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Archive for May 27th, 2011

Obama Burned by Toast

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Obama Burned by Toast
When the time came for President Obama to deliver his toast to Queen Elizabeth Tuesday night, the meticulously planned state dinner at Buckingham Palace turned awkward. When Obama said the words “to her majesty the Queen,” it caused the band present to play Britain’s national anthem, leaving the president alone in his toast.



Late Late Night FDL: Beck (and Page)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Beck (and Page)
Jeff BeckBeck’s Bolero, Immigrant Song (with Jimmie Page), and The Peter Gunn Theme, at Beck’s 2009 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Jeff BeckBeck’s Bolero, Immigrant Song (with Jimmie Page), and The Peter Gunn Theme, at Beck’s 2009 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

What’s on your mind?


Exclusive: Ry Cooder’s ‘No Banker Left Behind’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Exclusive: Ry Cooder’s ‘No Banker Left Behind’
The legendary musician tells Robert Scheer that his new album, including a song inspired by one of Scheer’s columns, was written out of feeling frustrated, helpless and angry with current events.

The legendary musician tells Robert Scheer that his new album, including a song inspired by one of Scheer’s columns, was written out of feeling frustrated, helpless and angry with current events.

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Ain’t Nothin’ but a Guy Thing
Seventeen-year-old Scotty McCreery just won “American Idol,” making him the sixth guy to win in 10 competitions. That’s not so unbalanced overall, but McCreery is the fourth male singer in the last four years to win. Viewers of the show select the winner, either by phone, text or online. This year Fox recorded 122 million votes.

Seventeen-year-old Scotty McCreery just won “American Idol,” making him the sixth guy to win in 10 competitions. That’s not so unbalanced overall, but McCreery is the fourth male singer in the last four years to win. Viewers of the show select the winner, either by phone, text or online. This year Fox recorded 122 million votes.

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Congress Sends Patriot Act Extension To Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

Congress Sends Patriot Act Extension To Obama
WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday passed a four-year extension of post-Sept. 11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. Votes…

Critics Of Joe Arpaio, “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” Call Arrest Stings A Publicity Stunt
Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” More likely, he is its most self-promotional. Arpaio has written two books…

Patriot Act Extension Signed By Obama
WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday passed a four-year extension of post-Sept. 11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. Votes…

HuffPost TV: WATCH: Howard Fineman Discusses GOP Governors On ‘Hardball’
HuffPost’s Howard Fineman appeared Thursday night on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ to discuss the falling popularity of Republican governors in places like Florida and…

Michele Bachmann Plans Presidential Announcement In Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican Michele Bachmann is making plans for a presidential campaign announcement next month in Waterloo, Iowa, the city where the Minnesota…


Fox’s Tantaros Falsely Claims Ryan Plan “Doesn’t Drive Up The Costs” Of Seniors’ Health Care

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Fox’s Tantaros Falsely Claims Ryan Plan “Doesn’t Drive Up The Costs” Of Seniors’ Health Care

Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros recently claimed that Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal would not “drive up the costs” of Medicare because “[Ryan is] bringing it to the private market.” In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that under Ryan’s plan, seniors’ out-of-pocket health care costs would more than double.

Tantaros Falsely Claims Ryan’s Plan “Doesn’t Drive Up The Costs” Of Seniors’ Health Care

Tantaros: Ryan’s Plan “Doesn’t Drive Up The Costs” Of Seniors’ Health Care Because It “Bring[s] It To The Private Market.” On the May 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, during an exchange with Fox News contributor Juan Williams, Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros claimed that Ryan’s budget plan “doesn’t drive up the costs” of health care for seniors because “[h]e’s actually bringing it to the private market. That incentivizes insurers.” From the broadcast:

WILLIAMS: Now we have a proposition here from Paul Ryan, who I acknowledge has taken a necessary first step because we’ve got to deal with entitlements if we want to get the deficit under control, but it is a plan that’s going to have an adverse effect in terms of the cost of health care for seniors, just as President Clinton described. Health care costs are not static. They keep rising.

[…]

TANTAROS: Well, you talk about costs going up under the Ryan plan. How? He’s actually bringing it to the private market. That incentivizes insurers —

WILLIAMS: No, I said —

TANTAROS: Hold on a minute — incentivizes insurers —

WILLIAMS: No, no, but I’m saying, it drives up the costs —

TANTAROS: No, it doesn’t drive up the costs. And I’ll tell you why.

WILLIAMS: No, no, hold on — health care costs, independent of Paul Ryan’s plan —

TANTAROS: I will tell you —

WILLIAMS: — are going up — higher than the rate of inflation.

TANTAROS: First of all, Juan, health care costs have spiked since Obamacare was passed. Premiums have gone through the roof.

WILLIAMS: They have not spiked, come on!

TANTAROS: What Ryan’s plan does is he puts it in the hands of insurers, and he says compete against each other. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/26/11]

But CBO Projects Ryan’s Plan Would Increase Total Cost Of Seniors’ Health Care…

CBO Report: “A Private Health Insurance Plan Covering The Standardized Benefit Would … Be More Expensive Currently Than Traditional Medicare.” On April 5, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report analyzing Ryan’s budget proposal. The CBO noted that Ryan’s plan would privatize Medicare, stating it “would convert the current Medicare program to a system under which beneficiaries received premium support payments–payments that would be used to help pay the premiums for a private health insurance policy and would grow over time with overall consumer prices.” In its analysis, it determined that such private health care plans would “be more expensive currently than traditional Medicare” because “[b]oth administrative costs (including profits) and payment rates to providers are higher for private plans than for Medicare.” From the report:

Chairman Ryan’s proposal would affect not only federal spending for Medicare but also Medicare beneficiaries’ spending for their health care. To quantify the impact of the proposal on beneficiaries’ spending, CBO followed these steps: First, the agency estimated what total health care spending (including the costs paid by health insurers and out-of-pocket expenses for covered services) would be in 2011 for a typical 65-year-old who had a private health insurance plan with a benefit package comparable to the services covered by the Medicare program. That package is dubbed the “standardized benefit,” and CBO used the total health care spending for a typical 65-year-old with a standardized benefit in a private plan as a benchmark for this analysis.

[…]

A private health insurance plan covering the standardized benefit would, CBO estimates, be more expensive currently than traditional Medicare. Both administrative costs (including profits) and payment rates to providers are higher for private plans than for Medicare. Those higher costs would be offset partly but not fully by savings from lower utilization stemming from two sources. First, private health insurers would probably impose greater utilization management than occurs in Medicare. Second, private plans might restrict enrollees’ ability to purchase supplemental insurance plans; enrollees would thus face higher out-of-pocket costs than they do in Medicare, and that increased cost sharing would encourage lower utilization. On net, for a typical 65-year-old in 2011, CBO estimates that average spending in traditional Medicare will be 89 percent of (that is, 11 percent less than) the spending that would occur if that same package of benefits was purchased from a private insurer (see Figure 1).

Moreover, CBO projects that total health care spending for a typical beneficiary covered by the standardized benefit under the proposal would grow faster than such spending for the same beneficiary in traditional Medicare under either of CBO’s longterm scenarios. For the period before 2030, the difference in projected growth rates occurs primarily because CBO expects that the payments to providers in Medicare will grow more slowly (especially under the extended-baseline scenario) than those in the private market.

As a result, total health care spending for a typical 65-year-old in Medicare under the extended-baseline scenario in 2022 would be 66 percent of total spending with a private plan with the standardized benefit; in 2030, the figure would be 60 percent of that benchmark. Total health care spending in Medicare under the alternative fiscal scenario would be a larger share of total spending with a private plan–72 percent in 2022 and 71 percent in 2030–because payments to providers in Medicare are assumed to grow at a faster rate than under the extended-baseline scenario. [“Long-Term Analysis of a Budget Proposal by Chairman Ryan,” CBO, 4/5/11, emphasis added]

CBPP: “In 2022 … CBO Estimates That Total Health Care Expenditures For A Typical 65-Year-Old Would Be Almost 40 Percent Higher With Private Coverage Under The Ryan Plan.” From an April 7 report on Ryan’s plan by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP):

Moreover, CBO estimates that the total health care costs attributable to Medicare beneficiaries would be considerably higher under the private insurance plans they would purchase under the Ryan plan than under a continuation of traditional Medicare, because private plans have higher administrative expenses and higher payment rates for providers. 

[…]

In 2022, the first year the voucher would apply, CBO estimates that total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the Ryan plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare. [CBPP, 4/7/11, emphasis in the original]

…And Would Double Seniors’ Out-Of-Pocket Health Care Costs

AP: “CBO: Big Health Cost Shift To Elderly In GOP Plan.” From an April 6 Associated Press article:

Most future retirees would pay considerably more for health care under the new budget proposed by House Republicans, according to an analysis by nonpartisan experts for Congress that signals problems ahead for the plan.

The fiscal blueprint would put people now 54 and younger in a different kind of health care program when they retire, unlike the Medicare that their parents and grandparents have known. Instead of coverage for a set of benefits prescribed from Washington, they’d get a federal payment to buy private insurance from a choice of government-regulated plans.

“A typical beneficiary would spend more for health care under the proposal,” the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in an analysis released late Tuesday.

The CBO said over time future retirees would pay much more, partly because the Medicare benefits package would be more expensive to deliver through private insurers. By 2030, the government payment would cover only about one-third of the typical retiree’s total health care costs, the budget office said.

The sweeping fiscal plan by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would reduce total federal spending, deficits and debt, saving money for federal taxpayers. But it would be tempered by a cost shift to future retirees. [Associated Press, 4/6/11]

CBO: “A Typical 65-Year-Old Would Pay 61 Percent Of The Benchmark In 2022 Under the Proposal” As Compared To 27 Or 30 Percent Under Alternative Scenarios. From the April CBO report about Ryan’s budget proposal:

Under the proposal, most beneficiaries who receive premium support payments would pay more for their health care than if they participated in traditional Medicare under either of CBO’s long-term scenarios. CBO estimated that, in 2030, a typical 65-year-old would pay 68 percent of the benchmark under the proposal, compared with 25 percent under the extended-baseline scenario and 30 percent under the alternative fiscal scenario.

[…]

After assessing the total costs that would be incurred for a typical 65-year-old, CBO estimated the government’s share and the beneficiary’s share of those costs under the proposal and under CBO’s long-term scenarios. The proposal would set the premium support payment for a typical 65-year-old at $8,000 in 2022, approximately equal to government spending on the average 65-year-old beneficiary in Medicare under the extended-baseline scenario in that year. In other words, the government contribution to that beneficiary’s health care costs under the proposal would be approximately equal to the government’s contribution to the beneficiary’s costs through Medicare under current law. Hence, measured relative to the benchmark, the government’s contribution in 2022 would be similar under the proposal (at 39 percent), the extended-baseline scenario (39 percent), and the alternative fiscal scenario (42 percent).

However, because the benchmark would be greater than that with traditional Medicare, a typical beneficiary’s spending–the sum of premiums and out-of-pocket spending–would be greater under the proposal than under traditional Medicare. Specifically, CBO estimated that a typical 65-year-old would pay 61 percent of the benchmark in 2022 under the proposal. In comparison, under the extended-baseline scenario, the typical 65-year-old would pay 27 percent of the benchmark, while under the alternative fiscal scenario, that figure would be 30 percent. [“Long-Term Analysis of a Budget Proposal by Chairman Ryan,” CBO, 4/5/11, emphasis added]

CBPP: CBO Found That Typical Medicare Beneficiary’s “Annual Out-Of-Pocket Costs Would More Than Double.” From the CBPP report:

Since the Ryan proposal would reduce the federal government’s contribution for beneficiaries’ health care costs even as it caused total costs to increase, beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending would rise dramatically.

[…]

CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500.  In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater. 

The report included this graph showing the projected increase in seniors’ health care costs under Ryan’s plan:

CBPP chart

[CBPP, 4/7/11, emphasis in the original]


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Presented By:

Gingriches Rang Up Big Tiffany & Co. Bill While Jeweler Was Lobbying Her House Committee
Tiffany & Co. was actively lobbying the House committee Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista was working for at the time the couple had a revolving charge account with the famed jeweler.



New Hampshire Primary Wide Open

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

New Hampshire Primary Wide Open
Even though Mitt Romney leads most early New Hampshire Republican presidential primary polls, a new WMUR-CNN poll finds a striking 87% said they had no idea who they will end up voting for, while only 4% said they had definitely decided and 9% were leaning.

No Plans to Suspend Palin’s Contract
Fox News does not plan to suspend its contributor contract with Sarah Palin just yet even though she’s about to embark on a campaign-style bus tour, the Daily Caller reports.

Said Bill Shine, the executive vice president of programming at Fox News: “We are not changing Sarah Palin’s status.”


The Meaning of Strauss-Kahn

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

The Meaning of Strauss-Kahn
Thanks to then Embassy of France to the US Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs, and now recently returned Embassy Minister of Finance, Jean-Francois Boittin, I met Dominique Strauss-Kahn for a one-on-one meeting in 1998. Boittin, working single-handedly to correct my over-familiarity…

The Fake Outrage Of The Israel Firsters
There was absolutely nothing about President Barack Obama’s Middle East speech to get excited about. (and even less in his statement following Friday’s meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu). The President did not even attempt to set out an action…


GOP?s Foreign Policy Favorite Tim Pawlenty Confuses Iran and Iraq

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

GOP?s Foreign Policy Favorite Tim Pawlenty Confuses Iran and Iraq

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty came out of the gates swinging on foreign policy, emphasizing it as an area where he had an advantage over other candidates. He described his vision through the prism of playground antics. “[What’s] always true is [when] you’re dealing with thugs and bullies they understand strength, they don’t respect weakness,” he said. Compared to Herman Cain, he might have been right. But having a better grasp than the rest of the GOP field does not exactly qualify the former Minnesota governor as one of the nation’s top foreign policy minds.

Just four days after announcing his bid for the Republican nod, Pawlenty confused Iran and Iraq on the campaign trail:

PAWLENTY: You’re talking about Iran?

REPORTER: Exactly.

PAWLENTY: Yea, well I think the situation now in Iran is such that Secretary Gates is negotiating with whether the United States Military will be there beyond the end of this year. And they’re looking to the Iranians to see if they invite the Americans to stay, invite us to stay. And if they do invite us to stay at some very reduced level I think the United States will be wise, until we make sure that they get to the next level of stability, to accept that invitation. So if Iran makes that invitation by the end of the year, leaving a residual force, a greatly reduced force, but a residual force that would be there for a temporary amount of time. Until they could establish much better air security, until they can develop their intelligence –

REPORTER: You mean Iraq not Iran, because Iran-

PAWLENTY: I’m sorry, Iraq, yes, yes. You said-, did you say Iran or Iraq?

Ben Smith highlights the video:

One might be tempted to excuse the mistake due to all the background noise, but Pawlenty clearly confirms with the questioner that U.S. policy toward Iran is in question, and the questioner confirms. Pawlenty then goes into a spiel about Iraq, noting the issue of U.S. troops remaining there.

Pawlenty focused early on foreign policy. In September 2009 at a religious right conference, he labeled Obama’s policies toward missile defense and attempted negotiations with Iran as “appeasement” — a stance conservative blogger Daniel Larison called “hawkish ignorance” at the time. Since then, he’s been making strident foreign policy attacks against the Obama administration.

Neoconservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin seems clear that Pawlenty is her top pick in terms of foreign policy, declaring him “forceful and precise on national security” and, more recently, giving him credit for “bashed the president on his Middle East speech.” Commentary Magazine recently said, “Pawlenty has a chance to step to the fore” of the establishment candidates on foreign policy.

His latest gaffe on the trail will not kill his campaign, of course. But that a candidate for a presidential nomination who is given plaudits by the right for his foreign policy confuses two very different, albeit similar sounding, countries should be a little disconcerting.

Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down GOP Gov. Scott Walker?s Anti-Collective Bargaining Law

Earlier this year, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and the Wisconsin GOP set off a nationwide Main Street Movement by pushing legislation that would strip the state’s public workers of many of their collective bargaining rights. Walker signed the legislation into law in March.

Now, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi has struck down Walker’s anti-union law, saying its passage violated the state’s open meetings law and “the public’s trust”:

On Thursday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law by calling the meeting without a 24-hour notice. She said that renders the law void. She had put the law on hold while she considered the case.

Sumi said violating the open-meetings law betrays the public’s trust.

“The court must consider the potential damage to public trust and confidence in government if the Legislature is not held to the same rules of transparency that it has created for other governmental bodies,” she wrote in a 33-page decision. “Our form of government depends on citizens’ trust and confidence in the process by which our elected officials make laws, at all levels of government.”

The “state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for June 6 to determine whether it will” take on the same suit against the law. Lawmakers “could also pass the law again in order to nullify open meeting concerns that led to the judge’s ruling” today. It’s worth noting that while the open meeting law has been an issue since before the law passed, Wisconsin Republicans have thus far refused to re-pass the legislation, leading some to speculate they wouldn’t have the votes to pass it again.


Rep. Barney Frank says he helped then-domestic partner get hired by Fannie Mae in early 1990s

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 27th, 2011 4:34 am by HL

Rep. Barney Frank says he helped then-domestic partner get hired by Fannie Mae in early 1990s

WASHINGTON — Rep. Barney Frank says he helped his then-domestic partner land a job with Fannie Mae in the 1990s while Frank was serving on the House panel overseeing the mortgage company.

The Massachusetts Democrat said Thursday he had praised Herb Moses’ qualifications when a Fannie Mae executive approached him and asked about Moses. The executive had once worked on Capitol Hill and knew that Frank and Moses were live-in partners.

Frank, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, was responding to a new book that mentioned his role in helping Moses get the job. Frank called any questions about a conflict of interest “ridiculous.” Congress at the time was considering legislation to improve oversight of the mortgage agency. A Fannie Mae spokesman declined to comment.

Read full article >>

Pawlenty says that, as president, he would sign Ryan Medicare plan

MILFORD, N.H. — Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said Thursday that, as president, he would sign a highly contentious Republican plan to overhaul Medicare — but only if no other proposals made it out of Congress.

Pawlenty, who officially kicked off his presidential campaign on Monday and has been touring the nation with stops in Iowa, Florida, Washington and New Hampshire, went further than he has in previous appearances in which he has praised the “courage” and “leadership” of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the author of the Medicare proposal. But he stopped short of supporting the details of the plan.

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Obama, GOP unveil competing plans for job growth

After months of fighting over spending, taxes and how to rein in the national debt, President Obama and congressional Republicans on Thursday turned the spotlight to the nation’s anemic economic growth and announced competing plans to reduce the cost of doing business for American companies.

The Obama administration said it would seek to scale back or eliminate hundreds of regulations affecting workplace safety, environmental protection, endangered species, hospitals and other subjects, saying the measures would save businesses billions of dollars a year.

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