Fresh Pickings From The Political Grapevine

Foot In Mouth: The Senate's top Democrat is taking ridicule tonight after being burned by his own racial politics. Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed outrage over last week's Hobby Lobby ruling by the Supreme Court allowing religious exceptions for the Obamacare contraception mandate.

"The one thing that we are going to do during this work period is to ensure that women's lives are not determined by virtue of five white men. This Hobby Hobby decision is outrageous."

Of course the problem is five white men did not write the decision. The majority included Justice Clarence Thomas, who is in fact African-American.

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain tweets --@THEHermanCain: Harry Reid's Koch addiction is making him see white people... Harry: Clarence Thomas is black!

Baking Limits: Federal government nutrition guidelines could cost big money for local schools and extra curricular activities that rely on food sale fundraisers. In Tennessee state officials are limiting such events to just 30 days per school year in order to comply with the federal law's vague reference to infrequent. The Tennessean reports even state education leaders are frustrated.

"If somebody wants to object to federal intrusion in what's going on in schools I think this would be an ideal place to target."

Another official mocked the rules allowing healthy food sales--"If I thought I could generate revenue selling carrot sticks, I could tear it up."

Not All Press Is Good Press: Finally, If you are on the run from the law you probably should not agree to have your picture published in the newspaper. Jacob Close posed for a photo to accompany his opinion on the Washington Redskins name controversy in a Pennsylvania newspaper feature. Police saw the picture and arrested him for an outstanding warrant for jumping bail. His opinion on football team? Keep the Redskins name, but change the mascot to a potato. 

CLINTON FILES: Hillarycare roadmap drafted in first week of Clinton presidency

By James Rosen

In the first week of Bill Clinton’s presidency, White House aides drafted a roadmap for the approach to health care reform that would be undertaken by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, including warnings about prickly lawmakers who would be key to the process.

An unsigned memorandum dated January 28, 1993 and entitled “Discussion with Hillary Clinton” – the document does not make clear if it is summarizing the contents of a discussion that was already held with Mrs. Clinton, or would soon be held with her – offered an early blueprint for her ultimately doomed health care reform effort.

The memo stated that the initiative should take the form of a “framework” rather than “a detailed bill,” citing the fact that other recent legislative efforts – tax reform under President Reagan in 1985, deficit reduction under President George H.W. Bush in 1990, among others – had been devised that way.

The memo also cautioned against adopting a “here’s the bill, there’s not much time, take it to the Floor quick” approach, saying such a tactic “might fail” because “many Members [of Congress] would feel excluded” and “interest groups will object that their concerns, even those that are small or reasonable, have been excluded from the hearing and markup process.”

A separate document, an undated memo that White House policy adviser Chris Jennings sent to Mrs. Clinton in advance of a critical session with lawmakers, sought to prepare the First Lady for potentially clashes, possibly owing to personalities. Jennings described Rep. Peter Stark (R-TX), then chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, as “one of the most knowledgeable and (sometimes) feared health care legislators on Capitol Hill.” Calling Stark a “fierce advocate” for his policy agenda, Jennings added that the Texan had been “paying a price” for his tenacity in that he was “probably one of the more disliked Members in the Congress.”

Similarly, Jennings warned the First Lady about Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), at the time the chair of a key subcommittee on the Energy and Commerce Committee, now serving out the end of his twentieth term, having announced his retirement. “Known as a Medicaid guru, Waxman has pushed for increased coverage for poor populations in the absence of a national health care program,” Jennings wrote. “Since his main thrust for increased coverage to the indigent has been turning Medicaid coverage options into mandates, Waxman is widely unpopular with states and Governors. Although not well-liked at the state level, he has tremendous respect among consumer interest groups.”

 

Will Republicans win in 2014 by focusing on Obamacare?

Senator Murkowski (R-AK) tweets photo after enrolling in DC exchange

After 3 days, on and off, of browser glitches & frustration, I believe I'm enrolled in the DC healthcare exchange

Poll: Millenials now trust GOP would handle health care better than Obama

By: Special Report Intern Gabriella Morrongiello

Five Senate Democrats have proposed rewriting the Affordable Care Act to end insurance policy cancellations, former President Bill Clinton critiqued the President for not delivering on his 'keep your insurance' promise, and Liberal policy-blogger Ezra Klein has been fairly critical of Obamacare's roll-out in his Washington Post column.

Unfortunately for the President, faith in his competence has diminished among more groups than just pundits and politicians.

A new Quinnipiac National Poll published recently shows a shocking shift with regards to Obamacare in the attitudes among Millenials-- who voted for President Obama by an overwhelming 66-32 percent margin in 2008.

The numbers include a 54 percent disapproval rating of President Obama's job performance by poll participants ages 18-29, and a 6 point spread favoring "Republicans in Congress" over the President in terms of who Millenials trust to do "a better job at handling health care."

The latter results reflect how significantly the disastrous Obamacare rollout has impacted Millenials' perception of the President. When the same poll was published on October 1 - the day the health insurance marketplace launched – Republicans in Congress trailed President Obama by 20 percent.

"If Obamacare never gets fixed, it might just sour the single best relationship the Democratic Party has: its love affair with the young," wrote Peter Beinart, a Liberal political pundit and senior political writer for The Daily Beast.

The recent poll also shows a downward spiral in the approval numbers for the President’s handling of the economy, immigration, foreign policy and the federal budget.

60 percent of poll participants ages 18-29 disapprove of how President Obama has handled the economy, 49 percent disapprove of his handling of immigration issues, 53 percent disapprove of his foreign policy, and 59 percent disapprove of how he has dealt with the federal budget. The President's response to terrorism was the only instance where Millenials awarded him an approval rating higher than the disapproval percentage.

If Millenials’ advocacy for big government continues to drop precipitously, Obamacare participation may be even less than anticipated.

"Are you 30 years old or younger and in good health? If you answered yes, congratulations, the future of Obamacare depends on you," wrote Matthew O'Brien, senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

What O'Brien and the Administration realize is that to prevent a "death spiral" and the skyrocketing premiums that would result, young healthy individuals need to enroll in the exchanges to shore up the subsidized system.

However, according to Sally Pipes, President of the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute, "the stats are showing that the young are not signing up."

When poll participants expressed in large number that they do not see the President as “honest and trustworthy” it spoke to a recent comment by  Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post, “Obama may have run his last campaign, but there is still a lot riding for his agenda on the way he is perceived. And right now, the way he is perceived isn’t good.”

Obamacare Problems Continue

Key Obamacare provision may hamper Millenial participation

By Gabriella Morrongiello

When the President's healthcare legislation was first introduced young adults were drawn to a provision allowing them to remain on their family's health insurance plan until their 26th birthday. The popularity of that provision however, may now prove to have unintended consequences.

Last June, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that "3.1 million young adults have gained health insurance because of the health care law" and the proportion of insured adults ages 19-25 had increased "by nearly 75 percent."

With more young adults remaining on their family's plans, less will enter the exchange system Oct. 1 seeking health insurance coverage of their own. And to prevent skyrocketing premium costs, the law needs those healthy young people to sign up for coverage.

"The exchanges are built on the idea that young people will subsidize the older and sicker patients.  But I think, and others do too, that the individual plans in the exchanges are going to cost much more than the young  are going to want to pay," said Sally Pipes, invincibles President of the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute.

For those young adults unable to stay on a parent's plan, Pipes believes many will choose to pay the penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income beginning in 2014 rather than purchase an individual health insurance plan.

Despite the $95 penalty being far less expensive than purchasing an individual insurance plan, Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Fabien Levy believes young adults should choose the latter.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million young adults have been able to stay on their parent's plan, and when open enrollment begins for the Health Insurance Marketplace on October 1, young adults will be able to access new, affordable options that provide them with the care they need," Levy said.

HHS and the Administration has recently launched several initiatives aiming to encourage young adults to sign up for coverage instead of paying the penalty.

According to the White House Budget Office spokeswoman Jessica Santillo, senior administration officials met in July with a group of "actors, musicians, writers and producers, who have each expressed a personal interest in educating young people about the Affordable Care Act." Additionally, HHS launched the "Healthy Young America" video contest involving a $30,000 prize pool asking young adults to submit videos that show they're "not invincible" and therefore "need health insurance."

The Washington Post recently reported that "of the 7 million people the Obama administration expects to enroll for coverage in 2014, officials say 2.7 million need to be young adults."

While the number of uninsured young adults decreases due to the provision allowing them to remain on their parents' insurance plan, so do the Administration's chances of enrolling those 2.7 million young adults.

"Clearly there’s a large number of young people who at this point are signed up under there parent’s policy and frankly, I think that’s an important thing. But for those who aren’t covered the focus needs to be on the purpose of insurance,' said Dr. Wade Horn, former assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families at HHS. "We’ve got 6 months to get the message out to young people [but] I think that if young people don’t show up in droves on October 1 no one should panic."

Cruz wins. Senate to vote to halt all debate on CR Friday and finish bill Friday

By Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have won. For now.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has just succesfully gotten the Senate to agree to have a series of procedural votes tomorrow around 12:30 pm et…

One would be cloture to halt all debate on the bill…and then pass the CR.

There was no objection this time.

That means that the House will get the revamped CR sometime tomorrow afternoon.

The vote series will include a vote to halt all debate, needing 60 yeas…

Also, an amendment vote…needing 51 yeas…to restore the Obamacare money gutted in the House bill..and fund the government through November 15 (unlike the House bill which ran through December 15)….

And then final passage of the bill..probably sometime in the 1 pm or 2 pm et hour.

That vote will need just 51 yeas.

House GOP to talk about stopgap bill to avoid gov't shutdown

House GOP to talk about stopgap bill to avoid gov't shutdown with members tomorrow--

By Chad Pergram, Capitol Hill

Multiple sources indicate that the House GOP leadership has not formalized a Continuing Resolution or "CR" (which serves as a stopgap measure) to keep the government from closing October 1 because Congress and the president haven't okayed the 12 spending bills to fund the government.

Fox is told that decision will be made after a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting tomorrow morning at 10 am et.

It is unclear if any measure may make an effort to defund Obamacare. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) is leery of this strategy to defund the Affordable Care Act in the CR...because it risks a government shutdown...even if many Republicans say that's not their intention.

Senior Republican sources tell Fox regardless, they hope to have a strategy tomorrow for proceeding on the CR and then releasing the text of the bill sometime tomorrow. That would enable the House to consider some version of a CR to avoid a government shutdown on Thursday.

UPS announces plan to drop 15,000 spouses from insurance coverage

The United Parcel Service Inc. has plans to remove as many as 15,000 working spouses from the UPS health care plan in 2014. The company says the UPS spouses are eligible for coverage under their own employers, but the company is pointing to Obamacare as the main reason for the decision. Under the current law, large employers are only required to cover employees and dependent children.

In a memo to employees, UPS states rising health care costs, "combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost." 

The decision will save the company an estimated $60 million a year and will only apply to non-union U.S.. workers. 

What do you think? Share your thoughts here on the blog or via Twitter @BretBaier. 

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