Friday Mashup (9/20/13)

September 20, 2013

  • Stop the presses! It looks like the Repugs FINALLY have their “alternative” to the Affordable Care Act (here)…

    Conservatives representing nearly three-quarters of the House Republican conference unveiled their proposed replacement for President Obama’s healthcare law Wednesday, delivering on a long-delayed GOP promise.

    The bill from the Republican Study Committee would fully repeal the 2010 law and replace it with an expansion of health savings accounts, medical liability reform and the elimination of restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines.

    Ummm – well, in response, I give you mcjoan here

    To be fair, they include all the other non-reform reforms they’ve been rehashing for years—tort reform, buying insurance across state lines, high-risk pools—all the things that don’t actually don’t do anything to address the real problem in our health care system: the increasing, systemic cost of health care. But they don’t include any provision for lower-income people to purchase affordable insurance. They don’t include any of the popular Obamacare provisions, like young adults being able to stay on their parents’ plan or an end to lifetime limits on what insurance will pay.

    So what they’ve really got is tax cuts, as usual. But at least this time they’ll be for the middle class, too. So, progress?

    Because, when it comes to tax cuts (noted by Joan), never forget the following (and here is more wingnut mythology on this subject).

  • Next, did you know that Mikey the Beloved favored reinstituting a 21st-century version of Glass-Steagall (the Depression-era legislation insuring federal bank deposits and separating commercial and investment banking) in 2011 (here)?

    Of course, since we’re now in 2013…

    More than two-and-a-half years later, Fitzpatrick, vice chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, won’t commit to putting Glass-Steagall back in place.

    The Depression-era act was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to insure bank deposits while Glass-Steagall put up a firewall between commercial and investment banks.

    “I support building a wall to protect taxpayers and protect banking customers, I absolutely support that,” Fitzpatrick said.

    But first he wants the administration to implement The Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which includes the Volcker Rule, proposed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, to prohibit banks from risking institutional money in certain speculative investments.

    More Mikey flim-flam BS (and of course, I’m sure Mikey’s newfound ambivalence has not one thing to do with the fact that this legislation was first championed by Dem U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts)…

    As noted here and here, Mikey’s fellow Repug U.S. House brethren want to do away with both Dodd-Frank and the Volcker Rule. But of course, President Hopey Changey is supposed to ride to the rescue and save this country from Mikey and his same-party playmates in the House, right?

    And I’m sure Mikey would be cheering President Obama on every step of the way.

    Sure he would (and as a point of reference, this tells us who was right and who was wrong about repealing Glass-Steagall in 1999…it was a bipartisan failure – opposing it may have been Byron Dorgan’s finest moment).

    And in other financial news related to Congress, it looks like “Man Tan” Boehner and his caucus in the House wants to play chicken with our economy again over the debt ceiling here, even though, as noted here, he said on five different occasions that he wouldn’t do that.

    Oh, and did you know that Number 44 was responsible for this country’s decline in median income, among other downward numbers, according to something called CNS News here?

    Meanwhile, in the world of reality, it should be noted that median income in this country (for the rest of the 99 percent “rabble,” most definitely including your humble narrator) has been declining for at least the last 10 years (here – more on this is here).

  • Continuing, we have Repug U.S. Senator John Thune propagandizing as follows here

    South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune is calling for the Senate to end the Obama administration’s controversial green vehicle loan program in the wake of news that the Department of Energy is selling off the $168 million loan it gave to financially troubled Fisker Automotive.

    “The Obama administration has gotten into the business of picking winners and losers at a significant cost to taxpayers,” said Thune in a statement. “From Fisker and Vehicle Production Group, to the Chinese-owned A123, this administration should not be making questionable investments with the American people’s hard-earned money.”

    I wonder how many people know that the Fisker loan, as well as the loan program itself, stems from the ruinous reign of Obama’s predecessor (here)? And as noted here, Obama supposedly knew that Fisker was missing milestones in 2010, though neither of the docs mentioned in the AP story cited by Media Matters (and probably released to the AP by the Repugs) confirmed that.

    This is a bit of a rehash, I’ll admit; I already pointed out here, in a response to a WaPo column by that dim bulb Charles Lane, that it’s wrong to blame the Obama Administration for the Fisker loan (and besides, when you’re talking about federal loans to startups, some will pay off and some will go bust; what matters is the percentage of the former as opposed to the latter).

    And on the subject of “questionable” money decisions, this tells us that Thune, being a good little Repug from the Karl Rove/Grover Norquist template, sought to repeal the “death tax,” even though it mostly affected 0.1 percent of the households in this country. Also, Thune argued for more defense spending here, which, given how much we outspend the rest of the world, is beyond laughable.

  • Finally, this tells us the following…

    College freshmen that haven’t decided on a major may want to consider a degree in sales and marketing, medicine, health-care research and renewable energy to increase their odds of getting hired upon graduation.

    According to newly-released data from global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, jobs in these fields will be in high demand come 2018. What’s more, the firm finds that students who concentrate on math, science, engineering and technology will have the largest array of job options post-graduation.

    Concentrating on math, science and technology positions will help college grads secure work because these skills cover a vast array of positions in our jobs economy, says John Challenger, president of Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

    “When you get into fields that run across every type of company, it gives you such flexibility in your career,” Challenger says. “So many jobs today require people to have so much communication, through companies’ programs and policies, so that is very important as well.”

    I have no factual information to argue with this claims, but I would say that some context is missing here.

    Let’s start with this item, telling us that employers, five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers that ushered in this era of economic calamity, are STILL pushing to increase H-1B visas for foreign, temporary workers. That’s one prong of the pitchfork, if you will, stabbing U.S. workers (both new and experienced) in the metaphorical “gut.”

    The other is offshoring, which really hasn’t been reined in much by Number 44 (here), partly because he has supported trade deals that make the problem worse (here), including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as noted here (an update is here).

    I know this isn’t an original observation, but it needs to be shouted from the mountaintops; we have a jobs crisis in this country!


    And with all due respect to our young men and women entering college (who, along with their parents, may benefit from reading this), whether or not you choose to major in a STEM-related curriculum or not won’t mean a damn thing until we start investing in this country once more and do everything we possibly can to resolve it.

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    Friday Mashup (12/14/12)

    December 14, 2012
  • With all of the ongoing fiscal cliff kabuki going on, it was only a matter of time before deficit scold Judd Gregg made a return appearance, and he did so recently here

    In the parlance of John Wayne, it is a time to stand and deliver.

    “Stand” in this context means “stand up to” Republican and Democrat special interests.

    Both parties have, as part of their core elements, groups that do not wish to govern.

    Rather, they wish to stay in the corners of the ring and shout — artificially firing up their constituencies so that they can mine their followers for contributions and power.

    On the left, this is the cause of big labor and the AARP. On the right, it is the cause of the self-anointed definers of religious purity and the anti-tax cabal.

    These groups do not want action.

    That’s partly true, actually – no deal is better than a crappy one (oh, by the way, the last I checked, there was an “ic” in the name of the political party I support, as noted here).

    Oh, and did you know that Gregg helped kill the long-term care component of the Affordable Care Act, according to Charles Pierce here (and in case you don’t make it all the way to the end of either of the first two linked articles, allow me to point out that, since leaving the Senate, Gregg has taken up a nice cushy gig as an “international advisor” to Goldman Sachs…more on the “vampire squid,” as Matt Taibbi calls it, from here).

    And by the way, I could find no citation of John Wayne ever speaking the line “stand and deliver,” though Lee Marvin used it in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” in which Wayne co-starred (Marvin spoke the line to James Stewart).

  • Also, I know that continuing to pick on the media wing of the Republican Party is a bit of cruel sport at a certain point, but they do bring it upon themselves after all; as noted here, Obama campaign donor and Google ex-CEO Eric Schmidt (described as “creepy”) is attacked for sheltering money in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

    Didn’t we just finish an election where the nominee of the party Fox supports did the same thing in the Cayman Islands, as noted here?

    Boy, does our corporate media think we’re stoo-pid!

  • Continuing, Mike Moritz opined as follows at the Murdoch Street Journal (here)…

    After a seaside area has been designated as wilderness, when is it considered pristine enough by Washington’s standards? Is it after airplanes have been banned from flying over it? After electricity pylons and telephone cables have been removed, cars and bikers prohibited, the roads torn up? When hikers are forbidden access to trails, and kayakers, sailors and snorkelers banished from the water? When eucalyptus trees and other foreign species are eradicated? Or only after Miwok Indians’ arrowheads have been excavated and placed in a museum?

    Apparently it is none of the above, at least according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Instead, he seems to think that turning a tiny portion of the lovely coastline of California’s Marin County (part of the National Seashore) into the first marine wilderness in the continental United States also requires destroying a family-run oyster operation that has conducted business in the same spot for eight decades.

    So Mr. Salazar recently ordered the business to close within 90 days—a decision that will spell ruin for the Lunny family, owners of Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm, which supplies 40% of California’s oysters.

    The Lunny family, which has made major improvements to the farm operation it took over in 2004, has been hounded for years by a National Park Service with a vendetta so chilling that any rancher on federal lands should be alarmed. Goaded by a clutch of environmental groups, the Park Service has resorted to tactics that might have come straight from Nixon’s dirty-tricks department. For instance, the Park Service alleged that the farm’s oyster boats disturbed the quiet of the area, but the measurements used were revealed to have been taken in New Jersey—and involved jet skis.

    Who exactly is Mike Moritz? As noted here, he’s a well-heeled venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, California; he also is a prominent supporter of President Obama, as Wikipedia tells us (I have a suspicion that there’s more going on here, but that’s all I have for the moment).

    More on this is noted in this story (and it looks like the person handling the litigation here is Dan Epstein of the conservative front group “Cause of Action”).

    To me, though (and based on this), Kevin Lunny took a gamble in 2004 and lost (and I think the whole “noise” thing involving the NJ park rangers is much ado about zilch).

    The bottom line, IMHO according to the Daily Kos post, is as follows (from the comments)…

    (The Point Reyes National Seashore, where Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm is located) was PRESERVED (in 1962 by JFK, and designated a marine wilderness in 1976). That means it’s for the environment and recreation FIRST. Ranching was specified in the enabling language as a compatible use so long as it was consistent with the natural resource values. Mariculture was NOT.

    To me, there’s the potential for a rather dangerous precedent to be set here. If the decision to keep the oyster farm stands, then that means that federal laws and treaties affecting natural resources can be overturned by states in the name of preserving commerce.

    And if that happens, does anyone in this country seriously think the right-wing desecration of the environment will come to a halt over the fate of an oyster bed?

  • Next, I just want to add a little more about the decision of the illustrious governor of the commonwealth of PA, Tom Corbett, to let the feds run the health care exchange instead of the state (here)…

    “Health care reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars,” Corbett said in the press release. “Therefore, I have decided not to pursue a state-based health insurance exchange at this time. It would be irresponsible to put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written.”

    In response, here is some background on the exchanges, which apparently Corbett had no desire to actually read. It should also be noted that both Michael Leavitt, the HSS Secretary under Dubya (who had issues like everyone else in Bushco, but actually “found the nut” for a change here) said that the states should set up the exchanges (with Repug former Senate Majority Leader – and MD – Bill Frist saying the same thing here…see the Leavitt note). In addition, this tells us that, as employers drop Medicare, more seniors are turning to the exchanges for care.

    Oh, and did I note that Corbett committed PA to running its own exchange here (in November of last year…near the bottom of the article)?

    And when it comes to PA and demagoguery on the health care law, you just know that Mikey the Beloved, our mistake of a U.S. Congressional Rep from PA-08, had to have a say (here…and how funny is it to hear a Teahadist like Mikey complaining about President Obama and his “ideology”)…

    (Fitzpatrick) said the scheduled reduction of about 30 percent in Medicare reimbursement payments to health providers at year’s end and the federal debt limit almost certain to be reached this winter should be part of current fiscal cliff negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.

    “Singling out one piece of the puzzle without seeing how all the other pieces can fit together, while politically expedient for some, is reckless and just bad policymaking,” Fitzpatrick said.

    In response, allow me to provide the following from here

    Now it is true that the law envisions reductions in Medicare. And some of that money will help pay for the rest of the law. And there are problems in some places with doctors not being willing to accept Medicare patients. But those two things aren’t actually connected.

    And if THEY aren’t connected on health care, then you’d better believe that the debt limit isn’t either (care for some oranges with your apples and pomegranates, Mikey?). And we are talking about health care here, aren’t we, Mikey?

    Continuing with the NPR story…

    The problem with Medicare pay for doctors actually predates passage of the health law by more than a decade — it’s a preexisting condition, if you will, (Harold Pollack, a professor of public health policy at the University of Chicago) says. “And every year, Congress has to go through the song and dance with something called the doctor fix to prevent Medicare fees from a fairly catastrophic reduction. That has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Health reform does not cut physician fees.”

    But wait, there’s more (here)…

    (Fitzpatrick), in a statement issued jointly by 11 Republican members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, said Corbett made the right call (on the exchanges).

    “The President’s health care law was passed nearly three years ago and yet the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to issue clear guidance to states…”

    Really, Mikey? Try reading this once more (same link as the one for Corbett).

    There are times when I honestly don’t know how this thoroughly unprincipled liar can bear to look at himself in the mirror.

  • Further, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction,” as James Wolcott called him, is baaaack to claim, among other things, that Number 44 is going to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction (here)…

    Such Obama supporters may soon notice that the new federal and state tax rates, the envisioned end to traditional deductions such as those for blue-state high taxes and for mortgage interest, and means testing for most government services are aimed precisely at themselves.

    Meanwhile, Obama’s proposal to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction “hit a wall of resistance,” as noted here, for earners under $250 K (and may that continue to be the case).

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise)…well, it just wouldn’t be the season without more hilarity from this bunch, would it (here)…

    The 2012 White House “Holiday” card spotlights the Obama’s family Portuguese water dog — instead of Christmas.

    The black and white illustration was designed by Iowa artist Larassa Kabel and shows Bo the dog, wearing a scarf, while frolicking in the snow on the South Lawn of a blurred White House.

    The inside of the card reads:”This season, may your home be filled with family, friends, and the joy of the holidays.” The card is signed by the entire First Family — along with Bo’s paw print.

    Vanity Fair deemed this year’s Obama ‘Holiday’ card his best-ever in a posting titled, “Bo Obama: the True Meaning of Christmas.”

    Returning to the world of reality, this tells us the following…

    …White House holiday cards have not included the word ‘Christmas’ during the terms of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It was not included in the final six years of former President Ronald Reagan’s term. This year’s card (December 2005) does not mark a departure from the practices of recent previous administrations.

    And while we’re on the subject of the alleged “war on Christmas” by The Roger Ailes BS Factory, let’s not forget that we have a case of “physician, heal thyself” as noted here.

    God bless us every one.


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