Five Best Thursday Columns

Michael Hiltzik debunks an Obamacare horror story, Joshua Green thinks Obama will cut entitlements, Ron Fournier on dissatisfaction with both parties, Adrian Cardenas on why he quit major league baseball, and Katie Roiphe on marriage norms. 

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Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times debunks an Obamacare horror story. Deborah Cavallaro recently went on CNBC to talk about how Obamacare canceled her existing insurance. "The bottom line is that Cavallaro's assertion that 'there's nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act,' as she put it Tuesday on NBC Channel 4, is the product of her own misunderstandings, abetted by a passel of uninformed and incurious news reporters," Hiltzik writes. He contacted Cavallaro to talk through her options under Obamacare, and this is what he found: "At her age, she's eligible for a good "silver" plan for $333 a month after the subsidy — $40 a month more than she's paying now. But the plan is much better than her current plan — the deductible is $2,000, not $5,000. The maximum out-of-pocket expense is $6,350, not $8,500. Her co-pays would be $45 for a primary care visit and $65 for a specialty visit — but all visits would be covered, not just two." So her Obamacare plan is much better for just a little bit more money. "The sad truth is that Cavallaro has been very poorly served by the health insurance industry and the news media," Hiltzik concludes. Garance Franke-Ruta, a politics editor at The Atlantic, tweets, "turns out people with cancellation notices have no idea what their options are."

Joshua Green at Bloomberg Businessweek thinks Obama is still willing to cut entitlements. "Obama has privately expressed to Senate Republicans more flexibility on accepting entitlement cuts without tax revenue than he has publicly," Green explains. Both parties have agreed that they won't reach a "grand bargain" by the early December deadline to pass a budget. The two could compromise by Obama agreeing to cut agriculture subsidies. "If [agriculture] subsidies are counted as 'entitlements,' Republicans could conceivably win 'entitlement cuts'— and Democrats, sequester relief — without anybody touching Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits." Joann Weiner, an economics professor at George Washington University and contributor to the Washington Post, tweets, "great analysis of [how] Congress could get a budget deal — just redefine the terms."

Ron Fournier at National Journal on Americans' dissatisfaction with both parties. "President Obama's competency and personality ratings are nose-diving, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll; barely a sliver of the public thinks highly of the Republican Party; and two-thirds of Americans want to replace their own member of Congress," Fournier explains. It's not just the GOP that's suffering: "On Obama, a Democratic operative who works with the White House emailed me to say: 'It's his Titanic moment. He's hit the iceberg, but they keep acting like no water is coming into the ship.'" Fournier calls it a "pox on both houses": "74 percent of Americans believe Congress is contributing to problems in Washington rather than solving them." Jamelle Bouie, a political writer at The Daily Beast, tweets, "Fournier says 'crazies' are destroying 'both parties' but he can’t seem to offer an example for liberals." Drudge Report picked up the "Obama's Titanic moment" line.

Adrian Cardenas at The New Yorker on why he quit major league baseball. "It would be correct to say that I ... retired from baseball, but it seems pretentious and unmerited; I quit. I was only 24, healthy and strong, and earning lots of money as a Chicago Cubs rookie pinch hitter, with a decent chance of becoming an everyday starter," Cardenas, who made his major league debut in May 2012, explains. Why did he quit? "I quit after trying to balance my life as a professional baseball player with my life as a student during the last three years of my career. In the spring and summer, I played ball. In the fall, I studied creative writing and philosophy at New York University. But with every semester that passed, I loved school more than I loved baseball, and eventually I knew I had to choose one over the other." He concludes, "When you’re standing at the plate and you hit a sharp foul ball to the backstop, the spot on the bat that made contact gets hot; the American dream forgot to tell me to step back and enjoy the smell of burnt wood." ESPN senior writer Eric Karabell tweets simply, "Wow."

Katie Roiphe at Slate on what American women can learn from Dutch women. "The Dutch attitude, which I like, is that marriage is not for everyone; it is a personal choice, an option, a pleasant possibility, but not marrying is not a failure, a great blot on your achievements in life, a critical rite of passage you have missed," Roiphe writes. The relaxed attitude could help American women: "I am not here arguing against marriage, but against marriage as a rite of passage, against the assumption of all little girls that they will one day be married in a white dress on a green lawn, against the socially engraved absolute of it, the impossible-to-evade shining ideal." Dr. Ruth Westheimer tweets, "Is marriage obsolete? The Dutch seem to think so. I don't agree."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.