Good morning folks,
Governor Christie’s handling of “BridgeGate” dominated the news yesterday, but another major scandal involving at least one Democratic Senator rocked the press in Colorado.
Yesterday we highlighted a breaking story that revealed Democratic Senator Mark Udall and his staff indeed tried to pressure the Colorado Division of Insurance to cook the books and revise health insurance cancellations resulting from ObamaCare. In contrast to Governor Christie, Mark Udall shockingly defended the bullying tactics used by his office. The Denver Post reported last night that internal emails reveal that workers at the Colorado’s Division of Insurance “felt intimidated” by Udall’s office.
If a traffic jam is worthy of dominating the national news for days, then a Senator trying to bully officials into lying to the five million people of his state about their health care seems equally as significant. In fact, strategist Dick Wadhams said that the bullying incident was worse than news of Governor Christie’s aides in New Jersey. “For [Udall’s] staff to try to bully the state Division of Insurance staff to essentially falsify their numbers is absolutely reprehensible. He ought to come clean. He ought to fire his staffers. … Mark Udall needs to prove that he was not involved directly in this scandal.” Instead, Udall is so out of touch that he actually defended the bullying on Thursday. In fact, Udall actually admitted in an interview that he directed his staff to act this way.
The Denver Post reports that Tim Griesmer, campaign manager for Weld County Republican District Attorney Ken Buck, recalled Udall’s broken promise thatColoradans could keep their health plan if they liked it. “That turned out to not be true. Now we learn that his staff tried to pressure the Colorado Division of Insurance to change the number of people who had their health plan cancelled,” Griesmer said. Owen Hill, another Republican running for Senate, was equally outraged and took to Facebook. “Looks like Mark Udall tried to ‘cook the books’ when it came to how Coloradans and their families were harmed by ObamaCare. This is, quite honestly, embarrassing and irresponsible,” he wrote. State Rep. Amy Stephens, called Udall’s actions “appalling and shameful.”
It is unknown if other Democratic Senators feeling ObamaCare pressure acted in similar fashion, but it won’t take long for Freedom of Information Act Requests to reveal the truth. ObamaCareGate continues to grow in light of Udall’s startling admonition that he is responsible for the pressure and bullying of state officials.
Seize the day,
2014 BATTLEGROUND SONAR
(2014) Obamacare Drags Dems Down
In 2014, very few Senate Democrats are safe from the undertow of Obamacare. One who—surprisingly—may not be is Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Merkley, by all accounts, should safely win reelection in November. Elected in 2008 over incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, he’s a perfect fit for the state’s population center, the progressive hipster mecca of Portland. As the Oregon house speaker, Merkley advanced a liberal laundry list of items like an expanded indoor smoking ban, a ban on junk food in schools, and more laws to limit discrimination against same-sex couples. In the U.S. Senate, he’s been a hero to the grassroots left for pushing for filibuster reform but has otherwise been a loyal liberal in line with an increasingly Democratic state. Obama won Oregon in 2012 by 12 points, and in the GOP’s banner year of 2010, senior Democratic senator Ron Wyden won handily over his Republican challenger. Despite all those advantages, Merkley’s race may well be one to watch. If Obamacare continues to unravel and Republicans are running up big numbers against Democrats in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Virginia, and Montana, the unpopularity of Obama’s signature reform could claim a seat most analysts still consider solidly Democratic.
(ALASKA) Begich misses jobless vote for conference and fundraisers in Hawaii
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) missed a procedural vote on extending unemployment benefits to deliver a speech to a lobby group in Hawaii, The Hill has learned. Begich delivered a keynote speech Wednesday morning to the American Aviation Issues conference, an annual event hosted by the American Association of Airport Executives. He also held two fundraisers for his hotly contested Senate race and met with Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) to discuss Alaska-Hawaii issues, according to a Begich aide.
- Begich aide takes blame for saying he missed vote because of travel when he was in Hawaii
- Alaska Super PAC Hits Begich in 3 Radio Ads
- Consultant: Health law has cost Fairbanks borough more than $800,000
(NEW HAMPSHIRE) Shaheen, Obamacare, and firefighters
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s repeated doubling down in support of Obamacare is continuing to cause headaches as the 2014 cycle heats up, with the latest hit coming in the form of its impact on volunteer firefighters. A Thursday morning release from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) detailed the potential ramifications for Granite State families.
(MONTANA) Will it now be Dems v Firefighters in 2014?
Democrats in Montana have had a lot of fun during the last two major US Senate races in Montana in 2012 and 2006 attempting to run with the narrative: GOP versus firefighters. Could the boot be on the other foot in 2014?
(COLORADO) GOP says Udall pressured state on health figures
The National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Udall Thursday of trying to “cook the books.” “Mark Udall repeatedly deceived Coloradans and violated their trust by making promises about ObamaCare that couldn’t be delivered,” committee spokesman Brook Hougesen said in a statement.
(NORTH CAROLINA) Ads target Hagan, US Senate race heats up
Republicans are already running TV ads against Hagan. Political scientist like Dr. Brad Lockerbie are monitoring the race closely and say the ‘right’ is capitalizing on Hagan’s support for Obamacare. “If they can tie her to that, it’s going to hurt her in re-election,” Lockerbie says. In numerous occasions the senator promised North Carolinians they could keep their insurance. But in the last year, providers dropped many people because their policies interfere with the Affordable Care Act, and experts warn now is not the time for her to flip flop.
ON THE TWITTERS
@benpershing – DSCC stmt calls Ed Gillespie a “DC shadow lobbyist” (not to be confused w/ DC shadow senators) #vasen
(REUTERS) U.S. job growth weakest in three years
U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years in December, but the setback was likely to be temporary amid signs that cold weather conditions might have had an impact. Nonfarm payrolls rose only 74,000 last month, the smallest increase since January 2011, and the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate was the lowest since October 2008 and in part reflected people leaving the labor force. The step back in hiring is at odds with other employment indicators that have painted an upbeat picture of the jobs market. The data showed that 38,000 more jobs were added in November than previously reported.
(ASSOCIATED PRESS) Some find health insurers have no record of them
Record-keeping snags could complicate the start of insurance coverage this month as millions of people begin using policies they purchased under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not. They are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.
(WASHINGTON FREE BEACON) Obamacare Causes Fire Fighters In Ohio To Have Their Hours Cut
Fire departments are hurting once again due to Obamacare. This is not the first time the President’s legacy legislation has put fire departments in a bind, as previously reported by the Free Beacon. Ohio firefighters have had their hours reduced to Obamacare. Stringent regulations imposed by Obamacare have forced fire departments to either pay for their employees’ health insurance or reduce their hours.
(NEWS JOURNAL) Young not flocking to enroll in Obamacare coverage
Halfway into the open enrollment period for the nation’s new health insurance plans, known widely as Obamacare, fewer than 10 percent of Delaware’s anticipated 35,000 customers have chosen a plan and about 3 percent – 1,145 – have paid their first premium. That’s a significant increase from the December number – 793 – which reflected a two-month technical tangle that foiled most enrollments and introduced error into others.
But the state’s first glimpse into who is signing up showed that young Delawareans, considered a crucial constituency by many, have shown lukewarm interest in the plan. Of 3,183 who have chosen a plan through the Obamacare marketplace, only 13 percent are between the ages of 21 and 30.
(NBC) New Obamacare Enrollees Waiting for Coverage
An Old Lyme man who signed up for health insurance through the state health care exchange wants to know whether or not he’s covered. Bill Fries enrolled way back in October in order to be covered by January 1, but to this day he hasn’t received his insurance card and he isn’t getting answers from his new carrier Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “At this point I’m trying to find out, am I covered?” said Fries.
Wealth is not Created at the Top: It is Only Devoured There
The UK has left the EU and we can argue about the minutiae of Wealth until we’re blue in the face. But the overriding factors are apparent and in one of the richest countries in the world it is shocking that so many people can’t even be sure if they are going to be able to eat enough today or provide for their loved ones.
These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurial-ism that are helping to advance the whole world – Opinion by Rutger Bregman
… across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top and so entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.
Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook … a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dry
In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as “successful” and “innovative” are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it’s a non-issue.
To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our “human capital” in economic terms) to create something new, whether that’s a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.
But there is also a second way to make money. That’s the rentier way: by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others’ expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.
But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking…
The problems we face are that the politicians are firmly in the hands (pockets) of the uber wealthy. We live in a corporate plutocracy and those holding all the wealth and therefore power have no intention of changing the status quo, even if it isn’t sustainable. They remind me of bacteria (or cancer) devouring the host body more and more even though eventually it will kill them too.
Donald Trump Forgets Important Lesson From Grandad:
Harper’s Magazine reprints an interesting letter from US President Donald J. Trump’s own grandfather that may get you thinking. Here is it then:
The Emigrants – By Friedrich Trump – From a letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Trump had been ordered to leave Bavaria for failing to complete mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the United States twenty years earlier.
Prince Luitpold rejected Trump’s request for repatriation; the family later settled in New York. Translated from the German by Austen Hinkley.
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,
… Well then. Long ago, yes.. Still applies? You tell me.
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