Philip Klein

Everybody agrees that healthcare.gov is working much better than before. Everybody also agrees that it’s not working as well as it should. So what’s a fair way to evaluate its progress? One way is to compare its performance to commercial websites. Two smart writers on the right, Philip Klein and Megan McArdle, have made that case in the last few days. Here’s Klein: 

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You’re a 26-year-old single dude, holding down a pair of part-time jobs tending bar and painting houses, and making about $24,000 a year. Thanks to Obamacare, you can finally get decent health insurance, just like people with full-time jobs at large companies do. But when you go online to check out your options, you see that even the cheapest “bronze” plan, which has high deductibles and co-payments, will cost you about $100 a month. Obamacare’s penalty for carrying no insurance next year is less than one-tenth of that. Do you buy the insurance anyway?

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It's one of those days when the news cycle is moving faster than I can write about it. As of Wednesday afternoon, the chatter online is all about the Romney campaign's unexpected decision to cite his Massachusetts health reforms as proof that he cares about average Americans facing financial hardship. The decision is unexpected because Romney has spent the past two years vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, whose scheme for expanding insurance coverage is basically a national version of what Romney did in Massachusetts.

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The latest sign of rightward drift in American politics, or at least the Republican Party, came this week when Politico reported that Mitt Romney had asked Michael Leavitt to begin preparing for the transition, in case Romney wins. Leavitt is a former Republican governor of Utah and former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. In normal times, those credentials would be more than enough to satisfy most conservatives.

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Today is tax day. I was all set to write something about the importance of taxes and why, in the long run, most Americans need to pay more of them. Then I remembered I'd written that before—on last year's tax day. So here's what I wrote then. It seems no less relevant today. The only difference is that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has modified his Medicare proposal. But his overall scheme for the budget hasn't changed much.  Happy Tax Day. And I mean that sincerely. I don’t like parting with my money any more than you do. But I like what my tax dollars buy. Public schools.

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What other folks are saying about the first day of oral arguments in the lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act: - Lyle Denniston, of SCOTUS blog, provides his typically thorough and insightful analysis of what was really happening in Court today. - The Volokh Conspiracy rounds up analysis from libertarians, some encouraged by what they heard from the court today—and some, not so much. - Philip Klein picks up skepticism, even from liberals, that the mandate is a tax.  - Brian Beutler wonders whether Chief Justice Roberts was dropping a hint that he may uphold the mandate. - At Slate, Dah

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Raise My Taxes

Happy Tax Day. And I mean that sincerely. I don’t like parting with my money any more than you do. But I like what my tax dollars buy. Public schools. Safe food and consumer products. National security. The post office. Guaranteed income and health insurance for my aging parents, plus (soon) a guarantee of health insurance for my immediate family. I benefit directly from all of these programs. And I benefit indirectly from the stability they provide. Capitalism and democracy could not survive without a vibrant, activist government.

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Name recognition is not an asset in presidential campaigns. I mentioned this last week, but I stuck it at the end of a longer post, so I'll repeat it here. Name recognition is, in fact, important in American politics. But its importance is limited to contexts in which there are significant gaps between how well candidates are known. That happens all the time in House contests, and even in elections for Senate or governor, and it certainly happens in downballot races.  But not in presidential elections. At least not among major candidates.  Here's Philip Klein making the case for Mitt Romney:

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This isn't going to help the Mittster: Jon Kingsdale, the executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, the state agency that helps people in Massachusetts find health insurance, is leaving his job, Gov.

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From the Horse’s Mouth: Petraeus on Israel Posted by Max Boot on March 25, 2010 Back on March 13, terrorist groupie Mark Perry—a former Arafat aide who now pals around with Hamas and Hezbollah—posted an article on Foreign Policy’s website, claiming that General David Petraeus was behind the administration’s policy of getting tough with Israel.

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