New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill today that would have established a state-wide health insurance exchange that could have extended health insurance to the roughly 1.3 million New Jersey residents that are either uninsured or underinsured. Christie, who has been short-listed as a possible VP choice for the “all-but-certain” Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney, maintains that his decision to block passage of the bill rested solely on the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act, notwithstanding the preliminary steps Christie has already taken to form an exchange in the effect of “successfully applying for $8.7 million in planning and research grants from the Obama administration.” In the event that the U.S. Supreme Court should rule in favor of the ACA, New Jersey will not be in the most favorable position to set up its health-care exchange, and the federal government will be forced to step in to create and operate the new insurance marketplace. — Fatima Najiy
The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue offered some stunning candor last night in a conversation with Piers Morgan and the Human Rights Campaign’s incoming executive director Chad Griffin. After arguing a comparison to incest marriage, Donohue openly admitted that he “wants the law to discriminate” against same-sex couples:
DONOHUE: Oh, it’s very simple. It’s absolutely very simple. I have a doctorate in sociology from NYU, and I know what the literature says. The literature is definitive. There is one gold standard, one gold standard for children. That is: there is no substitute for a marriage between a man and a woman. I want the law to discriminate against straight people who live together ? I used to call it “shacking up,” but now it’s called cohabitation. I want the law to discriminate against all alternative lifestyles, against gays and unions. I want to promote and to put in a privileged position that institution of marriage between a man and a woman, which has been shown over and over to be the gold standard.
Donohue might want to revisit sociology before he makes such grandiose claims. Not a single study has compared married opposite-sex couples to married same-sex couples and found a difference in their parenting ability. Any claim otherwise is a distortion of the research, not a “gold standard.”
With his brutally honest admission that he wants to discriminate, Donohue serves as a unique surrogate for the leadership of the Catholic Church. Though his organization “does not speak authoritatively for the Church,” he seems to say what the bishops are thinking. An open will to discriminate has little do with protecting Catholics from defamation ? the actual mission of the Catholic League ? just as same-sex couples marrying poses no threat to the religious liberty of practicing Catholics, who largely support marriage equality.
This isn’t a surprise, and I wrote earlier today about why this makes sense for the show. No news yet on Parks and Recreation and Community. I’ll let you know what I hear.
Austerity measures adopted by the Conservative government have helped push Great Britain back into a recession. Today, hundred of thousands of public sector workers took to the streets of London to protest austerity, including 20,000 off-duty police officers.
Of course, austerity hasn’t just hurt the UK. Across Europe, austerity is not having the effect that conservatives said it would. Instead, it’s simply prolonging the continent’s economic pain. (HT: Reuters)
Our regular featured content-On This Day In History May 10 by TheMomCatPunting the Pundits by TheMomCatAnd these featured articles-Huge Protests at BofA Shareholder Meeting Today. Pay Packages Approved, Proposals Defeated. by joanneleonRoubini: Eurozone[...]
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Did something get into the House drinking water supply? First we have a Republican actually trying to protect Planned Parenthood, and now one is working with a Democrat on one of the stickier perpetual issues on the Hill, the Medicare "doc fix," the reimbursement rate for physicians that has been broken for years.
Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.) introduced a bill Wednesday to reform how Medicare pays healthcare providers and to avoid a cut to reimbursement rates on Jan. 1.The "doc fix" is the shorthand used to describe the nearly annual bill Congress passes to override another law they passed, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which was enacted in 1996 to try to keep Medicare costs under control. Almost every year since, it has been overridden by Congress because it doesn't actually work. Another short-term fix passed in February, along with the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extensions, and like those two programs, it's set to expire at the end of this year.
The bipartisan measure would repeal Medicare's current reimbursement formula and replace it with a new system of payment models. It would also give doctors small boosts in payment rates for four years.
Money for the changes would coming from war savings from troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan?a move Republicans have opposed in the past as a "Ponzi scheme."
Democrats pushed this very funding solution for a permanent fix during the extension negotiations last year, and were rebuffed, even though a Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), the co-chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, the group that usually takes the lead on health issues, flirted briefly with accepting it just to make the issue finally go away.
So at least one Republican is flirting with it again. Given how quickly Gingrey was shut down last year, though, it's not likely to be happening during this session. It might, however, provide the starting point for discussions come lame duck time, when the issue has to be resolved all over again.
The support of a sitting president for marriage equality is a powerful tipping point for the issue. It clearly signaled that this once highly fringe position is now firmly in the political mainstream. Looking at the similar polling and demographic[...]
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Future Bain Capital founder W. Mitt Romney
Given Mitt Romney's self-contradicting jumble of responses to today's Washington Post report on his history of tormenting closeted gay high school classmates, you wouldn't think the fallout from the revelation of his days as a high school bully could get any worse. But maybe it can:
Phillip Maxwell, an attorney in Michigan, confirmed to CBS News that the incident with John Lauber is accurately described in The Washington Post piece. Maxwell was one of the Post's four on-the-record sources. A fifth asked not to be named. Maxwell says the only thing not accurate is that the Post reporter said the incident occurred in a dorm room, but it happened in a common room.Meanwhile, even as Romney's campaign unsuccessfully scrambles to find classmates willing to defend him, ABC News finds one who describes Romney's behavior as "evil":
"Mitt was a prankster, there's no doubt about it. This thing with Lauber wasn't a prank. This was, well, as a lawyer, it was an assault. It was an assault and a battery. And I'm sure that John Lauber carried it with him for the rest of his life," Maxwell told CBS News. [...] "I've carried this story with me a long time. It was very disturbing. I think that view is shared by everyone involved in it," Maxwell says. "It just was a black mark on my character that I didn't stop it."
One former classmate and old friend of Romney?s ? who refused to be identified by name ? said there are ?a lot of guys? who went to Cranbrook who have ?really negative memories? of Romney?s behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as ?evil? and ?like Lord of the Flies.?Stu White, a former Romney classmate and close friend Romney, told ABC that the Romney campaign had approached him and several other classmates to defend Romney's behavior in the wake of the article. It's quite revealing none of them have stepped forward?at least not to defend Romney.
The classmate believes Romney is lying when he claims to not remember it.
?It makes these fellows [who have owned up to it] very remorseful. For [Romney] not to remember it? It doesn?t ring true. How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?? the former classmate said.
Moreover, it's quite extraordinary that after so many years, the emotions surrounding Romney's bullying remain so raw. Romney's behavior has clearly haunted his classmates, and based on his remarks today, nearly a half-century later he has yet to fully confront it himself.
The Energy Report: To get started, what differentiates Lightwater Partners from other hedge funds?
Jerome Hass: Canadian hedge funds tend to be high-risk/high-return strategies primarily focused in the resource space. We focus on risk-adjusted returns, as opposed to trying to hit homeruns with individual stocks. As a consequence, we concentrate on the mid-cap space. That’s our investment sweet spot, rather than the small- or micro-cap names. And we have the in-house research capability to explore names that are not well covered by the street.
TER: What energy … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Canadian Coal Moles: Jerome Hass and Jimmy Chu
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Internal Senate and House records show hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on cheesecake lollipops; junkets to Orlando, Las Vegas, Monterrey; membership dues and direct support donated to the lobbying group, the American Legislative Exchange Council
(HARRISBURG, PA)?Pennsylvania taxpayers have spent at least a quarter of a million dollars to support the controversial corporate lobbying group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to documents obtained this week by Keystone Progress.
According to the documents:
· The House of Representatives reported spending $234, 775.041 on ALEC from 1/1/00 through 5/2/12.
· The Senate?s spending was $76,042.351 from 7/1/04 through 4/30/12.
Included in the spending was $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops, $3,600 for crabcakes made to order; junkets to Orlando, Las Vegas, Monterrey and other cities; dues for their legislators? membership in ALEC; and at least $50,0001 paid directly from the General Assembly to ALEC.
The top five spenders of taxpayer dollars for ALEC are:1. Sen. John Pippy (R, Allegheny, Washington) $12,901.702. Rep. Ron Marsico (R, Dauphin) $9,920.103. Rep. Joseph Petrarca (D, Armstrong, Westmoreland) $5,108.434. Rep. John Taylor (R, Philadelphia) $3,975.505. Rep. Stephen Barrar (R, Chester, Delaware) $3,264.80
Keystone Progress filed Right to Know Law requests with the Pennsylvania House and Senate last week asking for financial records and correspondence between legislators and ALEC. While the correspondence request was denied, both chambers released their financial records.?It is beyond belief that legislators are spending taxpayer money to hobnob with corporate lobbyists in Las Vegas and Orlando, while cutting funding for education, healthcare and the environment,? said Michael Morrill, Executive Director of Keystone Progress. ?We think the legislators should give the money back and sever their ties with this corporate front group.?ALEC has been under intense criticism for its role in writing, and lobbying for, controversial legislation that strips away union rights, scales back child labor laws, attacks the regulation power of environmental agencies, suppresses voter rights with strict identification requirements, eliminates the social safety net, and privatizes public services.
Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations?without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. At least 52 PA legislators are members of ALEC.2 There have been numerous PA bills have been ghost written by corporate lobbyists and submitted verbatim by PA legislators.3In the past few days, dozens of legislators around the country and major corporate sponsors of ALEC have indicated they will not renew their memberships to the controversial corporate front group. Twelve PA former members of ALEC have severed ties in the past few days.
All documents can be viewed here. -END-
1Both the Senate and House documents report an expenditure of $50,000 paid directly ALEC. It is unclear if this is one payment of $50,000 authorized by both chambers or two payments totaling $100,000.2http://www.justsaynotoalec.
3?Behind Closed Doors: The American Legislative Exchange Council and Pennsylvania Legislation? http://www.scribd.com/doc/