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Bill USA

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 3,369

About Me

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

Journal Archives

20 Experts Who Say Drilling Won't Lower Gas Prices

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201203220011

In a pretty impressive act of journalism, the Associated Press recently conducted a "statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production." The result: "No statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump." It's neat to see math cut through the talking points and get straight to the truth of the matter -- which is that expanding drilling is a fundamentally ineffectual response to gas price spikes.

Given that changes in U.S. oil production don't move gasoline prices, it should be clear that U.S. government policies related to drilling are of even smaller consequence. Indeed, 92 percent of economists surveyed by the Chicago Booth School of Business agreed this week that "changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies."

Still not convinced? How about another 20 economists and analysts from across the political spectrum who will tell you the same thing:
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The Affordable Care Act Is Getting Results, With Much More to Come

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/03/aca_anniversary.html

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Millions of Americans can now get the health insurance coverage they need thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The act’s provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26 has been particularly important to American families as the economy struggles to get back on its feet. Because of the law 2.5 million additional young adults including 1.3 million minorities—many of them new college graduates—had access to coverage even if they were unable to find a job right away. Notably, this demographic’s coverage gains are wholly attributable to increases in private coverage with no change to Medicaid coverage. Now, 73 percent of young adults have insurance coverage as a result of the dependent provision, and their families benefit from this economic security, too.


Meanwhile, many Americans with a pre-existing medical condition—including asthma, heart disease, previous injuries, and cancer—would not have access to necessary, affordable care without health reform. The health law prohibits insurance companies from charging higher premiums, limiting benefits, or denying coverage to those who need it starting in 2014. But to ensure those with pre-existing conditions can access the care they need immediately, the Affordable Care Act created the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, which includes coverage for primary and specialty care, hospital services, and prescription drugs. To date, more than 50,000 Americans have enrolled in PCIP, a nearly 400 percent increase in enrollment since November 2010.

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Health care reform requires insurance plans to cover important preventive services, including critical immunizations, numerous health screenings, and counseling services, with no cost-sharing by women. In 2011 alone more than 85 million people—32.5 million Medicare beneficiaries and 54 million Americans with private insurance—including seniors, women, and persons with disabilities, accessed these critical preventive services for free. Millions of women will take advantage of more comprehensive preventive care beginning in August 2012, including free mammograms, well-woman visits, contraception, and breast-feeding support and counseling.

Seniors and persons with disabilities enrolled in Medicare saw significant savings thanks to the law. The Affordable Care Act works to close the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.” In 2011 alone, nearly 4 million seniors saved more than $2.1 billion on prescription drugs—an average of $604 per person—and will save even more in the years ahead. The average Medicare patient will save $4,200 from 2011 to 2021 while those with higher prescription drug costs will save as much as $16,000 over the same period.

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Here's an answer to a question on FactCheck.org that debunks a load of lies from a bit of GOP disinformation circulated via emails and on conservative psycho's internet sites. Again, all emphases are my own._Bill USA

Premium Nonsense On Medicare - FactCheck.org

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This widely circulating message is similar to a falsehood-filled screed that went around last year, urging "retribution" against members of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections. This message makes somewhat different accusations — also false — and urges voters to "remember" in November 2012.

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■ It claims that "those of you who are on Medicare" can thank "Obamacare" for increases in the per-person monthly Medicare premium — "to a wonderful $247.00 in 2014." This is also false. The basic premium for Medicare Part B (which covers physician services) was indeed $96.40 in 2009. But the other numbers are all wrong. It was $110.50 last year, for example, and not $104.20 as claimed. And it is $115.40 this year, not $120.20 as claimed.

Actually, only 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are paying the basic rate. The rest — 73 percent — are paying less under a "hold harmless" provision triggered by the lack of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security this year or last year. Most are still paying $96.40.

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Republicans exaggerate the increase in private health insurance premiums caused by the new law.

http://www.factcheck.org/2011/10/factchecking-health-insurance-premiums/

( all emphases are my own_Bill USA)

Health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored family plans jumped a startling 9 percent from 2010 to 2011, and Republicans have blamed the federal health care law. But they exaggerate. The law — the bulk of which has yet to be implemented — has caused only about a 1 percent to 3 percent increase in premiums, according to several independent experts. The rest of the 9 percent rise is due to rising health care costs, as usual.

Furthermore, the increase caused by the law is a result of the increased benefits it requires, a factor Republicans generally ignore. So far, insurance companies have been required to do the following:

■ Cover preventive care without copays or deductibles.
■ Allow adult children to stay on parents’ policies until age 26.
■ Increase annual coverage limits.
■ Cover children without regard for preexisting conditions.

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...experts we spoke with weren’t too surprised by this year’s findings. They point out that the 3 percent growth from 2009 to 2010 was unusually low. While it’s tough to discern a clear, long-term trend in the growth rates, the annual increase was holding steady at around 5 percent or 5.5 percent from 2007 to 2009. The growth rates had been at 10 percent and higher from 2000 to 2004. (See our chart below, which uses Kaiser’s employer survey numbers.) So, the 3 percent growth rate was “abnormally low,” says John Sheils, senior vice president of The Lewin Group, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group that operates independently of the health care company. He says it “would stand to reason that we’d get a boost” this year, possibly due to recovering losses or catching up on the cost of new equipment. A health policy analyst with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners agreed, saying that it was “not surprising to see it rebound like that.”



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... the insurance companies went along with Obama's compromise approach because they knew without it they would be going out of business as a larger and larger segment of the population would not be able to afford health insurance which would have meant these people would have, out of necessity, been added to Medicare regardless of age.


Health Insurers: We’ll Deny Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions If Health Mandate Is Repealed

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/19/447157/health-insurers-well-deny-coverage-for-pre-existing-conditions-if-health-mandate-is-repealed/



Health insurers and supporters of the Obama administration’s health-care reform law are currently in the midst of drawing up possible contingency plans in case the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

The insurance industry argues that premiums are likely to skyrocket without the individual mandate in place to aid in pushing millions of new enrollees into the marketplace, as healthy people will be less likely to buy insurance, while insurers will still be required to sell policies to all applicants. In fact, a repeal of the individual mandate would increase insurance premiums by 25 percent, according to a study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“The insurance reforms would have to change if the mandate were struck,” said Justine Handelman, vice president of legislative and regulatory policy for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association trade group.

Health-insurance officials say that if the mandate is repealed, “their first priority would be persuading members of Congress to repeal two of the law’s major insurance changes: a requirement to cover everyone regardless of his or her medical history, and limits on how much insurers can vary premiums based on age.” Their next step would be to “set rewards for people who purchase insurance voluntarily and sanction those who don’t.”

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CHART: How The 1934 Recovery Benefited The 99 Percent, While 2010's Benefited The Rich

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/16/446102/chart-1934-2010-recovery-rich/

In 2010, as the nation slowly ground its way from Great Recession to recovery, 93 percent of national income gains went to the richest 1 percent of Americans. As Reuters’s David Cay Johnston pointed out today, this makes the 2010 recovery quite different from the recovery that followed the Great Depression, as then, income gains were widely shared by the population, not concentrated at the very top:


The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent.

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National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.




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... to have a healthy, growing economy with good job creation we need much more of the wealth to be distributed to the middle and lower income groups so a greater proportion of it will be spent. We need demand for more products and services if we are to see good jobs growth. Under these conditions the very wealthy will actually do better - if they are invested in the right areas. With a growing economy the very wealthy, invested in the right areas will do better than in an economy where most of the people are effectively peasants without much money to spend.

Taxpayers Underpaid The IRS By $385 Billion In 2006, Agency Says

We could help the deficit situation a good deal just by collecting the taxes that are owed us.

Huffington Post

{all emphases are my own_Bill USA}
WASHINGTON — People and businesses underpaid their taxes by an estimated 17 percent in the most recent year studied, failing to send the government a massive $450 billion that it was owed, according to an Internal Revenue Service report released Friday.

The study covered 2006, the most recent data the IRS said was available. The amount of underpaid taxes far exceeded the size of the entire federal budget deficit at the time.

After IRS audits and other enforcement efforts, non-compliance in 2006 shrank to 14 percent. That left the final amount of unpaid taxes at $385 billion, the agency said.

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.... the total of unpaid taxes in 2006 was larger than that fiscal year's budget deficit of $248 billion.
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To bridge the deficit, collect some taxes - Reuters

At a time when the U.S. government needs every dollar of revenue it can get, alarm bells should be sounding in Washington about a new IRS study showing that the Treasury is losing a fortune to tax evasion.

The study, released last Friday, found that the government missed out on $385 billion in uncollected taxes in 2006, the most recent year for which the IRS has complete data. If we extrapolate the IRS’s assumption that the U.S. government only collects about 85 percent of total tax liabilities, the revenue lost by the Treasury in the past decade exceeds $3 trillion.

That is serious money–nearly equal to all the new federal debt incurred during the Bush years. And without tougher action against tax cheats, the U.S. government stands to lose trillions more over the next decade.

Many of the biggest tax cheats are wealthy earners. While most working stiffs–the W-2 crowd–get their taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks, business owners and self-employed professionals have lots of ways to cheat. And cheat they do: Unpaid taxes by businesses and corporations accounted for nearly half of the total tax gap in 2006.
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