Jon Kyl

Stories of real-life Obamacare “rate shock” have revived an old debate. Previously, health insurers could charge women higher premiums than they charged men. Insurers could also exclude maternity benefits. Obamacare prohibits those practices and conservatives are angry. Why should men have to pay higher insurance prices for services they will never use directly?

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On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Teilborg upheld an Arizona law banning abortions 20 weeks after a woman’s last period. The law, which was signed by Gov.

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On Sunday, The Washington Post published a long, blow-by-blow of last summer’s negotiations between Barack Obama and John Boehner over a $4 trillion deficit deal. The take-away from the piece is that Obama had a chance at a deal involving $800 billion in tax increases and trillions in spending cuts (including cuts to sacred programs like Medicare and Social Security), but that he got cold feet and backed away.

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When Foster Friess, the billionaire backer of Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, suggested yesterday that women should simply place aspirin between their legs rather than use contraception, it was the latest salvo of a culture war that has been raging for months. “Culture war,” in fact, increasingly seems too vague a term for the current conversation in the country about women’s rights.

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Obama’s Worst Year

Shortly after four o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, 2011, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner walked down the hallway near his office toward a large conference room facing the building’s interior. He was accompanied by a retinue of counselors and aides. When they arrived in the room—known around Treasury simply as “the large”—four people were seated at a long walnut table on the side near the door.

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That Didn't Take Long

Three days ago Senate Minority Whip  Jon Kyl (R., AZ) said we didn't need a payroll tax cut. Today Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., KY) said the GOP "will put aside their misgivings" and Kyl said they'll have a payroll tax-cut proposal by the end of the day. They're still not willing to offset the tax cut with a surtax on millionaires, so it isn't yet clear how they intend to pay for it. Please God don't let it be some new version of their tax reform plan lowering top rates and closing loopholes, once again tied to extending the Bush tax cuts, for a net loss of $1-$2 trillion.  

The Democrats want to extend the one-third payroll tax cut. The Republicans don't want that to happen unless the revenue is made up somewhere else, and they oppose making it up with the millionaire surtax that the Democrats propose. On Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace asked Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-AZ, a pretty good question: How come Republicans say we have to pay for extending the payroll tax cut when they never said we had to pay for enacting the Bush tax cuts? Well, Kyl said, one difference is that "the payroll tax doesn't go into general revenue, it supports Social Security.

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Going Soprano on the Fed

So now the Republicans want to go all Tony Soprano on the Fed. On Tuesday, the GOP's four congressional leaders sent a formal letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed today finishes a critical two-day meeting, during which it will discuss whether to swing into action again, taking steps that could boost economic growth and reduce unemployment. Many and probably most mainstream economists think that's the right thing to do. The Republicans do not. They were not happy the last time the Fed intervened.

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There's been some debate over whether the supercommittee will simply deadlock over the Republican refusal to raise any taxes, or whether Republicans will roll Democrats again and force another all-cuts budget deal. I am less sure, in part because the alternative to a deal (huge cuts to medical providers and the military) frightens Republicans as much as Democrats.

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Because conservatives won't go for it: Mr. Obama, seated between Mr. Boehner and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, told the lawmakers he would not sign an interim deal, only one that extended through the 2012 election. Then he surveyed the eight leaders about their preference for three deals of different sizes — the largest being up to $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, according to aides briefed on the discussion. Six of the eight expressed their support for the biggest deal, the aides said.

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