Thanks to the health care law, Floridians who obtained health insurance without employer assistance will receive rebates between $143 and $949 in August, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The law requires insurers to spend 80 percent of their premiums on medical costs, and refund the difference to policyholders if they fail to meet the benchmark. In total, Florida insurers will pay out $113 million to an estimated 157,000 individuals and families. An estimated $65 million will also be split among workers at 352,000 small businesses.
Well, this is kind of a bummer. Apparently Joss Whedon was going to have Captain America give a speech in The Avengers that would have been partially about the loss of the social safety net, but he decided to cut the scene:
One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, ‘Guys, we need to lose this.’ It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what?s happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that.
The timing and the platform would have been amazing, the purest representative of American power in the superhero pantheon standing in for Solicitor General Donald Verrilli in the biggest tentpole of the summer, a month and a half before the Supreme Court’s likely to issue its ruling that will determine the future of the Affordable Care Act. It also would have also created a political firestorm around the movie, something the cheerful blandness of Captain America was careful to avoid. Whedon may have been entirely right that the scene would have interrupted the flow of the movie. But with The Avengers tracking for an absolutely ginormous opening, he also may not have wanted to futz with the prospects of an enormously high-profile opening.
The next person who tells me that they vote for republicans because they care about personal, individual autonomy and want to be free from government intervention in their lives, I am going to call that person a moron, to their face, and I'm not going to be nice about it. I'm going to be snide, sarcastic, mocking and downright mean.
They don't give a rat's ass about personal freedom or autonomy, they just want the government out of the way because the corporations they pay fealty to don't like the competition or interference. They want to control every aspect of our lives, and they don't need any government regulation, just the government's blessing to tighten the screws yet again.
And state senator Will Kraus of Lee's Summit is just the fascist they've been waiting for to carry their water and give those we work for total control over every aspect of our lives.
A Missouri senator wants to expand the kind of job-related misconduct that can disqualify people from receiving unemployment benefits.
Missouri law currently defines employee misconduct as breaking an employer's rules deliberately.
The bill by Republican Sen. Will Kraus, of Lee's Summit, would include accidental violations -- unless the employee could prove ignorance of the rule's existence.
The legislation would also broaden the definition of "misconduct" to include violations of an employer's rules outside the workplace and on an employee's own time.
Kraus' bill has been endorsed by a Senate committee and could be debated by the full chamber in the coming weeks.
Yes, that's right. Kraus wants to give your employer the right to fire you -- and deny you unemployment -- for actions that violate their policies, even if those actions are perfectly legal and done on your own time. You can already be terminated and denied UI benefits if you do something illegal on your own time, so this is another solution in search of a problem.
Presumably, if this apostasy passes, a Baptist employer could not only fire you for going out to a bar and dancing, but then when you went to file for unemployment insurance, the employer could deny your claim because they have rules against drinking and dancing, and you did both so really the crime is that they can't fire you twice and why the hell isn't the state levying a fine against you and funnelling it to them for employing your unctuous, impertinent ass as long as they did?
So no, don't ever presume to utter one syllable to **me** about the GOP and freedom and liberty and Constitution ever again. Because I will whip out my pocket copy (graciously provided free of charge by that heinous threat to liberty, the ACLU) and recite the preamble (in corporate speak, that's the "mission statement") to you:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I can't find the words "corporations" or "business interests" or even "on your knees, ungrateful peon!" anywhere in there. Can you?
Crossposted from Show Me Progress
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A Media Matters analysis finds that news coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX has dropped significantly since 2009. In 2011, these networks spent more than twice as much time discussing Donald Trump as climate change.
Despite Ongoing Climate News, Broadcast Coverage Has Dropped Significantly. Since 2009, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a climate bill and a major climate conference took place in Copenhagen, the amount of climate coverage on both the Sunday shows (Fox News Sunday, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's This Week) and the nightly news (NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABC World News) has declined tremendously. This drop comes despite a series of newsworthy stories related to climate change in 2010 and 2011, including a debate over comprehensive climate and energy legislation in the U.S. Senate, a series of record-breaking extreme weather events, notable developments in climate science, the rise of so-called "climate skeptics" in the House of Representatives, and a deal struck at the most recent UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa.
Sunday Show Coverage Of Climate Change Fell 90% Between 2009 And 2011. Since 2009, climate coverage on the Sunday shows has dropped every year across all networks. The Sunday shows spent over an hour on climate change in 2009, compared to 21 minutes in 2010 and only 9 minutes in 2011.
Nightly News Coverage Decreased 72% Between 2009 And 2011. Coverage of climate change on the nightly news programs dropped from over 2 hours in 2009 to just 27 minutes in 2010 and 38 minutes in 2011.
Each Network Covered Donald Trump More Than Climate Change In 2011. Every program included in our analysis devoted more airtime to Donald Trump's flirtation with a presidential run and birther antics than to climate change in 2011, with the exception of ABC World News, which gave equal time to the two topics. Together, the broadcast networks spent more than twice as much time covering Donald Trump. The discrepancy was most glaring on NBC's Meet the Press, which devoted 23 minutes to Trump but did not cover climate change at all in 2011.
Sunday Shows Featured More Republicans Than Democrats On Climate Change. In total, 68% of the political figures interviewed or quoted by the Sunday shows were Republicans, and 32% were Democrats. In 2011, the only people interviewed or quoted about climate change on the Sunday shows were Republican politicians. Fox News Sunday was the most skewed, featuring eight Republicans and only two Democrats over the three years.
Scientists Were Shut Out Of Climate Change Discussions On Sunday Shows. Our study finds that the Sunday shows consulted political and media figures on climate change, but left scientists out of the discussion. Of those hosted or interviewed on climate change, 50% were political figures -- including elected officials, strategists and advisers -- 45% were media figures, and none were scientists. By comparison, 32% of those interviewed or quoted on the nightly news programs were political figures, and 20% were scientists.
Almost Every Mention Of Climate Change Was About Politics. Our results show that on the Sunday shows, 97% of stories mentioning climate change in the past three years were about politics in Washington, DC or on the campaign trail. One story -- on Fox News Sunday -- was driven by extreme weather, and none were driven by scientific findings.
Pew: Network Evening News "Remains An Extraordinarily Popular News Source For Americans." From the Pew Research Center's 2012 State of the News Media report:
For all the losses, however, the network evening news remains an extraordinarily popular news source for Americans. More than four times as many people watched the three network evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC during the dinner hour than watched the highest-rated shows on the three cable news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) during prime time.
And more than twice as many people watch the lowest-rated broadcast evening news program (CBS Evening News) than watch the highest-rated cable news program (The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News). [Pew Research Center, accessed 4/12/12]
Sunday Shows Help Set Scope Of Official Debate In Washington. The Sunday shows occupy a singular place in the American media landscape. Their audience of a combined 9 million or so viewers includes virtually the entire journo-political establishment. The discussions held on the shows frequently determine the scope of official debate in Washington, legitimizing some views and -- by nature of their absence -- marginalizing others. [Media Matters, March 2007]
This report analyzes coverage of "climate change" or "global warming" between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, on four Sunday morning talk shows (ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday) and three nightly news programs (ABC World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News). Fox Broadcasting Co. airs Fox News Sunday, but does not air a nightly news equivalent; Fox News is a separate cable channel. Our analysis includes any segment devoted to climate change, as well as any substantial mention (more than one paragraph of a news transcript and/or or a definitive statement about climate change). Timestamps were acquired from Media Matters' internal video archive and were applied generously. For instance, if a segment about an extreme weather event mentioned climate change briefly, the entire segment was counted as climate coverage. For those segments not available in our archive, we estimated the length of the segment based on its word count.
The following chart displays the coverage included in our study:
Ed Gillespie says the War on Women is on!Top Mitt Romney adviser Ed Gillespie was on FOX News Sunday yesterday. When asked if Romney really meant it when he said he'd get rid of Planned Parenthood, Gillepsie said of course, but "getting rid of Planned Parenthood" wasn't really "getting rid of it." Because "defunding" isn't the same as "not having funding." Really.
WALLACE: He also says that he would get rid of Planned Parenthood -- federal funding for Planned Parenthood. [...]Only in Romneyland does "not having federal funding" not mean "defunding." Kudos(?) to Chris Wallace, I guess, for reminding Gillespie that no, no federal money for abortions goes to any women's health program, but that just doesn't count any more. Wasn't a great thing that Democrats have acquiesced on the Hyde Rule for all these years, giving in to the GOP so they'd stop trying to end legal abortion?
GILLESPIE: My point -- look, people can disagree with that, but it's not fair to say not having federal funding for Planned Parenthood is defunding Planned Parenthood.
Just for fun, let's revisit what Planned Parenthood does.
New York Times reporters Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer speculate about the political ramifications of the potential budget crisis brewing on Capitol Hill, arguing that a showdown this fall could present an opportunity for Mitt Romney to distance himself from House Republicans:
But a disagreement between the parties over spending levels has paved a path for the sort of clash that led to the near shutdown of the government last year, and it could leave Mr. Romney in the position of having to choose between a loud public battle and a budget compromise with Democrats in the closing weeks of the fall campaign.I think this gets it wrong: if Romney waits until September or October to distance himself from House Republican lunatics, it'll be too late for him to use it as a Sistah Souljah moment. Once the budget crisis comes?assuming it comes?Romney will own it every bit as much as House Republicans. He's stood with them every step of the way, including embracing Paul Ryan's Medicare-ending budget plan, and a last-minute conversion would look cynical and inauthentic.
Perhaps if Romney were to immediately start distancing himself, he could manage some measure of credibility, but that would require a neck-snapping act of flip-floppery and would probably create more problems for Romney within the GOP than it would solve among independents.
To be clear, I think it's entirely plausible and perhaps probably that Romney will try to use the budget as a Sistah Souljah moment. I just don't think it will work.
I rarely recommend that you wade through a wordy speech by an economic theorist delivered to an audience of stuffy bankers.
But last week’s address by PIMCO Vice President El-Erian to the St. Louis Fed is one you absolutely MUST not miss.
And to save you the trouble of deciphering the economics code words, I dedicate most of this issue to the key points he makes — the same basic points that our colleague Mike Larson has been making for months.
First and foremost, four of the world’s largest central banks have gone absolutely berserk, running the money printing presses like never before in history:Source: Chart lines — Pimco; . . . → Read More: What Happens If Central Banks FAIL in Their Giant Experiment?
Many bloggers and the press have reposted Tarek Mehanna's impassioned speech to the court as he was sentenced to 17-1/2 years for supposedly providing "material support" to terrorists. (See here, here, here, and especially the ACLU's Nancy Murray's[...]
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Tom Barrett (D): 45 (49)These numbers show a drop for Democrats from PPP's last survey of the race, which of course makes you ask, why? What's changed? Our pollster, Tom Jensen, offers his thoughts:
Scott Walker (R-inc): 50 (46)
Hari Trivedi (I): 2
Undecided: 3 (3)
Kathleen Falk (D): 43 (48)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 50 (47)
Hari Trivedi (I): 3
Undecided: 3 (5)
Doug La Follette (D): 40 (45)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 51 (46)
Hari Trivedi (I): 3
Undecided: 6 (9)
Kathleen Vinehout (D): 38 (44)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 50 (46)
Hari Trivedi (I): 5
Undecided: 7 (10)
The biggest change is probably that this was our first time using a likely voter screen, We found with almost all of the recall elections last summer that the electorate just wasn't as Democratic as 2008, even if people were at least more excited about the recalls than they were about the 2010 elections. Gov. Scott Walker gains a few points as a result of that.Indeed, Obama's 53-39 lead over Romney in February is now a much closer 50-44 in this poll. Screening this poll for likely voters (as opposed to just registered voters) has had one other notable effect: Walker's job approval has ticked up, from 47-52 to 51-48. But it's had an even bigger effect on Barrett's favorables, which went from 41-33 to 41-45, a fall of 12 points. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk saw a much smaller net drop of 5, going from 31-42 to 36-52. Barrett's been the target of some tough attacks both from certain unions (which are backing Kane) as well as Walker, who has aired ads going after both leading Democrats, but apparently has made Barrett his focus.
The other thing is that independents have flipped from our last poll, from supporting Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett by 12 to going for Walker by three. We've seen independents go back and forth on Walker several times over the last year, though I'm not certain what causes that. Walker's been very aggressive about getting on the air and that may have helped firm up his standing, especially as Democrats fight amongst each other over their nominee.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Dems gain some ground back once they're on the same page after the primary, just as Mitt Romney has gained on Barack Obama here with Republicans on the same page after Rick Santorum's exit.
Not much else has changed since PPP was last in the field, though. Demographically, the two polls are quite similar: This newest survey is 32 percent Republican and 31 percent Democratic, while February's was 33 D, 31 R?not a major difference. We've also included Hari Trivedi this time, an apparently wealthy independent who ran a couple of ads touting his candidacy on Super Bowl Sunday. But while it appears he may pull more from Democrats than Scott Walker, even his presence can't account for Walker's higher vote share.
One thing I'd also point out is that because Democrats are focused on the primary right now (which is coming up on May 8), Walker hasn't really been targeted by negative ads yet. There won't be a lot of time (the general election is on June 5), but with Walker stuck at 50 and Democrats likely to rally around their nominee, there's a good opportunity both to drive his numbers down and to see our numbers to move back up.
On a related note, we also tested the Democratic primary (MoE: 3.4%):
Tom Barrett (D): 38 (45)As you can see, Barrett's lead has been cut substantially from February, again probably due to the linked changes in the voter screen and his favorability numbers. One thing I'd note is that quite a lot of Republicans and a ton of independents say they plan to vote in the Democratic primary, something permitted under Wisconsin law. Indeed, the primary sample contains 41 percent self-identified Democrats, 40 percent indies, and 19 percent Republicans. Among just Democrats, Barrett has a much wider 49-30 lead, and he also leads 37-23 among independents. (Secretary of State Doug La Follette leads among Republicans with 19 percent, either because he's been around forever or because they perceive him as the weakest candidate and are trying to stage a futile Operation Hilarity of their own.)
Kathleen Falk (D): 24 (18)
Doug La Follette (D): 9 (14)
Kathleen Vinehout (D): 6 (6)
Undecided: 22 (17)
Finally, we included a test of the general election ballot in the lieutenant governor's race, where Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is likely to face Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin:
Mahlon Mitchell (D): 40In Wisconsin, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket, but election officials ruled they had to be recalled separately. Mitchell is very much unknown, with favors of 12-25, while Kleefisch stands at a 41-40 in terms of job approvals.
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): 46
The prolonged Republican primary forced Mitt Romney to take stances on a host of controversial issues to win the allegiance of conservative voters. That could be alienating now that he is moving to the general election. His opposition to reproductive rights, harsh tone on immigration, and deference to Paul Ryan's budget have been the centerpiece of the campaign so far; he has also turned against gay rights, a move that puts Romney out of touch from the increasing majority of Americans who favor same-sex marriage. During debates Romney tried to cast himself as nondiscriminatory in his interactions with LBGT individuals but settled on a hardline opposition to same-sex marriage.
"From the very beginning in 1994, I said to the gay community, I do not favor same-sex marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage and that has been my view," Romney said in January. He reiterated that stance in February, disparaging a court's decision to overturn Proposition 8. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices,? Romney said in a statement.
That stance doesn't only put Romney out of step with the mainstream; it also distances the presumptive Republican nominee from a collection of his biggest donors:
Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Cliff Asness ? three hedge fund managers and major players in donor circles ? each cut six-figure checks toward the landmark effort to legalize gay marriage in New York.
The New York moneymen and some other Republican movers-and-shakers ? such as former George W. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, who came out two years ago and is now raising money from a broad swath of donors to push for gay marriage but who hasn?t made a presidential campaign endorsement ? are at odds with Romney, who signed a pledge proffered by the conservative National Organization for Marriage promising to, among other things, support ?sending a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.?
Polls have shown a steady increase in support for marriage equality. A Washington Post/ABC News survey from March found 53 percent supporting legalized same-sex marriage with just 44 percent saying it should be illegal.
The real problem for Romney and the Republican Party in general is not just the wider overall acceptance but also the distribution of support. Young people?even many of a conservative ilk?accept same-sex unions as a given fact, a no-brainer policy that puts the United States out of touch with modernity. It's equally accepted among the elite moneyed class that pushes the GOP's anti-tax platform. This class group has a long history of tying themselves to social conservatives to gain the votes for their low tax rates, but opposition to gay marriage is increasingly untenable among the socially accepting ranks of the country's elite. He may be able to skate by in the upcoming election thanks to Obama's own waffling on the issue, but if Romney spends the fall demonizing same-sex marriage it could further alienate his party from not only the next generation of voters, but also the wealthy individuals who fund their campaigns.