Harvard Pilgrim Customers to Lose Current Coverage Due to ObamaCare

Add 22,000 New Englanders to the list of Americans who will lose their current health care coverage as a result of ObamaCare.

The Boston Globe reports that Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has announced plans to discontinue its Medicare Advantage policies due to new requirements and lower reimbursement rates imposed by the new health care law.

The news is consistent with what Obnacare’s critics were saying during the health care debate, and further undermines a key promise from supporters of the legislation — that those who like their current coveraage could keep it.

Customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine who wish to remain with Harvard Pilgrim will now have the option of enrolling in a more expensive Medicare supplemental plan.

All along, I’ve criticized Republicans for focusing too much to the Medicare cuts in ObamaCare, but at the same time, it’s simply untrue for supporters of the law to argue that senior citizens won’t lose current coverage.

Rubio Campaign Says His Position on Social Security Has Been “Mischaracterized”

The Marco Rubio campaign says that I “mischaracterized” the Florida Senate candidate’s position on Social Security in my earlier post.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos emails:

We just read your column on Marco Rubio and Social Security and believe he has been mischaracterized.

After studying the issue and CBO reports on the fiscal impact of personal accounts, Marco concluded their time had come and gone because they actually take money out of the system and make it harder to make Social Security solvent. Though this somehow seems new to news outlets, the reality is that he has been saying this since March – to the Wall Street Journal and on the FOX News Sunday debate – during the height of the Republican primary.

However, the column is unfair to conclude that Rubio has “cowered” on Social Security and that “Rubio’s fear of talking about serious Social Security reform is indicative of a larger problem…”

We beg to differ. With all due respect, I don’t know if there’s another U.S. Senate candidate in the country who has been as honest about the challenges facing Social Security as Marco. Throughout this entire campaign, he has been very clear that younger workers (probably under 55 years old) won’t have Social Security if we don’t consider reforms like the retirement age or indexing. Doing nothing is unacceptable because it will bankrupt the program and America.

In a state like Florida where senior scare tactics on this issue are second nature to Democrats (and now say-and-do-anything-to-win politicians like Charlie Crist), this is not easy.

This is what makes your column’s characterization of Marco all the more upsetting.

What’s upsetting is for a conservative candidate to abandon the idea of personal accounts by saying their time has “come and gone.” Personal accounts are also about freedom — about moving from a society where young workers are forced to participate in a pyramid scheme (standing at the bottom), to one in which there’s an element of individual choice over how to allocate one’s own money toward their own retirement. And as it turns out, Paul Ryan has presented a proposal for Social Security reform that includes personal accounts, and the CBO determined that his plan makes the program solvent. So I disagree with the Rubio campaign’s position that there has to be a trade-off between personal accounts and solvency.

Rubio Shows Weakness on Social Security

Few — if any — Republican candidates have generated more excitement among conservatives this year than Marco Rubio. Yet the Miami Herald reports that Rubio has abandoned his prior support for giving younger workers the option of investing a portion of their payroll taxes in personal accounts.

According to Rubio’s campaign:

“He studied the issue at length and reached the conclusion that the numbers don’t make it a viable solution to preserve Social Security and that the focus should be on other areas involving younger workers who are decades away from retirement” said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos. “This conclusion is based on Marco’s extensive study of the fiscal impact and his belief that Social Security must be preserved for future generations. When Marco evaluates policies, he studies important elements like the fiscal impact, whereas Charlie Crist looks at the poll numbers and takes positions based on the votes he’s trying to win on a given day.”

Florida has a large senior citizen vote, so it’s understandable politically why Rubio wouldn’t want to give his opponents anything to run on when it looks like he’s coasting to victory. But Rubio’s fear of talking about serious Social Security reform is indicative of a larger problem, which I alluded to in my post about the GOP’s “Pledge to America.”

If an election in which there is a groundswell of anger against government spending and debt isn’t a good time to take a stand on entitlements, when is a good time? Should Republicans make the massive gains this November that people are now predicting, they won’t try to do anything about entitlements, because then the argument will be that they need to take back the White House first, and can’t give Obama an opportunity to paint them as extremists in the run up to 2012. Should a Republican win the presidency in 2012 with large majorities in the House and Senate, then Republicans will be focused on maintaining power, as they were during the Bush years.

The point is, there will always be a political argument for not tackling entitlements. Yet if there is any hope of doing something to address them, more politicians are going to have to be comfortable taking serious stands on the issue, even at a political risk, even during election season. Rep. Paul Ryan won his Wisconsin district (which went for Obama) with 64 percent of the vote in 2008, despite unvieling a very detailed and comprehensive entitlement reform proposal. So it is possible to take a bold stand on entitlements and still thrive politically. But it’s discouraging when Rubio, who has been treated as a conservative rock star, cowers on the issue.

Poll: McMahon Closing in on Blumenthal in Connecticut

Linda McMahon is closing in on Rihcard Blumenthal in Connecticut, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, the latest traditionally blue state with a Senate race is trending Republican.

McMahon now trails Blumenthal by a slim 49 percent to 46 percent margin, and leads him among independent voters.

According to Quinnipiac:

“With five weeks to go, the Connecticut Senate race is very close. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is ahead by only a statistically insignificant 3 points. Blumenthal has to be concerned about Linda McMahon’s momentum. He can hear her footsteps as she closes in on him,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

“McMahon clearly is capitalizing on the anger that one-third of voters are feeling toward the federal government.”

WV Democratic Senate Candidate Endorses Partial Repeal of ObamaCare

Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, who is running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Robert Byrd’s death, tells Real Clear Politics that he’s in favor of repealing parts of ObamaCare:

Manchin endorsed President Obama’s efforts on landmark health care reform and voiced support for the bill before and after its passage in March. Now, just five weeks away from a tougher Senate race than he expected against Republican John Raese, the governor said in an interview with RealClearPolitics that he supports many basic components of the law but volunteered that some of it needs to be repealed.

“I believe in health care reform. I don’t believe in the way this bill was passed,” Manchin said Sunday afternoon. “Why they overreached, I don’t know.”

Pressed on his support for repeal, Manchin clarified that he favored “repealing the things that are bad in that bill.” He ticked off a list of reforms in the law that he supports and asserted there is broad agreement in both parties for many of them. “Can’t you keep that as a good base?” he said, adding, “It’s a great bill.” He emphasized that he’s not calling for wholesale repeal and just wants to roll back parts of it but said, “You do need to.”

The fact that Manchin is taking this stand sugegsts two things. It confirms that the West Virginia race is much closer than was expected given Manchin’s popularity in the state. It’s also another reminder that despite supporters claims during the health care debate that the legislation would become more popular once passed and it would give Democrats something to campaign on, in reality, it remains an albatross around their necks. Not only is Manchin not running on the health care law, but he’s running away from it.

Via Wonkroom, where Igor Volsky has more on Manchin’s past support for ObamaCare.

The Sad State of Progressivism

In the first stage of the Obama administration, Democrats enacted an $862 billion economic stimulus package, financial regulatory legislation, and a national health care law that on its own was the most significant piece of liberal legislation since LBJ’s Great Society. You might expect self-described progressive activists to be beaming. But you’d be wrong.

“We delivered the U.S. Senate to the Democrats [in 2006],” Markos Moulitsas of the blog DailyKos proclaimed at July’s Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of liberals that he founded. “In 2008, we helped the Democrats expand that majority. Because remember, they didn’t have 60 votes. We still couldn’t do s**t. So we said, ‘Okay, here’s your Senate veto-proof majority.'”

By this he presumably meant filibuster-proof majority.

“And they still didn’t do s**t,” Moulitsas lamented.

The prominent liberal blogger made the remarks by way of introducing Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who he suggested should challenge Sen. Max Baucus in the state’s 2012 Democratic Senate primary. Liberals hold Baucus in contempt because as Finance Committee Chairman he held talks with Republicans, a strategy that they blame for watering down the national health care law.

“We’ll do anything we can to get a Senate that has more Democrats who are real Democrats, and are not bulls**t Democrats,” Moulitsas pledged to the thousands of activists who had flocked to the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the conference.

For those unfamiliar with the term “bulls**t Democrats,” MSNBC talk show host Ed Schultz had hammered it home earlier in the evening.

“I know all of you on the campaign trail busted ass for Democrats,” Schultz hollered, clenched microphone in hand, pacing around the stage like a stand-up comic. “And I know you were told that all we need is 60 votes. Then you got introduced to Ben Nelson.”

The crowd booed loudly.

“Then you got introduced to Joe Lieberman.”

More boos.

“Let’s not forget Mary Landrieu.”

Another round of boos.

“And let’s not forget Blanche Lincoln.”

As the crowd continued to boo, Schultz screamed: “Bulls**t! Bulls**t!”

(The word also made its way into a slogan for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which is fighting back against what it says is misinformation about the burden public sector union employees are placing on states. The campaign is aptly titled: “STOP the Bulls**t!”)

Schultz’s critique of the Democrats extended all the way up to Obama himself.

“They must have a war room at the White House,” he mused. “I think they’ve got a sissy room, too.”

His gripe of the moment was that the Obama administration had ousted Shirley Sherrod, panicking after Andrew Breitbart had posted an edited video of her speaking that portrayed her as a racist. But a broader gripe was that President Obama didn’t give interviews to MSNBC in general and him in particular.

“I busted my ass for Obama,” he sadly recounted, like a jilted lover. “President Obama, he don’t come to Ed. He comes to Bret Baier on Fox News — in my time slot.”

He went on to proudly boast, “I thought our network did a hellavu job fighting for health care.”

Schultz challenged bloggers in the audience to hold Democrats and the White House accountable for their failures in advancing the progressive agenda, and urged them to use him as their inspiration.

“I have one message to all of you in the blogosphere: If I’ve got the balls to say it, you better have the balls to write it,” he goaded.

TO THE NETROOTS, weak-kneed Democrats have been standing in the way of the real change for which they campaigned. Gays still aren’t allowed to openly serve in the military. Gitmo hasn’t been closed. The U.S. is engaged in two wars, with an even larger commitment in one of them. There hasn’t been comprehensive immigration reform. Cap and trade died in the Senate. They didn’t get a public option into the health care law, and a single-payer, or fully government-run system, wasn’t even on the table. Though Obama signed stimulus legislation, it’s seen by liberals as insufficient to meet the magnitude of the economic downturn, and they’re disgusted by the renewed focus on deficits.

“Don’t accept the argument, any argument, about some financial limitations,” Van Jones, the former White House “green jobs czar,” advised the activists in a speech for which he received a standing ovation. “The limitation is not in our pocket book. The limitation is in our hearts. And our hearts can grow. And your job is to grow our hearts…. Don’t fall into the trap of this whole deficit argument. There is plenty of money out there. The only question: is how are we going to spend it?”

Jones was forced to resign from the administration last September following a series of revelations about his radical past, including the fact that he signed a petition calling for an investigation into whether the Bush administration knew about the September 11 attacks and deliberately allowed them to happen. (Jones has insisted that the group organizing the petition added his name without proper consent, and it has since been removed from the petition.)

In his speech, Jones said that following his resignation, he “spent about six months throwing myself the biggest, longest pity party you could ever imagine.” He tied his struggle to the larger struggle facing the progressive movement and the country as a whole.

“These are the days of hope and heartache, all across the country,” he said. Yet he ultimately urged liberals to cut Obama some slack.

WHEN TAKING A BREAK, attendees could roam through the exhibition hall, filled with booths of various liberal activist groups, Democratic candidates courting progressives, and some business ventures. One booth sold vegan-friendly soap, bath and body products, as well as a collection of Republican voodoo dolls. When I swung by, Sarah Palin’s mouth was the most popular target for pins.

Most of the conference was devoted to smaller panel discussions about blogging, online activism, and policy, with blasting air conditioning shielding the environmentally conscious attendees from the 111-degree Vegas heat. Upon registering, attendees were given a grid with a schedule of dozens of options, with topics including: “Tweeting the Revolution,” “Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Change,” and “California’s Challenge: From ‘Failifornia’ To Progressive Laboratory.” While many people would look at the crisis in the Golden State as a textbook example of what happens when high taxes, excessive regulation, a generous welfare state, and powerful public sector unions run amok, this panel sought to argue that this was actually the perfect time for the state to experiment with liberal policies.

Another panel titled, “Can Unconscious Bias Derail the Progressive Agenda?” explored how even people who were not explicitly racist still harbor unconscious racial anxieties that savvy political operatives tap into for partisan gain. McCain ’08 ads fed into this sort of unconscious racism, according to one panelist, who argued that McCain’s ads attacking Obama’s inexperience exploited white fears of the “uppity” black man. Democrats are generally too afraid to talk about race, the panelists argued, but combating such unconscious bias would require identifying it publicly to bring it to the surface.

John Powell, a professor of civil rights at the University of Minnesota Law School, argued that Obama in particular has run away from anything having to do with race, for fear of being seen as the president for black people.

THROUGHOUT THE CONFERENCE, speakers mocked and attacked the most hated figures and institutions on the right: Fox News, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Breitbart, Michelle Bachmann, and Glenn Beck.

“I’m really sorry that Glenn Beck is going blind,” Schultz remarked, eliciting laughter in some parts of the audience. “Because I think it’s a travesty he’s not going to see the country he’s trying to destroy.”

But the most popular target for progressives wasn’t a specific individual or institution, but a nascent political movement — the dreaded “teabaggers.”

 While there was general agreement with the sentiment that the Tea Party movement represented the tantrum of a racist, paranoid fringe that now finds itself out of power, there were conflicting views as to whether the movement posed a political threat. Some expect the Tea Partiers to damage the Republican Party by moving it too far to the right, yet one could also sense a concern that the movement could exploit economic anxiety to advance conservatism and undermine progressive policies, especially those that rely heavily on deficit spending.

Moulitsas called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the “luckiest sonavabitch in politics” for drawing Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle as his Republican opponent.

“Thank you, teabaggers,” he taunted, imploring the audience to repeat the barb. He went on to mention Rand Paul of Kentucky and Linda McMahon of Connecticut as two other examples of Tea Party activists forcing Republicans to nominate extreme candidates who hurt the GOP’s chances. “Thank you, teabaggers,” the audience shouted back at him each time.

“They are the best thing to happen to us this year, I swear to God.” he said. “If you want motivation for November, it ain’t the Democrats. I’ll say it right now, they’re not motivating me. What’s motivating me is breaking the teabaggers.”

He went on to explain what it would mean to “break” them.

“What’s going to happen is that they’re not going to win the victories they think they’re going to win,” he predicted. “It’s going to break them, because it’s going to be all out civil war. They’re going to claim that the Republicans weren’t conservative enough. And Republicans are going to say, “You guys are bat s*** insane, you f***ed us this year.'”

Yet behind all of the triumphalism, one could sense a growing fear that the Tea Party movement would be a way for Republicans to benefit from the populist backlash against Washington. One panel examined “Right Wing Populism and the Tea Parties” while another looked at “2010 Elections: Channeling the Power of Jobs, Populism & Angry Voters.” The latter panel looked at ways that the weak economy could be used to the benefit of progressives, and the answers were heavy on protectionism. The idea was to convince Democrats to talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back to America as a cultural issue, while attacking Republicans for supporting tax cuts and trade policies that ship jobs overseas. Scott Paul, the executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing spoke about his group’s “Keep It Made in America” initiative.

During the question-and-answer session, one audience member asked, “Can anything turn around the economy other than massive government spending?” (Consensus answer: no.) Another member of the audience followed up by emphasizing that Democrats needed to create more projects like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. “When are we going to stop worrying about what the Tea Party is going to say, and just do what we need to do?” he shouted with frustration.

THE SPEECHES FROM the top elected Democrats at the conference made it clear that there is at least some concern that a demoralized base could cost them in November. Obama himself felt compelled to address the audience through a video message.

He conceded that “Change has not come fast enough for too many Americans, I know that,” and continued: “It hasn’t come fast enough for me either. And I know it hasn’t come fast enough for many of you who fought so hard during the election. The fact is, it took years to get here. It’ll take time to get us out. We’ve known that since the beginning of our campaign. But I hope you take a moment to consider all that we’ve accomplished.”

The video then cut to a clip from The Rachel Maddow Show in which the MSNBC host recounted all of the legislation Obama had signed over his first year and a half in office. “So in ways large and small, we’ve begun to deliver on the change we’ve fought so hard for,” he said. “We’re not done. We’re working to repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ We’re working to close Guantanamo in a responsible way. Thanks to the heroism of our troops, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq by the end of August.”

With that, he made his pitch for the liberal base to get fired up for the midterm elections.

“We’re moving America forward,” he said. “When we’ve come this far, we can’t afford to slide back. And that’s the choice America faces this November. Between going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess, and moving forward with policies that are leading us out.”

This same basic sentiment was echoed by Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when they addressed the crowd in person the same day. Sen. Al Franken, delivering the closing keynote address of the conference, seemed particularly concerned, noting that anger toward the Bush administration prompted liberals to work hard to throw Republicans out of power in 2006 and 2008, and this year it’s conservatives who are angry and enthusiastic about sending Democrats packing.

After spending three days listening to progressives complain about how disappointed they have been in the failure of the Democratic Congress and President Obama to advance key aspects of their agenda, I almost felt like shaking them, and saying: “Sorry, but this is the best it’s going to get for you. If you aren’t happy now, you never will be.” 

Liberal Blogger Blasts Axelrod on Call

Obama advisor David Axelrod held a conference call today as part of a White House effort to enlist the help of liberal bloggers to fire up the base in the final weeks of the mid-term elections, but Greg Sargent reports that it didn’t exactly go smoothly:

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere’s anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing Axelrod of “hippie punching.”

“We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day,” the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

GOP Pledges to Be Timid in the Face of Crisis

Republicans have billed their “Pledge to America” as a governing agenda, but it is nothing of the sort. Instead of offering bold solutions to today’s most pressing challenges, Republicans chose to compile some small ideas that wouldn’t endanger their chances of regaining the majority this November.

National Review‘s editors, in their endorsement of the “Pledge,” argue that its proposals are bolder than 1994’s “Contract With America.” That may be so, but the times we’re living in call for much more drastic measures than before. In 1994, the Cold War had just ended, the annual deficit was at $203 billion and trending downward, unemployment was at under 6 percent and falling, HillaryCare had just gone down in flames, and we still had decades to deal with the entitlement crisis. Today we’re engaged in two wars as well as facing the broader threat from Islamic terrorism, the deficit stands at over $1.3 trillion, the unemployment rate has been hovering near the double-digits and isn’t receding, ObamaCare is the law of the land, and the entitlement crisis is upon us — or just a few years away if you’re being more charitable.

One Republican (Rep. Paul Ryan) has at least taken a stab at proposing a comprehensive set of solutions that aim to address our nation’s problems, but his fellow GOP House members have run away from the plan like the plague, and are reinforcing their timidity by releasing today’s document.

Take the document’s economic proposals. Republicans have largely recycled ideas such as extending the Bush tax cuts, offering small business owners a tax deduction, and reducing regulation. Yet given the maginitude of the problems we face, we have to think much more ambitiously about an overhaul of our complex tax system that inhibits growth and restricts global competitiveness.

Republicans call for repealing the health care law, which I support, but their replacement proposals ignore the fact that even with ObamaCare undone, we still need to fundamentally change our health care system. Instead of proposing something that would move us away from a system where employers and government dominate the market and toward a system where individuals would have control over their own health care dollars and choose policies that suit their budget and medical needs, Republicans chose to play small ball. A few proposals — such as preventing taxpayer funding for abortions and allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines — are worthy of support, but they fall far short of a vision for real reform our health care system. And they are coupled with vague promises, such as “We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans” and “We will repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care and replace it with common-sense reforms focused on strengthening the doctor patient relationship.”

But the most egregious problem with this “Pledge” is that it’s a slap in the face to the youth of America. While it proposes ideas such as rolling back discretionary spending to 2008 levels, it completely avoids any concrete proposals on the biggest threat facing America: our looming entitlement crisis. Instead, the document reads: “We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations. That means requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.” So in other words: “trust us.” This coming from the party that added trillions to our long-term deficits by enacting the Medicare prescription drug plan. And it’s worth noting that at another place in the document, the GOP attacks Medicare cuts within the new health care law.

I understand that some would argue that it’s unrealistic to expect a major political party to propose serious entitlement reform weeks before the election. But by the same token, Republicans shouldn’t expect conservatives to adopt this exercise in cowardice as their battle cry. Republicans like to address Tea Parties and talk in terms of the revolutionary spirit sweeping across the nation, and they even invoke the Declaration of Independence in the opening of their “Pledge to America.” But the proposals contained within the document show that all this revolutionary talk is mere rhetoric, and that in reality Republicans have learned nothing from their time in the wilderness. The House Republicans are interested in attaining and then maintaining power, and not concerned with advancing the cause of limited government at a make-or-break moment in American history.

ObamaCare at Six Months

As President Obama spent Wednesday celebrating the six-month anniversary of the national health care law, his crowning legislative achievement remained deeply unpopular.

Despite repeated claims by proponents of the law that Americans would begin to warm up to it once it was enacted, more than 49 percent of the public currently opposes the law, according to an average of polls compiled by Pollster.com, compared with just 41 percent who favor it. Those numbers are virtually identical to where they stood when Obama signed the legislation in March.

The months since passage of ObamaCare have been marked by the evaporation of one promise after another. Contrary to the rhetoric employed by Democrats when they were ramming the unpopular measure through Congress, further evidence has confirmed that the law will increase costs, raise premiums, and cause Americans to lose their current coverage — even if they like it.

Yet this is no time for opponents of the law to become complacent. ObamaCare boosters are already laying the groundwork to use the failures of the law to advocate a further expansion of the government’s role in health care.

A perfect example is the uproar over recent reports that insurers were citing the new health care law as part of their rationale for raising premiums. In response to the news, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a threatening letter to the insurance industry lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), warning that there will be “zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.” Sebelius also added that, “I want AHIP’s members to be put on notice: the Administration, in partnership with states, will not tolerate unjustified rate hikes in the name of consumer protections.”

Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jay Rockefeller echoed Sebelius, declaring in a letter to leading carriers, “If an insurer thinks it can blame the enactment of the Affordable Care Act for its rising premiums, it is surely mistaken.”

It’s not hard to see where this is eventually heading. During the health care debate, liberals argued that regulation alone could not rein in the insurance industry, which is why we needed to create a new government-run plan, or so-called “public option.” But the public option ended up getting dropped so that Democrats could corral the votes necessary to move the legislation through the Senate.

As premiums go up in response to ObamaCare, expect to see a lot of Democrats, egged on by their liberal base, make the following argument: “See, we tried to give insurance companies a chance to clean up their act, but they continued their abusive practices. Now we need a public option.” Over time, this can easily morph into an argument for a fully government-run, or single-payer, health care system (which Obama has long described as his ideal).

To prevent this scenario from playing out, it’s important for the law’s opponents to go beyond scoring short-term political points (i.e., “Obama said premiums would go down, and he lied”), and to use this as an opportunity to educate the public on precisely why liberal health care policies have the detrimental effects that they do, and to advocate alternatives.

It’s no surprise that the new health care law, which requires insurers to offer more generous benefits, would make premiums go up. In the pre-ObamaCare health care system, state regulators already created over 2,000 benefits that insurers were mandated to cover, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance — and those benefits drove up the cost of health insurance by 20 percent to 50 percent.  It’s one reason why coverage in highly-regulated New York costs more than double what it does in neighboring Pennsylvania, according to data from eHealthInsurance.com.

ObamaCare adds a raft of new mandates on top of existing state mandates. The Congressional Budget Office determined that an earlier version of the law would increase premiums in the individual market by 10 percent to 13 percent over where they would be without the law’s passage.

Some of the mandated benefits — such as the “slacker mandate” that forces insurers to allow younger adults to stay on their parents’ policies until the age of 26 — are popular in isolation. That’s why it’s imperative to remind the public that the flip side of having the government require additional benefits is that it will drive up premiums for everybody else.

The alternative to the liberal approach is to shift away from a system that is dominated by government and employers, and toward a system where individuals have more control over their own health care dollars and can choose polices that best suit their budget and medical needs.

While ObamaCare supporters may be on the defensive right now, it’s important to remember that advocates of government-run health care will use any angle to build on their gains — even if it means exploiting the failures of government health care.

Obama: “We Can Absorb a Terrorist Attack”

Excerpts are starting to emerge from Bob Woodward’s book on President Obama as a wartime president, and among the quotes that are drawing the most attention, Obama is said to have told Woodward: “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

At another point in the book, Obama insists on setting a timeline for withdrawal in Afghanistan, explaining: “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”