Republicans for Obamacare

Okay, not really, but like most people, Republicans actually want health insurance, too.  Even if they end up paying more in premiums than they get out in benefits.  That’s why it is called insurance.  Chait:

The still-fresh GOP messaging about the failed website launch turns out to be highly instructive. As part of their message campaign, Republicans in Washington, and their staffers, made displays of their difficulties, or alleged difficulties, enrolling in the new exchanges…

And of course the great hope of the conservative movement has been to foster a massive boycott of the exchanges – burn your (imaginary) Obamacare card, pay the tax instead. The Koch brothers are paying activists to flood college-football tailgate parties, plying undergraduates with free pizza and beer so they’ll listen to their pitch to boycott the exchanges…

Even as they try to goad Americans into following the boycott, conservative activists themselves have blithely ignored it. Salon’s Brian Beutler fruitfully trolled Amanda Carpenter, a speechwriter and senior communications adviser for Ted Cruz, over Carpenter’s high-profile complaints about the slowness of the health-care site, producing this head-smacking confession:

I don’t want to be uninsured. When even as fanatical an ideological cadre as Ted Cruz’s speechwriter blurts her desperation to join Obamacare, it suggests that conservatives have deeply miscalculated.

The problem here is that their definition of who would “benefit” is exceedingly narrow. You “benefit,” by his way of thinking, only if your actuarial costs exceed your financial contributions. But that isn’t how most people think about insurance. Insurance isn’t a kind of gamble where you bet you can beat the house by consuming more in medical care than you pay in premiums and deductibles. It’s protection from risk. People like that protection. They will pay to acquire it.  [emphasis mine]

Yep.  A point that Jonathan Cohn, I believe, has continued to make emphatically.  Young people who may in a very simple cost-benefit calculation be subsiding unhealthier, older people by joining an insurance are still getting a very real benefit.  Insurance!  It’s good to be insured.  Even if there’s only a 1 in 10 chance that your financial benefit will exceed your financial contribution, if you fall in that 1 in 10 damn is it worth it.  And there’s a huge psychological benefit to peace of mind to knowing that.

Republicans shooting themselves in the foot in 2014?

In recent years, Republicans have lost a number of very winnable (i.e., they should have won) Senate seats (Richard Mourdock or Christine O’Donnell anyone?) because of the Tea Party quest for ideological purity.  It seems they are taking this to an even more extreme degree.  The Atlantic’s Molly Ball on the Tea Party challenge to Texas’ John Cornyn:

But if even staunch conservatives like Cornyn can’t satisfy the right, the Tea Party has truly entered its dada period. Before, right-wingers were content to purge actual moderates, like former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and Delaware Representative Mike Castle, or patrician establishmentarians like Dewhurst. Now all it takes to provoke their wrath is the belief that government ought to be allowed to function. Next, perhaps they’ll they turn on Cruz, who serves on several Senate committees and is vice chair of the senatorial committee. I asked a GOP consultant who follows Senate races what Cornyn’s supposed sin against conservatism had been—what transgression earned him the wrath of the right. “Well,” the consultant answered, “the honest answer is that he’s not crazy.”  [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, here in NC, Renee Ellmers, who is only marginally not-crazy at best, as drawn her own Tea Party challenger for her House race:

Frank Roche, a conservative internet talk show host from Cary, has been weighing a bid against Ellmers since October. He announced Monday that he will challenge her for the seat.

“The key elements motivating my decision to take on this difficult challenge are Representative Ellmer’s [sic] support for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation making its way through Congress, including a “pathway to citizenship”; her moderate go-along-to-get-along voting record in her first three years of office; an already poor record of constituent services; a relentless focus on fundraising since elected in 2010; and a lack of focus on the critically important issues impacting America’s future strength and prosperity,” Roche said in the release.

Like Cornyn, Ellmers “moderate” voting record basically means she believes in actually letting government function.  I guess we’ll just have to see how this all plays out next year.

Photo of the day

Pretty amazing gallery of super-rural America in the NYT:


Andrew Moore/Yancey Richardson Gallery

Actual media bias

Yesterday I read one of the most blatantly biased straight news stories I have come across in a long time.  Not surprisingly both Drum and Yglesias also picked upon it.  You can’t just write bad things about Democrats or Republicans, but for some reason you can be a reporter and simply pretend that cutting the national debt is an uncontroversial, unalloyed good (note to WP editors– it’s not).  Drum:

There’s nothing wrong with talking about the federal deficit in a story about the budget. But this entire story is framed around a sense of dismay that Congress has “abandoned” its debt-reduction goals. This is done with no mention of the fact that Congress has already slashed the 10-year deficit by nearly $4 trillion over the past couple of years. No mention that we’ve been engaged in this frenzy of deficit cutting despite the fact that the economy is still fragile, which means thatreducing the deficit is almost certainly a terrible idea. No mention that deficit cutting of any size in the wake of recession is unprecedented in recent history. No mention of the fact that the deficit has been falling for years and will continue to decline in 2014 and 2015.


Except Lori Montgomery, who covers budget issues for the Washington Post, iscovering this news like someone strangled her kitten:

The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators’ primary target.

After more than two years of constant crisis, the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease-fire. Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid another economy-damaging standoff.

The campaign to control the debt is ending “with a whimper, not a bang,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the bipartisan Concord Coalition, which advocates debt reduction. “That this can be declared a victory is an indicator of how low the process has sunk. They haven’t really done anything except avoid another crisis.”

This reflects what has got to be the single strangest convention in political news today. Journalists who would never think of openly cheerleading for more people to get government-subsidized health insurance or for oil companies to secure a freer hand in drilling regard the goodness of deficit reduction as a kind of nonideological given. But it’s not! The whole reason it’s so hard for Congress to agree on a long-term fiscal deal is that everyone can agree that a long-term fiscal deal would be great if executed on their terms but not otherwise.

By contrast, there actually is reasonably broad agreement that another government shutdown would be bad for America. Having negotiators focus on an area where they might plausibly reach agreement is great news not a sign of the process sinking low.

And honestly, though this on the surface has little to do with “liberal” or “conservative” bias, this particular media obsession has a functional conservative bias by feeding into the conservative narrative that government must always be cut.

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