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Ezra Klein: Why did Obama promise people could keep their health insurance? Blame Bill Clinton.

Emphasis mine
Why did Obama promise people could keep their health insurance? Blame Bill Clinton.

By Ezra Klein, Published: November 12 at 2:32 pm

The irony of Bill Clinton coming out to advise that Obamacare be changed — somehow — to let everyone keep their current plans is that he's the reason Obama made the disastrous promise in the first place.

Veterans of the effort to pass Clinton's health-care plan believed that their core mistake was producing a plan that upended the insurance arrangements of almost every American.

In the aftermath of Clinton's failure, health-care reformers swung far to the other side. Rather than building a plan in which almost everyone lost their insurance, they began trying to build plans in which almost no one lost their insurance — and selling them under the promise that literally no one would.

That promise, as the Obama administration is now learning, went too far. Saying "everyone who likes their health insurance can keep it" is very different from saying "95 percent of people who like their health insurance can keep it."

But it's a bit rich for Clinton to argue for a plan that leaves everyone's insurance unchanged. When he managed this policy process, he believed the optimum policy upended almost everything. He knows that it's functionally impossible to reform the health-care market if you upend nothing. This is the kind of argument that, in another context, Clinton would be delighting in explaining, carefully and persuasively, why it's so very wrong.


Jonathan Chait: Bill Clinton Wants You to Keep Your Plan, Won’t Say How

Bill Clinton Wants You to Keep Your Plan, Won’t Say How
By Jonathan Chait

In the midst of the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration has done a fairly effective job persuading red-state Democrats to refrain from endorsing legislative changes that would substantively cripple the new law. But organizing skittish red-state senators is one thing; organizing Bill Clinton is another. The former president now says that the government should change Obamacare to allow everybody in the individual market who likes their plan to keep it:

How could you change the law to do this? It would be really, really hard. The main rationale for Obamacare is that the individual-health-care market is dysfunctional. Most people who can’t get group insurance — either through their job or through a government-financed plan, like Medicare — can’t get any insurance at all. Insurers have to make sure they don’t attract sick customers, so they either attach hidden conditions to their insurance to protect against covering expensive care, or else limit their policies to very healthy people. That’s why people with individual insurance are much less satisfied than people with group-based insurance.

It is true that some of those very healthy people can get cheap insurance, as long as they remain healthy. But insurance requires spreading risk from the healthy to the sick. That’s how employer insurance works, and people like that kind of insurance much more. The math is also inescapable. If insurance companies have to charge sick people less than it costs to cover their medical expenses, then the money needs to come from somewhere. Obamacare furnishes some of that money through tax credits, some of it through Medicaid expansions, but a portion comes from higher premiums to people who are healthy.

If you want to make sure every healthy person paying low rates in the individual market right now can keep their plan, then you have two choices. One is to abolish Obamacare altogether, which means making it impossible for people with preexisting conditions to get affordable insurance. Clinton doesn’t want to do that — he continues to endorse the law. The second is to come up with some other source of funding to compensate insurance companies for their losses. Clinton doesn’t say where that money would come from.

When Clinton delivered a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, President Obama joked he should appoint the former president as “Secretary of Explaining Stuff.” Of course, if he actually had a job like that, he would be fired within days.


Tom Toles: The Republican mantra on health care

TPM: GOP Blockade Sells Even Old-School Dems On Nuking Filbuster

GOP Blockade Sells Even Old-School Dems On Nuking Filbuster


From rank-and-file newbies to old-guard committee chairmen, Democratic senators are clamoring for filibuster reform, and insist that a mass GOP blockade of three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals would be the final straw before going nuclear.

"It would mean they've totally gone back on what they said when there was a Republican president," Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the longest-serving member of the chamber, told TPM. "It would be such a reversal that I think there'd be overwhelming pressure to change the rules."

Leahy -- who is leading the Democrats' advocacy for nominees Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard and Robert Wilkins to the court -- has repeatedly resisted filibuster reform in the past. The No. 2 Democratic senator shares his frustrations with Republicans, who contend that none of the three vacant seats to the powerful court should be filled, and have shown no signs of letting up after they filibustered Millett last week.

"That is the most egregious example of partisanship at the expense of extremely well-qualified nominees," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). "I am not just upset -- I am angry at the way Patricia Millett was treated."



Luckovich: 'If you like your health plan…'

TPM: Biden: Harry Reid Opens Door To Nuking The Filibuster For Judges

Pull the trigger, Harry. Use the power to appoint judges while you can. The Republicans would.

Harry Reid Opens Door To Nuking The Filibuster For Judges


For the first time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has opened the door -- slightly -- to reforming the filibuster for judges with the so-called nuclear option if Republicans persist in their mass blockade of President Barack Obama's top judicial nominees.

He pointed out on Tuesday that support for nuking the filibuster is growing among Democrats -- even senior party members who have been skittish about it in the past -- after Republicans blocked a vote last Thursday on Patricia Millett to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liberals are ratcheting up the pressure on Democrats to go nuclear.

He accused Republicans of violating a 2005 agreement under which Democrats allowed several conservative judges on to the D.C. Circuit in exchange for a bipartisan commitment that future nominees wouldn't be filibustered except for extraordinary circumstances.

"When we had this agreement a number of years ago, and we let all those people on the D.C. Circuit -- there was an agreement by 14 senators, most of whom are still here, that there would be no filibustering judges except under extraordinary circumstances," said a visibly frustrated Reid. "Patricia Millet -- there's nothing -- no one has raised a scintilla of evidence about her that she's not qualified or that she's in any way not morally equipped for the job. So, I just think it's a breach of a number of agreements around here."



Wapo's Greg Sargent: Liberal push to expand Social Security gains steam

Liberal push to expand Social Security gains steam

November 5

Senator Sherrod Brown is joining the push to expand Social Security, and he’s making a startling argument: Dems should go on offense on entitlements, rather than let Republicans and Beltway fiscal scolds frame the discussion as one over how much benefits should be cut, not one over whether they should be cut at all.

“There are two fundamental numbers that make this a moral case for Democrats to make,” Brown told me in an interview today. “One is that a third of seniors rely on Social Security for virtually their entire income. The other is that more than half of seniors rely on Social Security for significantly more than half their income.”

Brown is endorsing Tom Harkin’s bill to expand Social Security benefits, which would boost benefits for beneficiaries by $70 per month, change the cost-of-living calculation to keep pace with rising costs of things seniors need, and scrap the payroll tax cap to strengthen the program over the long term. The crusade to expand Social Security got started with liberal bloggers such as Atrios began pushing for it, and gained some momentum when liberal groups such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee began mobilizing behind the idea.

With Washington chatter centered on a “grand bargain” or at least a “mini bargain” that might involve entitlement cuts, expanding Social Security might seem like a dead end. But when I pushed Brown on whether Dems would rally behind the idea — after all, Chained CPI is in the President’s budget — he insisted Dems should not cooperate in allowing a “Serious” center-right consensus that equates “fiscal responsibility” with cutting entitlement benefits to reign unchallenged.



The Republican party of today is not the Republican party of Bill Clinton's presidency or Hillary's

time in the Senate. They are uninterested in common-sense solutions or compromise.

TPM: Liberals Push 'Nuclear Option' As GOP Filibusters Two Obama Nominees

Republicans are basically begging Democrats to do it. They think Democrats are too chicken to pull the trigger, but Dems ought to nominate judges while they can--as the Republicans will surely not hesitate to do so--if and when (a big if, I think) they gain control of the Senate and the precedency again.

Liberals Push 'Nuclear Option' As GOP Filibusters Two Obama Nominees

SAHIL KAPUR – OCTOBER 31, 2013, 1:45 PM ED

Liberals resurrected their calls for filibuster reform Thursday after Senate Republicans voted to filibuster two of President Barack Obama's nominees.

"The Senate rules must change," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

"Look, at the end of the day, if you're going to bring up the nuclear threat every time something comes up, people say, 'Bring it on.' Go ahead. Go ahead," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). "If they want to do it, let them do it. I mean, you can do that once or twice... But at some point, you kinda have to say, look, if you want to, just go ahead and do it. I mean, if that's what you want to do, do it. I don't think they will."

"If they're going to do that, then they have the opportunity to do that," Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) told TPM, when asked about filibuster reform. "The only problem is that the Senate will not always be controlled by Democrats. ... I think that's why it hasn't been done in the past, because both sides realize that this is something that would be used against them."

Republicans are especially dubious that Democrats would eliminate the blocking tool for judicial nominees as they threaten a mass filibuster of any nominee to fill three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, a powerful court that is one notch below the Supreme Court.



TPM: Biden: 'Worth Considering' Senate Nuclear Option For Nominees

Biden: 'Worth Considering' Senate Nuclear Option For Nominees


Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that it might be a good idea to change the rules of the Senate for nominee confirmations, known as the "nuclear option," according to the Huffington Post.

"I think it's worth considering," Biden told reporters after he was asked if nominations should only need a simple majority, as opposed to requiring 60 votes.

On Thursday Republicans blocked two of President Obama's nominations by voting against cloture. Patricia Millett was nominated to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court and Rep. Mel Watt's (D-NC) was nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Biden told reporters that Watt is completely qualified to become chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

"Mel Watt is absolutely, totally, thoroughly qualified and it's a gigantic disappointment," Biden said.

Multiple Democratic senators said Thursday that they also felt that a rules change will be necessary.

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