Bill USA's Journal
Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 3,430
Number of posts: 3,430
Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that
- 2014 (170)
- 2013 (389)
- 2012 (168)
- 2011 (2)
- December (2)
- Older Archives
Senator Boxer is leading a bipartisan group urging the Deptartment of Defense to work more effectively with the VA to give our disabled veterans the care worthy of their sacrifice.
In a letter, the Senators pointed out how long some of our veterans wait for care, writing, “We represent states with some of the largest populations of veterans in the country. Tragically, these men and women are also waiting years to access the benefits they need and deserve—449 days on average in New York, 506 days in Los Angeles, and 439 days in Waco, according to VA. This is simply unacceptable.”
According to testimony given on March 13, 2013 before the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in the Senate, the average wait time for a claim to be processed was 260 days in fiscal year 2012.
U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel urging greater cooperation between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help address the severe backlog of veterans’ disability claims.
Posted by Bill USA | Sat Mar 30, 2013, 04:15 PM (2 replies)
On Tuesday, the Associated Press (AP) published an article recounting a Society of Actuaries (SOA) study that finds health insurance premiums “will jump an average 32 percent for Americans’ individual policies under President Obama’s overhaul.” That titillating claim formed the basis of multiple news agencies’ headlines Wednesday morning, including NBC News, Fox News, and U.S. News and World. But as several other analyses show — and the report’s own authors admit — these assertions are based on an extremely narrow interpretation of the health care law that assumes rising costs in perpetuity while ignoring its very real cost-cutting measures.
In essence, SOA argues that Obamacare provisions extending health coverage to all Americans regardless of their pre-existing medical conditions will dramatically raise costs in the individual insurance market — especially since sicker, older Americans will have guaranteed access to insurance and cannot be charged more than three times the premiums of younger people. The Society’s projections are quite dramatic, finding that premium rate increases by 2017 “would be 62 percent for California, about 80 percent for Ohio, more than 20 percent for Florida and 67 percent for Maryland.”
Corporate insurance giants have used many of these same arguments to dishonestly justify double-digit rate hikes on their customers, despite soaring profits. But these claims are founded on a baseline that assumes current health care cost trends to be set in stone, and ignore — even by the SOA’s own admission — almost all of Obamacare’s most important consumer protections and market regulations aimed at lowering overall costs. Rick Foster, a retired Medicare actuary, admitted that, although the study’s projections are consistent with certain health care trends, they don’t necessarily reflect the bigger picture:
“Having said that,” Foster added, “actuaries tend to be financially conservative, so the various assumptions might be more inclined to consider what might go wrong than to anticipate that everything will work beautifully.” Actuaries use statistics and economic theory to make long-range cost projections for insurance and pension programs sponsored by businesses and government.
In fact, more comprehensive studies of the health reform law that incorporate all of its provisions — rather than just the potentially negative ones — have found that “ost young adults and families will be largely shielded from the full effects of the narrower age rating bands thanks to the ACA’s increased eligibility for Medicaid and tax credits offered through state health insurance exchanges or through access to employer-sponsored insurance,” and that Americans between the ages of 21 and 27 purchasing insurance through the individual market “will be protected by Medicaid/CHIP or exchange-based subsidies under reform.”
of course, what the Republican degenerates are leaving out is that the people now insured won't be going to Hospital Emergency rooms for health care. the cost to hospitals of uncompensated care is just passed on to the insurance companies (and the local, state and federal government) and the insured pay higher premiums as a result. With more people insured they will be going to docgtors for health care instead of hospital emergency rooms - the most expensive place to get health care. Uncompensate care adds about $1,000 to the average persons insurance premiums. http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Mar 27, 2013, 08:29 PM (4 replies)
Chief Justice John Roberts took a swipe at President Obama during oral arguments Wednesday, arguing that the president should stop executing the parts of the Defense of Marriage Act he deems unconstitutional rather than relying on the courts to pave the way.
“If he has made a determination that executing the law by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions,” Roberts said of Obama, “and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.”
In response, Vicki Jackson, the lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court to argue that the court lacks standing to hear the case, responded that it’s “a hard question” given that the constitutional questions turn on what relief the injured parties are seeking.
It's an odd comment for Herr Roberts to make since, by the constitution, a law can only be judged and declared unconstitutiional by the Supreme Court. The President can have an opinion on whether a law is constitutional but it takes the Supreme Court to determine it to be unconstitutional - that's their job.
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Mar 27, 2013, 07:51 PM (7 replies)
As large American companies continue to lobby Congress for tax reform that would lower their tax rates, a study of historical corporate tax rates found that they are in fact paying at rates roughly half of those they paid decades ago.
The Washington Post analyzed 30 large companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average — companies like McDonalds, Microsoft, and Exxon Mobil — and found that their tax rates have fallen even as profits have risen, thanks in large part to tax laws that provide incentives to store overseas profits in offshore tax havens. Many of the companies, the Post found, are paying rates less than half what they paid in the 1960s and 1970s, and most of the 30 have vastly reduced their rates in that time:
A Washington Post analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ, a research firm, found that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, companies listed on the current Dow 30 routinely cited U.S. federal tax expenses that were 25 to 50 percent of their worldwide profits. Now, most are reporting less than half that share.
American tax law allows companies to shield foreign profits from taxation until they are brought back to the United States, and corporations have happily obliged. The largest 83 corporations moved $166 billion overseas in 2012 alone, bringing their total to $1.46 trillion, and most of it, according to a Congressional Research Service study, was kept in tax havens like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Ireland. As a result, they have seen huge reductions in tax rates: McDonald’s, for example, saw its tax rate plunge from 37 percent in 1973 to 14 percent in 2012.
Corporate profits hit a 60-year high in 2011, right as the effective corporate tax rate hit a 40-year low. America’s largest companies, in fact, haven’t paid the full corporate tax rate in 45 years, and 26 have avoided taxation altogether for the past four years. At the same time, business leaders have lobbied Congress to reform the corporate tax code by adopting a territorial tax system that would exempt most foreign profits from American taxation, making it even easier for the companies to shift profits, investments, and jobs overseas.
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Mar 27, 2013, 07:36 PM (3 replies)
First it was Fix the Debt, with tax-dodging corporations “leading the charge for massive new corporate tax cuts paid for with cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” Now there’s a new “LIFT America coalition,” pushing for massive, massive corporate tax cuts, without bothering about cutting benefits. LIFT stands for “Let’s Invest for Tomorrow,” but as Citizens For Tax Justice (CTJ) points out, it really ought to be called LIE, for “Let’s Invest Elsewhere.”
The executives who run the giant multinationals want to be let off the hook for paying taxes on profits they make outside our borders. As an Apple executive said to The New York Times, giant multinationals “don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.” And to prove it, American corporations are holding $1.7 trillion in profits outside the country – just sitting there – rather than bringing that money home, paying the taxes due and then paying it out to shareholders or using it to “create jobs” with new factories, research facilities and equipment.
The LIFT Coalition
This corporate lobbying coalition claims that “antiquated U.S. tax laws are threatening America’s economic competitiveness.” They want their taxes lowered with a “Territorial Tax System” so they “pay home country tax rates that are competitive with those paid by foreign business rivals” (i.e. little or no taxes on their profits).
The LIFT website is full of lobbyist-speak, like “reform,” “modernize,” and “attract more investment.” When you hear lobbyists talk about “reforming” and “modernizing” things, it means that by the time they get done you’re going to have less money and the giant corporations they pay them are going to have more.
The short version of what LIFT wants: Lower corporate taxes here, plus no taxes on profits they make outside the country. These are the “antiquated U.S. tax laws … threatening America’s economic competitiveness” they are talking about. And they very well might have the money to push this through the Congress.
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Mar 27, 2013, 07:03 PM (1 replies)
Scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a minuscule implant that measures various blood chemicals and sends the results, via Bluetooth, to your smart phone. The upside? Your smartphone knows when you’re about to have a heart attack. And it can call someone on your behalf. It is, after all ,a smartphone.
This particular device might prove, for one reason or another, to be bunk. Many seemingly magical inventions do. But it’s not alone. The founder of Blackberry is launching a $99 million fund to “to support entrepreneurs developing real-life ‘Star Trek’-style blood-test scanning devices.” And every major health device company knows there’s billions and billions to be made here.
I’ve asked experts in health technology whether they believe devices along these lines will be commonplace in 25 years. They invariably do. And they’re almost certainly right.
Consider how dramatically these devices will change medicine. Right now, the medical industry is fundamentally reactive. Something goes wrong, and we go to them to fix it. This will make medicine fundamentally proactive. They will see something going wrong, and they will intervene to stop it. It’s like “Minority Report” for health care.
This is why I don’t put much stock in projections of health-care spending that run 30 or 50 or 75 years into the future. Will biometric devices in constant communication with the cloud make medicine more or less expensive? Will driverless cars prolong life in a way that saves money or costs it? Will the advances in preventive technology make medicine so effective that we’re glad to devote 40 percent of gross domestic product to it? Who knows?
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:47 PM (4 replies)
The Coskata project always had a natural gas component, so in dropping the biomass component there is a lot of cost that just falls away. Material handling, chipping, sizing, drying, gasification, gas clean up – all those unit costs come out.
The impact for Coskata? A 130 million gallon natural gas project costs the same as a 65 million gallon woody biomass project.
The company has plans on the drawing board, for example, for a 270 million gallon project, although economies of scale are reached with natural gas in the 130 million gallon range.
Others in the queue that may switch to natural gas
...in recent months, there’s been Sundrop Fuels, and Primus Green Energy – with Coskata we now have three, and that makes a trend.
Who’s next? Siluria has been focused on natural gas for quite some time. Accelergy has been pursuing a combination of coal and biomass in China within an overall XTL focus, and let’s see how their project opportunities change.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:40 PM (3 replies)
... this would not be a renewable fuel, but it would add to the ethanol we are already making and increases the prospect of stopping the rise in the price of gasoline/oil (it's likely, that if we produce ethanol in a volume equal to somewhere between 20% and 30% of the light transportation fuel supply, we would see gas prices stop rising). Furthermore, with a large enough volume of ethanol being produced, we could even reverse the rise in the price of gas/oil.
Currently, the rising price of oil is adversely impacting our economic growth and this will only get worse in the future. Slowing the rise in the price of gas or stopping its rise would give a boost to economic growth. Decreasing our dependence on mid-East oil would have significant geo-political ramifications too. Right now, we are gambling our entire economy on there being an uninterrupted supply of oil world-wide - for the foreseeable future. That's a pretty big bet to be placing.
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-based acetyls producer Celanese is looking at markets worldwide for its hydrocarbon-based ethanol, an executive said on Wednesday.
Celanese's recently developed technology, TCX, allows it to produce ethanol from natural gas or coal by using acetic acid as an intermediary, according to a recent patent.
Celanese said its process costs less than bio-based production, on which most of the world relies.
In 2013, Celanese plans to start ethanol production in China, using coal as a feedstock.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:32 PM (8 replies)
... cheers for Terry Moran! (I can hardly believe he challenged the Prince of Political Darkness on this)
ABC News anchor Terry Moran argued Sunday that Republican strategist Karl Rove is unnecessarily "scaring" people when it comes to the gun control debate by talking about gun registries.
"You wanna get something done, then stop scaring people, don't say we're gonna keep a registry of all these guns," Rove said during a roundtable discussion on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.
"Stop scaring people," Moran interjected. "If you're scaring people with this Orwellian sense that black helicopters and the government if we register guns are gonna confiscate Americans' guns. That kind of paranoia fuels --"
"With all due respect, it is not paranoia," Rove said, cutting off Moran.
"Who's going to confiscate all the guns in America?" Moran said.
Posted by Bill USA | Sun Mar 24, 2013, 05:48 PM (1 replies)
should reject it out of hand:
We’ve shown that the $5 trillion in non-defense program cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget are heavily weighted toward low-income programs. At the same time, based on the latest estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC), we now see that the tax cuts that he specified in his budget would be heavily weighted to high-income households.
These tax cuts, which would cost $5.7 trillion if they met Chairman Ryan’s goals (including cutting the top rate from 39.6 to 25 percent), would give 55 percent of their benefits to the top 1 percent of U.S. households based on income, TPC reports.
To be sure, Chairman Ryan says his budget would fully offset the cost of his proposed tax cuts by curbing tax expenditures (exclusions, deductions, and other preferences). But he has offered no specific proposals to do so.
■ We estimate, based on new TPC analysis, that the individual income tax cuts specified in the Ryan budget (assuming they met their goals, including the 25 percent top rate) would give an average $330,000 a piece to households with annual incomes above $1 million — compared to an average $1,700 tax cut for middle-class households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 (see first chart).
■ The tax cuts would raise after-tax incomes by 15.4 percent among millionaire households but by just 1.8 percent for households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 (see second chart).
Ryan 'budget' makes massive cuts to discretionary spending beyond what anybody would think is rational. This is nothing but a false position just put forth for negotiations purposes. It's an extreme position beyond all reason just to get an agreement which is skewed far to the right of where it would be given good faith negotiations. (Of course, in truth, the Republicans DON'T have any idea, of their own, of what the optimum level of funding should be. They refuse to, perhaps they are incapable of understanding and arriving at a level of Government responsibility and involvement in society. They only devise what they want - as opposed to what Democrats determine is a practical position. Once that is established, THEN Republicans come up with a position that is based on some decrement of the Democrats' position. Then they come up with talking points that are supposed to be the basis of their position.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would cut the part of the budget that supports everything from education and law enforcement to biomedical research to nutrition assistance by more than $1 trillion below the funding caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) over the next decade. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars below the funding levels that would result from nine years of sequestration.
“Non-defense discretionary” programs — which Congress funds through annual appropriations bills — are already slated to fall to historically low levels under the BCA caps (and that’s before sequestration). Funding for those programs will shrink by 2017 to its lowest level on record as a share of the economy, in data that go back to 1962, and fall further thereafter. The Ryan budget would cut their funding by $1.1 trillion more over the next decade (see chart).
Under the Ryan budget, these programs would be roughly 18 percent below the BCA caps each year.
These cuts are far more severe than would occur if sequestration were to remain in place in 2013 and beyond for these programs. Indeed, over the decade the Ryan budget would cut non-defense discretionary programs $700 billion below the post-sequestration levels.
The Ryan budget takes a very different approach to defense programs, however, canceling the sequestration cuts for all years starting in 2014 and funding defense at the BCA cap levels.
Ryan Roundup 2013: Everything You Need to Know About Chairman Ryan’s Latest Budget - http://www.offthechartsblog.org/
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Mar 22, 2013, 04:38 PM (0 replies)