Political Animal


December 11, 2012 11:58 AM Obama Refuses To Help Wreck Obamacare

By Ed Kilgore

As you are probably aware, now that Republicans are in some disarray on the tax front, and are having to beg Democrats to propose Medicare cuts to give them cover for an abrupt abandonment of their recent Medigoguery, the one fiscal item GOPers can agree on with full-throated confidence is the ontological necessity of screwing up implementation of Obamacare. (Just yesterday a Forbes columnist wrote a piece on the “Resistance Movement Against Obamacare” that made the cause of denying one’s fellow citizens health care coverage sound like a war of liberation against fascism). And conservatives have been eager to egg on Republican governors and legislators to do everything within their power—and perhaps beyond it—to obstruct everything from the establishment of health exchanges to the expansion of Medicaid.

Since this campaign of willful obstruction postdated the 2011 fiscal talks, it’s not at all surprising that the White House is backing away from one concession it put on the table back then: “blending” match rates for various Medicaid services in a way that would expose states to a higher share of costs while generating $100 billion in long-term savings for the feds. That’s just the excuse conservatives need to help justify their determination not only to oppose the super-matched Medicaid expansion but to press for the “flexibility” to gut existing Medicaid benefits and eligibility.

You can expect considerable shrieking from Republicans about Obama “moving the goalposts” by rescinding this concession (as though they haven’t been “moving the golaposts” of acceptable domestic policies from the day of Obama’s election in 2008). But they have no one but themselves to blame for this particular development.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on December 11, 2012 12:11 PM:

    The Republicans chose the corner they wanted to paint themselves into, so Mr. President, keep applying the paint in nice, thick, coats.

    President Obama is in "The Catbird Seat," and all he needs to do, is wait until these caged birds start to scream for mercy.

    And then, don't give them any.
    Don't give an INCH!!!

  • BillFromPA on December 11, 2012 12:16 PM:

    All we need to do is essentially nothing. The repugs want cuts? Put specific cuts on the table. Don't like the revoval of concessions offered more than a year ago? Well, that was then, this is now, that should sound familiar to them. We can't lose unless we throw the game.

  • Mimikatz on December 11, 2012 12:22 PM:

    Obama also really, really needs to stop this talk of raising the Medicare eligibility age. The very same states that are refusing to expand Medicaid have thousands,, in the case of Florida Texas and Georgia, tens of thousands of people who will turn 65 in the next few years who need Medicare and would need Medicaid or other help if Medicare isn't available.

    Raising the Mwdicare age is a stupid idea also because Medicare is MORE EFFICIENT, therefore cheaper, than private insurance. Shoving two year's worth of older people off Medicare and into private insurance, assuming it is even available, will RAISE health care costs not lower them.

    I'm sick and tired of Boehner and the GOP complaining that someone has to hold their hand and give them some ways to really hurt old people or they won't agree to raise taxes on the wealthy. Screw 'em. They lost. Go over the cliff, then we can tak.

  • Mad_nVt on December 11, 2012 12:29 PM:

    Okay, there's the Kilgore line:

    "Denying one’s fellow citizens health care coverage."

    Fly that flag widely. Define the Republicans.

  • bigtuna on December 11, 2012 12:30 PM:

    Finally Obama is negotiating from a position of strength, and using it. Game theory suggests that you are better off making the first move; it establishes the framework of the negotiation, and helps you control the aspects of the negotiation. WHen/IF the other side responds with a credible offer, you engage.

    IF the other side does not offer a specific move to an agreement - in this case, Republicans starting to say something about rates, which yields concrete income numbers, and not amorphous "loop hole closing" which we cannot score as easily, You in fact should " move the goal posts' or at least stand your ground. 2011 was then; this is now, post election. There will be a different senate, and a somewhat different house, with 70-80 new members. So while Dems didn't pick up many seats, 20% of the body will be different. May be better, maybe worse, but different, and harder for Boner to predict their behavior. I heard this am that the repubs. want Obama to give some specific numbers for cuts. Oh Please. Obama wants rate increase on top incomes; that is specific. The counter move by the Rs would be a specific number for cuts, with some specificity of what will be cut. That would be the beginning of a real negotiation.

    Until Rs give specifics about rates, loopholes, or cuts, everyone should just sit tight, and dems should remind everyone that there is a Senate passed bill sitting on the table, whose expiration date is come soon. What would be great fun is if Harry Reid asked Bernie Sanders to start drafting the senate tax bill for the next session :)

  • jjm on December 11, 2012 12:42 PM:

    @bigtuna on December 11, 2012 12:30 PM said:

    "Finally Obama is negotiating from a position of strength, and using it."

    And guess who maneuvered himself into that position of strength?

    When liberals and progressives were tearing their hair out in 2011 claiming that Obama caved with the sequester and talk of a grand bargain, I recall Barney Frank saying on the Maddow show that this was an act of Obama genius: stave off more fiscal cliff fights till after the election, and .... paint the GOP into an untenable corner on taxes and the sequester.

  • mb on December 11, 2012 12:44 PM:

    Foregoing medicaid money from the Feds is just about the stupidest move a governor can make for the economy of his/her state. Of course, states like mine (MS) didn't get this poor making good economic decisions. Being Mississippi entails a real commitment to stupidity -- no fair weather morons are we. I forget the multiple, but Mcaid spending generates significant economic activity locally above and beyond the actual federal dollars -- dwarfing the state's share even under the current system. Under Ocare, the state gets free money (at least for a while, though 90% ain't bad for the fed's end.) FREE MONEY! But here in MS, we don't want no free money. Ain't gonna take and you can't make us.

  • schtick on December 11, 2012 1:22 PM:

    I hope Obama doesn't cave this time around. He doesn't need to, so let's hope he lost that habit from his previous term. He better not be putting SS or Medicare on the table when he holds all the cards.

  • Doug on December 11, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Could someone please start listing the times and places where President Obama has said anything about raising the Medicare eligibility age or putting SS on the table?
    I HAVE heard an awful lot of "unidentified sources" and "senior Democratic aide" crap and that's just what it is - crap.

  • G.Kerby on December 11, 2012 4:57 PM:

    FREE MONEY! But here in MS, we don't want no free money. Ain't gonna take and you can't make us.

    Kind of like that baby in the insurance commercials. Who doesn't want 50% more cash?