The positive effect of ObamaCare on the economy has been “staggering,” President Obama argued Thursday during a speech at Northwestern University.
“There’s a reason fewer [Republicans] are running against ObamaCare — because while good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world,” the president said.
The day after the anniversary of rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, Obama argued that a “dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of healthcare” had led to more individuals being covered and prices staying lower.
“If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are,” Obama said. “That’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of our pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like an $1,800 tax cut.”

I’m sure Republicans could explain that nothing is “like” a tax cut. Tax cuts are handed down from God to the ghost of Ronald Reagan and from there to Republican officeholders, who bestow them upon a grateful nation.

* RNC chair Reince Priebus gave a speech today outlining 11 principles meant to “rebrand” the Republican party. Ed Kilgore looked them over, and was not particularly impressed; notably, Republicans do appear to have given up on immigration reform.

* Joni Ernst is still signaling her openness to privatizing Social Security as an “option.” At least she isn’t flip-flopping. Expect Dems to continue hammering away at this.

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* Speaking of Iowa, there really is no more important issue to the voters of that fine state than whether Bruce Braley got mad as his neighbor for letting chickens crap on his lawn. Politifact takes a look at Republicans’ charge that Braley “threatened to sue” the woman over the chickens:

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Some might not like the way Braley and his wife handled a dispute with a neighbor — by going to the neighborhood association and then consulting the association’s lawyer. Even so, there is no material evidence that Braley threatened a lawsuit against the neighbor or was even considering one. Even the neighbor says that.We rate Ernst’s claim False.

Behold the majesty of the democratic process. All those people protesting in Hong Kong should know that, if they succeed in forcing a repressive government to make elections truly free, one day they too might have their leaders chosen on the basis of controversies over chicken crap.

* Meanwhile, Dems continue in their quest to make this race about the candidates’ actual positions on issues. Here’s a particularly harsh DSCC ad going after Joni Ernst on Personhood. Of course, chickens may prove more important.

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* I’m guessing that Democrats’ polling shows them that the “Personhood” issue still is potent, because here’s another ad from the DSCC hitting Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner on it, too.

* One key question that could decide Senate control is whether the Democrats’ efforts to turn out low and medium-propensity voters will be as effective as they say. Fredreka Schouten takes a deep dive into what outside groups are doing in North Carolina; this is a useful indicator of what Dems will try elsewhere.

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“I think you’ll see some candidates come back to it late. Obamacare is shorthand for big government bureaucracy, government takeover of health care.”

In other words, it’s a symbol of everything GOP base voters know they hate about Obama, so even if most Americans want to move on from this debate, focusing on the law is a good way to keep the base worked up through Election Day. — gs

There remain holdouts who complain that the ACA is an infringement of “freedom.” That’s true only under a bizarro-world definition of “freedom.” Before the ACA, Americans were “free” to be locked into jobs they detested, to be abused, ripped off, or rejected outright by insurance companies, and to suffer medical conditions without treatment. The ACA hasn’t changed all that in a year, and its ability to meet all of its goals remains conjectural. But so far it has pointed the way to a better — yes, radically better — system of American healthcare.

Oh yeah? Well I heard on the radio that if you get sick and go to the hospital, you could still die! Thanks a lot, Obummercare.

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North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis criticized the Obama administration Wednesday for its handling of security breaches at the White House, saying the incidents reflect a need to be more serious about national security.  […]
“How on earth can you protect the nation if you can’t protect the White House?” Tillis said to the group.

OK, so the president doesn’t actually “protect the White House.” And the Secret Service has nothing to do with national security, despite the fact that they do things that go by the name “security.” And saying the Secret Service problems came about because Barack Obama isn’t “serious” about protecting his family is just mind-bogglingly stupid. Other than that, though, Tillis seems right on target.

* Sam Stein and Ryan Reilly profile Rep. Trey Gowdy, the former prosecutor leading the Benghazi select committee. I can tell you one thing: Gowdy is a man who loves to shout angrily at witnesses, so we’re probably going to see a lot of that.

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