(Providence, Rhode Island) – This may be the biggest week in politics since the November election. So much is going on and so many dramatic things could happen. Here we go:
"Just What the Doctor Ordered?" -- Whether you want it or not - and there are plenty of both - the health reform plan known as, "Obama Care," begins with sign-ups on Tuesday October 1. For a lot of people, this is going to be very intimidating, regardless of how they might benefit (or not). The law has inspired a lot of public demonstrations, both for and against, including outside the U.S. Supreme Court (photo above).
"For Example" -- There is a dizzying array of choices and options. I examined the most likely scenario for my family, and the price tag would be about $1,500 per month (though half comes back to me in tax credits). That's triple what I pay now (and with a lot higher out-of-pocket expenses). I am happy to stay with my employer plan, but understand how someone with no insurance for their family might opt for it, if they can afford it. Check out the options in one state, for example: http://www.healthsourceri.com/
"Symptoms to Watch" – There are all kinds of wild predictions – both good and bad – about what the fallout will be. Most impacts may not be known right away but here are some things to keep an eye on: the number of employees in all walks of the economy, that go from full-time, to part-time status and lose health coverage; the number of single, young people who simply opt to pay the penalties, and not buy into a health plan at all; the number of companies – especially small businesses – that end their health plans, and steer employees to the government options; and, whether there is any significant increase in enrollment for health care college and professional programs nationwide.
"Government Shutdown?" – In the fight to try to stop Obama Care, we could see a government shutdown. Who does that harm most? Here is my analysis from at least a political vantage point. The fallout for President Obama is probably nil. He's termed out, so it won't affect him much politically, but may have more of an impact on his legacy. Republicans have the biggest risk. They control the House, and have a better than an even shot at taking control of the Senate next year – thereby controlling both chambers of Congress during President Obama's last two years. Democrats, who have little chance of taking the House next year, could leverage their position on this to keep control of the Senate next year.
"The Booker Bumble" – Okay, they're not the lurid, naked, self-portrait tweets of former Congressman Anthony Wiener, but what on earth was Newark Mayor and Democratic New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker thinking? Booker, who is single, is in hot water for some flirtatious tweets with a woman who purports to be a vegan stripper (whatever that means) in Oregon. It's funny and sad at the same time. Booker, whom I met and interviewed last summer, is a real up and comer in the world of politics. The big picture is that Democrats are in danger of losing control of the U.S. Senate and this race should have been a "gimmie."
"The NJ Numbers" -- This may not hurt Booker's Senate bid, unless something more salacious comes out. My point is, this should be a safe-Senate win for Democrats in November, but once again he's putting the seat in potential jeopardy. Within the past couple of weeks, two polls had Booker ahead of his Republican challenger Steve Lonegan by 26 and 19 points, respectively. The most recent Quinnipiac poll this week has Booker's lead down to 12 points, just five weeks before the election. It's not trending well. As I always say, the worst wounds in the world of politics are usually self-inflicted.