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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 47,654

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Hagel blasts states on same-sex benefits policy

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday sharply criticized U.S. states that are defying the Pentagon by refusing to allow National Guard facilities to issue ID cards that enable same-sex spouses of military members to claim benefits.

“This is wrong,” Hagel said in remarks prepared for delivery in New York.

“Not only does this violate the states’ obligation under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to,” he said.

Hagel said these states’ policies are unfair. He said he ordered the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to “take immediate action to remedy this situation.”


Krugman gets it : it's "A War on the Poor"

A War on the Poor

Republican hostility toward the poor and unfortunate has now reached such a fever pitch that the party doesn’t really stand for anything else — and only willfully blind observers can fail to see that reality.

The big question is why. But, first, let’s talk a bit more about what’s eating the right.

I still sometimes see pundits claiming that the Tea Party movement is basically driven by concerns about budget deficits. That’s delusional. Read the founding rant by Rick Santelli of CNBC: There’s nary a mention of deficits. Instead, it’s a tirade against the possibility that the government might help “losers” avoid foreclosure. Or read transcripts from Rush Limbaugh or other right-wing talk radio hosts. There’s not much about fiscal responsibility, but there’s a lot about how the government is rewarding the lazy and undeserving.

Republicans in leadership positions try to modulate their language a bit, but it’s a matter more of tone than substance. They’re still clearly passionate about making sure that the poor and unlucky get as little help as possible, that — as Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, put it — the safety net is becoming “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” And Mr. Ryan’s budget proposals involve savage cuts in safety-net programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.


In a much-cited recent memo, Democracy Corps, a Democratic-leaning public opinion research organization, reported on the results of focus groups held with members of various Republican factions. They found the Republican base “very conscious of being white in a country that is increasingly minority” — and seeing the social safety net both as something that helps Those People, not people like themselves, and binds the rising nonwhite population to the Democratic Party. And, yes, the Medicaid expansion many states are rejecting would disproportionately have helped poor blacks.


John Stossel/FOX: Women’s insurance should cost more because ‘maybe they’re hypochondriacs’

During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Stossel asserted to host Steve Doocy that President Barack Obama’s health care reform law “just kills the market” by mandating that women can no longer be charged more than men for insurance.

“The competition of the market is the only thing that makes things better,” he explained. “Yesterday, President Obama stood in front of a bunch of women in Massachusetts and said, ‘No longer will those evil insurance companies be able to charge you women more.’”

“Women go to the doctor much more often than men! Maybe they’re smarter or maybe they’re hypochondriacs,” Stossel continued. “They live longer. Who knows? But if it’s insurance, you ought to be able to charge people who use the services more, more.”

“But, John, you’re not paying attention,” Doocy said sarcastically. “This administration, this president wants to make everything fair. It’s not fair if you pay less than she does… And as a number of Republicans have made the argument, why should I pay for — I’m in my 60s, why should I pay for your maternity coverage?”


Robert Reich: Obama Should Have Gone With a Comprehensive Public Insurance Plan

Robert Reich: Obama Should Have Gone With a Comprehensive Public Insurance Plan
Not surprisingly, private health insurers cheered on the Republicans while doing whatever they could to block Democrats from creating a public insurance system.


Now that the essential Republican plan for healthcare is being implemented nationally, health insurance companies are jubilant.

Last week, after the giant insurer Wellpoint raised its earnings estimates, CEO Joseph Swedish pointed to “the long-term membership growth opportunity through exchanges.” Other major health plans are equally bullish. “The emergence of public exchanges, private exchanges, Medicaid expansions … have the potential to create new opportunities for us to grow and serve in new ways,” UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen J. Hemsley effused.

So why are today’s Republicans so upset with an Act they designed and their patrons adore? Because it’s the signature achievement of the Obama administration.

There’s a deep irony to all this. Had Democrats stuck to the original Democratic vision and built comprehensive health insurance on Social Security and Medicare, it would have been cheaper, simpler, and more widely accepted by the public. And Republicans would be hollering anyway.


"Protecting Life"

REID:“If I didn`t care so much about our country-I would hope he will get the Republican nomination"

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Republican nomination for president, it would destroy the GOP.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday night, Reid discussed fallout from the 16-day government shutdown, which ended two weeks ago. He said he’s sure the debacle will help Cruz raise more money.

“If I didn`t care so much about our country, I would hope he will get the Republican nomination for president, because that would be the end of the Republican Party,” Reid said.

“Ted Cruz, he`s someone else.”


Phone-hacking trial: three ex-News of the World staff plead guilty

Source: The Guardian

Phone-hacking trial: three ex-News of the World staff plead guilty
Prosecution reveals news editors admitted charges as it outlines case against Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and others

Three former News of the World employees have pleaded guilty to phone hacking charges, an Old Bailey jury was told this afternoon, as part of the opening of the trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Brooks's husband and four other former employees of the now closed Sunday newspaper.

The crown prosecutor revealed that the individuals had already pleaded guilty at an earlier stage in proceedings, as he outlined to the court that News of the World was at the centre of three criminal conspiracies dating back to the year 2000, involving the two former editors.

Andrew Edis QC said that those pleading guilty were former News of the World news editors Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup. The court also heard that the private investigator contracted by the newspaper to undertake the alleged hacking, Glenn Mulcaire, had pleaded guilty.

But the prosecuting counsel told the jury that journalism was not on trial. "There is no justification of any kind for journalists for getting involved in phone hacking. That is an intrusion into people's privacy which is against the law," Edis said. "The prosecution says that journalists are no more entitled to break the law than anyone else," he added.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/30/phone-hacking-trial-news-of-world-staff

Insurers, far from 'dropping' or 'canceling' coverage-They are working hard to keep coverage holders

a lot of insurers, far from 'dropping' or 'canceling' coverage are working hard to keep their existing coverage holders from going to the exchange

I am not terribly different than some other writers who have been in the individual market. We have BCBS covering a family of four with a variety of pre-existing (but not life threatening) conditions. Like others, BCBS of Illinois informed us that our policy would no longer be valid after January 1, 2014. They also informed us that they would role us automatically into a slightly more expensive (and largely comparable) plan if we did nothing.

Here is where it gets a bit more interesting. The "cancellation letter" directed us to the BCBS website, where we could shop through various other options. There are a large number of options (e.g., network breadth, deductibles, co-pays, etc.), many of which are also comparable to what we have at lower rates. Relatively minor tweaks to our deductible will save us hundreds per month - more than offsetting the deductibles. And, since getting the letter, we have gotten follow-up emails and telephone calls from BCBS encouraging us to compare our options at the BCBS website.

It has become quite clear over the past couple of weeks that BCBS does not want us shopping on the Illinois Exchange. Of course I will ultimately do that, if nothing else to check out competitive options. BCBS has huge market share here and they have the best, most comprehensive network - I won't be a bit surprised if we stay with them. That said, we have suddenly become much more attractive and important to BCBS than we were. Getting through underwriting a few years ago was ridiculously difficult, now we are being marketed heavily and encouraged essentially to skip the exchange all together and shop exclusively at BCBS.

Count me among those who think the ACA will ultimately work to the net benefit of the vast majority of people in the individual market - myself included.


Bill Maher to Piers Morgan: Women will ensure Obamacare won’t fail

Talk show host Bill Maher said Tuesday night on “Piers Morgan Live” that he was certain the Affordable Care Act would succeed, despite technical issues and political opposition to the program.

“Every program of this size was a headache at first,” Maher said. “So was (George W.) Bush’s Medicare prescription drug program for the old folks. Remember, ‘Hey, free Viagra, have a boner on George Bush — remember me at the polls.’ Social security, Medicare — all these programs have these kind problems when you start with them.”


“Even with all the problems, in four polls last week, Obamacare is more popular than ever,” Maher said. “Republicans like to cite this statistic that something like 54 percent of the people are against Obamacare. It’s very, very misleading. That includes the 16 percent of people who think it doesn’t go far enough.”

Maher said women are driving the program’s popularity and would be the eventual reason it succeeds.

“Yes, young men do not want to sign up because they think they’re invincible,” Maher said. “Women get it because women are a little more complicated. You know, they want contraception, they want breast exams (and) they’re a little smarter about that, too. They don’t think they’re invincible.”


Americans are hungry, starving and homeless, so one cuts food stamps and social spending?

A Surreal Descent Into Poverty and Desperation
by paradox


............they’re cutting food stamps as we speak and want to cut Social Security! Democrats own the
White House and Senate, but we didn’t learn any economics in 70 years of alleged intellectual development, it’s 2013 and we’ve frantically breathed life into the zombie of Herbert Hoover, he rules Washington DC again!

How on earth did we ever allow ourselves to get into such a twisted, ass-backwards political mental state? This isn’t perception of policy or ideology, Americans are hungry, starving and homeless, so one cuts food stamps and social spending? Proposes cuts to Social Security?

An absurdly conservative corporate DC media bubble, overwhelming special interest money, gerrymandering, voter suppression, whatever, somehow our politicians got so cut off from reality in some surreal fantasy of what are people are going through they’re doing precisely the wrong thing in policy and morality, oh my god. Hello? We shouldn’t be cutting Social Security, we should be significantly increasing it.

In a shocking development it turns out 401k’s are a joke from a macro policy perspective, a huge wave of elderly poverty is soon to engulf the country and all of us. Not only is the idea of cutting Social Security surreal in its blindness to current reality, it’s laughably absurd in the face of what the United States will soon need for its people.

The next President must fix the labor market and must address climate change, yet hugely increased Social Security benefits must immediately be implemented too. Somehow we must find a liberal candidate and President in 2016 to put the little people always first or the country as we know it will simply vanish, a hollow shell of a once proud county horribly degraded in human poverty, hunger, desperation and furtive human agony.

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