Five Best Friday Columns
Jason O. Gilbert says ban Santacon, Jonathan Chait on conservative health care proposals, Megan McArdle on fixing Obamacare, Michelle Cottle on the "Cruzification of Marco Rubio," and Greg Sargent on Congress' priorities.
Jason O. Gilbert at The New York Times says ban SantaCon. "On Saturday, a festive, besotted mob of 20- and 30-somethings, decked out in various measures of Santa Claus dress and undress, will descend on the bars of lower New York City and rain down Christmas cheer like spoiled eggnog," Gilbert writes. The whole thing is "obnoxious." Gilbert notes, "If you need to imagine a typical participant, just think of Billy Bob Thornton in 'Bad Santa,' if the character were 24 and worked at Bain Capital." Though the drunken bar crawl raises money for charity, "charity is not a quid pro quo proposition." Further, "it’s unlikely that some well-intentioned volunteers will be able to control a meaningful fraction of the boozed-up mob." MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweets, "I feel like @megynkelly and I can find common ground on this one."
Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on conservative health care proposals. "Conservative health-care-policy ideas reside in an uncertain state of quasi-existence. You can describe the policies in the abstract, sometimes even in detail, but any attempt to reproduce them in physical form will cause such proposals to disappear instantly," Chait argues. He dubs this phenomenon the "Heritage Uncertainty Principle." For example, in the 2012 election, Newt Gingrich admitted to supporting an individual mandate, but he only did so to "stop HillaryCare in the 1990s." Chait argues that this encapsulates the Heritage Uncertainty Principle — conservatives have health-care-policy ideas until they're seriously questioned about them. Chait writes, "Republicans who think about health care are constantly coming to new conclusions, which is to say, their conclusions are anything but." Austin Frakt, a health economist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, tweets, "I expect conservatives will say this is unfair, but the strong, football-pulling impression ought to concern them."
Megan McArdle at Bloomberg View on fixing Obamacare. "Day by day, the administration is putting more of the onus on insurers to make this market work — voluntarily, out of the goodness of their hearts or at least out of mutual self-interest," McArdle writes. The Obama administration is asking insurers to start coverage for people on January 1 who sign up after the December 23 deadline. McArdle argues, "the administration is deeply worried about people who had insurance they liked who are now going into January with either no insurance or with insurance that doesn’t cover doctors and treatments they’re receiving." Business Insider politics reporter Danny Vinik tweets, "What else can the admin do besides ask the insurers to help people out?"
Michelle Cottle at The Daily Beast on the "Cruzification of Marco Rubio." Sen. Rubio has emerged as "the hands-down winner in the race to trash the Murray-Ryan budget deal." Rubio is a "political pragmatist. Except when it comes to this week’s exceedingly modest budget compromise — then suddenly the man is as pure as the driven snow: a slash-spending, overhaul-government, brook-no-compromises, go-big-or-go-home guy." Cottle thinks this is blatant pandering, à la Sen. Ted Cruz. Former Republican budget official Bruce Bartlett tweets, "Marco Rubio—Ted Cruz lite."
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post on Congress' priorities. "Lawmakers remain far more likely to vote on a political, counter-productive measure on Iran than to vote on extending unemployment benefits for over one million Americans," Sargent argues. Though the budget deal is being hailed as a productive compromise between the two parties, but "it may well be unprecedented for Congress to let benefits lapse with long term unemployment this high." Sargent says the vote on Iran is useless and "potentially harmful to the prospects of a major diplomatic breakthrough."