Saturday Mashup (5/4/13)

May 5, 2013
  • This recent opinion column in the Murdoch Street Journal by Repug U.S. House Rep John Campbell of California tells us the following…

    There were many contributors to the 2008 financial crisis—including unsound housing loans and mortgage-backed securities, Fannie Mae FNMA -0.12%and Freddie Mac, FMCC -0.85%excess leverage by major financial institutions, and regulatory failures. Car and truck loans were not among the problems, and their lenders in any event pose no “systemic” risk to the financial system.

    And yet, amazingly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—a creature of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed to correct and prevent the causes of, and problems that led to, the 2008 crisis—wants to change the way car loans are made. The CFPB’s proposal is a noxious attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and is likely to make a mess of one part of the consumer-loan industry that works.

    I’ll explain what is wrong here shortly.

    Currently, if you apply for a car loan through a bank, credit union or one of the car manufacturers like Ford Motor Credit or Toyota Financial, you are judged on matters such as your credit score, income and debt. The financial institution won’t know your race or ethnicity or even necessarily your gender. It will approve or disapprove the application and offer you an interest rate based on the data. That’s just as it should be.

    But it is not good enough for the CFPB. In a quest to make sure that all individuals falling within the “protected classes” under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act get the same interest rate as those who are not covered by it, the agency wants financial institutions to guess your race, ethnicity and gender based on your name and the address on your application. Put bluntly, they want lenders to profile you.

    The CFPB should withdraw this outrageous and abusive guidance immediately and focus on helping consumers in those areas in which the need for reform truly exists.

    Campbell is actually right about most of that without the vitriol (shocking, I know), but here is the problem. The “financial institution” may not have the demographic information on the person trying to purchase a vehicle, but the dealer sure does. And auto dealers have been known to engage in a practice called “dealer markup,” which the CFPB is trying to address, as noted here

    When consumers finance automobile purchases from an auto dealership, the dealer often facilitates indirect financing through a third party lender. The dealer plays a valuable role by originating the loan and finding financing sources. In this indirect auto financing process, the lender usually provides the dealer with an interest rate that the lender will accept for a given consumer.

    Indirect auto lenders often allow the dealer to charge the consumer an interest rate that is costlier for the consumer than the rate the lender gave the dealer. This increase in rate is typically called “dealer markup.” The lender shares part of the revenue from that increased interest rate with the dealer. As a result, markups generate compensation for dealers while frequently giving them the discretion to charge consumers different rates regardless of consumer creditworthiness. Lender policies that provide dealers with this type of discretion increase the risk of pricing disparities among consumers based on race, national origin, and potentially other prohibited bases. Research indicates that markup practices may lead to African Americans and Hispanics being charged higher markups than other, similarly situated, white consumers.

    Oh, and Campbell is a former auto dealership owner who apparently rents properties to dealerships, as noted here (um, want to try and find someone a little more objective to write a column like this? And Campbell is #40 on the list, by the way).

    If auto dealers and the lenders weren’t engaging in this type of nonsense, then there would be no need for the CFPB to step in (more info is here). But since they do…

  • Next, I know I teed off a bit on South Carolina a day or so ago, and with good reason I believe. And here is more cause for indignation…

    The Supreme Court may have ruled ObamaCare is constitutional, but implementing the controversial federal law would become a crime in South Carolina if a bill passed by the state House becomes law.

    The bill, approved Wednesday by a vote of 65-39, declares President Obama’s signature legislation “null and void.” Whereas the law that Obama pushed and Congress passed is known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, South Carolina’s law would be known as the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act.

    It would prohibit state officials and employees from “enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws” and “establish criminal penalties and civil liability” for those who engage in activities that aid the implementation of ObamaCare.

    So it looks like “The Palmetto State” is going to try the whole tenther, “nullification” BS to get around that socialist, big gumint Kenyan Muslim Marxist pre-dee-dint of ours.

    However, as noted here

    Steering South Carolina’s uninsured residents away from seeking primary treatment in emergency rooms and into free health clinics is a worthy idea. But it wouldn’t come close to matching the benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income South Carolinians.

    Last week, S.C. House Republicans launched a proposal designed to serve as an alternative to complying with the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. The proposal would pay hospitals $35 million next year to guide the uninsured to the state’s 20 free federally qualified health clinics.

    The plan also calls for giving the clinics $10 million next year to treat those patients. The money would come from $62 million the state Department of Health and Human Services received last year but did not spend.

    The plan also includes $20 million – $6 million in state money and $14 million from the federal government – to pay rural hospitals for the entire cost of uncompensated care they provide for low-income patients. Smaller amounts would go to other efforts to expand and improve care, such as $3 million for a program to repay the student loans of doctors who agree to work in underserved areas of the state.

    But not a single new person would be insured under the plan. By contrast, expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would result in about 500,000 more uninsured residents being covered.

    Also, here is some background on Bill Clinton’s 2012 Democratic National Convention speech in which he outlined the threat to Medicaid expansion from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and her pals in charges of states across this country (oh, and has noted here, South Carolina ranks 44th out of 50 states in median income).

    Truly a miracle of Republican Party “governance,” my fellow prisoners…

  • Further, Charles Lane of the WaPo “wanks” as follows here

    Of all the arguments for the Obama administration’s green-energy loan program, one of the worst is that federal aid leverages private capital.

    Consider Fisker Automotive. In August 2009, this wannabe plug-in electric hybrid car company was hard up for cash to pay suppliers and faced potential layoffs.

    A green-energy loan was the only hope, Fisker executive Bernhard Koehler explained in an e-mail to the Department of Energy — because it would help bring in private money. “We are oversubscribed in this equity round with the DOE support — and nowhere without it,” Koehler pleaded.

    A month later, in September 2009, the Energy Department approved a $529 million low-interest loan. Vice President Biden stood before the proposed site of a Fisker plant in Delaware and described the department’s program as “seed money that will return back to the American consumer in billions and billions and billions of dollars of good new jobs.”

    Alas, government loans could not overcome Fisker’s fundamental problem: no experience mass-producing automobiles, let alone the complex battery-powered luxury cars that it proposed to sell for more than $100,000. Today, the company is nearly bankrupt; taxpayers are on the hook for $171 million, and private investors are probably nearly wiped out. (The story is well told, with documents, at PrivCo.com.)

    In response, I give you the following from here

    First, Fisker originally requested the federal funds it received in 2008, before President Obama took office. Why? Because the Bush/Cheney administration urged the company to participate in the federal loan program, seeing it as a worthwhile investment. If Republicans are convinced Fisker should never have received aid in the first place, they’re lashing out at the wrong president.

    Second, to condemn the federal loan program because one company struggled after receiving assistance is silly — some of the companies in the Department of Energy’s program fared well, some didn’t. It happens. As Michael Grunwald explained a while back, “That’s capitalism. That’s lending. That’s life. As one Obama aide told me: Some students who get Pell grants are going to end up drunks on the street.” It’s not as if those failures discredit the entire Pell grant program.

    And third, (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell) Issa may want to get off his high horse — in 2009, he urged the Department of Energy to extend federal support to an electronic car manufacturer named Aptera, which declared bankruptcy soon after.

    In the case of this one company, it didn’t work out well, but others have fared far better. There’s no reason for Republicans to throw a fit.

    Silly Steve Benen – what else are the Repugs going to do besides throw a fit? Engage in the tedious, difficult work of actual governance? What a quaint notion (removing my tongue from my cheek).

  • Continuing, I came across this curious item from Think Progress recently…

    The Florida legislature passed a bill this week to impose new obstacles on challenging the death penalty in a state with the greatest number of exonerations. The bill’s intent was to shorten the time inmates wait for execution by imposing time limits for appeals and post-conviction motions, but DNA and other evidence often emerges years after a crime is committed – a concern that didn’t seem to faze Republican proponents of the bill who said swift justice is “not about guilt or innocence”:

    “Is swift justice fair justice?” asked Democratic party Senator Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa attorney who voted against the bill. “We have seen cases where, years later, convicted people were exonerated,” she said. […]

    But Republican Senator Rob Bradley said, “this is not about guilt or innocence, it’s about timely justice.” Frivolous appeals designed only for delay are not fair to victims and their families, he said. […]

    “Only God can judge,” Matt Gaetz, a Republican who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, said last week during House debate. “But we sure can set up the meeting.”

    For the record, Matt Gaetz is the son of Don Gaetz, who is in charge of the Florida State Senate. And this tells us that Gaetz the Younger worked in 2010 to defeat amendments that would prevent voting districts from being gerrymandered (which the Repugs have elevated to an art form…the surprisingly forthright excuse – though still a morally bankrupt one – is that the amendments would blunt a “conservative comeback”).

    Florida’s junior state representative also favored repealing Florida’s “Cap and Trade” law here (and get a load of his full-on wingnut language attacking former governor Charlie Crist…some BS about California romance, or something). And based on this, Gaetz the Elder is no prize either.

    However, I don’t believe that M. Gaetz has a right to involve himself on legal matters, at least not for a good while anyway, based on this.

  • Finally, William McNabb wrote the following in the Journal recently (returning to the “money” theme…McNabb is CEO of The Vanguard Group, the mutual fund investing behemoth based in Malvern, Pa.)…

    We estimate that since 2011 the rise in overall policy uncertainty has created a $261 billion cumulative drag on the economy (the equivalent of more than $800 per person in the country). Without this uncertainty tax, real U.S. GDP could have grown an average 3% per year since 2011, instead of the recorded 2% average in fiscal years 2011-12. In addition, the U.S. labor market would have added roughly 45,000 more jobs per month over the past two years. That adds up to more than one million jobs that we could have had by now, but don’t.

    At Vanguard we estimate that the spike in policy uncertainty surrounding the debt-ceiling debate alone has resulted in a cumulative economic loss of $112 billion over the past two years. To put that figure in perspective, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration may reduce total funding by $85 billion in 2013. Clearly, the U.S. debt situation is the economic issue of our generation.

    Spoken as a charter member of the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class that continues to skate while the “99 percent rabble” lives paycheck to paycheck…

    Fortunately, Ezra Klein responded as follows here, citing the work of fellow “Wonk Blog” contributor Mike Konczal…

    How do (the authors of the “uncertainty” studies McNabb based his column on) construct the search of newspaper articles for their index, which generates a lot of the movement?

    Their news search index is constructed with four steps. They first isolate their search to a set of articles from 10 major newspapers (USA Today, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal). They then search articles for the term “uncertainty” or “uncertain.” They then filter again for the word “economic” or “economy.” With economic uncertainty flagged, they then filter again for one of the following words to identify government policy: “policy,” “‘tax,” “spending,” “regulation,” “federal reserve,” “budget,” or “deficit.”

    See the problem? We don’t know what specific stories are in their index; however, we can use their search terms listed above to find which articles would have likely qualified. Let’s take a story from their first listed paper, USA Today, “Obama taking aim at GOP pledge on campaign trail,” from August 28, 2010 (for the rest of this post, I’m going to underline the words in quotes that would trigger inclusion in their policy uncertainty index):Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the House GOP lawmakers who crafted the pledge, said “it’s laughable that the president would try to lecture anyone on.” [….] Buck said the pledge was developed to address voter worries about high unemployment and record levels of government and debt.

    “While the president has exploded federal spending and ignored Americans who are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’, the pledge offers a plan to end the economic uncertainty and create jobs, as well as a concrete plan to rein in Washington’s runaway spending spree,” Buck said.

    Spokespeople for the conservative movement tell reporters that President Obama’s policies are causing economic uncertainty. Reporters write it down and publish it. Economic researchers search newspapers for stories about economic uncertainty and policy, and create a policy uncertainty index out of those talking points.

    It’s about jobs. It’s about generating demand. It’s about the utter failure of austerity not just in this country, but all over the world.

    I understand that McNabb and those in his orbit won’t admit the complete and total collapse of their wrongheaded ideology, but it’s despicable to watch them try and craft a narrative justifying their mistakes to the utter ruination of working men, women and families all over the world.

    On a bit of a happier note, though, this tells us that, while our supposed geniuses of finance have a collective freak out over pending “Too Big To Fail” legislation co-sponsored in the Senate by Sherrod Brown (no surprise) and David Vitter (WHAAA????), local community banks appear to have no problem with it.

    And those are the folks (and the credit unions also, let’s not forget) that are gradually digging us out of the financial mess created by the corporate Wall Street criminals. Those are the institutions releasing the loans and making the credit available to return the key sectors of our economy to life, thereby increasing demand and leading to better hiring numbers such as these (a long way to go I know, but improvement).

    community-banks
    And given all of this, I would say that this is a sign o’the times.


  • Friday Mashup Part One (3/19/10)

    March 19, 2010

  • 1) Time to get the WHAAAmbulance for “Governor Appalachian Argentinean Trail” based on this…

    Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina agreed Thursday to pay $74,000 to settle charges that his personal travel and campaign spending violated state ethics laws, but he continued to deny wrongdoing.

    In November, the State Ethics Commission charged Mr. Sanford with 37 ethics violations, including spending taxpayer money on business-class flights, using state aircraft for personal travel and spending campaign funds for noncampaign expenses. The charges surfaced in the wake of his confession last summer to an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.

    Mr. Sanford will pay $2,000 per charge and avoid a hearing. But though he chose not to contest the charges, he insisted he had been held to a stricter and less fair standard than previous governors.

    Really? As noted here…

    How can there be accountability in South Carolina when it seems that there is a direct collusion between the Republican Party, the U.S. Attorney’s office, (the SC State Law Enforcement Divison), and the media to keep these politicians that abuse their elected position in power, and, at worst, mitigate the penalty they get for even the most egregious of crimes they commit?

    The State newspaper would have SC citizen’s believe that the most important thing happening in the state is that taxes on cigarettes should be raised to help alleviate the budget shortfall. In the meantime, you have the Town of Lexington City Council believing they are above the law. You have various police departments in South Carolina abdicating their responsibility, not once, but over and over, in order to protect GOP politician’s (sic).

    The Docudharma post, in addition to Sanford, mentions Repug State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald (a Bushco appointee), and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. All have benefited to one degree or another from the cozy treatment received by the state’s Republican establishment.

    Given this, Sanford shut just shut up and be grateful that he’s still governor, which is enough of a travesty by itself (and that state’s attorney general is little better based on this).

  • 2) Partly out of a sense of masochism I suppose, I’m prone to check the Fix Noise site for the latest wingnut propaganda, and Dana Perino obliged as follows here…

    One of the most humbling parts of serving as the White House press secretary is getting to meet so many of our brave military men and women. It is hard to explain how they affected me — they are professional, courageous, and enthusiastic, as well as serene and grounded. Their decision to volunteer to serve our country — despite the hardships and dangers — made my decisions seem easy by comparison. One of the great joys of having been the press secretary, however, is to have a chance to help vets I get to meet — like Dave Sharpe.

    Dave Sharpe came home from serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and realized his life would never be the same. Unfortunately, due to what he experienced while fighting for his country, he struggled to re-acclimate back into his post-deployment world. He told me he lived in a state of constant despair and could not see a way back to happiness. His official diagnosis was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition affecting millions of our nation’s veterans.

    A friend of his thought that meeting up with a rescue dog could help Dave feel better. He introduced him to a pit-bull puppy named Cheyenne. Their bond was immediate. One night, Dave says he reached a turning point when he woke up pounding on the wall and saw Cheyenne looking up at him. From there, he started to gain control of the difficult emotions he was feeling and drastically improved his condition. Dave says that he and Cheyenne are proof that there’s an incredible human-animal bond that exists and that it can help people many struggling with PTSD.

    I have to tell you that I’m having a hard time coming up with the words to describe how obscene it is that a charter member of Bushco like Perino can actually pretend to care about our veterans when you consider the following (this post by Jon Soltz of VoteVets from last year tells us of the steps to correct this the Obama Administration took in its first 100 days)…

    (Funding of veterans care was) the shame of the Bush administration. The Department of Veterans Affairs was consistently underfunded…The low-point came when then-Secretary Jim Nicholson had to come groveling to Congress for more than a billion dollars in emergency funding, admitting that the administration had not prepared for the boom in returning veterans in need of care, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The underfunding had dramatic consequences across the board – from research and treatment into Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the shameful commonplace practice of veterans having to duct tape their prosthetic limbs, because the VA couldn’t get them decent ones.

    The gap between DOD care and VA care was more like a chasm for many veterans in need of care. Brian McGough, who is now legislative director for VoteVets.org, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. The gap in his care between active and veteran status was so big that he had to apply for unemployment insurance, because of the delay in getting the disability benefits he was due.

    And this post by Bob Geiger tells us of Jonathan Schulze, a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts but grew so despondent from PTSD upon his return to Minnesota that he eventually took his own life (when the VA under Bushco was notified that Schulze was suicidal, Schulze was told that he was 26th in line for care).

    I will acknowledge that the story of Dave Sharpe and his pit bull puppy is just the sort of “aww, isn’t that nice,” feel good bit of fluff to lull Fix Noise’s audience of dutifully compliant lemmings into complacency while the harder issue of why the hell our prior ruling cabal had no clue about how to treat our dead or wounded heroes goes unaddressed.

    Still, I’ll grant that Perino’s story is symbolic if nothing else, because, as far as a member of our military under Bushco was concerned, it truly was a dog’s life.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Dana Rohrabacher of California (another Bushco insult to our veterans)…

    Yesterday, the libertarian Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion on conservatism and the war in Afghanistan with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN). When the conversation shifted to the war in Iraq, Rohrabacher said that “once President Bush decided to go into Iraq, I thought it was a mistake because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan,” but that once Bush “decided to go in,” he “felt compelled” to “back him up.” He then added that “the decision to go in, in retrospect, almost all of us think that was a horrible mistake.”

    As Think Progress tells us, McClintock wasn’t in Congress when the Iraq war was authorized, and Duncan opposed the vote, some truly rare courage for a Repug. However, Dana Rohrabacher has no such excuse (and a particularly awful admission on today of all days, the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the war).

    And, as noted here (in a post written by Retired U.S. Army Reserves Colonel Ann Wright)…

    “I HOPE IT’S YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS THAT DIE” said US Representative Dana Rohrabacher to American citizens who questioned the Bush Administration’s unlawful extraordinary rendition policies.

    Congressional hearings provide a deep insight into the inner spirit of our elected representatives-and sometimes, the insight is not pretty.

    On April 17, we witnessed Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) unleash his unbridled anger onto members of the European Parliament’s committee on Human rights who were invited guests and witnesses in the House Foreign Affairs European subcommittee hearing. The European Parliamentary human rights committee had issued a report in January, 2007 sharply critical of the Bush administration’s extraordinary rendition program in which persons from all over the world were detained by either CIA or local police and then flown by CIA jet (torture taxi) to other countries where they were imprisoned (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Djibouti, Morocco, Yemen. The report was equally critical of European governments for allowing the unlawful flights to take place.

    And let’s not forget Rohrabacher’s untidy dealings with the Taliban and a certain founder of al Qaeda, as noted here.

    So basically, Rohrabacher is now admitting to a friendly audience of Cato Institute flunkies that, gee, maybe Iraq was a bad idea after all. This was after he wished death upon the family members of those who opposed the “extraordinary rendition” of Bushco (and yes, I know Clinton practiced rendition also, but nothing like his successor did).

    I’d pay good money to see Bill Maher get in Rohrabacher’s face about this next time the congressman appears on “Real Time.” However, I’m not holding my breath on that.


  • Friday Mashup Part 1 (9/4/09)

    September 4, 2009

    argentina_086505326X

  • Zachary Roth at TPM Muckraker brings us the following today…

    The fallout from Mark Sanford’s Argentinian romance is getting increasingly nasty.

    Yesterday, State Senator Jake Knotts, a Republican but a committed Sanford foe, sent a letter to fellow lawmakers, in which he accused unnamed supporters of the bed-hopping chief exec of planting a rumor that Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer — who would become governor if Sanford steps down — is gay.

    So what exactly did Knotts have to say in Bauer’s defense?

    “Ain’t a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It’s a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor.”

    Of course, heaven forbid that Bauer actually had “a homosexual bone” in his body. In that event, I suppose Bauer would automatically plummet in the eyes of residents of the Palmetto State (below Sanford, of course) and no longer be “a good boy.”

    Oh, and please tell us when Opie and Aunt Bee return from shopping for a hickory switch and a piece of gingham from the “Piggly Wiggly” in Mount Pilot, OK, Mr. Knotts (any relation to Don)?

  • peril

  • And staying below that Mason-Dixon Line, I give you the following from Tennessee Repug U.S. House Rep Marsha Blackburn (here)…

    President Obama made a decision very early in the health care debate that doomed the process to failure. He decided to let Congress write the proposed bills, with very little input from the White House. Then he made another decision that just added to the problem. He decided that he wanted health care reform passed before Congress left for the August recess.

    Her piece at The Hill’s Congress blog is chock full of this type of unsubstantiated misinformation that I won’t dignify any further. Instead, I’ll present the following from here (I found this from the site’s interactive U.S. map)…

    How Health Insurance Reform will Benefit Tennessee

    LOWER COSTS FOR RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE

    • Ending the Hidden Tax – Saving You Money: Right now, providers in Tennessee lose over $1.2 billion in bad debt which often gets passed along to families in the form of a hidden premium “tax”.1 Health insurance reform will tackle this financial burden by improving our health care system and covering the uninsured, allowing the 133 hospitals2 and the 18,560 physicians3 in Tennessee to (provide) better care for their patients.

    • Health Insurance Premium Relief: Premiums for residents of Tennessee have risen 77% since 2000.4 Through health insurance reform, 817,500 to 937,800 middle class Tennessee residents will be eligible for premium credits to ease the burden of these high costs.5

    • Strengthening Small Businesses: 74,592 employers in Tennessee are small businesses.6 With tax credits and a health insurance exchange where they can shop for health plans, insurance coverage will become more affordable for them.

    • Reforms that Reduce Your Costs: Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive. Insurance companies will also have to abide by yearly limits on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses, helping 32,900 households in Tennessee struggling under the burden of high health care expenses.7

    INCREASE YOUR CHOICES: PROTECTING WHAT WORKS AND FIXING WHAT’S BROKEN

    • Insurance Stability and Security: Health insurance reform will strengthen our system of employer-based health insurance, with an additional 56,400 people in Tennessee potentially getting insurance through their work.8 Health insurance reform will also ensure that you will always have guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if you lose your job, switch jobs, move or get sick.

    • Eliminating Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions, Health Status or Gender: 10% of people in Tennessee have diabetes9, and 34% have high blood pressure10 – two conditions that insurance companies could use as a reason to deny you health insurance. Health insurance reform will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your health, and it will end discrimination that charges you more if you’re sick or a woman.

    • One-Stop Shopping – Putting Families in Charge: With the new health insurance exchange, you can easily and simply compare insurance prices and health plans and decide which quality affordable option is right for you and your family. These proposals will help the 845,700 residents of Tennessee who currently do not have health insurance to obtain needed coverage, and it will also help the 306,700 Tennessee residents who currently purchase insurance in the individual insurance market.11

    • Guaranteeing Choices: The largest health insurer in Tennessee holds 45% of the market, which limits the choices that you have for finding coverage.12 With a competitive public insurance option, you will have more choices and increased competition that holds insurance companies accountable.

    ASSURE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS

    • Preventive Care for Better Health: 41% of Tennessee residents have not had a colorectal cancer screening, and 22% of women have not had a mammogram in the past 2 years.13 By requiring health plans to cover preventive services for everyone, investing in prevention and wellness, and promoting primary care, health insurance reform will work to create a system that prevents illness and disease instead of just treating it when it’s too late and costs more.

    • Improving Care for Children and Seniors: 21% of children in Tennessee have not visited a dentist in the past year,14and 30% of seniors did not receive a flu vaccine15. Health reform will ensure coverage for kids’ dental, vision, and hearing needs, and will promote quality coverage for America’s seniors, including recommended immunizations.

    Also, a poll from June commissioned by opponents of health care reform finds majority support for a public option across the country (I haven’t been able to find polling numbers for the entire state of Tennessee, though I know it’s favored in the district of “Bush Dog” Jim Cooper).

    I suppose, though, that this is about what you would expect from someone who said “we’re not going to cry ‘emergency’ every time we have a ‘Katrina’” (here), even though Blackburn supported the emergency Katrina appropriation all the same (sounds like the “blind squirrel finding the nut” again).

  • DanBush

  • Former Bushie (and Indiana governor) Mitch Daniels (left in the pic) opines as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal today (on the matter of states having to get their fiscal houses in order due to the recession) …

    …the political impulse to protect government largess leads many states to aggravate their dilemma. Already more than half have raised taxes, often on businesses, serving only to chase them and their tax payments away and into the open arms of states like Indiana. Our traffic flow of interested investors is as heavy as it was in 2007. Since January we have welcomed the consolidation of more than 30 firms that closed up shop elsewhere and chose us as the low-cost, enterprise-friendly environment among their current locations.

    Indiana was near bankruptcy five years ago but is relatively solvent today because we have spent the intervening years making hard choices. We have reformed state procurement, contracted out some jobs, cut costs, and relentlessly scrutinized expenditures in pushing for annual improvement in departments large and small. We’ve also reduced the number of state employees by some 5,000 from the 2004 level.

    In contrast to the national pattern, our per capita state spending has cut, on average, 1.4% each of the past five years. Indiana is now the sixth thriftiest state by this measure. And if we Hoosiers are realizing that we need to re-examine what we can afford to have our government do, what must they be thinking in Albany, Lansing or Trenton?

    Yep, typical Bushie…never misses an opportunity to score a political point or two against those baad “blue states” (even though Obama won Indiana last year).

    To me, this is a case of “right message, wrong messenger.” I’m not going to comment on what may or may not be working in Indiana, since I don’t know enough about the state to say anything. And fiscal prudence is always a good thing wherever you live.

    However, Brad DeLong tells us here of a moment when Daniels could have stood up to his White House pals and, as a result, probably relieved some of the burden we currently face (Daniels was Bushco’s OMB director at the time)…

    One of the threads of Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty is that Mitch Daniels simply did not do his job as Bush’s OMB Director. The OMB Director is the principal–indeed, the only–voice inside the White House for fiscal prudence, for trying to ensure that the money the government spends is spent well and that the resources the government raises are adequate for the spending plans the White House evolves. While he was Bush OMB Director, Daniels simply did not do his job.

    Page 219:

    Mitch Daniels became agitated. He blurted out, “Well, yes, but if you can’t do the right thing when you’re at 85 percent approval, then when can you do the right thing? I think it’s time to say no.” Everyone looked with surprise at Daniels–he has a way of expressing what others are thinking but don’t say. Often, he’d find himself doubling back when he got an arched brow from Cheney or Rove…

    And page 296:

    The Commerce Secretary echoed much of what had been said…. As usual, not a real discussion, O’Neill thought as he looked over at [Mitch] Daniels…. He knew Daniels was focused on the perils of rising deficits, but it would take gumption to air those concerns in a room full of tax cut ideologues. “I think we need to balance concerns,” Daniels said…. “You need to be out front on the economy, but I am concerned that this package may not do it. The budget hole is getting deeper… we are projecting deficits all the way to the end of your second term.” From across the table came glares from the entire Bush political team. Daniels paused…. “Ummmm. On balance, then, I think we need to do a [tax cut] package… accelerate the rate cuts and the double taxation of dividends…” O’Neill looked with astonishment at Daniels… turn 180 degrees in midsentence…

    And Daniels was just as wrong here on pending cap-and-trade legislation, by the way.

  • fastfood_huge.52.263738

  • Finally, I give you the comedy stylings of Michael G. Franc and James Sherk of the National Review Online (here)…

    Why has teenage unemployment jumped so sharply? In part the deteriorating economy. But also because Congress voted to put teenagers out of work. The August employment report is the first after the minimum wage increase took effect at the end of July. Of course, that is not what Congress said it wanted to do when it raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

    But no matter what Congress sets the minimum wage at the true minimum wage is always zero. Employers do not have to hire workers, and they will not when hiring an additional worker brings in less money than that workers adds to the company. Consider an unskilled teenage worker whose labor increases a restaurant’s earnings by $7.00 an hour. The restaurant will pay up to $7.00 an hour to hire that worker. But when Congress raises the minimum wage to $7.25 that worker will lose his job. No restaurant will hire workers for a loss. Any business that did so would quickly go bankrupt. By raising the minimum wage Congress voted to lay off every worker who produces less than $7.25 an hour.

    I have no word on what formula these two pundits know of or came up with to compute the profit an employee generates for his or her employer and how that determines that person’s wage (sooo…then these two shouldn’t be paid the same amount if their online “hit” count goes down, for example?), but I believe this post from about a year ago debunks the rap that an increase in the minimum wage leads to greater unemployment…

    It ascribes a significant part of the problem of high teenage unemployment rates to high state minimum wages (or “maximum folly” according to the editorial). This claim disintegrates, however, under even the most cursory examination. Here’s why. Teenage unemployment rose from 13.1% to 17% between 2000 and 2004. According to the (Wall Street) Journal’s argument, the increases in teen unemployment should have been higher in states with higher minimum wages than in those with low minimum wages. What actually happened was the reverse: Teenage unemployment rose 3.4% in the high minimum wage states, compared to 4.2% in the others.

    So in response, I have a question to ask Franc and Sherk (assuming their line of reasoning is applied to themselves and they end up having to seek other employment)…

    Can I have fries with that?


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