Our morning look Inside Politics:
7.1 million enrolled: President Obama on Tuesday crowed in the Rose Garden about meeting the health care law’s open enrollment goal for private insurance. And he had a message for Republicans who continue to oppose it.
Here’s the good, long, meaty quote from Obama’s speech:
“This law is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s working. It’s helping people from coast to coast, all of which makes the lengths to which critics have gone to scare people, or undermine the law, or try to repeal the law without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand. I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance? Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked. There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans, and in the coming years it will help millions more.”
Don’t look for Republicans to give up on Obamacare. Paul Ryan’s budget, released Tuesday, calls again for a full repeal of Obamacare. And Ted Cruz tweeted this:
Behind the scenes: How Bradley Cooper saved Obamacare (or, as Politico writes): It was a Hollywood bump that turned things around. Seriously. The site gives major credence to the idea that the viral video and social efforts helped salvage the Obamacare enrollment effort. A turning point was Bradley Cooper, at the White House before a state dinner for France, brainstorming through a meeting with Valerie Jarrett, getting out his cell phone and putting Zach Galifianakis on speaker phone.
Ryan’s utopia: There’s a lot of red meat for fiscal conservatives in Ryan’s latest budget, headed for action in Congress soon. It has exactly zero chance of becoming law this year, but Ryan says it isn’t supposed to. This is the GOP’s vision of what should be done, not a serious proposal for what to do. It cuts $5 trillion in spending over five years. It balances the budget by 2024. But it has major cuts to entitlements and social programs like Medicaid. It would completely reform Medicare into a “premium support” system (Democrats will call that “vouchers") and it repeals Obamacare. Now that the health law is finally in place and millions have the insurance Democrats have been talking about for five years, fat chance the president’s party will let that happen.
But it is clear Republicans realize they need an alternative to Obamacare, not just an (officially unrealistic) pledge to simply repeal it.
The Washington Post reports that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will release his own health reform plan in D.C. on Wednesday. It shares some similarities with earlier GOP proposals and also includes a “premium support” idea like the one in Ryan’s budget.
What’s a “premium support” look like in Jindal’s plan?
The Post: “His plan also borrows the central, never-realized idea from the Medicare commission on which he worked in the late 1990s, which suggests that the federal insurance program for older Americans convert to a system known as “premium support.” This would be a dramatic change, replacing a program in which the government sets prices and pays the medical bills of elderly patients with a new model in which the government would give those patients money to buy coverage from private health plans competing to provide their care.”
Cheney’s warning: He didn’t say “Rand Paul,” but certainly that’s who he was talking about when he spoke behind closed doors to the Republican Jewish Conference and GOP moneyman and billionaire magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Audio of Cheney, which also includes a not-so-subtle story that seems to suggest the U.S. should deploy American military might against Iran’s nuclear program, was released by Mother Jones, the liberal publication of 47 percent fame.
"One of the things that concerns me first about the campaign, that I'm worried about," Cheney said, "is what I sense to be an increasing strain of isolationism, if I can put it in those terms, in our own party. It's not taking over, by any means, but there is without question a body of thought now that's supported by many Republicans and some candidates that the United States can afford to turn its back on that part of the world." Cheney complained that "some candidates" think the Middle East is "not our problem. … Bring the boys home. There's no reason in the world for us to be involved in that part of the world." But, he remarked, "anybody who thinks back on the problems of 9/11" knows that "it makes absolutely no sense at all for us to contemplate that course of action."
Some other things we’re watching today:
Cruz’s memoir payday: Ted Cruz has gotten a $1.5 million advance for a book, according to the Washington Examiner. That’s a larger advance than Sarah Palin got after she rocketed into the national consciousness during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Writes Paul Bedard: “The book, still untitled and unwritten, will be part memoir and part Cruz’s view of how to get Washington to work again as well as his vision of the future for the country. The 43-year-old has quite a story to tell, being the first Hispanic to serve as Texas solicitor general and as Texas' senator. Elected in 2012, he has also been in the middle of several major fights in Washington, including last year's government shutdown and the continued efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Gray loses D.C. primary (from CNN’s Dan Merica): “Washington Mayor Vince Gray will not win a second term in office. The mayor, who has been dogged by ethics questions since his first campaign in 2010, conceded defeat early Wednesday morning to D.C. council member Muriel Bowser in the district's Democratic primary. And shortly after Gray's remarks, Bowser claimed victory in the primary contest. According to the District of Columbia Board of Elections, Bowser captured 44% of the vote, compared to Gray's 33% with 127 out of 143 precincts reporting. A spokesman for Bowser had declared victory for the council member earlier in the night, but Bowser waited for the mayor to speak before she gave her acceptance speech. In a speech focused on his four years of leadership, Gray thanked his supporters, congratulated Bowser on her successful campaign and stressed the need for his supporters to get behind the right candidate in November's general election.”
Should the U.S. release spy to kick-start Mideast talks? It certainly seems like the administration’s tone on Pollard has changed as it deals with a stall in talks between Israelis and Palestinians. But there is growing concern on Capitol Hill - his freedom, said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, shouldn’t be offered just to get talks started without any commitments toward a final peace deal.
“This was a major betrayal and I’ve followed it over the years. It’s one thing if there’s an agreement. It’s another thing totally if there isn’t,” she told the Daily Beast.