Problems with the Obamacare insurance exchanges website have caused some Democrats to call for changes to the president’s signature law.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is working on a bill delaying for one year the $95 penalty for those who don’t purchase health insurance, according to a Senate aide. The penalty is intended to be the enforcement mechanism behind the individual mandate. Manchin’s bill will differ from a measure coming from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a vocal Obamacare opponent, that would delay the individual mandate until six months after the Government Accountability Office certifies that HealthCare.gov is fully functional.
It’s no surprise that Manchin would support a delay in the penalty; in September, he said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast that he could back a continuing resolution that included a one-year delay of the individual mandate. “There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at the time. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.” He later voted with Democrats to fund the government without a delay in the health care law, saying in a statement, “I do not believe we should hold our government hostage while we work through the health care law.”
Not all Democrats are asking for a delay. Another option is to extend the open-enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014, which is what Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., urged in a letter Tuesday to President Obama. She also wrote that because of the problems with the website, “I ask that you clarify how the individual responsibility penalty will be administered and enforced. If an individual is unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems with enrollment, they should not be penalized because of lack of coverage.”
An Obamacare supporter, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told reporters in his Tampa office on Wednesday that problems with the health care website are “inexcusable” and “somebody ought to get fired” over them, according to his office. But his office said that the senator “declined to place blame on any one individual, agency or company for problems with the website.”
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The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."
An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."
The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in waiting, not only thinks his party will take the Senate this fall, but that it's on the cusp of an era of "electoral dominance." He told Politico: “We’re going to have a Democratic generation. [President Barack Obama] helped create it. But it’s just where America’s moving demographically, ideologically and in every way. We’ll have a mandate to get something done.”
"Vice President Joe Biden will appear in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that will mention the backlog of untested rape kits in many cities, as well as efforts to end violence against women—an issue close to Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994." He'll be in New York to tape the episode today.