Morning Must-Read: Mark Schmitt and Jared Bernstein on Why Inequality Is a Problem
Things to Read on the Afternoon of January 22, 2014

Difficulties of Having Policy Negotiations Today: Outsourced to Kevin Drum and David Weigel

Kevin Drum and David Weigel muse on the difficulties of conducting negotiations about public policy in Washington when the policy ideas proposed by Republican/Conservative intellectuals and politicians have as their principal goal to break the government:

Kevin Drum: Note to GOP: Don't Reveal Your Fiendish Plan to Destroy Obamacare Until the Last Reel: "One of the reasons that insurers aren't too worried about the low signup rate for Obamacare is... they figure things will work out eventually, and in the meantime they're protected... [by] very wonky stuff designed to smooth the transition...

[But]... some bright spark decided that if you called this an "Obamacare bailout"... Republicans could even get it repealed, which in turn would make life so hard for insurers that they'd drop out of Obamacare entirely! Bwa-ha-ha! But their plan isn't going anywhere, and Dave Weigel thinks it's partly because conservatives have acted too much like a stock villain from a James Bond movie....

By making it clear that the real goal of repealing risk corridors is to cripple Obamacare completely, proponents lost even the slim chance they had to get a hearing from the press and from independents.... Their tea party allies will be thrilled, but everyone else will see it as yet another in a long, tired string of contrived outrages designed to kill Obamacare. Time to move on, folks.

David Weigel: Obamacare bailout: Give me higher premiums or give me death: "The campaign against the Affordable Care Act's 'risk corridors' has gained traction since I wrote about it in November....

It was designed to undermine Obamacare, as Cato's Michael Cannon explained.... The key is Rubio's description of the corridors as an "Obamacare bailout."... So we have columns like Charles Krauthammer's "Stop the Bailout--Now," which uses the b-word 13 more times.... We have Ramesh Ponnuru, who joins Cannon and Krauthammer in describing the possible victory in Bond villain-esque terms:

Insurers are already screaming about Rubio’s proposal, desperate to keep Obamacare’s subsidies even as they ask for relief from its regulations. If Rubio’s bill or something like it passes.... Obamacare would, in other words, become even less likely to succeed than it already is.

I mention Bond villainy for a reason. What's the mistake that Goldfinger and Blofeld and 006 et al. constantly make? They explain the plot while they're still time for 007 to stop it.... Even a scheme backed by Krauthammer, Ponnuru, and Cannon, all well-respected on the right, failed to gain traction in a Congress that's been chastened by the shutdown, and is more fearful of causing a crisis to gut Obamacare.

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