Bill Kristol

GOP’s Obamacare Nightmare Is Coming True: It’s Working

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AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster

TPMDC

The politics of the health care law have undergone a sea change since its disastrous rollout last fall, when many conservative operatives were salivating at the prospect of a GOP wave in the midterm elections due to an Obamacare “train wreck.”

But the train never wrecked. The law rebounded, surpassing its signups goal and withstanding a flurry of attacks. The issue seems to have mostly lost its power as a weapon against Democrats, and a growing number of Republican governors — even in conservative states — are warming to a core component of Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion.

To get a sense of why this is worrying for Republicans in the long run, look no further than conservative strategist Bill Kristol’s 1993 memo — “Defeating President Clinton’s Health Care Proposal” — warning that reform would paint Democrats as “the generous protector of middle-class interests” and strike a “punishing blow” to the GOP’s anti-government ideology.

“But the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse — much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government,” Kristol wrote.

In other words, the real fear back then was that health care reform would succeed.

Two decades later, Kristol’s prophecy is haunting Republicans. Obamacare has provided a lifeline by providing coverage to 8 million people on the exchanges, 7 million under Medicaid expansion and 5 million who bought insurance outside the exchanges but benefit from new regulations like the coverage guarantee for individuals with preexisting conditions. Even Republicans in deeply conservative states are suggesting that the popular new benefits cannot be taken away, even if the Obamacare brand still struggles.

The shift has been crystallized in contentious Senate races this fall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently signaled that Kentuckians benefiting from the state’sObamacare exchange and Medicaid expansion should be able to keep their coverage. Senate GOP candidates Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Scott Brown of New Hampshire and Terri Lynn Land of Michigan have all refused to call for rolling back Medicaid expansion in their states. The number of television ads attacking the law have plummeted in key battleground states since April, and now even vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is touting his vote for protecting Americans with preexisting conditions under Obamacare.

But even if the Obamacare attacks are fading, Republicans remain poised to make gains in the midterms due to a variety of structural advantages. They continue to oppose Obamacare as a whole, and point out that Americans still react negatively when asked about the law.

“Ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to coverage has long been a popular policy, and one where there is bipartisan agreement. It’s the the entirety of ObamaCare that remains EXTREMELY unpopular,” Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, told TPM in an email.

Conservative health-policy experts have argued that Obamacare cannot be repealed without a viable alternative to fix broken parts of the system, but Republicans have failed to come up with one that the party can unite behind.

These are signs that Obamacare is weaving into the fabric of American culture and that the dream of repealing or unwinding it is fading. The massive health care industry is adapting to the post-Obamacare world and fears of double-digit hikes in premiums are fading: early datasuggest the prices for benchmark “silver” plans in 2015 are poised to decline slightly.

“We don’t yet have data for all states, but from these 15 states plus DC I think we can start to see a pattern emerging,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an email. “In general, changes in premiums for the low-cost plans in the marketplaces are quite modest, and actually decreasing in many places.”

Stability in premiums means “government costs for premium subsidies … are under control, which is good news for taxpayers,” Levitt said.

In the courts, an ongoing conservative lawsuit to cripple Obamacare suffered a major setbacklast week when a federal appeals court vacated a ruling that would have blocked subsidies in 36 states. Legal experts say the full court is likely to uphold the subsidies when a panel with a majority of Democratic-appointed judges re-hears the case.

For Democrats, the dream scenario was that Obamacare would eventually join Social Security and Medicare as an unassailable feature of the American safety net. Like those other major programs, Obamacare won’t be without its share of problems — cost uncertainties for automatically-renewed plans among them. But after more than 50 House votes to repeal or dismantle the law, few could have predicted that Republicans would start warming up to central pieces of the law within a year of its rollout.

(Photos by the Associated Press)

Kristol, Navarro: ‘Nobody of Relevance’ Is Talking Impeachment

Bill Kristol and GOP strategist Ana Navarro (Screen shots)

Mediaite

In an on-air subtweeting Sarah PalinWeekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and GOP strategistAna Navarro dismissed the talk of impeaching President Barack Obama bubbling up on the right, arguing that it was limited to the irrelevant fringes, while GOP leadership is focused on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against the president.

“No responsible elected official has called for impeachment,” Kristol said. “The Republican task is to elect a Republican Senate and elect a Republican president in 2016, not create a phony issue which allows Democrats to make Republicans look extreme.”

“Nobody of responsibility, nobody in leadership, nobody of relevance has talked about impeachment,” Navarro said. “The lawsuit is about constitutional powers and separation of powers. So can we stick to talking about what people who actually can make something happen say, as opposed to what what folks who want to make headlines say?”

Besides, Kristol added, “One problem with [impeachment] is you’d just get Joe Biden as president.”

Watch the clip below, via ABC News:

The right’s unhinged Bergdahl hypocrisy: The ultimate way to savage Obama

The right’s unhinged Bergdahl hypocrisy: The ultimate way to savage Obama

Bill Kristol, Bowe Bergdahl (Credit: AP/Janet Van Ham/Reuters)

Salon – Joan Walsh

Of course Republicans are going to compare the prisoner swap that won the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to Benghazi. They both start with B. It leads to their favorite words that start with I: investigation, and possibly impeachment.

The ridiculous Andrew McCarthy, flacking his new book making the case for Obama’s impeachment, of course finds more fodder in the prisoner transfer. Tuesday morning he was joined by Fox News “legal analyst” Andrew Napolitano and a man who couldn’t even hold on to a Congressional seat for a second term, Allen West. The shift to Bergdahl reflects growing concern that the right’s Benghazi dishonesty isn’t working with voters. Even conservative analysts have chided colleagues for Benghazi over-reach. Sure, Trey Gowdy will continue with his election year partisan witch hunt, but the right is wagering the Bergdahl story might hurt Obama more.

The anti-Bergdahl hysteria plays into six years of scurrilous insinuation that Obama is a secret Muslim who either supports or sympathizes with our enemies. Even “moderate” Mitt Romney, you’ll recall, claimed the president’s “first response” to the 2012 Benghazi attack “was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” This is just the latest chapter.

The partisan opportunism over the Bergdahl deal shouldn’t be surprising, but it is, a little bit. This wasn’t some wild radical idea of the Obama administration; it was driven by the Defense Department and signed on to by intelligence agencies. Although Congress is claiming it wasn’t given the requisite 30 days notice of a prisoner transfer (more on that later), this deal or something very much like it has been in the works for at least two years, with plenty of Congressional consultation.

And plenty of partisan demagoguery: in 2012 the late Michael Hastings reported that the White House was warned by Congressional Republicans that a possible deal for the five Taliban fighters would be political suicide in an election year – a “Willie Horton moment,” in the words of an official responsible for working with Congress on the deal. In the end, though, Hastings reported that even Sen. John McCain ultimately approved the deal; it fell apart when the Taliban balked.

Two years later, the right’s official talking points are mixed: Some critics focus on rumors (buttressed by Hastings’ own sympathetic reporting on Bergdahl) that he was a soldier disillusioned by the Afghan war who deserted his post. Wrong-way Bill Kristol has dismissed him as a deserter not worth rescuing, while Kristol’s most prominent contribution to politics, Sarah Palin, has been screeching on her Facebook wall about Bergdahl’s “horrid anti-American beliefs.”

But missing and captured soldiers have never had to undergo a character check before being rescued by their government. Should they now face trial by Bill Kristol before we decide whether to rescue them? Is Sarah Palin going to preside over a military death panel for captured soldiers suspected of inadequate dedication to the war effort?

Other Republicans accuse the president of breaking the long-standing rule against “negotiating with terrorists” to free hostages. They’re wrong on two counts: The U.S. has frequently negotiated with “terrorists,” to free hostages and for other reasons. President Carter negotiated with the Iranians who held Americans in the Tehran embassy in 1979, unsuccessfully. President Reagan famously traded arms to Iran for hostages. The entire surge in Iraq was predicated on negotiating with Sunni “terrorists” who had killed American soldiers to bring them into the government and stop sectarian violence.

Besides, this isn’t a terrorist-hostage situation, it’s a prisoner of war swap, and those are even more common: President Nixon freed some North Vietnamese prisoners at the same time former POW Sen. John McCain came home from Hanoi. Even hawkish Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu traded more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit last year. Such prisoner exchanges are particularly frequent when wars are winding down, as Ken Gude explains on Think Progress.

It’s true that Bergdahl was never officially categorized as a “prisoner of war,” since the Pentagon apparently stopped using that designation years ago. But he was defined as “missing/captured,” which is essentially the same thing. And while the Taliban fighters who were released were likewise not formally designated prisoners of war, either, because of the odd, formally undeclared status of the war with Afghanistan, that’s what they were. As President Obama said Tuesday morning, “This is what happens at the end of wars.” Imagine the outrage if the president brought the troops home from Afghanistan but left Bergdahl behind.

It’s shocking to see conservatives argue that the Taliban should have the final word on an American soldier’s fate, even if he’s accused of desertion. There’s already an Army inquiry into the conditions of Bergdahl’s disappearance. “Our army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred,” the Joint Chiefs chair Martin Dempsey said Monday night. Would John McCain, for instance, deny Bergdahl the right to military justice and leave his punishment to the Taliban?

Even some Democrats who had doubts about the 2012 Bergdahl release deal, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, support the exchange executed last weekend. “I support the president’s decision, particularly in light of Sgt. Bergdahl’s declining health. It demonstrates that America leaves no soldier behind,” she said in a statement. Former CIA director Leon Panetta opposed the earlier deal because he felt it didn’t do enough to prevent the five Taliban leaders from returning to combat; this deal holds them in Qatar for at least a year. Panetta also lauded the deal Monday night because of Bergdahl’s use to intelligence agencies.

It may be that the terms of the Bergdahl deal merit Congressional investigation, particularly about whether Congress was sufficiently consulted on the deal. Partly because of the ongoing efforts to free Bergdahl, Congress agreed to reduce its own requirements for notification of Guantanamo releases. But Obama, in a signing statement, signaled he believed even the relaxed law tied his hands, arguing that the president needed the flexibility to act quickly in certain situations when negotiating a transfer of Guantanamo prisoners. Yes it’s true that Obama and other Democrats criticized George W. Bush’s wanton use of signing statements. This one can be debated. But Republicans didn’t wail en masse over Bush’s signing statements or his national security secrecy the way they are doing now.

Congressional investigations are one thing; shrill partisan hackery is another. “There’s little that’s actually new here,” says Mitchell Reiss, a State Department official under President George W. Bush who also served as national security adviser to Mitt Romney. Reiss is right about the Bergdahl deal, but he’s wrong about the larger political atmosphere. What’s “new” here is a president who’s had his competence, his patriotism, even his very eligibility for office questioned from the outset.

Bill Kristol: Right wing attacks on Trayvon Martin ‘ridiculous’

Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday. Screenshot via Youtube.

The Raw Story

Conservative columnist Bill Kristol criticized potential smear campaigns on Trayvon Marton from right-wing websites Sunday morning.

Appearing on his usual role as a panel guest on Fox News Sunday, Kristol did accuse the media and activists bringing more attention to the incident as those promoting “demagogugery.” But he then chastised those along his same ideological beliefs.

“It is just demagoguery,” Kristol said. “I think, mostly on the side of those who want to indict the whole society for this death, maybe very unjustified shooting of this young man. And then some counterreaction by some on the right who feel this is unjust and now weren’t going to attack Trayvon Martin, which is really ridiculous as well.”

Kristol also voice concerned over Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, questioning whether the controversial legislation is “sensible.”

WATCH: Video from Fox News, which was broadcast on April 1, 2012.

Bill Kristol concedes 2012 presidential race to Democrats

After viewing the GOP candidates, I can understand why Bill Kristol laments a likely loss to President Barack Obama.  He waxes nostalgic over what was (Ronald Reagan’s election) and what could be, in his column.  However, he concedes that 2012 will not be the year of the GOP.

But…Bill Kristol has rarely been right on his predictions.  Here’s hoping he knocks this one out of the park!

The Raw Story

In a column at the Weekly Standard website, former New York Times columnist Bill Kristol opines that “assuming that presidential field remains as it is” for the GOP, “2012 won’t be a repeat of 1980″. He is referring to the election of Ronald Reagan after Jimmy Carter’s single term in the White House.

The column itself is a semi-rhapsodic invocation of what is apparently to Kristol a sacred date, “November 4, 1980, the instant when we knew Ronald Reagan, the man who gave the speech in the lost cause of 1964, leader of the movement since 1966, derided by liberal elites and despised by the Republican establishment, the moment when we knew—he’d won, we’d won, the impossible dream was possible, the desperate gamble of modern conservatism might pay off, conservatism had a chance, America had a chance”.

Kristol quotes a passage from William Faulkner’s 1948 novel, Intruder in the Dust which says for a certain species of Southern teenager, it is permanently the eve of the battle of Gettysburg, the high-water mark of the Confederate effort in the Civil War. Kristol casts the Southern struggle in 1863 as that of the American conservative, the victory in 1980 forming a kind of bulwark in their ongoing war to win out “over decadent liberalism”.

Many on the right are dreaming that the next presidential election will return the country to Republican rule, but Kristol’s column appears to pour cold water on those hopes. “(W)e’re not going to have a chance to replay that election,” he says, with the current crop of candidates, in spite of the fact that he refers to President Obama as “an icompetent incumbet”.

These candidates are going to be the only ones the Republicans have, however. The filing deadlines for the primary elections in Florida and South Carolina were October 31 and November 1, respectively.

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Behind the Right’s Glenn Beck Backlash

The Daily Beast

Bill Kristol criticized the Fox News host’s Egypt coverage, and Rich Lowry and others are piling on. But the condemnations are unlikely to spread to the GOP mainstream—and favorites like Rush Limbaugh and Andrew Breitbart are two reasons why.

Is the right turning against Glenn Beck?

This week in Commentary, Peter Wehner became the latest conservative commentator to call out the Fox News host’s absurd ramblings. He joined Bill Kristol, who criticized Beck’s coverage of the uprising in Egypt, Rich Lowry, who piled on, and Matthew Continetti, who called Beck’s oeuvre “nonsense” last summer.

That brings us to their fellow conservative Jennifer Rubin, who writes for The Washington Post. “What should thoughtful conservatives do? I’ve said it before, but it is especially relevant here: Police their own side,” she advised this week. “Rather than reflexively rising to his defense when questioned about Beck, why don’t conservatives call him out and explain that he doesn’t represent the views of mainstream conservatives? Conservative groups and candidates should be forewarned: If they host, appear with or defend him they should be prepared to have his extremist views affixed to them.”

As a Beck critic who criticized the creepy aspects of his on-air personality even when he was touting awesome Friedrich Hayek books, I’d love to see more folks in the conservative movement adopt Rubin’s attitude. But they won’t. One reason is that it’s difficult to condemn Beck in isolation. Acknowledging that his show is indefensible—that’s the core of her critique—means confronting the fact that Fox News under Roger Ailes knowingly broadcasts factually inaccurate and egregiously misleading nonsense every day. How many conservatives are willing to stipulate that?

It also means departing from the conservative movement’s standard approach to its entertainers: It’s verboten to criticize anyone on “your own side” in an ideological conflict many see as binary.   Continue reading here…

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Kristol Calls Christine O’Donnell ‘A Bit Of A Flake’

Think Progress

Discussing the firestorm around Christine O’Donnell’s surprise victory in Delaware’s U.S. Senate GOP primary last week, Bill Kristol insisted on Fox News Sunday today that he had no problem with where O’Donnell stood on the issues. He explained that as a “fellow wing-nut” he would “agree with all the votes she would cast in the Senate” and he therefore would be inclined to vote for her if he lived in Delaware. But Kristol’s praise was fleeting. He noted that he would have voted for her establishment-picked opponent Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) in the primary because “Christine O’Donnell is a bit of a flake I think… or has been in the past.” Watch it:

 

Kristol: ‘It’s not healthy for the country…for the President to bully’ BP.

Bill Kristol doesn’t have a great track record on predictions or punditry.  He has tried, and tried and tried to tell the world how things will or should be, but Kristol has been wrong on almost everything that he says.   That’s an amazing track record!   

Think Progress

Last week, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward or what he called a “shakedown” from the White House. While even a number of Republicans have distanced themselves from Barton’s comments, today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace wondered if Barton may have a point. Responding to Wallace, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol appeared to throw out the obligatory attack on BP, calling the oil giant “Beyond Pathetic,” but he nevertheless agreed with Wallace that the White House is being to hard on the company — and big corporations in general:

WALLACE: Question Bill Kristol, is the President standing up to big business or is he bullying boardrooms?

KRISTOL: I think his own Interior Secretary said something about keeping his foot on the throat of BP, which doesn’t sound like standing up to anyone. It sounds like bullying. I have no sympathy for BP. We have an article in the Weekly Standard this week saying that BP should stand for “Beyond Pathetic.” I think it was the least responsible of the Big Oil companies. It has managed to handle itself pretty poorly even since the disaster let alone before. But it’s not healthy for the country, for the economy as a whole, for the President to bully different companies and different industries and I think it’s not helping us.

Watch:

Despite Record-High Deportation Numbers, Kristol Says Obama Is ‘Reluctant’ To Enforce Immigration Laws

It seems with the Faux News crowd, Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.  No winning with these folks.

Think Progress

Today, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, conservative pundit Bill Kristol slammed the Obama administration for denouncing Arizona’s immigration law. Specifically, Kristol insisted that his own Latino friends have no problem with the Arizona law and that Obama’s criticism is out of line. According to Kristol, the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) head John Morton has indicated that his agency may not help Arizona enforce its likely unconstitutional law demonstrates the Obama administration’s overall “reluctance” to enforce the immigration laws that are already place:

I’ve spoken to a lot of African American people, a lot of Hispanic people about this. They don’t object to the notion that we need to be tougher in our enforcement of immigration law. […]

The Obama administration is full of people who are at best reluctant to actually enforce the laws on the book – using the excuse that we can’t enforce anything until we have comprehensive immigration reform.

Quite the contrary, Obama certainly hasn’t been opposed to letting federal immigration agents do their jobs. In April 2009, Obama indicated that the government has to prove it’s “competent in getting results around immigration” in terms of enforcing the laws that are already in place, before the American people can have “confidence that if we actually put a [immigration reform] package together we can execute.” Under the Obama administration’s leadership, Morton has been deporting more undocumented immigrants than the Bush administration. Each year, under President Bush, the number of deportations more than tripled. Much to the dismay of immigration advocates who thought that Morton was only going to go after the “worst of the worst,” the Obama administration has maintained this upward trend. During fiscal year 2009, 100,000 more immigrants were deported than during the last full fiscal year of the Bush presidency:

 

And while Kristol’s Latino friends might not have a problem with Arizona’s immigration law, 67 percent of the nation’s Latino voters do.