A new television ad by the Nunn campaign targeting businessman David Perdue, the Republican nominee Nunn is facing in the Georgia Senate race, hits the former CEO for his time as the head of Pillowtex in North Carolina. The company went bankrupt soon after. The ad features people in neighboring Salisbury, N.C., many of them elderly, describing how the bankruptcy devastated many of the employees while Perdue “walked away with his $1.7 million.”
"Just months after David Perdue abandoned Pillowtex, the company went bankrupt," the ad said.
"All we were was people to make money off our backs," one of the people in the video, Cynthia Hanes, who the ad said worked at Pillowtex for 31 years, said near the end.
The one-minute ad is actually similar to the anti-Romney ads the pro-Obama Democratic super PAC Priorities USA made in 2012 that hit the former Massachusetts governor for his time at Bain Capital, painting him as a cold businessman who was willing to cut jobs as long as he made a profit. National Journal points out that Nunn has actually got Schor Johnson Magnus, the same strategists who made the Romney ads for Priorities USA, working for her campaign.
National Journal also notes that one of the anti-Romney ads, “Stage” was the “single most effective” ad of the entire campaign cycle, according to television analytics company Ace Metrix.
Watch Nunn’s new ad:
And compare it to the ad “Stage,” below:
Below is the TPM Polltracker average of the Georgia Senate race.
(Photo credit: Youtube)
#ILGov: Billionaire Bruce Rauner, GOP candidate for Illinois governor, stashed part of his wealth in Caymans
Bruce Rauner: Three cheers for offshore tax havens!
Here’s the thing about really rich guys: Odds are, they’ve done a thing or two along the way to becoming really rich that ordinary folks probably wouldn’t approve of. Balzac may have been exaggerating when he said that behind every great fortune lies a great crime, but a little offshore tax evasion, the likes of which little people would never be able to take advantage of? You bet!
And billionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor in Illinois, has turned out to be no different than the Mitt Romneys of the world. According to a new report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Rauner’s stashed some unknown part of his fortune in the Cayman Islands, where their zeal for secrecy is matched only by their aversion to income taxes (they have none).
Of course, Rauner’s refused to release his tax returns, so it’s impossible to know just how much offshore money he’s got parked in the Caribbean. Rauner, as these zillionaires always do, swears that everything is above board, but as ever, the crime is what’s legal. And compliance with the letter of the law is hardly insulation against devastating political attacks. Remember this?Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who’s been well behind in the polls and could really use a break, has already issued a couple of press releases slamming Rauner, and attack ads can’t be far behind. After all, Rauner wants to become governor of a state whose taxes he tried to avoid paying. For 99 percent of us, that’s no winning message.
#ILGov: Super-Rich Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner Used Controversial Cayman Tax Gimmick To Maximize His Fortune
Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner (R) made part of his fortune from investments in a Caribbean tax haven, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. But because Rauner won’t release details on his tax filings it is impossible to tell just how much of his wealth comes from those offshore accounts.
The newspaper found five Cayman Islands-based investment funds among the dozens of income sources Rauner listed on state disclosure forms last year. Three of the five are funds set up by the private equity firm Rauner founded. Two others, including one that manages money for a large public pension fund in Illinois, are run by separate firms.
While Rauner’s income from each fund could be as low as $5,000 — the threshold for disclosure on the state forms — a more realistic guess would be in the millions of dollars. As a self-described member of the richest 0.01 percent of Americans, Rauner is unlikely to make chump change investments. Most funds of the sort the Sun-Times identified require minimum investments of $500,000 or $1 million dollars, a tax expert told the newspaper.
Rauner has released summary tax forms but has declined to disclose other paperwork that would allow tax experts to figure out how much of his wealth comes from the offshore holdings. A Rauner spokesman told the Sun-Times that the offshore locations of the investment funds do not affect the Rauners’ tax rates since they pay state and federal taxes on that income. But the success of the funds themselves, and their ability to pay dividends to both individual investors like the Rauners and institutional ones like pension funds, is enhanced by having roots in a tax haven.
The exotic Caymans linkage will draw further scrutiny to Rauner’s wealth and tax maneuvering. Like many very rich people around the world, the Rauners are able to manipulate the tax code in ways that reduce their tax rate without violating the law. Despite pulling in $108 million in taxable income from 2010 to 2012 — more than enough to qualify for the top federal income tax bracket with rates of 35 percent or more — Rauner and his wife paid an effective tax rate below 20 percent. That is mostly due to how the tax code treats investment income differently from wage income. Capital gains are taxed at far lower rates than salaries.
Rauner has also benefited from “an accounting maneuver that blurs the lines” between normal income and lower-tax investment income, the Chicago Tribune reported in July. The IRS is scrutinizing the “fee waivers” that private equity companies use to shift their partners’ income from higher-tax categories to lower-tax ones.
Rauner’s campaign has received more than $4 million in funding from billionaire financial sector colleagues. He has injected nearly $10 million of his own money into his race against Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL). Quinn’s supporters are hoping to revive the same sorts of attacks on private equity and out-of-touch multimillionaires that helped sink Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. But Rauner, who made national news over the winter when he called for lowering the state’s minimum wage, has enjoyed a steady lead over Quinn in summer polling.
Hopefully Illinoisans have enough sense to keep Bruce Rauner out of the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.
h/t: Alan Pyke at Think Progress Election
Georgia, Meet Mitt Romney Lite
When Mitt Romney got pummeled in the 2012 election, the GOP was forced to reboot and consider how to attract candidates who can be more competitive. In Georgia, the GOP’s conclusion was to run an elitist millionaire with a checkered business record and an inability to understand the concerns of working families. Sound familiar?
But don’t worry, David Perdue isn’t a total clone of Mitt Romney. While Romney was serving as Governor of Massachusetts, for instance, David Perdue was busy tanking a company called Pillowtex, leaving its 7,500 workers out to dry and pocketing a cool $3.1 million in the process. It wasn’t the first batch of American jobsthat was killed under Perdue’s stewardship.
From 1994 to 1998, Perdue served as a senior vice-president at Haggar. Under his leadership, Haggar implemented an enormous shift of company employment and operations overseas. Thousands of American workers lost their jobs, and nearly 50% of the company’s domestic workforce was laid off, but Perdue brushed it off as being “in the best interest of the company.”
To wrap up his tidy business career, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that while Perdue was the CEO of Dollar General, female store managers were discriminated against and paid less than men. Dollar General ended up paying $15.5 million toward the members of the class action lawsuit, and in a separate case, it was forced to pay nearly $74,000 to a former employee after a district court found that she was fired for taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
So this is David Perdue’s business career–the one that he claims qualifies him to be a United States Senator. And he feels very qualified indeed: he previously attacked Karen Handel for being just a “high school graduate,” going on to say, “I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex. There’s only one candidate in this race that’s ever lived outside the United States.”
The worst part is this: from what little glimpse we have into Perdue’s stated policy positions, they are exactly as you would expect from his self-interested business career. Massive tax cuts for wealthy folks like himself and corporations, while increasing the tax burden on working families. Opposition to raising the minimum wage. Opposition to extending unemployment insurance for job seekers. Cutting Social Security and Medicarebenefits for seniors.
David Perdue has had it pretty good. And he wants to make life even better for himself at the expense of Georgia’s working families.
Perdue Opposed Raising The Federal Minimum Wage, And Said Obama’s Push To Raise Minimum Wage Was A Sign Of Broader Economic Problems. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Georgia’s five best-known Republican Senate candidates voiced unequivocal opposition Tuesday to raising the minimum wage, striking a clear contrast from Democratic hopefuls in what could be a preview of a general election clash. The five contenders blasted President Barack Obama’s call to raise the $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $10.10 as counterproductive, dishing out red meat to a sympathetic crowd at a National Federation of Independent Business forum. […] Former Fortune 500 executive David Perdue said Obama’s push is a broader sign of mounting economic problems.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/19/14]
All Five Republican Candidates For Senate Opposed Raising Minimum Wage. During the National Federation of Independent Businesses Georgia Small Business day forum, all five Republican candidates for Senate indicated they opposed raising the minimum wage. [National Federation of Independent Businesses Georgia Small Business Day, 2/18/14]
Perdue Opposed Extending Unemployment Insurance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Six of the leading GOP hopefuls each vowed to reject calls to extend unemployment insurance and vote against a comprehensive immigration overhaul gelling in the Senate.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/28/14]
All Five Republican Candidates For Senate Opposed Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits.During the Mayor’s Day Senate Forum in Atlanta, all five Republican candidates for Senate raised their hand to indicate they opposed extending federal unemployment benefits. [Mayor’s Day Senate Forum, 1/27/14]
Perdue Supported A National Sales Tax That Would Also Apply To Online Purchases, As A Replacement For The Federal Income Tax. According to Northwest Georgia News, “However, Perdue did say during a forum that he supports a national sales tax to replace the income tax and that it should apply to online purchases. Dickey argues that is not a new tax and that it wouldn’t amount to an increase the way Perdue wants to structure it.” [Northwest Georgia News, 6/19/14]
Video: Perdue Supported The Fair Tax. According to Hayden Collins’ interview with David Perdue, Perdue said, “Clearly, a Fair Tax in my mind, is a better solution than what we have now. And I think it warrants an active debate; I would support that debate over what we have now. And to be very direct, if I had a choice between a Fair Tax and what we have now, I would absolutely vote for a Fair Tax. I think there may be some hybrids in there that actually help us incent the economy in ways that maybe a Fair Tax we need to improve on, but clearly, it is absolutely a better alternative than what we have now.” [Hayden Collins Radio Program Interview with David Perdue, Accessed 9/29/13]
- Critics Said Fair Tax Would Primarily Benefit The Rich. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Even with the subsidies to poor families, critics argue, the tax would primarily benefit the rich because they save the largest share of their income.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/07]
SOCIAL SECURITY & MEDICARE
Perdue Supported Cutting Social Security And Medicare Benefits For Future Beneficiaries. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, “Perdue’s solution is honoring the obligations to anyone already receiving Social Security benefits, but changing the benefits for anyone coming into the workforce. ‘Their deal is going to have to be different,’ he said. Perdue would make the same changes to Medicare.” [Marietta Daily Journal, 2/16/14]
Pillowtex’s Revenues And Stock Price Dropped Dramatically Under Perdue
Under Perdue, Pillowtex Lost $27.6 Million Over Seven Months And Declined To The Verge Of Bankruptcy. According to the Tennessean, “Pillowtex proceeded to lose $27.6 million over the past seven months of 2002 and failed to meet certain requirements with lenders, bringing the company to the verge of another bankruptcy filing.” [Tennessean, 4/4/03]
Under Perdue, Pillowtex’s Stock Price Fell From $7.50 To $0.18. According to the Tennessean, “Its stock price has fallen dramatically as well, from approximately $7.50 when Perdue joined to 18 cents when Pillowtex announced his resignation on March 18.” [Tennessean, 4/4/03]
SunTrust Analyst Patrick McKeever: “[Perdue’s] Eight Months At Pillowtex Were Marked By A Further Deterioration In (Financial) Fundamentals And A Plummeting Stock.” According to the Tennessean, “The ult circumstances at Pillowtex raised the eyebrows of Dollar General analyst Patrick McKeever. ‘While Mr. Perdue spent four successful years at Reebok before Pillowtex and has an extensive background in consumer products and consulting, his eight months at Pillowtex were marked by a further deterioration in (financial) fundamentals and a plummeting stock,’ said McKeever, with SunTrust Equitable Securities.” [Tennessean, 4/4/03]
Pillowtex Employees Accused Perdue Of Being An Absentee CEO As The Company Failed
Pillowtex Workers Accused Perdue Of “Disappearing” While The Firm Was Failing. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “As he attempted to drum up a potential buyer for the plant, some company workers accused him of disappearing. The Charlotte Observer reported that some staffers referred to him as ‘Oz’ in a nod to the elusive wizard.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/9/13]
- Perdue Spent Much Of His Time At Pillowtex Traveling The World In Search Of A Buyer.According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The experience still weighs heavy on Perdue. Speaking publicly for the first time about his tenure there, he said he appealed to the company’s owners at Oaktree Capital to amp up their investment but that his request was declined. He spent much of his time at the firm’s helm traveling the globe seeking a buyer.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/9/13]
- Perdue’s Replacement At Pillowtex Said “I Have Been Effectively Operating As CEO” For Some Time. According to HFN, “Gannaway said Perdue has accepted another job outside the home textiles business and added that ‘I have been effectively operating as CEO’ for some time.” [HFN, 3/24/03]
Perdue Did Not Attend The Textiles Market As Pillowtex CEO, Despite Pillowtex Being A Textile Company. According to HFN, “Perdue and Gannaway, both textiles industry outsiders, joined Pillowtex right as the company was exiting bankruptcy proceedings last year. Perdue kept a very low trade profile and in fact never attended the textiles market last fall.” [HFN, 3/24/03]
Perdue Resigned In March 2003, After Seven Months On The Job. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “He resigned in March 2003 after seven months on the job.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/9/13]
Perdue Received Over $1 Million In Compensation From Pillowtex In January 2003, Two Months Before Leaving The Company And While He May Have Been Negotiating With Dollar General
Perdue Received Two Compensation Payments In January 2003 Totaling Over $1 Million
Perdue Received $312,500 From Pillowtex In January Of 2003, Two Months Before Leaving The Company, “As A Bonus For His Services During 2002.” According to Pillowtex’s corporate filings with the SEC, Perdue received $312,500 “As A Bonus For His Services During 2002.” [SEC Corporate Filings for Pillowtex, “Form 10-K - Annual report (Section 13 and 15(d), not S-K Item 405),” 3/28/2003]
Perdue’s Compensation Included “A Grossed-Up Cash Payment In The Amount Of $700,677,” Paid In January Of 2003, “To Be Applied Towards The Tax Obligation Of Mr. Perdue Resulting From The Issuance Of 101,215 Shares Of Common Stock As Part Of His Signing Bonus.” According to Pillowtex’s corporate filings with the SEC, Perdue’s additional compensation included $700,677 which was “to be applied towards the tax obligation of Mr. Perdue resulting from the issuance of 101,215 shares of Common Stock as part of his signing bonus.” [SEC Corporate Filings for Pillowtex, “Form 10-K - Annual report (Section 13 and 15(d), not S-K Item 405),” 3/28/2003]
July 2003: Pillowtex Filed For Bankruptcy. According to Daily Deal/The Deal, “The company sold the bulk of its operations to GGST LLC for $128 million in cash in an October 2003 auction. It sold the rest of its assets in multiple follow-up auctions. Pillowtex filed on July 30, 2003, one year and two months after emerging from its first bankruptcy.” [Daily Deal/The Deal, 4/27/05]
July 2003: Four Months After Perdue Left Pillowtex, The Company “Abruptly Closed” And Laid Off 7,650 Employees Nationwide. According to the Charlotte Observer, “Perdue was CEO of the former Kannapolis textile giant from mid-2002 to March 2003. Pillowtex abruptly closed in July 2003, laying off 7,650 people nationwide, including more than 4,000 in Cabarrus and Rowan counties — part of the largest single job loss in the history of North Carolina and the textile industry.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/27/13]
- Pillowtex Layoffs Left 4,800 North Carolina Workers Unemployed, The Largest Permanent Layoff In State History. According to the Independent Tribune, “Pillowtex ceased operations in July 2003. Plant One in Kannapolis, the former Cannon Mills, had been in operation since 1906. About 4,800 people were laid off — the largest permanent layoff in North Carolina’s history. The Pillowtex closing slammed the economy of Kannapolis and Cabarrus County, since it was the largest economic engine in the county at the time. [Independent Tribune, 5/6/10]
Salisbury Post: Pillowtex Was “Duped” By Perdue
Salisbury Post Editorial: Pillowtex Was “Duped” By Perdue, Believing He Had A “Midas Touch” Before His Departure. In an editorial, the Salisbury Post wrote: “A search firm helped the Pillowtex board lure him away from Reebok International to turn things around at the Kannapolis company and make the most of its brands. Anyone who has followed Pillowtex knows the story. Perdue took office July 1, 2002, and left in March 2003 ‘to pursue other interests.’ Within two weeks, Dollar General announced it had ended its six-month search for a top executive by choosing Perdue as its new CEO. Pillowtex directors must have thought they were investing in a solution, that Perdue had a Midas touch. They were dazzled and maybe dazed, and in the end they appear to have been duped. Decisions like this help explain what went wrong at Pillowtex, and why thousands of former employees are now looking for a job.” [Salisbury Post via Associated Press, 10/22/03]
Charlotte Observer: Perdue “Made Critical Miscalculations”
Charlotte Observer: Perdue “Made Critical Miscalculations And Missed Opportunities To Combat The Growing Import Problem” In Pillowtex’s Final Years According to the Charlotte Observer, “After its collapse, company leaders and politicians were quick to blame pressure from low-cost imports for its demise. But Perdue and three other men who ran the company in its final years made critical miscalculations and missed opportunities to combat the growing import problem, an Observer investigation found.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/27/13]
Industry Analysts: “Shortsightedness And Management Mistakes” Caused Pillowtex’s Collapse
Former Company Executives And Industry Observers Pointed To Pillowtex’s Sluggish Adaptation To A Changing Textile Market, As Well As Irresponsible Acquisitions, As The Cause Of Its Collapse.According to the News & Record, “In the weeks since Pillowtex collapsed, everyone from Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards to the laid-off workers in the unemployment lines seem to have agreed on one thing: it wasChina’s fault. Pillowtex, the thinking goes, was simply the latest in a long line of companies to succumb to the onslaught of cheap imports from countries with a fraction of U.S. labor costs. But, former company executives and industry observers, contacted by the News & Record, say foreign trade was just one element in a broader trend of shortsightedness and management mistakes that eventually led to the downfall of one of the country’s largest textile companies. Management that was slow to adapt to changes in the home textile industry, a series of costly acquisitions that created huge debt but little profit, and a weak strategy exiting the company’s first bankruptcy, in 2002, all led to Pillowtex’s demise, executives and observers said.” [News & Record, 9/28/03]
Kingston Attacked Perdue For Pillowtex Record And Claimed He “Mismanaged Pillowtex.” According to the Charlotte Observer, “Kingston later ran an ad with a young child named ‘Davey’ in a full diaper, stuffing his face with cake as a narrator intoned, ‘Perdue chewed up businesses. Eight thousand jobs were lost … David Perdue. Something doesn’t smell right. …’ The ad, and another one making similar claims about Perdue ‘mismanaging Pillowtex,’ were faulted by FactCheck.org and PolitiFact Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s independent, fact-checking arm, for inaccuracies.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/21/14]
Kingston Said Perdue Took A Golden Parachute “On The Way Out The Door.” According to the Florida Times-Union, “He focused his sights on Perdue, a political newcomer running on his strengths as a chief executive of companies like Reebok and Dollar General. Kingston, though, zeroed in on Perdue’s seven-month tenure at the head of Pillowtex, a North Carolina textile firm with shaky finances that wound up closing with 4,000 workers losing their jobs in 2003. That was at a time when any textile company that hadn’t failed or moved overseas was struggling. ‘We have one candidate who has a long history of laying off people, hundreds — indeed, thousands of jobs — and taking golden parachutes on the way out the door,’ Kingston said. ‘Well, that doesn’t create jobs and wealth in Georgia.’” [Florida Times-Union, 5/2/14]
Perdue Served As A Senior Vice-President At Haggar Between 1994 And 1998. According to MSNBC, “When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Oversaw Haggar’s “International Operations” As Senior Vice-President, As Well As Domestic Operations Later In His Tenure. According to MSNBC, “When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
Perdue Was Hired To Oversee “All Haggar Manufacturing Outside Of The United States.” According to Southwest Newswire, “Perdue will be responsible for all Haggar manufacturing outside the United States, which currently accounts for over 60 percent of production, including both company owned facilities and contractors.” [Southwest Newswire, 8/30/94]
Under Perdue’s Leadership, Haggar Closed Factories In America And Outsourced Production Overseas “Where Labor Was Cheap And Regulations Were Less Restrictive.” According to MSNBC, “When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well. Under his watch, the company did what so many clothing manufacturers did at the time: closed down factory lines in America and outsourced production overseas where labor was cheap and regulations were less restrictive.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
Perdue Said Haggar’s Shift From U.S. Operations To Operations Overseas Was In The Company’s Best Interests. According to MSNBC, “In an interview, Perdue said he and his colleagues approached the factory closings with a ‘social conscience,’ but determined the move abroad was in the best interest of the company.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Said “The Mexican Product Had An Advantage” Over A Product Made In South Texas, Because The “Cost Sheet” Of A Mexican Product Was Less Expensive. According to MSNBC, “‘We very definitely looked at trying to maintain as much volume as we could [in America],’ Perdue told MSNBC. ‘The problem was if you looked at the cost sheet of a product made in Mexico versus a product made in South Texas … the Mexican product had an advantage.’” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Claimed That Haggar’s “Shift To Factories Abroad” Was Unavoidable Due To Declining Sales For American-Made Products, Cheap Clothing From Competitors, And NAFTA. According to MSNBC, “Perdue said Haggar’s shift to factories abroad was the unavoidable result of several factors, including declining sales for some of the company’s American-made products, increasingly cheap clothing from rivals who had outsourced production earlier, and the 1994 ratification of NAFTA, which reduced duties on Mexican-imported goods. ‘We fundamentally restructured a company for survival,’ Perdue said. ‘Another way to look at this is we saved a couple thousand jobs.’” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Argued That Haggar’s Outsourcing Represented A “Fundamental Restructuring” Of The Company In Order To Survive, And Therefore “Saved A Couple Thousand Jobs.” According to MSNBC, “Perdue said Haggar’s shift to factories abroad was the unavoidable result of several factors, including declining sales for some of the company’s American-made products, increasingly cheap clothing from rivals who had outsourced production earlier, and the 1994 ratification of NAFTA, which reduced duties on Mexican-imported goods. ‘We fundamentally restructured a company for survival,’ Perdue said. ‘Another way to look at this is we saved a couple thousand jobs.’” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
In 2006, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Found That Female Store Managers At Dollar General Were Discriminated Against And Paid Less Than Similarly Situated Male Managers.According to Mother Jones, “But Perdue’s record on women’s issues—specifically, whether women are entitled to equal pay for equal work—is far from clean. In 2006, three years into Perdue’s four-plus years as Dollar General’s CEO, federal investigators at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that female store managers who worked for the company he ran ‘were discriminated against,’ and ‘generally were paid less than similarly situated male managers performing duties requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility.’” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
In 2007, Thousands Of Female Managers Joined A Class Action Wage Discrimination Lawsuit Against Dollar General. According to Mother Jones, “A year later, separate from that investigation, thousands of female managers who were paid less than their male counterparts joined a class action suit against the company—which Dollar General eventually settled, paying the women more than $15 million.” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
- Dollar General Allegedly Set Up A Pay System That Permitted Stereotypes About Men And Women To Be Used In Judging Their Pay. According to Mother Jones, “‘Dollar General has set up a pay system which permits stereotypes about men and women to be used in judging their pay, performance, and salary needs,’ female Dollar General managers claimed in sworn statements. ‘This includes stereotypes about men being the breadwinner, head of the household, or just more deserving because they are men.’” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
The EEOC Issued Right-To-Sue Notices, Addressed To Perdue, Beginning In 2007. According to Mother Jones, “The EEOC, which must green-light pay discrimination lawsuits before they can proceed in federal court, began issuing right-to-sue notices addressed to Perdue beginning in 2007. Dollar General’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for that year—Perdue’s last year with the company—stated, ‘The Company believes that the case is not appropriate for class or collective treatment and that its policies and practices comply with the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. The Company intends to vigorously defend the action.’” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
As Part Of A Settlement, Dollar General Paid $15.5 Million Towards A Fund For Members Of The Class And Millions More In Legal Fees. According to Mother Jones, “The next several years saw more failed attempts by Dollar General to convince the court to decertify the class. In early 2011, the company allowed the case to go to mediation. A year later, the court finalized Dollar General’s agreement to pay $15.5 million toward a fund for members of the class, $2.8 million for a claims administrator, and $3.25 million in attorneys’ fees. The company also committed to altering its employee compensation policies.” [Mother Jones,5/21/14]
Dollar General Sued For Firing Another Female Employee For Taking Time Off Under The Family Medical Leave Act. According to Mother Jones, “In another case, a district court forced Dollar General to pay nearly $74,000 to Martha Bryant, a diabetic employee it fired in 2004 for taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act. Dollar General argued that the law does not prohibit retaliation against employees who take FMLA leave. Dollar General appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the district court’s judgment against Dollar General.” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
Perdue Endorsed The Government Shutdown. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has been running as a non-congressional candidate, but endorsed the shutdown and its aim. So did David Perdue, a former Dollar General chief executive, who has raised more cash than anyone in the GOP race but Kingston. Perdue reported $800,000 in contributions — plus $1 million out of his own pocket — raised as of Sept. 30.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/20/13]
Perdue Opposed Bipartisan Deal To End Government Shutdown. According to the Associated Press, “All eight Republicans favor repeal of Obama’s health care overhaul. All oppose abortion rights. All three congressmen voted against the bipartisan deal to end the partial government shutdown last fall, and Perdue, Handel and the lesser-known candidates all say they’d have voted the same way.” [Associated Press, 1/27/14]
Video: Perdue Said That Shutting Down The Federal Government “Doesn’t Bother Me A Minute – But If You Want To Shut It Down, Shut It Down.” According to a speech by David Perdue at the Henry County GOP Meeting, “Shutting this government down doesn’t bother me a minute. But if you want to shut it down, shut it down. They didn’t do that. Second thing is, I don’t care what you do, you can’t play around by even backing into a failed threat of defaulting on the federal debt. Cannot do that. […] We can’t play around with that.” [Video – David Perdue Speech At Henry County GOP Meeting, 1/7/14]
One of the more striking developments in the last presidential campaign was Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” video. It wasn’t just the elitist attitude the failed Republican candidate displayed when he thought the public couldn’t see him; it was also the underlying ideology. Romney laid bare an ideology that looks at roughly half the American population as lazy parasites.What we didn’t know at the time is that he also helped mark the beginning of a trend. In North Carolina, for example, Senate hopeful Thom Tillis had his own 47-percent-style video in which he called for a “divide and conquer” campaign against Americans who rely on public assistance to get by. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) ran into a similar problem, as did Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli (R).It looks like Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Bob Beauprez (R) has joined the club.On Wednesday, as Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez toured Colorado to “build unity,” a video surfaced that Democrats say shows his divisiveness.The video shows Beauprez in a speech to the Denver Rotary Club in 2010 making comments that echo those that hurt Mitt Romney’s challenge to President Barack Obama two years later.“I see something that frankly doesn’t surprise me, having been on Ways and Means Committee: 47 percent of all Americans pay no federal income tax,” Beauprez said in the video. “I’m guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47 percent – God bless you – but what that tells me is that we’ve got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill, and most of that half is you all.”In fairness, it’s worth emphasizing that the video is four years old – unlike the Romney video, which was recorded during the campaign – though Beauprez continues to believe exactly what he said in 2010. Indeed, the Denver Post report added, “Reached while traveling, Beauprez’s campaign stood by the remarks.”And that’s the problem.Ed Kilgore noted in response, “Lord knows how many of these ‘47 percent’ videos are floating around, or will yet be made. Truth is, this line of ‘argument’ is like a bottomless crack pipe for Republicans, flattering their ‘base’ as the people actually doing all the work in our society and blasting those people as not only lazy and worthless but as dupes of a shady vote-buying elite.”I’d just add that Beauprez’s perspective appears to be based, at least in part, on some basic confusion about tax policy. The Republican is concerned about the “47 percent of all Americans [who] pay no federal income tax,” but this is an incomplete look at a larger picture.As we’ve discussed before, millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes because they simply don’t make enough money, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes. It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something – the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify. Indeed, many are retirees who can’t earn an income because they’re no longer in the workforce.Indeed, we can go one step further with this and ask Bob Beauprez a simple question: do you believe it’s time for Congress to increase federal income taxes on 47 percent of the country?Remember, Republicans oppose tax hikes with every fiber of their being, unless we’re talking about the poor, in which case the right sees raising taxes as a real possibility.This isn’t complicated. The GOP candidate for governor believes 47 percent of the population isn’t doing enough to “pay the bills” in the United States. Fine. Then how much does Beauprez want to raise their taxes to remedy this injustice?
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) asserted on Sunday that Congress had not passed comprehensive immigration reform because its “largest opponent” was President Barack Obama.
In an interview on Fox News, Price defended Republicans who were insisting that the party replace House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) with someone who opposed immigration reform after he lost his primary last week.
Fox News host Chris Wallace reminded Price that former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had lost to Obama by 44 points among Hispanic voters in 2012.
"Don’t you have to do something to appeal more?" Wallace wondered. "And immigration is certainly one of the things that Hispanics care about. Don’t you have to do something if you’re going to avoid getting in real trouble at the ballot box in 2014, and especially 2016?"
Price agreed that the immigration system was broken, but argued “that it is the president that is the largest opponent to immigration reform.”
"It was Mitt Romney who lost among Hispanics, sir," Wallace noted.
"That doesn’t negate the fact that President Obama in 2011 who said the border is secure," Price insisted. "The president was being deceitful with the American people on this."
"What did he do this weekend to correct that?" the Georgia Republican continued. "He went and gave a hyper-partisan commencement speech, and then went and played golf. That’s the frustration that my constituents have. This is a president who is disengaged on solving this challenge of immigration."
To listen to Mitt Romney, George W. Bush never existed or led the country into two horrible and entirely avoidable wars with his pal Dick Cheney. Next he’ll claim the economic crisis was Obama’s fault too.
On Meet the Press this morning, failed candidate Romney had plenty of blame to spread on President Obama and Hillary Clinton about the situation in Iraq. Evidently his memory has gotten more flawed since he failed to win the Presidency in 2012.
First, the history lesson. The status of forces agreement failed candidate Romney claims is an Obama/Clinton failure was actually a George W. Bush failure. Bush negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement. Obama was hoping to get a framework in place after that agreement to allow a small residual force, but the Iraqis refused. It’s their country. What was Obama supposed to do? Recommit to invading and knocking out the government the United States installed?
When it comes to underestimating the threat, no one did that better than failed candidate Mitt Romney. Here’s a guy who completely missed the fact that he was going to lose his bid for the White House in 2012. It came as a complete shock to him. Why anyone thinks he’s credible on matters of strategic importance is beyond me.
Mitt Romney is a political failure and a joke. The idea that he merits any consideration in a serious discussion of a serious problem is laughable. If this is the best Republicans can put up to display their political and national security acumen to the nation, they’re all failures.
Former Bush speechwriter turned Washington Post op-ed writer Michael Gerson wants the viewers of CBS’ Face the Nation to believe that the members of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s unit that have been coming out in droves to attack him in the media would not have been doing so if the Obama administration hadn’t called his service “honorable.’
Never mind that Fox regular and former Bolton and Romney adviser, Richard Grenell’s PR firm is behind coordinating their media interviews, which I suspect had to be in the works well before President Obama or Susan Rice made any statements about the release and prisoner swap to the press, given how quickly they were ready to get them on the air.
No never mind that, the president made them do it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know I must say that I— I do agree with Tom when he says, you know, we always have to go and get our people. We can never leave our people behind. But what happened after that is the part that I— I kind of have a problem with is this Rose Garden ceremony and all that. Michael, you were at the White House—
MICHAEL GERSON: Sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: —how did that strike you?
For the second time this week, a CEO of a major fast food company came out in support of raising the minimum wage. Dairy Queen’s CEO John Gainor made a simple case for why Congress should raise the minimum wage from $7.25, in an interview CNN aired on Thursday: “It takes a lot of time to train people,” he said. “You want to make sure you’re paying a very good wage, otherwise you have a lot of turnover.”
“People need to be paid a fair wage,” Gainor said.
Dairy Queen has 4,800 locations, and the company did not have data on what the average hourly worker makes. But Huffington Post notes that wages reported on Glassdoor average $8 per hour. Noting that Dairy Queen hires “a lot of teenage and part-time employees,” Gainor estimated many people must be earning the bare minimum at the chain’s franchisees.
Subway CEO Fred DeLuca also announced Wednesday he’s “not concerned” about a proposed minimum wage hike. “Over the years, I’ve seen so many of these wage increases. I think it’s normal. It won’t have a negative impact hopefully, and that’s what I tell my workers.” Even though DeLuca acknowledged raises should be “normal,” the federal minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation, increasing only slightly in 2008. Subway and Dairy Queen aren’t the only new supporters of a wage hike: former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joined the chorus on Thursday.
Not only would a $10.10 minimum wage lift 4.6 million people out of poverty, but the chains that have tried it have benefited, too. Shake Shack has noted that a $10.70 wage helps the company to retain more of their employees, reducing turnover and growing them into managers.
First Subway, now Dairy Queen.
Both those restaurants’ CEOs have correctly said that raising the Minimum Wage is beneficial to their businesses and economy.
However, not every franchise owner of the two chains mentioned are not in favor of raising the MW, using anti-MW talking points from the National Restaurant Association and/or the GOP to do so.
Two groups opposing the potential 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton are fundraising off of Benghazi. The groups aim to use the money to keep Benghazi in the news through earned media coverage and advertising smearing Clinton as “responsible for 4 dead American patriots in Benghazi.”
The groups join conservative pundits such as John Bolton, Mike Huckabee, and Allen West, who have all been fundraising off of the 2012 attacks. The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee are also soliciting funds while invoking Benghazi.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is leading a recently formed House select committee to investigate the thoroughly investigated attacks, has asked Republicans not to fundraise off of Benghazi (Gowdy himself has ”discussed the supposed Benghazi scandal at fundraisers and campaign events”).
Anti-Clinton groups Stop Hillary PAC and America Rising PAC are cashing in on Benghazi. Solicitations claim Clinton lied about the attacks and is “complicit in the deaths of four Americans when she left them to burn in Benghazi.”
Stop Hillary PAC states it was “created for one reason only - to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes President of the United States.” The group is headed by Republican Colorado State Sen. Ted Harvey, and backed by political professionals who previously worked for Republicans such as Sen. John McCain and Rep. Tom Price.
America Rising was formed by Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager and Republican National Committee staffers. The super PAC aims to “ensure we never see another Clinton administration.” It reportedly also sells its research to Republican groups such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.
The groups make clear their fundraising is part of a strategy to keep Benghazi in the news. Stop Hillary PAC has stated they need money to speak “on FoxNews and mainstream media outlets,” and air “hard hitting radio ads reminding Americans that Hillary is responsible for 4 dead American patriots in Benghazi.” America Rising has said their research is aimed at “earned media coverage” and “reporters and bloggers looking for information.”
The push to fundraise off of Benghazi is part of Republican efforts to capitalize on tragedies by using them to try to hamstring a potential Clinton run. RNC chair Reince Priebus took to Twitter last night to attack Clinton for a “leadership failure” over the recent kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the extremist group Boko Haram.
Stop Hillary PAC
The Stop Hillary PAC has sent 15 fundraising emails mentioning Benghazi since April, according to a Media Matters review.
An April 15 email claimed “Hillary is complicit in the deaths of four Americans when she left them to burn in Benghazi.” It later asked for “your most generous contribution of $100, $50, $25 — or even $5 — IMMEDIATELY.” A May 7 email demanded the House select committee on Benghazi subpoena Clinton, who “is complicit with the White House in selling the American people a bold-faced-lie.” It later asked readers to “chip in $5.”
The Stop Hillary PAC states it will use the friendly confines of Fox News to speak out against Clinton. Treasurer Dan Backer wrote on April 10 that the group’s “battle plan” includes “Speaking on FoxNews and mainstream media outlets” and running ads on television and elsewhere:
Ted Harvey wrote on April 24 that it needed money so it could air “More hard hitting radio ads reminding Americans that Hillary is responsible for 4 dead American patriots in Benghazi.”
An ad released by the group purports to highlight various Clinton scandals — among them are “Benghazi” and “Vince Foster.” Foster was a deputy White House counsel that committed suicide in 1993 and conservative conspiracy theorists have repeatedly suggested the Clintons had him murdered.
On October 29, 2013, America Rising sent an email touting the since-retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi as “must-watch” and “scathing.” The group remarked, “our central mission is doing the research now to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her national security failures, especially in Benghazi, to make sure we never have to experience a Hillary Clinton Administration.” It then asked for donations so “we can ensure we never see another Clinton administration.”
America Rising sent a May 1 email claiming “the Obama Administration said they released all the emails related to the Benghazi talking points. You shouldn’t be shocked to find out that was a lie … They played politics with Benghazi to protect Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” They then added: “Contribute $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can to help us continue to do the research necessary to expose these lies and prevent a third Clinton administration.”
The media plays heavily in America Rising’s strategy in disseminating attacks against Clinton. When the group launched, The Washington Post wrote that “the group plans to test different dissemination methods for maximum impact. Campaigns will include social media, digital advertising and PR aimed at earned media coverage.” Executive director Tim Miller told Politico that its site “serves as a resource for voters, reporters and bloggers looking for information.”
Perhaps if the Republicans can’t beat Hillary Clinton fairly in 2016, they can make her so disgusted by the prospect of running that she’ll stay out of the race.
That’s where the Benghazi-Industrial Complex comes in.
Clinton’s 20-year sojourn in public life has been bracketed, jarringly, by two pseudo-scandals, both involving the tragic and less-than-fully-explained death of an important man in Hillary’s orbit. In between there have been assorted smears and public humiliations, including real traumas like Monicagate, the cumulative effect of which has been to make Hillary reluctant to reenter the political game. Or so many of her friends and aides say, and so Republicans must be hoping.
It all began in 1993 – just six months into her term as first lady – with the death of her close friend, deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, whose shocking suicide on a grassy knoll outside Washington fed a never-ending meme of Clintonian perfidy. (Rush Limbaugh still sometimes makes jokes about Hillary’s opponents ending up “in Fort Marcy Park.”) As Clinton left Foggy Bottom two decades later, she was hounded by angry right-wing allegations in the final months of her tenure as secretary of state that the Obama administration had covered up the real reasons for the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 2012—in part to fend off Mitt Romney’s campaign criticisms and perhaps even, in the more elaborate version of this conspiracy theory, to protect Hillary’s 2016 ambitions.
There were, and are, legitimate questions about Clinton’s conduct before and after Benghazi. She was, after all, the first secretary of state to lose an ambassador in the field since George Shultz in 1988. According to the conclusions of her own Accountability Review Board, chaired by retired Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and vice chaired by former Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen, “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” might have contributed to the four deaths. (Even so, somewhat controversially, the report confined its findings to the failures at “senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department,” Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs, and did not cite Clinton.) In emotional testimony before Congress just before she left office, Clinton said that she had not personally read an August 16, 2012, cable from Stevens that raised questions about security, and she did not appear to know about a decision to turn down a request for more security in Libya, as detailed in a House Republican report in April of last year. “I didn’t see those requests. They didn’t come to me. I didn’t approve them. I didn’t deny them,” she said.
If all that is true—and it would indeed be unusual for a secretary of state to be personally making decisions about diplomatic security arrangements—it’s fair to ask why Clinton seemed to be too busy to deal with new threats in a critical region or appear herself on TV to discuss the murder of a U.S. ambassador. Sure, we know that Hillary hates doing the Sunday talk shows, but so what? She bore far more responsibility for Benghazi than the unlucky person the administration sent out in her stead, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whose shaky performance deep-sixed her own Foggy Bottom ambitions.
But these are issues of competence, not corruption. There is as little evidence that Clinton or anyone else in the administration engaged in a cover-up of Benghazi as there is that Hillary ordered the whacking of her old friend Vince Foster. It is a fantastical notion that continues not just to survive but thrive, in defiance of any application of fact, among the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary decried so long ago.
Last week saw an abrupt resurgence of Benghazi conspiracy-theorizing when the conservative group Judicial Watch released previously undisclosed emails from the White House obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request (headline: “JW Finds Benghazi Smoking Gun!”). This event was followed, like clockwork in a time bomb, by yet another hearing held by Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. Pursuing their standard playbook dating from the Whitewater years, leading Republicans called for a whole new round of probes.
“We need a joint select committee to find out the truth about #Benghazi — NOW,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, and the House promptly convened one. Issa melodramatically subpoenaed Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, to explain the administration’s “disturbing, perhaps criminal” behavior in withholding a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
The Rhodes email, in truth, did little but to lay out an unsurprising and fairly standard strategy for prepping Rice for her TV interviews later that week on Benghazi and other issues. But, innocuous as it was, that didn’t stop the Benghazi-Industrial Complex (call it the BIC, for short) from resurrecting its favorite term: “smoking gun.” “If this is not a smoking gun, proving beyond any doubt, the story told by the administration about Benghazi was politically motivated and fabricated, nothing will ever prove that,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has been eagerly trying to shore up his conservative credentials to fend off a Tea Party challenger. Rush Limbaugh declared on his radio show that “the memo shows that there was a massive cover-up.”
Let’s face it: The BIC is here to stay, fueled by a mania on the right to somehow, in some way, validate Issa’s declaration that Obama is the “one of the most corrupt presidents of modern times” and, above all, to tarnish Clinton ahead of 2016 by linking the former secretary of state directly to the deaths of Stevens and the others. “Which is Hillary Clinton’s worst scandal?” asked a Tea-Party affiliated site, TownHall.com, conveniently providing boxes to allow participants to check-mark an episode from “her shady history”: Benghazi, Vince Foster, Whitewater or Travelgate. Another Tea Party site went further still, headlining a recent thread, “Hillary Clinton: The Butcher of Benghazi?” and illustrating it with a photoshopped image of her holding up bloody hands. “Someone tweets about Benghazi every 12 seconds. Not every 12 days or every 12 minutes, but every 12 seconds,” National Journal recorded last week, citing the social-media tracking firm Topsy. In the past 30 days, Benghazi and Clinton have been mentioned almost in unison on Twitter, with the former earning 219,325 mentions to Hillary’s 219,163. Benghazi has, in effect, become Hillary’s social-media twin, at least among conservatives.
Nor are some conspiracists shy about tying Clinton’s behavior over Benghazi to the never-dying suspicions about her alleged role in Foster’s death. “The Clintons got away with ANOTHER murder,” one Tea Party Command Center commentator, Barry Venables, wrote recently. And the Hillary haters are developing scenarios as crazy as when Dan Burton, then an Indiana congressman, fired a pistol at a large melon in his backyard to prove that Foster had been murdered. Not surprisingly, Fox News has led the way, with host Eric Bolling suggesting in recent days that Hillary staged her concussion in 2012, when she fainted and fell, so that Rice would have to “take the bullet” on TV (never mind that Clinton suffered the concussion two months later), and that the White House cover-up began 20 months ago in preparation for Clinton’s 2016 run. Other Fox commentators gleefully free-associated scandals, likening Benghazi to Watergate. “If only Nixon knew all he had to do was fall down,” radio talk-show host Tammy Bruce tweeted. Fox, in fact, has made Benghazi a permanent part of its programming, mentioning the word on no fewer than 1,101 programs in the past year, according to Nexis. The chyron “Benghazi” is almost as much of a permanent fixture on Fox as “Breaking News” is on CNN.
How does all this connect with the facts? It doesn’t seem to matter that the gradually emerging story about Benghazi has, if anything, only seemed to back the administration’s original account of the violence against Stevens and the other Americans. Recall that the central issue for the critics was — and is — whether the “talking points” mainly drafted by the CIA and provided to Susan Rice for her appearances on the Sunday talk shows accurately reflected what the U.S. intelligence community knew at the time, or whether the administration knowingly misrepresented this intelligence. Accurately summing up the CIA talking points, Rice had said in her TV interviews that the administration believed that the attacks were to some degree spontaneous, partly motivated by demonstrations in Cairo and other cities against a U.S.-made video lampooning the Prophet Mohammad. Still, Rice noted that “extremist elements” might have taken part—again reflecting the intelligence community’s contemporaneous assessment (though Rice might have emphasized the video more than the talking points warranted).
The balance of evidence today, according to intelligence officials and corroborating news reports, is that the terrible events of Sept. 12, 2012, pretty much played out in the way Rice said back then. Authorities still believe that extremist groups opportunistically exploited the anti-American demonstrations in the region to launch the attacks. True, intelligence officials did get one major thing wrong. It took a week or so after Rice’s TV appearances to clarify, for certain, that there had been no protests in Benghazi itself before the assault on the compound—and that, as the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement on Sept. 28, two weeks after Rice appeared, “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”
But there is no evidence that the administration substantially misrepresented what it knew at the time. Or that Clinton, Obama, Rhodes or anyone else covered up or even downplayed any evidence of a planned al Qaeda attack—as Republicans have consistently alleged—so that the president could continue to boast of his success against terrorism on the campaign trail. If the talking points were extensively edited after an interagency consultation, that was fairly normal procedure too. Shortly after the Benghazi attacks, Republicans also made much of news reports that the White House and State Department had been tipped within hours that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved (“Smoking gun!” tweeted conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin—of course). In fact, however, it took a long time for authorities to identify any actual culprits, and the administration responsibly handed the investigation over to the FBI. (It wasn’t until August of 2013 that the FBI had enough evidence to file the first charges.) Lacking solid evidence, Obama even avoided the temptation of ordering what would have been a politically popular “October surprise”—a counterattack on the terrorists responsible for the assault—before the 2012 election. Another popular meme on the right—trotted out again by Issa at last week’s hearing—is that the Obama administration failed to act militarily to save Stevens and the others, but even the Republican majority on House Armed Services Committee, in a report issued in February, says that is untrue.
And what of the new claims of a cover-up generated by Judicial Watch’s release of the Rhodes memo and other previously undisclosed emails? Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina House Republican named to head the new select committee on Benghazi, told Fox News on Friday that he has evidence that not only is the White House hiding information, “there is an intent to hide it.” But that probably won’t stand up to scrutiny either. An Obama administration official told Politico that the White House didn’t supply the emails previously because Congress never asked for them. A May 2013 subpoena from the Oversight Committee sought any communications between Rice and a specific group of State Department aides, but did not mention senior White House officials such as Rhodes.
That doesn’t add up to much of a scandal. But it’s already too late for the truth. Benghazi has taken on a cultural life of its own on the right. It has become embedded in the Democratic demonology of the conservative base. It is now shorthand for a new generation of right-wing conspiracy-theorizing about the Clintons that Republican candidates know will excite conservative voters; Benghazi has become to the 2010s what Vince Foster and Whitewater were to the 1990s.
And perhaps, in the end, the prospect of facing down accusations over Benghazi alone won’t matter much to her. Between the bloody chaos in Syria, Iraq and the larger Arab world, violence in Afghanistan and the standoff with Russia over Ukraine—despite her effort at a “reset” of relations—Clinton will have a lot else to defend in her record if she runs. Real issues, in other words. With Benghazi or not, any presidential campaign is going to be ugly. But the Benghazi-Industrial Complex is going to be as toxic as anything Hillary has faced since … Vince Foster. Is she ready?
Ted Cruz, Who Said Uninsured Should Just Get Health Care From ERs, Backs Group That Wants ERs To Turn Away Uninsured People
When he was running for office two years ago, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas insisted that rather than expanding Medicaid, Texas should just let the uninsured get all their health care from emergency rooms. The argument that emergency rooms are an acceptable backup for the uninsured has also been used by Mitt Romney, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint and many other prominent Republicans.
But now, some members of the GOP are trying to keep the uninsured from using emergency rooms at all. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is pushing Congress to allow hospitals to turn people away from emergency rooms, and Georgia congressman and US Senate candidate Paul Broun – who previously cited ERs to claim that “everyone has access” to health care – has introduced a bill that would allow ERs to treat only patients who they determine have an “emergency medical condition.”
Now, the Madison Project, a Tea Party group that has earned the high-profile backing of Sen. Cruz in its effort to defeat three sitting GOP senators in primaries this year, is also advocating for allowing emergency rooms to turn away anybody not deemed to need immediate emergency care.
In a blog post on the group’s website yesterday, Madison Project policy director Daniel Horowitz writes of taking his son to the emergency room only to encounter a waiting room “full of illegals” (although he doesn’t specify how he knew the citizenship status of his fellow patients), including “adults who, let’s just say, did not look like they were about to keel over.”
My wife and I were entreated to the chaos of emergency room care last night after our two-year-old son slipped while climbing onto a high kitchen counter and banged his head on the floor. He had a massive lump on his forehead and we were concerned about internal bleeding. When we drove to the closest hospital, the waiting room was full of illegals. Most of them were adults who, let’s just say, did not look like they were about to keel over. Opting not to wait all night simply for a decision whether to put our son through a CT scan, we drove for a half hour in the rain to a hospital that was less likely to be full of those who use ERs for regular care.
Thank God our son recovered and there was no internal bleeding, but in a different situation that extra time could have been critical. Also, if you ever wonder why you get hosed with outrageous bills simply for stepping foot in a hospital, look no farther than the “undocumented” costs of illegal aliens.
The solution for this, Horowitz concludes, is to allow hospitals “to turn away people from ERs if they do not have an immediate need for emergency care” thereby “solv[ing] the problem of illegal immigrants using ERs for primary care.”
The problems with illegal immigrants and emergency hospital care also provide us with an opportunity to examine true free market healthcare reform. Any GOP healthcare proposal must be predicated not on “replacing” Obamacare, but on fixing even some of the anti-market federal policies that existed before passage of the monstrosity.
One of those policies is the mandate on hospitals to treat everyone who comes to an ER – including illegal immigrants – irrespective of whether they are suffering from a real emergency. In 1986, Congress passed The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which was ostensibly the first act in universal healthcare mandates.
If we ever plan to curb skyrocketing hospital costs and improve access to emergency care, we must address this massive unfunded federal mandate of EMTALA. Among the provisions of Rep. Paul Broun’s Patient Option Act, which is one of the best healthcare reform proposals, are some good reforms of emergency and indigent care. Under Broun’s proposal, hospitals would be allowed to turn away people from ERs if they do not have an immediate need for emergency care. This would solve the problem of illegal immigrants using ERs for primary care.
Could it be that Tea Party leaders like Sen. Cruz never actually thought that emergency rooms were suitable alternatives for the uninsured and were instead just looking for any excuse not to expand insurance coverage?
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has a history of illegal behavior and controversial comments — facts that were left out of mainstream print reporting on GOP candidates trying to win his favor last week.
The Republican Jewish Coalition met March 27-29 in Las Vegas, and the event was dubbed the “Adelson Primary" as GOP presidential hopefuls used the meeting to fawn over magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm, who reportedly spent nearly $150 million attempting to buy the 2012 election with donations to a super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads). Before switching allegiance to Romney, Adelson had donated millions to Newt Gingrich. He has also given generously in the past to super PACs associated with a variety of Republican politicians, including Scott Walker, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor.
Hoping to benefit from Adelson’s largesse, potential 2016 Republican candidates including Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gathered at Adelson’s casino to “kiss the ring.”
While Republicans’ efforts to court Adelson made big news in print media over the past week, none of the articles mentioning Adelson in The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, or The Wall Street Journal mentioned that he has come under investigation for illegal business practices, including bribery, or his history of extreme remarks.
A search of the Nexis and Factiva databases from March 24 to March 31 turned up several articles in the papers mentioning the billionaire, none of which mentioned Adelson’s checkered past. The New York Times called Adelson “one of the Republican Party’s most coveted and fearsome moneymen” and detailed his current fight against online gambling, while The Washington Post's March 25 preview of the event simply reported that Adelson was “driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling.”
In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also “came under investigation by Chinese regulators.”
Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in “legal fees.” (ProPublica reported that “several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns” about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.
Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimatelyadmitted there were “likely violations” of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of “accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.”
Adelson has been described as a “fervent Zionist” for his opposition to any Palestinian state, and his hatred of Islam goes so far that he has said ”You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorist,’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.” He has suggested that all Palestinians “teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys,” and said that “all they want to do is kill” Jews.
As Rick Perlstein has noted in Rolling Stone, Adelson is also vociferously opposed to unions. In 1999, when Adelson built a new casino, he failed to pay so many of his contractors that they filed a whopping 366 liens against the property, in addition to filing complaints with stage agencies and the FBI. When the new casino eventually opened, union workers protested outside — and Adelson twice demanded that police arrest the peaceful protestors (emphasis added):
Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.
Afterwards, Adelson went so far as to allegedly attempt to pay off a hospital when it announced it would honor the head of the Vegas hotel workers union.
Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would allow workers to unionize a workplace with majority sign-up, was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” The other was radical Islam.
If print outlets are going to devote space to the fight among Republicans to win Adelson’s favor (and money), they owe it to readers to give a more accurate picture of the man holding the wallet.
Republicans are showing no signs of abandoning their anti-Obamacare crusade any time soon.
On this anniversary, ThinkProgress takes a look back at all of the milestones in the GOP’s ongoing campaign to undermine a law that has defined national politics for half a decade:
MARCH 23, 2010: An immediate push to repeal.
- Immediately after President Obama signed the Senate health care bill into law, 13 Republican state attorneys general file a federal lawsuit against the overhaul and Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduce legislation to repeal the law. King even offers a discharge petition. “If we can get to 218, we can force Nancy Pelosi to bring a repeal to the floor for a vote. If the Senate can do that…we have a chance to put a repeal on President Obama’s desk and make him veto that bill,” King explained. “Repeal and replace will be the slogan for the fall,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) predicts. Watch a compilation:
- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli files a separate lawsuit in Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the law.
- John Boehner (R-OH) — then the House Minority Leader — promises that Republicans will seek to defund the measure. “You just gotta take appropriated funds to actually come through the process to fund the hiring of new employees, to create these new bureaucracies. I can’t imagine a Republican Congress is going to give this President the money to begin this process,” he tells Fox News.
- Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers who voted for the bill are receiving death threats and experiencing vandalism. Vandals struck the Tuscon office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in upstate New York, Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) Niagara Falls office, the Knox County Democratic headquarters in Ohio, and the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, KS. Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the House, has said “he received an anonymous fax showing the image of a noose” and authorities in Virginia are investigating “a cut propane line” at the home of a brother of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA).
- Sarah Palin labels a map of vulnerable lawmakers’ districts with crosshairs on her Facebook page and tweeting, “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”
- The ACA prohibits women from using premium affordability tax credits or cost-sharing payments to pay for abortions but also reinforces states’ ability to prohibit insurers from providing any form of abortion coverage within the exchange. The day before Obama sings the Affordable Care Act into law, a Missouri Senate committee votes 5-1 to advance a bill that would deny insurers the right to offer abortion coverage in any government exchange. A total of 23 states now prohibit abortion coverage in their marketplaces.
- Some Republicans are initially wary about repealing the law in its entirety. For instance, in January, Eric Cantor told Politico’s Mike Allen that Republicans “WILL NOT campaign for full health care repeal, but will demand partial repeal, including mandates for health coverage.”
- Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) admits there are portions of the legislation he likes – including the provision that would allow parents to carry their offspring on their insurance until age 26. “When we say start over, we don’t mean throw everything out – throw out the baby with the bath water. We mean, take the best of this bill and combine it with our ideas like buying insurance across state lines and equalizing the tax treatment and creating high-risk pools.” “Of course, all of the language regarding electronic medical records I’m in favor of. So I might not fully agree with completely repealing and starting over.”
APRIL 2010: Republicans actually take credit for parts of Obamacare.
- Republicans admit that repeal is unrealistic. “The fact is that’s not going to happen, OK?” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tells an audience at Vanderbilt University. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) agrees: “It may not be total repeal at the end of the day. It may be a series of fixes over the course of this bill getting enacted that allow us to change and possibly bend that cost curve down.”
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) tells a town hall meeting, “There are a lot of things in this bill I think you and I certainly like.” “I think as a practicality you’re going to have trouble repealing the whole deal… there ought to be areas where Democrats and Republicans can come together.”
- John Boehner tries to take credit for some provisions included in the bill and promised to keep them in place.
His refusal to call for a full repeal betrays a growing rift between leadership and the more conservative members of the Republican party. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) —has repeatedly warned Republicans that “if we leave any component of it in there, it has, it’s just become a malignant tumor that’s attacking our liberty and our freedom and it’s diminishing our aspirations and it saps our overall productivity as a nation,” King says. “If we can’t come to that conclusion, then I want some new people to come help me.” In April, repeal legislation had no more than 62 co-sponsors in the House and 20 in the Senate.
- States like Ohio and Alabama approve petitions to remove their residents from requirements to purchase health insurance and to participate in the law’s health plans. The effort was being orchestrated and organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], a “business-friendly conservative group that coordinates activity among statehouses.” The Council is pushing model legislation to protect “the rights of patients to pay directly for medical services” and prohibit the individual mandate. Multiple states pass similar measures, though the effort never proves popular.
MAY 2010: Republicans offer a 9-page alternative.
- Republicans prepare to re-litigate the health care reform debate by blocking the nomination of Donald Berwick, a Harvard University professor, to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The Republican Policy Committee preparesa memo linking Berwick to the British health care system and presents him as someone who supports rationing and a government takeover of health care. Obama recess appoints Berwick in July of 2010.
Watch Republicans go at it:
- Republicans object to government-printed mailers informing Medicare beneficiaries about how the new health care law will improve the program. “This goes beyond propaganda and is blatantly political. If this document is really about Medicare, then why is there information in there about 26-year-olds being able to stay on their parents’ policies?” Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) asks. “The brochure fails to inform seniors that the president’s new law cuts $550 billion from their Medicare,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) adds.
- Republican leadership in the House introduces a 9-page “bill” to repeal the health care law and replace it with the Republican alternative already defeated on the House floor in November 2009. This is the third repeal bill introduced by the GOP, but the first to replace the law with different legislation. The Congressional Budget Office found that under the GOP alternative, the number of uninsured Americans would increase to 52 million by 2019. The bill could slightly reduce premiums for Americans who purchase coverage independently.
JUNE 2010: Republicans make first effort to repeal the individual mandate, while arguing parts of reform should be better funded.
- Congress rejects a Republican effort to strip the individual health insurance mandate from the new health care law. Twenty-one Democrats cross party lines to vote in favor of the measure, while one Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), votes against it. The effort is led by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), who attempts to attach the measure to a motion that would have sent a small business tax credit bill back to committee with instructions to insert language invalidating the measure.
Camp claims that the mandate violated “the basic principle of freedom and individual choice.” “No American should be forced to buy or purchase health insurance they don’t want or can’t afford,” Camp says, arguing that the measure would “uphold the freedom upon which this nation was founded” and obfuscate the need for more IRS agents. Highlights from the debate:
- Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio — who had signed a pledge to fully repeal the law — tells reports that he would maintain the law’s pre-existing conditions exclusions and the provisions that allow children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. “A small group of reporters in a D.C. coffee shop, chatting with Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio. He just mentioned that there are two parts within the Obamacare legislation that he doesn’t want repealed. The first is the ban on insurance companies denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and the second is that he thinks that children up to age 26 should be allowed to “buy into” their parents’ coverage,” National Review’s Jim Geraghty reported. Rubio later backs away from those comments.
- John Boehner and Eric Cantor sign onto two discharge petitions offered by Steve Kin and Wally Herger (R-CA). The petitions will need to attract 218 members to force the House to take up repeal legislation that would eliminate the entirety of the health law. Herger’s measure would also replace the law with “common-sense reforms.” The move was a significant departure for the Republican leaders who have previously claimed that they would like to preserve the more popular elements of health care reform and repeal “the other” mandates.
- 28 Senate Republicans write to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arguing that the law’s high-risk insurance pools “will fail to provide the assistance promised by supporters of the new law.” The office of Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) put out an entire release complaining about the lack of funds.
AUGUST 2010: Republicans continue to attack HHS education campaigns.
- GOP Senators write a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing their “profound concern” about a television campaign featuring Andy Griffith promoting the health care law. “The Administration’s clam to “correct the record” is misleading and offensive. We can debate the relative merits of the new law, but co-opting public funds during a recession, to make a political, poll tested argument about the new law, is wrong,” the write. Watch the ad:
SEPTEMBER 2010: Republicans go after reform’s regulations.
- Speaking at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Newt Gingrich likened Kathleen Sebelius’ warning to insurers against increasing health care premiums exponentially to “Soviet tyranny” and said that a Republican-controlled House should ask for her resignation and defund her office in the Department of Health and Human Services. Watch it:
- Republicans unveil a ‘Pledge To America,’ an agenda which promises to “repeal” all of these benefits — as well as the entire health care law — and replace it with “reforms that lower costs for families and small businesses, increase access to affordable, high-‐quality care and strengthen the doctor-‐patient relationship.” The document provides almost no specifics about what the party would do to control health care spending, improve quality, or pay for its reforms. And at least 7 of the GOP’s ideas on health care are already included in the health care law.
- Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) offers a resolution to weaken the law’s “grandfathering” rule, which allows plans that existed before March 23, 2010 — the date the healthcare law was signed — to be exempt from certain consumer protections enacted in the law. Republicans argue that they need to enact the change in order to realize Obama’s promise of “if you like your coverage, you can keep it.”
- GOP Senators began to speak out against regulations on the Senate floor, claiming that “there will be 100 pages of regulation for each page of that bill.” “There are 2,700 pages in that bill. That means there are going to be 270,000 pages of regulation,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WI) said. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) came up with a different estimate, projecting that there would be 121 pages of regulation for every 2 pages in the bill.
OCTOBER 2010: “There will be no insurance industry left in three years.”
- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) predicts that reform would end the health insurance industry. “There will be no insurance industry left in three years,” Coburn tells the Republican Women’s Club of Tulsa County. “That is by design. You’re going to make insurance unaffordable for everyone — which is what they want. Because if there’s no private insurance left, what’s left? Government-centered, government-run, single-payer health care.”
- Many Republican governors are slow to accept federal grants to help implement the health care law. They turn down funds to establish high-risk insurance pools or other programs, arguing that they’d prefer to wait for the Supreme Court to rule on its constitutionality. “Let’s finish this lawsuit and see if the individual mandate gets overturned,” Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) says. “That will directly bare on the health insurance exchanges and we got three years more, four years more until we’ve got to buy into a system that right now, I don’t buy.” However, almost all of the states that sued the federal government over the constitutionality of the law accept some of the early benefits of reform.
NOVEMBER 2010: Republicans re-take House in midterm elections.
- GOP pledge to use committee hearings and “oversight” investigations to build public support for repealing the law. Appearing on Meet the Press Gov. Haley Barbour — then chairman of the Republican Governors Association — predicts that if Republicans aren’t successful in repealing the health care law outright, “they will make such big changes in it over the next three years that you won’t recognize it.”
- Voters in the 2010 midterm elections are bombarded with anti-reform advertising:
<href=”http: www.politico.com=”” static=”” ppm110_101103_health_care_post_elect.html”=”” style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>70% of voters who saw an Obamacare ad say the ad was in opposition to the Obama plan, 8% in support, with another 20% of voters saying they recall advertising on both sides of the issue.”
- “Opponents of the legislation, including independent groups, have spent $108 million since March to advertise against it” — “six times more than supporters have spent, including $5.1 million by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new law.” That $108 million went to finance the claims that individuals who don’t purchase coverage will go to jail, or sex offenders will have access to government subsidized Viagara and seniors will lose all their Medicare benefits.
- After reclaiming the House, Republicans pledge not to fund the health care law. “We don’t have to defund it, we just don’t have to pass the funding for it,” then Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) says. “The majority in the House can control the appropriation bills and we can just not include in those appropriation bills the funding for the implementation of ObamaCare. The president may fight us on it and it could be a very intense show down. But Republicans are in a position now to make sure no funding goes forward for Obamacare.” Watch it:
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promises that Republicans don’t plan to shutdown the government over reform. “We’re not talking about shutting down the government. What we’re doing here is talking about responding to the American people’s desire that this bill not become law.” Watch it:
JANUARY 2011: The first vote to repeal Obamacare.
- Republicans in the House vote to repeal the health care law, while dismissing a Congressional Budget Office report showing that it would increase the deficit by $230 billion. “I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit,” Boehner said of the score. “CBO is entitled to their opinion, but they’re locked within constrains of the 1974 Budget Act.” Watch it:
Republicans prohibited Democrats from offering any significant amendments to H.R. 2, the GOP’s Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act and allowed just seven hours of debate on the floor. The measure passed 245 to 189. ‘
FEBRUARY 2011: Governors seize on court ruling to abandon implementation.
- After a federal judge rules that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that required Americans to obtain commercial insurance, a handful of conservative leaders announce that they will stop implementing the measure in their states.
MARCH 2011: Republicans discover Obamacare bombshells.
- Michele Bachmann discovers a “bombshell” of $105 billion in mandatory spending included in the health care law. “This is something that wasn’t known,” Bachmann said on Meet The Press. “This money was broken up, hidden in various parts of the bill.” Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf later told Congress the funding was, in fact, widely publicized.
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) pens an op-ed suggesting that his daughter Carey may have died from a heart condition were she treated under the Affordable Care Act.
- The Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee issue a press release in which they claim to have discovered “a $5 billion bailout fund for state governments, Fortune 500 companies, and Hollywood unions.” The program was so secretive that it was extensively covered by the press and regularly touted by Democrats as an example of how the Affordable Care Act would help businesses struggling with growing health care spending and prevent companies from dropping early retiree coverage (seniors 55-64 years old who are not yet eligible for Medicare) before the exchanges begin in 2014.
APRIL 2011: Vulnerable Americans “wouldn’t survive” with “socialized medicine.”
- Republicans seize on President Barack Obama’s proposal to expand the cost-cutting authority of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — a commission created by the Affordable Care Act to help reduce health care costs in Medicare. “His plan for changing Medicare is to increase the authority and the ability for price controls from the Individual Payment Advisory Board, which is nothing but say we are going to ration care,” Tom Coburn says. “He wants to delegate more power to this IPAB, it’s like 12 people who can’t be controlled by Congress who can just unilaterally ration and price control health care through Medicare,” Paul Ryan adds.
- Sarah Palin may have been the first Republican to argue that her son Trig would be harmed by the Affordable Care Act, but Rick Santorum (R-PA) is not far behind, telling reporters in Iowa that his daughter Bella — who was born with a genetic abnormality — wouldn’t survive in a country with “socialized medicine.”
MAY 2011: Republicans link Obamacare to Romneycare.
- With the 2012 election heating up, Republican presidential hopefuls begin attacking Obamacare for its similarity to the reform Gov. Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts. Consider this graphic in Rick Santorum’s fund-raising email:
- “The reality is that Obamacare and Romneycare are almost exactly the same,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani would say during an appearance in New Hampshire later that summer. “It’s not very helpful trying to distinguish them. I would think the best way to handle it is to say, it was a terrible mistake and if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t do it.”
- After the administration granted waivers to businesses and policyholders from the Affordable Care Act, excluding those entities from having to offer a minimum amount of coverage annually, Republicans attack Democrats for helping their campaign contributors. “Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district,” the Daily Caller wrote. Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty jump on the story, thought it was later reported that Pelosi had nothing to do with securing the waivers and a government report would later clear the administration of any wrongdoing. Republicans continue to portray the nearly 1,400 waivers distributed by HHS as evidence that the law isn’t working or that the administration is using the process to grant exemptions to and reward its political allies.
JUNE 2011: Obamacare “ends Medicare as we know it.”
- WIth his Medicare “premium support” reforms under attack, Paul Ryan appears on Fox News to argue that it’s actually the Affordable Care Act that “ends Medicare as we know it.” “Millions of dollars of negative ads are being run to try and scare seniors and trying to confuse seniors. You know, the irony of this Bill, is with all this Mediscare that the Democrats are running, it’s Obamacare itself that ends Medicare as we know it.” Watch it:
- Michele Bachmann attacks Tim Pawlenty for endorsing the goal of universal coverage in 2006. “I think it will concern the voters,” she tells conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. Bachmann adds that it’s important to have candidates who have been consistent on issues like healthcare reform, saying she has been consistent in opposing President Obama’s healthcare law. “We need to have people who have enough foresight and common sense to know these programs aren’t going to work. I’m that kind of person,” she says.
- During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Pawlenty comes out swinging against Romney’s law. “President Obama designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare,” he says. “We now have the same features, essentially the same features. The President’s own words is that he patterned Obamacare in large measure after what happened in Massachusetts.” Watch it:
- During a primary debate, Pawlenty fails to confront Romney over the similarities of the two plans, effectively ending his campaign:
- The Commonwealth Fund publishes a report examining why enrollment trends in the Affordable Care Act’s high risk insurance pools — temporary coverage programs for uninsured people who can’t find coverage in the individual market — have generally fallen below expectations. Besides the structural challenges, Jean P. Hall and Janice Moore also suggest that the GOP’s efforts to repeal the law may already be undermining the high risk insurance program.
AUGUST 2011: Obamacare’s birth control coverage will result in “dying civilization.”
- Conservatives lash out at the Obama administration’s decision to accept the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations and require new health insurance plans to cover birth control with no co-pays. During a floor speech, Steve King adds his voice to the conservative chorus denouncing the very idea of birth control. In apocalyptic tones, King warned that free birth control would “prevent a generation” from being born and make America a “dying civilization.” Watch it:
SEPTEMBER 2011: Lindsey Graham tries to block implementation of reform.
- Republicans introduce legislation prohibiting the enforcement of any requirement or regulation related to existing health policies, effectively gutting consumer protections for millions of Americans with private coverage. The GOP also offered bill to repeal medical loss ratio (MLR) regulations that require plans that don’t spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on health care costs to issue rebates to their enrollees. Forty-eight national and state consumer advocacy organizations would later release a letter condemning the measures.
- Senate Democrats rebuff “a GOP attempt to attach language to the annual financial services spending bill that would block implementation of a portion of the 2010 health care law.” The Senate Committee on Appropriations “rejected, 14-16, an amendment by Lindsey Graham, R-SC, that would prohibit funds in the bill allocated for the IRS from being used to implement part of the health care law, including the mandate that individuals have health insurance starting in 2014.”
OCTOBER 2011: Obamacare will force the nation to “go to a single-payer system.”
- A group of Republican senators and representatives convene a Senate Swamp to present 1.6 million petition signatures “from American citizens who are urging Congress to immediately repeal Obamacare.” The lawmakers argu that health care reform has undermined job creation and pledged to repeal the law before the Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality in the summer of 2012. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) went a step further, suggesting that the justices should find the law unconstitutional in order to protect their own medical privacy. “Any president they don’t like will have access to any Justice’s health care records and as I understand — I haven’t read the agreement between the administration and GE — GE will have access to their health care records,” he said.
- “If president Obama is reelected within a year or two he’ll throw his hands in the air and say, ‘it’s not working we have to go to a single payer system,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) predicts during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.
- The House Oversight and Government Reform committee publishes a new report arguing that the health care law implements a “marriage penalty tax” that will over time “directly cause fewer individuals to marry.”
FEBRUARY 2012: The contraception wars begin.
- Republicans attack the Obama administration’s regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide reproductive health care services — including contraception — by arguing that the rule is undermining the religious liberties of Catholics and imposing “a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedom taken away.” The administration eventually announces an accommodation for religious liberties that allows religious nonprofits to avoid providing contraception. The GOP still attacks the new rule as inadequate, suggesting that it is even worse than the original guidelines.
- Democrats tear into House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for preventing women from testifying before a hearing examining the Obama administration’s regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. [Sandra] Fluke is not an appropriate witness.” Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Issa also dismisses Fluke as a “college student’ who does not “have the appropriate credentials” to testify before his committee.
A picture of the witness table:
- Obama will later poke fun at the hearing during White House Correspondents’ Dinner, joking, “Jimmy [Kimmel] got his start years ago on the Man Show. In Washington, that’s what we call a Congressional hearing on contraception.” Watch it:
MARCH 2012: McConnell says he no longer wants to vote on repeal.
- By a vote of 51-48, the Senate agrees to table a Republican amendment offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would have empowered employers to deny coverage of health services to their employees on the basis of personal moral objections.
- Mitch McConnell tells his conference that he does not want to vote again on repealing the law until after the November elections. In response, the conservative Restore America’s Voice Foundation said it would “unleash” its 2.3 million activists to call for McConnell’s resignation if he didn’t retract his comments. McConnell quickly changes his mind.
- A second House committee — The Ways and Means Committee — agrees to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member panel tasked with cutting Medicare payments. The Energy and Commerce Committee passed the same repeal bill earlier. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that repealing the board would increase the national deficit by $3.1 billion and grow health care expenditures.
- The House of Representatives votes to repeal the IPAB by a vote of 223-181. Seven Democrats voted to repeal the board, while 10 Republicans opposed the effort.
- Mitt Romney celebrates the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by misrepresenting it, claiming that the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the costs of the law have doubled, cited a discredited study claiming that 30 percent of employers will stop offering insurance as a result of the law, and insisted that the Catholic Church would be required to offer birth control to its employees. All three claims are false.
- The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Outside of the Court steps, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) says that Americans will “die early” if the law remains in place and the Court finds it constitutional. Watch it:
APRIL 2012: Republicans go after prevention.
- House Republicans pass legislation that would require families who qualify for subsidies in the health care exchanges to pay higher taxes if their incomes change mid-year. The change could dissuade people from purchasing insurance, disproportionately impact women (who are more likely to experience income fluctuations), and could increase costs for the entire population.
- House Republicans pass a bill preserving lower interest rates on student loans by gutting the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The GOP measure — which passed in a vote of 215-195, with the support of 13 Democrats — finances the $5.9 billion cost of maintaining the 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford loans for one year by repealing the Fund in its entirety and rescinding all unobligated balances, including money being spent in 2012.
MAY 2012: Catholic groups sue over contraception requirement.
- The University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, the Archdiocese of Michigan, and the Archdiocese of New York have file a lawsuit against an Obama administration regulation requiring employers and insurers to offer preventing health services — including contraception — without additional cost sharing. The suit, one of 12 filed, argues that the requirement violates the Catholic institutions’ religious freedom — even though regulators have included an accommodation for religious organizations.
- Republicans criticize the Department of Health and Human Services for signing a $20 million contract with a public relations firm to educate Americans about the preventive health benefits included in the Affordable Care Act. The campaign — mandated by the law — “must describe the importance of prevention while also explaining preventive benefits provided by the healthcare law,” essentially informing the public about the availability of preventive services without additional co-pays.
JUNE 2012: Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, Republicans turn back to repeal.
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) had promised in January that he would not implement a state exchange program until after the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act, but now says he won’t act on the law no matter what the ruling is. Walker says he won’t do anything until after the election in November in the hopes that Romney wins. At least eight governors continue to hold out hope — and postpone implementation — even after the Supreme Court upholds the law.
- The Supreme Court upholds the individual mandate as a tax. The Medicaid expansion is limited, but not invalidated, the court found. In short, it decided that if a state does not expand the Medicaid program, as required by the law, the federal government cannot withhold Medicaid funds. With some news networks erroneously reporting that the Supreme Court struck down the Affordable Care Act’s individual health care mandate just moments after the justices released their opinion, outgoing Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) screamed with joy at the false news that the Court invalidated the requirement. Watch it:
- Republicans immediately announce that they will take another vote on repealing the law the week of July 9th.
JULY 2012: More than a dozen governors refuse Medicaid funds following Supreme Court ruling.
- Fox News’s Chris Wallace asks Mitch McConnell how he would provide coverage to the uninsured should they repeal the health care law. After McConnell meandered through the typical GOP talking points that they plan to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines and that they will institute medical malpractice reform, he finally settled on an answer: Insuring Americans “is not the issue.”
- Tom Coburn claims that the Affordable Care Act will “Sovietize the American health care system” because “it means the bureaucrats and politicians are in charge of your health care.” Watch it:
- Following the Supreme Court ruling, Republican governors begin considering refusing billions in Medicaid funds. A ThinkProgress survey finds that ten GOP governors have said definitively that they will not accept the funds, while 19 are still considering other options. Sixteen states, all with Democratic governors, have committed to expanding their programs
- Gov. Rick Perry (R) announces that Texas won’t create a state insurance exchange nor accept expanded Medicaid funds outlined in the Affordable Care Act. In a statement, Perry said, “Neither a ‘state’ exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better ‘patient protection’ or in more ‘affordable care.’”
- Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) defends the GOP’s 31st vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it is more than “political theater,” and that she wishes they could vote to get rid of Obamacare “every single day.” Watch it:
- Republicans continue to insist that they will unveil their health care reform plan as soon as they repeal Obama’s law. Watch it:
- Republican governors submit a list of questions to President Obama, claiming that they need answers before they’ll consider implementing the law.
- Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) releases a labor, health, and education spending bill to allow employers to deny contraception coverage for “moral reasons.” The measure also stops Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving federal funding until the health organization certifies that it no longer offers abortions, even though Planned Parenthood does not use federal funds on abortion services.
- More than 100 GOP lawmakers ask John Boehner and Eric Cantor to stop “any legislation” from coming to the floor that would fund the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — potentially leading to a government shutdown. Boehner rejects the proposal.
- A Nebraska federal judge dismisses a lawsuit in which Republican attorneys general in seven states tried to block the Affordable Care Act provision requiring contraceptive coverage in employer-provided insurance plans. The seven state officials, along with three Nebraska-based Catholic institutions, filed their lawsuit on grounds that the ACA’s contraceptive provision violates the Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty by forcing Catholics to pay for contraception against their beliefs.
AUGUST 2012: Romney/Ryan hit Obama for cutting Medicare funding.
- Romney selects Paul Ryan as his running mate and begins attacking the Medicare reductions included in the Affordable Care Act. The law reduces future Medicare spending by $716 between 2013 and 2022 and Ryan maintains the savings in his own Medicare proposal. The Romney campaign, however, tries to gloss over the similarity and attack the president for approving reductions that the Republican runningmate also supports. In the days that follow the Romney/Ryan campaign twists itself into a pretzel attacking President Obama for “stealing” $716 billion from Medicare, while trying to explain why Paul Ryan included the savings in his FY 2013 budget:
- Romney even offers a white board presentation during a news briefing in South Carolina that tries to untangle the campaign’s contradictory message about Medicare.
- Between September 1 and October 1, an array of conservative outside groups will spend about $8 million in attack ads, repeating the false claim about Medicare cuts against House and Senate candidates across the country.
SEPTEMBER 2012: Hobby Lobby files suit to deny contraception coverage to its employees.
- Crafts store Hobby Lobby sues the federal government claiming it should not be forced to provide workers with health insurance that covers the morning-after and week-after pills. The Christian-owned store operates 500 arts and crafts stores in 41 states.
NOVEMBER 2012: “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
- On election day, five states tack on symbolic measures onto their ballots purely to oppose the Affordable Care Act. Wyoming’s Amendment A, Florida’s Amendment 1, Alabama’s Amendment 6, and Montana’s Measure LR-122 would all prohibit state residents and employers from being forced to purchase insurance or participate in any externally-imposed health care system. In Missouri, Proposition E seeks to prevent the state from instituting its own health insurance exchange.
- Following President Obama’s re-election, Eric Cantor predicts that House Republicans will continue to resist any revenue increases in favor of deep cuts to the social programs during negotiations to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff. Cantor makes it it clear that that this includes slashing funding for health care programs like Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid.
- John Boehner confirms that the House GOP will no longer attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Asked about the future of the health care reform law, Boehner says “the election changes that” and “Obamacare is the law of the land.” Boehner does suggest that some parts of the law could “be on the table as lawmakers work toward a balanced budget. However, just moments after making comments, Boehner backpedals, saying that he remains committed to repealing Obamacare. He plater pledges “[v]igorous oversight of the health care law by the House.”
FEBRUARY 2013: Jindal suggests delaying Obamacare to avoid sequestration.
- Though a growing number of Republican governors are implementing parts of the law — including Medicaid expansion — Republicans in Congress are still holding firm. During a Budget Committee Hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) announced that the Affordable Care Act — which had been projected to reduce the deficit by billions over 10 years — would actually increase long-term debt by $6.2 trillion. Sessions was citing a government report that estimated what would would happen if the cost containment provisions in the law — the Independent Payment Advisory Board, excise tax on high-cost plans, and reductions in Medicare payments to providers — are “phased out over time” while the coverage provisions remain.
- Appearing on Meet The Press, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) advises Obama to put off implementing the Affordable Care Act’s health care exchanges that are due to go online in 2014 and the expansion of the Medicaid program to offset the looming sequester cuts.
MARCH 2013: Headed towards a government shutdown.
- Marco Rubio joins fellow Tea Party favorites Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) in demanding that a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year include provisions to defund Obamacare in its entirety. ” I don’t think anyone is in favor of shutting down the government, but I think that’s where we’re headed ultimately here,” Rubio told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.
- A group of top House Republicans write a letter to President Obama asking him to preserve a temporary program included in the law that provides health care coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. The so-called Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was designed as a bridge to the exchanges for families and individuals who don’t have an offer of coverage from an employer and cannot find insurance in the individual market. The $5 billion program, which covers only sick people is incredibly costly, and will soon stop processing new applicants. “Your administration’s action will leave thousands of Americans with pre-existing conditions without access to health care,” the group of House Republicans write. The letter reiterates the GOP’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act as a whole but notes, “to allow PCIP to continue to accept new enrollees, we urge you to support efforts to transfer the funds necessary from other PPACA programs, such as the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the Secretary’s transfer authority to assist with state based exchanges, comparative effectiveness, planning, or another similar program to PCIP.” The GOP would later schedule a vote to shift money from the portion of Obamacare that invests in prevention and use it to expand the temporary initiative, only to pull it at the last minute.
APRIL 2013: House freshman ask for an opportunity to vote on repeal.
- Freshman House Republicans push for another vote on repealing the health care law, even though they acknowledge the effort is “just symbolic,” so they can tell their constituents they tried to get rid of the law. “The guys who have been up here the last two years, we can go home and say, ‘Listen, we voted 36 different times to repeal or replace ObamaCare.’ Tell me what the new guys are supposed to say?” one member said Wednesday at a forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. They will get the opportunity later in the year.
MAY 2013: Republicans seize on IRS targeting scandal to undermine reform.
- Four days after news broke that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had improperly targeted conservative political groups for scrutiny, GOP Sen. Dean Heller (NV) threatens legislation to “deny the IRS funds to hire new agents to implement Obamacare.” The bill would effectively make it impossible for the agency to provide millions of Americans with federal subsidies to buy the very health coverage they are required to have under the law. Should Heller’s bill become law, the government wouldn’t be able to collect the penalties or pay out subsidies. It would also struggle to capture revenues from fees on medical devises, health care insurers and high-cost plans.
- Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) criticizes Sebelius for asking businesses and other community organizations to support an enrollment campaign spearheaded by Enroll America, a nonprofit organization working to convince people to sigh up for health care coverage. Alexander said Sebelius’ actions should “cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress.”
JUNE 2013: Critics outspend supports of the law 5:1.
- Marco Rubio proposes a constitutional amendment that, if approved, would nullify Obamacare’s individual mandate. The “Right to Refuse” amendment would make any laws that tax Americans who fail to purchase goods or services unconstitutional, targeting the Affordable Care Act’s stipulation that nearly all Americans must purchase health insurance.
- A new analysis of advertisements about Obamacare aired since 2010 finds that the health law’s critics have spent a whopping $400 million on television spots criticizing the law. That’s over five times the $75 million that the law’s supporters have spent on ads promoting Obamacare and outreach efforts meant to educate Americans about reform.
- Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) sends a letter to NBA and NFL league commissioners, probing them about recent talks between the organizations and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a potential deal to promote enrollment into Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces. “I contend that the effects of this [Obamacare] train wreck will have a devastating impact on your fans and business partners across the country… I would caution you against being coerced into doing [the Obama administration’s] dirty work for them,” writes Scalise.
- Mitch McConnell also urges 6 professional sports leagues not to support the law. In letters to the leagues, McConnell and Cornyn cited an announcement by federal Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that she is in talks with the NFL, the NBA and others about campaigns to educate the public about healthcare reform.”
JULY 2013: Republicans threaten to block government funding bill.
- 15 Republicans sign-on to a letter pledging to block a bill to fund government operations unless Obamacare is defunded.
AUGUST 2013: States refuse to enforce Obamacare provisions.
- Officials in Texas and five other GOP-led states are refusing to oversee even Obamacare’s most basic — and popular — consumer protections and insurance market reforms. That includes the law’s ban on denying coverage or charging more because of a pre-existing condition and discriminating against women on the basis of gender. The decision could present major hurdles to Americans who buy health insurance through federally-run marketplaces in the Lone Star State, Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Below is a chart of efforts to sabotage Obamacare on the state level by undermining education campaigns, hampering enrollment efforts, and even outright blocking some of Obamacare’s provisions:
SEPTEMBER 2013: “I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare, until I am no longer able to stand.”
- Republican kick off an investigation into community-based groups who received Navigator grants to help uninsured people enroll in the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, demanding that the organizations answer detailed questions and produce thousands of reams of documents. Fifteen Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, including Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), are requesting detailed responses and thousands of pages of documents from approximately 60 percent of Navigator-recipients across the country by Sep. 13. Numerous states have also passed laws regulating navigators.
- Eric Cantor announces that the party won’t support raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit unless President Obama agrees to a one-year delay of the health care law.
- Ted Cruz announces that he will launch a “speaking filibuster” in favor of defunding the Affordable Care Act until he is physically unable to stand. Cruz’s speech is not technically a filibuster, as either way the Senate will vote on the continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down. Even though the vote will happen regardless of the length of his speech, Cruz vowed when he took the Senate floor, “I intend to speak in opposition to Obamacare, I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare, until I am no longer able to stand.” Watch it:
OCTOBER 2013: Republicans seize on the Obamacare rollout debacle.
- Unable to reach agreement over Obamacare funding, Republicans shutdown the government while HealthCare.gov opens for business. Users immediately begin reporting long delays, problems creating online account, the website freezing and numerous other glitches.
- Meanwhile, Republicans unsuccessfully try to add the so-called Vitter amendment, a proposal that removes the employer contributions for the insurance plans offered to Congress members and their staff. Without that employer contribution — which currently covers about 75 percent of Congressional staffers’ health costs — the lower-paid staffers on Capitol Hill will ultimately need to seek out government subsidies to purchase plans on the Obamacare exchanges. The measure will essentially amount to a big pay cut, since it will end up significantly hiking their premium costs. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) will later file a lawsuit to prevent Congressional staffers and lawmakers from receiving subsidies.
- With the government re-opens, Republicans turn their political attention to Obamacare and begin holding a series of hearings examining the law’s rocky implementation. Marco Rubio introduces legislation to delay the individual mandate by six months, arguing that Americans should not be penalized for failing to buy coverage they cannot easily access through HealthCare.gov.
- House Republicans portray the website as an insecure portal that will endanger the privacy of American’s medical information during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing focusing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The accusations led one Democratic lawmaker to label the hearing “a monkey court.” Watch it:
- Policyholders across the country begin receiving cancellation letters from insurers, undermining President Obama’s promise that you can keep the coverage you have and save thousands of dollars doing so. Next, the NBC News investigations unit reports that “50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a ‘cancellation’ letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law” — a fact administration officials knew but kept from the public. Republicans immediately seize on the story and accuse Obama of lying to the American people in order to pass health care reform.
- Lawmakers and the media begin profiling countless middle class Americans who claim that the new health care law will force them to pay more for coverage. The stories are not always accurate, though conservative advocacy organizations will repeatedly try to inflate and in some cases invent victims of the law.
- Obama apologizes to the millions of Americans in the individual health care market who are seeing their policies cancelled, during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, promising to “do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”
- Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle soon introduce different proposals to allow Americans to keep their existing health care plans. Republicans prevent the House of Representatives from considering a measure that would have extended additional consumer protections to beneficiaries who remain in their existing individual health care plans.
- As lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are endorse legislation to allow Americans purchasing health care coverage in the individual market to stay in their existing insurance plans, they ignore a far more pressing coverage problem in the 26 states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs. There, five million working poor Americans could be denied access to affordable insurance altogether. The failure of some states to expand Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, as envisioned by reform, is actually far more disastrous and undermines the promise of health care for the millions who earn “too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Marketplace premium tax credits.”
DECEMBER 2013: Republicans agree to 2-year funding deal to focus on Obamacare repeal.
- Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) extolled their bipartisan budget deal, which will spare the nation from more government shutdowns over the next two years. But Ryan also suggested that it will help the House GOP’s never-ending attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “We also don’t want to have shutdown drama so we can focus on replacing Obamacare, so we can focus on showing better ideas and what this is coming in. Cause we don’t think people like this law and we don’t think it’s gonna get any more popular,” he says. Watch it:
2014: The 51st vote to repeal Obamacare.
- House Republicans float a strategy to raise the nation’s debt ceiling for one year in exchange for a repeal of Obamacare’s so-called “risk corridors” — a temporary financial shock absorber that the GOP is misleadingly castigating as an “insurance company bailout.”
- House Republicans are planning to unveil a unified alternative to the Affordable Care Act this spring. Though details of the plan remain sketchy, the measure is “hardly intended as a full replacement of the federal health-care law” and will focus on filling gaps in the health care system. Lawmakers will road test the ideas at town halls, but have no timeline for releasing the alternative.
- House Republicans vote to repeal a part of the health care law for the 51st time.
Bruce Rauner has won the Republican primary to challenge Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in his reelection race this fall, the Associated Press reports.
Four Republicans vied for the nomination during Tuesday’s primary.
Quinn, who became governor in 2009 after Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment, was reelected to a full term in 2010.
Below, more from the Associated Press:
Businessman Bruce Rauner (ROW’-nur) has defeated three veteran lawmakers to win the Republican nomination for Illinois governor.
In his first bid for public office, Rauner on Tuesday topped state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford (ROOTH’-ur-furd).
The wealthy venture capitalist from Winnetka in November will face Democratic governor Pat Quinn, who had a lesser-known primary challenger.
Rauner ran on a promise to “shake up” Springfield and the “career politicians” and special interests he says helped create Illinois’ financial problems.
A virtual unknown when he got in the race, Rauner spent more than $14 million, including about $6 million of his own money.
Much of the money went toward TV ads that helped him increase his name recognition and fight back against attacks from organized labor.
Mitt Romney/Scott Walker/Nikki Haley-wannabe Bruce Rauner is going to lose big time to Quinn in November.
h/t: Huffington Post