State, national columnists

GOP needs to keep its eye on November

By From page A8 | February 24, 2014

If you blinked, you might have missed seeing Congress pass and the president sign a bill increasing the federal debt ceiling.

That was intentional.

In recent years, debates over this now-routine procedure rage, then simmer for weeks in one house or the other, attracting all sorts of media attention or the ire and praise of interest groups, before reaching a fever pitch and ending with a disappointing 11th-hour compromise – or equally likely, a total capitulation by the side occupying the weakest ground.

Case in point: The abject failure of October’s partial government shut-down catalyzed by an argument over the continuing budget resolution.

This time, in uncharacteristically quiet fashion, the government’s borrowing authority was raised without strings and almost without notice.

The national media, who hunger for political controversy like tabloids hunger for pictures of the royal family, barely paused to look.

Instead, reporters kept their steely focus right where the GOP wants it: On the president’s second-term agenda, his sinking poll numbers and Obamacare implementation.

And when they emerged from their coverage of damning CBO reports and below-optimal healthcare exchange enrollment data, they wrote headlines like this one in Tuesday’s New York Times: “Retreat on Debt Fight Seen as GOP Campaign Salvo.”

Hat-tip to the establishment.

Before seething at the suggestion that retreat on the debt ceiling is the conservative political equivalent of treason, consider what this tactic avoided in the short term and what it might achieve in the long run.

As The Times reported, Democrats have been “counting on bursts of political extremism to wound Republican candidates” and derail conservatives’ hopes of taking the Senate in the fall.

For too long, elements of the GOP (however well-intended) have obliged them. A series of unforced errors has left Republicans appearing divided, disorganized and out of touch with the majority of voters.

Like gluttonous children, Democrats have delighted in the internecine battle within the GOP and eagerly anticipated that Republicans would serve them another helping when the issue of raising the debt ceiling came around again in early 2014.

Republicans in Congress were vastly unpopular after the shut-down, even among members of the tea party.

With the precipitous drop in Republican favorability, Democrats were counting on another high-stakes show-down over the debt ceiling to give vulnerable red state Democrats a much-needed boost in the polls.

If the shut-down taught the GOP anything, it reinforced the fact that while Republicans control only one house in one branch of the government, their influence over policymaking — however principled they believe themselves to be — is limited.

The desired pursuit of a more conservative agenda before 2016 will be realized only when Republicans control the Senate, at which time a president looking to secure his legacy will be more amenable to compromise.

It is only fair to acknowledge that a party’s ideological flanks often serve to keep comfortable incumbents, who can be prone to straying, in check.

The establishment needs the tea party as a barometer for public sentiment and a reminder of its foundational principles.

But principles are only nice ideas unless and until they are paired with an achievable objective and armed with the tools required to pursue it, something the establishment has learned from experience.

Conservatives, even those tempted to complain, need to keep their eyes on the horizon, which grows brighter only when the GOP avoids the distractions that render its objectives, like reduced spending, school choice and healthcare reform that actually works, less feasible.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting different results, the Republican leadership’s decision to avoid this particular fight has successfully kept them out of the news — and the asylum.

If Republicans succeed in avoiding future political diversions and putting forward a positive reform agenda, they might put their party back in power and the country on the road to a new era of economic growth and upward mobility.

Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send her email at [email protected].

Cynthia M. Allen


Discussion | 65 comments

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 24, 2014 - 6:06 am

    MIke, your thoughts? LOL!

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  • Mike KirchubelFebruary 24, 2014 - 6:24 pm

    Mr. P, I don't think the Repubs can pretend to be reasonable for 8 whole months.

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  • StRFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:23 pm

    Mr. P, I don't think the Progressive Liberal Democrats can pretend to be reasonable for even 5 whole minutes. It does seem so hopeless when no one wants to hear about the core of the problem....war for oil....International Bankers control our money....Corporations move jobs overseas....We do not make much in our own country.....Bloated Federal and State Government budgets.....an Immoral citizenry...... a perpetual welfare state.......and the problem that when 51% of the citizens find they can vote themselves the largesse of the public purse they will keep doing so....having no way to ultimately pay for the Goodies.....and this includes not just "the poor", but high paid Government bureaucrats, social policy wonks....corporations....the military industrial complex....everyone wants their bloated piece of the Government Pie.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:48 pm

    StR, my solicitation to Mike was meant to be rhetorical. That being said, your answer was way better than his. I'm sending you a jar of cashews!

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  • The Enforcer felt Guilty....February 24, 2014 - 8:04 pm

    Yesterday he bought me......CHOCOLATE COVERED CASHEWS......and he agreed to at least consider some cheaper acreages, so maybe he will get me a goat also. Very Interesting around here, many acreages are mixed in with the Newer tract housing so you see lots of cows, chickens, goats, sheep, horses, lamas, whenever driving across town.....Remember to kiss your wife Slowly, Tenderly and Passionately Mr. Practical.....but I am sure you already do this....

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  • The MisterFebruary 24, 2014 - 6:27 am

    Republicans get their marching orders... but not from Cynthia Allen.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 24, 2014 - 6:57 am

    Wishful thinking. Oh yeah, she's in Texas, now it makes sense! ;)

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  • Danny BuntinFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:29 am

    This reads like it was written by a spiteful 14 year old.

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  • Danny BuntinFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:30 am

    The article, not you CD.

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  • Rich GiddensFebruary 24, 2014 - 8:20 am

    People are sick of the ''republicrat'' party and are ready to vote Libertarian.

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  • PornacFebruary 24, 2014 - 8:28 am

    Senator Cruz is an unforced Texas voter error.

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  • rlw895February 24, 2014 - 10:55 pm

    Good answer to Mr.P's question, Mike; succinct. That was my thought too. What this column asks Republicans to do is to hide their true nature and agenda until they get power, then spring it on us. The key is finding those distracting issues against Obama that might work. That's why it's ObamaCare all the time for them. Repeal! Repeal! Never mind there is no proposal for a workable alternative. They've bet the ranch on that one issue giving them power. We deserve what we get if we fall for it. It's a shame that this effort at national healthcare got to be the political punching bag it has, because it's an idea that deserves serious efforts to make work rather than being undermined by one side for political gain.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 25, 2014 - 5:59 am

    It's obvious you're not really paying attention.

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  • rlw895February 25, 2014 - 7:19 am

    Mr.P: The only viable alternative at present is an amended ACA that congress and the president can agree upon. That's not likely with the present Republican strategy of using a troubled or failing ObamaCare as their only campaign issue in 2014. And if it works for them then, we can expect more of the same until 2016. The dysfunctional nation with a limping national healthcare system. Our best hope is to trounce the Republicans in 2014.

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  • Ura LierFebruary 25, 2014 - 6:49 am

    "...there is no proposal for a workable alternative." Mr. P nailed you on that one, rlw895. You just haven't listened to non-Democrat proposals or you refuse to admit there are feasible alternatives. Either way, you are way off base.

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  • StR...February 25, 2014 - 6:58 am

    Above was not me...I really should label all my posts

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  • Mike KirchubelFebruary 25, 2014 - 1:13 pm

    StR, we all know. Crutchfield has worn out what little credibility he had. He has become a Gidden.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 25, 2014 - 1:20 pm

    Mike, look at how shamefully these folks backed away from the travesty in AZ and other states. I am amazed and saddened frankly, at the Republicans language right now. They are stepping in it all over the place!

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  • FDCFebruary 25, 2014 - 1:59 pm

    Dear Little Mikey: at least I know the meaning of the words I use, "cowed" and "paraphrase" in particular. You throw out your baloney bombs hoping your claque will not notice your gaffs. As for credibility, I am not concerned with your opinion. Oh me, that means virtually everything you write, doesn't it. Rave on, little man.

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  • FDCFebruary 25, 2014 - 2:14 pm

    My dog ate the "e" at the end of gaffe. Sort of blunts my argument but I think you still get the idea.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 25, 2014 - 2:31 pm

    FDC, simple friendly rule here, we don't comment on typos, spelling and punctuation. We usually get the point...

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  • Mike KirchubelFebruary 25, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    CD, you are asking crutchfield not to comment. That's all he's got.

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  • Mike KirchubelFebruary 25, 2014 - 2:44 pm

    It's not only blunted, it points inward towards itself.

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  • rlw895February 25, 2014 - 6:59 am

    I'll believe it when it's reported by the AP and printed in the DR. Keep your eyes open, Glen!

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 25, 2014 - 7:08 am

    rlw, they are in the Congressional record. I gave you the info once before. There were four of five different pieces of legislation with alternatives submitted prior to dems unilaterally pass the ACA despite a lack of majority public support.

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  • http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304834704579403581288810194February 25, 2014 - 7:01 am

    Ura, that has been rlw's mantra for justifying a bad law. Some tim ago, I gave him details of numerous alternative proposals that were offered as the ACA was going through Congress. All were dismissed by the Democrats.

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  • Mr. SmithFebruary 25, 2014 - 7:21 am

    Yes, it is a shame, RLW: It is a shame the ACA, as manufactured by the Democrats, will go down in history as the worst-constructed piece of legislation ever forced upon the American people, all for the sake of securing Obama's legacy--"striking while the iron was hot" during the first two years of this man's presidency to take advantage of America's complacency. This law deserves nothing less than to be the punching bag of Republicans and anyone else who has been paying attention. It did not have to be this way.

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  • rlw895February 25, 2014 - 7:24 am

    It's working in Massachusetts. I wonder what the difference is?

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  • rlw895February 25, 2014 - 7:37 am

    I guess the focus groups showed "Repeal! Repeal!" wasn't working, so the word went out with a new message to the right-wing infomercial specialists that the Republicans DO have a better idea if the Democrats would just get out if the way. Where was this idea during the Reagan-Bush-Bush years? We know Clinton tried. Obama succeeded. Seems like the serious efforts have all been Democratic. Except perhaps in Massachusetts, where Republican governor Mitt Romney gets much of the credit. But that's a heavily liberal-Democratic state. No other state was able to follow. It's remarkable we had that "window of opportunity" on the national level, and Obama will get a major historical bump for both accomplishing it and taking the political consequences. Where we will let thise consequences lead remains to be seen.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 25, 2014 - 7:49 am

    HR 2520/HR 3400/SB 1324... These were all submitted in 2009 before the ACA was passed. Repeal only become the solution after Republicans were locked out of the process and this horrendous law was passed unilaterally. You can continue to say that no alternatives were offered but it's an obvious lie.

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 25, 2014 - 9:38 am

    Mr Practical, HR 2520 is essentially a watered down version of ACA that does away with the mandate and relies on vouchers, which won't really work given that the mechanism to adjust them would not keep up with rising costs. I'm still waiting for the Republicans to be honest and admit that the ACA was a plan originally developed for the GOP by the Heritage Foundation in 1993. Go ahead and look up the Health Equity and Access Reform Act, I'll wait. My point is that the GOP has had ample time to craft a plan that works and have failed to do so (tort reform and vouchers don't reign in the administrative costs that were spiraling out of control without ACA). Here, I'll even give you some help on an alternative that isn't single payer: check out Switzerland's system, they're hardly "socialist."

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  • rlw895February 28, 2014 - 12:43 pm

    PT: Thanks for the research.

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 28, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    Thanks RLW. When you present most people with verifiable evidence debunking their claim they tend to go silent.

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  • rlw895February 28, 2014 - 12:35 pm

    Mr.P: It's only a lie if you leave out the "viable."

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  • rlw895February 28, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    or "workable.";-)

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 28, 2014 - 6:48 pm

    rlw, and ObamaCare is workable? Puddin, I didn't respond to your comment because I didn't feel your opinion of any proposed legislation was relevant. More than half the country didn't believe ObamaCare was viable yet we have it.

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  • rlw895February 28, 2014 - 9:56 pm

    Mr.P: It works in Massachusetts. But there, both parties wanted it to work.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 01, 2014 - 6:01 am

    We've discussed this. Apples and oranges.

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  • rlw895March 01, 2014 - 4:41 pm

    If it works in Massachusetts, it can work in California or almost any other state. All the ACA does is set up the Massachusetts model in all the other states. I agree that in some states with limited choices and competition, something else must be done to open the exchanges. I also agree that the employer mandate needs tweeking so there is not a firm number-of-employee based "cliff." So where are those amendments?

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 01, 2014 - 5:53 pm

    There are a lot of difference from Mass. The tweaking you mention doesn't even begin to address the problems. You're not paying close attention.

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  • rlw895March 01, 2014 - 9:22 pm

    Mr.P: True, not like you are. You'll have to continue to enlighten me and us. I can't believe the Democrats in congress and Obama don't want to make the ACA better. So if there are amendments that would do that, they would be in favor (maybe to make it more like Massachusetts, where it IS working). Unfortunately, the Republicans have found the ACA is the only play they have for the November elections, so they're not interested in making the ACA better. We will have to wait until after the elections, at the earliest, to see progress. And that will only be if at least some Republicans in congress decide to break away from others. The idea of getting a whole new law is DOA at this point, and I doubt if the Republicans take control in 2016 they will do any more than they have always done, talk about national health care but do nothing. In any event, I have 30 days left!

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 04, 2014 - 6:31 am

    One-third of Americans say the Affordable Care Act has had a negative impact on them personally, while 14 percent say the law has helped them, according to a new Rasmussen survey. The poll finds that public dissatisfaction with Obamcare remains nearly as high as it was during the height of the website’s problems last year. Rasmussen finds that more people say they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of the law than have a favorable opinion of it at 41 and 40 percent, respectively. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they view the law unfavorably, just shy of a high of 58 percent in November of last year. Of the 40 percent who have a favorable opinion, only 16 percent view the law ”very favorably.” The one-third of Americans who say they have been hurt by the law is a slight increase from the 29 percent who said the same in January, while those saying they had been helped by the law dropped 2 percent over the same period

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  • rlw895March 04, 2014 - 8:38 pm

    I don't doubt your figures, but polls depend on how questions are worded. What I'm looking for is a real, live person on this site who will tell us a story of how he/she has really been hurt. I don't know of anyone, personally, who would say that. Certainly not me or anyone in my family or my wife's family. Where are all these people? The only person I know who had his policy cancelled found new coverage straight away through Covered California, and he was able to get better coverage for his adult children so that the net family cost was a wash or favorable. Anyway, he's happy.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 05, 2014 - 6:18 am

    rlw, you just need to get out more. I speak to one or two a day that either themselves or family member has been impacted by the cancellation or large rate increases. Granted, I'm talking to small business owners that buy in the private market where the turmoil is. Some of the stories are heartbreaking.

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  • rlw895March 05, 2014 - 8:01 am

    So they are not happy with what the exchange offers? Many people get a subsidy.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 05, 2014 - 7:37 am

    rlw, here's how the question was worded... "So far, have you personally been helped by passage of the health care law, hurt by passage of the health care law, or has it had no direct impact on your life?" If I was asked the question I'm not sure I could give an honest answer. My Kaiser renewal went up 27 percent. How much of that was due to the law, and particularly the essential benefits requirement (I do not need maternity coverage, pediatric coverage and I've made it 59 years without needing substance abuse coverage so I'm probably good there) I don't know. What I do know is it impacted the increase to some degree. And we certainly didn't see a $2,500 decrease!

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  • Mike KirchubelMarch 05, 2014 - 10:29 am

    Mr. P, ours did too, and im not sure how the rebates will work for adult kids still living at home. My theory is that, while the insurance companies all want new customers,, they don't want the first batch of people who have been waiting for the chance to get insurance to cover their pre-existing conditions. That may partially explain kaisers big bump. Once the initial group gets picked up by other companies, you may see kaiser lower their rates and compete again. The sick people will not want to leave their coverage, but the healthy ones wont care. Kaiser is not dumb.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 05, 2014 - 6:14 pm

    Mike, I don't believe there are any rebates for the kids living at home. All the law did was allow them to stay on the parent's policy until they are 26 years of age. You're right about Kaiser not being dumb. However, most the carriers are scary good at actuary. They can predict how many people they will end up covering in different age groups, with pre-existing conditions, etc.. Their rate filings are based on that. That's one of the reasons costs in the private market are skyrocketing. We all have to help pay for those with pre-existing conditions and for not having a cap on life-time benefits. Those are the two positive components of the law. The essential benefits are also driving up the cost. Those are primarily first dollar coverages and have as much or more impact on rates than even pre-existing conditions. I don't need maternity coverage. I don't need pediatric coverage. I've made it 59 without needing substance abuse coverage so I'm okay without that too. I resent being forced to pay for things I don't need or want. The rate increases are not just Kaiser. It's Blue Cross/Blue Shield and all the others. The exchanges are a little different story because the carries can't control the mix. Covered California is only getting about 25 percent enrolling in the critical young, healthy, profitable age group and taxpayers are funding a bail out in the losses for the first year. Next year, rates in the exchange will have to increase dramatically. Covered California has budgeted almost $300 million for marketing, primarily to that demographic. It's not working because of flaws in the law. The essential benefits mandate did away with the catastrophic type policies. Those plans were popular with young people and is what they could afford. They generally don't go to the doctor much and just want to protect themselves from financial ruin. The complying policies can be several times more expensive. Another problem is the law requires that the rate ratio between the youngest and oldest insureds can't be more than three to one. That has compressed rates so that younger insureds are now subsidizing us older folks.

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  • rlw895March 05, 2014 - 11:24 pm

    I expected my rates to go up, but I haven't seen it yet.

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  • rlw895March 05, 2014 - 11:21 pm

    No objection to that question.

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  • Puddin TaneMarch 01, 2014 - 9:33 am

    Mr. P: you stated that viable alternatives were presented, I demonstrated that the legislation you were referring to did not meet that standard. I wasn't stating an opinion, I was stating a fact, and I honestly dont care what your opinions re: those facts are, because your opinion doesn't change them. It's clear you're not interested in actual solutions since you didn't bother looking at the Swiss model of healthcare as an alternative to ACA that conservatives would find palatable. Enjoy being irrelevant.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 01, 2014 - 9:41 am

    Puddin, you're late to the party. This has been an ongoing debate with rlw and myself for more than 3 years. I can't possibly get you caught up. The bottom line is that those alternatives are no less viable than ObamaCare. There were also other concepts that never made into bills. rlw's argument that no other workable alternatives were presented is nonsense. I'll trust my 30 years experience in the insurance industry, the fact I've read pretty much everything I can get my hands on about the law since it was proposed and my experience in my current job that involves discussing this vary issue with 10-15 small business owners each day. It's having a negative impact on jobs and our economic recovery.

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  • Mr. SmithMarch 04, 2014 - 8:43 am

    Meanwhile, Obama prepares to announce yet another delay in implementing the portion of the ACA requiring companies to cancel plans not meeting the basic coverage rules. It isn't clear how long this new delay will be in effect, but it might last until the end of Obama's second term, and will provide plenty of cover to Dems facing dicey elections in November. Who could have predicted this??? (Fitst reported in The Hill)

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 04, 2014 - 7:31 pm

    Mr. Smith, this is an obvious political ploy heading into the mid terms. It's in response to a poll released in the past few days showing that 33 percent of those surveyed said they have been hurt directly as a result of the law. Only 17 percent said they have benefited. I doubt the insurance carries are going to respond to the offer. Since states regulate insurance, each carrier that wants to offer the old plans would have to submit rate filings to each state's regulatory agency that they want to offer those plans in. It's time consuming and expensive. They have to be getting frustrated with a target that keeps moving.

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  • Mr. SmithMarch 04, 2014 - 7:40 pm

    Mr. P: Right. It results in throwing the insurance companies under the bus (again) but gives Obama a win no matter what happens.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 04, 2014 - 7:48 pm

    And meanwhile, the cancellations and rate increases keep on coming.

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  • rlw895March 04, 2014 - 8:44 pm

    What, Obama should be prevented from making a "political ploy" when the Republicans have bet the ranch on making the ACA fail, or appear to fail, going into the midterms? It didn't have to be this way, but the Republicans are bankrupt of ideas.

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  • Mr. SmithMarch 04, 2014 - 8:55 pm

    There you go again, RLW. "The Republicans are bankrupt of ideas," yada, yada. To quote my good friend, CD, "Good grief!"

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  • rlw895March 05, 2014 - 11:19 pm

    Let's just say they don't have any ideas I find attractive.

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  • A Different PerspectiveMarch 06, 2014 - 5:22 am

    rlw, so it's about you, not about them.

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  • Ura LierFebruary 25, 2014 - 8:22 am

    Seem like rlw895 was valedictorian in his class of the Joseph Goebbels School of Political Disinformation. He is stuck with repeating misinformation, false information, and anything else which fits the Democrat National Committee pattern of fooling the great uninformed public. Does not rlw95 have even a smidgen of conscience regarding the gross baloney he spews?

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 25, 2014 - 8:30 am

    Liar, the FOX/GOP collusion invented fraudulent editing practices, obfuscation, deflection and misinformation. You should go back, do the research and you'll find what I have proven time and time again substantiating these facts. Stop regurgitating nonsense and learn the truth for yourself.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 25, 2014 - 8:32 am

    Ura, many on both sides do that. rlw, used to be a free thinker and entertain opposing positions. It's a fairly recent development that he has become a Jay Carney shill.

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  • rlw895March 01, 2014 - 4:42 pm

    Golly, where are you getting that?

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  • rlw895February 28, 2014 - 11:30 pm

    UL: You'll have to be more specific. You lose debate points with general or personal attacks.

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