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Archive for September 3rd, 2009

Health Care’s Senior Moments

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Health Care’s Senior Moments
When exactly did the Republicans start operating one of those marketing scams that target the elderly? READ THE WHOLE ITEM By Ellen Goodman

When exactly did the Republicans start operating one of those marketing scams that target the elderly?

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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KENNEDY MEMOIR: Calls Chappaquiddick “Inexcusable”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:43 am by HL

KENNEDY MEMOIR: Calls Chappaquiddick “Inexcusable”
In a memoir being published posthumously, Senator Edward M. Kennedy talks remorsefully about the car accident that claimed the life of Mary Jo Kopechne –…

Joseph A. Palermo: Half Measures and Lukewarm “Reform” Won’t Save the Middle Class
Let’s hope that when Obama speaks Congress he outlines not only a bold program to provide health care for all Americans, but also a set of proposals to lift the middle class out of its currently dismal economic condition.

Sahil Kapur: Obama Must Unequivocally Champion the Public Option and Fight For It
In the coming days the media will be abuzz speculating what Obama might say next Wednesday during his prime-time address to a joint session of…

GOP Senator Inhofe Tells Town Hall: Obama Determined To Turn Foreign Terrorists Loose On U.S. Soil
GROVE – President Obama is disarming the military, destroying everything good about America and determined to turn foreign terrorists loose on U.S. soil, U.S. Sen….

Tim Ellis: Congressman Massa Represents His Constituents – And The Constitution
Horseheads, New York, August 31st – As I approached the latest town hall meeting in a divisive Congressional recess, I expected to face another divided…


Perino falsely suggests allowing federally subsidized health plans to cover abortion is inconsistent with current law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Perino falsely suggests allowing federally subsidized health plans to cover abortion is inconsistent with current law

Criticizing Democratic health reform bills for allowing federally subsidized health insurance plans to cover abortion, Fox News contributor Dana Perino claimed that the “Hyde Amendment was supposed to protect against” allowing health insurance plans “that get subsidies from the taxpayer dollars” to cover abortion. In fact, the bills do not depart from current law as embodied in the Hyde Amendment — indeed, many states cover abortions under the federally subsidized Medicaid program, even in circumstances where federal money is prohibited from being spent on abortion by that amendment.

Perino says reform bills use “sneaky way” around current law, but current law allows coverage for abortion under Medicaid

Perino: Proposal is a “sneaky way” to get around Hyde Amendment. During a segment on the September 1 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Perino, a former Bush White House press secretary, stated:

PERINO: Well, the fact that FactCheck.org is just one of the news sites that said that President Obama is wrong and that [Sen. Claire] McCaskill [D-MO] is wrong — Time magazine did it, AP did it — because what they’re talking about is — that’s true that the Hyde Amendment does prevent that. But if they’ve created a different funding stream, which is what they’ve done in these bills, then it would allow for plans to be covered that get subsidies from the taxpayer dollars, and that is what the Hyde Amendment was supposed to protect against and they’ve just found a sneaky way to get it through.

Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal money to fund most abortions under Medicaid. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Hyde Amendment was originally passed to ban the use of federal money to pay for abortions under Medicaid. The version of the Hyde Amendment that is included in the Labor/HHS/Education section of the FY2009 omnibus appropriations bill states: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for any abortion,” but includes exceptions for pregnancies that are “the result of an act of rape or incest” and in cases where a woman is “in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.”

Seventeen states use state funds to cover abortions for Medicaid recipients in additional circumstances. According to a September 1 study by the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states provide coverage under Medicaid for “all or most medically necessary abortions,” not just abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Those states “us[e] their own funds” — not federal funds — “to pay” for the procedures. Therefore, in 17 states, Medicaid, a federally subsidized health care program, covers abortions in circumstances in which federal money is prohibited from being spent on abortion.

Proposal in House bill incorporates Hyde Amendment

Language added to House bill incorporates Hyde Amendment. During the Hannity segment, host Sean Hannity quoted FactCheck.org’s statement that there is “language added to the House bill that technically forbids using public funds to pay for” abortions. In fact, the “language added to the House bill” to which Hannity referred, an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) that the House Energy and Commerce Committee agreed to by a 30-28 vote, prohibits “the expenditure of Federal funds” for abortions the Department of Health and Human Services cannot cover. As long as the Hyde Amendment remains in place to prohibit Health and Human Services for paying for abortions in most circumstances, the Capps amendment would prohibit federal money expended under the health reform bill for paying for abortions in the same cases.

Alternative conservative proposal would cause many to lose insurance coverage for abortion

An alternative proposal would bar anyone who receives insurance through the health care exchanges created by House bill from buying insurance that covers abortion. As Media Matters for America has noted, an amendment to the House bill offered by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), which was rejected by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a 31-27 vote, would bar anyone who receives health insurance through the exchanges created by the reform bill from obtaining insurance that covers abortion. Studies show that, currently, many people have employer-provided health insurance that covers abortion. If the bill passes, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2016, “about 9 million people who would otherwise have had employer coverage would not be enrolled in an employment-based plan under the proposal.” Those people would then have to enroll in health insurance through the exchanges, Medicare, or Medicaid, and many would therefore lose coverage for abortion.

Transcript

From the September 1 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

HANNITY: And now we turn to one of the main sources of all that outrage and that’s health care reform. As this summer of town halls comes to an end, serious questions still remain on what the final piece of legislation is going to look like. Now, chief among them is the issue of whether or not the government option will in fact cover abortions.

And that subject was raised at an event hosted by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill yesterday. Let’s take a look.

[begin video clip]

McCASKILL: I think everyone in the room, regardless of how you feel about that subject of abortion, all of us want to prevent abortions. … It is black-letter law right now in the federal system — black-letter law that not one dime of federal tax money can be used to fund any abortion. That’s black-letter law. It’s called the Hyde Amendment.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It’s in there.

McCASKILL: It’s called the Hyde Amendment and —

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It’s in there. Don’t tell me it’s not. It’s page 30, 123.

McCASKILL: Ma’am. Ma’am, it’s not fair to everyone else. I will tell you that it is not in the Senate bill. It is not in that bill.

[end video clip]

HANNITY: All right, now, despite Senator McCaskill’s denial, which has been echoed by President Obama himself, the nonpartisan, nonprofit website, FactCheck.org, they say the following, quote: “House and Senate legislation would allow a new ‘public’ insurance plan to cover abortions, despite language added to the House bill that technically forbids using public funds to pay for them.” Well, there you have it.

And joining me now to help through — sort through all of this controversy and much more, former White House press secretary and Fox News contributor, Dana Perino, and from the Fox Business Network, Stuart Varney.

Guys, does it fund abortions, not fund abortions?

PERINO: Well, the fact that FactCheck.org is just one of the news sites that said that President Obama is wrong and that McCaskill is wrong — Time magazine did it, AP did it — because what they’re talking about is — that’s true that the Hyde Amendment does prevent that. But if they’ve created a different funding stream, which is what they’ve done in these bills, then it would allow for plans to be covered that get subsidies from the taxpayer dollars, and that is what the Hyde Amendment was supposed to protect against and they’ve just found a sneaky way to get it through.


Study: More Contractors In Afghanistan Than Military Personnel — Highest Ratio Ever

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Study: More Contractors In Afghanistan Than Military Personnel — Highest Ratio Ever
Private Defense Department contractors outnumber the ranks of uniformed U.S. military in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional Research Service study obtained by the invaluable Secrecy News. As of March, there were over 68,000 contractors in Afghanistan and over 52,000 military…

Feds: Nemazee Swindled Two Other Banks
It looks like that fraudulent $74 million loan that top Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee allegedly obtained from Citigroup may have just been the tip of the iceberg. In a letter to the judge in Nemazee’s case, reported by Reuters, prosecutors…

Secret Service ‘Aware Of’ Gun-Toter And Pastor’s Prayers For Obama To Die
Asked about pastor Steven Anderson and gun-toter Chris Broughton’s repeated wishes for President Barack Obama to die, Special Agent Darrin Blackford of the Secret Service sends along this statement: “We are aware of the situation and appropriate follow up will…


The real Death Panel

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:37 am by HL

The real Death Panel


Tear Down the House: Why We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Tear Down the House: Why We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Piecemeal immigration reform is not sufficient. Here's why we need a bottom-up approach.

Young Workers in Free Fall: 1/3 Under 35 Live with Parents

So much for the economic independence that's supposed to come with young adulthood.

Obama Is Leading the U.S. Into a Hellish Quagmire

Obama is doubling down in Afghanistan with more troops deployed now than the Soviets ever had, at a time when public support for it is sinking like a rock.


Dan Savage (on Olbermann) Says Right’s Goal Is Obama’s Death

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Dan Savage (on Olbermann) Says Right’s Goal Is Obama’s Death
Dan Savage, who writes the “Savage Love” column, is a take-no-prisoners commentator. He describes the Republican “Birchers and Birthers” like Michelle Bachmann as “bat crap crazy” and excoriates Democrats for “lying down” when they should be fighting back. Tonight he…


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The Apparent Unmotivated Idiocy of Labor Union Members, Especially Teachers
Steven Brill has a long essay in the New Yorker about the long process required to fire teachers in New York City. Now, any discussion of due process, whether in firings or criminal justice, inevitably can stack the deck by…


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Irresponsibly Following the Congressional Budget Office
Suppose that a prominent member of Congress were to press for spending an additional $450 billion a year over the next three years on infrastructure projects. Suppose that they did this at a time when the unemployment rate was near…






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ThinkFast: September 2, 2009

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:34 am by HL

ThinkFast: September 2, 2009
The White House is “putting the final touches on a new strategy” to push health care reform that will have President Obama specifying what he “wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots.” “We’re entering a new season,” said senior adviser David Axelrod. “We’re going to approach it […]

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The White House is “putting the final touches on a new strategy” to push health care reform that will have President Obama specifying what he “wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots.” “We’re entering a new season,” said senior adviser David Axelrod. “We’re going to approach it in a different way. The president is going to be very active.”

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the stimulus appears to be “helping the US climb out of the worst recession in decades.” Economists say that the stimulus funding is fueling growth well above where it would be without government action.

In “another piece of evidence that the economy was pulling out of recession,” the U.S. manufacturing sector grew in August after 18 months of severe struggles. President Obama called the numbers “a sign that we’re on the path to economic recovery.”

Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage,” according to a new study of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. “The study, the most comprehensive examination of wage-law violations in a decade, also found that 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week.”

In a declaration to a federal court on Monday, the C.I.A. refused “to make public hundreds of pages of internal documents about the agency’s defunct detention and interrogation program” by invoking national security. “There’s really no distance at all between this declaration and the declarations the C.I.A. was filing during the Bush administration,” said ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer.

57 percent: Americans who oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. The number is a new all-time high, “up 11 points since April.” The opposition is highest amongst Democrats and independents, while Republicans strongly support the war.

A U.N. report released today finds that the opium cultivation in Afghanistan has fallen sharply. The report notes that the decline is largely due to “an excess supply” of the drug. The Obama administration has also “changed course on its opium policy here, moving away from eradication efforts favored by the Bush administration that senior officials now say wasted millions of dollars.”

The State Department has renewed a contract with controversial military contractor Xe, formerly known as Blackwater. Xe’s subsidiary Presidential Airways will continue to provide helicopter transport for embassy employees in Iraq as the State Department works to implement a new contract with another security organization, Dyncorp International.

And finally: Sarah Palin will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference of CLSA, a Hong Kong-based brokerage. Many observers were questioning why Palin, who lacks significant foreign policy knowledge, would be invited. Business Insider now reports that CLSA — well-known for its “cheeky takes on investment research” — may be playing a practical joke. In the past, they’ve polled Asian fortune tellers for index targets” and “hired anime cartoonists to draw Japanese research. … They are a real research firm, it’s just that they love to sprinkle in some hilarity every now and then as a smart marketing gimmick.”

Follow ThinkProgress on Twitter.

Verizon Sponsoring Anti-Climate Rally Backed By Coal Giant Massey Energy
On Labor Day, tens of thousands of people will be gathering for the coal-powered “Friends of America Rally” in Holden, WV. The point of the gathering is to rail against the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation. It will feature right-wing guests such as Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent (who once ranted about killing Barack Obama and […]

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On Labor Day, tens of thousands of people will be gathering for the coal-powered “Friends of America Rally” in Holden, WV. The point of the gathering is to rail against the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation. It will feature right-wing guests such as Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent (who once ranted about killing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton), and is being pushed by mountaintop-removal mining company Massey Energy. Last week, Massey CEO Don Blankenship even recorded a video inviting people to attend the rally, saying they would learn about how “environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs.” Watch it:

The sponsors for the rally are mostly regional oil, gas, and coal companies. However, the list also includes the Science and Public Policy Institute — a fringe climate-denial organization — and Verizon Wireless. CREDO Action recently launched a campaign calling on Verizon to drop its sponsorship. CREDO Political Director Becky Bond contacted Verizon’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Gerace to inform him that that CREDO would be launching a campaign against Verizon. Gerace responded by disparaging Bond:

This is how our response is going over with the activists. Becky once lived in a tree for a while. At least now I know where the emails are coming from.

For the record, Bond never lived in a tree. Verizon’s vice president of federal government relations also sits on the board of the global-warming denier National Association of Manufacturers.

Blankenship recently gained attention because the Supreme Court rebuked him for buying West Virginia judges. He has called opponents of his coal “communists,” “atheists,” and “greeniacs” and labeled a cap and trade system a “Ponzi scheme.”

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Laura Merritt told the Charleston Gazette that Verizon’s decision to sponsor the rally was made “at the local level to support the community.” “It wasn’t an effort to take a position on any particular issue,” she added. However, the pro-coal policies that Verizon is now sponsoring actually hurt communities in West Virginia. As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has written:

The coal-dominated economy of West Virginia is a troubling example of the cruelty of coalocracy. Despite $118 million in coal-mining annual income, West Virginia has the nation’s lowest median household income, worst educational services, worst social assistance, the highest population with disabilities, and nearly a quarter of West Virginia children in poverty.

Interestingly, Verizon brags that “environmental stewardship is ingrained in Verizon’s heritage, and the company prides itself on having a positive influence on the environment in which it operates.” It has a whole page devoted to its “green initiatives.” Take action here and tell Verizon that if it really wants to be green, it needs to stop sponsoring global warming denial rallies.


Federal Government Needs Massive Hiring Binge, Study Finds

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Federal Government Needs Massive Hiring Binge, Study Finds
The federal government needs to hire more than 270,000 workers for “mission-critical” jobs over the next three years, a surge prompted in part by the large number of baby-boomer federal workers reaching retirement age, according to the results of a government-wide survey being released Thursday.

The Voice of a New Generation of Veterans
Matt Flavin oversaw a 450-person intelligence unit in Bosnia, deployed overseas with the Navy SEALs and survived combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the challenge now facing the 29-year-old is in Washington, where he is charged with helping President Obama make good on his pledge to expand vetera…

Garamendi Likely Headed to Congress From Calif.
California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) is likely headed to Congress this fall after trumping a crowded field Tuesday in the race to fill a vacant Bay Area House seat.


Too Big to Fail: More Alive Than Ever

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 3rd, 2009 4:30 am by HL

Too Big to Fail: More Alive Than Ever
Nicole Gelinas, City Journal

Hell Hasn’t Broken Out in Iraq
Juan Cole, Salon

After Bruising August, Obama Looks to Hit Reset
Dan Balz, Wash Post