Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cruising the Web

Republicans definitely have their own problems appealing to young people, but John Sides looks at the voting history of young people as correlated with when they came of age to vote and explains why the Democrats also have a problem with young people. My observations of the young people I've worked with over two decades of teaching is that they are, above all else, influenced by social and environmental issues. They have little understanding of how economic policies affect them or, if they do, don't see how the policies advocated by conservatives and liberals would make a difference for them. As long as that continues, the Republicans are going to face difficulties in appealing to young voters and Democrats will be able to exploit the big gap between the two parties over social issues.

Pick your analysis. Josh Kraushaar at the National Journal and Byron York see auspicious news for Republicans in the victory of David Jolly over Alex Sink in the Florida special election yesterday. Her attempt to argue that she would be able to go to Washington to fix, but not repeal Obamacare. As York writes,
Political reporters sometimes make too much of national issues in special elections. But there's no doubt that Sink's campaign showed the difficulties of the Democrats' defense of Obamacare. They have to say they want to fix the program because almost nobody (a bare eight percent in the latest Kaiser Foundation survey) wants to keep the law as is. But to fix the aspects of Obamacare that are imposing new burdens on millions of Americans -- higher premiums, higher deductibles, a hugely unpopular mandate, and narrower choices of doctors, hospitals, and prescription drugs -- Democrats would have to advocate fundamental changes in the law that they have so far steadfastly refused to accept. Get rid of the individual mandate? To do so would rip the heart out of Obamacare, tantamount to repealing it altogether. Many Democrats would rather lose than do that.

So the Florida contest may or may not be a bellwether. But it did lay bare the Democrats' "fix Obamacare" dilemma. By the time midterm campaigning is at full speed in September and October, Democratic candidates will probably not be able to get away with listing a couple of non-germane tweaks as their program to "fix" Obamacare. If they try, they could pay a high political price. But if they suggest fundamental changes to the law, they'll run afoul of party orthodoxy and risk losing national Democratic support. It will be just another added cost of the Affordable Care Act.
Sean Trende, however, wrote before the election that he thought Alex Sink would win and that her victory wouldn't have much predictive value for how the GOP will do in November. We'll see if her defeat is any more predictive than her victory would have been about how Democrats who weren't even in the Congress to vote for Obamacare will fare when they go before the voters.

The Obama administration has found one Obamacare deadline that they don't have the statutory authority to extend. Well, except for the exemptions they've granted in vague language to, well, whomever.
But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you "believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy" or "you consider other available policies unaffordable."

This lax standard—no formula or hard test beyond a person's belief—at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that "you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance," which only requires "documentation if possible." And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.

Keep in mind that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law's success, and President Obama continues to say he'd veto the bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it.

Arkansas's Mark Pryor is having a lot of trouble explaining away his "sense of entitlement" slam at his GOP opponent Tom Cotton regarding Cotton's military service.

Since Obamacare isn't succeeding in its ostensible point - to bring insurance to those who weren't insured, was there perhaps a different point? Robert Tracinski looks to what one of the architects of the plan is now saying.
One of the key architects of the law, Ezekiel Emanuel, has been starting to dish the inside scoop on how ObamaCare was put together, because he has a book to flog. Usually, this sort of thing is supposed to happen only years after the law takes effect, but that might be “never,” given the administration’s habit of deferring the law’s key provisions year after year. So the insiders’ books are going to come out first, and they’re going to start saying some unexpectedly honest things about the law’s purpose.

Emanuel gives us one big answer to our question. What was the point of ObamaCare, if not to insure the uninsured? To destroy the insurance companies....

I’m reminded of the scene in Atlas Shrugged when the politicians pile on a bunch of new regulations that will crush the steel industry. When Hank Rearden asks them what they’re counting on, they reply: “You’ll do something.” It’s the same pattern: vilify the insurance industry, crush it with new regulations, and then expect it to somehow make the new system work—with the threat that if it doesn’t, they will take the blame, not the bureaucrats.

So that’s the goal of ObamaCare: to allow bureaucrats like Emanuel to redesign the health care system in a way that flatters their pretensions of being super-geniuses who know what’s best for the rest of us—while shifting responsibility onto others for the actual results.
The Democrats have found a new way to suppress oil and gas development in the U.S. They're working to use the Endangered Species Act to take a whole lot of land out of commission for development because of two birds - the sage grouse and prairie chicken.
Huge swaths of land that would go off limits to development are some of the nation's most productive oil and gas fields. The prairie chicken sits atop Texas's Permian Basin oil bonanza, and the sage grouse is near the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. An Interior Department report describes the impact on the sage grouse of oil and gas operations as "universally negative and typically severe," even though modern horizontal drilling leaves a much smaller footprint than in the past.
Even Democratic politicians from the states affected such as Nevada's Harry Reid are fighting to keep the administration from adding these birds to the ESA. Given what environmentalists have done to destroy California's Central Valley and how they're now blocking the construction of the XL Pipeline, I wouldn't hold out much hope for economic development in western states.

George Lukianoff details how, despite some victories in court, more and more colleges are acting to violate students' free speech rights. And the Obama administration is working behind the scenes to encourage such limitations. And liberal academics and journalists are encouraging this trend.

The DNC is literally indebted to unions.

What a surprise. The most transparent administration evah is way behind on FOIA requests.

If Obama's budget were to be enacted as proposed, entitlement spending will rise and discretionary spending will shrink even more than previously estimated.

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