- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2013

Some advise the Republican Party to be ready to capitalize on the implementation failures of the Affordable Care Act by picking up support of vexed voters subject to potential collateral damage. It could be a mighty big voting bloc. Some 16 million people could eventually lose their health insurance plans as a result of constraints imposed on the insurance industry by the health care law, says Robert Laszewski, president of the Health Policy and Strategy Association, a policy and marketing consultancy group.

That’s a veritable “army of the uninsured,” points out Noah Rothman, a columnist with Mediaite.com, who predicts the newly disaffected could transform into a GOP coalition when 2014 rolls around — which is a mere nine weeks away.

“Imagine just 1 percent of the uninsured marching on Washington; 160,000 people all singing in the same tune can create quite the crisis atmosphere in the nation’s capital. As politicos are aware, crises are about the only events which animate politicians and change policy these days,” Mr. Rothman says.

“The Republican Party is not especially good at mobilizing disaffected groups and organizing them into a coherent political force. Conservative tea party groups and organizations are, however, experienced mobilizers. If the Republicans can create a coalition out of this ready-made interest group, there is a powerful opportunity to change the trajectory of politics in Washington D.C.,” he continues.

“Perhaps now would be a good time for the GOP to quit the infighting, shorten the topmast and prepare for a hurricane. One is brewing, but it is unclear who will first harness its power ahead of the midterm elections,” Mr. Rothman advises.

CRUZ ON THE MARCH

Certainly one Texas Republican has his eye on harnessing such power.

“For everyone who talks about wanting to win elections in 2014, particularly an off-year, nonpresidential year — nothing, nothing, nothing matters more than an energized and active and vocal grass-roots America. I’m convinced we’re facing a new paradigm in politics. It is the rise of the grass roots. And it has official Washington absolutely terrified.”

So said Sen. Ted Cruz, during an appearance at the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines on Friday. Such challenging talk brings out mixed reactions. Mr. Cruz has been under attacked by such critics as GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, but it has served to elevate Mr. Cruz among his fans.

“In the eyes of the tea party, the onslaught has only made Cruz seem more heroic,” says McKay Coppins, political editor for BuzzFeed.

“Every time one of these guys attacks him, it’s good for him,” one Iowa Republican “operative” explained to Mr. Coppins. “He’s like a superhero. The more bullets that get shot at him, the bigger and stronger he gets.”

CHOOSE OR LOSE

New Senate legislation against the Affordable Care Act will make use of President Obama’s own words to get its point across. Here comes Sen. Ron Johnson and his “If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act.”

Seriously, that is the Wisconsin Republican’s name for his proposal.

“Americans want the freedom to choose their own plans and want to be in control of their own health care. They don’t want Obamacare destroying what they have and what they like. They don’t want their personal choices regarding their health plans and their families’ health plans canceled by Obamacare,” Mr. Johnson says.

“The ‘If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act’ will amend the law to make Obamacare live up to the promises of the politicians who sold the plan to the American public,” the Wisconsin Republican continues. “I will file the bill in the coming week and hope to garner support from fellow senators of both parties who truly want to make sure President Obama honors his promise that every American has the freedom to keep his or her own health care plan.”

JUMBO DISNEY

It has come a long way since the days of “Old Duck Tang.” The Walt Disney Co. announced Sunday that it is building the world’s largest Disney Store in Shanghai, China. It will be 53,000 square feet, feature “Disney-themed landscaping” and opens in 2015.

According to press archives, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck debuted on Chinese television on Oct. 26, 1986, as “Mouse Mi and Old Duck Tang,” speaking in Mandarin Chinese on China Central Television, each episode accompanied by two minutes of Disney ads. Currently, Disney has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and a total of 2,000 employees in China.

MOMENTS WITH THE OSS

The savory beef was almost unthinkably tender, and there were not one but eight martini toasts to honor America, military allies and fallen comrades. Some 800 gathered Saturday night at the annual OSS Society awards dinner, a convivial celebration of the Office of Strategic Services, the agency created during World War II by Army Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan that was the predecessor of the CIA. The glint of medals on dress uniforms punctuated sumptuous linens and candleglow; the talk was of military campaigns and old glories made very real by the handful of original OSS officers present. A good OSS officer, so the tradition once said, was someone who could obtain a Ph.D. at Harvard University and still win a bar fight.

But there was a certain resolve in the air and a sense of uncommon occasion in the glittering hotel ballroom.

“Never before have I been so humbled and honored to be with such a distinguished group of patriots. It makes me remember why we are in this business,” CIA Director John O. Brennan told the audience, most of whom sat ramrod straight and took in every syllable.

“We are damn good at intelligence and we should be proud of it,” Mr. Brennan later said.

The Donovan Award for distinguished service went to Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, who also received video tributes from former CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, plus President Obama. Mr. Obama recalled in his message that during the 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that felled Osama bin Laden, there was no tape measure to measure the height of the terrorist in the aftermath, for identification purposes. An official tape measure, Mr. Obama said, was on its way to the admiral.

Adm. McRaven later advised the crowd that there had been a “resurgence” of intelligence gathering on multiple levels around the world, and he repeated the vow “We will be there” whenever dire threats, tyranny and injustice are present. His talk resonated; nearly six hours after the start of the evening, the audience was ready to hear more and lingered past midnight.

“This is a magnificent event. When you think of what this means — the presence of the OSS and the CIA in the same room — it is an honor to be here, and be recognized,” Adm. McRaven told Inside the Beltway.

POLL DU JOUR

52 percent of Americans say there is “plenty of opportunity” to get ahead in the U.S.; 87 percent felt that way in a similar poll taken in 1952.

43 percent say there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead; 8 percent felt that way in the 1952 poll.

50 percent say the U.S. economic system is “basically fair”; 67 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent say the economic system is “basically unfair”; 31 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 and released Friday.

Optimistic outlooks, churlish remarks to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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