Five Best Monday Columns

Jonathan Cohn debunks the story of another Obamacare "victim," John Cassidy on Bill de Blasio's liberalism, Greg Sargent on an unchanged GOP, Ryan C. Crocker on why Iran talks work, and Jeffrey Goldberg on Israel's role in Iran talks.

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Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic debunks an Obamacare "victim" story. Diana Barrette has been featured on many news programs as an Obamacare victim — her plan with a $54 monthly premium was canceled, and the plans on offer in the Obamacare exchanges will cost her a lot more. Or do they? Cohn points out that Barrette makes $30,000 a year, and thus is eligible for a generous subsidy. She can get a better plan for about $100 more a month. "If she got sick enough to end up in the hospital, even with these plans she’d likely be out several thousand dollars. Still, she wouldn’t owe tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is what a serous illness costs to treat — and what her current plan wouldn't cover. These are the kinds of expenses that can ruin somebody financially," Cohn explains. When asked about her new plan options, Barrette told Cohn, "I would jump at it. With my age, things can happen. I don’t want to have bills that could make me bankrupt. I don’t want to lose my house." ProPublica reporter Charles Ornstein tweets, "That Obamacare 'victim' in Florida? In an interview, she says she's thrilled she can get decent coverage." And White House senior advisor Dan Pfieffer seems happy with the post: "Must read piece by @CitizenCohn on the ACA that debunks the @CBSNews piece from last week that got so much attention."

John Cassidy at The New Yorker on Bill de Blasio's liberalism. "Since the days of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats, it has been a totem of faith in some liberal-progressive circles that the key to lifting up the lower ranks lies in downplaying social and economic conflicts, cozying up to business interests, and tackling inequality covertly," Cassidy writes. De Blasio "has challenged this formula," but he's created expectations that will be tough to meet. "Even in the unlikely event that all his proposals are enacted, New York will remain a chronically unequal place. The forces responsible for rising inequality — technical progress, globalization, the decline of labor unions and a broader attack on workers’ rights, a culture of overcompensation on Wall Street and many corporate boards — are largely beyond the purview of any mayor." Most importantly, a "de Blasio mayoralty will be widely viewed as a test case for liberal reformers everywhere." Steven Greenhouse, who covers labor issues for The New York Times, tweets, "Bill de Blasio is seen by many as standard bearer for new era or progressive populism."

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post says the GOP hasn't changed. The Republican National Committee's 2012 autopsy report showed that Republicans need to reach out to Latinos and women to win elections, as well as "demonstrate more sensitivity to young voters who view gay rights as a 'gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be,'" Sargent writes. But one year after the 2012 election, Republicans are blocking immigration reform and "likely to lose a major purple-state gubernatorial race against a flawed Dem candidate, in part because the GOP nominated a Tea Party candidate with a harsh stance on women’s health issues who is losing massively among female voters." Further, "Senate Republicans are set to filibuster a measure that would end discrimination against gays in hiring decisions – and may block it in the House." Sargent argues the Defund Obamacare campaign is just a distraction from these larger issues in the Republican party. Ron Fournier, the editorial director at National Journal, tweets, "Without excusing WH, @ThePlumLineGS looks at big picture to say, rightly, that election debacle has not changed GOP."

Ryan C. Crocker at The New York Times on why talking with Iran might work. "Despite three decades of frosty relations and although most Americans may be unaware of it, talks with Iran have succeeded in the past — and they can succeed again," writes Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq. In Crocker's own experience, talks with Iran were very effective right after 9/11: "The Iranians were constructive, pragmatic and focused, at one point they even produced an extremely valuable map showing the Taliban’s order of battle just before American military action began." But George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech ended those talks. "The government of the Islamic Republic is clearly an adversary, but it is also a rational actor. And, like all governments, it is capable of being pragmatic and flexible when it is in its interest to do so." If President Obama seeks to replicate the 2001 talks' relative success, he could make real progress with Iranian leaders. Middle East scholar Andrew Exum tweets, "Message less important than messenger here. Couldn't find a U.S. diplomat more credible with both parties than Crocker."

Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg View on whether Israel is trying to thwart U.S.-Iran talks. In an interview with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Goldberg discovers that "Netanyahu’s threats of military action against Iranian nuclear sites, combined with the pressure of sanctions, may have actually encouraged Iran to take negotiations seriously." Hagel told Goldberg, “I don’t think [Netanyahu's] intentionally trying to derail negotiations.” Goldberg thinks that Israel has actually helped pressure Iran into negotiating with the U.S. Politico deputy editor Blake Hounshell tweets, "Chuck Hagel is on-message in his interview with @JeffreyGoldberg." Middle East scholar Ali Gharib thinks Goldberg overstates "actual Hagel comments."

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