Archive for August, 2010

Less money, less health care (unless you’re on Medicare)

This study comports with common sense: When people have less money, they cut back on things they believe they can do without — like health care. Maybe its OK with you that health care only goes to people who can afford it, but please don’t comment here if you have Medicare. From the NYT:

The economic crisis in the United States has reduced the use of routine medical care, and the cutbacks here are much deeper than in countries with universal health care systems, researchers say in a new report.

The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, finds that “Americans, who face higher out-of-pocket health care costs, have reduced their routine medical care” much more than people in Britain, Canada, France and Germany.

Individuals and families in all five countries lost income because of unemployment and lost wealth because of steep declines in stock prices.

“We find strong evidence that the economic crisis — manifested in job and wealth losses — has …

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The GOP’s new McCarthyism against Muslims

What has happened to the leadership of the Republican Party? Are there no longer any statesmen/women in the GOP? Does the party have any leading figures who believe in the Bill of Rights?
The GOP’s leadership has been taken over by a group of shrill demagogues who cozy up to birthers, talk of rescinding the 14th amendment and want to deny peaceful American Muslims the right to practice their religion. In terms of decency and principle, this season may mark the lowest ebb for the Republican Party since the McCarthy era of the 1950s.
There is no divisive issue the party won’t exploit, no wedge it won’t use as it seeks votes and tries to separate the unum into pluribus. If you listen to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, gleefully talk about exploiting the emotions surrounding the so-called 9/11 mosque in New York, you can see how low the party’s leadership has sunk.
There is no good reason for a mosque in NYC to concern the vast …

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Russian government sees harsh evidence of global warming

While the U.S. remains embroiled in a mind-boggling feud over whether climate change is real, Russia has warmed up to the scientific evidence. “Everyone is talking about climate change now,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Russian Security Council this month. “Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past.”

Russia’s leaders have usually played the role of obstructionists in global talks about climate change because they thought that combatting it would harm their economic growth (where have we heard that before?) and because they believed that they would benefit from a warming planet. The vast stretch of frozen-over Siberia, they believed, would turn into a pleasant region of moderate temperature, ripe for agriculture and development.
But this summer changed their minds. The costs of climate change have been horrendous. Russia …

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Obama supports mosque near Ground Zero

After weeks of silence on the Cordoba Initiative, President Obama added his strong endorsement to the group’s effort to build a community center, complete with a mosque, near the site of the World Trade Tower.

The president offered his support as he hosted an iftar at the White House for Muslim guests, including several ambassadors. For Muslims, this is the holy month of Ramadan, which many Muslims mark with fasting during the day. They break the fast with a meal called an “iftar” after dark.

From the Washington Post:

“Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said at a White House iftar, the traditional breaking of the daily Ramadan fast.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he continued. “This is America, and our commitment to religious …

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The US needs those babies born to illegal moms

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) should be ashamed. Pandering to a rising nativist fervor by suggesting repeal of birthright citizenship, he and others — like GOP gubernatorial nominee Nathan Deal — have aimed their indignation at the very babies who can help their country regain its competitive edge.

With sinking birth rates and longer lifespans, much of the industrialized world grows grayer every day. Throughout Western Europe, demographers worry about a population too old to work and pay the bills. Already, the Japanese, who have never cottoned to “outsiders,” are struggling to care for a citizenry with a significant share of seniors.

But, as several economists have noted, the United States has an advantage: We’re still having babies. Some of them, it turns out, are born to women without papers. Rather than changing the law and kicking them out, we ought to be celebrating them with birthday parties.

In “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,” …

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The GOP’s voodoo economics

The deficit is a serious matter, as Congressional Republicans — new converts to so-called fiscal conservatism — are fond of pointing out. By 2020, when entitlement spending has ballooned with the retirement of the baby boomers, the red ink threatens to drown the nation’s economy. (That’s if Social Security and Medicare are not reined in.)

But the GOP is also caught up in a widespread case of mass insanity about simple arithmetic, arguing that tax cuts pay for themselves and don’t increase the deficit. The budget experts on Capitol Hill beg to disagree. From the WaPo:

A Republican plan to extend tax cuts for the rich would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year — and transfer the bulk of that cash into the pockets of the nation’s millionaires, according to a congressional analysis released Wednesday.
New data from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation show that households earning more than $1 million a year would reap nearly $31 billion in tax …

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Nathan Deal: Among “15 Most Corrupt Members of Congress”

Nathan Deal?
The Republican voters of Georgia have chosen Nathan Deal to carry the banner for them in the governor’s race? I confess I didn’t see that coming. They went with the guy whom a good government group once labelled “one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress?” He’s the reincarnation of Gene Talmadge.
When the contest began in earnest, a total of seven contenders had entered the field to win the GOP nomination for governor. As my colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin wrote in July:

On the Republican side of the gubernatorial campaign, the seven-candidate race has essentially boiled down to a four-person contest with Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine the acknowledged front-runner and former Secretary of State Karen Handel, former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal and former state Sen. Eric Johnson battling for second.

Once Oxendine’s baggage became too much for the voters, I figured that left Johnson and Handel.
Johnson’s politics are very different from mine, but he is …

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‘Socialist’ Obamacare has been good for capitalist health insurance companies

Remember how that ’socialist’ President Obama took over the health insurance industry? Remember how the new health care law was a ‘government takeover’ of one of the largest segments of the U.S. economy?

Well, that socialized, government takeover has worked out pretty well for the big for-profit health insurance companies. They are enjoying soaring profits, and their executives received hefty compensation packages last year. After the health care law passed, Aetna’s net income jumped 40 percent over the same period last year. From the LA Times :

The top executives at the nation’s five largest for-profit health insurance companies pulled in nearly $200 million in compensation last year — while their businesses prepared to hit ratepayers with double-digit premium increases, according to a new analysis conducted by healthcare activists.

The leaders of Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Inc. each in effect received raises in 2009, the report concluded, …

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GOP refuses to help teachers facing layoffs

The Republican Party is making its loyalties very clear. When it comes to a choice between protecting the little guy and protecting big monied interests, they protect the big monied interests.
Just a little while ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill that will prevent massive teacher layoffs around the country — as well as the layoffs of police officers and firefighters — and also preserve Medicaid benefits for the poor. (The Senate passed it last week.) Teachers and Medicaid have been threatened by state budget shortfalls. Hundreds of thousands of teachers — including some in Georgia — have faced layoffs.
Even though the appropriations are paid for by closing tax loopholes, very few Republicans voted for it. Even though the Congressional Budget Office says the bill will lower the deficit by $1.3 billion over ten years, very few Republicans voted for it. House Minority Whip Mike Pence dismissed it as a tax increase and “one more bailout.”
Here’s where the …

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A conservative calls the GOP ‘crazy-cons’

Georgia’s Republican voters will choose their gubernatorial nominee today, bringing to a close an ugly, vicious campaign between Karen Handel and Nathan Deal. While issues important to the state, such as job creation, played a peripheral role in the race, the focus was largely on such matters as disparaging gay citizens and denying them the choice of adopting children.
What has happened to the Republican Party, which once stood for such principles as fiscal conservatism, limited government and a strong defense? While the party has long employed a Southern strategy that catered to those still uncomfortable with the changes wrought by the civil rights movement, the GOP has lately not just catered to those but has been taken over by them. It has devolved into a collection of narrow-minded nativists, fringe conspiracy theorists and hardcore anti-government cranks.
Here’s what conservative David Klinghoffer has to say about the conservative movement:

Once, the iconic figures on the …

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