Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Enjoy your day off but please take a moment to reflect.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Republican Death Wish

Robert Reich
The Huffington Post
May 28, 2011

Forty Senate Republicans have now joined their colleagues in the House to support Paul Ryan's plan that would turn Medicare into vouchers that funnel money to private health insurers. They thumbed their nose at the special election in upstate New York earlier this week that delivered a victory to Democrat Kathy Hochul, who made the plan the focus of her upset victory.
So now it's official. The 2012 campaign will be about the future of Medicare. (Yes, it will also be about jobs, but the Republicans haven't come up with any credible ideas on that front, and the Democrats seem incapable of doing what needs to be done.)
This spells trouble for the GOP. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans -- even a majority of Republican voters -- want to preserve Medicare. They don't want to turn it over to private insurers.
It would be one thing if Republicans had consistency on their side. At least then they could take the high road and claim their plan is a principled way to achieve the aims of Medicare through market-based mechanisms. (It isn't, of course. It would end up squeezing seniors because it takes no account of the rising costs of health care.)
But they can't even claim consistency. Remember, this was the same GOP that attacked the President's health reform plan in 2010 by warning it would lead to Medicare cuts.
Former President Bill Clinton counsels Democrats not to say Medicare is fine the way it is. He's right. But instead of talking about Medicare as a problem to be fixed, Democrats should start talking about it as a potential solution to the challenge of rising health-care costs -- as well as to our long-term budget problem.
Can we be clear about that budget problem? It's not driven by Medicare. It's driven by the same relentlessly soaring health-care costs that are pushing premiums through the roof and causing middle-class families to shell out more and more money for deductibles and co-payments.
Some features of Obama's new healthcare law will slow the rise -- insurance exchanges, for example, could give consumers clearer comparative information about what they're getting for their insurance payments -- but the law doesn't go nearly far enough.
That's why Democrats should be proposing that anyone be allowed to sign up for Medicare. Medicare is cheaper than private insurance because its administrative costs are so much lower, and it has vast economies of scale.
If Medicare were allowed to use its potential bargaining leverage over America's hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical providers, it could drive down costs even further.
And it could force the nation's broken health-care system to do something it must do but has resisted with a vengeance: Focus on healthy outcomes rather on costly inputs. If Medicare paid for results -- not tests, procedures, drugs, and hospital stays, but results -- it could give Americans better health at lower cost.
Let the GOP go after Medicare. That will do more to elect Democrats in 2012 than anything else. But it would be wise and politically astute for Democrats to go beyond just defending Medicare. Strengthen and build upon it. Use it to reform American health care and, not incidentally, rescue the federal budget.

Robert Reich is the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at

Copyright © 2011, Inc.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Broadway Carl
Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!
May 21.2011

... it's May 21st... 2011...

...And I'm still here...

No Jeebus......

Uh... well... this is awkward.

UPDATE: I've just been informed that the preacher fella who predicted today is expecting Jeebus at 6pm. Maybe Jeebus responded through Facebook or an Evite. So I'll reserve my ownJudgement and give JC until about 7pm to show up - that includes plenty of "fashionably late" time.

Wait - 6pm EDT or PDT?

Copyright 2011 Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trump officially ends fake presidential campaign

MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011

After a months-long process that left his reputation in tatters and his brand damaged, Donald Trump officially announced today he is not running for president, declaring that "business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

Writes Trump in his statement:
"My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words. So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician's [sic]thoughts." 
So why get out now? Why not follow Roger Stone's advice and declare he's still mulling an independent candidacy, thereby bypassing the GOP primary process and allowing the charade to continue well into 2012?
Well, for one thing, Trump stayed in the fake candidate game long enough that his prized personal brand seemed to finally be taking some damage. Some media outlets finally began to do real digging into his business dealings and the results were deeply unflattering. (Here are tworecent examples. My dossier on what to know about Trump for next time he tries to scam us is here.)
There were beginning to be real-world consequences. Trump's constant race-baiting prompted popular protests that led to the cancellation of his annual appearance at the Indy 500. A black group canceled its golf classic at one of Trump's clubs in protest. Meanwhile, ratings for "Celebrity Apprentice" (just signed for another season) are actuallydown.
One hopes that this is a teachable moment for the media -- the lesson being to never, ever trust Trump, and to never report his claims uncritically. There was, for example, Trump's widely-reported-as-fact claim that he sent "investigators" to Hawaii to look into President Obama's birth. Trump promised he would release the results of that investigation in due time, but that never happened.
Alex Pareene's obituary for the Trump campaign, written a few days ago but very much worth a read, is here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

GOP chokes on own Medicare Kool-Aid

Gene Lyons

A funny thing happened along the Roadmap for America's Future. Ordinary citizens smoked out its actual impact on their lives while much of the Washington celebrity pundit class were still uttering hosannas to Rep. Paul Ryan's, R-Wis., alleged intellectual honesty and courage.

As a result, congressional Republicans unceremoniously abandoned their crackpot scheme to privatize Medicare within three weeks of voting almost unanimously to endorse it. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., explained that there was no point wasting time on a plan that had zero chance of passing in the Senate, and was certain to be vetoed by President Obama if it did.
Camp also acknowledged that as the same logic applies to the GOP's attempts to repeal the 2009 Affordable Care Act, aka "ObamaCare," his committee wasn't going to fool with that either.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, breathing smoke and fire two weeks ago, lamented that Republicans seeking budgetary consensus would need to look elsewhere after President Obama "excoriated us" for suggesting that Medicare health insurance be replaced by a voucher plan requiring seniors to comparison shop for private health insurance.
Poor babies. Here they've been so generous and cooperative, and Obama trashes them.
Actually, the president's exact words are worth repeating. The GOP roadmap, he said, asks Americans to accept that "even though we can't afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it ... They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors to each pay $6,000 more in health costs? That's not right, and it's not going to happen as long as I'm president."
No it's not, and it never was. The mystery is why congressional Republicans chose to cast a purely symbolic vote in favor of such a deeply unpopular idea. Every available poll shows that strong majorities oppose sharp Medicare cuts, let alone the GOP plan to ditch guaranteed health insurance for citizens over 65.
Yet House Republicans, who came to power in 2010 partly by accusing the Obama administration of trifling with Medicare, committed themselves to a deeply ideological revision of America's social contract, reducing the top marginal tax rate on multimillionaires from 35 to 25 percent and paying for it by converting seniors' medical insurance to a mandated voucher system.
And, yeah, you read that right. If enacted, Rep. Ryan's excellent plan would have required seniors either to buy private health insurance or pay a hefty tax penalty as well as forfeiting a lifetime's Medicare tax payments.
If you're thinking that mandates are precisely what GOP savants say makes "Obamacare" an unconstitutional threat to liberty, you're right.
The trick is to call it something else, in this case a "refundable tax credit" -- a distinction without a difference. You buy the private insurance or pay an extra $2,500. Exactly like Obamacare, except the penalty's much stiffer.
Have I mentioned that House Republicans supported Ryan's plan 235-4? (Democrats opposed it unanimously.) Then they went home for some very lively town hall meetings before returning to Washington with their tails tucked firmly between their legs. Several GOP congressmen virtually got driven from the room by irate constituents.
(My own GOP Rep. Tim Griffin bravely opted for the TV town hall route, taking pre-screened questions from invited callers. Even so, he reportedly assured one woman that Ryan's scheme would raise taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals, which happens to be untrue. If it did, Griffin wouldn't support it.)
Roadmap to Big Rock Candy Mountain is more like it. Ryan's scheme relies upon magic asterisks, insupportable economic projections and Orwellian euphemisms from beginning to end. When is a voucher not a voucher? When you call it "premium support," his supporters insist.
To make the numbers work, Ryan's plan relies upon the proverbial "player to be named later" -- cutting tax rates while promising to eliminate "loopholes" it fails to specify. Bruce Bartlett, the one-time GOP budget expert who clings to an unfashionable belief in arithmetic, puts it succinctly: "I learned long ago that when someone says everything is on the table that really means nothing is on the table."
Absent Medicare privatization, however, the savings from Ryan's plan add up to a big fat zero, which constitutes progress when you come to think of it. Most GOP miracle cures take years to unravel.
So why did Republicans buy into it? Some may have mistakenly believed their own propaganda about President Obama's weakness. Some in safe GOP districts may fear Tea Party primaries more than Democratic opponents. Writing in the New Republic, Jon Chait suggests that many Republicans "just got caught drinking their own Kool-Aid about how the public agrees with their vision."
To summarize, yet another Washington psuedo-event; and an episode Democrats must never let voters forget.