The stocks of several health insurers performed better than the broader market Thursday. Shares of Cigna rose more than 5 percent, and Humana Inc., WellPoint Inc. and Aetna Inc. all climbed at least 2 percent.
Health care reform without a public option "would be fantastic" for insurers, said Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a Virginia-based health care consulting firm.
"They're going to get millions of new customers and more than a trillion in new premiums over a 10-year period," said Laszewski, a former industry executive. "There's a reason they aren't running any negative ads."
This article is yet another reminder that there's a reason why private health insurers just love Max Baucus: his plan would give insurers millions of new customers, all forced to buy insurance industry products or face a fine of up to $3,800.
Under the Baucus plan, nothing would force the industry to compete for these new customers. Industry would effectively hold them hostage. The only proposal that's out there to provide the competition this system needs is the public option, and without it, the public will be held hostage to the whims of the private insurance industry.
The problem here isn't the notion of a mandate. A mandate -- or something like it -- is an essential part of reform because it requires everybody to take responsibility for the risks they impose on the system. But when the mandate forces people to buy private health insurance without offering an alternative, you have a situation that is untenable, and would quickly turn into a monumental political disaster for the Democratic Party.
The upcoming days and weeks will be the biggest test so far as to whether progressives in the House and Senate will be able to stick together to achieve meaningful change -- or whether they will simply roll over and cave once again to the special interests who own senators like Max Baucus and Kent Conrad.
As usual, Marcy Wheeler is able to dig into reports and bills find gold. Max Baucus’ latest[...]
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No matter how bad your ISP may be, they're hopefully still better than this. As much as I love South Africa, their phone and internet network is awful.
Local news agency SAPA reported the 11-month-old pigeon, Winston, took one hour and eight minutes to fly the 80 km (50 miles) from Unlimited IT's offices near Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban with a data card was strapped to his leg.
Including downloading, the transfer took two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds -- the time it took for only four percent of the data to be transferred using a Telkom line.
SAPA said Unlimited IT performed the stunt after becoming frustrated with slow internet transmission times.
As one might expect when one monkey flings poop, you can bet the rest of the clan will join in with great scatological gusto. First, Joe Wilson called Dennis the Menace-in-Chief a liar and now a senior White House advisor has called crotchety old Mr. Wilson, “A pimple on the ass of progress.“
Personally, I give the pimple comment mad props for being the more stylish comeback, even though I would’ve used “carbuncle” or “festering zit”. But props or not, neither Republican nor Democratic turd was a high point of social discourse.
After reading innumerable articles about who said what and when, I’ve determined that it’s scientifically impossible to tell who’s right, who’s wrong, who started the slap-fight, and where it might end. It’s equally impossible to tell who has proposed what, how much negotiation there was, and whether any of it will get anywhere close to the House and Senate floors once the Gang of Six Squared is done with it. This isn’t exactly surprising for a policy issue that’s taken on the pastoral quality of a WWII Allied carpet-bombing.
I like to think I’m a pretty fair-minded sort who calls ‘em as I sees ‘em. When either side is foolish I like to say that and acknowledge that, as often as not, both sides are equally stupid if only in different ways. But despite the phrase “pimple on the ass of progress” ringing in my ears, I have to say that the gravity of aggressive ignorance has recently tilted heavily to the Republicans.
Exhibit A, Glenn Beck.
By at least one measure, Democrats have made 166 (and counting) changes to the proposals to placate Republicans, yet they’re still accused of not attempting a bipartisan solution. Despite being in the minority, and with a majority in the polls backing a public option, the Republicans - and a few in-name-only Dems - insist that ain’t good enough. Obama has even gone so far as to offer up the centerpiece of his proposal as an optional accessory akin to lighted cup holders in a Cash for Clunkers Chevy Malibu. This is a bit much to take from a party whose idea of bipartisanship during their reign was politically eviscerating anyone, from either party, who spoke out.
Republicans, I point you to your own sound advice to Democrats when they were in the minority - get over it. You should consider yourself lucky the new President, Barack Chamberlain, is such a Twinkie when it comes to negotiations. Were Bush a Democrat (shudder) you would have gotten exactly NOTHING at this point.
We don’t have peace at hand, healthcare at hand, or a functioning government at hand. However, we do have lobbyists, charlatans, and craphounds invading the political Sudetenland and carrying out anything that isn’t nailed down while Obama waves a useless piece of paper in the wind and the Republicans become, well, carbuncles on the ass of progress.
To be quite frank, I don’t really care who the liar is at this point. I just want this crap to stop before we join the turds already in the toilet.
I fear the flush is coming any day now.
It's fitting that a week that began with conservatives warning about the president indoctrinating schoolchildren would end with those same conservatives acting like schoolchildren in the face of perceived indoctrination. Leading up to President Obama's September 8 back-to-school address to our nation's students, the conservative media loudly voiced their opposition to the speech, insisting that the president was recruiting children to his political goals and conscripting them into his civilian army. Of course, when none of that happened and Obama delivered the speech he intended to deliver, conservatives still managed to declare victory, claiming -- with an admitted lack of evidence and an implied lack of sense -- that the White House had secretly changed the speech in response to their heroic exposé of Obama's attempt to corrupt the minds of the youth.
But conservatives wouldn't have to wait long for some genuine "indoctrination," as the president took to the dais of the House of Representatives on September 9 to restate the case for health care reform. And they reacted in true playground fashion. "You lie," screamed Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) in the middle of Obama's address, much to the shock and chagrin of the assembled legislature. While Wilson's Republican colleagues upbraided him in public and private and Wilson himself apologized, the conservative media got busy enshrining a new hero. Rush Limbaugh "was ecstatic when he heard" Wilson's shout and wished he hadn't apologized. "Joe Wilson simply articulated what millions of Americans were saying," said Limbaugh. Hot Air blogger Allahpundit responded by calling the president a "jackass." Obama wasn't the only "jackass" of the evening, as Red State's Erick Erickson, in the midst of lauding Wilson "a great American hero," called Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) a "jackass" for "clap[ing] when Barack Obama bashed Sarah Palin over the death panels."
Slightly less maddening than the sophomoric reaction from the right was the phony equivalence put forth by media outlets seeking to downplay Wilson's outburst. Fox & Friends doggedly tried to convince their viewers that Nancy Pelosi's criticisms of the CIA were no different from Wilson's heckling of the president on the House floor. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank balanced Wilson's verbal attack on the president with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who "insisted on making a victory sign with his hand and waving it at Obama." It's a wonder Milbank didn't lump in all those boorish members of Congress who kept banging the palms of their hands together at various times throughout the speech.
And let's not forget that Wilson was wrong. Very wrong. Demonstrably wrong. And yet, that simple fact seemed conspicuously absent from much of the reporting on Wilson's outburst. Viewed through a broader lens, Wilson's two-word interjection during the president's address to Congress is a distillation of the right's approach to the health care debate thus far - short on substance, but long on spectacle. You saw the same scenario play out all last month as town hall after town hall was disrupted by loud protesters shouting about "socialism" and making nonsensical demands that the government keep its hands off Medicare. Their views were fringe, and they were often in direct contradiction to the facts, but the video of angry town hall protesters dominated the cable news channels because they made great TV.
It's a symptom of a broken media culture that a small group of fringe conservatives can scream insults and falsehoods at the president or their representatives in Congress, bring no facts to bear in support of their allegations, and still be treated as major players in a policy debate.
What speech did they hear?
While not turning Rep. Wilson into a latter-day Spartacus, the conservative media turned their critical eyes on President Obama's health care speech, leaving many to wonder whether they heard the same speech the rest of the world did. Sean Hannity proclaimed that Obama "said tonight that insurance executives are bad people." In reality, the president said the exact opposite: "Insurance executives don't [treat their customers badly] because they're bad people; they do it because it's profitable." Joseph Curl of The Washington Times reported that Obama "cut out" from the speech a line about bringing "both parties together" in health care debate. In fact, the president delivered that line exactly as prepared -- a fact noted by a separate Washington Times article.
Noted paragon of accuracy and credibility Karl Rove appeared on Fox News to attack the president's alleged "series of very glaring misstatements or distortions," all the while advancing health care falsehoods and distortions of his very own. It should be noted that Rove was just one of the many Fox News partisans to inveigh against President Obama's speech and his health reform proposals. And it's no surprise that Fox News would function as the epicenter of media opposition to Democratic health care reform. The self-proclaimed "voice of the opposition" has taken a contrary position to the White House and the Democratic Congress on just about every issue, frequently engaging in political activism by advocating the tea party protests, the town hall disrupters, and Glenn Beck's cult -- er, 9-12 Project.
Fox News on the hunt for "czars"
Watching Fox News these days you'd think we were in the midst of the October Revolution, such is their newfound distaste for "czars" -- special advisers to President Obama whom the network's commentators have pledged to take down. Seizing upon past statements Obama's "czars" have made, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck have falsely attacked several of the president's advisers, claiming that they are too controversial or unfit for their jobs, all the while ignoring these advisers' credentials or actual job performance. Hannity proclaimed that his "job" is "to get rid of every other ['czar']," and got things rolling by falsely claiming that White House science and technology adviser John Holdren "advocated compulsory abortion," and arguing against the evidence that State Department legal adviser Harold Koh "advocates the use Sharia law in America." Meanwhile, Beck led the charge against former "green jobs czar" Van Jones, using Jones' past statements to inexplicably reassert the connection between Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
As noted above, however, the anti-"czar" fervor at Fox News is something of a new development, arising -- coincidentally, no doubt -- with the transition from the Bush to Obama presidencies. In fact, "czars" were such a non-issue at Fox News during the Bush years that Bill O'Reilly called for the appointment of several new "czars" to handle immigration, charities, and disaster relief, and not once was he denounced by his colleagues for advocating a "shadow government" with "unchecked power."
7 months, 22 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes
If that was your pick in the "How long will it take for Rush Limbaugh to demand that President Obama resign?" pool, step forward and claim your prize.
This week's media columns
This week's media columns from the Media Matters senior fellows: Jamison Foser discusses how the coverage of Wilson's outburst at Obama's speech shows how the media have not learned from their "death panel" mistakes; and Karl Frisch examines why Fox News hasn't given up on Glenn Beck, even as advertisers continue to flee.
Greg Lewis brings us Limbaugh health care falsehoods here, there, and everywhere in The Friday Rush, a review of Limbaugh's radio shows over the past week.
This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Simon Maloy, a deputy research director at Media Matters for America.
Two new polls emerged at the end of the week from the New Jersey Governor's race, and there is cause for both a bit of trepidation and a bit of joy in the Corzine camp.
The bad news: both polls show consistent leads for Chris Christie, when compared to polls released at the dawn of his flood of bad news days. The good news: Governor Corzine's numbers have rebounded somewhat, and both pollsters seem to think that Christie might not be able to close the deal.
The new poll from Rasmussen has GOP nominee Chris Christie leading 46-38 (with Independent Chris Daggett at 6%). Rasmussen noted, however, that Christie's lead was just four points before leaners were pushed. Notably, Corzine's approval numbers ticked up since the last Ras poll, whereas Christie's favorabilities have taken a dive. Rasmussen, for their part, seems a little bearish on Christie: "The GOP campaign may be like a baseball team heading into the late innings with a lead but lacking a reliable closer. They’re happy to be ahead but can’t wait for the game to end so they can breathe again."
Similar trends were apparent in a new survey by Democracy Corps, which has Christie staked to just a three-point edge (41-38-10). In that survey, Christie's favorabilities are as mediocre as you can get (33-33).
In other news out of the Garden State, Christie's running mate, Sheriff Kim Guadagno stepped in it recently, when she told a crowd that because she worked as a faculty member at a Rutgers installation in Newark, she knew what it was like to be afraid to cross the street. Leaving aside the fact that, according to Blue Jersey's Jeff Gardner, that faculty at Rutgers Newark get secured parking, someone from the Christie message discipline team should probably be dispatched to their LG nominee before she makes a comment about being afraid to cross streets.
After all, if we've learned nothing else this last month, it is that Chris Christie's driving skills leave a bit to be desired. And, given that Guadagno pitched up such a slow curve right in the wheelhouse, Gardner at Blue Jersey can be forgiven for taking a big swing at it (emphasis is Gardner's):
I'm sure urban fear-mongering goes over well at Christie campaign functions, so maybe "tough" sheriff Guadagno thought she could get away with some gratuitous Newark-bashing.
But seriously, the only thing Guadagno has to fear about walking across the street in Newark is the off chance that Chris Christie is driving on that same street.
Be careful sheriff - and make sure to look both ways before you cross (even if it's a one-way)!
Team Christie is probably hoping that this coming week can be a gaffe-free week.
It has been a good long while since the nominee has had the pleasure of such a week.
I just spent 8 hours drafting and filing a single 15 page motion with 6 exhibits culled from more than 30,000 pages of discovery. I think my brain is too fried to blog. The TL kid is on his way over for dinner -- looks like we'll be barbecuing in the rain. He's bringing "presents", which I'll bet are the extra reams of xerox paper and highlighters I asked him to pick up for me.
How was your day? This is an open thread, all topics welcome.
Amazing. From a dKos diary penned by Rob Miller, the Democratic challenger of the heckling Congressman Joe Wilson: Hello Kossacks! And thanks so much for your unbelievably generous support of my campaign: together we've raised over $1 million in[...]
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It seems like the Democrats capitulate to the right at least once a day now. Today it was Baucus and Conrad throwing immigrants under the bus to appease the guy who called the president a liar. Yesterday it was Yosi Sergant getting fired as the NEA's[...]
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(Denver Post/JOHN SUNDERLAND)
Lost in all the discussion about healthcare reform is the oddly American notion that our teeth are not connected to the rest of our bodies, and have nothing to do with health. So am I surprised that 2000 people stood in line to get free dental care in America yesterday? Hell, no:
BRIGHTON ? The doors to a free dental clinic in Brighton opened at 5:00 this morning to a throng of anxious people.
The first person in line was Robin Kelley, 59, of Westminster, who got in line last night at 5 p.m.
We only have one car," she explained, "and my husband works at night, so he dropped me off."
Like others in line, she had a blanket and camped out on the sidewalk. "The company was warm and great," she said.
At 6:15 organizers gave out 808 tickets for services, then ended the line because they felt that was the number of patients that could be seen today. The free clinic continues tomorrow.
David Hathaway, 49, of Arvada was second in line. He is unemployed with no insurance. He heard about the opportunity for free dental care at 3:30 Thursday afternoon and said to himself, "I gotta get out there," he related.
This morning he has already had two root canals and expects to leave with a cleaning, as well.
This is "a godsend," he said. "I think it's great what they are offering."
Earlier this week, Molly Pereira, associate executive director of the Colorado Dental Association, had predicted "a humongous turnout.
Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton, sent an automated call to 20,000 constituents, letting them know about the clinic.
Solano reported that a Thornton woman called her to say, "This must be an answer to our prayers."
The woman said her husband and son need dental treatment, but the family can't afford it because of medical bills for their child with special needs.
The two-day clinic is not taking appointments, Pereira said. It is treating people on a first-come, first- served basis.
Dentists, dental hygienists and other medical professionals are volunteering their services for the event, called the Colorado Mission of Mercy.
It's the first COMOM clinic in the metro area and the first since the economy slid into a recession.
"I think we are going to get patients from all walks of life," Pereira said.