Posts Tagged Obamacare
The problem may be that it took 10 debates and three Trump victories to get Rubio fired up.
Rubio, along with most of the other GOP presidential candidates, has treated Trump with kid-gloves for months, tiptoeing around glaring questions about the real estate mogul’s business record, political ideology, brash temperament and ambiguous policy proposals.
Only now, with Trump threatening to pull away from the field, did Rubio aggressively and brutally try to dismantle the billionaire businessman’s grip on the Republican race, with occasional help from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Rubio accused Trump of shifting his position on deportation and staffing his hotels and other businesses with foreign workers instead of Americans. He also punched holes in the real estate mogul’s vague proposal for replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“What is your plan, Mr. Trump? What is your plan on health care?” Rubio pressed.
The senator also gleefully pointed out Trump’s propensity for repeating talking points over and over again, the same criticism that tripped up Rubio in a debate earlier this month.
“Now he’s repeating himself!” Rubio exclaimed.
Rubio’s assertive posture was sure to be cheered by the crush of Republican officials who have rallied around his campaign in recent days, desperate for the senator to become a viable alternative to Trump. But privately, many were likely wondering why it took so long for Rubio to make his move and whether his strong showing came too late.
Next week’s Super Tuesday contests mark the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. A strong showing by Trump could put the nomination within his grasp, raising the stakes for his rivals to stop him.
Rubio was sometimes joined by Cruz in tag-team attacks on Trump. It was a tactical shift for two senators who had trained their fire on each other in recent weeks, both betting that the best strategy was to clear the field of other rivals before moving on to Trump.
But Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses clearly changed their calculus. Trump dominated that contest, beating second-place Rubio by more than 20 points, and pulling ahead significantly in the early delegate count after victories in South Carolina and New Hampshire as well.
Trump appeared rattled at times as he faced the most sustained, face-to-face attacks of the campaign. Before Thursday, only Jeb Bush had made a real effort to tangle with Trump on the debate stage, though it did little to help the former Florida governor. Bush ended his campaign last week after disappointing showings in early primaries and a fundraising drought.
Rubio appeared to have taken lessons from Bush’s exchanges with Trump. The senator was prepared for Trump’s frequent habit of interrupting and almost willfully refused to back down when the businessman tried to talk over him. He also took a page out of Trump’s own playbook, lacing his more substantive critiques with some sharply personal attacks.
During a particularly biting exchange, Rubio said that if Trump hadn’t inherited family money, he would be “selling watches in Manhattan.”
Trump punched back with trademark insults.
After Rubio criticized his hiring practices, the businessman said, “You haven’t hired one person, you liar.” And when Cruz challenged Trump’s conservative credentials by suggesting he’s been too cozy with Democrats, the front-runner ripped the senator for being loathed by many of his Senate colleagues.
“You get along with nobody,” Trump said. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
At times, the three-way fight between Trump, Rubio and Cruz devolved into a shouting match, with each struggling to be heard, let alone make a substantive policy point. The debate moderators were virtually helpless, as were the two other candidates on stage, John Kasich and Ben Carson.
For Rubio, the squabbling was a long way from the uplifting calls for a generational change in American politics and heavy focus on his family’s moving immigrant story that have been the cornerstone of his campaign. Those were the messages that have set Democrats on edge about the prospect of their eventual nominee, likely Hillary Clinton, facing the telegenic, 44-year-old Cuban-American in the general election.
Rubio’s next challenge beyond topping Trump in at least some of the upcoming primaries, will be infusing that more optimistic message into his critique of Trump. He’s also likely to face the full force of Trump’s attacks for the first time in the campaign.
Even before the debate was over, Trump suggested he was eager to keep up the fight.
“This is a lot of fun up here, I have to tell you,” Trump said.
Jeb Bush, who’s described Obamacare as a political “loser,” will unveil his plan Tuesday to replace the health insurance law with a system that he believes will cut back on regulation and lower health care costs.
The Republican presidential candidate said as recently as last week that he believes the law can be repealed, and he plans to lay out a proposal for undoing the law at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
“I think Obamacare will collapse under its own weight,” he said in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “Politically, it doesn’t get better with time. It actually, I think, is likely to get worse.”
But, he has argued, Republicans need to offer a viable replacement.
For Bush, that means allowing state exchanges to continue to exist, if they so choose, but they would not be mandatory. He wants to enable access to affordable, catastrophic plans and provide a tax credit to purchase policies that protect Americans for costly medical events, according to his campaign.
Bush also wants to expand Health Savings Accounts, one of his elder brother’s pet programs. He would increase contribution limits and uses for these accounts, which must be paired with high-deductible health plans. Enrollees can use the funds in their accounts to pay for medical care.
“We’re going to call for moving to a system that is consumer driven with a lot more transparency,” he said in Iowa. “No employer mandate, no employee mandate, no mandated benefits.”
Bush doesn’t favor doing away with everything from the current law. He supports the continuous coverage guarantee provision for people with pre-existing conditions, and previously Bush has said he favors allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26.
To promote innovation, he also wants to reform the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory policies and increase funding and accountability at the National Institutes of Health, according to the campaign.
And he’d like to see more leaders in the private sector figure out ways to enable better access to patient de-identified Medicare and Medicaid claims data.
Repealing Obamacare will not be a simple task. There are more than 10 million people enrolled in the federal and state Obamacare exchanges. Some 87% of them are receiving federal subsidies averaging $272 a month, to lower the cost of their premiums. And 56% of them receive separate subsidies to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.
Also, Bush would jettison the expansion of Medicaid to all Americans under age 65, which 31 states and Washington have adopted. Nearly 13 million people have joined Medicaid since October 2013, when expanded enrollment began. Prior to Obamacare, it was difficult for adults, particularly childless adults, to sign up for the safety net program in many states.
But in an interview this weekend Bush described Medicaid and its expansion as “one of the worse insurance programs in the country.”
Bush’s plan also shifts away from Obamacare’s focus on preventative care. Under health reform, insurers must provide so-called essential health benefits, including mental health counseling, maternity coverage and emergency services. Also, enrollees in Obamacare plans can get an array of free annual screenings for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and vaccines. Women can get an annual gynecological visit and mammograms.
Bush’s campaign says he would allow employers to use financial incentives to encourage wellness programs.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump came under heavy attack from his rivals in a contentious U.S. presidential debate on Wednesday, and former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina emerged from the back of the pack to lead the charge.
Fiorina, a late addition to the second prime-time debate of the 2016 Republican White House race, made her presence felt as one of Trump’s strongest challengers in a crowded field anxious to pile on the real-estate mogul and former reality-TV star.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also frequently confronted Trump and grew stronger as the debate wore on, sharply defending his brother, former President George W. Bush, when Trump criticized the war in Iraq.
With Trump shooting to a big lead in opinion polls, the other 10 candidates struggled at times to get attention on the crowded stage barely four months before the first nominating contest for the November 2016 election.
Unlike last month’s first debate, when most of the contenders shied away from directly challenging Trump, several of them engaged him in sometimes fierce personal exchanges.
Enjoying the spotlight, Trump touted his business experience and fired off insults, making a crack about U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s looks and declaring that former New York Governor George Pataki “couldn’t get elected dogcatcher.”
But Trump drew a sharp rebuke from Fiorina for his recent comment in an interview that voters might not back her because of her face.
“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said, drawing applause.
Trump leaned toward her and replied: “I think she’s got a beautiful face, and I think she’s a beautiful woman.”
Twitter later reported that Fiorina’s response to Trump on her looks was the most tweeted moment of the debate. Facebook also registered the exchange as its top social moment, and said Trump and Fiorina were the top candidates discussed on Facebook during the debate.
Fiorina has been rising in the polls and was sharing the stage with the leading candidates for the first time after a strong performance in the first “undercard” debate for low-polling candidates last month.
At one point, she noted Trump’s companies had filed for bankruptcy four times and asked, “Why should we trust you?”
Bush, a frequent target of Trump’s jibes for his “low-energy” campaign, criticized the billionaire for his past friendliness with Democrats and for trying to get involved in casino gambling in Florida.
“He asked Florida to have casino gambling and we said no,” Bush said. Trump shrugged his shoulders dismissively and denied trying to get into the casino industry in Florida. “Wrong… Jeb, come on.” Trump added: “More energy tonight? I like that.”
Bush, an establishment Republican, has been overshadowed by Trump’s bomb-throwing rhetoric but had promised to be more aggressive in the debate.
When Trump noted he was the only person on the stage who had disagreed with the decision to go to war in Iraq, Bush leaped to the defense of his brother, who ordered the invasion.
“He kept us safe,” Bush said. Trump responded: “Do you feel safer now? I don’t feel so safe.”
Trump also took aim at Paul, saying he did not even belong on the stage because of his low standing in the polls. Paul, a senator from Kentucky, criticized Trump for his “sophomoric” criticisms of people’s appearance.
“I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me there’s plenty of material there,” Trump said.
A Reuters breakdown of speaking times in the debate showed Trump led the way with more than 19 minutes, Bush was second with nearly 16 minutes and Fiorina was third with 13 minutes and 43 seconds. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the least talkative candidate, speaking for only 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
At one point, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, renowned for his sometimes brusque and bullying style, derided the “childish back-and-forth” and called on the candidates to be more substantive.
Reuters/Ipsos opinion polling before the debate showed Trump leading the 2016 race among Republicans with 32 percent. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was second at 15 percent. Bush was in third place at 9 percent as his campaign struggled to take off.
Also debating in the main event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley were Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich.
The Republicans disagreed on whether the government should be shut down in order to cut funds for the women’s health group Planned Parenthood and condemned President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, said the nuclear deal with Iran should be ripped up, but Paul said it should be enforced because Congress had not been able to stop it.
On Planned Parenthood, Kasich said it would not be worthwhile to risk a government shutdown as some Republicans in Congress have proposed in order to strip federal funding for the women’s health group.
“I would not be for shutting the government down, because I don’t think it’s going to work out,” Kasich said.
Cruz, who led the effort to shut down the government over funding for Obamacare, said, “We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles.”
Before the prime-time encounter, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Pataki participated in the “undercard” debate for those candidates who did not poll strongly enough to qualify for the main event.
Jindal, the Louisiana governor, and Pataki, the former New York governor, led the early charge against Trump.
“Let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican,” said Jindal. “He’s not a conservative. He’s not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent. He believes in Donald Trump.”
Trump and Bush shared a moment of comity near the end of the debate when each of the candidates was asked what code name he or she would suggest the Secret Service use for them if they were elected president.
“Eveready,” Bush said, using the name of an American battery maker. Looking at Trump standing next to him, Bush added: “It’s high-energy, Donald.” As the audience laughed and applauded, Bush and Trump, both smiling, slapped hands together.
Asked what his code name should be, Trump said “Humble” to further laughter from the audience.
Scott Walker cast himself as an anti-Washington reformer as he launched his 2016 Republican presidential campaign on Monday, vowing to fight with the same conservative conviction he used to battle unions as Wisconsin governor.
Walker rose to national prominence by defeating a 2012 recall election that grew from his challenge to the collective bargaining process for most public employee unions in Wisconsin. He won his first term as governor in 2010 and was re-elected in November.
“My record shows that I know how to fight and win. Now, more than ever, we need a president who will fight and win for America,” he said.
Walker, in an announcement speech full of homespun stories about his humble roots, from flipping burgers at McDonald’s to buying discount clothes, became the 15th candidate in the wide-open race for the Republican nomination.
Despite entering the campaign relatively late, Walker is among the Republican leaders in opinion polls.
His resume electrifies conservatives and is a lightning rod for criticism from Democrats unhappy with his anti-union, anti-government views. The president of the AFL-CIO union alliance, Richard Trumka, on Monday called Walker a “national disgrace.”
In a sign of the tense feelings that still surround Walker in Wisconsin, a state that typically votes for Democrats in presidential elections, a small plane flew above the event site towing a banner that read “Scott Walker has a Koch problem.”
Brothers Charles and David Koch use their vast wealth to advance conservative causes.
Sleeves rolled up and wearing no necktie, Walker delivered his announcement speech entirely from memory with no notes or TelePrompter.
“Instead of the top-down, government-knows-best approach we hear from politicians in Washington, we need to build the economy from the ground up in a way that is new and fresh, organic and dynamic,” Walker said.
He would repeal President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law and approve the Keystone XL pipeline stalled by Obama. As governor, he has cut taxes and spending. The state budget he signed on Sunday cut $250 million from the University of Wisconsin system.
“Our big, bold reforms in Wisconsin took the power from the big government special interests and put it firmly into the hands of the hard-working taxpayers,” he said.
The 47-year-old Walker has presented himself as a fresh-faced alternative to establishment favorite Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor. Bush has built a substantial financial edge and leads many polls but still faces questions about whether a third Bush presidency is in order after the White House tenures of his father and brother, and whether he could beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 election.
“I don’t think a name from the past beats a name from the past. I think you need a name from the future,” Walker told ABC News when asked about Bush in an interview broadcast on Monday.
Walker, in his speech, took some early steps to try to quiet Republican concerns about his inexperience on national security, after drawing fire earlier this year for saying his fight against the unions had prepared him for battle against Islamic State militants.
He pledged an aggressive foreign policy if elected president in November 2016. He singled out China and Russia as needing to face American muscle.
“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in front of our enemies,” he said.
Walker pointed to the presence of Kevin Hermening, who was among the Americans held hostage by Iran in 1979, as a reason why the Iran nuclear deal Obama is negotiating with Tehran should be abandoned.
As for Obama’s declaration that climate change is a national security threat, Walker begged to differ.
“The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism and we need to do something about it,” he said.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court saved the controversial health care law that will define President Barack Obama’s administration for generations to come.
The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces. It staved off a major political showdown and a mad scramble in states that would have needed to act to prevent millions from losing health care coverage.
“Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate, we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all,” Obama said from the White House. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay”
In a moment of high drama, Chief Justice John Roberts sent a bolt of tension through the Court when he soberly announced that he would issue the majority opinion in the case. About two-thirds of the way through his reading, it became clear that he again would be responsible for rescuing Obamacare.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy who is often the Court’s swing vote and the four liberal justices. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
When he finished, Roberts announced that Scalia would read a dissent.
“Indeed,” the veteran justice replied, sparking laughter in the Court and offering a preview of the stinging repudiation of the majority opinion he was about to unfurl.
Seated right next to the Chief Justice, Scalia proceeded to eviscerate his reasoning. He reeled off a string of unflattering descriptions about the ruling, calling it “wonderfully convenient,” complaining about “interpretative jiggery-pokery” and arguing it was not the Court’s job to make up for the sloppy drafting of the law by Congress.
Roberts heard the dissent throughout without giving a visible reaction until Scalia quipped that the law should be called SCOTUScare, causing the Chief Justice to chuckle and sending laughter through the public galleries.
Challengers to the law argued that the federal government should not be allowed to continue doling out subsidies to individuals living in states without their own health insurance exchanges and a ruling in their favor would have cut off subsidies to 6.4 million Americans, absent a congressional fix or state action.
The ruling is a huge victory for President Barack Obama, who nearly saw four words in the Affordable Care Act throw his signature achievement into chaos.
The income-based subsidies are crucial to the law’s success, helping to make health insurance more affordable and ultimately reducing the number of uninsured Americans, and shutting off the subsidy spigot to individuals in the 34 states that rely on exchanges run by the federal government would have upended the law.
Congress would have had to amend the Affordable Care Act to fix its language that subsidies would be available only to those who purchase insurance on exchanges “established by the state” a politically treacherous and likely untenable action in a Republican Congress. Alternatively, governors in the 34 states without their own exchanges, most of them Republicans, would have had to establish their own exchanges another tough ask.
Roberts, writing for the majority, said while the contentious phrase was ambiguous, its meaning in context of the law as a whole was clear.
“The context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase,” Roberts wrote.
The conservative Chief Justice was once again an unlikely hero in saving Obama’s signature legislative achievement. He took heat from conservatives in 2012 when he first saved the law from a major constitutional challenge in a decision that stunned pundits and politicos across the ideological spectrum.
“I disagree with the Court’s ruling and believe they have once again erred in trying to correct the mistakes made by President Obama and Congress in forcing Obamacare on the American people,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “I remain committed to repealing this bad law and replacing it with my consumer-centered plan that puts patients and families back in control of their health care decisions.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he was “disappointed” by the ruling.”
“But this decision is not the end of the fight against Obamacare,” he said. “As President of the United States, I would make fixing our broken health care system one of my top priorities.”
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to praise the decision.
“Yes!” she tweeted. “SCOTUS affirms what we know is true in our hearts & under the law: Health insurance should be affordable & available to all.”
Just 16 states and the District of Columbia have set up their own health insurance marketplaces, which left millions of residents in the 34 states that rely on exchanges run by the federal government vulnerable to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Challengers had argued that the words “established by the State” clearly barred the government from doling out subsidies in the 34 states without their own healthcare marketplaces.
They said that Congress limited the subsidies in order to encourage the states to set up their own exchanges and when that failed on a large scale, the IRS tried to “fix” the law.
“If the rule of law means anything, it is that text is not infinitely malleable, and that agencies must follow the law as written, not revise it to ‘better achieve’ what they assume to have been Congress’s purposes,” wrote Michael Carvin, an attorney for the challengers.
But it was Solicitor Generald Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. who won over the justices, arguing that Congress always intended the subsidies be available to everyone regardless of the actions of their state leaders.
Verrilli warned in court briefs that if the challengers prevailed, the states with federally-run exchanges “would face the very death spirals the Act was structured to avoid and insurance coverage for millions of their residents would be extinguished.”
Lower courts had split on the issue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia invalidated the IRS rule while the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Obama administration.
Kasich said he would tout his experience in Congress and as a governor.
“It’s experience and record. Amateur hour is over,” Kasich told CBN News’ “The Brady File” in an interview. He said he helped turn around the Ohio economy.
“We have come back almost from the dead,” Kasich said. “If you have the experience and you have the record, it’s not about ‘tell me.’ It’s about ‘show me.’ ”
Kasich has bucked typical Republican talking points on expanding Medicaid in Ohio and has pushed his party to find health care alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. But he has called for further reforms and bluntly said Obamacare hasn’t worked well in his state and has driven up the cost of insurance.
He has tried to raise cigarette taxes. Working poor should have more access to primary care doctors to prevent higher bills at the emergency room, he said.
On illegal immigration, Kasich doesn’t favor a path to citizenship, but is unwilling to take the option off the table. He takes a moral approach to imprisonment of mentally ill individuals and calls for more rehabilitation programs for prisoners with substantial abuse issues.
Kasich also takes a less than favorable view on nation building, and instead looks to maintain a strong domestic economy to avoid weakness on national security. Yet he isn’t afraid to close military bases or reform the Pentagon.
He touts the Ohio business climate under his tenure in which there has been a movement toward privatized economic development that has led to better revenue growth. He is hopeful the state can shift to a more consumption-based tax model to lower income taxes.
Kasich has hired John Weaver, who previously managed the maverick presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, for his 2016 effort. That is surely a sign that Kasich wants to run a campaign that will run afoul of current Republican orthodoxy. And he probably won’t win the nomination. But if he makes any headway in steering his party toward a more moderate path, Kasich’s campaign will have to be considered a success.
The Ohio governor will be making his first trip to Iowa since he began exploring whether to enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Kasich has yet to officially announce his decision on the 2016 presidential race.
He recently was in South Carolina, Michigan and New Hampshire. Kasich’s trip to Iowa on Wednesday will have him making several stops in Des Moines and Council Bluffs.
Ted Cruz the Senator from Texas is expected to announce Monday that he’s running for the Republican presidential nomination. He will make his official declaration in Lynchburg, Virginia, at Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world.
Cruz, 44, will be the first candidate to formally throw his hat in the ring for what’s expected to be a crowded GOP primary, with more than a dozen high-profile Republicans expressing serious interest in a White House run.
The Chronicle reports that Cruz will go straight to announcing his candidacy without first forming an exploratory committee, according to advisers with direct knowledge of his plans.
Cruz, armed with his trademark ostrich boots and impressive oratory skills, has quickly made a name for himself in the past two years since he started in the Senate, solidifying his brand as a conservative firebrand willing to take on establishment Republicans in Washington.
A constant and vocal critic of the Obama administration, he’s perhaps best known for his stalwart fight against Obamacare in 2013, which led to a tense standoff between Democrats and Republicans and ultimately resulted in a 17-day government shutdown. The showdown was punctuated by Cruz’s 21 hour speech on the Senate Floor.
While popular in conservative and tea party circles, Cruz has a long way to go in terms of broader support in the GOP base, according to public opinion polls. A CNN/ORC International survey conducted this month of the hypothetical Republican primary showed Cruz came in with 4% support among Republicans and independents who lean Republican.
But the field is still relatively open, with the top contender Jeb Bush coming in at 16% support, followed by Scott Walker at 13%
Cruz this month finished an early-voting state tour to Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire. and he’s scheduled to return to New Hampshire on March 28 to speak at a brunch in Rockingham County.
He’s already staking out conservative territory in the nascent primary race, telling voters to challenge other Republican candidates about not just their words, but their actions, and whether they stand on principle.
“It’s easy for candidates to give an answer,” he said at a recent event in New Hampshire, but added: “The proof is in the pudding. What I’ve urged Republicans to ask of every candidate is: Have you walked the walk? Show me your record.”
Cruz developed a loyal following when he won his 2012 primary battle in Texas as a little-known candidate, forcing then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst into a surprise runoff and ultimately defeating the establishment Republican.
Along with two other first-term senators who are expected to run for president (Rand Paul and Marco Rubio), Cruz will likely face questions over experience, an issue that Republicans brought up in 2008 against Barack Obama, who was also a first-term senator at the time.
Before running for the Senate in 2012, his first campaign for public office, Cruz was solicitor general of Texas and argued before the Supreme Court. He graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
Born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother, Cruz was a dual-citizen until he renounced Canadian Citizenship in 2014. He faced questions over whether he would qualify for the presidency, though law experts consider him a natural-born citizen because he was born to an American mother.