Five Best Tuesday Columns

Jonathan Chait on Obamacare victim obsession, Jonathan Cohn on Obamacare's cheap plans, Ramesh Ponnuru on Chris Christie's electability, Josh Barro on Christie's Jersey demeanor, and Walter Pincus on new military technology. 

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Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on the Obamacare "rate shock" victim obsession. "The world of the Republican Party’s fever dreams has sprung to life in the mainstream media, where the Affordable Care Act now exists primarily as a series of cruel, oppressive acts of theft against innocent Americans," Chait argues. "The stories often turn out to be either more complicated than initially depicted, or wildly overblown." So why are these stories primetime news? "The news media has a natural attraction to bad news over good," Chait explains. And "there’s also an economic bias at work. Victims of rate shock are middle-class, and their travails, in general, tend to attract far more lavish coverage than the problems of the poor." Chait concludes, "What’s on display at the moment is a way of looking at the world that sanctifies defenders of the horrendous status quo and places all the burden upon those trying to change it." John McQuaid, who covers government dysfunction for Forbes and The Huffington Post, tweets this line from the piece: "'Millions Set to Gain Low-Cost Insurance' is a less attractive story than 'Florida Woman Facing Higher Costs.'"

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic on Obamacare's mixed blessing. Obamacare will offer plans to low income Americans for little to no cost (after subsidies). But "those ultra-cheap policies are pretty threadbare. They might keep people out of bankruptcy, but they still would leave beneficiaries exposed to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses a year," Cohn argues. Obamacare's "bronze" plans sound like a good deal, but "for the most part the people who hold these policies will be responsible for paying bills out-of-pocket until those expenses hit $6,250 for an individual or $12,500 for a family — the maximum allowed under the law." Cohn argues that conservatives leave this fact out when criticizing the ACA: they're "the ones who hold up catastrophic policies as the ideal. But you never hear them applauding Obamacare for making such policies available and financially attractive." Justin Green, the online editor at the Washington Examiner, tweets, "Fair point made here by @CitizenCohn on bronze plans, but I'd prefer they be allowed to be even more catastrophic."

Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg View says Chris Christie is showing Republicans how to win. "If you were trying to predict the future four years ago, you might have expected Republicans to be in better shape in Virginia than New Jersey," Ponnuru writes. But Christie will win the governorship in New Jersey, and Ken Cuccinelli will lose it in Virginia. "Cuccinelli made his name as a conservative crusader, especially on social issues," Ponnuru explains. The Left had a lot to work with when developing attack ads to paint Cuccinelli as an extremist. Christie is also a social conservative — "He does not, however, seem obsessed by social issues: Democrats haven’t gotten much mileage out of ads saying that his priorities are different from those of voters, as they have against Cuccinelli. Christie has also avoided taking unpopular socially conservative stands on issues that aren’t live debates, and taken the occasional opportunity to soften his profile." Christie's victory will show that being a social conservative is not "by itself a political death sentence even in deep-blue territory." Charlie Spiering, a columnist for The Week, points out this fact: "Christie vetoed bills to fund Planned Parenthood five times."

Josh Barro at Business Insider on Christie's bullying. "It feels like this happens every few months: Gov. Chris Christie ... will yell at some voter at a public event, and then various liberal commentators will remark on how his off-putting personality is an obvious problem in a presidential election," Barro explains. Liberal pundits think Christie's demeanor is "too Jersey" to have national appeal. But "demographically, New Jersey is basically similar to Massachusetts, but with slightly higher incomes and somewhat more racial diversity. Like New Jersey, Massachusetts has townies. But when Massachusetts politicians run for national office, reporters don't pull out Good Will Hunting and fret that the local pols are 'too Massachusetts' to sell nationally," Barro argues. He concludes, "as Christie keeps training his anger in the right place, Christie will be O.K. What national liberal reporters don't get is that 'towards teachers' can be the right place, both politically and substantively, to train that anger." MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes doesn't think teachers should be yelled at: "I basically think 'you people' is a no go for any elected [official] talking to a constituent. Gross."

Walter Pincus at The Washington Post on new military technology. "The Air Force, ... is faced with redefining its most romantic role, from pilots flying a jet fighter or bomber through enemy fire to reach a target vs. someone safely operating a computer console far away from a war zone and directing an unmanned aircraft to a target," Pincus explains. According to a report from Brookings Institute fellow Peter Singer, the Air Force has not been properly identifying and training pilots to operate these new planes. "Singer should be heard," Pincus argues. "He has made a career of studying security and technology as director of Brookings’ Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence." The U.S. military needs to figure out how to incorporate new technology without completely abandoning "boots on the ground" strategy. And the most important question "is whether the United States can maintain the military technological dominance it has held since World War II at a time of declining defense spending and growing isolationism." Middle East scholar Andrew Exum tweets, "Good to see @peterwsinger's cogent arguments amplified by the @washingtonpost."

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