Beltway Insider: Newtown Anniversary; December ObamaCare Deadline Looms; Budget Deal Cuts UI Extension; Mandela Memorial Service

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President Barack Obama, faces the second biggest challenge of the Affordable Care Act rollout as the initial December deadline quickly approaches and with it the chance to redeem his credibility or face another set back.  

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week dropped one percentage point to 41% of those polled that approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President stayed steady at 51%.

Newtown Faces First Year Anniversary  

On December 14, 2012, one year ago, a lone gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and for the next eleven minutes systematically murdered 20 children and six dedicated educators.

The heartbreak, since that day, which seemed to be felt globally, drove Americans to pursue common sense gun reform, demanding change. President Obama immediately placed Vice President Joseph Biden in charge of creating a comprehensive gun reform evaluation and recommendation package.

The news coverage from Newtown reported the unspeakable, the unfortunate consequence of life in a free society, assault weapons finding their way into the wrong hands.  Stories of heroism, bravery and courage filtered through the confusion.  

Lawmakers tried immediately following the slaughter to secure the votes to enact gun reform, simple changes to the law that would prohibit the sale of assault weapons; that would create longer waiting periods that may possibly stop another mass casualty massacre in your town, or mine, or any town.

On that day, parents in shock faced news cameras, unsure what to say, not knowing the graphic horror of their child’s final moments.

One month later President Obama signed 23 Executive Orders on the recommendation of the Vice-President. No common sense gun reform bill ever made it pass the senate. Newtown parents wondered after all they, we, suffered why the government failed them again.

Twenty-six funerals were held, babies buried, the school razed, 9-11 tapes released.

On December 13, 2013, a lone gunman entered Arapahoe High School in Arapahoe, Colorado.

 

December ObamaCare Deadline Looms

The Affordable Care Act, which mandates all uninsured Americans participate in medical coverage, is nearing the first deadline of the initial open enrollment season.

December 23, 2013, extended from December 7, 2013, is the deadline for citizens who are beginning medical coverage on January 1, 2014. The final deadline is March 31, 2014, which ends the initial Affordable Care Act open enrollment period.

ObamaCare mandates any person not currently receiving medical coverage through an employer sponsored plan, must purchase the minimum requirements through the Marketplace, a collection of healthcare exchanges cooperatively gathered under the heathcare.gov website.

As the ACA definitions are based solely on an individual’s income, and there is a wide swath of income levels that meet the requirements for federal assistance, government subsidy, tax credit, or Medicaid. Any person who does not have an employer sponsored medical plan must register for medical insurance.

During the initial Supreme Court debate over the constitutionality of ObamaCare, Medicaid eligibility expansion was intricate to the Affordable Care Act, a safety net to ensure that all, especially those who were to receive government assistance under the parameters of the bill could receive the minimum medical coverage required. The Supreme Court denied this portion of ObamaCare by granting states the control over the states individuality surrounding Medicaid eligibility expansion.

Currently 19 states, including Texas, Florida and Wisconsin, have opted out of the President’s plan and have not expanded Medicaid eligibility, 25 states, including Ohio, California and New York, and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid eligibility, and five states are still debating.

A state’s current position on Medicaid eligibility expansion is not permanent and they may adopt the new Medicaid expansion plan at any time.

 The Marketplace, after a disastrous roll out has gain momentum and  “there have been some numbers that have been provided by CMS that indicate that the traffic to the website has spiked after reports that it was functioning smoothly for the vast majority of users,” said Josh Earnest, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary.

Even with the spike in visits to the Marketplace, the total enrollment numbers, at 1.2million, are still lower than originally anticipated for this time in the enrollment period.

The Content Management System, (CMS), provide accurate numbers to the site and “that’s an indication that’s there’s strong interest all across the country on behalf of people who are interested in getting access to the affordable health care coverage that is now available through healthcare.gov.,” Ernest said.

The White House has continued to press the notion that Americans are interested in “getting access” to health coverage. The ACA mandate every uninsured citizen be covered. The spike in traffic is simply compliance.

As the initial rollout was universally an embarrassment to the White House, the continued criticism of its repeated failures clearly focused more attention on the Marketplace website bringing more individuals to the website simply to investigate and review.

Though the recession is lingering many unemployed Americans are pushing the deadline date in hopes of securing employment that would include employer provided insurance thus removing them from the mandates associated with ObamaCare.

With the initial December deadline looming, the President who has been heavily criticized for the marketplace’s inability to hold substantial traffic, will have the opportunity to regain credibility with the American people or face failure, criticism, and scrutiny again.

Budget Deal Denies Unemployment Insurance Extension

A two year bi-partisan budget deal was announced this week by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) House Budget Committee Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and will be sent to the senate, where it is expected to pass, this week.

The budget deal denies unemployment insurance extension for 1.3 Americans who stand to lose their financial benefits if this provision is not by December 28, 2013.

“In terms of unemployment benefits, the President feels strongly that those unemployment benefits should be extended.  There is a very persuasive humanitarian case, if you will. It also has significant consequences for our broader economy that some analysts have found that the extension of emergency unemployment benefits would actually provide a significant boost to our economy, or at least a perceptible boost to our economy, in the form of creating about 240,000 jobs,” Earnest said.

Mandela Memorial Service Marred in Controversy

President Obama along with ninety-one heads-of-state traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, who passed away last week, at 95, fought for racial freedom and equality spending almost one-third of his life in prison for his beliefs.

Accompanying the President to South Africa included First lady Michelle Obama, along with former President George Bush and Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, United State Attorney General Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

As the world reflected it was media attention focused on Thamsanqa Jantjie who was hired to sign to a globally hearing impaired audience.

After review it was revealed Jantjie was signing inaccurate, false and non-existent signs. Jantjie in the past has “faced charges of murder, rape, theft, breaking and entering malicious damage to property and kidnapping according to eNCA.com,” as reported in The Washington Post.

Many of the charges against Jantjie were eventually dropped as he was deemed “mentally unfit” to stand trial according to The Washington Post.

Jantjie was not cleared by the United States Secret Service or by any foreign government. He stood within three feet of President Obama, and in close proximity to many of the world’s leaders.   

World Leaders Attend Mandela Memorial

President Obama delivered remarks to the more than 95,000 who attended the memorial service celebrating the life of the former South African President.

World leaders who joined the world’s citizens celebrating Mandela’s  life included former Bishop Desmond Tutu, former Irish President Mary Robinson, President Raoul Castro of Cuba,  Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Prince Felipe of Spain, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,  French President Francois Hollande and former President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as Former South African president FW De Klerk and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, Prime Minister David Cameron also attended.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not attend and it was noted.

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, The Washington Post

 

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