Friday, July 15, 2011

Finally Friday Edition

The news gets worse every day, as we come closer to catastrophe while uninformed, selfish politicians play games with the world's economy. Let's see what's new this morning:

Here's a really good piece that gets to the heart of the matter. The GOP simply want smaller government -- period. Their goal is not so much deficit reduction as it is shrinking the size of government. The Dems believe that government plays a critical role in providing services and protecting our rights -- and if we're going to do deficit reduction, it should include both spending cuts and revenue raisers. It's a basic philosophical disagreement. How do we get past it?

Meanwhile, we still have Tea Partiers who believe nothing terrible will happen on August 3 if the debt ceiling is not raised. Contrary to the world's economists, Wall Street, the credit rating agencies, China, the Chamber of Commerce, and anybody else with a clue how this all works, Michelle Bachman and her ilk think this is all much ado about nothing. They say if we don't have enough money to pay all our bills, then the President can prioritize, pay interest on the debt, pay our military, maybe Social Security -- and other things wouldn't get paid for. Like whole government agencies. Like unemployment. And on and on.

President Obama has told the negotiators for the parties that it's decision time, and they should go back to their caucuses and see if there's any way to reach a compromise in the next day or so. He's offered close to $2 trillion in cuts, but the question is whether they will accept it. If not, he will call them in over the week-end and they will start trying to figure out a different way to deal with the debt ceiling. He's also scheduled a press conference for this morning. Senator McConnell's compromise, which would allow the President to raise the debt ceiling 3 times up to a total of $2.5 trillion, matched with spending cuts, is starting to look good to people. Speaker Boehner complains that there are too many people at the negotiating table who are throwing cold water on every new idea. He says he still thinks the "grand bargain" is the way to go. Standard & Poor's has warned that there's a 50% chance of downgrading the US credit rating.

As a result of all of this talk about deficit cutting and raising the debt ceiling, the chances of Medicare cuts are increased. However, at least one expert says there won't be Medicare cuts in the debt ceiling deal. The most popular proposal has seniors paying more for their health care. This will not go over well with seniors. Eric Cantor and the pharmaceutical industry are fighting any proposal that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug discounts, protecting the industry rather than seniors.

People with disabilities and special needs stand to lose the most if Medicaid is cut.

If you're sick of reading about the debt ceiling, here's the wonderful Dr. Pauline Chen on hospital overcrowding. If you follow Dr. Chen as I do, you know that for her, this is not an abstract problem, but a personal one.

There's a bipartisan proposal to eliminate a provision of the health reform law that requires a prescription for over the counter meds if people want to use health savings accounts to pay for them.

I'm not sure what I believe here. The President has often told that his mother struggled with cancer while fighting with her insurance company, but a new book says she was insured and did not have a problem with health insurance; her fight was over disability insurance. Is this just the inaccurate memory of someone who was a kid at the time?

Should doctors be "friends" with patients on Facebook? The British Medical Association says no.

And that's it for this morning. The President's press conference at 11 am may produce some more news, in which case I'll try to get back here with a quick update. In the meantime, have a great day! Jennifer

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