As Unemployment Grows Republicans Filibuster Jobs Bill

To no one’s surprise Republicans continued their scortched earth policy by using obstructionist tactics to filibuster yet another soon to be law. And who was their target this time? The small business owners and the unemployed, their favorite kick me while I’m down targets.

What exactly does this bill contain that the GOP finds so offensive:

The biggest and most important item is the extension of unemployment insurance. This comes in a few different parts: One part extends the insurance programs that deal with the long-term unemployed. Another extends the $25 boost to unemployment insurance checks that we’ve had in place since the beginning of the recession. And a third allows workers who find part-time work but need full-time work to remain eligible for some unemployment benefits.

Then there’s the extension of the federal government’s program to help states pay for Medicaid costs. During recessions, more people need Medicaid, which increases the program’s cost, but state revenues drop, which reduces their ability to pay for the program. So the federal government, which can run temporary deficits, steps in and increases the share of the program’s costs that it pays. This bill extends that program. The bill also includes another temporary fix to Medicare’s doctor payments.

The bill also has a raft of tax cuts and investments, including billions for the Small Business Administration to offer more loans to small businesses, bonds to fund infrastructure development, money to encourage private-sector R&D. and more. A full list of the bill’s provisions, and its subsequent modifications, can be found here.

And for those of you fiscal “chicken” hawks out there who are screaming about the deficit at the top of their lungs, the only portion of the bill that would have added to the deficit is the $30 billion in unemployment benefits, with the rest of it being paid through various other channels.

So in the end, Republicans interfered with another law’s passage because it would have increased the deficit by 0000001%


Health Care Reform In Context: Your World In Charts

Following up on my earlier post about Health Care spending in context, Ezra Klein whipped up this badass chart comparing the price of health care reform to the amount we spend on other things in our budget

I think the chart speaks for itself…

How Much Does Health Care Spending Really Cost?

One of the things that gets lost in political debates about spending is the context in which the spending takes place. IE how much a policy or program will “really” cost the American people versus how much its projected to cost taxpayers.

Let’s think about it on the small scale. If I told you that your electric bill was $12,000 you’d probably “freak the fuck out”. And rightfully so. Sure electricity might be a necessary aspect of your day to day life but $12,000? Fuck that noise.

On the other hand, if you read the fine print at the bottom of your bill that informed you that this $12,000 was stretched out over a ten year period you’d probably feel a lot better.

Why? Do the math.

$12,000/10 years = $1,200 a year
$1,200/12 months = $100 a month.

$100 a month is substantially less than $12,000.

Now let’s look at the Senate health care bill. According to the CBO, HCR will cost approx $875 billion. Oh no! That’s almost a trillion dollars!!!

Shock, gasps, and everything in between.

But take a step back and remember that this is $875 billion over a ten year span.. Meaning that the annual cost of health care reform is a mere $87 billion a year. While $87 billion is a huge number relative to your personal bank account, its more or less chump change in terms of federal spending. And after you take into account the savings from eliminating the $42.7 billion “Hidden tax” we pay every year for the uninsured, the Senate Health Care Bill drops in cost to $45 billion a year.

$45 billion a year for almost 100% universal coverage? Doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Health Care Reform: A Very Good Post About A Very Sad Story

From today’s New York Times editorial defending the need for Health Care reform:

“The American Cancer Society now says the greatest obstacle to reducing cancer deaths is lack of health insurance. It is so persuaded of that fact that two years ago, instead of promoting its anti-smoking campaign or publicizing the need for cancer screening, it devoted its entire advertising budget to the problem of inadequate health insurance coverage.”

Its kind of sad that at this point, weeks before the passage of a final bill, the NYT still needs to write an editorial making the case for health care reform.  And yes that read health care reform, not universal health care. Clearly the White House has dropped the ball on this oh so important health care bill. From the public option to the insurance mandate to the entire structure of the bill President Obama’s poor leadership has left much to be desired.

It’s times like this that I like to  remind people why Hillary Clinton was a much better choice for president…

In Case You Forgot How Private Insurers Destroy The US Health Care System

Senate Majority Leader Reid provides example 1,352:

“You see, one of the largest private insurance companies in America made a lot of money last year — more than a billion dollars, in fact. Its chairman and CEO took home at least $100 million of that money himself.

“This health care company is going to make a healthy profit again this year. But its executives decided the profit they’re making isn’t quite big enough. So this multibillion-dollar company found a clever way to make sure next year’s bottom line is even bigger: it’s raising its rates.

“As you might expect, those higher premiums are going to be too expensive for many. How many? It could be as many as 650,000 people.

“That’s more than the entire populations of North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. It’s more than the entire populations of Baltimore and Boston and Denver and Seattle. How many people is this one company willing to drop? You could count every man, woman and child in Las Vegas and still have almost 100,000 people left over.

“But here’s the worst part: That shocking estimate comes directly from the president of the company himself. The means the company devised this strategy, crunched the numbers and saw how many American families it was going to hurt. Then the bosses shrugged their shoulders and decided to go ahead with it anyway.”

And it’s not the first time:

American Medical News, which first reported the story, noted that this is not the first time the insurance giant has cut the rolls in an effort to boost profit margins. “As chronicled in a 2004 article in Health Affairs by health economist James C. Robinson, MD, PhD, Aetna completely overhauled its business between 2000 and 2003, going from 21 million members in 1999 down to 13 million in 2003, but boosting its profit margin from about 4% to higher than 7%.

Just a little food for thought to chew on the next time you ask yourself if, the very popular, public option is a necessary part of health care reform.

BREAKING NEWS: David Souter to Retire from Supreme Court

Well this is news…sort of:

Supreme Court Justice David Souter plans to retire, sources told NBC News Thursday night.

Speculation about Souter’s plans began to swirl as the eight other justices were known to have hired the four law clerks who will work with them in the Supreme Court term that begins in October. Souter has been the lone holdout, hiring no one.

A retirement by Souter, 69, would give President Barack Obama his first chance to nominate a justice and the next few months would bring Senate confirmation hearings.

Here’s what you can expect as a result:

Lots of political fighting

Expect major partisan fighting in the Senate…ie Republicans filibustering any potential replacement Obama nominates. Of course a more honest political party wouldn’t take a boldface hypocritical position in light of their very recent opposition to filibustering supreme court nominees. Of course, we’re talking about the Republican party.

Change, but more of the same

Unfortunately the balance of power probably won’t change much regardless of who Obama nominates. The court is more or less split among partisan lines with a 5-4 conservative/liberal split. With Souter coming from the liberal wing of the court, all democrats can hope for is an intelligent and young nominee.

SAVE PARIS HILTON: Republicans Seek To Cut Estate Tax…AGAIN

The NYT’s has an excellent editorial laying out the case against cutting the estate tax rate. Why? Oh because Republicans are trying to repeal it again:

The proverbial millionaires next door — the plumbers, contractors and accountants who amass substantial wealth through hard work and modest living — are not the intended beneficiaries of the proposed cut. The Obama budget already takes care of them, because it retains today’s law, which imposes the estate tax only on couples with property worth more than $7 million, or individuals with property worth more than $3.5 million. That means 99.8 percent of estates will never — ever — pay a penny of estate tax.

The heirs of the remaining 0.2 percent of estates are who Ms. Lincoln and Mr. Kyl are so worried about. Their amendment would increase to $10 million the level at which the estate tax kicks in. It would also lower the top estate-tax rate to 35 percent from 45 percent.

  • sigh*

For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past 40 years, let the record clearly state that Republicans advocate cutting taxes for the rich while cutting programs for the poor.

That being said, the estate tax issue is just plain stupid. With all of the problems going on in this country, Republicans are investing their time and energy on lowering a tax that literally effects .02% of the population.

sometimes I think about switching parties just so conservatives can have someone intelligent on their side of the aisle.