Saturday, June 1, 2013

Last Call For The Unemployed In Wisconsin

Wisconsin Republicans are doing everything they can to brutally punish anyone who dares get unemployment benefits, because, well, just because.  We're doing this to protect workers, you see.

Among the changes included in the Republican-backed legislation would slightly increase the maximum allowable benefit by $7 to $370 per week, it would render anyone cut off from receiving benefits for not taking a job ineligible to ever receive benefits again until they find a job that pays at least six times his or her benefit rate at the time of termination of benefits. The current requirement is four times their benefit rate.

So if you get laid off (remember, you're ineligible for unemployment benefits in Wisconsin at all if you've been fired for "good cause" by the employer or quit yourself, it's up to the employee to prove they had a "good cause" to quit) and you get a measly $370 a week, you'll need to literally have a job earning more than $100,000 a year before you're eligible to get benefits again.  And you only get 13 weeks of benefits, max.  Good luck with that.

Oh, there's more:

It would force job applicants to apply for twice as many jobs to remain eligible for benefits. Currently employment seekers must apply for two jobs per week to keep unemployment benefits flowing. The new law raises that number to four.

Currently, people receiving educational or vocational training in order to qualify for a job can continue to receive unemployment benefits past their original expiration date. The new law would stop those payments.

Here's the best part:

The bill mandates that banks and financial institutions must hand over the private account information of any people suspected by the government of receiving overpayments.

In the event of overpayments, even those caused by government error or computer malfunctions, the government would be able to freeze and collect from the accounts of people receiving unemployment.

And remember, these are supposedly "small government Republicans" demanding these powers.

To recap, Republicans have zero problem with using the power of government to violate the freedoms of Americans if those Americans are those awful, parasitic unemployed.  They don't count as Americans anyway, the moochers.

They Can't Stop Lying About Obamacare

Professional conservative health care policy wonks are paid to lie about Obamacare, because getting enough people to hate it and demand that legislators scrap the plan before it's fully implemented is the only way to stop it now.  So, people like Forbes columnist Avik Roy have to lie.  They're paid to do so.

Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. “These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” boasted Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange. But the data that Lee released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.

Ezra Klein calls out the lie:

Roy got his 146 percent by heading to, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

Remember, right now there's two big caveats to health insurance that Obamacare fixes:  one, plans have to have minimum coverage standards, and two, insurance companies can no longer reject people based on prior illness.  So yes, Roy purposely tried to make Obamacare look as bad as possible by comparing a cheap plan with a huge deductible that wouldn't qualify under Obamacare rules as meeting minumum coverage, a cheap plan that depending on your history you can be rejected for, to plans that do meet the Obamacare standards.

And let's keep in mind the same people who, like Roy, are paid to make Obamacare look as awful as possible are the same people who warned these exchange plans would be $500 a month or more in California.

They're not.  They're roughly half that cost.  Plus, subsidies assure that those who can't afford the plan can get help paying it, and in some cases they won't have to pay a dime.

That's the truth of Obamacare.  Those who need insurance the most will be able to get it, and get help paying for it.

Paul Krugman sums it up:

Right now, California has a basically unregulated individual market, in which insurers are free to reject whoever they choose, and charge whatever rates they choose. This means that a few young, healthy people with no record of prior medical problems can get cheap plans; these are, of course, precisely the people who need insurance least, and these plans are cheap not just because they’re only available to the very healthy but because they don’t provide much insurance. If you’re not healthy or wealthy enough to get by with this kind of insurance, too bad.

So looking at these rates tells you nothing at all about the success of a program that offers insurance to everyone, regardless of medical history, and sets fairly high minimum standards for the quality of that insurance.

But it makes for nice headlines, especially when "respected conservative policy wonks" like Avik Roy tell huge lies in order to try to convince people to scrap the program.  He has to:  otherwise, it proves government can work.

Haven't Learned A Thing, And Never Will

For anti-immigration reform conservatives, every immigration bill is "amnesty" and every day is 2007, where they can kill legislation and never pay a price.

“I think opposition is going to escalate dramatically once the bill hits the floor in a way that people do not expect. People are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that happens,” said an aide to a conservative Republican senator.

“There’s no question that it’s going to be significantly more pushback. The question is if it’s enough to stop the bill in the Senate. I’d say the odds are better than even,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

He says conservatives have been distracted by the controversies swirling around the IRS, Benghazi and the Department of Justice’s seizure of journalists’ phone records.

“There are so many scandals going on with the Obama administration that it’s distracting a lot of people. The outrage can only be focused in so many directions,” he said.

The message is clear:  Obama brought up these scandals himself to take the heat off the Brown Horde Coming For Our Wal-Mart Jobs!

Sure he did.  The outrage is all that matters.  It rules our political discourse.  It's the reason why we can't have a nice country.

Of course, the "scramble" to stop the bill in the Senate is itself nothing but hot air:  any bill that will pass the Senate will never get a vote in the House.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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