A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Your Friday Pick-Me-Up: 2013 Has Been *Real* Bad For The GOP

by evanmcmurry

The surprising efficacy of a small cadre of conservatives in making the Chuck Hagel nomination process a supreme pain in the White House’s ass suggests that GOP obstinacy has not only not declined since their November ’12 whooping, but remained just as effective in grinding government to a halt. The next couple years are gonna suck, right?

Nah. The Hagel tantrum is just that—a tantrum, thrown primarily because nothing else is going the GOP’s way. Deveined Shrimp Rick Scott (R-Florida’s Wang) has caved on health care, a huge switch that provides cover for the few Republican governors yet to do so; the GOP didn’t get much in the fiscal cliff fiasco besides blame, and the looming sequestration nonsense, provided the Democrats hold strong, will likely end up with even more revenue; gun control is more possible than ever, as is immigration reform, both of which force the GOP into compromised positions; the minimum wage debate is not turf on which the GOP wants to fight, at all; and for all the noise, Hagel will almost certainly be approved on Wednesday, and while he will go into office weaker than a nominee should, chances are the most memorable part of this needless little battle will be the extent to which Republican news organizations and sitting Senators fell for an unintentional prank by an NY Daily News reporter.

Long story short: Republicans are 0-for-everything in 2013; delaying the Hagel vote ten days is their biggest victory.*

Now is usually when someone accuses me of scorecarding politics at the expense of focusing on “real people” or something.** But this all pertains to the Democrats’ ability to govern in the fashion for which they were elected. Rick Scott’s caving is the result of years of (political) fighting over Obamacare, but it will result in up to 1,000,000 Floridians gaining access to health care. The fiscal cliff and sequestration debates means more revenue, finally, after years of destructive austerity. And we kinda need a Defense Secretary, preferably one who doesn’t want to nuke Iran as a preliminary strike. If all that is “politics,” I’ll take it with seconds.

* One could count the watered-down filibuster reform as a GOP victory, but it only helps them if they remain in the minority, in which case it becomes something of a Pyrrhic victory.

** Anybody wanting to accuse me of focusing on national-level policy while ignoring state-level government, where the real crazy stuff happens, will have a point.

WH: Obamacare is working

by pdxblake

I’m not sure whether having fewer health insurers request double digit percent increases is something to celebrate.  But at this point, any  progress reducing the growth rate of healthcare costs is progress, as is having something that demonstrates that Obamacare is working. 

I’m pretty sure the Republican party will be convinced to drop their opposition to Obamacare once they are presented with evidence that it is working.  Ok, I made that last sentence up.  When was the last time that facts swayed opinion within the Republican Party?

Here’s the details (ht Mark Thoma):

The number of double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers has plummeted over the past four years, according to a Friday report from the Obama administration.

Researchers combed through data available from the 15 states that publicly post all requests for rate increases in the individual market. They found that, in 2009, 74 percent of all requests came in above 10 percent. By 2012, that number had fallen to 35 percent. Preliminary data for 2013, which only cover a handful of states, shows 14 percent of rate increases asking for a double-digit bump. Here’s what this looks like in chart form: