Article 43


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heath Care Redux 2

Why the Gang of Six Is Deciding Health Care for Three Hundred Million of Us

By Robert Reich
Huffington Post
August 21, 2009

Last night, the so-called “gang of six”—three Republican and three Democratic senators on the Senate Finance Committee—met by conference call and, according to Senator Max Baucus, the committee’s chair, reaffirmed their commitment “toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill” (read: less coverage and no public insurance option). The Washington Post reports that the senators shared tales from their home states, where some have been besieged by protesters angry about a potential government takeover of the nation’s health care system.

It’s come down to these six senators. The House has reported a bill as has another Senate committee, but all eyes are fixed on Senate Finance—and on these three Dems and three Republicans, in particular. But who, exactly, anointed these six to decide the fate of the nation’s health care?

I don’t get it. Of the three Republicans in the gang, the senior senator is Charles Grassley. In recent weeks, Grassley has refused to debunk the rumor that the House’s health-care bill will spawn “death panels,” empowered to decide whether the sick and old get to live or die. At an Iowa town meeting last Tuesday Grassley called the president and Speaker Nancy Pelosi “intellectually dishonest” for claiming the opposite. On Thursday Grassley told the Washington Post that Congress should scale back its efforts to overhaul health care in the wake of intense anger at town hall meetings. But—wait—the anger is largely about distortions such as the “death panels” that Grassley refuses to debunk.

This week on Fox News Grassley termed the House bill “the Pelosi Bill,” and called it “a government takeover of heath care, exploding the deficit because it’s not paid for and it’s got high taxes in it.”

I really don’t get it. We have a Democratic president in the White House. Democrats control sixty votes in the Senate, enough to overcome a filibuster. It is possible to pass health care legislation through the Senate with 51 votes (that’s what George W. Bush did with his tax cut plan). Democrats control the House. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is a tough lady. She has said there will be no health care reform bill without a public option.

So why does the fate of health care rest in Grassley’s hands?

It’s not even as if the gang represents America. The three Dems on the gang are from Montana, New Mexico, and North Dakota—states that together account for just over 1 percent of Americans. The three Republicans are from Maine, Wyoming, and Iowa, which together account for 1.6 percent of the American population.

So, I repeat: Why has it come down to these six? Who anointed them? Apparently, the White House. At least that’s what I’m repeatedly being told by sources both on the Hill and in the administration. “The Finance Committee is where the action is. They’ll tee-up the final bill,” says someone who should know.

Robert Reich -Former Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley


Posted by Elvis on 08/23/09 •
Section General Reading
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Summertime Blues

Unemployment Nears 11% In Orlando
State Numbers At Highest Level Since 1975

Florida’s unemployment rate crept up to 10.6 percent in June to stay at the highest level since 1975, and it’s even higher in metro Orlando.

The rate was .3 points higher than the revised May unemployment rate and is 4.6 percent higher than June 2008.

About 970,000 employable Floridians do not have jobs.

According to Workforce Central Florida, the unemployment rate for metro Orlando is 10.8 percent.

Florida’s unemployment rate is 1.1 percent higher than the national rate of 9.5 percent.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.



More Americans are poor and uninsured, Commerce Department official says

Kancis City Dot Com
August 19, 2009

The numbers of poor and uninsured Americans are up, with next months release of 2008 Census data likely to show more than 38.8 million in poverty. Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department’s undersecretary of economic affairs, noted that figures were not yet final, but that a statistically significant increase in the poverty rate was expected, to at least 12.7 percent. That would represent a jump of more than 1.5 million poor people last year.

The number of uninsured also is expected to notably increase, largely because of rising unemployment and the erosion of private coverage paid for by employers and individuals, but Blank declined to say by how much. In 2007, the number of uninsured fell by more than 1 million, mostly because government programs such as Medicaid for the poor picked up the slack.


Posted by Elvis on 08/23/09 •
Section Dying America
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