Good morning everyone, and welcome to this week's edition of me staring dead-eyed into the television as a gaggle of human wreckage prattle about politics without mentioning all of the people who are losing their SNAP benefits around the holidays and stuff like that. My name is Jason. It looks like today is going to feature widespread Kennedy-era nostalgia, which will probably solve everything, I bet. I'm not entirely immune -- I just read "Dallas 1963" by Bill Minutaglio and Steven Davis, and if you like cynicism and love eerie parallels, then that is the book for you.
I don't know what the rest of the day looks like because I didn't bother to check but it's probably the typical level of comic incompetence, so we may as well just plunge in head first and hope we don't hit our head on a rock or something. As usual, the comments are here for you to use, you may drop me a line if you like, follow me on Twitter if that's your bag, and while I am typing, if you get bored, you can check out my Rebel Mouse page for this week's Sunday Reads.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
We'll first discuss today about Obamacare with two of America's worst people, health insurance cartel bagwoman Karen Ignagni and former Senator who still probably needs a staff of fifteen to help him cross the road Ben Nelson. There will also be a discussion of the Wyoming GOP primary, in which Liz Cheney drops by to explain why incumbent Senator Mike Enzi is crushing her like a Ziploc baggie of seedless grapes. And then there will be Kennedy nostalgia.
First however, there is a weird "fix" for that small percentage of Americans who are losing their insurance and not getting a similar policy from the exchanges -- and I do not understand it, at all. IT seems to be little more than a set of ragged insistences that everything will be okay. But it's hard to figure out how it will "work" because this "fix" seems to have no process or mechanics or enforcement or anything.
Unless, of course, this is a "fix" for political conditions. In that case, it may be useful. Right now, Democratic legislators have fallen back to their default setting -- panicky Yorkshire terrier trapped in a burlap sack -- and are preparing to join on to some legislative fix that will allow them to maybe keep their seat while destroying the Affordable Care Act.
Actually, from what I understand, the best thing about the "fix" is that it's literally a chimera, and it's greatest strength is that it actually does nothing at all, except maybe burden insurance companies with offering the "why you lost your coverage" instead of the administration, who would like to fix their busted-up website, please.
Jonathan Chait explains it like so:
The keep-your-plan waiver President Obama announced yesterday was, likewise, an exercise in optics. Numerous news reports have pointed out that his proposal is unworkable and substantively meaningless. This, paradoxically, is good news for Obamacare. Obama's waiver to keep unregulated, cherry-picked insurance plans going can't work because insurers have already adjusted their plans to accommodate the new Obamacare regulations. It is too late to go back to a pre-Obamacare world.
All that's left is for a bunch of out-of-touch gobemouches to prattle about it for a few hours before going back to their lives of comfort, and so here we are.
Ignani says that this week's Gathering of the Insurance Company Juggalos at the White House went to her tentative liking, and they slaked their thirst on enough goat blood to continue approving of what's going on with Obamacare, further underscoring the lack of anything that this "fix" actually does. She says that insurers still have "work to do" to ensure a transition with minimal premium increases and the like.
Senator Nelson is also asked to complete a few sentences, and he points out that the fix is just a "suggestion" as opposed to a law.
Ignani is asked if the policies that have fallen by the wayside for so many people will end up being reinstated, because of this fix. Nelson just intimated that this won't be the case. Ignani wants to "take a step back," after which she says that it's up to Nelson's National Association of Insurance Commissioners to regulate what "the rules are in each state," her job is to make sure that "the new market is affordable."
Wallace asks Nelson if Obama is trying to shift the blame from the White House to insurers and regulators. Yes, he is. Nelson, however, stays politic, and says that he does not know if that's the case. He goes on to say that all the insurance commissioners promise to do their job, as if normally they are not doing their job.
Wallace points out that having cozied up to the insurance companies in the construction of the Affordable Care Act, the White House sure likes to make them out to be big bugaboos now. (I think when a law comes around that will require the American people to become your customer, adding millions of potential revenue streams, you tend to be able to take a little abuse now and again.) But can Wallace build a wedge between Obama and Ignani?
"Chris, I'm not in this blame game biz," she says. And then she sort of filibusters. Everyone is "focused on solving problems" and are "working with the White House" because of their "shared goal" of preserving a profitable enterprise and putting off the eventual day where the once proud American middle class emerges from their mega-slums to burn down Washington and convert to single-payer.
Oh, and we're going to have our panel now, for some reason.
Brit Hume says that the "fix" has not helped Obama's "political peril," and that the "fix" is not going particularly far in the material sense.
Wallace points out that the "Upton Bill," which has nothing actually to do with Kate Upton, got the votes of 39 Democrats. Woodruff says that had the White House not done their bit of prestidigitation, there could have been more. Then there is talk about how this might imperil Obama's domestic agenda. The difference between the pundit class and people with brains is pretty simple here: for the pundit class, whatever is going wrong right now is what's imperiling the Obama domestic agenda. Remember when Syria was imperiling that agenda?
Most people with a brain understand that the domestic agenda has always been imperiled except for the seventy days that Obama had a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate, and even then everything had to win the approval of Evan Bayh. Between centrist bell-ends and the very easy and seemingly unnoticed GOP obstruction, there really hasn't been much room for any sort of "domestic agenda."
Woodruff says that as far as the website fix goes, the White House is trying to "scale down expectations." They do not have a lot of room to play with, as far as missing their end of November deadline.
George Will seems to think that the GOP has "offered serious alternatives" to Obamacare "all along." Those alternatives are a really tough hang for a Republican party that now holds that a letter from an insurer informing poor John and Jane Public that they've lost their insurance is now an impeachment-level offense. Those "alternatives" that Will speaks of would have generated between 14 and 20 million such letters.
Bob Woodward says that what's going on is "not Watergate" and the news cycle has mostly been in a silly frenzy over this. He may have slightly tweaked his meds.
Woodward and Will are discussing the extent to which a President should be allowed to stroll in front of teevee cameras and change laws on a whim. To be clear, THEY SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO DO SO. I'm not actually sure that Obama did anything other than make a strongly worded suggestion to a bunch of insurance companies. It was sort of a fugazi. Woodward, however, has in the past suggested that the President need not consider himself bound by the Constitution.
Woodward thinks that everyone would find it intolerable if a Republican president exercised executive power like that, as if it were not a hallmark of Obama's predecessor. (Of course, a lot of liberals who hated the way Bush used executive power have become temporary fans of it now that Obama's in charge. The only cure for all the liberal bootlickers of the NSA that thrive today is a Republican president.)
Now Liz Cheney is here. She wants to be the Senator of Wyoming. She probably won't be. But let's let her get her kicks, anyway.
A brief summary: she says that Obama is a liar, the Enzi was a member of the health care "Gang of Six" so his bodily fluids have been corrupted, compromise among legislators is tantamount to being Neville Chamberlain, she is from Wyoming seriously for real not a carpetbagger at all shut up shut up shut up SHUT UP THIS IS WHAT SHE WANTS STAMPS FEET STAMPS FEET STAMPS FEET.
She continues: Mike Enzi has been in power for a long time, and what has he done lately? He is not LEEEEEEADING. He is just not using his magical LEEEEEEADING powers!
Wallace asks Cheney have been able to do differently that would have been more successful than what Enzi did. She explains that things would have been very different if someone had given Liz Cheney a seat in the Senate, for some reason. She is mad that Enzi worked on a bill with Dick Durbin. Doesn't he know that Durbin is liberal? If anything, Enzi should be punching Dick Durbin and refusing to talk with him. Then, all the Beltway media would blame Dick Durbin for not being more willing to compromise with Mike Enzi.
There is some discussion of marriage equality. After all, Liz Cheney's sister is gay and she is married and is pro-same sex marriage. Liz Cheney cannot be pro-same sex marriage or pro-her sister's relationship at the moment because she is running for office as a coward and a panderer. Surely her sister understands -- WYOMING NEEDS AN INCREMENTALLY MORE CONSERVATIVE SENATOR OR AMERICA AS A REPUBLIC IS DOOMED.
Wallace asks Cheney if she has any qualms about how her mom and dad have totally embarrassed themselves by getting into petty political fights with Alan Simpson and Mike Enzi for no discernible reason and of course she has none.
Wallace invited Mike Enzi to the show, too, but he really does not need any help in winning this race.
Then there is about twenty-five minutes of Kennedy nostalgia.
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Today, Martha Raddatz is here, and we will talk about how the Obama presidency is now over, ask Kirstin Gillibrand if she is running for President, and do some Kennedy nostalgia.
This week, Raddatz says, Obama is facing "withering attacks" on Obamacare, so that is different from all other weeks in no material way whatsoever. Jonathan Karl assures us that their has been a flawed roll-out of the Obamacare exchanges, something that he is now pretty sure of six weeks after that became clear to the rest of us. People are super-confused about his "fix," because it was basically designed to be confusing.
Also, his poll numbers are really suffering. Funny word: suffering. On "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS," you are "suffering" if your poll numbers are down. But what if you lack access to affordable health care? In that case, you can't be said to be "suffering" because you really can't be said to be "existing." All human tragedies matter only in the way they affect a rich celebrity's poll numbers.
I'm really not going to miss liveblogging these shows, and the garbage people who make them!
Suddenly David Plouffe and Matthew Dowd are here, along with Rebecca Jarvis, to talk about what a goddamn human tragedy this is for the wealthy President. This is definitely like Obama has been left alone, in the Superdome, waiting for FEMA. Dowd says that this is a "trust problem," and sometimes to restore trust is "to bring new people in" -- that apparently signifies "accountability." Plouffe says that "the law is going to be with us forever" and must now be "implemented in a smart way."
Karl says that the twin goals are "working with insurers" and "getting the website fixed," and he reckons that he's largely managed the first feat (because it's the easier one). Jarvis says that next year, young people need to be signing up for the exchanges to keep premiums from going up. She doesn't see that happening, but it's just her funny feelings about it.
Is it worth repeating that everything really hinges on them fixing their stupid website? Up to and including winning the right to point out why such a website had to be created in the first place? (That is to say: "Because many state governors did not want the people they deemed morally unworthy of health care to receive it from a government run exchange.)
Dowd helpfully points out that Obamacare is not Katrina -- but in terms of polling trends, says that there is an eerie similarity between what's going on right now in Obama's second term and what happened during the second term of President Bush.
Plouffe disagrees that Obama's polling numbers have gone into a permanent tailspin, but basically reiterates what I've been saying, which, to borrow from William Carlos Williams, is simply this:
so much depends
Plouffe is probably right that the more people get signed up, the more permanent the law becomes. Right now, the best thing Obamacare has going for it is the relatively superior state exchanges, who have gotten insurance to people who never had it before. It will be tough to take that away from people, now that causing one to receive a letter from one's insurer that one's coverage is lost is now a hanging offense in America.
Karl says that the Obama administration has been assuring him all along that "the worst is behind them," but adds, "that is essentially what they've been telling me for several weeks...and over the course of that time, things kept getting worse."
Worth noting is that the things that "kept getting worse" were POLITICAL things, whereas when the administration referred to the "worst" being "behind them," they were likely fixated on practical matters. On Sunday morning teevee, it's very hard to know the difference. I mean, does it even count to have someone who is extremely grateful for having their life saved if it doesn't show up in the polls?
Now Kirstin Gillibrand is here and she is asked if all is doom for the White House. She disagrees, saying, "what this is about is everyday people needing access to Affordable Health Care, they don't want their coverage dropped because of a pre-existing condition or when they get sick, they want their kids covered up to 26, and they want to have preventive care covered. And that's what this bill does." She very confidently states that the website is going to be fixed. "Once they fix it, people will see, I have an opportunity to cover my family," she says.
This is the essence of the bet that everyone might as well take on Obamacare right now. Pick it as a winner and run the risk of never getting re-elected if it loses. Pick it as a loser and run the risk of never getting re-elected if it wins. I honestly respect the people who are willing to put some skin on the table, whether it's betting for or betting against. It's at least an honest and fair way of doing business. This "I'll shut down the government or not raise the debt ceiling over this" tactic is the chump game.
We see the divide between Obamacare conceptualizations in the next bit of back and forth, with Gillibrand opting to see Obamacare as something that could potentially impact normal human Americans and Raddatz going all myopic on us -- to Raddatz, all Obamacare does, as a bill, is move Obama's poll numbers up or down:
RADDATZ: Martha, I was in the emergency room just last week with my son who had an asthma attack and took too many puffs on his puffer. And I looked in the eyes of all the other mothers in the emergency room, these are mothers who don't have health care, who may not -- this may be their only access.
RADDATZ: But whose trust has been shattered.
GILLIBRAND: No, but once -- that's an implementation issue. Once you get beyond it, you then say, look, oh my gosh.
RADDATZ: And you think we'll get beyond it?
GILLIBRAND: We will. You know, what though, see emergency room is covered. Do you how much it is to go to an emergency room? You get a bill. It's very expensive.
No, Kirstin. No one in the Beltway media's upper echelon has gazed at an emergency room bill for several decades.
Does Gillibrand feel misled by the President, what with that whole "if you like your plan you can LOL" thing? Gillibrand shrugs it off: "He should have been more specific."
Raddatz says that the central issue in the Obamacare rollout is what it says about presidential "leadership and trust." Gillibrand continues to insist that the central issues are things like "mothers in the emergency room who don't have access to affordable health care."
Raddatz points out that the central issue in the flap over people getting letters that they've lost their insurance is that now "39 Democrats defected" and voted for the Upton bill.
Gillibrand says that the central issue there is that "when you don't know how you're going to pay for your child's medicine and you don't know how you're going to pay for the inoculations they need to stay healthy" it creates an "enormous amount of stress."
Gillibrand's frantic efforts to communicate the idea that normal human beings exist and that people should maybe develop some sort of empathy for the fact that they fight every day for some basic dignity on a Sunday show is a lot like watching someone from Mars come to try to referee a hockey game.
SUPER FUN FACT: Between January 2008 and December 2010, over 44,000 Americans were notified each week that they'd be losing their health insurance. Sunday Morning television programs, speaking as one, said, "We don't give a tinned s#!t." Why? Because this widespread economic devastation had not yet impacted the poll numbers of any wealthy political celebrities.
Is Kirstin Gillibrand running for president in 2016? No, she is not. Like her fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren, she has "personally encouraged" Hillary Clinton to run for President.
We get to Gillibrand's effort to pass a bill that would take military sexual assault investigations outside of the military chain of command. (Here she differs with her fellow Senator Claire McCaskill, who would prefer that such investigations stay in the chain of command. The Pentagon, preferring the status quo, prefers McCaskill's bill.)
Gillibrand is unbowed and insistent that her bill will acquire the 60 votes it needs in this new dumb world of needing sixty votes because who ever said that a Democrat was even allowed to win in the electoral college?
Gillibrand says, "What we learned is, having the bright line of elevating all serious crimes out of the chain of command, makes sure both victims' rights are protected and defendants' rights for civil liberties reasons, that you need fairness and justice. Because what we've got, Martha, 26,000 cases of sexual assault and rape last year alone."
I don't know why Raddatz is stoking an argument here, but here it is:
RADDATZ: But let me go to -- you yourself said those 26,000, you don't know whether they're the difference between patting someone on the bottom or rape. So if you have those kind of statistics, and they're even worse this year, but you don't really know what the data is, how can you make recommendations?
GILLIBRAND: We do know the data. This is from the Department of Defense. This is their estimate, not my estimate, their estimate.
RADDATZ: But they don't know as you yourself have said.
GILLIBRAND: Agreed. But Martha, what we do know, the 3,000 cases that were reported, 70 percent were violent, violent rapes and sexual assaults. And even more disturbing, of those 3,000 cases that were reported 62 percent of the victims were retaliated against. So, what we have is a system where the command climate is so broken that if you are raped, you are likely going to be retaliated against for reporting that rape.
John McCain says that Gillibrand lacks the background and experience to make law on this topic, Gillibrand says that she's got plenty of background and experience, but even besides that, this is her job.
Raddatz gets sort of snarky:
GILLIBRAND: There's a growing chorus of generals, of veterans -- the Vietnam Veterans Association, Iraq veterans, Afghanistan veterans, all support this case. And there's a panel, a DOD commission that actually advises on the status of women, handpicked by the DOD, and they have just come out to support every aspect of this legislation. 10 votes in favor. Those 10 votes, 9 out of 10 are all former military and four are generals.
RADDATZ: Still a long line of generals who do not support it.
GILLIBRAND: Those are the chain in command generals who may not speak publicly.
I guess Raddatz is just inclined to allow the military to retain their super-exclusive sexual assault perks, or something.
Now it is roundtable time with Gwen Ifill and Adam Kinzinger and Howard Dean and Brett Stephens or Bret Stevens or however his name is spelled -- it's so toward the end of my run doing this that I just don't have an interest in learning how to spell any new person's name especially if all they're going to do is show up and be fly-by-night panel trash for a weekend here or there.
Ifill says that "no one is laughing" at the White House, and that it's not particularly "Obama-like" to indicate a lack of certainty over anything. Dean says that there are two things going on in America: 1) there is crazy Beltway OMG panic and 2) there is a website that needs to get fixed. Stevens or whatever his name is says that "Obamacare is a political self-punching machine for Democrats" but that's contingent on the website not working by December, which he doesn't believe will happen, but hey, it's nice to have someone placing a bet on it one way or the other! (I, myself, would not know where to bet on that.)
Kinzinger says that Obamacare was always a stealth attempt to enact single payer and man, I hope he is right about that but it seems to me that it was a lack of political courage that got us the health care system we're now fighting over, not a steely-eyed look into the eleventh-dimension where after forty-five moves on the chessboard later, we have happily become Canada.
Kinzinger is also shocked -- SHOCKED -- that he knows someone whose health care deductible went up because of changes in the law because everyone knows that no health insurance company has ever changed the amount of a deductible ever! I mean, what is he thinking? Say we repeal Obamacare tomorrow -- is Adam Kinzinger going to remain bent out of shape and whiner-iffic about every person in his district whose insurance deductible increases? That will become his full-time job.
Ifill says that Obama never really wanted single-payer, and that's true. Dean says that was a mistake. Bret what's his name says something about wiretapping Angela Merkel and that Obama needs to lead, blah blah, man it must be an easy living, parroting the people you meet at cocktail parties.
Kinzinger met another person who lost their insurance, Dean says he's willing to bet that person gets a better deal on the exchanges. Like I mentioned before, Kinzinger could have met all sorts of people who lost their insurance between 2008 and 2010, but he probably wasn't interested.
There is some discussion of Iran, and everyone is super-skeptical about dealing with Iran. There is some agreement that we should not lessen the sanctions because they are our leverage in the discussions. Bret what's his face says, "Look the Iranians are expert negotiators. We should not imagine for one second that the State Department is going to beat Iran in a nuclear negotiation." So he's a real patriot, that guy.
Now there is a segment on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is truly recent history's model of "if you come at the kind you best not miss." Having survived the recall effort, he's now considered to be a high-profile contender for 2016 -- perhaps even a sleeper, given the high-profile that Jeb Bush and Chris Christie have each received lately.
By far Walker's most important accomplishment is what he's done to the middle and working class in Wisconsin -- by which I mean he's successfully pitted them against each other. Walker managed to make relatively less-well off Wisconsinites genuinely enthusiastic at the thought that other Wisconsinites were getting impoverished. If you like the sight of people celebrating their neighbors losing their pensions and insurance and wage-bargaining power, Wisconsin was a Shangri-La.
Walker says that the "ideal" presidential ticket is -- Scott Walker: "I think it's got to be an outsider. I think both the presidential and the vice-presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor. People who have done successful things in their states." That rules out, to his mind, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
There is twenty minutes of Kennedy nostalgia. Also, the dungmonster that ran Blackwater wrote a book, and that's that.
MEET THE PRESS
Meet The Press is having the same show as the other two, only this one will feature Nancy Pelosi and then a panel.
Meet The Press has decided to begin this show with David Gregory very mawkishly monologuing into the camera, as if the country is now somehow deeply invested in the way David Gregory feels about things. In six years time, the way this show has plunged headlong into pure cornpone silliness is really a marvel.
David Gregory is waving the copy of the USA today he found under his hotel room door at America for some reason, as he runs down This Week In Obamacare Melodramz in a way not too far removed than they other two I've already endured. Suffice it to say, David Gregory is also auditioning for the role of Captain Renault in the movie, "People Have Lost Their Health Care Coverage For The First Time In American History OMG."
Nancy Pelosi, treating the show with the gravitas is deserves, appears to have shown up here wearing a blue jogging fleece. I was rather hoping she'd wear a Danzig t-shirt, but that's just me.
Pelosi says what Gillibrand said earlier, that Democrats in general have not lost faith in the Affordable Care Act as a concept. The rollout of the website, she concedes -- because it's obvious! -- was "terrible." She makes the bet that it will be fixed in a timely fashion.
Pelosi begins to talk about normal human beings and their healthcare, but Gregory wants to not talk about normal human beings and their healthcare, rather he would like to talk about "Democratic frustration." Will Democrats campaign on Obamacare in swing districts? Pelosi says that the system is working very well in states with functioning exchanges. "I have full confidence [in Obamacare], as do my members, however they voted on this...This is political, they respond politically."
What Obama did, she says, in his statement, was mandate that the insurance companies notify customers losing their policies about all of their options -- but there's no enforcement mechanism to do that. Really, all he basically did is create some new awareness that such options may exist, and put some of the onus back on insurance companies for the mess.
Gregory notes that people are still getting letters that they are losing their insurance. This is a topic that he has only recently become interested. During the first year he hosted Meet The Press, many millions of people lost their insurance, but this was not a topic of discussion that interested David Gregory. Not enough "Democratic party frustration" I guess. Just a lot of widespread economic dislocation.
The two parry over the grandfather clause. Pelosi says that the president is taking responsibility over this, and that's "important for him to do." Gregory, though, has just discovered that people are getting their insurance policies cancelled for the first time in recorded history, and that means something to him, by gum! "This was foreseeable," he says, citing the zero times he reported on this subject that was foreseeable.
Pelosi continues to insist that most of the people who believe themselves to be "losers" in this situation are not really "losers," because they can get insurance through the exchanges, once they are working maybe, and that they'll likely find themselves to be better off. That could end up being true in many, perhaps most, cases, but there will still be bonafide losers in the new system. It would be useful to get a fix on how many, and what patterns exist in that population, so that the law can be tweaked at the margins to make as many of those people whole again.
But I'm way ahead of myself, since that would require that we have a Congress, or something!
Gregory asks Pelosi about the "you have to pass it to know what's in it," line. She says that what she was saying there is that you have to let the two houses of Congress work in conference and get a result passed before you can be 100% sure about what's in a bill. (Bills change in conference committee.) Pelosi goes on to filibuster with some Obamacare salespitching.
Will it be a success if 80% of the people necessary get onto the exchanges in December. Pelosi says no, this is unacceptable, that is just a minimum. I think that sounds like a pretty great outcome myself, given how bad the roll-out has been. She then goes on to say, "You can't be knocked for a loop just because somebody is playing politics," but 95% of political coverage is predicated on the notion that you can, in fact, easily be knocked for a loop.
Will Democrats lose seats in 2014? Pelosi wont say, other than to insist that her members "stand tall in support of affordable health care," along with a bunch of other things. "This is an issue that will have to be dealt with but it doesn't mean, 'oh, this is a political issue so we're going to run away from it,'" she says, adding, "what is important about it is that the American people are well served, not who gets re-elected."
That's a nice thing to say, and I'd have it be the reason anyone does anything in the legislature, but remember, Pelosi has one of the safest seats in the House.
Now Kelly Ayotte is here, for some reason.
There is a transmission delay between Meet The Press and Ayotte, so she cannot be blamed for the entirety of any energy that gets assassinated here.
Gregory explicates what I've been calling "the Obamacare bet" -- from a supporter's point of view, you stake your claim on the notion that the problems with the exchanges will ultimately "get righted and people will see the benefits of the Affordable Care Act." Ayotte takes the bet as an opponent, saying no matter what people like Nancy Pelosi says, it will be a mess and this will be self-evident. Ayotte is also very suddenly concerned about people losing their insurance, and I'm guessing she would like Obamacare to go away, so that she can go back to not worrying about this.
Ayotte complains that there was no input from the GOP in the Affordable Care Act. This is sort of weird, because there was actually a whole bipartisan health care summit, that the GOP has tried to deny the existence of for some time.
"Why can't people buy insurance across state lines?" Ayotte asks, not understanding that if her party's new stance is that anyone receiving a letter from an insurance company stating that their coverage is going to get worse or more expensive, that this is NOT TENABLE in a world where the "across-state-lines race to the bottom" is happening.
I guess that the good news for Ayotte is that if she got her way, here, and millions of Americans were losing the policies they want to keep because of this "across state lines" dystopia, Meet The Press probably would not cover it.
And Ayotte, in explicating her ideal for an insurance market, does not say, ever, "If you like your plan, you can keep it." This is to her credit!
Now Dan Henninger and Ezra Klein are going to break down the situation with the health care law, which is an optimistic way of saying that they are going to have an ideological argument about it.
"Is Obamacare falling apart?" asks Gregory, in a way that makes me wonder if he means that the politics are falling apart, or if he's suddenly actually interested in the law's practical application. Klein says, "It isn't working at the moment" and that "we don't know what the long term consequences are." He suggests that the critical things to watch for are whether they get the website running in the next month, and achieve the needed risk balance in the insurance pool by March.
Henninger is pretty sure that the website won't be running right in a month, and that this will definitely cause the young people of America to lose faith in the website first, and then lose faith in American government second, and then maybe we'll have a wave of truly self-indulgent American novels or something, and then we all die.
Klein reckons that it's not a complete disaster that's looming, because Obamacare was "designed with some protections against adverse selection."
KLEIN: So one thing is this thing called a risk corridor. If they mis-price their insurance, right? If they price it too low for the sickness of the people they get, the government will in years one, two, and three reimburse them about half the difference. So that's a very big deal; it essentially subsidizes a bad risk pool.
The other thing is that let's say they think in 2014 this thing is just going to be a mess, right? You're going to have exactly the problem with young people we're talking about here. But by 2015, you've got a tighter individual mandate, you've got the website up and working (because I don't think anybody thinks you can't get this up in a year), well, all of a sudden insurers have to make this decision: Do they want to just keep all these sick people they got in the first year, or do they want to price it such they get the healthy people?
And it might make a ton of sense for them to keep premiums low in 2015 in order to get the healthy people because, otherwise, they've got the worst of both worlds.
Henninger counters by saying that Obamacare is putting liberalism as a whole at risk:
HENNINGER: I mean, the theory behind progressive or liberal politics, at least going back to F.D.R., was that they could come up with ideas to do good, like Social Security or Medicare and Medicaid. And that although it might be inefficient, that they could just make it work. The administrative state, the bureaucracies could make it work. That's been the theory. We are seeing a test case now with Obamacare whether this grand entitlement can be made to work by the administrative bureaucracies. And if it continues to have the sorts of problems it is, I think a lot of voters for whom government is on the bubble right now, make no mistake about it, are going to start pulling back to support for this basic idea that liberals and progressives have pushed for the last 80 years.
I think that's an adorable notion, considering the fact that support for Social Security and other New Deal concepts have been steadily eroding in the Democratic Party to the extent that I can foresee some future Democrat getting lauded for having the "guts" to make the "tough decision" to impoverish millions of people because "DEFICITZ OMGZ."
Klein sort of notes that the whole need to have a government that actually works isn't just a liberal thing: "If you look at Paul Ryan's health care plan, right, that he brought out in 2009, it had exchanges. The federal government and the states had to set up exchanges. If you look at his Medicare plan, right, which is in the Republican budget, it also moves Medicare over to exchanges."
"So Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, they both on some level need the government to be able to function well," he says.
It was a national shame in England when their government couldn't pull off launching a huge web portal. Lawmakers made investments in fixing that, and now their digital capabilities are well ahead of our own.
Now there is a panel discussion with Tom Brokaw and Chris Matthews and Mike Murphy and Kathleen Parker.
Brokaw says that this has been a low point for the President, and is surprised that they weren't better prepared for the chaos of the rollout. Matthews says that there wasn't a clear chain of command, and it's insane that Obamacare's website were not run...in the same way the occupation of Japan was run. Okay!
Gregory asks Mike Murphy if he bought Nancy Pelosi's argument this morning and I'll give you ninety guesses what his response was.
Kathleen Parker says that she's talked to John Boehner's office and they've told her that they will very aggressively fight all efforts to get affordable insurance into the hands of more Americans: "I talked to Speaker John Boehner's office just yesterday, and they are planning to continue to apply severe oversight and, you know, being very aggressive at targeting legislative moves to sort of fill in gaps and to help Americans deal with some of the flaws."
Matthews complains about the Katrina comparison, pointing out one huge difference:
I think it would be more apt to say if George W. Bush had rushed in to New Orleans with a lot of action, a lot of effort, and had failed initially, that would be more like it. The problem with Katrina was apparent indifference. One thing you can't hold against the president is indifference about health care. He's the guy that rushed in, pushed through a program with pure Democratic support, and took all the risks involved in it.
You know, email me when Kanye West says, "Barack Obama doesn't care about sick people."
Brokaw breaks a Sunday morning rule: "We're talking about the politics of it now. But what has not changed are the enormous economic consequences of leaving health care where it is."
Murphy says that the GOP now has a huge opportunity to improve the fortunes of middle-class Americans -- HA HA JUST KIDDING, he says that they have an opportunity to get more of their votes: "If we freshen up our policy and we go to the American working middle class about how, "We're the party on your side going forward," we can overcome our demographic problems, which are tremendous."
It would actually be "tremendous" if they are sitting on the secret plan to get everyone really affordable healthcare coverage with the same standards as Obamacare without there being a million sad letters from insurance companies. Trust me when I say I would love to see that implemented.
Brokaw holds forth on the big picture: "It also comes at the end of not a very good run for Obama because what happened is he kept moving the red line in Syria, and then the Russians bailed him out. He keeps getting cover from all kinds of places that didn't emanate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And suddenly, that went away, and Obamacare and getting online blew up. So he hasn't had, in the last year, one big triumph that you can turn to and say, 'Man, he's on his game in his second term.' And, as you know, in the White House staffing, there's still a lot of confusion and a lot of in-fighting going on."
No one says anything interesting for a long time.
Then there is only about ten minutes of Kennedy nostalgia, which is amazing because Chris Matthews is here and has a whole book he wants to sell about Kennedy.
Eventually, the panel returns to discuss 2016, which is a year that is many, many years away. Parker says that the Clinton's are now "unlinked" from the legacy of Obamacare, which will not actually be a thing if the website is fixed. Gregory starts talking about Kennedy again, not realizing that the Kennedy section of the show is over.
Finally, there is mention of Elizabeth Warren. Mike Murphy and Kathleen Parker believe she is a credible candidate in 2016. Warren wants someone named Hillary Clinton to run for President, however.
I actually wish that Meet The Press has done more Kennedy nostalgia, because I would have been done sooner. But that's Meet The Press for you: even when they are doing something responsible, they are doing it in a way that inevitably screws me, personally.
But over and done we are, for another week. I return all of you to the rest of your Sunday, and wish you all the best for the coming week!
[The Sunday Morning Liveblog's final episodes are upon us, but it will return next week, November 24. In the meantime, click over to my Rebel Mouse page for great reads from around the web.]