Beltway Insider: The Affordable Care Act Controversy Continues; October Job Numbers; Christie’s Big Win; Key Election Results

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President Obama, stinging from several weeks of continued criticism over the failures of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace website and the less than forthcoming data from the White House, took to the road this week to pitch the plan.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, rose one percentage point to 41% of those polled that approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President remained at 53%.

The Affordable Care Act Controversy Continues

President Obama, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, both championed ObamaCare across the south as each presented aspects of the ACA that should create a better system of dealing with healthcare issues and costs.

Admitting the first month of open enrollment has been less than favorable with website glitches and repeated Marketplace outages, the President said during a rally at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas, “We are working overtime to get this fixed, and the website is already better than it was at the beginning of October, and by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to. And folks are working 24/7 to make sure that happens.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the Roslyn Carter Symposium on Mental Health in Atlanta and announced the mental health requirements to ObamaCare are not more restrictive to any person in need of mental health care as opposed to the general population.

“The parity rules, along with the Affordable Care Act, are expanding mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections to 62 million Americans, Sebelius said in the Albany Herald. “This historic expansion will help make treatment more affordable and accessible.”

To date there has been no mention of the effects the implementation of ObamaCare will have on states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal use or any other experimental medical procedure.

As deadlines for every American looms, compliance issues are being sifted through ObamaCare law including maintaining of current insurance that doesn’t cover as much as the law requires, extending the open enrollment period to compensate for the dismal failure of the first month, backlash including cancellation by current insurers, in addition to simple deadlines, and what options are available.

ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act, is law. Every American must provide proof of insurance which will be provided when enrollment is complete.

For Americans who have a current policy through their employer, they are not required to enroll in an additional policy as long as the employer policy carries the minimum level of insurance required by law.

After intense scrutiny and harsh questioning the White House is refusing any increase in open enrollment despite the miserable performance of the first month of the website.

There are two deadlines January 31, 2014 which initiates coverage for those who want the insurance to begin immediately and the final deadline March 31, 2014 when the six month open enrollment period ends.  Penalty for failure to comply can be assessed to personal taxes.

ObamaCare is ambitious and implementing the new law is proving more difficult that originally believed.

There are many people groups who do not understand the new law is mandatory. Reaching out to the uninsured or uninformed is proving to be a difficult for the White House.

"I don’t have a specific plan to describe to you beyond the imperative that we get that information to everyone who needs it,” according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

 

October Job Numbers

Unemployment numbers for October were released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflecting little growth as the chronic unemployment situation remains static and unchanged.

The economy added a dismal 204,000 jobs, which did not change the overall number of unemployed workers, that remained steady at 7.3% or 11.3million The paltry economic growth was cancelled out by the extremely high number, 488,000, of persons applying for unemployment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also pointed out the government shutdown as reason, which is not usually computed in total, behind the apparent jump in unemployment filing numbers.

Long term unemployed, those who have not had employment for more than 27 weeks, also remain steady at 4.1million.

The barely limping along economy is seeing bright moments in almost every demographic including the long term unemployed as 954,000 Americans, over the past year, have returned to the work force. 

The bleak numbers are not moving as quickly as needed to stimulate faster recession recovery in major worker groups. Even though the numbers of Americans securing employment are increasing, it is a slow climb to pre-recession employment numbers.

Adult women at 6.4% are the closest demographic to reaching stability with Adult Men at 7.0% next. The workforce is slightly worse and above the national average for Hispanics at 9.1% followed by African Americans which are still facing high unemployment numbers at 13.1% and lastly teenagers at 22%. Discouraged workers, those individuals who have simply stopped looking as they feel there are no opportunities available, has not changed at 815,000.

Growth industries that have remained steady include healthcare, hospitably, professional and technical services, manufacturing and retail.

Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Wins Second Term

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie handily won a second term beating out his democratic challenger State Senator Barbara Buono by an overwhelming majority.

Christie, known for his hard line presentation, was catapulted to the front of the GOP Presidential pack with his decisive victory in almost every demographic. Losing the 18-29 by single digits, the tough talk governor secured 60.4% of the votes with his challenger winning only 38%.

Seen as a key forecaster for the upcoming 2016 presidential race, Christie was able to attract voters across party lines in a state where registered democrats outnumber republicans by 700,000.

Christie a moderate republican has remained vocal on key issues that tend to alienate democratic voters from Republican politicians including Same-Sex Marriage, he opposed law and appealed to lawmakers to include a voter referendum on the ballot, it won, he signed the legislation into law, Abortion, he opposes, and minimum wage.

With the economy a key presidential issue, Christie received a solid endorsement by democratic voters for his leadership as the recession lingers in New Jersey which is behind the national average in economic growth, as well as his leadership during times of national emergency and  catastrophic disaster which New Jersey has seen its share over the past four years.  

Christie made the celebratory rounds on the Sunday Political talk shows and when asked if he planned on a 2016 Presidential bid he refused to answer directly or even hint as to the possibility.

 

Cannabis Tax Approved

Colorado voters became the first state to institute taxation on recreational cannabis use.

While the federal government still classifies Marijuana as a highly dangerous narcotic, 20 states have legalized or decriminalized its medicinal and recreational usage.

Western states including Washington, and Colorado have legalized across the board without restriction, California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico limit usage to medicinal with a medical card. Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana and Michigan and the District of Columbia, also decimalized for medicinal usage.

The expectation of high tax revenue from sale and distribution of the comfort drug, which is known to curb the side effects of chemotherapy, has been the push in several key states behind legalization. 

As cities and towns across America face widening budget gaps, the taxation revenue from legalization could bolster depleted state budget creating a surplus of revenue which as in Colorado can be targeted to school construction or new cannabis enforcement laws.

Funding sequester squeezed SNAP programs, head start or other social programs are only three of the governmental programs that would see a reassurance it each state that has legalized would impose taxation on one of the few untapped natural resources. 

Key Election Results

Tuesday’s off cycle election went as predicated in most of the major races. While polls in New Jersey had a higher than expected voter turnout, across the Hudson in New York City only a million voters showed up to cast ballots in the hotly contested New York City mayoral race.

New York City mayoral race which saw its share of scandal, sex-texts twists, and shuffle throughout the campaign season ended with comptroller Bill de Blasio claiming victory over Republican Joe Lhota. Former Frontrunner, Christine Quinn, the Speaker of the New York City Council lost in the primary.

De Blasio, the first democrat to win the NYC mayoral race in 20 years, won with 73.3% of the votes over his republican challenger.

With only a million voters in a city of 8million, the off cycle election proved to be the right time for the bi-racial De Blasio.

Virginia Governor’s race which brought out major party campaign stumps by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was thought to be, as with New Jersey’s Governor Race, an indicator of the country’s political mood swing.

Expecting a large victory over the GOP challenger, Terry McAuliffe squeaked to victory with only 48% of the votes as his challenger Kenneth Cuccinelli secured 45.5%.

GOP supporters have vehemently have blamed the Republican Party for abandoning  Cuccinelli  and pouring money into New Jersey’s slam dunk, six weeks ago, governor’s race.  With the margin of victory so small it may seem like another miscalculation, lack of foresight and confidence by the GOP.

Cuccinelli will retain his former position as Attorney General of Virginia.

Gay Marriage referendum was on the ballot in Illinois which became the 15th state to legalize as voters overwhelmingly passed legislation allowing same sex couples to marry.

President Honors Vets; Marks Historical Benchmark

Veterans Day, a federally observed holiday, marked by parades and closing of all federal and state agencies will be observed Monday.

The President directed his weekly message to honoring Veterans from the “greatest generation who fought island by island across the Pacific, and freed millions from fascism in Europe.  Thank you to the heroes who risked everything through the bitter cold of Korea and the stifling heat of Vietnam.” He said in a released statement, “And thank you, to all the heroes who have served since, most recently our 9/11 Generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

President Obama also reiterated his commitment to assisting Veterans in the reentry process by securing employment, proper medical and trauma care and Post Traumatic Stress counseling if needed.

Kristalltnacht, the Night of Broken Glass

Seventy-five years ago on, November 9 and November 10, 1938 Kristalltnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, began across Austria and Germany with Nazi SS, marching across villages destroying Jewish owned business. Jewish Men were systematically rounded up to be killed. It was a horrifying foreshadowing of events that would ultimately lead to the extermination of over 6million Jews and millions of others in the gas chambers of Nazi Concentration Camps.

The Germans marched through Eastern Europe; country after country surrendered, almost defenseless, against the advancing German military.  The world looked away, much like today, as atrocity after atrocity came to light, each one more horrific and more impossible to believe than the last, until reluctantly, only after the United Kingdom had seen bombardment and destruction and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor did the United States enter, what became World War II, and ended it by dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, finally defeating Hitler’s fight for global dominance.

 

For more information on President Obama: www.whitehouse.gov 

For more information on the Affordable Care Act: https://www.healthcare.gov/

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Albany Herald

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