The major news story in Tampa and in America yesterday was that it was the last day to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. Democrats were excited yesterday about the surge in people enrolling — or attempting to enroll — though a little less eager to talk about the fact that, like the first weeks of October, healthcare.gov broke down on a couple of occasions. Kathy Castor
was out promoting the last day to sign up at Al Lopez Park yesterday, following Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's appearance
at the same venue over the weekend.
Republicans haven't been impressed that the final number of enrollees could exceed the 7 million mark, a number that looked doubtful around Christmas due to the horrific performance of the website last fall. In fact, several of them don't even believe the numbers issued by the administration. They also question how many people have actually paid for their policies — and how many of them actually were without insurance, vs. getting kicked off their previous plan.
It will be good to get those figures. But let's jump ahead to this November. There is a good chance that the Democrats will lose their control of the Senate, at least as of today, seven months before the midterms. So if the Republicans control the House and the Senate, what would that mean for the country in Barack Obama's last two years in office?
It would mean that the Senate could join the House in voting to repeal the ACA. But the president will veto that. However, as columnist Al Hunt notes
, the conservative majority could then use the budget process to make major changes (by using reconciliation) to repeal parts of the legislation. "Deep cuts in funding for running the program and getting new enrollees would take a toll," he writes
He also suggests that appointments, regulations and investigations would be another place where the Republicans could completely stifle Obama, who can only do so many Executive Actions to thwart them.
Columnist David Frum speculates
that if the Republicans take the Senate, the Democrats will be a lot more likely to care about reduction in the deficit (which has been going down, by the way). "The debt crisis that used to present such a generational challenge?" he writes of the GOP plans. "The new 'red menace' — this time of red ink rather than the Red Army? It will suddenly take a back seat to the need to accelerate economic growth by cutting tax rates."
But back to the health care issue. Congresswoman Castor used a line that I hadn't heard before yesterday but which is absolutely true. Most people have not been affected by the Affordable Care Act, she pointed out — they had insurance before the bill was signed, and have it now. It was certainly a more cogent observation than "If you like your plan, you can keep it," the infamous line used by Obama and repeated by other Dems that has provided such ballast for the critics.
In other news — Integrity Florida produced a report
yesterday that sort of confirmed what a lot of folks think — that the public utility companies in Florida are too damned powerful.