Catching up on some stuff — Obamacare bounce back; some books; No. 24; and a dead rat

Obamacare issues

A previous post (“King v. Burwell: Will Obamacare Survive?” March 31, 2015, posted below) noted the run-up to the anticipated Supreme Court decision in June about whether residents of states that have not set up state exchanges for the purchase of medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act will qualify for federal subsidies to help pay for their insurance coverage. If the Court rules for plaintiff King, then residents of 27 states will lose their subsidies and many likely will not be able to afford their insurance.

As our post pointed out, the 27 states in question are mostly Republican, with Republican governors, legislators and United States senators – in other words, the politicians most anxious to kill the Affordable Care Act. It has now dawned on some of these officials that there could be tens or hundreds of thousands of their constituents who could lose their insurance or see costs skyrocket.

So what to do if the Court sides with King? At the Supreme Court hearing in March Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that Congress would simply pass amendments to the legislation; yeah, right! Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the Court could stay their decision for a short time to allow states, or more likely those covered by the subsidized insurance, to figure out what they could do; right, again!

So now some of the forty-one Republican senators representing the states whose residents who might lose their coverage are talking about temporarily extending the subsidies to the residents of the affected states until at least after the 2016 elections, when presumably the voters would elect a Republican president and Congress who would permanently eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Which would, of course, mean that no one would get subsidized medical insurance. Which could perhaps lead to legislation that again temporarily extended the subsidies until leaders in Washington figured out what to do! All of this assumes that the various elements of the national Republican party would come together to develop a solution to the problem at hand.

As the previous post suggested, it my guesstimate that the Court will rule in the government’s favor and allow subsidies to continue for residents of states that do not have their own insurance exchanges. Which would allow all those Republican governors, state and federal legislators who oppose the Affordable Care Act to stop trying to figure out how to temporarily extend the subsidies and would further allow them to go back to working to repeal the entire law.

What’s that about the definition of insanity being to continue doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Reading List

I recently finished reading a biography about William Henry Seward, Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, by Walter Stahr. Not exactly on the New York Times Best Seller List. But I enjoy reading history, and I wanted to round out civil war and Lincoln administration history, highlighted by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best seller, Team of Rivals, which was the basis of the movie Lincoln.

Many of us probably remember that Secretary of State Seward bought Alaska from Russia, “Seward’s Folly.” Given some of the politicians that Alaska has recently provided to the United States, perhaps that purchase was a mistake, but how could Seward ever have foreseen such events?

Besides serving rather ably and controversially as Secretary of State, Seward was also a member of the New York State Senate, Governor and United States Senator. I won’t bore you with the details, but one point worth noting was the intense political intrigue that occurred in the State Senate and Governor’s office back in the 1830’s and ‘40’s. Fortunately we have gotten past such shenanigans in Albany.

Several months ago I read a biography of about another governor, Nelson Rockefeller, On His Own Terms (Richard Norton Smith). For those who have an interest in things political in New York State, it is a good read; various references to Buffalo politicos included.

I generally stay away from autobiographies about current politicians since we can read all about them in current news stories. But the new biography about Andrew Cuomo, The Contender, by Michael Shnayerson, has been getting some interesting attention recently, so I’ve decided to take a look. I am just getting started on the book so I have no impressions yet one way or the other, but a quote on the introductory pages caught my attention. Mel Miller, former Speaker of the Assembly, is quoted as saying “politics is a game of human beings. It all comes down to hate and revenge.”

Number 24

Republicans seem to sense a tremendous opportunity to win back the White House. How else to explain the large field of candidates?

For those keeping score, candidate 24 may soon enter the picture. Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, is exploring his possibilities. His candidacy falls into the “if governor so-and-so can run for president, why can’t I?” category.

You might ask, why do all these people think they could be president? My question is, with the first Republican presidential debate scheduled in August, where will they ever find a stage big enough to hold them all? Even more intriguing, considering that most of these folks are attracting support far less than 10 percent of Republican voters in the early polls, how will party leaders tactfully try to keep the number of debaters down to about 8 to 10 candidates, as the first debates of the last cycle operated? Or perhaps the first debate could just be one of those lightning round things where each candidate may only use one word replies to questions.

Small Town Politics

I think it is often possible for politicians on the lower levels of government to get away, nearly unnoticed, with some strange things that say, would be national news if Rand Paul tried them. A friend noted to me that at a recent meeting of the Lockport City Council one of the city Aldermen, Kathryn Fogle, thought it would be funny to place a frozen dead rat in the desk of one of her colleagues prior to the start of a recent Council meeting. Folks in Lockport are just too funny!

It seems though that the recipient of the rat, Alderman Lombardi, was not amused.

The good news I guess, is that if you are ever in the market for a dead frozen rat there is a pet store in Lockport that can help you.