Possibly for the first time since 2010, good news about Obamacare: premiums on the newly-minted California health insurance exchange are lower than predicted. The rates published last week are so much better than what critics of the Affordable Care Act predicted that no less a Cassandra than Rick Ungar has admitted he was wrong. It seems like this whole insurance exchange thing might work out. Either that, or we are the objects of a clever public relations campaign. Avik Roy argues that individual rates are actually 64% to 146% higher on the exchange. He also bases his analysis on comparisons between the cheapest policies available before Obamacare—the ones that don’t meet the minimum standards for the California exchange—and the bronze-level coverage available now. So we can say with confidence that somebody is well-paid to mislead us, even if we don’t know who.
I don’t know about you, but I like my Republicans shrill, vaguely racist and relentlessly accusatory. I was thus terribly disappointed when Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich left the House of Representatives in 1998, leaving that body unable to pursue its constitutionally-mandated function of investigating the President’s real estate deals, campaign financing and extramarital affairs in an endless attempt to remove him from office. Fortunately, President Bush assumed office shortly thereafter, and the Republican Party coincidentally decided that executive privilege was extremely important. Now, though, we have Barack Obama, a man “who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.” That was Gingrich’s assessment of the President in a recent edition of the National Review, and it’s one of the least crazy things he says in the interview. The real money shot is after the jump, and it’s the subject of today’s Close Reading.