Five Best Tuesday Columns
Jonathan Cohn on Obamacare's redistribution, Jonathan Chait on the GOP's subsidies for the wealthy, Ilyse Hogue on Mandela the feminist, Ben Jacobs on Rep. Steve Stockman, and Brian Beutler on the emerging budget deal.
Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic says Obamacare is redistribution. Republicans are wrong about who pays for the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives argue that "Obamacare is taking away your money or health insurance, and giving it to somebody else." Cohn explains, "the majority of funding in the law is money paid by — or given up by — either the wealthy or parts of the health care industry. It’s higher taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year, or new fees for the device industry, or cuts for health insurers serving Medicare patients." He concludes, "The simplest way to describe Obamacare is as a transfer from the lucky to the unlucky. And when it comes to health, you don't have to be poor to be unlucky." Salon politics writer Brian Beutler recommends the post.
Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on Republicans' subsidies for the wealthy. GOP Rep. Ted Yoho thinks sugar subsidies should stay in place because they're an
"accepted norm." Chait writes, "If tea partiers believe anything, it’s that, once a government program has been in place, we can’t get rid of it. It would hurt sugar growers, Yoho proceeds to explain, by forcing them to sell their product in the free market on even terms. This is completely unlike programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, which Yoho wants to cut, because cutting them wouldn’t be detrimental to anybody. At least not anybody he cares about." He argues, "The only programs able to attract continuing Republican support are the ones whose only purpose is to enrich powerful interests." Grist policy writer Ben Adler tweets this line: "Republican enthusiasm for wasteful domestic spending here is what’s especially telling."
Ilyse Hogue at The Nation says the late Nelson Mandela was a feminist. Mandela changed "the lives of millions of South African women" by enacting "the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy law — which replaced one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world with one of the most liberal and humane." The law "allows South African women full autonomy to decide when to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester, complete with financial assistance if required." Hogue argues, "Mandela’s intimate experience with poverty and oppression showed him that reproductive freedom was intrinsically tied to economic security." Imani Gandy, the senior legal analyst at the reproductive health blog RH Reality Check, tweets, "No one is talking about what #Mandela did for women & #reprorights in SA — except for the inimitable @ilyseh."
Ben Jacobs at The Daily Beast on Rep. Steve Stockman's way with words. Stockman announced his candidacy for Senate yesterday (he's challenging GOP establishment Sen. John Cornyn). According to Jacobs, Stockman "has a history of outrageous statements, many of which come from his Twitter account @steveworks4you which is run by Donny Ferguson, the former Republican congressman's close friend and communications director." For example, last month Stockman tweeted, "About 110,000 people contract chlamydia each month, more than signed up for Obamacare. Obamacare is less popular than chlamydia." He also compared filibuster reform to the crucifixion: "As you know, the mob ruled and killed Jesus, an innocent man (and spared Barabbas). We have a rogue Senate.” Justin Green, the online editor at The Washington Examiner, tweets, "#FF @steveworks4you."
Brian Beutler at Salon on the budget deal. In the emerging budget deal, Democrats could have a "small amount of leverage to push the negotiation leftward — perhaps with a modest ask like extending emergency unemployment benefits for over a million Americans who’ve been unable to find work for months on end," Beutler writes. "But the noises out of the Senate Democratic caucus suggest that they’ve already given up on extending emergency UI." Theoretically, if Republicans are unable to pass a clean CR and the budget deal is the only option to avoid shutdown, Dems could push to extend emergency UI. But "given the weak-kneed performance House GOP moderates staged during the shutdown fight ... it’s hard to blame Democrats for assuming these guys might not be reliable allies of convenience." Business Insider politics writer Danny Vinik tweets, "Ds threatening a government shutdown unless they get a UI benefit extension is a bad political strategy."