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I’m not hopeful

I never liked that old story of the Engine That Could. There are some things that the power of positive thinking simply won’t fix. Several weeks ago, I was sort of hopeful that some sort of deal would be made. The deal might be crappy, yes, but at least the economy wouldn’t implode. With each day, as reasonable and downright awful deals have all ended up in file 13, I’m getting less and less hopeful that our dysfunctional Congress can do anything that really helps the American people. So I went from I think they can to I think they are morons. I think that they are morons.

Rumors of a new, new deal have been circling since this morning.

From TPM:

The deal works like this:

It guarantees the debt limit will be hiked by $2.4 trillion. Immediately upon enactment of the plan, the Treasury will be granted $400 billion of new borrowing authority, after which President Obama will be allowed to extend the debt limit by $500 billion, subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.

That initial $900 billion will be paired with $900 billion of discretionary spending cuts, first identified in a weeks-old bipartisan working group led by Vice President Joe Biden, which will be spread out over 10 years.

Obama will later be able to raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion, again subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.

That will be paired with the formation of a Congressional committee tasked with reducing deficits by a minimum of $1.2 trillion. That reduction can come from spending cuts, tax increases or a mixture thereof.

If the committee fails to reach $1.2 trillion, it will trigger an automatic across the board spending cut, half from domestic spending, half from defense spending, of $1.5 trillion. The domestic cuts come from Medicare providers, but Medicaid and Social Security would be exempted. The enforcement mechanism carves out programs that help the poor and veterans as well.

If the committee finds $1.5 trillion or more in savings, the enforcement mechanism would not be triggered. That’s because Republicans are insisting on a dollar-for-dollar match between deficit reduction and new borrowing authority, and $900 billion plus $1.5 trillion add up to $2.4 trillion.

However, if the committee finds somewhere between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion in savings, the balance will be made up by the corresponding percentage of the enforcement mechanism’s cuts, still in a one-to-one ratio.

I’m not sure how this is much different than what we have seen before. I just don’t understand how even thinking about cuts to the social safety net helps the American people. Do you?

By |2011-07-31T19:04:40-04:00July 31st, 2011|Budget, Congress, Obama administration|5 Comments

Grab bag: how 'bout that Friday snowstorm?

pritchard park snow

  • The snow has stopped for now. Yesterday, there were estimates of 2-5 inches of snow in the Asheville area. The weatherman stated that there would be more in higher elevations. It appears that most of the Asheville region has received 7-10 inches of snow. The snow was expected to crank up again before it finally moves out of the area sometime tomorrow afternoon.
  • Pres. Obama went to a Republican caucus today. He thought he would keep the lines of communication open. One thing I have to say, I do admire our president. He gave a short speech then took questions from the audience. Some questions were civil. Others tried to make political points. The president did a fabulous job answering the questions and not being cornered. He also pointed out when some congressmen were trying to make cheap political points at the expense of the president. Many major networks carried this event. When it appeared obvious that Pres. Obama was not going to make some major gaffe, FOX News cut away and began running with the story that Obama was lecturing Republicans. I guess it was more important to FOX to stay within their narrative as opposed to actually cover the event in its entirety.
  • A really interesting thing went on in England today. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was grilled for about six hours over his decision to take Britain into war with the United States in Iraq. I think it is no surprise that Tony Blair was unapologetic about his decision. Although there were no breakthroughs and as far as I know, and nothing of substance will come from this, I think the exercise is interesting. Can you imagine a congressional committee calling President Bush or VP Cheney to answer questions about the invasion of Iraq? On one level, it would be political theater. On another, it would be nice for us, the American people, to get specific answers to specific questions. I know, I’m dreaming. One thing is clear, with the neoconservatives in charge at that time, I don’t see how we will get any other answer after 9/11. These were not just war hawks. They were hawks on steroids. With Bush and Cheney in the White House, I don’t see how Saddam Hussein could ever avoid war. They asked for, and wanted complete and unfettered access to Iraq in order to search for weapons of mass destruction. No sovereign nation would submit to that. Plus, what Bush, Cheney and the CIA didn’t know was that the Saddam Hussein regime depended upon the threat of weapons of mass destruction in order to stay in power. Saddam Hussein had the Kurds in the north, the Shiites in the south and Iran to worry about. In 10 or 20 years, when we look back upon this mess that we created in the Middle East, we’ll ask ourselves how we let this happen. We don’t have to look any further than allowing neocons in the White House.
  • 47-year-old former NFL star Herschel Walker is fighting whom? Why?
  • New FOX news contributor and former Gov. Sarah Palin thinks that the GOP and the tea baggers need to merge in one big party of love. (I added that party of love. She just wants them to merge into one party.)
  • It took the jury less than 40 minutes to find Scott Roeder guilty of murdering Dr. George Tiller.
  • The Errington Thompson Show has been moved to 4 PM on Saturday afternoons. You can still listen to my show through my blog whenever you want to. My guest this week will be Grammy award-winning bassist Larry Fulcher. I have given Larry the following scenario — you know that you’re going to be stranded on a tropical island. You can take your stereo and 20 CDs with you. You’ll be stranded for one year. What CDs would you take? I think you like Larry’s answers. This is a great show.
By |2010-01-29T23:27:56-04:00January 29th, 2010|Iraq, Legal, Music, Party Politics, Sports|Comments Off on Grab bag: how 'bout that Friday snowstorm?

A couple of things on healthcare

Is there anybody who believes that America is about competition? If you believe that America and business love competition, please email me because I have some swamp land ocean-front property to sell you out in Idaho. Think about that period in American history after World War II. The big companies got bigger because of competition? No. Of course, there are a few exceptions but as a rule big companies split up the marketplace. Whether it was General Motors, Ford and Chrysler or, in steel, United States Steel, Republic and Bethlehem, these big companies split up the marketplace and made profits. There was no competition. None.

Now, it looks like we have more information on the pharmaceutical companies. They paid generic drug companies to keep their generics off the market. Is anyone really surprised? There is so much money in pharmaceuticals that drug companies are able to pay off these generic companies so that everybody makes money but, and this is important, the pharmaceutical companies make a ton more money and the consumers pay a ton more money. Everybody wins except the consumers.

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I talked about mammograms and the controversy surrounding them a couple of weeks ago. It seems that several of the folks who made the recommendations were brought in front of a congressional committee in which they yelled that it was all just some sort of misunderstanding. It was a problem in communication. Horse hockey. I hate when people kind of weasel out of things. Say what you mean and mean what you say. In the formal paper which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, this committee stated that it recommended “against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years. The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 should be an individual one and take into account the patient’s context, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms.”

The recommendations weren’t a mistake. They were not something that they just dreamed up out of the air. The panel should’ve stood firm and said that, in their interpretation of the literature, these were their recommendations. Then, they should’ve added a caveat, the same warning in the paper, that treatment should be individualized in these patients.

Again, as I said before, this is a minor task force which has no bearing on the American Cancer Society, really the main medical body to which physicians look for recommendations on cancer, including breast cancer. I believe in screening more women and not fewer. I believe that women need to be informed about their choices. They need to be told that the earlier you start screening the more likely it is that you’re going to have something found on mammography, which will lead to a biopsy, which most likely will be negative. Once women understand this and want to accept this risk then there should be no argument.

By |2009-12-02T20:44:31-04:00December 2nd, 2009|Healthcare|Comments Off on A couple of things on healthcare
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