Saturday, June 23, 2012

Last Call

Dems are "prepared" for a worst-case scenario of SCOTUS trashing either the mandate on the Affordable Care Act or worse, throwing out the entire law.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will respond swiftly to any adverse Supreme Court ruling with legislation to reinstitute parts of the health care law that get struck down.

“I’m prepared for a lot of different contingencies,” Harkin, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Thursday during a Senate vote.

If the Court finds the mandate unconstitutional — a big if — it will either strike the mandate alone, toss out coverage guarantees that the mandate is meant to support, or throw the whole law out. Those are, at least, the three most likely possibilities.

Harkin says he’s ready for all of them.

“We’re going to have to have some kind of community rating and keep the guaranteed issue,” he said. Those are the technical terms for provisions guaranteeing that all consumers can buy health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, and cost sharing to allow high-risk people to afford insurance.
“We have some possible legislative fixes that I will bring forth at that time,” Harkin said. “But we are prepared for different forms of legislation to address that.”

In the unlikely event that the Court throws the whole thing out, Harkin says he’ll try to reanimate the whole thing.

“If they throw the whole thing out, yes, I will be prepared then with what I call a Health Care Restoration Act,” he said.

And of course it will immediately be blocked by Republicans.  Nothing will pass this year.  And tens of millions of people will be out of health coverage, and the rest of us will be back to insurance companies denying payment whenever possible.  So sorry, that acne problem you had in 5th grade wasn't on your insurance application, your policy is canceled.  Good luck getting coverage.

After all, opponents have spent $100 million to make you think it's evil socialism.  Turns out there are only five people they had to buy off.

Austerity Twins Super Powers...Activate!

Word is Rep. Paul "Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver" Ryan is an increasingly popular name being thrown around in Team Romney's veep decisions.  Frankly, I'm all for it.

Obama would win in a landslide.  Doug Mataconis:

Given Ryan’s popularity among the Republican base, it’s not surprising that the Romney campaign would let it leak that they are considering him. At the same time, though, Ryan’s association with a budget that isn’t necessarily popular among the independent voters that Romney will need to attract in swing states is an argument for not selecting him. Additionally, its worth noting that sitting Members of Congress don’t ordinarily get put on national tickets. The last time it happened was when Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, before that it had not happened since Barry Goldwater had selected New York Congressman Bill Miller in 1964. Before that, a Congressman had not been on a national ticket since William Howard Taft selected New York Congressman James Sherman in 1908. So, is it possible Romney will choose Ryan? Yes, but it’s not likely.

Maybe, but neither is picking a shitkicker snowbilly from Alaska.

By all means Romney, pick the guy who wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program for private insurance companies, turn Medicaid into state block grants with rolls being slashed, end the Affordable Care Act and put 50+ million back in the uninsured column, and gut Social Security.  You do this.  Spend billions trying to convince us it's the only solution.

Then watch us throw you out on your ass.

Chart Of The Day

Two actually, from Henry Blodget over at Business Insider, brilliantly explains everything wrong with the economy. Chart number one:  Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP.

Corporate profits as Percent of GDP

As you can see, it's reached record highs.  Corporate profits skyrocketed under Bush (between the last two grey recession lines there, more than doubling from 9/11 until the financial crash of 2008.  But Obama, that socialist and his awful socialist policies, turned around corporate profits in a matter of a couple years and now they have surpassed 2008's peak as corporate profits have gone from around 4% of GDP to near 11%.

Oh, but it gets worse.  Where do you think that 7% came from?

Wages to GDP

Chart The Second, Wages as a percentage of US GDP.  Since 1970, wages have dropped from about 54% of GDP to 44% of GDP, a new record low.

Corporate profits up to record highs.  Wages down to a record low.  Keep telling yourself that Obama's policies are killing businesses, that they're too broke to pay more in taxes or invest in employee benefits, and that greedy unions are wiping out America's ability to profit.

Meanwhile, we're too "broke" to afford schools, police, firefighters, roads, health care and basic infrastructure because we can never, ever, ever afford to raise taxes on the "job creators".

Obama saved corporate America.  They return the favor by doing everything they can to destroy him, his political party, and the rest of us.

Mini Moose, Epic Fail

I am regaining my faith in humanity.

Bristol Palin's show had terrible numbers.  It seems people aren't interested in her whatsoever, even when promised a public train wreck to entertain them.  The single mother has decided she should counsel Obama on the evils of same-sex marriage, and that she knows what this country truly needs.  Gee, sound familiar?

LOS ANGELES, June 21 (Reuters) - Bristol Palin tripped up with TV audiences after less than 750,000 people watched the first episode of her new reality show.

But according to audience figures on Thursday, just 726,000 watched the show when it debuted on Wednesday. By contrast, some 3.3 million watched the latest installment of MTV's "Teen Mom" reality series on Wednesday.
Looks like Sarah has to get out there and drum up some interest.  Good luck, toots.

Bye-Bye, Bedbugs

As Zandar pointed out earlier this week, there's a problem with bedbugs.  So much so that it has become an unstoppable wave of infestations, from apartment complexes to major hotels.  Resistance to insecticides has allowed them to flourish, which can lead to an entirely different unhappy train of thought.  A local company was featured on the news for using a very successful method: heat.

"We discovered this heat option, and bed bugs are extremely susceptible to high heat temperatures," Eftink says.

We took healthy bed-bugs inside, with the heat treatment underway.  "The air temperature in here's at least 135, and you're going to see that they'll die pretty quick," says Michael Woodring, Bug Zero Entemologist.  In just one minute, the bed bugs lost the battle.

Large heaters and fans ensure the heat reaches every square inch.  Several wireless sensors send temperature readings back to a computer.  But just to make sure the bugs are all toast, "We get in here once the temperature gets up and we start manipulating some of these items to expose any cracks or crevices that they might be able to hide," Woodring says.
Bug Zero's experts  make sure it's 125 degrees or above, and hold that temperature for at least an hour to make sure all the bed bugs are gone.  "We've had 100 percent track record success," says Eftink.

They're almost impossible to prevent.  "Even the best maintained hotelier who'd doing all he can about this is still vulnerable to that one individual who might bring bed bugs in their belongings," Eftink says.
But the heat will ensure bed bugs travel no more.  
Kids and pets are at risk when introducing toxins into an environment.  As we see more problems with chemical resistance, we should strive for a natural, effective way.  By pure luck, it seems one has been found.  It may not pan out in the long run, but I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.  Not just in the solution, but the benefits we stand to gain if it really does work like they say. 

Despite a couple of aggravating typos, this is a helpful page that gives you the broad strokes.  

The Bain Of Romney's Existence

Tom Hamburger's expose' of Romney's time at Bain Capital is pretty brutal:  Romney's company invested heavily in companies that shipped jobs overseas to China and India.

Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States."   That should be written on the epitaph of Romney's campaign.  Here it lies, unremarked.

Speaking at a metalworking factory in Cincinnati last week, Romney cited his experience as a businessman, saying he knows what it would take to bring employers back to the United States. “For me it’s all about good jobs for the American people and a bright and prosperous future,” he said.

Speaking as someone who has a good job in Cincinnati Mr. Romney, you're full of it.

For years, Romney’s political opponents have tried to tie him to the practice of outsourcing American jobs. These political attacks have often focused on Bain’s involvement in specific business deals that resulted in job losses.

But a Washington Post examination of securities filings shows the extent of Bain’s investment in firms that specialized in helping other companies move or expand operations overseas. While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.

Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field.

Remember the campaign adage "If you're explaining, you're losing" when it comes to optics?  Team Romney is losing big time with this horsecrap.

“This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Mitt Romney spent 25 years in the real world economy so he understands why jobs come and they go. As President, he will implement policies that make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home. President Obama’s attacks on profit and job creators make it less attractive to create jobs in the U.S.”

And speaking of horsecrap, this pretty much blows a hole in the Post's own smarmy fact checker guy, Glenn Kessler, who just the day before gave the Obama ad that Bain sent jobs overseas the dreaded 4 Pinocchios.

The Obama campaign fails to make its case. On just about every level, this ad is misleading, unfair and untrue, from the use of “corporate raider” to its examples of alleged outsourcing.  Simply repeating the same debunked claims won’t make them any more correct. 

Hey Glenn, check with your own paper next time you decide to make yourself look like a Romney stooge and a fool.

You Can Bank On It

And keeping with "all SCOTUS nonsense day" here at ZVTS, the pattern emerges once again:  Democrats pass law, President Obama signs it, corporations sue claiming the law regulating them is unconstitutional, law starts journey towards Roberts Court.  This time it's banks suing Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the law creates, claiming that the CPFB itself is unconstitutional because SHUT UP THAT'S WHY.

In particular, the suit will contend that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by the law, lacks sufficient checks and balances and, in the words of the CEO of State National Bank, is "simply unconstitutional."

“No other federal agency or commission operates in such a way that one person can essentially determine who gets a home loan, who can get a credit card and who can get a loan for college,” said bank head Jim Purcell. “Dodd-Frank effectively gives unlimited regulatory power to this so-called Consumer Financial Protection Board, also known as CFPB, with a director who is not accountable to Congress, the President or the Courts."

Which is not true.  By that logic, all executive branch agencies that regulate commerce are not accountable and are unconstitutional.

Oh wait, gosh, I think I've found the point.

C. Boyden Gray, who served as White House Counsel under President George H.W. Bush, will represent the plaintiffs in court.

Gray told reporters that the lawsuit was not a challenge to Dodd-Frank as a whole, but rather two specific sections that create the CFPB and a new regulatory group, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). The FSOC gathers the nation's top regulators to oversee the financial system as a whole, and charges it with identifying what financial institutions pose unique risks to that system and merit heightened oversight.

The FSOC is being challenged on the grounds that once it begins designating systemically significant institutions, it will create a two-tiered financial system where smaller banks will put at a disadvantage, according to Gray.

Yes, those tiers will be "Small community banks that have money" and "big crazy megabanks that are insolvent and gamble with taxpayer money to keep afloat."  It's the "You're hurting the small banks by giving us all this money!  They can't compete with us while we crush them!" defense.  How sweet.

And yes, given a year or two this too will be before the Roberts Court, and away the CPFB and FSOC will go because giant banks are people, my friend, and their rights (and the "free speech" dollars they ply the court with) are more important than yours.

Gotta love it.

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