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Posts tagged ‘Democrats’

Mary Matalin: Nancy Pelosi, Democrats Running ‘Scared’.


Top Republican political strategist Mary Matalin says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is doing a “Kabuki dance” by claiming Republicans are “wasting their time” using the Affordable Care Act as a campaign issue.

“It’s all a Kabuki dance. Obviously, they are scared and they’re trying to scrounge off a strategy and they’ve come up with, let’s see Obamacare on the offense and attack Republicans,” Matalin told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“Do you think anyone is listening to Nancy Pelosi?”

Story continues below video.

Pelosi took on the GOP after Republican newcomer David Jolly beat well-known Democrat Alex Sink in a special election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District on Tuesday. Many see the victory as a referendum on Obamacare.

“Sink — the kitchen sink had him, pun intended — [she] lost and that is not a Republican district,” Matalin said.

“I don’t see anything in the midterm elections that would portend anything but a positive outcome for Republicans.”

Matalin — who served under President Ronald Reagan, was campaign director for George H.W. Bush, and was an assistant to President George W. Bush — said she was impressed by this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

“I love when Republicans, conservatives, talk the talk. When they have open debates. When they fight, when they get into it. I love the Rand [Paul]-[Ted] Cruz different approaches,” Matalin said.

“You saw a very deep back-bench of intelligent, articulate candidates, would-be candidates or incumbents who can carry that message. I was in heaven …

“My personal opinion, the guy who’s going to end up in the top tier wasn’t there, which is [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker.”

Matalin added that she doesn’t believe former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will ultimately be the Democrats’ choice for the 2016 presidential race.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

Obamacare to Cover Married Gay Couples in 2015.


Married gay couples will be eligible for a family health policy under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law beginning in 2015, the government said on Friday, encouraging insurers to begin offering coverage this year.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced it would extend for one month a temporary program that offers insurance to some of the sickest Americans, who have had trouble finding private plans in new health insurance marketplaces set up in all 50 states under Obamacare.

Friday’s announcements add to the series of delays and modifications the administration has made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, since the law was enacted in 2010 and formally launched last October.

Obamacare’s six-month enrollment period ends March 31. And with volume expected to surge in the final two weeks, officials say the website HealthCare.gov continues to operate smoothly after technical problems in October and November paralyzed the portal for consumers in 36 states. The remaining 14 states run their own markets.

About 4.2 million people have enrolled in private Obamacare health plans so far, and millions more have been found eligible for the Medicaid program for the poor, according to the administration.

It continues, however, to wrestle with complicated and controversial issues related to the law.

In its decision on gay couples, HHS exercised federal authority to prevent discriminatory insurance market practices on an issue that has been caught up in state marriage laws.

The move follows a February lawsuit filed by an Ohio gay couple, who were unable to obtain family coverage under Obamacare, they said, because their state does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The gay community is a key constituency for Democrats, who are facing a Republican onslaught over Obamacare in this year’s midterm elections for control of Congress.

“If an insurance company offers coverage to opposite-sex spouses, it cannot choose to deny that coverage to same-sex spouses,” Dr. Matthew Heinz, who heads HHS outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities, said in a posting to a government website.

“In other words, insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage. This will further enhance access to health care for all Americans, including those with same-sex spouses.”

A formal clarification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the lead Obamacare agency within HHS, said the administration is encouraging insurers to voluntarily implement the non-discrimination policy for the 2014 coverage year under the Public Health Service Act.

Compliance will be required starting in 2015.

“We expect issuers to come into full compliance with the regulations as clarified in this guidance no later than for plan or policy years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015,” CMS said.

“We also expect states to begin enforcing the regulations in accordance with this clarification no later than for plan or policy years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015,” it said.

Administration officials said the gay marriage decision and extension of the program for people with pre-existing conditions, known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), were both intended to help Americans transition to the new healthcare era established by Obamacare.

The law requires most Americans to pay a penalty unless they are enrolled in insurance coverage by March 31, which is also when the PCIP program was set to expire.

Patient advocates welcomed the move, saying people with cancer, multiple sclerosis or other serious disorders need time to find insurance plans that meet complicated healthcare needs.

“We encourage patients in PCIP to look at other insurance options, including the health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov, as soon as possible so they are assured of coverage beyond the short term,” the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said in a statement.

The extension came a day after U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers in Congress that the enrollment deadline would not be delayed.

Administration officials said the PCIP program was being extended through April 30, under congressional authorization that has already allowed for two other extensions. PCIP was originally intended to expire at the end of 2013, but was extended first through January and later through March. (Reporting by David Morgan, editing by Karey Van Hall and Gunna Dickson)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Jeb Bush Leads GOP Contenders Against Hillary Clinton.


By Drew MacKenzie

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the strongest potential GOP contender against the likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a new poll.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows that Bush only trails Clinton by a margin of 3  points, 47-44 percent while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is close behind with a 4-point deficit, 46 percent to 42 percent.

Clinton, who has not yet decided whether she will run, leads Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky by 47-42 percent and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin by 48-43 percent.

The former secretary of state is well clear of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by an 8-point gap, 48-40 percent, and she has an 11-point margin over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 51-40 percent.

“At this point, the contrast for 2016 is pretty stark, Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in a statement. “If Hillary Clinton runs, Democrats are favored to keep control of the White House. If she doesn’t run, voters are more inclined to vote for the GOP nominee.”

When it comes to who is the most favored of the potential Republican candidates for president, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leads the field with 18 percent support compared to 15 percent for Bush, 14 percent for both Christie and Paul, and 11 percent for Cruz.

Rubio received 6 percent while Ryan and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had 5 percent each, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had 4 percent.

The survey was conducted among 1,152 registered voters from March 6 to 9 and has an overall margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

How GOP Wins In 2014 Could Set Up ‘Rude Awakening’ In 2016.


 

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WASHINGTON — A veteran Republican digital consultant warned Thursday that a successful election this fall could set back the Republican Party’s efforts to modernize its approach to campaigns.

Michael Beach, co-founder of Targeted Victory, spoke at a gathering of technology, business and campaign executives and consultants, organized by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and the Internet Association.

Beach, who came up through the ranks of Republican campaigns at a time when the GOP was ahead of Democrats in terms of voter targeting, said his party has actually gone backwards in technological terms over the last few electoral cycles — in part because the midterms have been “wave” elections, in 2006 for Democrats and in 2010 for Republicans.

The tea party wave of 2010, Beach said, “was great for Republicans, [but] it was the worst thing that ever happened to our profession because it just reinforced bad habits.”

“All you had to do was be standing after the primary and you won,” Beach said. “We could have done anything in ’10 and won. We could have done leaflets.”

As a result, Republican consultants and operatives did not focus on the tech advances that were being made in politics. President Barack Obama’s team had pioneered new uses of digital campaigning in 2008, and Democrats built on that experience for the next four years, while Republicans insisted that high unemployment and Obama’s unpopularity would be enough for another GOP romp in 2012.

“Senate races we worked on in ’12 were worse than the ones we worked on in ’10,” Beach said.

Republican campaign sophistication has atrophied since Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and other GOP operatives were the first to “micro-target” voters, using a vast array of data about the electorate. President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 was the pinnacle of the Rove-Mehlman machine’s efforts, but Republicans have since slipped backwards in many ways, Beach said.

“In 2004, you knew how many votes per precinct you had to get in order to win that state,” said Beach, who worked on voter turnout in the crucial state of Ohio that year. “Ask a campaign now how many votes they need per precinct, and you won’t find anybody [who knows] because it’s like, ‘We’re either going to win or lose based on a tidal wave.’”

The wave elections in 2006 and 2010 reinforced the impression among many Republicans that diligent, labor-intensive work on identifying, persuading and turning out voters is less important than the overall political climate.

Following Obama’s win in 2012 over Mitt Romney, due in part to a campaign that identified new voters through state-of-the-art data analytics and modeling, and turned them out with aggressive and precise recruitment, Republicans said they were going to catch up to Democrats.

The problem, Beach said, is that the same dynamic that shaped 2010 and 2012 is gearing up for the 2014 and 2016 elections.

“Guess what ’14′s going to be? I believe a tidal wave,” Beach said. Many political observers believe Obama’s declining popularity and widespread dissatisfaction with Obamacare is going to hand control of the Senate to the GOP as well as increase the party’s majority in the House this November.

If that happens, Beach said, “It’s just going to reinforce more bad habits.”

Republican consultants, he said, will observe the results and say, “‘Oh, ’12, that was just an outlier. We don’t need younger voters.’”

And that, he said, will only set the party up for a bad result in the 2016 presidential election.

“For us, I think it’s going to be a rude awakening in ’16,” Beach said.

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Obama Administration Drops Proposal to Limit Medicare Drugs.


The Obama administration has abandoned a proposed change in Medicare after the plan was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The plan would have given health insurance companies more freedom to limit the number of drugs covered by Medicare. Those against the proposal said it would restrict seniors’ access to drugs they need.

Under current Medicare law, the majority of drugs across six classes are covered. The proposed plan would have limited that list to three classes — drugs that treat cancer, HIV and seizures.

“We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner wrote to lawmakers Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky responded by saying the Obama administration should not go forward with its proposed cut in Medicare Advantage, a program that helps seniors pay for select medical services — including prescription drugs, also known as Part D.

“We remain concerned about the impact of Obamacare’s looming cuts to Medicare Advantage, something that was not addressed in today’s announcement,” McConnell said in a statement. “Seniors need to know whether the president will stand by his word, and that they can keep the plans they have and like.”

As the administration tries to regulate the industry more under the Affordable Care Act, seniors’ access to drugs has become a hot-button issue. Several proposals have popped up, ranging from limiting certain drugs depending on where the patient lives to allowing all pharmacies to dispense medication, regardless of the patient’s plan or healthcare network.

“We plan to finalize proposals related to consumer protections, anti-fraud provisions that have bipartisan support and transparency after taking into consideration the comments received during the public comment period,” Tavenner wrote.

The Partnership for Part D Access, a coalition based in Washington that advocates for the right of seniors to continue to receive prescription drug coverage, was pleased with Monday’s decision to ax the proposal.

“We are thrilled that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] has listened to the loud chorus of support for maintaining beneficiary access to the life-saving drugs provided under Medicare Part D,” said coalition member Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president of the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“Although we need to remain vigilant on this issue, we commend today’s action by CMS, which will allow millions of seniors to continue to confidently rely upon Medicare to provide them the drugs they need.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Jason Devaney

Cruz: Obama ‘Most Hostile’ US President to Israel.


Image: Cruz: Obama 'Most Hostile' US President to Israel

 

By Elliot Jager

Barack Obama “has been the president most hostile to the nation of Israel in modern times,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told the Israeli Haaretz newspaper.

Obama’s Iranian policies in particular “may well be setting the stage for the slaughter of millions of Israelis – or millions of Americans,” Cruz said.

The senator was interviewed by the newspaper – which is antagonistic toward the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – during the annual pro-Israel AIPAC conference in Washington earlier this week.

Cruz warned that Obama was undermining the “special relationship” between Washington and Jerusalem.

“For the president of the United States to threaten Israel with international isolation and to not-too-subtly threaten a withdrawal of American support for Israel is profoundly misguided and dangerous [for] both the nation of Israel and to the United States,” he said.

This unsympathetic attitude was not limited to the Obama White House. He said that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had deserted Israel by blocking Kirk-Menendez  – a bill supporters say would provide a greater incentive for Iranian nuclear negotiators to bargain in good faith or face U.S. sanctions harsher than those already imposed.

Beyond his stance on Israel, Cruz criticized Obama’s overall handling of American foreign policy.

“For five years under President Obama, America’s leadership in the world has consistently receded,” Cruz said.” As a direct consequence we’ve seen the spheres of influence of Russia and Iran and China expanding. For five years President Obama has alienated and abandoned our friends and allies and has pursued appeasement in negotiations with our enemies.”

Cruz said Obama had been “hectoring” and “blackmailing” Jerusalem “to accept terms that in Israel’s judgment are inconsistent with protecting its national security.” He said Obama was “embracing a false moral equivalence between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

Cruz said that there would be no peace so long as the “Palestinians continue to embrace terrorism and refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Diplomats Union Threatens to Sue Over Donor-Ambassadors.


The union that represents U.S. diplomats threatened Wednesday to sue the State Department unless it releases documents attesting to the qualifications of ambassadorial nominees amid a fierce debate over the credentials of several recent nominees.

The American Foreign Service Association said it would ask a court to compel the production of the documents, known as “Certificates of Demonstrated Competence,” if the department does not do so voluntarily by the end of Thursday. It said the department had ignored previous requests to have the documents released under Freedom of Information Act.

“AFSA remains concerned about the qualifications of several recent nominees,” the organization said in a statement. “AFSA’s goal is to ensure that the nation has the most qualified persons serving as ambassadors. AFSA believes that the President and the American people deserve nothing less.”

The lawsuit threat comes as the White House faces harsh criticism about a handful of ambassador nominees who have scant knowledge or expertise about the nations where they would serve. Several of those nominees were high-dollar campaign fundraisers and donors for President Barack Obama, raising concerns they were rewarded for their lucrative political support.

At least three recent ambassadorial nominees — George Tsunis for Norway, Noah Bryson Mamet for Argentina and Colleen Bell for Hungary — have raised concerns after poor performances in their confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. None has extensive experience with the nations where they would be stationed if confirmed.

Last month, AFSA, which represents about 16,000 current and retired diplomats, said it does not object to nominees who have little or no official diplomatic experience. But the group also unveiled a set of guidelines it said should be considered by the White House and Senate when choosing and confirming ambassadors.

Those include leadership, interpersonal and managerial skills, the ability to formulate high-level policy and knowledge of the foreign area.

An AFSA survey has found that 37 percent of ambassadors during President Barack Obama’s presidency are or have been political appointees.

That is the highest rate since former President Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s and higher than the historical average of about 30 percent.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

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