Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Themes

Oh, boy, what a week. I feel like I'm running a five day marathon! But I can't stop now, so here's the news:

Wall Street is making contingency plans in case there's no deal on raising the debt ceiling, trying to reduce the risk of holding Treasury bonds. You really should read that article if you don't think raising the debt ceiling is important. Investors beg to differ. The plan proposed by the bipartisan "Gang of Six" is not going over well with conservatives in the House -- very disappointing because it seemed like the first hint of a way out. But Eric Cantor says it relies too much on raising revenue. They also don't like the plan B, Mitch McConnell's plan to give the President the ability to raise the debt ceiling. When did compromise become a dirty word? The GOP is taking a beating in the polls for being to recalcitrant, as well they should. The Federal Reserve is actively preparing for default as they try to figure out which government checks will be honored on August 3. You can't blame them -- there seem to be so many plans being discussed with little sense that issues are being narrowed down and that people are focused.

President Obama is doing all he can to bolster the Gang of Six plan -- a package of spending cuts and a tax overhaul -- even offering to raise the debt limit for only a few days, until this plan can be written up and votes taken. But he will only agree to a short-term deal if the parties are narrowing in on a deal. Here's the full text of the Gang of Six plan. Apparently, it was an agreement to make serious cuts to Medicaid and Medicare that have made this plan attractive to GOP Senators. And it eliminates the CLASS Act, a plan for long-term care insurance backed by the government.

Meanwhile, states are slashing budgets, which seems to involve health care cuts. For example, here in Connecticut, respite programs are being slashed, while substance abuse beds will be harder to find.

In other news, Express Scripts may be buying Medco, merging the two biggest pharmacy benefit managers -- I hope the antitrust lawyers in Washington take a hard look at whether this will harm consumers by eliminating any real competition in the market.

Calorie counts on restaurant menus may not always be accurate.

And there you have it, friends. Despite it all, have a great day! Jennifer

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