Health care legislation moves forward in House
U.S. House Democrats on Friday unveiled a long-awaited health-care overhaul legislation that includes a new public health insurance plan and generous subsidies for low- and middle-income families to purchase health insurance.
Leaders of three committees discussed details of the 852-page draft bill, which includes many details on how to provide coverage to those currently uninsured but almost no details on how to pay for the expanded coverage. The panels - which include the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee - say their unified approach will spur efforts to pass the bill. . . .
The plan would provide subsidies on a sliding scale for families up to 400% of the poverty level, according to the outline. Under current poverty guidelines, individuals with income up to $43,000 would be eligible, and families of four with income up to $88,000 would be eligible. . . . .
The House proposal has huge implications for the insurance industry. Besides creating a new "public option" that would compete with private plans, it would cap out-of-pocket costs to policy-holders and prohibit insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who leads House GOP efforts on health-care issues, issued a statement strongly criticizing the bill, saying it "fails American families and small businesses." . . .
Shattering the myth that the Obama plan would pay for itself
Free health care is a very expensive proposition. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, are sponsoring a massive health care bill to extend coverage to 50 million Americans who supposedly do not have it. On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of the Kennedy-Dodd health care bill would run to at least $1.6 trillion over 10 years and that it would cover just one-third of the so-called "uninsured."
Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican, said the bill easily could top $2 trillion. Using the CBO estimate, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch's office calculates that the tab for this comes to $62,500 per uninsured person over 10 years.
White House economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers claimed in April on NBC's "Meet the Press" that President Obama's government health-insurance program would pay for itself. He promised there was so much waste and inefficiency in private insurance that a government system could save $700 billion a year just by eliminating unnecessary surgery. He said waste from surgery alone accounted for 30 percent of all health care spending in America.
According to Mr. Summers, "whether it's tonsillectomies or hysterectomies ... procedures are done three times as frequently [in some parts of the country than others] and there's no benefit in terms of the health of the population. And by doing the right kind of cost-effectiveness, by making the right kinds of investments and protection, some experts estimate that we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system." . . . .
Remember Medicare and what was promised for it
Back before recorded history, in 1965, Congress erected the nation's first two monuments to health-care "reform," Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid was described at the time as a modest solution to the problem of health care for the poor. It would be run by the states and "monitored" by the federal government.
The reform known as Medicaid is worth our attention now because Mr. Obama is more or less demanding that the nation accept another reform, his "optional" federalized health insurance program. He suggested several times before the AMA that opposition to it will consist of "scare tactics" and "fear mongering."
Whatever Medicaid's merits, this federal health-care program more than any other factor has put California and New York on the brink of fiscal catastrophe. I'd even call it scary.
Spending on health and welfare, largely under Medicaid, makes up one-third of California's budget of some $100 billion. In New York Gov. David Paterson's budget message, he notes that "New York spends more per capital ($2,283) on Medicaid than any other state in the country." . . . .
Medicaid alone didn't put California and New York on the brink. Add in spending on public education and you've accounted for about 60% of their budgets. This drives the deficits and gets all the ink, but not least among the casualties of bigness is the idea of governance. . . . .
Democratic Senator involved in insider trading
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat and assistant majority leader, looked like such a great investor. On Sept. 19, he sold off $42,696 in mutual-fund shares, and quickly sold off another $73,000 during the rest of September. The stock market collapsed after that. Within two weeks, by Oct. 3, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen by 9 percent. A month later, by Oct. 17, it had plummeted over 22 percent. On Tuesday this week, the average is still down about 25 percent from Sept. 19.
If Mr. Durbin ever leaves his day job as a Democratic politician, he should have a plum position waiting for him as a market timer. On second thought, maybe not. It turns out that on Sept. 18, Mr. Durbin participated in a closed-door meeting with then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. The Fed chairman and Treasury secretary briefed Mr. Durbin and other congressional leaders on the financial crisis and efforts to help financially troubled banks.
Mr. Durbin's great sell-off started the day after this privileged briefing. . . . .
PBS moves to end Religious Programming on its Airwaves
PBS board members, who for 25 years have turned a blind eye to religious programming at some of their member stations' religious programing, have decided to enforce a rule banning the broadcasts -- a move that spells the beginning of the end for religious shows on public television.
Six PBS stations currently broadcast "sectarian" programs produced by local religious groups, including the morning "Mass for Shut-Ins," which is popular among elderly and ailing Catholics who cannot attend the daily service.
Under the terms of a decision reached by the PBS board Tuesday, those stations can retain their current shows. And all stations can air programs and documentaries that cover sacred topics -- even a newsworthy service, like a papal Mass.
But no new religious shows can be offered, and none of the 350 other stations may air any purely spiritual content, a move some groups say is a quiet means of phasing out religion from their airwaves.
"PBS' goal is to not have religious programming on PBS affiliates of what we call 'pure' religious (content)" such as Masses or devotional readings, said Susan Briggs, director of Communications for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. . . . .
When did the White House approach Brokaw about the President's Commission on White House Fellowships?
"Being mugged [in the UK] is now part of my everyday life"
We used to discuss schools and nannies.
Now the main topic of conversation among my friends is who got mugged and how.
Mostly talk dwells on the sheer chutzpah with which the crimes are committed.
It's not unusual to have teenagers go through a roster of their day's activities to which they add “Oh, and I got mugged on the way home” to the list.
The difference now is that we've got so used to it that we almost take it for granted — and I speak as someone whose car was carjacked and whose house was broken into, with us in it, listening to his every stumble.
When my husband chased the robber down the street, the dutiful police officer advised us to install even more expensive security.
He took one look at my watch and suggested I go without. What next? No clothes?
When my phone was stolen from my car last week while I tried to open my front door (the culprit later sniggered when I dialled it), I came to the conclusion that crime is so rampant that ordinary citizens like us have stopped even bothering informing the police (I certainly didn't).
Chief Superintendent Mark Heath of Kensington and Chelsea reassures me that 451 personal robberies were recorded in the borough in the past 12 months: that should calm me because that is statistically fewer than the year before. Perhaps they are in a different part of the borough from where I live.
The statistics also don't match our experience because the victims have developed immunity.
We just sit in our fortresses, hoarding our worldly goods with cameras and private security guards while assuming that every Sainsbury's unloading session could end in terror. . . . .
Fox News: ObamaCare Will Save Money? Don’t Believe a Word of It…
President Obama is selling government health insurance to the American people as the way to save money. That government health insurance will merely provide competition to keep private insurance companies from gouging their customers.
Indeed, Obama even claimed on Monday, in a speech before the American Medical Association, that a government insurance system is essential to holding down medical costs: “if we fail to act, federal spending on Medicaid and Medicare will grow over the coming decades . . . . and impose a vicious choice of either unprecedented tax hikes, overwhelming deficits, or drastic cuts in our federal and state budgets.”
There are a couple of problems with Obama’s argument. Government is just not known for its cost effectiveness or quality. And the way for government enterprises to survive is with massive taxpayer subsidies and charging customers prices below the firm’s actual costs, driving more efficient private firms out of business. These subsidies mean that when government enterprises “win” they do so by driving more efficient private firms out of business. . . . .
A liberal is upset by Obama's broken campaign promises
But, then, behavior by President Obama suggests a more systemic assault on the campaign promise is underway.
It started in December when he was asked why he was making Hillary Clinton his chief diplomat after criticizing her qualifications and promising Democratic primary voters that his views on international relations were different than hers. He responded by telling the questioner "you're having fun" trying "to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign." The implicit assertion was that anyone expecting him to answer for campaign statements must just be "having fun" -- and certainly can't be serious.
A few months later, in reversing a five-year-old commitment to support ending the Cuban embargo, Obama offered no rationale for the U-turn other than saying he was "running for Senate" at a time that "seems just eons ago" -- again, as if everyone should know that previous campaign promises mean nothing.
At least that was a response. After the New York Times recently reported that "the administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on NAFTA" as "Obama vowed to do during his campaign," there was no explanation offered whatsoever. We were left to recall Obama previously telling Fortune magazine that his NAFTA promises were too "overheated and amplified" to be taken literally.
It's true that politicians have always broken promises, but rarely so proudly and with such impunity. . . . .
Arizona Senate votes to allow permitted concealed handguns in restaurants serving alcohol
The Arizona Senate has reversed itself and voted to allow people with concealed-carry permits to take handguns into restaurants that serve alcohol.
The Senate approved the bill on a 18-10 vote on Tuesday, one day after the chamber defeated it on a 14-14 tie when one supporter was absent.
State law now generally bans possession of firearms in bars and restaurants selling alcohol.
Under the bill, a permit-holder carrying a weapon into a restaurant serving alcohol would not be allowed to drink. It would allow restaurants to deny entry by gun-toting citizens by posting a sign. . . . .
77 year old woman with concealed handgun permit "escorts armed intruder from home at gunpoint"
Princeton woman, 77, escorts armed intruder from home at gunpoint
By Diana Graettinger
MACHIAS, Maine — A 77-year-old Princeton woman faced down a man armed with a sawed-off shotgun and sent him running after she pointed her own gun at him, according to court documents.
Doris Gatchell’s daughter, Eileen Newman, said Monday that family members had since nicknamed their mother “Annie Oakley.”
Suspect Dean T. Moore, who was arrested shortly after the Friday, June 12, incident, made his first appearance Monday in Washington County Superior Court. He faces up to 30 years in jail and fines of up to $50,000 on each of the two most serious charges of burglary with a firearm and robbery. He also has been charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, theft and criminal restraint. On Monday night, Moore remained in Washington County Jail unable to come up with the $15,000 bail set after his arrest.
Doris Gatchell’s daughter, Vanessa Gatchell, 50, was home watching television on South Princeton Road when she heard footsteps in the hallway at about 4:30 p.m., according to court documents made available Monday. Doris Gatchell had just left the house and Vanessa Gatchell thought her mother had returned because she had forgotten something. “She called out, but there was no answer,” according to the affidavit on file with the court.
Vanessa Gatchell went into the hallway and found Moore armed with a gun and a knife just standing there, the affidavit said.
The woman asked Moore not to hurt her and offered him money, according to the court documents. He refused to leave and demanded liquor, the affidavit said. “Ms. Gatchell opened two bottles of wine for [Moore], and he directed her to the front room where they both sat,” the affidavit said.
They talked about 30 minutes during which “he told her he was not afraid to hurt someone and he had used guns and knives before,” the court documents said. At some point during the conversation, Moore discarded the knife, but kept the shotgun, according to the documents.
The woman asked him to leave and said no one would have to know he had been there, but Moore declined to leave, the affidavit said.
Eventually Doris Gatchell returned home. Moore hid the firearm from view as Doris Gatchell entered the front room, the affidavit said. The two women then went into the kitchen, and Vanessa Gatchell told her mother that Moore had a gun and she “thought he was going to shoot them both,” the affidavit said.
Doris Gatchell retrieved her own gun and, according to the court documents, went into the front room and stood behind Moore’s chair.
Eileen Newman told the BDN on Monday that her mother, Doris, had a concealed weapons permit and had a gun “stashed” somewhere in the house. She said her parents at one time owned a sporting goods store that sold firearms. Her father, Ken, is deceased. . . . .
According to the affidavit, Moore has a long criminal history including a prior conviction for robbery and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. . . . .
"Concealed weapons permit holder stops would-be robbers"
Concealed weapons permit holder stops would-be robbers
June 17th, 2009 @ 1:26pm
MIDVALE -- A man with a concealed weapons permit stopped two would-be Midvale robbers from making off with his friend's stuff.
Police say the men were coming home from an errand around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning when they spotted the suspects with their things. The suspects took off on foot.
One of the men being robbed grabbed a gun from his truck and started running after them.
Midvale police Detective Sgt. John Salazar said, "Grabs a loaded .40-caliber handgun and chases with the gun, shooting rounds either into the air or into the ground as they were chasing."
The gunfire stopped the suspects dead in their tracks. The men held the robbers at gunpoint until police arrived and arrested them.
No one was hurt.
"Woman Shoots 2 In Home Invasion"
Woman Shoots 2 In Home Invasion
Deputy Constables: Teen Claimed They Were 'Victims'
POSTED: Sunday, June 14, 2009
UPDATED: 6:18 pm CDT June 15, 2009
SPRING, Texas -- A woman opened fire when two robbery suspects broke into her Spring home on Sunday, KPRC Local 2 reported.
Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constables said the 34-year-old was alone inside the home in the Timberlane subdivision on Briarcreek Boulevard near Cades Cove Drive at about 6 a.m.
Investigators said the woman opened fire when the attackers burst through her bedroom door.
"She's in her bedroom, locked in her bedroom. And she could hear them rustling through the rooms about the house. She grabbed her weapon and you know, held up inside her bedroom. It wasn't until they forced their way into her bedroom, they kicked the bedroom door in. She fired several shots at the suspects," said Lt. Jeff Stauber with the Harris County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators said Gerson Jonathon Linares and Shalom Mendoza, both 17, were wounded.
Detectives said the teenagers, who live in the neighborhood, ran out of the home and called for help, claiming to be the victims of a shooting.
"Through our investigation, we were able to tie them back to this incident on Briarcreek," Stauber said.
Investigators said the pair has admitted that they were involved in the crime.
The homeowner will not face charges.
"She was in fear of her life and literally held up inside her bedroom, by herself at home. And I could just imagine the fear that this woman was going through and this lady was just protecting herself," Stauber said. . . . .
Governor Ed Rendell proposes yet another increase in state income tax
Obama complains about Fox News' coverage of him
UPDATE: Note that Drudge reports that ABC refuses opposition ads during White House special.
Coming to the US?: "First 'anti-stab' knife to go on sale in Britain"
The first “anti-stab” knife is to go on sale in Britain, designed to work as normal in the kitchen but to be ineffective as a weapon.
The knife has a rounded edge instead of a point and will snag on clothing and skin to make it more difficult to stab someone.
It was invented by industrial designer John Cornock, who was inspired by a documentary in which doctors advocated banning traditional knives. . . . .
Thanks very much to Gus Cotey for this link.
Is Obama using ambassadorships to get rid of inconvenient Republicans?
The wheels might be coming off the socialization of the rest of US health care
An analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raised the hurdles for draft legislation in the Senate just as its Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee planned to begin voting on Wednesday. The office concluded that a plan by the committee’s Democratic leaders, Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, would reduce the number of uninsured only by a net 16 million people. Even if the bill became law, the budget office said, 36 million people would remain uninsured in 2017.
That finding came as a surprise. Robert D. Reischauer, an economist who headed the budget office when Congress tackled the health care issue in the Clinton administration, said that if so many people remained uninsured, it might not be feasible to cut special federal payments to hospitals that serve many low-income people.
Mr. Obama said Saturday that the government could save $106 billion over 10 years by cutting such hospital payments as more people gained coverage.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, a senior Republican on both committees drafting health legislation, said he found the office’s numbers stunning. He calculated that the Kennedy bill would cost taxpayers $62,500 per uninsured person over the 10 years. . . .
Transcripts of Obama's health care talks over the last week
I was struck by several things about both speeches. In both cases Obama emphasizes that if you are happy with your current insurance, he will leave you alone and then he talks about everything from taxes on some policies to various regulations on those policies. It is very strange to me.
What enforcement of Global Warming Rules can mean: The lesson from Australia
The Herald Sun can reveal Australian Federal Police agents will have to prosecute a new range of climate offences.
But they are yet to be offered extra resources, stretching the thin blue line to breaking point.
"The Government is effectively saying to us, 'Ignore other crime types'," Australian Federal Police Association chief Jim Torr said.
The group had been trying for months, without success, to discuss the issue with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, he said.
Interpol has warned the carbon market will be irresistible to criminal gangs because of the vast amounts of cash to be made. Possible rorts include under-reporting of carbon emissions by firms and bogus carbon offset schemes.
"If someone is rorting it by even 1 per cent a year, we're talking about many, many millions of dollars," Mr Torr said. . . . .
Washington Times: Obama's health care promises
Boos and awkward silences marked President Obama's speech at Monday's American Medical Association meeting in Chicago, and for good reason.
Not only did he refuse to support caps for malpractice suits, but he said his administration would undercut how much doctors make. In Monday's AMA address and another speech on Saturday, the president reiterated his promise to save "$313 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending." His line was greeted by stony silence from the AMA. Mr. Obama understood why and even admitted, "Today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs."
The government is good at "saving" money by simply reimbursing Medicare and Medicaid providers for less than their cost. It is essentially a tax that the government imposes - a tax that doctors and hospitals pay for staying in business. But this tax raises doctors' and hospitals' costs, forcing them to charge private patients more to compensate for the lost Medicare and Medicaid revenue. . . . .
Is it contributing to theft to point this out?
Some TV malpractice on economics
Dr. Hank Lawson: I'm back.
Fisherman: I'll get my harpoon.
Hank: As inviting as that sounds, I won't stay long.
Fisherman: The doctor's mantra.
Hank: But you know for what it is worth, I am not a big fan of hospitals myself. In fact, I just got fired by one a few weeks ago.
Fisherman: Well, that is reassuring.
Hank: Naw, not for medical reasons. Look, hospitals are bureaucracies, right? Bureaucracies screw people, they overcharge you if you are insured, and they really do it if you are not, just because they can. You get zero leverage and no alternatives, so you get screwed. It is like out here with the gas docks when they price gauge after a hurricane. The system sucks. But you are sick and you are going to get sicker if you don't get treatment. I would like to help you.
Fisherman: That is what they all say. Then the bill comes.
Hank: there is no bill. No, I am going to be here for you week in, week out. No red tape, no forms, no harpoon, just me.
Fisherman: So, what is the catch?
Hank: You are the fisherman, you tell me.
It seems like you can't watch a doctor show without it constantly making digs about medical insurance and the uninsured.
Here is the problem that is faced after a hurricane -- people want more gas than is available. Higher prices allocate gas purchases to those who value the gas the most. When prices aren’t allowed to rise, gas stations in many states resort to “putting up signs asking drivers to buy as little gas as possible.” Drivers aren't apparently too thrilled by that idea. One news story quoted one driver as calling the signs "ridiculous." Another driver noted: why shouldn’t he buy more, why should he risk running out of gas?
It is quite common for consumers and politicians to complain about prices before a storm even hits. But higher prices before the storm reduce consumption and increase inventories and thus reduce how much prices will rise after the storm hits. The overall increase in price will actually be less.
The possibility of higher prices when disasters strike also gives oil companies an incentive to put aside more gas to cover those emergencies. Storing gas is costly, and if you want them to bear those costs, you had better compensate them. The irony is that letting the companies charge higher prices actually reduces customers' total costs when you include such things as having to wait in long lines, because there will be more gas available when the disaster strikes.
Memories have apparently faded too much after the 1970s gas shortages. Price controls didn't stop the cost of gasoline from rising. They just changed how we paid for them. Instead of prices rising until the amount people wanted equaled the amount available, chronic shortages of gasoline had Americans waiting in lines for hours. Yet, the supposedly permanent shortages disappeared instantly as soon as price controls were removed in 1981.
Everyone would like to have lower prices. The problem is that when people want more gasoline than is available you either let prices rise or you have shortages.
The second issue in this short segment from Royal Pains is the claim that everyone, especially the uninsured, are dissatisfied with how the medical system works. In fact, a 2006 survey found that 89 percent of Americans were satisfied with their own personal medical care, while only 44 percent were satisfied with the overall quality of the American medical system. The lower 44 percent response was due to fear over what life Yet, even 70 percent of the uninsured were also satisfied with the quality of the medical care that they received. To put it differently, only 2.3 percent of people are both uninsured and very dissatisfied with the quality of their medical care. 3.9 percent are both uninsured and dissatisfied in anyway with their medical care.
Only nine states still ban carrying a concealed handgun in restaurants that serve alcohol
Thanks to Mike Stollenwerk for the pointer.
A glimmer of hope on stopping a complete government takeover of medical care
"said he opposes the creation of a government-run health-insurance option that would compete with private insurers as a part of a health-care overhaul because it would increase costs for taxpayers. . . . .