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Photo of man who supports obamacare at the supreme court in washington dc on 6/28/12.
Getting tens of millions of people newly insured is an expensive proposition, and one that is costing $273.6 billion in additional insurance overhead, according to a new report.
The $273.6 billion in additional insurance overhead represents an average of of $1,375 per newly insured person, per year, from 2012 through 2022.

The overhead cost equals a whopping 22.5 percent of the total estimated $2.76 trillion in all federal government spending for the Affordable Care Act programs during that time, the authors of the report in the journal Health Affairs noted.

In contrast, the federal government's traditional Medicare program has overhead of just 2 percent, according to the report.

"Insuring 25 million additional Americans, as the [Congressional Budget Office] projects the ACA will do, is surely worthwhile," the authors of the Health Affairs blog post write. "But the administrative cost of doing so seems awfully steep, particularly when much cheaper alternatives are available."

A whopping $172.2 billion, of that total new Obamcare overhead spending, "will go for increased private insurance overhead," which means insurance company administrative costs and profits. There are mechanisms in the law to make sure that overhead and profits are restrained by making sure 85 percent of premium costs go to actual healthcare, but bringing millions of people into private health insurance—which is already bloated with administrative overhead—means that much more. The rest of the new administrative costs is mainly coming from other Obamacare programs, but includes the costs of Medicaid expansion that's managed by private Medicaid HMOs.

That 2 percent overhead cost for Medicare looks awfully appealing, doesn't it. Obamacare has been effective in reducing costs—primarily through Medicare. And the competition is helping to keep premiums reasonable, for the most part. But it's still an inefficient way to deliver universal healthcare. Centralized, single payer health care has alway clearly been the cheaper alternative. That means transitioning to Medicare for everyone. It wouldn't have to happen all at once. It could go first to people left in the Medicaid gap. The eligibility age could be reduced to 55, then 50, helping out near retirees who are looking at shaky futures. The experience of the rest of the developed world demonstrates that if this country is ever going to have universal healthcare and sustainable healthcare costs, Medicare for everyone is the way to go.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush listens to a question during an appearance at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, Illinois, February 18, 2015.   REUTERS/Jim Young  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4Q53V
Jeb Bush has tried valiantly to shake off his disastrous Iraq statements, including a lame attempt at deflection, sort of a "well, sure my brother screwed up, but it's so much worse under Obama because ISIS!" ISIS, he says, "didn't exist when my brother was president. Al Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out when my brother was president." Our own Jon Perr debunked that statement last week. Now Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact-checker, has followed suit, giving Bush four out of four Pinocchios, meaning there isn't even any room for debate how much he's lying about this.
The National Counterterrorism Center puts it this way: "Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and more recently the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was established in April 2004 by long-time Sunni extremist Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi." The NCTC notes that Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006 and afterwards his successor announced the formation of the Islamic State.

As analyst Brian Fishman noted in a 2006 report for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, the announcement was made on Oct. 15, 2006—more than two years before Bush left office. (This paper, interestingly, was one of the reports that Osama bin Laden had on his bookshelf when he was killed by U.S. forces in 2011.)

"Unfortunately, almost everyone in Washington, including those of us that understood and emphasized the political shifts it had made, continued to use 'al-Qaeda in Iraq' as shorthand for the group because it was widely understood nomenclature among policymakers," said Fishman, who is now with the New America Foundation. "This was a mistake; I certainly regret conceding to convenience at the time."

Fishman added that although the term "ISIS" was not used until 2013, after the group captured territory in Syria, "the Islamic State of Iraq, declared in 2006, was intended to be a sprawling entity like the one we see today. That was its political purpose and ambition. Todays ISIS is the same organization, only stronger."

Oh, and that part about Al Qaeda being "wiped out" by his brother. Nope. Fishman points out that, "despite its setbacks, the ISI was one of the strongest terrorist groups in the world even at its weakest point after the Surge." At least that part of the the Iraq War history of his brother isn't going to be so easy to revise, not like the whole "mistakes were made," "faulty intelligence" canard.
U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch speaks as U.S. President Barack Obama (R) looks on, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington November 8, 2014. Obama on Saturday picked Brooklyn federal prosecutor Lynch to replace retiring Attorne
The White House is increasing pressure on the Senate to figure out how to save the Patriot Act before major provisions expire on Monday. That includes President Obama telling reporters that Congress needs to act to "keep the American people safe and secure." The White House's preferred option is the House-passed USA Freedom Act, which maintains the dragnet surveillance of phone metadata, but makes telecoms responsible for holding the date. That administration's push includes this bit of fearmongering from Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
AG Lynch: "Without action from the Senate, we will experience a serious lapse" in anti-terror surveillance
That's just a week after the Inspector General of the Justice Department—her shop—issued a report that states that FBI personnel were "unable to identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained through use of Section 215 orders." While they said there was some use in the dragnet surveillance in corroborating information they already had, there was no finding that the lapse of the bulk collection program the administration is trying to maintain would harm national security. That's in part because there are plenty of other tools the government can use to track actual terrorists.
It can use administrative subpoenas or grand jury subpoenas. It can use pen registers. It can use national security letters. It can use orders served under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. If Section 215 sunsets, it can use the provision that Section 215 amended, which will allow it to collect business records of hotels, motels, car and truck rental agencies, and storage rental facilities.
There are actually a few other things that IG report contained that Lynch should be paying more attention to. Like the fact that the FBI, which actually administers the program and makes the applications for collections to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on behalf of NSA and itself, "took seven years to obey a law intended to protect Americans' privacy" passed in 2005. Beginning no later than 2006, the FBI was supposed to be using "minimization procedures" to limit the amount of private information about Americans that it kept and disseminated. It didn't comply with that requirement until March of 2013. In the intervening seven years, it sent who knows how many collection applications to the FISC on behalf of itself and the NSA. It purposefully did not comply with the 2005 law because it unilaterally decided that their old requirements were sufficient.

This is a program overdue for reform and oversight. That's where the administration should be directing its energies, not to mention Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is clearly not going to get his way—Congress will simply just not reauthorize the program for any length of time. The confluence of the IG report on the program and the imminent expiration of it gives the reformers a very real opportunity to end this program.

Send this letter to Congress. Demand that Section 215 and other provisions expire once and for all.

A girl wears a
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday refusing to lift a federal judge's injunction banning President Obama's executive orders on immigration from taking effect before state challenges are decided was a "win" for Republicans, but one fraught with electoral jeopardy. Immigration activists vow to make the Republicans regret it.
Cesar Vargas, the co-director of the Dream Action Coalition, said the impact of the ruling is felt deeply in the Hispanic community. It's hard to ignore that the president's action would have provided relief for his 70-year-old mother, he said, something shared with millions of families.

"With Republicans doing this, it definitely demonstrates who is on our side and who isn't, and who we should support and who we shouldn't," he said.

Clarissa Martinez De Castro, a deputy vice president at the National Council of La Raza, said an estimated six in 10 voters know an undocumented immigrant.

"The interesting thing is that by delaying this, the Republicans are actually potentially putting themselves into a sharper corner on the issue of immigration," she said.

One conservative pundit, Charles Krauthammer, agrees, likening Republican celebrating this ruling to their shortsighted support of the King v. Burwell Obamacare challenge. "For the Republicans, you know, it's a problem. It's like the case going forward on Obamacare and the thing about the exchanges and the subsidies," he said on Fox, continuing "if somehow this would be completely tossed out, then the question will be, 'well, what's your plan on immigration reform, if anything?' I think, up until now you can say, 'well, it's in the hands of the courts, but at a certain point it's not going to be and you're going to have to answer." In other words, be careful what you wish for.

The ruling retains the block on the expansion of Obama's deferred deportation program orders to the parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents as well as to a larger group of immigrants who entered legally as children. The ruling doesn't change the status of Dreamers, the young people covered in the initial, 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Gov. Scott breaks ground on Embraer’s new Engineering and Technology Center, Melbourne, Florida. November 28, 2012
Florida's Senate President Andy Gardner offered a compromise Tuesday to try to get the state's legislature out of a budget impasse. That impasse could be resolved, the Senate has maintained, by accepting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. So, to try to get a recalcitrant House and Gov. Rick Scott to agree, Gardner modified the Senate proposal.
The Senate's proposal, referred to by Gardiner as FHIX 2.0, bypasses putting people into Medicaid starting in July as was initially proposed and instead requires those eligible for the FHIX coverage to wait until January. The state plan also would have to obtain federal government approval.

The proposal also gives people the option of staying on the federal health insurance exchange, rather than going into the state's privately-run option.

The proposal requires federal approval and, if the federal government rejects any piece of it or recommends changes, the plan would have to come back to the Legislature for final approval.

"We look at next week as starting the dialogue or the discussion," Gardiner said.

That was quickly rejected by Scott and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli who still want their federal healthcare money to come in a form that is somehow not tainted by Obamacare. But here's who's really pulling the strings on this one:
Americans for Prosperity also objected to the changes. State Director Chris Hudson, said the changes aren't a compromise.  The Senate, Hudson said in a release, "is just dressing up a failed model from other states and hoping it sticks."
The legislature begins its special session next week, in which it will attempt to fulfill Scott's impossible dream of a budget that "keeps Florida's economy growing will cut taxes and give Floridians back more of the money they earn, not inevitably raise taxes in order to implement ObamaCare and grow government." The people left out of that dream are the 800,000 uninsured Floridians who should be getting Medicaid.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a news conference after the weekly party caucus policy luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT) - RTR4STHJ
The Senate did something remarkable in the early hours of Saturday morning; they defeated the politics of fear and defeated Mitch McConnell by refusing to go along with his plan to renew the Patriot Act's dragnet surveillance and to put the program in serious jeopardy of expiring at the end of this week. McConnell announced he'll call the Senate back a day early, on Sunday, to try once again to pass an extension of some sort before the law expires at midnight. At this point, however, his options are limited and the House holds almost all the cards.
If negotiators accept minor changes to the House bill, it will mark a significant retreat for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The two men have said phone companies, which would collect the data instead of the N.S.A. under the USA Freedom Act, are not equipped to handle the task.

Even face-saving changes will be difficult. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and one of the authors of the House bill, said the demands of Senate Republicans were “a lot of nonsense.” Democrats and many libertarian-minded Republicans would rather allow any eavesdropping authority to lapse than to give in.

The House has compromised, watering down what was a very strong USA Freedom Act from last year to one that they had hoped would have a better reception in the Senate. McConnell got in the way of that, with his belligerent insistence that the Patriot Act remain unchanged, despite the fact that the House, and a federal court, have made it clear that's not going to happen. McConnell thought he could bully his way through, and failed. Spectacularly.

His options now are perhaps even more limited than they were before Saturday. Senators have demonstrated that they aren't going to mindlessly vote to "keep us safe" when doing so is in clear violation of the law, and potentially the constitution. That hasn't stopped some hawks, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) from trying to exploit the situation by introducing pro-surveillance "compromises," but given the massive loss the pro-surveillance side was dealt Saturday, the privacy caucus is buoyed and the House's position strengthened. There isn't going to be any incentive for the reformers in the Senate to make this easy for McConnell. And that's just his Senate problem.

The House spent a long time crafting a bill that could draw enough bipartisan support to pass, and it did overwhelmingly. They might not really be in the mood to make changes to it just for McConnell to save face. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, points out, "[i]f you go and monkey around with the USA Freedom Act now, you will definitely have a lapse in capabilities. […] That seems patently unnecessary." If it happens, it's all McConnell's fault.

Screenshot of WXIA-TV's report on ALEC.
An Atlanta, Georgia television station has made national news with its fantastic investigative reporting on the conservative "corporate bill mill," ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. The station's Brendan Keefe followed Georgia state legislators to a resort hotel in Savannah last week, trying to find out what they were doing in closed door meetings where he, as a credentialed reporter, was not allowed. He had to go to a former member of ALEC to find out.
"It's really a corporate bill mill," said Sen. Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat who has served in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly for years. "They're cranking out legislation, putting it into the hands of legislators who go back and file it."

Orrock would know. She was once a member of ALEC.

"The corporations that are there have equal standing with the legislators," Sen. Orrock said.

"You mean they can vote?" we asked.

"They absolutely can vote, and truth be told, they write the bills," she answered, referring to the lobbyists.

When trying to verify that with in-person reporting, Keefe was turned away and, in fact, "kicked out with the aid of off-duty police officers on orders from ALEC staff." But not before seeing Bethanne Cooley, Director of State Legislative Affairs for CTIA—the Wireless Association in the room—talking to Georgia Rep. Ben Harbin. Cooley is not a registered lobbyist in Georgia, but here she was working with that state's lawmakers. Under the auspices of ALEC, a non-profit educational 501(c)3, Cooley talking about or even actually writing legislation—which is what ALEC does—doesn't have to be reported as lobbying, and neither does the "scholarship" money they provide to legislators to travel to these meetings, or the food and drink and hotel costs that are covered. When the station tried an open records request to get receipts and reimbursement records for legislators' travel to ALEC-sponsored events, they were denied.

But the reporter was able to complete an extensive report on how ALEC operates, and where state legislators fit in. He used the example of Georgia's Asbestos Claims Priorities Act which "severely limits who can file asbestos claims against corporations in the state," as an industry-backed piece of legislation that was passed in 2007, and introduced by legislators who received thousands from ALEC that same year to go to meetings. He compared the ALEC-written suggested legislation, cooked up at a conference in Las Vegas that year, to what was introduced in Georgia and found much of it was copied word for word.

None of this is news to people who have been following ALEC closely over the years, but it is monumentally instructive for a local news organization to walk its viewers through the process and to show them how much of the governing in their state is done with voters left completely in the dark. It demonstrates starkly just how much control ALEC's corporate bosses have over what happens in state houses across the country.

Businessman David Koch arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating the opening of
David Koch will keep the rabble out.
The Koch brothers have made no secret about their intent to spend close to a billion dollars in 2016, but they've been a bit cagey about exactly where that money will be going. They have broadly hinted that there are five Republicans from which they plan to choose—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida governor and dynastic scion Jeb Bush, and Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. Their problem is that there are a bunch of other billionaires out there backing a bunch of the other, shall we say more fringey, candidates. The Kochs have apparently decided they want to force the "cream" to rise to the top, so they'll be spending on all of their preferred candidates in the primary, to hasten the departure of the rest.

That's what David Koch hinted at anyway, in an interview Saturday, saying the brothers "are thinking of supporting several Republicans. […] If we're happy with the policies that these individuals are supporting, we'll finance their campaigns." As if any of the Republican candidates have an inch of difference between them on the issues the Kochs care about—taxes and government regulations and killing Obamacare. No, what David Koch is talking about is what he and his brother care most about: winning, and this analysis from Washington Post's Paul Waldman nails it.

Up until now, the Koch brothers hadn't indicated that they'd be taking a side in the primaries. It almost seemed that they viewed that as the kind of thing amateurs like Sheldon Adelson do, throwing money at some candidate based on overly irrational personal feelings, while they keep focused on the real goal of getting a Republican—any Republican—into the White House. By saying they're going to support several candidates in the primaries, the Kochs are pledging to accelerate the winnowing process, by which the race's chaff can be sloughed off and the focus can stay on the serious contenders. […]

[…] This year, multiple candidates could have billionaires feeding them the money they need to keep their campaigns active deep into the primary season. If you're a thoughtful Republican, a primary with this many candidates is a cacophonous mess, full of extremist cranks squabbling with each other and taking progressively nastier potshots at the leaders, one of whom will end up as the nominee. The longer it goes, the more that nominee has to pander to the base and the less time he or she will have to focus on Hillary Clinton.

So it's going to be billionaire v. billionaire in the primaries. The last thing the Kochs want is all the hard work and money they spent in the last several cycles to take over the Republican party lost because of the clown show this primary promises to be. They don't intend to lose their grip on the party and they don't intend to lose in 2016.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Sorry, Sen. Johnson. The House just doesn't care about your political prospects.
Things are getting just slightly urgent for Republicans faced with the possibility that the Supreme Court will rule at the end of June to take health insurance subsidies away from millions of Obamacare customers—million who are largely clustered in red states, and in states where Republican incumbent senators have to fight for re-election in 2016. One of them, Wisconsin's Sen. Ron Johnson has a plan to extend subsidies—if the Supreme Court strikes them down—until he's safely re-elected and then to gut the law, but even that isn't flying with House Republicans.
The growing divide between the two chambers leaves the GOP in an awkward spot. The court could gut Obamacare in June, handing Republicans a long-sought victory they couldn’t achieve legislatively. But without a backup plan that the whole party supports, the GOP has no way to blunt the political damage if millions of Americans lose the ability to pay for their health insurance.

When asked about Johnson’s bill, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Utah), said only "Eerrrrrrntt!" in imitation of a game show buzzer, and gave a thumbs down.

"If you're voting for an extension, you're essentially voting for the continuation of Obamacare—that's a real problem," said Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores of Texas, who said he is planning to release an Obamacare replacement plan in the coming days.

Of course Flores has a plan that will be coming out "any day now." You can't swing a dead cat in the House Republican conference without hitting one of those. Aside from that, his statement perfectly exemplifies the problem Senate Republicans are going to have with House Republicans. House members have only to appeal to the most conservative, most Obamacare-hating of their constituents to worry about getting re-elected because their districts have been so carefully devised to keep them in office. For them, it's all about repeal. Senate Republicans have to worry about every voter in their state, including those people who might be about to lose subsidies and lose insurance. They feel like they should at least pretend that they're trying to do something about it.

Make no mistake, pretending is precisely what Johnson is doing. He's putting out a plan that extends the subsidies to 2017—after the election—but which also ends the individual mandate that requires everyone to have insurance. Even if the House gave a damn about Johnson's re-election and threw him a bone by passing his bill (fat chance), President Obama would veto it because it would truly destroy the law. Now, Johnson isn't the sharpest guy, but he's not so dumb that he doesn't get that. He's just trying to set it up so that he can blame the failure of his effort on Obama. But that pesky House just keeps getting in the way.

Laura Hayes (with microphone), of Fort Wayne, Indiana tells fellow protestors how the Affordable Care Act helped her with health costs, during a protest in front of the Supreme Court in Washington March 4, 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh a second
There's a new, deep dive in The New York Times into the four words in Obamacare that are jeopardizing health insurance subsidies to millions: "established by the state." Those four words, plaintiffs in the King v. Burwell say, were put there intentionally by the law's writers to coerce states into participating by creating their own exchanges. To succeed in their challenge to the law, they have to convince a majority of Supreme Court justices of that. The problem is that the the people most involved in writing that law have maintained since the lawsuit began that there's no way Congress meant to do that. The interviews and analysis in this Times story reinforce that.
The answer, from interviews with more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans involved in writing the law, is that the words were a product of shifting politics and a sloppy merging of different versions. Some described the words as “inadvertent,” “inartful” or “a drafting error.” But none supported the contention of the plaintiffs, who are from Virginia.

“I don’t ever recall any distinction between federal and state exchanges in terms of the availability of subsidies,” said Olympia J. Snowe, a former Republican senator from Maine who helped write the Finance Committee version of the bill.

“It was never part of our conversations at any point,” said Ms. Snowe, who voted against the final version of the Senate bill. “Why would we have wanted to deny people subsidies? It was not their fault if their state did not set up an exchange.” The four words, she said, were perhaps “inadvertent language,” adding, “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

This confirms interviews and analysis that we've seen since the lawsuit started gaining traction. The language was a result of hurried drafting, combining the legislation coming out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee foresaw the possibility that some states wouldn't set up their own exchanges, and authorized a federal exchange as a backup. Even Charles M. Clapton, a lawyer doing committee work for Republican Senator Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming says denying subsidies to anyone "was never discussed," and is "so contrary to the intent" of legislators. But in the combining of the bills the parallel tax code language that allows for the subsidies in the states wasn't mirrored for the federal exchange.

The court will issue its ruling at the end of June, and in all probability has already decided. The big unknown here is whether congressional intent will matter at all to the two likely swing votes on the panel—Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy. That and the prospect of taking insurance away from something like 8 million people.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell turns to Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX after speaking to reporters after the Republican party policy luncheon in the Capitol in Washington September 16, 2014.  At left is Sen. John Barasso, R-WY. The U.S. House of Represe
The Senate provided a scene of remarkable drama in the early hours of Saturday morning, as Mitch McConnell's ploy to force his colleagues into a panic-inspired and last minute vote to extend the Patriot Act without modification failed. Spectacularly. With Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision that the government has used to justify dragnet surveillance on Americans, set to expire on May 31st and Congress planning to recess until June 1, McConnell was attempting to force the Senate into extending the programs using the threat of "national security" by waiting until the last minute to hold the vote. His bullying backfired.
In a tense vote after midnight, the Senate failed to move forward on the House-passed USA Freedom Act, legislation that would end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of call data. The vote was 57-42, just short of the 60-vote threshold needed after stiff opposition and last-minute whipping Friday night into Saturday from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP defense hawks. Senators then easily rejected a motion to move ahead on a McConnell backed two-month extension of the Patriot Act's spying authorities.

If the two high-stakes votes at 1 a.m. weren't enough, the dramatic scene that followed showed how tense things are in the Senate. […]

McConnell proposed an even shorter-term extension of the surveillance authorities—from their current June 1 expiration date through June 8, giving the Senate time to take its Memorial Day recess before returning to take up the issue once again. Sen. Rand Paul objected on grounds he wanted up-or-down votes on his amendments to the Freedom Act, and what followed was an unusual exchange between McConnell and pro-reform senators that resulted, where much of the night did, in no solution.

McConnell suggested putting off the debate until June 5, earning objection from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Then McConnell tried for June 3, to the objection of Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Finally the majority leader asked for an extension through June 2. Paul objected again, and the Senate took another short break.

Flustered, defeated, McConnell huddled with senators and eventually determined that the Senate would return on Sunday, May 31st to give the Senate "one more opportunity to act responsibly" before the the bulk collection program officially expires. Senate Minority Leader pointed out that it was McConnell's own intransigence in trying to manipulate the Senate that led to this outcome. "'That's what happens when you try to jam everything in just a short period of time,' Reid said. When asked if anything would change next Sunday, Reid said, 'I don't know, you'll have to ask Rand Paul [and] the Republicans.'"

McConnell forcefully whipped against the House-passed USA Freedom Act, and according to one Republican aide, told senators "that a vote for USA Freedom was a vote to cancel recess." But the close initial vote on USA Freedom—a bipartisan majority of 57—suggests that without the pressure from leadership, the House reform bill could pass. The question now is whether McConnell will allow the vote, and if he'll allow the amendments Paul is insisting upon. Proponents of real reform have an actual opportunity now to come back to structure a strong reform bill. It's largely up to McConnell, who should have gotten the idea by now that he's not going to get his way.

Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) addresses the National Review Institute's 2015 Ideas Summit in Washington, April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX1B18W

The chair of the Federal Elections Commission has crying "uncle" in the face of a deadlocked commission. Which is really too bad, because 2016 is shaping up to be one long exercise in candidates skirting the edge of campaign finance laws, such as they are.

As the 2016 campaign unfolds, Hillary Rodham Clinton will benefit from one rapid-response team working out of a war room in her Brooklyn headquarters—and another one working out of a "super PAC" in Washington.

Jeb Bush has hired a campaign manager, press aides and fund-raisers—yet insists he is not running for president, just exploring the possibility of maybe running.

And Senator Marco Rubio’s chance of winning his party’s nomination may hinge on the support of an "independent" group financed by a billionaire who has bankrolled Mr. Rubio’s past campaigns, paid his salary teaching at a university and employed his wife.

Bush, though, is the one who is stretching the bounds of the law—and credulity—to the stretching point, with his "if I'm running" routine. Since he's not actually declared officially, by his advisers' reasoning anyway, he hasn't had to register with the FEC and thus can go all around the country soliciting as much money as he wants for his allied Super PAC and for the "non-profit" organization also affiliated with him, and he can coordinate with them. That includes paying all the people who are advising him in his "not yet" campaign.
All share some variation of the name "Right to Rise," and Mr. Bush has headlined fund-raisers for the groups, even putting his name on invitations to more than 300 donors who attended a Right to Rise conference in Miami in April.

Technically, however, the super PAC is controlled by a Republican campaign lawyer in Washington. The regular PAC is run by a Florida accountant who has also prepared Mr. Bush's taxes. (Mr. Bush is merely the PAC's "honorary chairman.") And the nonprofit group is controlled by a former Bush aide who is widely described as the head of Mr. Bush’s policy team, but who has said the nonprofit will merely be "engaged in policy generation that is consistent with Governor Bush's optimistic, conservative message."

Oh, so he's just the chairman. The chairman who has an "optimistic, conservative message" that the whole country must hear, starting with Iowa and New Hampshire. But don't call it Bush's campaign. It's more like a hobby. An extremely lucrative hobby.
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