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[Good-News update: see end of post!]

Saaay, is this one of the reasons the White House didn't want anyone at HHS talking to the press or Congress? Some of them might not be too thrilled about the administration's brilliant decision to cancel public service ads reminding people that 2017 open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act ends Tuesday, January 31. And no, it's not saving any money, because the ads being pulled were already paid for and scheduled, according to HHS staffers who spoke to Politico even though they were on double-secret probation.

When open enrollment for policies starting January 1 closed on December 15, so many people crowded onto ACA exchange sites that the deadline was extended over a weekend to accommodate them all. Looks like the Trump folks are going to avoid all the fuss by removing reminders that there's one last chance to sign up for the program, which it wants to kill. And if some people who might have gotten insurance get sick or die, well, that's their lookout. We don't need to be wasting time advertising a program that's going to suddenly go away, although the Trumpers keep insisting it won't suddenly go away.

Here's asshat New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins explaining the thinking, if any, behind the move:

President Trump is signaling he's the new sheriff [...] He's been elected with a mandate. He's not going to tolerate his employees contradicting and undermining his mandate to get this country going in another direction.

Uh. The law is still in effect. Helping people to sign up for a still-operating program is not "undermining his mandate," which in his case he also has not got.

Despite the fact that the ads were already paid for and won't be refunded, Team Trump is trying to spin the ad pulls as a huge cost-saving move:

“The federal government has spent more than $60 million promoting the open enrollment period,” a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. “We have pulled back roughly $5 million of the final placement in an effort to look for efficiencies where they exist.”

Translation: we don't like it, and even if people are still eligible to enroll for a few more days, and the ads were already paid for, damned if we're going to call attention to the fact.

We can certainly understand why the Trumpers would want to keep people from knowing the program's still alive -- if they sign up in the last week of enrollment, that's just more people who'll be pissed off when the Republicans kill the ACA without a replacement.

There are conflicting reports on whether automated email reminders to encourage people to sign up before the deadline have been cancelled -- Politico says they were stopped as well as the ads, while the New York Times says they're still going out to people who may have set up an account at Healthcare.gov but who have not yet purchased insurance through the exchanges.

Liberal whiners keep pointing out that ads promoting awareness of the deadlines are important, since many of the people least likely to sign up -- young, healthy folks who'll pay a tax penalty if they don't sign up (if the Trump administration doesn't cancel that, of course) -- also tend to sign up at the last minute. Ah, well, the hell with 'em.

Kevin J. Counihan, the former chief executive of the federal insurance exchange, accused the Trump administration of trying to “sabotage open enrollment,” and called the action “outrageous.”

“We know that more young people enroll during the final days of open enrollment, but they need to be reminded of the January 31 deadline,” Mr. Counihan said. “Having health insurance is still law of the land. If the president and Republicans in Congress want to change that, they should come up with a plan and show it to the American people.”

Pfft. "Laws" and "plans." What a lot of liberal hooey. Maybe Steve Bannon should be sent to stand outside Counihan's front door and yell "YOU LOST, LOSER!" And then come February 1, the homepage of Healthcare.gov can be changed to say the same thing.

Also, if you haven't called your senators' local offices yet to tell them not to confirm Tom Price as HHS secretary, that's one thing you still need to do TODAY.

UPDATE: After lots of pushback from the public -- that's YOU! -- the Trump administration has reversed this dumb decision and will indeed run ads and PSAs reminding people to sign up before the deadline. Now we all need to let the administration and our representatives know the Muslim ban is not acceptable either. See Rachel Maddow's "A" block from Friday on this very topic.

[Politico / NYT / hat tip to Alert Wonkette Operative "Fuflans" / Update: Politico]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Image: Marriott Hotels

Great GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz, the guy who gave us the "death tax" and who urged the George W. Bush administration to talk about "climate change" since it was less politically motivating than "global warming," did some more of his characteristic word magic today! While staying at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria, Luntz offered this cautionary tale about the evils of socialism, as illustrated by the shoddy conditions in a 5-star luxury hotel owned by Dubai's "Al Habtoor" conglomerate and operated by Marriott:

Talk about your grim hellholes! Apparently, there's only one elevator in the entire building, and it's been broken for three days, proving that European-style socialism is a failure that should never be imported to the USA, where -- damn it! -- all buildings work!

As some smartass pointed out, now Luntz may have to take the STAIRS, like a common Bolshevik!

We're still trying to get our heads around how a delay in getting an elevator fixed in a luxury hotel owned by the United Arab Emirati proprietors of Dubai's

  • Habtoor Grand Resort
  • Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
  • Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts
  • V Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton
  • Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City
  • Metropolitan Hotel Dubai
  • Al Habtoor Polo Resort

as well as

  • Imperial Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna (Austria)
  • Hilton London Wembley (United Kingdom)
  • Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand (Lebanon)
  • Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace (Lebanon)
  • President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (United States)
  • InterContinental Budapest (Hungary)
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest (Hungary)

is an example of the horrors of socialism, but then, we don't earn the big bucks like Luntz does. Austria is among the 14 richest countries in the world, so we're fairly certain it's not a commie hellhole. Then again, there is a very strong social safety net, so maybe people in subsidized housing stole all the elevator parts. Or perhaps the elevator would have been fixed sooner if only Austria didn't have such strong unions. It's a mystery.

Or maybe it's that NATIONAL socialism that's the problem, seeing as it has socialism RIGHT IN THE NAME!

Adolf Hitler, once a day labourer outside the Hotel Imperial Vienna, returned as the Führer and "delivered a speech to a rapturous crowd from [the hotel] suite's balcony, on 14 March 1938", according to www.famoushotels.org.

We suppose it's worth noting that the Imperial is decidedly not owned or operated by the Austrian government, where a far-Right coalition has recently imploded -- although maybe Luntz is confused about that, since official state guests are traditionally housed there. In any case, the elevator's busted, it's in Europe, Europe is socialist, and Frank Luntz is homesick for America, where no elevator ever goes unrepaired for an entire weekend. It simply has never happened because of our efficient free market!

Still, Luntz's tweet inspired some valuable reflections on how economic theory shapes the reality of everyday life. This is the kind of Austrian economics we can support.



In conclusion, capitalism always allocates resources efficiently and fairly, although that still doesn't explain why Frank Luntz has a job. And now it would be your DOKTOR ZOOM'S BIRTHDAY PARTY OPEN THREAD, if only the socialists would fix the elevator, the end.

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