This is a political trend I’d like to see more of: I wasn’t alive then, so don’t ask me!
[Q]: A third Texas president, L.B.J., created Medicare in themid-’60s. Your hero Ronald Reagan campaigned vigorously against that, saying it would lead to socialized medicine, would end liberty in the United States. Who was right: L.B.J. or Reagan?[Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz]: It’s not worth tilting at windmills. I don’t know. I wasn’t alive then.
Who was right? Who’s to say? That was in the before-times. I have no opinions on the before-times. Now maybe Medicare ended liberty in the United States, maybe it didn’t, let’s just leave that one to the History Channel to sort out.
The possibilities here are endless. Sen. Ted Cruz, do you think the American Revolution was a good idea or a bad one? Your party tends to mention Hitler a lot—have any thoughts on the fellow? You have spoken endlessly about your father leaving Cuba, but we cannot help but notice you were not alive then—are you sure you are qualified to discuss this?
The good news, if we can hold him to this, is that Sen. Ted Cruz has now recused himself from having any opinions on anything that happened before December 22, 1970. Not just Medicare but the civil rights struggle are out of scope, but the development of the automobile, the highway system, electrification, indoor plumbing, the Crusades, and sedimentary rocks are all off-limits. As is the Constitution, which is worth more than all the others combined; if we can convince Ted Cruz that he is no longer qualified to give his opinions on what the Constitution says or what the Founding Fathers were thinking during any given lunchtime, we could render the man nearly silent in one stroke.
Other candidates have declared that they are not scientists, recusing them from climate discussions; Ted Cruz considers anything that happened before the Earth was graced with his bare-bottomed presence to be off-limits. Now that’s dedication to not answering the question.
It’s been a while since I wrote about one of our nation’s sleaziest governors, Florida Governor Rick Scott. I honestly have no idea how this guy got elected governor. You’d think the fact that he was CEO of a company that was found guilty of defrauding Medicare out of hundreds of millions of dollars would be enough to disqualify him from being elected to such a high office.
But apparently not, because the good people of Florida elected him in 2010. Not only that, but he stands a pretty good at chance at being reelected this November.
Florida, I’m begging you, please don’t reelect this guy.
And he wasn’t even facing prison time. Because why would he, right? He was just the CEO of a company which defrauded the government, of course prison time wouldn’t be on the table.
Now if he had been caught with a moderately sized bag of weed, that would have been an entirely different story.
While I understand that it’s every American’s right to “plead the Fifth” in certain instances when on trial, for a former CEO of a company that’s on trial for massive Medicare fraud to do it 75 times is astounding. That alone tells you that Scott clearly had something to hide.
Oh, and for the record, his former company was found guilty of defrauding Medicare. They were ordered to pay over $600 million in penalties.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, Florida Governor Rick Scott – the man who was CEO of a company which was found guilty of massively defrauding the federal government.
I live in Texas and Rick Perry is definitely a scumbag, but he’s still not on the level of Rick Scott. In my opinion, Scott has proven himself to be one of the most corrupt and unethical politicians in this country.
Brat has called for slashing Social Security, Medicare, and education spending and says “rich” nations don’t have to fear climate change.
When tea party challenger David Brat sent Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, to the ash heap on Tuesday night, vanquishing the incumbent by more than 10 points in the primary race, the politerati were stunned. Political journalists scrambled to answer a question: who is this guy? The political pros knew that Brat had mounted a campaign largely based on two issues: bashing Cantor on immigration (that is, excoriating the congressman, who was quite hesitant about immigration reform, for not killing the possibility of any immigration legislation) and denouncing Cantor for supporting a debt ceiling deal that averted possible financial crisis. But not much else was widely known about this local professor who dispatched a Washington power broker.
A quick review of his public statements reveals a fellow who is about as tea party as can be. He appears to endorse slashing Medicare and Social Security payouts to seniors by two-thirds. He wants to dissolve the IRS. And he has called for drastic cuts to education funding, explaining, “My hero Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost? So the greatest minds in history became the greatest minds in history without spending a lot of money.”
An economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in central Virginia, Brat frequently has repeated the conservative canard that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae brought down the housing market by handling the vast majority of subprime mortgages. That is, he absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession, which hammered middle-class and low-income families across the country. (In fact, as the housing bubble grew, Freddie and Fannie shed their subprime holdings, while banks grabbed more.)
If you let Americans do their thing, there is no scarcity, right? They said we’re going to run out of food 200 years ago, that we’re goin’ to have a ice age. Now we’re heating up…Of course we care for the environment, but we’re not mad people. Over time, rich countries solve their problems. We get it right. It’s not all perfect, but we get it right.
Update: After Mother Jones published this piece, several videos referenced were set to private.
He did not say what might happen to not-so-rich countries due to climate change and the consequent rise in sea levels, droughts, and extreme weather.
I’ll give you my general answer. And my general answer is you have to do what’s fair. Right. So you put together a graph or a chart and you go out to the American people, you go to the podium, and you say, this is what you put in on average, this is what you get out on average. Currently, seniors are getting about three dollars out of all of the programs for every dollar they put in. So, in general, you’ve got to go to the American people and just be honest with them and say, “Here’s what fairness would look like.” Right. So, maybe the next ten years we have to grandfather some folks in, but basically we’re going to move them in a direct line toward fairness and we have to live within our means.
For the first 13 years of your kid’s life, we teach them no religion, no philosophy, and no ethics…Who is our great moral teachers these days? Every generation has always had great theologians or philosophers by the century that you can name. Who do we got right now? [Audience: Jay-Z] Right. Right. [Audience: Beyoncé] Right. Beyoncé. When you can’t name a serious philosopher, a national name, or a serious theologian, or a serious religious leader, at the national level, your culture’s got a major problem. We got a major problem.
Brat railed against Cantor for supporting a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. Brat called this a policy of “amnesty” and accused Cantor of “getting big paychecks” from groups like the Chamber of Commerce for his position:
If I misspoke and said “secretly,” he’s been pretty out in the open. He’s been in favor of the KIDS Act, the DREAM Act, the ENLIST Act [which Cantor blocked in May]…On the amnesty card, it’s a matter of motivation. I teach third-world economic development for the past 20 years, I love all people, I went to seminary before I did my economics, and so you look at the motivation. Why is Eric pushing amnesty? It’s not a big issue in our district, everyone’s opposed to it, and so why is he doing it? And the answer is, ’cause he’s got his eye on the speakership. He wants to be speaker, and big business, right? The Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce wants cheap labor. So he actually is selling out the people in our district. He’s not representing the district, the will of the people, and he’s getting big paychecks by doing so. So he’s very clear on amnesty.
“Common-” anything I’m against. United Nations. Common everything. If you say common, by definition you’re saying it’s top-down. I’m going to force this on you. That’s what dictators do.
His view of who deploys a top-down approach, naturally, includes President Barack Obama:
The left does not believe in diversity. They believe in top-down, I’m going to force my way onto you. Obama is forcing un-diversity onto everybody. It’s not diversity. It’s top down, central planning, on everything.
As Mother Jones’s Timothy Murphy noted, Brat identifies as a libertarian but not a full Randian, and he doesn’t buy the idea that there’s anything dangerous about playing chicken with the debt ceiling. Bring it on, he says.
In November, Brat will face Democrat Jack Trammell, a fellow Randolph-Macon professor, in the general election in this Republican district.
On Wednesday, the new head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a bombshell report finding that U.S. health care spending since 2010 has increased by just 1.3 percent — the smallest cost growth over a three-year period in American history — while prices in the health care sector rose by 50-year lows, thanks in part to structural changes made by the Affordable Care Act. But most media outlets ignored that story, instead choosing to focus on ongoing glitches with the Healthcare.gov website.
According to a ThinkProgress analysis, English-language online and print media published about ten times as many pieces on the troubles with the Obamacare site than they did on the new health care spending report:
Regardless, the record slowdown is one of the most important economic developments of the decade, and has huge ramifications for the fiscal viability of major programs like Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has already cut its projections for Medicare and Medicaid’s price tag in 2020 by $147 billion — a 10 percent reduction from previous estimates.
That’s significant because those health entitlements are the primary driver of U.S. debt. The CBO’s dire predictions about future debt are based on the assumption that health care costs will continue spiking for the foreseeable future. But now that costs are growing more modestly, the country’s long-term budgetary outlook is improving.
Meanwhile, while Healthcare.gov’s rollout has indeed been disastrous, the site is slowly improving.
Thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act that Republicans demanded, members of Congress will have to sign up for health care coverage through exchange marketplaces. That’s not really the point of the exchanges – they’re largely intended for the uninsured and small businesses looking to cover their employees – but GOP lawmakers had a political point to make, and this is the result.
With that in mind, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote a blog post yesterday, highlighting his own personal experience when he “sat down to try and enroll in the DC exchange.”
Like many Americans, my experience was pretty frustrating. After putting in my personal information, I received an error message. I was able to work past that, but when I went to actually sign up for coverage, I got this “internal server error” screen. […]
Despite multiple attempts, I was unable to get past that point and sign up for a health plan. We’ve got a call into the help desk. Guess I’ll just have to keep trying…
As it turns out, his willingness to “keep trying” was a good idea. Boehner, who is not yet eligible for Medicare, “called the DC Health Link help line,” and a “few hours later,” the process was complete. He’d signed up for health insurance.
Oddly enough, the Republican House Speaker didn’t offer any details about his new health care plan. One would assume that if he’d experienced “sticker shock,” or been stuck choosing a plan that cost far more than his current coverage, Boehner would have mentioned it. Indeed, he would have been eager to mention it, since it would advance his larger political goals.
This was supposed to be a little p.r. stunt, intended to reinforce the Republican message. It’s almost certainly why the Speaker invited a photographer to document him going through the process. And while it’s a shame Boehner was one of many who ran into website trouble, I have to say his experience doesn’t sound that bad – he called a help line, signed up for insurance, and likely saved some money, all over the course of an afternoon.
Are Americans supposed to hear this and think, “Quick, repeal this monstrosity before it crushes another person’s dreams”?
The woman who was once the face of the troubled HealthCare.gov website said she’s been the victim of “cyberbullying” since the Affordable Care Act’s rollout began.
Identified only as “Adriana,” she told ABC News about the insults and jokes that have come her way since Oct. 1, when the website went live and her face greeted scores of visitors.
“They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer. They’re cyberbullying,” she said. “”I mean, I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo. I didn’t design the website. I didn’t make it fail, so I don’t think they should have any reasons to hate me.”
The picture was ultimately pulled from the front page, which Adriana called a “relief.”
“They took the picture down. I wanted the picture down, and they wanted the picture down. I don’t think anybody wanted to focus on the picture,” she said.
But a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told ABC that the photo was not removed because Adriana requested it.
Married for more than six years with a 21-month old, Adriana reached out to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to inquire about having photos of her family taken in exchange for permitting their use on the website. She was notified in the summer that her photo be used on the front page.
Calling herself “pure Colombian,” Adriana said she’s lived in the United States for more than six years and is applying for citizenship. Her husband is an American citizen.
It’s been 10 days since Americans could start signing up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s exchange marketplaces, and as you’ve probably heard, there have been some technical troubles. And while I don’t doubt it’s been incredibly frustrating for those who’ve struggled with online glitches, let’s not forget that we’ve seen troubles like this before.
Twelve days after Medicare Part D became the law of the land in 2006, the system was “plagued by problems” and “many of the most vulnerable elderly and disabled patients” were unable to get medicine. Several states were forced to pay for temporary supplies of medicine for Medicare patients because the Bush/Cheney administration was falling short on a systemic level.
The same year, Mitt Romney’s health care reforms in Massachusetts — which later served as the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act — started out with all kinds of problems. Stephanie Mencimer reported this week that in the early months, the state system saw “lost paperwork, computer glitches, confusion over who was eligible for what, and not enough staff to handle the workload.” It led to consumers waiting “several months after submitting an application to finally get coverage.”
In other words, “Obamacare” in good company. In time, the kinks plaguing Medicare and Romneycare got worked out and the public was quite pleased with the results, and chances are pretty good that the Affordable Care Act will follow a similar trajectory. Impatience, whether it’s politically motivated or not, is understandable, but judging a new and complex system after 10 days has never been an especially good idea.
Robyn J. Skrebes of Minneapolis said she was able to sign up for health insurance in about two hours on Monday using the Web site of the state-run insurance exchange in Minnesota, known as MNsure. Ms. Skrebes, who is 32 and uninsured, said she had selected a policy costing $179 a month, before tax credit subsidies, and also had obtained Medicaid coverage for her 2-year-old daughter, Emma.
“I am thrilled,” Ms. Skrebes said, referring to her policy. “It’s affordable, good coverage. And the Web site of the Minnesota exchange was pretty simple to use, pretty straightforward. The language was really clear.”
Why was her experience so much easier? It wasn’t just luck.
The original plan for the Affordable Care Act to rely on state-based exchanges — rather than have one big federal marketplace, Obamacare intended for states to set up their own exchanges, invite insurers to compete, and trouble-shoot as necessary.
Many states did exactly that, but a variety Republican governors balked — to set up a marketplace for consumers, they said, would be cooperate with a law they don’t like. It meant a sweeping federally run exchange for everyone in those states.
It’s created disparate experiences based on where Americans live.
In Washington State, the state-run exchange had a rocky start on Oct. 1, but managed to turn things around quickly by adjusting certain parameters on its Web site to alleviate bottlenecks. By Monday, more than 9,400 people had signed up for coverage. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange does not require users to create an account before browsing plans.
“The site is up and running smoothly,” said Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the Washington exchange. “We’re seeing a lot of use, a lot of people coming to the Web site. If anything, I think it’s increasing.”
Other states reporting a steady stream of enrollments in recent days include California, Connecticut, Kentucky and Rhode Island.
Some states are having more success than others — as Sarah Kliff explained, ease of use and online registrations matter. But I can’t help but wonder how much easier the last 10 days would have been if more Republican governors weren’t intent on keeping their constituents from signing up for the health care benefits they’re entitled to?
Your big Obamacare story of the day is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell won’t recommend commissioners to the Independent Payment Advisory Board — a panel designed to contain Medicare spending — as the law asks them to.
This isn’t a huge surprise given how, er, eager Republicans have been to smooth Obamacare implementation in general. But it’s more revealing, and just as ironic, as their other efforts to break or hinder the law before it takes full effect.
It’s not just that Boehner and McConnell hate Obamacare and it’s not just that they’re hypocrites about spending. What they’re saying with their actions is that if they can’t convert Medicare from a single-payer into a private insurance system, they’d rather the whole thing collapse under its own weight. President Obama’s and Paul Ryan’s Medicare plans both envision budget caps for Medicare — the difference is that Ryan wants to let private insurers enforce it while Obama leaves the task to providers, with IPAB as a backstop. The parties are actually in about the same place fiscally with respect to Medicare, but unless reaching a more sustainable trajectory means privatizing the program, Republicans will try to keep it unsustainable.
Unfortunately for them, the story’s not that simple. The GOP can’t straightforwardly nullify or hobble IPAB by withholding or blocking nominees, the way it can and does with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board. The IPAB can seemingly function with fewer than 15 confirmed members, and even if Senate Republicans filibuster all nominees, the ACA includes a backstop that basically allows the Health and Human Services Secretary to act as a one-woman payment board. So just as states’ rights-loving governors are ceding their sovereignty to the federal government instead of setting up insurance exchanges of their own, Boehner and McConnell are effectively handing power to the executive branch in lieu of doing what the law asks them and maintaining influence over the policy.
Now that may not be a power that the Obama administration wants to exercise. And its not one that’ll necessarily remain in Democratic hands forever. So it’s not a perfect alternative to IPAB. But it’s also not a win-win for Boehner and McConnell. The GOP base might appreciate it, but it’s probably counter to their substantive interests.
While the consequences of the reductions are not leading the national evening news, local broadcasts have actively chronicled their brutal impact. ThinkProgress has the video report:
All told, sequestration is predicted to reduce GDP growth from 2.6 percent to 2 percent for 2013, and eliminate some 700,000 jobs by the end of 2014. Social Security, Medicaid, some anti-poverty programs, military pay, and the ongoing costs of the wars are exempted. But Medicare’s provider payments, the military’s overall budget, and non-defense discretionary spending are all getting hit.
The last area of spending is being cut five percent, even though it was already scheduled to reach its lowest level in fifty years before sequestration took effect. It’s the main area of spending Republicans have targeted in their budgets. But there’s only so much efficiency to be found in any given program. At this point, even a five percent spending reduction harms services and programs most Americans would consider essential.