We take a refreshing break from the post-election machinations to marvel at Michelle Obama and Indian schoolkids gettin' down. Watch.[...]
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In case you missed it this weekend, Rep. Cantor (R-VA), incoming Majority Leader, gives Dems advice on who they should pick for their next House leader. [...]
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Republican candidate Tom Foley will announce this afternoon whether he'll challenge the official results in the Connecticut governor's race, which show him losing to Democrat Dan Malloy.[...]
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Obama also expressed impatience with his liberal supporters for not understanding the deep divisions in the country ? and that overcoming them was not simply a matter of a better message.Huh? Who asked you to explain anything to John McCain voters? Who cares what John McCain voters think? Did someone tell the President that we're disappointed with him because he hasn't gotten McCain voters on board? Hell, he's the only one whose mission in life is wooing people who are unwooable. The majority of the country voted for Obama, they're the only ones he should be worried about convincing.
?I will say that when it comes to some of-- my supporters? part of it, I think, is-- the belief that if I just communicated things better, that I?d be able to persuade-- that half of the country that voted for John McCain that we were right and they were wrong.
?One of the things that I think is important for people to remember is that-- you know, this country-- doesn?t just agree with the New York Times editorial page. And, I can make some really good arguments-- defending the Democratic position. And there are going to be some people who just don?t agree with me. And that?s okay.?
Yes, he really said that. He really, truly did, and it's a BFD. digby writes:
Although it sounds ridiculous, Rush is in the process of making his followers believe that the pre-existing condition provision in the health care reforms is something bad and shameful. The reason he's doing this, of course, is because this is the most popular piece of the bill and the one on which the rest of it hinges. If they can divide people on that, the repeal of the plan will be much easier.
Absolutely 100% on the money. The rest of the Affordable Care Act, along with any other proposal for reform like single payer or a public option hinges on one single provision: No exclusion for pre-existing conditions. So the Corpulent One knows that the only way to marshall support for complete repeal is to erode support for covering people with pre-existing conditions.
It drives me crazy now just as it did during the whole debate that there wasn't more focus on effective dates. Waiting until January 1, 2014 for the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions was risky and opens a window for a long, sustained attack. Whether they had passed Medicare for All, a robust public option as part of the overall bill, none of that, or all of that, the heart of the debate is over people who have pre-existing conditions, which are defined by insurers and have been broadened more and more over time. This is only one of many salvos which will be thrown over and over and over again.
People thought it was insane for Rush to say that he wanted the president to fail. But he held the line and made the GOP come crawling for even suggesting that he was wrong. And the party just became more and more radical. They don't see health care reform as sacred and they will feel absolutely no remorse about destroying it.
Here's what concerns me, no matter what side of the Medicare-for-All/SinglePayer/Public Option debate you are on: If they succeed at repealing the requirement to cover people with pre-existing conditions, there will be no possibility of modifying, adding, expanding, or creating a better health care program for this nation. It will all be privatized and Medicare will become a memory we had of our grandparents' day instead of our own.
This is a line they cannot cross.
As soon as Republicans swept into power in both Congress and state legislatures across the country, many of them began advocating for spending cuts they claim are intended to rein in state and federal deficits. Some of these more radical state Republicans have even pushed for their states to reject federal money for crucial programs, with Gov. Rick Perry (TX) advocating for letting states opt-out of Social Security and numerous Texas lawmakers considering pulling the state out of the Medicaid program, something the right-wing Heritage Foundation supports.
Now, Arizona state senator Russell Pearce (R), who has just been elected the president of the state senate, has launched a push to reject federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Pearce wants the state to turn down $7 billion in federal funding that would help keep AHCCCS afloat. When asked what the more than one million Arizonans who rely on AHCCCS for care would do, Pearce told a reporter that “church, community, families got to provide.”
Yesterday, Pearce appeared on a local news show to field questions about the agenda he plans to enact as Senate President. At one point, host Brahm Resnik probed Pearce’s proposal to reject the federal health care funding and asked him if the more than one million people who rely on the program will just have to “fend for themselves” if AHCCCS doesn’t get the federal money it needs to survive. Pearce responded that the issue needs to be “put in context,” and compared funding health care to an unwise, broke shopper going to the fashion merchandise chain Dillard’s and buying clothes. Resnik later asked Pearce what the “future” will be of the million people on the program if it no longer has the funds to operate, and Pearce dryly responded, “They’ll probably be okay,” and suggested that they may move the program towards privatization, adding co-pays and premiums:
RESNIK: Let?s turn to the budget now. You told Howard Fisher of Capitol News Services last week you are prepared to let the Feds keep billions of dollars they provide for the state access program. You said, quote, ?If we?re saving (state) money the fact that we lose some federal money means nothing. ? Church, community, families got to provide.? So are you saying that you?re willing to let the 1 million people who get health care from the state through access just fend for themselves?
PEARCE: What I?m saying is you sometimes can?t afford to take the federal money ?
RESNIK: Are you saying –
PEARCE: Things need to be put in context. Hang on. It?s like going to Dillard?s, you don?t have any money, but it?s a great sale. So I?m gonna buy it, but I have no money. The federal money comes with strings. One of the great challenges we have this session will be to work around some of the stimulus money we took to tie our hands. [?]
RESNIK: So you are willing to say no to those billions of dollars?
PEARCE: I don?t think we?ll take the money. [...]
RESNIK: And the one million people on access, what?s their future?
PEARCE: They?ll probably be okay.
RESNIK: Okay, how?
PEARCE: [?] It?s time to cut the fat and trim government.
RESNIK: Next June when the budget is done will there be an access program, a state insurance program for a million people?
PEARCE: We?re not gonna eliminate it, we?re gonna fix it. There?s gonna be co-pays, premiums, we?re gonna fix it.
One in five Arizonans is now utilizing AHCCCS. Due to the recession, the program has already been drastically scaled back, with as many as 18,000 Arizonan children cut from KidsCare– the division set up to care for juveniles — this past year alone. Without the federal funding, there is little hope that AHCCCS will be able to continue to serve Arizonans. Pearce is putting the health of more than a million people on the line with his ideological crusade against the federal government, and denying people health care is not the same as denying them designer goods from fashion retail stores.
Dynegy (NYSE:DYN) said that Institutional Shareholder Services, the proxy advising firm, has recommended investors vote in favor of the energy company’s upcoming merger deal with affiliates of Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) . In a letter to shareholders ahead of the Nov. 17 special meeting to vote on the deal, Dynegy said Seneca Capital’s . . . → Full Story: Story Stocks: Dynegy (NYSE:DYN), Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX), Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), Sysco (NYSE:SYY)
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Fox News figures are telling the incoming Republican House majority how to use its investigative authority, compiling a growing list of targets in the Obama administration.
Fox Nation highlights "GOP's First 4 Potential Investigationsof Obama." Fox Nation trumpeted a November 3 BusinessInsider.comarticle that discussesfour possible House investigations into "criticisms of administrationofficials and their decisions," including the listed a number of issues theGOP could investigate, including ACORN, "Gitmo detainees possibly beingmoved to the United States [and] the recidivism rate among Gitmo detainees welet go," "the New Black Panther case and how it was let go,""the BP oil spill, how that was investigated," and"Democratic lawmakers getting kickbacks to their families." Laterduring a discussion of potential investigations, Kelly said, "It strikesme that it does put the Obama administration in a little bit of a pickle,because President Obama ran on being transparent, on transparency, sohe's -- even though President Bush stiff-armed a lot of these investigations,it's a little harder for President Obama to, no?" Kelly also saidthat the GOP is "talking about subpoenaing Eric Holder" and asked,"How do they [the Obama administration] say, 'You're notgetting John Morton. You're not getting Napolitano. You're notgetting Holder. And we refuse to tell you whether we're doingit'?"
Fox contributor Mike Gallagher on phony New Black Panthers scandal:"[W]here there's smoke, there's fire." After Kellylisted possible investigation topics for the GOP, Fox News contributor MikeGallagher responded, "I think where there's smoke, there'sfire. And frankly, even though this may backfire, that Black Panthers evasionwas a disgrace."
Fox's Napolitano advises GOP to subpoena Bernanke, Fed records, which would "stop it in its tracks." On the November 3 edition of Fox Business Network'sAmerica's Nightly Scoreboard,Andrew Napolitano called on Republicans tosubpoena Ben Bernanke and all of the Fed's records, which would"stop it in its tracks."
Hannity encourages investigation of "Sestak scandal." On theNovember 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity,host Sean Hannity said that some parts of the Republican agenda "may hitthe back burner if Congress decides to take up the many congressionalinvestigations that they have been unable to pursue over the past fouryears." His first example was what he called "the documented, Fox figuresincluding Hannity, Dick Morris, Steve Doocy, and Glenn Beck -- as well as RushLimbaugh -- have claimed that the White House committed an "impeachableoffense" by offering Sestak a position on a presidential panel if he didnot enter the Pennsylvania Senate primary. In fact, legal experts andhistorians have stated that the offer did notbreak any laws and that similar offers have been common.
Fox's Morris has been cited by Issa to push "impeachableoffense." Between May 25 and June 3, Issa Dick Morris whosaid that, and you know, you can only impeach the president. You can't impeachhis staff. So the real question is: Was this a staff decision? Did Rahm Emanueldo this on his own? Until we know who made the offer, we really don'tknow."
There's more that needs to be done in the lame duck session than seems humanly possible, or at least congressionally possible. Congress will go back into session on Nov. 15 and will have a more than full plate, largely because of the concerted effort by Senate Republicans to prevent any legislating from happening for the past year.
Not a single spending bill has passed. A stopgap bill is needed to avoid a government shutdown.
Doctors face a 23 percent cut in their Medicare reimbursements, with another 6.5 percent cut looming on Jan. 1. That needs to be fixed....
And, without action by Congress, 2 million unemployed people will lose jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week nationwide by the end of December. It's by no means a sure thing that the benefits could be extended in the post-election session....
Some lawmakers are holding out the possibility of wrapping all 12 unfinished spending bills for the budget year that began Oct. 1 into a massive $1.1 trillion catchall bill, but that's now a long shot, given the election results. Instead, another stopgap bill freezing budgets at current levels, perhaps until March, is needed to avoid a shutdown.
Taxes: Obama supports renewing most of the Bush-era tax cuts, but not those for family income exceeding $250,000. Emboldened Republicans will insist, however, and with Democrats splintered, many observers think a one- or two-year extension of everything is most likely. Otherwise, it'll fall to the new Congress to decide. Already expired tax cuts, like AMT relief, are likely to get done in the lame duck.
Medicare physician payments: As they always do, lawmakers are likely to address a 1997 law that's forcing cuts in Medicare's payments to doctors. But it's not clear how long a reprieve the doctors will get.
The there are items that some lawmakers would like to do, but may not be able to:
Nuclear weapons: Senate Democrats want to ratify the new START treaty between the United States and Russia that would cut each nation's nuclear arsenal by one-fourth.
Unemployment benefits: Congress has always extended unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed when the jobless rate has been this high. But it took months earlier this year for Congress to extend jobless benefits through the end of November, and Republicans are likely to insist that any further extension be financed by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. That could limit any extension to just a couple of months.
Social Security: Before the election, Democrats promised a vote on legislation to award a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, who are not receiving a cost-of-living hike this year....
Other leftovers: There's also unfinished legislation on food safety, child nutrition programs. They'll only be able to pass if bipartisan consensus materializes.
That doesn't include the masses of judges and executive appointees that haven't been confirmed. Nor does it include the DREAM Act, which Harry Reid needs to make good on his promise to the Latino community that was absolutely instrumental to his reelection. Nor does it include the bogged down defense spending bill and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which Defense Secretary Robert Gates is now on the record urging Congress to accomplish.
It's worth noting that there are enough "emergency" pieces of legislation to tide over a session that could be as small as three weeks (one week before Thanksgiving, and perhaps only two weeks after). Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution to[...]
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