George Packer at The New Yorker on how Republicans are winning the policy war despite losing the shutdown battle. President Obama and the Democrats may have fared better in the shutdown, but "in a larger sense the Republicans are winning, and have been for the past three years, if not the past 30. They’re just too blinkered by fantasies of total victory to see it." This is evidenced by the fact that "the dominant argument in Washington is over spending cuts, not over ways to increase economic growth and address acute problems like inequality, poor schools, and infrastructure decay." And still the sequester continues, with "deeper cuts ahead." Clara Jeffrey, the co-editor of Mother Jones, tweets, "must read ... on GOP's plan to shrink govt down so as to drown in bathtub." Steven Greenhouse, who covers labor issues for The New York Times, underscores this point: "Cuts are hurting government services & employees."
Chris Cilliza and Sean Sullivan at The Washington Post think the GOP needs Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's pragmatism. "He is his party’s best strategic mind," the two claim. McConnell knew the shutdown strategy wouldn't work, and he counseled Republicans in Congress against using it. "In an era past, the leader of Senate Republicans saying enough is enough would ensure that the raucous rank and file would get in line behind their leader out of fear of the political consequences of not doing so. But that era is gone." Cilliza and Sullivan question whether shutdown architect Sen. Ted Cruz will listen to McConnell come January, when temporary government funding runs out. NBC's Chuck Todd tweets, "compared to Lugar and Bennett, McConnell is using a more defiant tone w/his [conservative] critics. Might work for him."
Paul Krugman at The New York Times questions the right's "lousy Medicaid arguments." "Last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act did strike down one provision, the one that would have forced all states to accept an expansion of Medicaid, the already-existing program of health insurance for the poor," Krugman explains. Red states can choose not to expand Medicaid and leave thousands of citizens without coverage, even though it "would cost them nothing in the first year and only trivial amounts later." Republicans are claiming that Medicaid is bad for people, because its recipients tend to be sicker. But this is a false correlation: "Sick people are likely to have low incomes; more generally, low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid just tend in general to have poor health." MSNBC host Alex Wagner tweets, "The argument that 'Medicaid makes you sicker' is deeply revealing: 'it illustrates the right’s intellectual decline.'"
Dylan Scott at Talking Points Memo on the flaw in the Heritage Foundation's new Obamacare study. A report that found that health care premiums would rise under Obamacare "didn't account for the financial help that the Affordable Care Act gives uninsured people to purchase insurance," Scott explains. "One of the big goals of the ACA was making coverage purchased through the individual market, where prices have historically been higher, more affordable. The primary way that the law achieves that is through the tax credits." Only 10 percent of uninsured Americans won't qualify for these credits and pay the higher rates that Heritage claims apply to all citizens. But this "didn't stop conservatives from touting Heritage's findings. It was splashed on websites like TownHall and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) posted it on his Facebook." Former GOP operative Bruce Bartlett tweets, "right-wing Heritage Foundation puts out another lying ... 'study' of Obamacare."
Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg View on who wins if JPMorgan pays $13 billion. Reports indicate that JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reached a tentative settlement with the Justice Department, and "it has been widely reported that the $13 billion settlement would be the largest ever by the government with a single company. Yet we still don’t have enough facts to know which side would emerge the real winner," Weil writes. Some of that money will go towards resolving other law suits, and "about $4 billion would be earmarked for consumer relief, details of which are fuzzy. For all we know this could take the form of coupons, discounts or other soft benefits, which might not cost JPMorgan anywhere near $4 billion in the end." Danny Vinik, a blogger at Political Algebra, tweets, "Buried lede in @JonathanWeil piece: JPMorgan's $13 fine is a win for Justice Dept. if it prevents future misconduct."