Friday, December 31, 2010

Enjoy your health care reform ... while you can.

Sunday – the first day of the New Year – is also the first day for two important provisions of the new health care reform law.

The first change will start to close the infamous donut hole in prescription drug plans. When you suddenly discover that the drug you’ve been paying $42 a month for will now will cost $197 a month until the end of the year … welcome to the donut hole!

But the second change is the biggie. It will require insurance companies to pay out no less than 80 percent of the money they take in from premiums on actual health care costs. As of Monday morning, overhead, profit, salaries and those multi-million dollar bonuses for executives will all have to come out of the remaining 20 percent.

The plain, unvarnished truth: any insurance company that hasn’t already been meeting that 80:20 ratio has been screwing its customers.

And these two provisions are part of the law that Republicans in Congress will try to repeal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

There are liars, damn liars, and Pawlenty of them.

I've been bothered – well, OK, infuriated – over the past several years by how political “spin” has deteriorated into deliberate lies and distortions. It’s deplorable whatever the source, Democrat or Republican, but without question the great preponderance is coming from the right.

One example of far too many: The Republican politicians and media (Fox “News”) persistently referring to health care reform as “the “government take-over of our health care system”. Utter nonsense!

Now comes Tim Pawlenty, the out-going Republican governor of Minnesota who wants to be his party’s presidential nominee in 2012. To that end, he has started bashing President Obama for, among other things, increasing the size of the federal government while (cue the crocodile tears) "the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs."

New York Time columnist Paul Krugman points out, that there are actually fewer permanent federal jobs since Obama was elected. The increase Pawlenty refers to was due to the temporary hiring of census workers by the federal government. The census is, of course mandated by the Constitution.

In other words, Pawlenty has deliberately distorted turth to create an impression he knows to be untrue ... and of course we can count on Fox “News” and their right-wing blowhards to pick it up and perpetuate it.

Somehow, these liars need to be called out and rejected. In an ideal world, that should be a bi-partisan effort. And wouldn’t that be a heart-warming way to start the New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dumb like a Fox.

A recent survey conducted by the University of Maryland has determined that people who watch Fox News are far more likely than the rest of us to believe statements about current events that are demonstrably false.

Well … duh!

Take for example, the following statement:

Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit.

Fox viewers – 31% more than viewers and readers of other media outlets – believe that statement to be true.

Here’s another one:

Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring.

Thirty percent more Fox viewers thought that was a true statement compared to the rest of us.

And – proving once and for all that people who watch Fox are there for ammunition, not information – 31 percent more Fox viewers agree that “it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States”.

Predictably, Fox News has reacted to this story. Their spokesman trashed the University of Maryland. That, too, was predictable.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

John Kyl Defends the Faith Against Infidel Harry Reid

Senator John Kyl, Republican from Arizona, has accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of “disrespecting” Christians.

My goodness! What has Harry done now? Questioned the divinity of Jesus? Challenged the veracity of the Bible? Well, not exactly. In fact, not hardly. Senator Reid, it seems, has had the temerity to say the Senate should meet and continue to do its business during the week between Christmas and January 4th when the session formally concludes.

Here’s what Kyl said: "It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out, frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff."

Memo to Senator Kyl: Christmas is on Saturday this year. Most folks will be going back to work the following Monday. Why shouldn't you?

Memo to the rest of us: How in the world are Democrats supposed to find common ground … work out rational bi-partisan solutions to complex problems … with arrogant, sanctimonious fools like John Kyl?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

And the Rich Get Really, Really, REALLY Richer.

We should all be aware of – if not actually concerned about – the growing gap between the very rich and all the rest of us. How big is the gap? Consider:

Three years ago, the top one percent of income earners in the country made more money than the bottom 50 percent.

Today, the top one percent makes more money than the bottom 90 percent … assuming it’s possible to grasp the concept of 90% being the bottom of anything.

And remember: this has nothing to do with total wealth. This refers only to annual incomes.

So how in the name of anything that’s fair, reasonable or rational, can the Republicans be demanding that the Bush tax cuts – which were a major factor in our current deficit problems – be kept in place for that top one percent?

They can’t.

But they still do.