Posted 8 months ago on Jan. 4, 2014, 5:06 a.m. EST by WSmith
from Cornelius, OR
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GOP-led House will kick off 2014 like it spent most of 2013
CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh
Washington (CNN) - The GOP-led House of Representatives will kick off 2014 – a midterm election year – addressing an issue it spent much of last year debating: Obamacare.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday the House's first order of business when it returns next week from its extended holiday break would be a vote on legislation to address potential security risks for personal information collected on the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov.
In a memo to House Republicans, Cantor compared security problems with HealthCare.gov and other state-based online insurance exchanges to the high-profile hacking that Target experienced last month when the retailer admitted millions of shoppers'personal financial information was compromised.
Cantor pointed to a recent report from Experian, a credit rating company, which predicted the health care industry was especially vulnerable to data security breaches in 2014. He also said four House committees held hearings at the end of last year demonstrating that the protections put in place by the Obama administration for HealthCare.gov were not sufficient.
"To date, the Administration has downplayed the risk of a data breach, perhaps in part because their primary goal is signing people up for insurance through the Exchange," Cantor stated in his memo, arguing there is no system in place to notify those who might be affected by a security problems.
Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, panned Cantor's announcement, saying next week’s vote was another GOP effort to undermine the law and “that effort even extends to scaring their constituents from obtaining health coverage. “
“Six million Americans began enjoying the security of health coverage this week, including 2.1 million Americans who have enrolled in a private health insurance plan through health insurance marketplaces,” Hammill said.
Aaron Albright, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers the website, told CNN all personal information entered by those who enrolled in health insurance online is protected.
"To date, there have been no successful security attacks on Healthcare.gov and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information from the site. Security testing is conducted on an ongoing basis using industry best practices to appropriately safeguard consumers’ personal information," Albright wrote in a statement. Albright also said the site uses sensor and other security tools to prevent any unauthorized access.
House GOP legislation, according to Cantor, will "strengthen security requirements as well as require prompt notification in the event of a breach involving personal information."
Republicans already planned to make the midterm election a referendum on the President's signature health care law, so the vote next week will be the first among a string of Obamacare-related votes that will likely stretch into the fall. House Speaker John Boehner and other top GOP leaders have made it clear continued oversight of the law and attempts to roll it back would remain a top focus in 2014.
Cantor's memo promised more action would be coming.
"These steps will be part of the overall effort to protect the American people from the harmful effects of Obamacare by ultimately repealing and replacing the law with patient focused reforms that expand access, ensure quality care, and help control costs."
Bodyguard of Zombies, Counterattack by Cockroaches
Paul Krugman - New York Times - January 2, 2014, 1:39 pm
The bit about the WSJ’s continuing denialism on rising inequality brings to mind a point I think I’ve made before, but which seems especially appropriate for recent debates. It is this: Today’s right wing never gives up on a politically convenient argument, no matter how thoroughly it may have been refuted by analysis and evidence. It may downplay that argument for a while — though often even that doesn’t happen — but it always comes back.
Inequality is a clear though not at all unique example. Consider three arguments one might make against 21st-century populism:
1.) Inequality isn’t increasing.
2.) OK, inequality is increasing, but it’s not a problem.
3.) OK, it would be nice to have lower inequality, but any proposed solutions would do more harm than good.
Which of these arguments does the right choose, when making its stand? The answer is, all three. Argument 1 faded away briefly when the CBO published its landmark study documenting the rise of the one percent, but as we’ve just seen, it’s back (this is an illustration of the concept of cockroach ideas.) Argument 2 doesn’t stand up under scrutiny, but it just keeps being made anyway — it’s a zombie. But meanwhile, argument 3 is made against anyone like, say, the new mayor of New York who proposes even the slightest effort to equalize opportunity.
This kind of thing flummoxes many people, who imagine that we’re having a real debate. It makes perfect sense, however, once you realize that the other side here isn’t engaged in good-faith argument, just looking for anything that comes to hand, with no regard for consistency.
Much the same thing takes place in macroeconomics. There are several arguments you could make for austerity in a depressed economy:
1.) As a matter of principle, government borrowing must crowd out an equal amount of private spending.
2.) OK, maybe that’s not true. But confidence!
3.) OK, maybe no confidence fairy. But debt! 90 percent!
In this case, argument 1 is again a cockroach — Heritage angrily denies making any such argument, insisting that it’s dong sophisticated intertemporal somethingorother, then makes the same argument all over again. And the WSJ does it too. Argument 2 is a zombie, thoroughly refuted by evidence, but continually asserted all the same. And 3 is part-zombie, part highly dubious assertion. Again, however, none of these arguments is ever taken off the table.
Incidentally, I love the sneering way the Wall Street Journal talks about the “notorious ‘multiplier’”, implying that this is a ridiculous notion only ignorant fools could take seriously — ignorant fools like the researchers at the International Monetary Fund …
I’d love to be having real debates on these issues. But we aren’t having and can’t have such debates, because the cockroaches and zombies get in the way. [And their 1% masters own the news media.]