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Chris Hayes thinks that Republicans are admitting by their behavior that they are in trouble over Obamacare. The tell is sometimes word salad, or at best changing the subject when you ask them for details about repealing Obamacare, especially repealing successful Medicaid expansions and taking health care away from hundreds of thousands of people who had been without it for years. Some simply refuse to answer at all.

Hayes, Steve Kornacki (sitting in for Rachel Maddow), and Alex Wagner (sitting in for Lawrence O'Donnell) of MSNBC all had segments in the last two days on Republican problems now that the ACA is clearly a success.

Nobody should think, however, that any of that will stop the doubling down by many others any time soon. Mitch McConnell, for example, is still running furiously against Obamacare in Kentucky, both the KYNexct exchange and Medicaid expansion.

We don't have a hearing date for Sylvia Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius at HHS, but we already have plenty of bloviation and demagoguery to report.

The big number for ACA signups extensions is due out from HHS tomorrow, covering extensions up to yesterday. Except that it won't be the final number. For example, Hawaii extended its extension to April 30. Also Hawaii apparently has the heartbleed security hole in its Exchange Web site. And DC and Minnesota extended their deadlines, too.

Today's Diary is already huge, so I don't plan on any updates.

ACA News and Numbers

New York: Final 4/15 Tally: 435.5K QHPs, 525.3K Medicaid, 960.8K Total

Indiana: 40.5K Medicaid "Woodworkers" supports my "15% in Non-expansion States" ratio

ARRRRGH!! DC and Minnesota bump out their enrollment extensions as well…

Colorado: 23K Medicaid "Woodworkers" thru 2/28, confirmation of ACA outreach success

Hawaii: Extension period extended again…to 4/30

Hawaii adds another 394 QHPs. Too bad their website seems to be Heartbleed vulnerable…

Sylvia Burwell Hearing

Burwell will appear before the Senate Finance Committee after it returns from the current two-week Easter recess. That would mean early in May. The committee does not have her on its published schedule yet. She will also testify at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Cue the crazy. There is far too much for me to unpack it all. Anybody who feels like diarying this nonsense in more detail is welcome.

Washington Times: HHS nominee Burwell faces tight scrutiny

Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican and member of the Senate Finance Committee that will vet Mrs. Burwell, said he wants to know whether HHS will put Americans first, or if it considers "€œthe administration's policies and trying to carry the water for the president as their primary responsibility."€

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican and outspoken Obamacare critic, said the law is not actuarially sound, so they needed a budget guru "€œto kind of spin the numbers."

"€œAnd this is something, with Burwell coming from OMB, I think they'€™re expecting her to be able to do for them,"€ she told CBS'€™s €œFace the Nation.€

Marc Thiessen, Washington Post: Let HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell explain Obamacare lie

You know, the "If you like your doctor" claim that Republicans and insurance companies worked so hard to sabotage. Because OMB, which Burwell led, is supposed to fact-check the President, according to Thiessen.

C-SPAN: Jennifer Haberkorn on Health and Human Services Nomination Hearing

Haberkorn, Politico: Enrollment extension ends today - Insurers seek to expand Obamacare offerings - Dos and don'€™ts for Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Haberkorn, Politico: Sebelius steps down—OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace her—Republicans say it'€™s about time

Haberkorn, Politico: Sebelius resigns as HHS secretary

"Secretary Sebelius may be gone, but the problems with this law and the impact it'€™s having on our constituents aren'€™t,"€ said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. "€œObamacare has to go too."
Cleveland [Ohio] Plain Dealer: Sylvia Burwell lugs her baggage to the Hill, where the grilling should go on long after Cliven Bundy's cows come home: Kevin O'Brien

Forbes: More Reasons Why IPAB [Independent Payment Advisory Board], ObamaCare's 'Death Panel,' Is Relevant To Sylvia Burwell's Nomination

The American Spectator: Meet Sylvia Burwell, The Titanic’s New Captain

Breitbart: Palin on Sebelius Replacement Sylvia Burwell: 'You Can't Make This Stuff Up'

Because Burwell ordered national monuments shut down when Republicans ordered the entire government to shut down, and because Obamacare is the

disastrous beast under which our entire health care system and 1/6 of our nation's economy is forever fundamentally transformed
Does anybody remember the Starve the Beast Dog Whistle for cutting programs for the poor, minorities, women, the young, the old…?

Anyway, who says Palin and the Breitbart lying machine can't make stuff up?

Breitbart again: Sebelius Replacement Nominee Burwell Has History of Stonewalling Congress

Chicago Tribune: In Burwell hearings, Republicans see new opportunities to attack health-care act

Lawmakers should use Burwell's confirmation hearings to "figure out first and foremost who actually has benefited from the so-called success of Obamacare and its rollout," Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

The Obama administration is "going to have to have somebody to kind of spin the numbers," [Marsha] Blackburn said. "And this is something, with Burwell coming from OMB, I think they're expecting her to be able to do for them."

Politico: Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s hurdles
“The challenge for Ms. Burwell, or any other successor, is to help Congress find the right way to repair the damage Obamacare has done to American families,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
CBS News: 3 big Obamacare challenges for Sylvia Mathews Burwell
"Secretary Sebelius oversaw a disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, but anyone can see that there are more problems on the way," Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "The next HHS Secretary will inherit a mess--Americans facing rising costs, families losing their doctors, and an economy weighed down by intrusive regulations. No matter who is in charge of HHS, ObamaCare will continue to be a disaster and will continue to hurt hardworking Americans."
But John McCain tweeted
Sylvia Burwell is an excellent choice to be the next #HHS Secretary.
Sen. John Thune's Senate Web site: Alexander, Thune, Hatch, 22 GOP Colleagues Call on Administration to Immediately Rescind Rule Giving Unions a Carveout from Obamacare
Senators say they will consider options such as the Congressional Review Act to prevent the rule from taking effect
Wall Street Journal: Advice and ObamaCare Consent

Non-stop sneering. This is only a tiny taste.

Ostensibly positive developments—7.5 million enrollees!—can be produced seemingly on demand, while HHS feigns bewilderment when challenged with more substantive questions. This information blackout seems to be deliberately political.
Washington Monthly: Burwell’s Confirmation Will Be a Boring Circus

Commenting on the Wall Street Journal nonsense above, Martin Longman says,

In other words, the GOP should make unreasonable document requests and then raise bloody hell when they don’t get everything they asked for.
Longman says
Her hearing will be held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which is chaired by the retiring Democrat, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. A look at the Republican membership shows that the Journal may be in for something of a disappointment. The Republicans are led by Ranking Member Lamar Alexander, who is probably the closest thing to courteous the Republicans have in the Senate. Other mild-mannered senators like Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Tim Scott of South Carolina are not known for lighting up a room with their heated rhetoric. Moderates Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski aren’t going to stir any wingnut hearts. And, while Orrin Hatch of Utah and Pat Roberts of Kansas can both be downright nasty when they want to be, they can’t come close to the fiery rhetoric of Ted Cruz. The best bet for fireworks is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. He’s the only member of the committee who is likely to be a presidential candidate and he will want to make a mark.
Political Ticker: Senate Democrats upbeat about confirming Burwell

Senate Finance Committee

Here are the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, in their own words. Not all of them have weighed in publicly on Burwell, but all have let their crazy flow on Obamacare.

Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member:

On the one hand, he claims, on the committee Web site,

This is “America’s Priorities” Committee. Orrin Hatch is fighting to lower taxes, strengthen Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and open markets to American products.
and on the other
The President’s signature domestic policy achievement is an unmitigated disaster. This deeply flawed law has hurt millions of hard-working American families, job creators, and seniors in the form of rising premiums, higher taxes and fewer choices. Ms. Burwell has been nominated to one of the most challenging roles in our government and must outline how she will right the wrongs of this misguided law. I look forward to a frank discussion on this front and working with my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to move forward with a fair and thorough vetting process.
Chuck Grassley, Iowa
Anybody put in charge of Obamacare would be set up to fail. Secretary Sebelius was asked to promote something unready, poorly structured, and unpopular…The next secretary might have a fresh start with the public and Congress but the flawed law is still the law.
Mike Crapo, Idaho
Before the enactment of Obamacare, I was deeply concerned about the damage this legislation would inflict upon family incomes, jobs, and health care prices. Since passage, I have been committed to delaying, defunding and repealing this damaging law.
Pat Roberts, Kansas, gets cheers from the National Right to Life Council.

NRLC Commends Sen. Pat Roberts for Bill to Repeal Rationing in Obamacare

Senator Pat Roberts (R-Ks) today introduced the “Repeal Rationing in Support of Life Act,” which targets the four key rationing components of Obamacare identified in a March 6, 2014, report by the National Right to Life Committee’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics.
The New York Times reports that Kathleen Sebelius is thinking of running against Roberts. He also faces a Tea Party primary challenger, Milton Wolf.

Mike Enzi, Wyoming

Did the Administration consider eliminating ineffective and duplicative pre-school programs before proposing a massive new one?

Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs is expected to double over the next 10 years. This is not sustainable. Has the Administration any idea how to actually make the programs sustainable or any desire to?  

These are questions U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. asked Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget about the Administration’s FY2015 budget request.

John Cornyn, Texas

Letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of Office of Management and Budget - Immediately Rescind Rule Giving Unions a Carveout from Obamacare

John Thune, South Dakota

Another leader in slamming Burwell at OMB on the supposed union carveout from Obamacare referenced above.

Unfortunately for the American people, Secretary Sebelius’ resignation will do nothing to protect them from ObamaCare’s canceled coverage, skyrocketing costs, and fewer choices. ObamaCare is fundamentally flawed and a personnel change at HHS won’t change that ugly reality. The only way to protect American families, workers, and small businesses from ObamaCare’s consequences is to scrap this law and start over with common-sense reforms that actually reduce health care costs.
Richard Burr, North Carolina
Defunding and repealing Obamacare is smart, and is a worthy objective. Unfortunately, the "strategy" of shutting down the government to achieve that goal is not smart, nor will it help us achieve our shared objective.

To be clear, I believe the law is a disaster for the American people. It is putting a wet blanket on job creation, squeezing more of Americans' hard-earned take-home pay, increasing health care costs, and decreasing access to quality healthcare. That is exactly why I fought against passage of the bill and have repeatedly supported efforts and legislation to defund and repeal Obamacare in its entirety.

That makes him a Moderate, a RINO even.

Johnny Isakson, Georgia

In her current position, Burwell recently prevented Georgia’s number one economic development project – the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project – from moving forward. She ought to prepare for some tough questions I’ll be asking on behalf of Georgians during the confirmation process in the Senate Finance Committee.
Rob Portman, Ohio
President Obama’s big government health care bill was supposed to bend the cost curve down.  Instead, the average Ohio individual premium payer is out nearly an extra $100 a month. That’s money that could be going toward retirement, groceries, and their children’s higher education; instead it’s going to cover President Obama’s costly mandates.

Please share your Obamacare story with me by taking a few minutes to fill out the form below.

He should have gotten an earful. Does anybody know?

Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania

I proposed a way to fund the government and to repeal some of the most egregious parts of this terrible law. Acknowledging that Senator Reid has the votes to strip the bill of its Obamacare defunding language, I sought to offer three modest amendments to the Senate bill. The first would repeal the medical device tax that is costing Pennsylvania jobs; the second would provide relief from the infringement on religious liberty in Obamacare; the third would delay the individual mandate for 1 year.
MSNBC Socks It to Them Again

All In with Chris Hayes: The Obamacare Wars

Hayes calls out the tell among Republican politicians fiercely demanding repeal of Obamacare, but refusing to talk about rolling back Medicaid in their states. That means that many of them know they can't actually threaten the health care recently granted to hundreds of thousands of poor people in their states. Therefore, he concludes, the question about whether they would repeal the Medicaid expansion is their "soft underbelly".

There is no surer tell in electoral politics, no better indication a politician is fearful and anxious, and on treacherous terrain, than when he or she refuses to answer a yes or no question about whether they support a matter of major public policy. And that is particularly true when it comes to Republicans and Obamacare, because on that subject, as you well know, they do not mince words.
Consider Rep. Tom Cotton, R-AR4, running for Senator from Arkansas against Democrat Mark Pryor, who has moved ahead in the polls recently.
Obamacare really is the symbol for the excesses of big government Liberalism.
When asked what he would do about the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, he replied,
We would repeal Obamacare and replace it entirely with many reforms for our health care program…We want every Arkansan, we want every American, to have quality, affordable access to health care.
But he can't name one reform to put in his Affordable Care But Not At All the Obama Affordable Care Act.

In the Washington Post Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent noted more non-answers.

Happy Hour Roundup

Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, of whom more below:

Terri believes that healthcare should be affordable and accessible to all Americans and that we as a society have a moral obligation to help those who are not as fortunate and their children. Terri applauds Governor Snyder for doing what he believes is best for Michigan families, while complying with mandates from Congress brought down in ObamaCare.

Out of control government spending is killing jobs and has put the federal government more than $17 trillion in debt.  Now, Congress is making big promises to the most vulnerable among us. We’ve already heard the President and Members in Congress break the promise that if you like your healthcare, you could keep it.

As a mom, business owner and public servant, Terri knows that ObamaCare does not work, and she supports health care reform that truly makes coverage affordable and accessible — that doesn’t kick people off their plan, force them to switch doctors, or increase their premiums.

Chris called that word salad.

Republicans have an Obamacare repeal problem

The GOP’s Obamacare repeal dilemma, in one quote

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis vs. Kay Hagan in North Carolina

North Carolina GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis wants to replace Obamacare with something, but won't say what, and when speaking generally about the issue, he says that of course he wants "some sort of safety net for preexisting conditions."
That means the very expensive high-risk pools that we just got rid of. Because it's OK if you pay for your health care, even if you can't afford to. Just don't ask any heartless Republican to contribute a dime to save your life.
I think there’s a lot of things we can do if we focus on a systematic approach to eliminating the bad, and the majority of the stuff that is in Obamacare is bad, because it’s not fiscally sustainable. It’s a great idea that can’t be paid for. Let’s focus on the net problem versus a policy that’s creating as many problems as it fixes in terms of healthcare, and then it’s also creating the most devastating problem of a deficit and debt that we can’t afford.
Tillis is getting hammered by his Tea Party opponent for saying that it is even a good idea, and trying to think about how to pay for any of it.

Michigan Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land vs. Democratic Rep. Gary Peters for Senate:

Peters takes slim lead on Land in U.S. Senate race, new poll indicates

41%-36%, according to PPP, up from 40%-42% in December. Peters gained only one point, while Land lost six.

Eclectablog, 1/16: Obamacare Derangement Syndrome causes Terri Lynn Land to attack Michigan GOP over Medicaid expansion

TPM, 2/27: GOP Senate Candidate 'Applauds' Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion

Eclectablog, 3/25: Republicans in purple states — like Terri Lynn Land — can’t tell the truth about Obamacare

Likely GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in Michigan Terri Lynn Land can’t just say “NO!” to the president’s health law.

She has already flipped her position on Obamacare at least three times since she began her campaign, which has featured exactly zero preannounced public appearances.

First, she said she felt the law should be kept and fixed, the position of 64 percent of Americans. Facing a backlash and fearing a primary challenge, she said she was for full repeal the next day.

When Rep. Gary Peters — her likely opponent — called out her out for opposing Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, which will cover as many as 500,000 Michiganders when it goes into effect on April 1, Land flipped again to the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent, saying she was for expansion, even though that position directly contradicts the goal of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed group that has spent millions on her behalf attacking Peters.

Scott Brown (R-MA) for Senate from New Hampshire, vs. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has been caught carpetbagging and trashing Obamacare to Republicans who are benefiting from it. He is now on an Obamacare Isn't Working tour. However,

Think Progress: Scott Brown Refuses To Say Whether Or Not He Supports Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion

Brian Beutler, The New Republic: Democrats Need to Start Blaming the GOP for the Death of Charlene Dill

How Liberals should talk about the Medicaid expansion
based on

This 32-Year-Old Florida Woman Is Dead Because Her State Refused To Expand Medicaid

Steve Kornacki on The Rachel Maddow Show:

Weight of facts a burden to GOP on Obamacare

Steve Kornacki reviewed the recent wave of good news stories and positive indicators surrounding the implementation of Obamacare and wondered when Republicans will be forced by sheer weight of fact to change their position on the program.
Actually, Steve started off with a review of the troubled rollout, and the implacable Republican opposition we have seen over the last five years. Then he started on the accelerating rollout, and the resulting good news:

Nov. 2013 Council of Economic Advisers: Obamacare slowing rate of increase of health care costs

Feb. 2014, CBO: Obamacare will cost less than expected

March, Commerce Dept., noticed in the Wall Street Journal: Personal income up due to Obamacare

In April, Gallup's polling on the uninsured rate showed it at its lowest level since 2008. It was actually 14.5% in the last half of March.

just a few days ago the Associated Press and others reported on the 7.5 million exchange signups. Steve pointed out that it is at least ten million when you include newMedicaid enrollments.

Of course, we know that the news is even better than that.

On top of all that, the CBO says again this month that the law will cost even less than previously expected. They project a savings of  $5 billion because insurers are saying that they will not have to increase premiums as some had feared.

So when will our politics catch up? Privately, an anonymous Republican Congressional staffer has admitted that any possible replacement will actually look a lot like Obamacare.

I would explain it this way. If you take all of the pieces of the law that people like, and string them together into a bill, then pretty much all that you have taken away is the name of the law. And if this is a Republican replacement, then it obviously isn't Obamacare. Problem solved. Except not, of course, because the Tea Parties don't care how popular the provisions of the law are.

The Last Word, with Alex Wagner in for Lawrence O'Donnell

Politico: Insurers see brighter Obamacare skies

CBO Prediction: 36 million people in Exchanges and Medicaid in 2017. No source given.

Howard Dean: New poll today, Democrats more trusted on health care.

Then there was this new ad from the Chamber of Commerce, just for laughs, for Mike Simpson of Idaho.

Mitt Romney ad: Mike Simpson, Conservative Choice for Congress. Romney talks about fighting wasteful spending, junk lawsuits, and Obamacare

Originally posted to Mokurai on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 03:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by Obamacare Saves Lives.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Mo-man !! you're a phenomenon !! (6+ / 0-)

    and i gotta take a nap, so i can apply full attention to this bliss parade from you. i will be back, and a big sloppy kiss for today's work !!!

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 03:15:40 PM PDT

  •  Hmm, and it'd be white... so they're BÖC? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Skyye

    From the Wikipedia article on Blue Öyster Cult

    The band originated as a group called Soft White Underbelly (a name the band would later occasionally use in the 1970s and 1980s to play small club gigs around the U.S.) in 1967 in the vicinity of Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, at the prompting of critic and manager Sandy Pearlman

    GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 03:36:00 PM PDT

    •  While planning the Allied invasions of Europe (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, Gooserock, Skyye, myboo, ybruti

      in World War II Italy was talked about as the soft underbelly of Europe. The troops who had to fight their way across each of its mountain chains in sequence renamed it Tough Old Gut.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 03:44:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great metaphor (0+ / 0-)

        In the Big Three conferences (Yalta, Potsdam, and Tehran, I believe) between Churchill, FDR, and Stalin, Stalin was always in Churchill's grill, always, "When ya gonna open a Western front?  When?  When?  Ya bustin' my chops here!"  Indeed, Churchill did delay the D-Day invasion of Normandy as long as he could for the express purpose of weakening Stalin, who had been fighting the Nazis alone on the continent for years before D-Day came.  Instead, Churchill proposed the Allies continue the air war as it was, but as far as "boots on the ground" were concerned he proposed the Allied ground troops enter Europe through Italy's "Soft Underbelly."  Once the Nazis were driven out of North Africa, this was done, and as you noted, the march up the Italian peninsula was a long, hard slough.

        Churchill was anticommunist as well as antinazi and in doing this he left Stalin to do the dirty work of fighting on the Eastern Front.  Of course, he also knew Stalin had crammed 100 years of industrial development into a single decade with his two "Five Year Plans" which built Soviet industrialism and with it its' primary product, Soviet military might.  Those tank parades in Red Square weren't just a moving Potemkin Villiage;  they were the real deal and that's what crushed the Nazis.  

        Anyhow, thanks for the incredible research here as well as the apt allusion.  The Italian campaign - which followed the battle of Stalingrad which turned the Nazis to retreating - was a step in the beginning of the end of Nazified Europe.  We took out Hitler's most populous ally, though Mussolini himself was at best to Hitler as Palin is to McCain.  It was those boots on the ground the Nazis heard marching - just like Obamacare successes are.

        The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

        by Kangaroo on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:59:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Because they got nothin' but repeal & replace w/0 (0+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 03:49:34 PM PDT

  •  Changing the Subject (0+ / 0-)

    Typical RW response when their message is not directed at America but only their base.

    It's a midterm; this doesn't necessarily indicate any trouble for them. They don't care if most of the electorate opposes them just now.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 03:49:58 PM PDT

  •  Latest RW/Fox response: Obama changing census (0+ / 0-)

    questions to get phony good ACA numbers!

    See, they're skewing the numbers!

  •  So are we all going to crowd into the hearing room (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skyye, rsmpdx, hbk
    Lawmakers should use Burwell's confirmation hearings to "figure out first and foremost who actually has benefited from the so-called success of Obamacare and its rollout," Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.,
    If that's what they want, I think we should all show up and show them who has actually benefitted. Or maybe start a virtual showing-up, like the interracial families did in whichever state that was whose governor insisted there weren't any. 10 (or 36) million photos with three-sentence stories, to hang on the wall of the hearing room.
  •  If they really (0+ / 0-)

    want to see people who have benefited from this law that can be arranged and we will not have to make it up.

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