Obamacare got some good press this morning, for a change. According to state officials in New York, insurance premiums for residents buying coverage on their own will fall by 50 percent next year, thanks to the new health care law. That’s before taking into account the federal subsidies that, for many and possibly most insurance buyers, will lower premiums even more. You’ve heard of “rate shock”? This would be the good kind—assuming it all checks out.
As you’ve heard or read by now, perhaps from my colleague Alec MacGillis, the big standoff over presidential nominations and the filibuster is over. On Tuesday morning, Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement about those seven nominees that the GOP was blocking. Basically, the Republicans are relenting. Votes on all seven will take place.
Sometimes gridlock is good. Ninety-eight senators met in a rare, closed-door session on Monday night. A smaller group of senators, including the leaders of both parties, met separately afterwards. The goal of both sessions was to work out a compromise on a series of presidential nominations that Republicans have been blocking. By all accounts, the discussions were cordial and constructive.
House Republican leaders hope to hold yet more votes on Obamacare, maybe as early as this week. But this time, Republican leaders say, they will focus on the “individual mandate”—i.e., the provision that imposes fines on Americans who can afford health insurance but opt not to carry it. The mandate is supposed to take effect in 2014, once Obamacare’s new insurance options are available in all 50 states. Republicans want to push back that date by one year.
The Obama Administration’s decision to delay enforcement of Obamacare’s “employer mandate” produced some predictable reactions on the right. House Speaker John Boehner started talking about “train wrecks,” Erick Erickson advised Republicans to “go for the kill,” and so on.
Most of the stories about implementation problems with Obamacare have had little basis in fact. Not this one.On Wednesday, the Administration announced a significant policy change: Businesses will get an extra year before they must comply with the “employer mandate.” According to the administration, the delay will give businesses and the Treasury Department more time to simplify the mandate’s reporting requirements.
Millions of Americans who are too poor or too sick to buy health insurance today will finally have a chance to get coverage next year. And if the Republican congressional leadership has its way, many of these people will never find out about it.
Want to do business with Congress? Focus on fixing ports.
An opening for infrastructure reform.
The best television coverage of President Obama’s climate speech Tuesday wasn’t on Fox, CNN, or even MSNBC. It was on the Weather Channel, the only network to carry the address live and to treat it as the major development that it was.
What a difference a day makes. The Supreme Court on Wednesday morning struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The ruling, as expected, does not establish a universal right to same-sex marriage. But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for a five-to-four majority, eschewed a narrow opinion that threw out the law simply on federalism grounds. Instead, Kennedy and the four liberal justices declared that DOMA deprives same-sex couples of “equal protection” under the law.