Thursday, April 7, 2011

Flight to Mars Week Day Four

I'm getting really excited about Friday's Flight to Mars show. Just one more work day and I'm on my way. But first, the news:

Still no budget deal. There was a late night meeting at the White House that reportedly narrowed the issues being debated. The President said a shut-down would be inexcusable, and both Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner said progress was being made. The President also said that the talks were making some progress. The House GOP are going to try to pass a one week extension today with another $12 billion in cuts and funding for the Pentagon through the end of the fiscal year (September), but they know the Senate won't pass it -- it's just so they can point the finger of blame at the Dems if there's a shut-down. Reports are that the negotiating is down to $7 billion -- but the GOP is still pressing for defunding of health reform, Planned Parenthood, and environmental regulation. Speaker Boehner has a tough sell to the Tea Partiers if he can't deliver on those issues -- and there's no way the President and the Dems in the Senate can fold on those issues. Still, the conservatives in the House feel that they can't compromise; $33 billion in cuts is not enough for them. But a shut-down would harm the economy -- how much depends on how long the shut-down lasts. And a Wall St. Journal poll says that conservative Tea Partiers are willing to shut down the government, but that would cost the GOP a lot of independent and moderate support. So with the President, the Speaker and the Majority Leader all against a shut-down, we have our best chance of averting this crisis, although Speaker Boehner says there's "no daylight between the Tea Party and me." And Tea Party leaders say this budget is their best chance to defund health reform.

So the federal government is preparing for a shut-down. Nonessential employees will be furloughed. They will even have to give up their Blackberrys. And federal employees are protesting. National parks and museums would close. Social Security checks would still go out, but the IRS would stop processing returns and other agencies will slow down, as well. The post office will still operate.

The NY Times's Nicholas Kristof says if the government shuts down, Congress shouldn't be paid, either. After all, if our military won't be paid, they why should Congress?

In other news, the ranks of Social Security disability beneficiaries is swelling, costing the system a huge amount of money -- and jobs simply aren't available even if people were able to work. But most people on SSDI don't come off it; most can't.

Meanwhile, there's a backlog in processing of veterans' disability claims.

Football star Rocky Clark is still without health insurance after his $5 million policy maxed out -- unfortunately, before the prohibition against lifetime caps took effect on September 23, 2010. He's paralyzed from the neck down and the quality of his care under Medicaid is not what it was when he had insurance.

Medicare is publishing hospital injury statistics -- and the hospitals are not happy. Look up your hospital here.

And that's where things are this morning. If there are budget developments throughout the day, I'll try to update you. Have a great day! Jennifer

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