Saturday, December 7, 2013

The power of Obamacare

The intensity and persistence of Republicans' opposition to the Affordable Care Act is testament to how much they fear (and expect) its success.    Logic would suggest that, if you think it is going to be a failure, just stand back and let it happen.

Now comes this:   Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens told a group of Republicans in Floyd County:
Let me tell you what we’re doing [about Obamacare]. . .  Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”
There you have it from the horse's mouth.   This is the man elected to oversee all insurance programs in Georgia.   Shouldn't he evaluate them on merit and not ideology or political opportunism?

The end result is that most Georgians are going to get insurance -- but it will be a lot more difficult for anyone who gets it on his own (because Georgia refused to set up a state exchange) and impossible for a few people who would have been eligible for the Medicaid extension (which Georgia refused to accept).

Seems to me that's good cause for the governor, the insurance commissioner, and most of the legislature being voted out of office first chance we get.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Is this a winning strategy?

Mitch McConnell faces a strong primary opponent in his re-election bid.   Then, if he survives that, he faces the formidable Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election.   In a poll last month, they were pretty evenly matched, which is probably very bad news for an incumbent.

So what did McConnell do on the campaign trail this week?    He thundered against Obamacare, saying that it has been "a catastrophic failure" for people everywhere.

The Democratic governor of Kentucky had a comeback:   "The facts don't prove that out. . . .  "There is a tremendous pent-up demand in Kentucky for affordable health care.   People are hungry for it."

Gov. Steve Beshear (D) overcame Republican legislators' resistance and set up a state insurance exchange, which has become one of the most successful ones thus far.   Here are the facts for Kentucky alone -- contrary to McConnell's claim:

   550,000 have visited the web site
   180,000 have called the health care call center
     69,000 have actually signed up for insurance

That represents about 1,000 Kentuckians per day getting health insurance through Obamacare.   Gov. Beshear also predicted that over the next eight years, Kentucky will benefit as the Affordable Care Act adds $15 billion to the Kentucky economy and creates 17,000 new jobs.

Doesn't sound like a catastrophic failure, does it?

Better get a new strategy, Mitch.    Alison will be campaigng on the success of Obamacare and what a benefit it is to the voters of Kentucky -- and you might just find yourself looking for a new job.


Something good happened

This will be a change of pace.   I'm going to say something good about one function of our state government.

This morning I went to renew my driver's license, equipped with reading materials and a free morning schedule for the anticipated three hours wait.

Instead, I was in and out in 30 minutes.     The staff were all pleasant, helpful, efficient.   To my great surprise, it was a good experience.   I don't know how much Gov. Nathan Deal had to do with the change, but when he took office, this was a major complaint.   People were having to wait 6 to 8 hours.   He promised to fix it.

So . . . to the governor and any others who helped:  Thank You.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mandela 1918-2013

I feel a profound privilege to have lived on the earth at the same time as Nelson Mandela.

Few individuals in the history of the world have done as much to improve the lives of fellow humans.    Combining a rare generosity of spirit with a practical politician's skills, he changed the fate of South Africa -- and of oppressed people everywhere.


Wrong analogy for birth control in Obamacare

Noted evangelical pastor, writer, and friend of presidents, Rick Warren is generally considered reasonably moderate and balanced -- not a zealot or a bigot of the right-wing Christian fringe.

But he has always, in interviews and in his writings, struck me as being a bit fatuous and too verbally facile to be taken seriously as a deep thinker and moral philosopher.   Now he has tossed off an opinion about the wrongness of requiring employers to include contraception coverage in their health care plans for their employees.

As he put it:   "It's like making a Jewish deli sell pork."

No it's not.   You are not making companies sell birth control.   You are requiring that, if they furnish comprehensive health insurance to their employees, it must include contraception coverage because that is part of comprehensive health insurance.

It's more like telling a Jewish deli that, if they are going to sell something and call it chicken soup, it must contain chicken.   They can just choose to drop chicken soup from the menu if they have a religious objection to chicken.

And the Jewish deli can decide not to provide health insurance as an employee benefit.   If employees decide to go work for the other deli across the street that does provide health insurance, then so be it.  As conservatives are wont to say:  that's just the marketplace working.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why is this man smiling?

John Boehner, the leader of the House Republicans who are to a large degree responsible for the dysfunction of Congress, is smiling.    Why?    This Congress has the lowest approval rating in history -- in single digits.  And it ranks as the most unproductive congress in the history of the Republic, having passed about one-third the number of laws as the congress that Harry Truman dubbed "The Do-Nothing Congress."

So, why is John Boehner smiling?

Here's what he says:  "The House has continued to listen to the American people and to focus on their concerns. . . .  Whether it's the economy, whether it's jobs, whether it's protecting the American people from Obamacare -- we've done our work."

Seriously?   Then why, with immigration reform, farm bill, appropriations bill, and dozens of other necessary legislation still unpassed, have you scheduled the House to be in session only 7 more days between now and January 7th?   Why not bring up the immigration reform bill passed by the senate and favored by a majority of the House?   It would pass, if only you bring it up.  But you won't.   Is that listening to the American people?

In a sense, Boehner is right when he says "We've done our work."   That is, if he means the "work" mandated by the Tea Party, which is to obstruct everything and pass NO legislation.    So perhaps Boehner is admitting that he's working for the Tea Party, not for the American people.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A great letter to the NYT

Sometimes my favorite readings in the newspaper are the letters to the editor.   There's one in today's New York Times that is perfect in its succinct, clarion-clear point.   It's from David Misch of Santa Monica, CA:
"So let me get this straightThe Republicans' objection to Obamacare is that it's a horrible socialist policy that will destroy America and that it's taking too long to get going." 
Zing !!    Couldn't have said it better myself.


THAT much ?

An AJC front page blurb yesterday piqued my interest.   It was from a National Retail Federation report about the amount of shopping Americans did over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I read:  "Comsumers spent an estimated $1.7 billion" and I thought, Wow.  That's a lot.  Then I read the rest of the sentence:  ". . . less than they did a year ago."

Now that's some serious shopping.  Or, being an anti-shopper myself, I might say, "some reckless shopping."

The article went on:
"There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face.   So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets."
I'm astonished.  In these lingering hard times, we still spent an estimated $57.4 billion going shopping one weekend -- and that's considered 'being conservative.'


Monday, December 2, 2013

Pope Francis' challenge to conservative Christians

In his short tenure thus far, Pope Francis has astounded and delighted liberals and social gospel Christians;  it's been a bit more difficult for conservative Roman Catholics whose political allegiances tend to be Republican.

Now he has gone a step further, according to E. J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post.  Commenting on the ways that unregulated capitalism has failed the poor, Francis has even denounced "trickle down" economics, calling it a system that "expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."   Further, he said that system "has never been confirmed by the facts" and that it has created "a globalization of indifference."

What many present day Christians do not (want to) recognize is that Jesus of Nazareth was a political radical who attempted to subvert the ruling government of his day.   According to many biblical historians, that was the real reason for his capture and crucifixion:   he was a rabble rouser who had become a threat to the authorities.  His efforts were clearly in defense of the poor, the downtrodden, the ordinary people and against the elite, the exploitative, and those who misused power over others.

Here's more from Pope Francis' message:
"In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule."
Wow !!    Paul Ryan, John Boehner -- good catholics that you are -- what do you say about that?


PS:  Dionne reminds liberals that Francis strongly affirms his opposition to abortion and other conservative doctrinal tenets;  but on balance progressives have more reason to rejoice than do conservatives.