Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has penned a piece for CNN explaining how President Obama and the new GOP Congress can find common ground on solutions. One of the first things McConnell cites as his evidence that Washington is not working — for economically struggling Americans in particular — is this old canard: “Many faced the reality of losing their health plan after being told they could keep it.”

Meanwhile, Gallup announced this morning that the uninsured rate has dropped over four points since Obamacare went into effect a year ago — and that the uninsured rate, now at 12.9 percent, is at its lowest point since Gallup began to “track the measure daily in 2008.”

Gallup describes its findings this way: “The Affordable Care Act has accomplished one of its goals: increasing the percentage of Americans who have health insurance coverage.”

For the purposes of the current political debate, several findings stand out. Two of the biggest outstanding questions about Obamacare right now concern the fate of health care for lower-income and poor Americans. The Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to the health law that could gut subsidies to three dozen states on the federal exchange — which could end up yanking health care from millions of lower-income Americans. And while more red states are beginning to opt in to the Medicaid expansion, which could lead to still more doing the same, many continue to hold out against it.

Gallup finds, however, that the health law is having particular success in expanding health care to lower-income Americans:  Since it went into effect, the uninsured rate has fallen by 6.9 percentage points among those making less than $36,000. While it’s very likely that a lot of those people are benefiting from the Medicaid expansion, a lot of them are undoubtedly gaining coverage thanks to the subsidies.

Meanwhile, McConnell and other leaders of the incoming GOP Senate majority are openly looking to the Supreme Court to gut Obamacare subsidies as a means to accomplish what Republicans failed to do legislatively and politically.

Whether or not you think the consequences of a SCOTUS decision against the law should weigh on the Justices, the declining insurance rate — among lower income Americans in particular — should theoretically increase pressure on Republicans to think about how they will respond if such a decision does come down (such as a fix or an alternative). Indeed, even some diehard opponents of the law, and some GOP Senators, agree with this. Of course, it’s an open question as to whether this will actually happen in any meaningful sense: One alternative possibility is that Republicans will float the general idea that they’re interested in a fix solely in order to make the consequences of a SCOTUS decision against the law appear less dire.

It’s also an open question whether most Republicans will even acknowledge the steep drop in uninsured in the first place.


* MORE GOP GOVERNORS LEANING TOWARDS MEDICAID EXPANSION: On the plus side of the GOP response to Obamacare, the governors of North Carolina and Utah have met with the Obama administration and came away convinced that officials will accept their versions of the Medicaid expansion. This could pave the way for more GOP states to do the same.


Masked gunmen opened fire Wednesday in the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris that has faced previous threats for Muslim-related cartoons, killing at least 12 people in bloodshed that France’s president described as a terrorist attack…The weekly had drawn repeated threats for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed and other sketches and articles on Muslim figures.

One observer is already suggesting that this could slow the drive in the United States for reform of NSA bulk surveillance.

* GOP TO INSTITUTE ‘VOODOO ECONOMICS’: It’s official: The House GOP will institute “dynamic scoring” at the Congressional Budget office, and Jonathan Weisman has a useful overview of the politics of the decision, which many Dems see as “voodoo economics” because it games budget math to make tax cuts pay for themselves, rendering them politically easier:

“We’re saying, ‘If you think a piece of legislation is going to have a big effect on the economy, then include that effect in the official cost estimate,'” said Representative Tom Price, Republican of Georgia, the new chairman of the House Budget Committee. “So if you think a bill is going to help or hurt the economy, then tell us how much.”

Great! Of course, the next thing to keep an eye on is whom Republicans install at the CBO — a hack, or a real analyst? — because he or she could determine how much this matters. Meanwhile, Democrats will use the decision to re-litigate the debate over GOP economic doctrine.

* IMPROVING ECONOMY SCRAMBLES 2016 CALCULUS: Josh Kraushaar looks at how the improving economy could upend traditional assumptions about the 2016 presidential race, with Hillary Clinton perhaps enjoying a lift should Obama’s approval rise in his final two years. This is a key nugget:

It’s…notable that Jeb Bush, in a statement announcing his leadership PAC Tuesday, sounded a populist note by saying it’s been a good last eight years for “top earners” but not for most Americans.

Everybody’s a populist now! In all seriousness, even if the recovery is gaining steam, let’s hope stagnating wages and the failure of our recovery to achieve widespread, more equitable distribution are debated seriously in the 2016 contest.

 * WHAT ON EARTH IS JEB BUSH THINKING? Jeb Bush’s new announcement of a leadership PAC declares he won’t cede any issues or demographic groups to Democrats. But something seems to be missing, namely, insufficient anti-Obama zeal:

Rick Wilson, a political consultant in Florida who has advised presidential campaigns, said he was struck by the absence of any animus from Mr. Bush toward President Obama. “I think he rightly believes most of the candidates will find themselves as the anti-Obama, the cure, the rollback,” Mr. Wilson said. “He’s going to position himself as the guy with bigger ideas and a broader vision.”

Crazy idea. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio is busily denouncing Hillary Clinton for threatening a “third Obama term.” Seriously, let’s hope Jeb runs.

* SCOTUS TO DECIDE GAY MARRIAGE? What to watch this week: This Friday, the Supreme Court is expected to debate at its Friday conference whether to hear petitions for review from a handful of states where federal judges have upheld state marriage bans, unlike in many other states where they have been struck down. With Florida now striking down such a ban, some 70 percent of Americans live in places where marriage equality is legal; it’s now time for SCOTUS to decide whether there is a Constitutionally protected right to gay marriage.

* MAP OF THE DAY: Yes, seven in 10 Americans now live in places where marriage equality is legal. Here, courtesy of the Post, is what that looks like in map form.

* AND YOUR DEPRESSING POLL FINDING OF THE DAY: A new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds:

The survey asked three questions about the government: Which party currently controls the House of Representatives? What are the three branches of government? Name the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. All told, one third of respondents were unable to answer any of the questions correctly, 26 percent got one right, 27 percent got two right, and just 13 percent correctly answered all three.

Interestingly, those who were unable to answer all three were more likely to believe Obama is not a U.S. citizen and that we found a weapons of mass destruction program in Iraq.