Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last Call

The House health care reform bill, HR 3962, would stop insurance companies from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition to deny health care coverage.

Eight states currently allow insurers to reject women who have survived domestic abuse for coverage. As the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim has explained:

Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you’re more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.

In human terms, it’s a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence.

This provision is part of the bill’s larger ban on pre-existing conditions, which stipulates that insurers cannot discriminate based on “health status, medical condition, claims experience, receipt of health care, medical history, genetic information, evidence of insurability, disability, or source of injury (including conditions arising out of acts of domestic violence) or any similar factors.”

In 2006, Senate Democrats on the Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee tried to end domestic violence as a pre-existing condition, but lost in a 10-10 vote. All the “nay” votes were Republicans. Women currently pay up to 50 percent more for health insurance than a man would shell out for the same coverage, and most individual health insurance markets don’t cover maternity care.

The inclusion of a ban on domestic violence being treated as a pre-existing condition fulfills a promise Pelosi made earlier this month. “Think of this,” Pelosi told reporters. “You’ve survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated [against] in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone.”

1990 pages, but at least one of them contains good legislation, anyway.

Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay, Wasting Time

Steve Benen checks up on that House Republican health care reform bill America was promised.

For those of you keeping score, here's the bill itself.

File:Nothing whitespace blank.gif
Oh gosh, there's nothing there.
The House Republican leadership "guaranteed" that they would offer an alternative health care reform bill. If my count is right, that was 134 days ago.

Asked about when Americans can expect to see the GOP plan, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it's "pretty difficult" for Republicans to come up with a "solid plan," because the minority caucus is "not quite sure how the majority intends to proceed."

They're trying to pass a bill, unlike you morons. You guys pull crap like this instead:
Republicans have been insisting for months that Democrats are shoving a secret bill down the throats of the American public. The health reform legislation "should be posted online for 72 hours so members and the American people get a chance to see what's in these bills," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) told Fox News. "But it seems to me that Democrat [sic] leaders want to rush these bills through Congress before anybody has a chance to read them."

In fact, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) "has repeatedly pledged to Republicans that the health bill and any manager's amendment would be posted online for at least 72 hours before the House votes," and he promised again this week.

At a press conference this morning, a reporter turned the tables on Boehner and asked whether he'd post the GOP plan for 72 hours. Boehner declined to make such a pledge.

Yeah, so how's that plan coming again, boys? That wonderful alternative you have that will fix health care?

Oh you don't have one, you never will have one, and you have no intention of crafting one? Of course.

Your Civics 207 Assignment

Via BooMan, Matt Browner-Hamlin teaches the finer points of Senate filibusters and cloture votes. Of special note:
What should you expect when you see a cloture motion? Lots of debate and delay. After cloture is filed, it takes one day and an hour to ripen. So if a cloture motion is filed on Monday, it cannot be voted on until Wednesday. After the motion for cloture is voted on, there is then 30 hours of debate for post-cloture consideration. This time period includes debate, roll call votes, and quorum calls. Basically each of these three big procedural steps prior to a cloture motion and vote on cloture will add a number of days before the next soonest step can be reached. This is why we expect the entire Senate floor debate of health care reform to be a process that could last, at minimum, a couple of weeks.
And in those couple of weeks minimum, the rumors, playcalling and punditry will be a-flyin'. But frankly, it's just going to take time before we get to the final vote.

If one is allowed to happen, that is. We've got a long way to go still.

Orly? Ya Rly! Part 4

Orly Taitz just got her ass handed to her again by yet another judge.
Central District of California Judge David O. Carter has dismissed Barnett et al v. Obama et al, Orly Taitz’s most successful lawsuit — that is, the one that got the furthest through the legal system — demanding proof of the president’s citizenship. The entire decision is here, and it’s devastating to Taitz.
Especially this part of the ruling:
[T]he Court has received several sworn affidavits that Taitz asked potential witnesses that she planned to call before this Court to perjure themselves. This Court is deeply concerned that Taitz may have suborned perjury through witnesses she intended to bring before this Court. While the Court seeks to ensure that all interested parties have had the opportunity to be heard, the Court cannot condone the conduct of Plaintiffs’ counsel in her efforts to influence this Court.
And if the judge follows through on those perjury complaints, Orly there is in real trouble.

Unlike the fantasy trouble she proclaims America to be in from the Kenyan Usurper.

High School Equivilency Test

The Wingers love to play a little game, and that game is "Yeah but Liberals are equally as bad if not worse." Doesn't matter what horrible things Wingers do, in their own minds they can instantly find something a Dirty F'ckin Hippie did and it justifies everything they've done or will do.

Case in point: the Winger's latest screed that "Okay, FOX News is a propaganda outfit, but MSNBC is equally as bad if not worse than FOX!"

Greg Sargent tackles that straw man.
This meme got a boost last night when CNN’s Cambell Brown grilled White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on the Fox affair. After Jarrett said that “of course” Fox is biased, Brown pushed back: “Do you also think that MSNBC is biased?” Jarrett demurred. Ben Smith dubs this the White House’s “MSNBC problem.”

Sure, MSNBC has Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz. But it’s debatable, to begin with, that they are polar opposites — in terms of their ideology or their relationship to reality — of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

Put that aside, however. More to the point, it’s plainly obvious that there’s a much brighter line between reporting and commentary at MSNBC than there is at Fox.

Consider MSNBC’s daytime content. Morning Joe is hardly a liberal program. Throughout the day you get lots of reporting and commentary from Chuck Todd and David Shuster. Todd fits squarely in the “nonpartisan Beltway analyst” category. Shuster? Sure, he’s aggressive in debunking conservative attack lines, but agree with him or not, Shuster calls them as he sees them on the facts, and he’s fundamentally a reporter.

More to the point is MSNBC’s news judgment throughout the day, which contrasts sharply with that of Fox. You’d be hard pressed to argue that MSNBC’s choice of stories to report on is as ideologically driven as Fox’s editorial choices. There’s simply no equivalent on the MSNBC news side of Fox’s constant “news” coverage of the tea partiers, the czars, the ACORN story, the crusade against gay education adviser Kevin Jennings, etc. etc. The point is that Fox’s new judgment is far more ideologically motivated than MSNBC’s is.

Bonus points for noticing the Villager pushing the meme is Politico's Ben Smith. He's auditioning for a role in the Village pretty hard this year (along with NBC political director Chuck Todd and ABC's Jake Tapper) and he's trying pretty hard to get into the high school lunchroom cool clique.

Remember the number of Villagers who made their bones trashing the Clintons? (Wingers will say "Yeah but look at Maddow and Olbermann, they made their bones off of trashing Bush every night!" Because reality has a well-known liberal bias, you see. The rise of Glenn Beck, Brit Hume, Bill-O and friends during Bush's administration is just proof of how America hates liberals. ) All this goes back to that: These guys are trying to become the new Villagers in the age of Teh Internets.

Dear America:

"Obama has no choice, he can only follow up his classy move to show respect to 18 fallen heroes from Afghanistan returning sending tens of thousands more soliders in until we win. They'll be fine over there."

--Pete Hegseth, The Corner

Top Billing For Nancy

Speaker Pelosi has unveiled the House public option bill today, and it's pretty decent. Not the Medicare for all bill that she wanted, but it's better than the Senate version.
Pelosi said the bill will "insure 36 million more Americans" and "will not add one dime to the deficit" -- covering 96 percent of Americans and costing less than $900 billion. The bill includes a public option and will end "discrimination for preexisting medical conditions."

She said the plan will be put online "for all Americans to see." You can read it here.

Early in her remarks, there was some loud off-camera noise -- apparently from protesters nearby.

"Thank you, insurance companies of America," Pelosi said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was up next. "What a day for America, and what a day for all of our people," he said

The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor next week.

If implemented, by 2013, the bill would require a mandate for coverage and a health insurance exchange to be in place. There would, by this point, be new consumer protections, including an end to co-pays for routine checkups and preventative care, yearly caps on out-of-pocket expenses and an end to yearly and lifetime caps on what insurance companies will cover.

Young adults would also be able to stay on their parents' health care plans until their 27th birthdays.

Still digesting the full bill, the Cliffs notes version is here.

Jon Cohn's initial reactions are here, Ezra Klein's early take is here, both are worth looking at, both seem to think the bill is good on the surface.

The bill does pay for itself, mandate is somewhat more strict, but there are better subsidies to defray that. Comes in under the $900 billion mark as well. So far, it's a good bill.

[UPDATE 11:45 AM] Politico clocks the bill in at $894 billion.

In The Immortal Words Of Admiral Ackbar, It's A TARP

Via Digby, turns out that resolution legislation to wind down "too big to fail" banks is really just enshrining TARP-style bailouts as standard operating procedure in the future. Mike Elk explains:
If a bank deemed "too big to fail" by the Fed takes out risky bets and its fails miserably, the other banks who were engaged in safe banking would have to bail them out. For the big banks that can afford to take huge bets this would simply give them more incentive to do it. If they lose, the smaller banks not deemed "too big to fail" would merely go under bailing out the big banks. So why not gamble big on Wall Street since every situation would be a win-win if you win, big profits if you lose a bailout and your competition goes out of business. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Furthermore, as Congressman Brad Sherman points out the proposed legislation would allow the government to bailout banks into the trillions of dollars without having to seek Congressional approval. It would allow the Federal Reserve to bail these banks out secretly without the publicly knowing about it.

This is just simply undemocratic. At least the last time we bailed them out, the bankers at least had to go to Congress and beg in shame. Now, ss Congressman Sherman point it the current legislation meant to reform Wall Street would actually be like "TARP on steroids".

The obvious question remains why has the House Financial Service Committee under the leadership of Barney Frank dramatically weakened time and time again President Obama's proposals to regulate Wall Street? Why have the committee members strayed so far from President Obama's plans to regulate Wall Street?

Perhaps the $223 million that the banking lobbyists spent on lobbying Congress in the first six months of 2009 alone. has something to do it. Or perhaps as the Wall Street Journal reports campaign contributions to committee members have increased dramatically as they consider financial reform.

Distilling all that down, it makes a fair amount of sense: If the punishment for taking a multi-billion dollar risk is that your competitors have to pay to bail you out, then this is a moral hazard clause on a world-breaking scale.

I've said before that the chief goal of the Obama administration's economic plan is the forced consolidation of the financial industry. This new bill seems to almost assure that only the Too Big To Fail banks will survive another round of bailouts, and that the Fed will have the power to do this without any oversight...because it was designed that way.

I didn't honestly think we could get worse than Bush on this. But there you are. And here Timmy is testifying that establishing these banks as "too big to fail" means no more bailouts.

He's lying to Congress, basically.

And The Winger Rage Award Goes To...

The Sadlies stake out the coming Wingnut apoplexy on the 2010 Oscars.
There is always a collective wingnut freakout over teh Hollywood left’s big event, but next year’s could be particularly hilarious. Especially if Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ wins an Oscar.

At the very least, his name will get a standing O when they do the dead people roll call … add in a possible shout out to Ted Kennedy and the almost inevitable spontaneous tribute to Roman Polanski by some presenter or award-winner …

Enough probability on this being true that it's worth marking this one down in the Future Stupidity files, surely.

If It's Thursday...

Special GDP edition, numbers are in and the GDP for Q3 was 3.5% growth. Definitely an improvement and CNBC is already trumpeting the end of the recession. The reason it doesn't feel like the end of the recession is that many of us are still in one.
In a separate report, the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits dipped by 1,000 last week, while the number collecting long-term aid fell to the lowest reading in seven months as the job market steadied.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance declined, though the number was higher than expected, to a seasonally adjusted 530,000 in the week ended Oct. 24, the Labor Department said. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims to fall to 521,000 last week from 531,000.

Get that? Half a million plus jobless claims this week is good news because the job market has steadied. Companies have all the excuses in the world to cut benefits and employees and reap profits.

Who here thinks America is going on a hiring binge now that the recession is "over"?

Didn't think so. Welcome to the new normal.

Why Can't Weeeeeee Be Friends, Why Can't Weeeeeee Be Friends

Got that song stuck in my head this morning after reading this:
A very reliable source tells FishbowlDC that Fox News SVP Michael Clemente met with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs this morning and reached what some are calling a "truce."

Clemente then met with the FNC Washington bureau and encouraged staff to remain "fair and balanced."
As John Aravosis puts it:
But the issue isn't that FOX is unfair, or unbalanced. They're simply not media, period. They were set up as a conservative propaganda operation, and that is what they are to this day. There is no way that they can promise to be nice. It's like the liberal blogs promising to stop favoring Democrats over Republicans. It's not who we are, or why we exist, and if we were to promise it, we'd be lying. So is FOX, if in fact they've promised any truce.
Yeah, I'm gonna go with that. There's no way FOX is going to call off their attacks just because Robert Gibbs asked nicely. The Wingers aren't going to stand for it, and frankly I expect to see some sort of teabagger boycott until FOX promises to go back to making up wholesale lies about Obama and friends. They'll say "Well the White House wanted this, but the American people demanded it!" and they'll dig right in doubly hard, probably reporting that Michelle Obama regularly bathes in the blood of teenage abortions to get her buff arms.

But hey, that's "truthiness" for the win. I can't imagine the White House getting anything out of this other than the 100% probability that FOX will break the promise first.


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