require keeping two ideas in our heads at the same time! Sorry, no can do.