Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

The House passed the deficit reduction deal. It was a bipartisan vote representing the middle of the political spectrum. Nobody's really happy. The Senate is expected to vote today. In an amazing turn of events, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords came to the floor of the House and placed her vote in favor of the deal. It was terribly moving. It overshadowed the partisan rancor and maneuverings it took to put the deal together. It all came down to VP Biden and Mitch McConnell. Still, many liberals are angry about the deal, which largely capitulated to GOP and Tea Party demands. Tea Partiers aren't happy either. Some say this "deal" had more to do with the 2012 elections than it did with the deficit. It may not guard us from a downgrade of our credit rating. States and cities brace for less federal money. What will happen when unemployment runs out at the end of the year? Some say this deal is a disaster for workers -- those with jobs and those without. Some federal workers may lose their jobs. The super-committee may make cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, including raising the Medicare eligibility age, and it's highly likely that payments to providers will be cut. But the deal as passed does not fix the big dilemma -- raise taxes or cut Medicare? So all eyes will be on the super-committee that's supposed to report out a proposal by November 23.

OPINION: I wrestled with this all day yesterday as I learned more about the details of the deal. In the end, I am opposed. It's bad precedent to allow our entire economy -- indeed, the world's economy -- to be held hostage to extremists on the right. The President insisted on raising revenues, and allowed things to get to the brink of disaster, only to cave in. His people worked hard yesterday to convince us all that it won't be that bad. But in the end, I agree with the economists who say this deal will harm our economy and, in particular, job growth by taking money out of the economy at a time when we should be pumping it in. A default was unthinkable, though. So what would I have done as the clock ran out? I would have unilaterally raised the debt limit and let the Tea Party sue me for it. It would take forever for a court to rule, if it ever did get involved in what's called a "political question." In the meantime, I'd have saved the economy without agreeing to another 6 months of craziness by a 12 member bipartisan committee. Why should we think the super-committee will get any further than Congressional leaders got in their negotiations with the White House? We shouldn't. So the trigger -- massive additional cuts -- will go into effect on January 1, 2013. By then, either President Obama will have been re-elected, in which case the Bush tax cuts will expire even if the super-committee does nothing; or he won't, in which case the trigger will never happen because the GOP will undo this deal. But most of all, I think you don't negotiate with hostage-takers, and that's what the Tea Party and, indeed, the GOP as a whole has done -- they held our economy hostage. They should be blamed. They should pay the consequences. That's where I ended up after a lot of thought.

The Obama Administration has adopted the Institute of Medicine's proposal that contraceptives be available for free, as preventive medicine.

As Exchanges are set up by states, the role of insurers becomes a question. Should they have seats on the Exchange? We fought hard to keep them off of the Exchange Board here in Connecticut and we won that fight, but in other states, that's not the case. The Exchange should be making decisions with consumers in mind, not insurers. Or that's my opinion.

A federal court found that there is no taxpayer funded abortion permitted under the health reform law. So can we put this one to bed finally? I sort of doubt it.

An experiment by an insurer, a large hospital chain and a large group of doctors has saved big simply by working together.

Michelle Andrews, a health care columnist, became a patient in a Canadian emergency room. Read about her experience.

In New York, nonprofits that serve the disabled are able to rake in millions.

Software added to mobile phones helped diabetics control their illness.

And that's it for this morning. Have a great day! Jennifer

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