With the new year finally upon us, it is time to see what stories of the past will be continuing forward with new life.
When the shutdown showdown of this past October finally concluded with Ted Cruz’s demands left unmet, the Senate Conservatives Fund vowed to wage a campaign of retributive primaries against the the insubordinate members of Congress that refused to follow Mr. Cruz all the way off the cliff and down into the waters of default. Steve Stockman has announced a candidacy to oppose “liberal” John Cornyn, whose credentials as a Beltway conservative are thoroughly intact. In Kentucky, Matt Bevin has likewise challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for being a Washington figure through and through, drawing on the popularity of the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, to pummel McConnell. The establishment is fighting back, however, as they target upstart constitutionalist Justin Amash in Michigan, pouring business money into a candidate more willing to toe the party line.
Can Obamacare Survive Takeoff?
With a disastrous October launch faltering through the end of the year, President Obama’s signature law is in much more serious danger of failing of its own accord than its bitterest opponents could have hoped. The administration has reported cautiously positive enrollment numbers through the infamous Healthcare.gov, but it is far from clear how many of those enrollments will actually pay for their coverage. Moreover, as the administration has continued to issue ad hoc exemptions and extensions, the insurance companies themselves are increasingly worried about their ability to enroll the magic mixture of young and healthy premium payers to pay for the old and sick. With the prospect of insurance “death spirals” looming over it, the Affordable Care Act’s implementation will in large measure set the political tone for the rest of the year.
Whither the Midterms?
To a certain extent, the 2014 midterm elections will be a product of the previous two stories. Should Obamacare resurrect itself and go off without too many more hitches, the Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate improve considerably. Likewise, if the law continues to falter or worse, vulnerable Democrats like Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Kay Hagan in North Carolina will be heavily investing in antacids. Pryor should already be purchasing in bulk, as he faces Weekly Standard darling Tom Cotton, a Harvard Law graduate who left a lucrative private practice to enlist in the Army in 2005. The first-term Congressman makes up for what he lacks in experience with resume and backing. Should he win the seat, Rand Paul would have regular dueling partner in the fight for the Republican foreign policy soul.