The subject title comes from one of the just released Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employers titled Employer Health Benefits 2009 Annual SurveyThis annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage,[...]
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Matt Latimer?s - one of Dubya?s speechwriters during the president?s final months in office - new[...]
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My parents grew up poor during the Great Depression. They had a child only a year after they had run away and married in a romantic attempt to escape the poverty and ignorance of their hometown communities. By then World War II was underway and my dad joined the Navy. After the war he and my mother raised four kids and took whatever work was available in the small towns to which they had reluctantly returned in need of help from their families. They never had the chance to go to college.
When I was growing up, I think we owned fewer than a dozen books. This was because of poverty and priorities, not an aversion to literature. My parents loved to read. When they realized that I was a writer they were delighted. They read all of the stories I wrote as a child--no matter how gruesome or bizarre--and begged for more. They were my best audience.
My dad drove me to a second hand bookstore, the only one we had ever heard of, miles from where we lived by that time. He would buy himself an Erle Stanley Gardner mystery and wait outside, smoking and reading, while I shopped for as long as I wanted. I would buy a few paperbacks, take them home and read them, then bring them back to trade in for more. My dad always came up with the extra change needed, and never balked.
My mom signed me up at the public library. I spent many of the happiest times of my life there. And I still find sanctuary in the place where books are loved and shared. No matter how chaotic life may be, the public library offers knowledge and peace.
My mom also added to our family's debt by purchasing a new edition of encyclopedias from a door-to-door salesman. My clothes before I started school were all hand-me-downs. Beginning in first grade, my aunt sewed my clothes and what she couldn't provide we bought at Sears. But my mother didn't hesitate for a moment when she had the opportunity to buy those encyclopedias.
"There's a whole world of things to learn, in those books," she said.
Despite the poverty of their early lives, and the many setbacks they had to face over the years, my parents never became mean or bitter when it came to my education. They wanted me to read everything. Any book, no matter how sophisticated, graphic, or downright crazy, had something to show me about the world beyond my doorstep. My parents never censored and they never stopped trying to learn.
That, I think, is the gift that all people can give their children: the chance to learn. But without affordable literature, without public libraries, the opportunity to learn is greatly diminished for people who are not well off.
Let's not make the mistake of assuming that everyone in America can afford to buy books. Let's not allow our legislators to con us into thinking our libraries are not part of the foundation of education.
Every person reading this has access to a computer. Every person reading this has language skills and a desire to learn more about other people. We all have a stake in keeping our libraries in business, and letting our leaders know that we do not accept the easy way out, when it comes to balancing state budgets with education in mind. Our libraries and other sources of affordable literature need our loud and persistent support, so that every child has the opportunity to explore the world beyond their own doorstep.
Please, pass the message on?
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Source: The Gold ReportCorporate development strategist and consultant Gianni Kovacevic, back with The Gold Report for the second time this year, still takes a shine to copper—but he has a lot more company now than…
(photo courtesy of Atlantic Council of the United States)
Barack Obama has invited Colin Powell in to see him today -- and knowing General Powell's respect for the Office of the President, whether occupied by Barack Obama or George W. Bush, we aren't going to have a fully informed read of what transpires in this meeting for some time, if ever.
As Laura Rozen notes, Defense Secretary Gates will be meeting with the President two and a half hours after the chat with Powell.
But while not knowing whether Barack Obama is meeting with Powell to get a tutorial on what to do about the growing challenges in Afghanistan, or getting the General's views on an Iran strategy, or perhaps kicking Powell's tires about taking on some kind of national role -- perhaps as a presidential emissary for public service or as yet another super-czar focused on the Middle East or becoming the President's lever in rolling back Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- I think Powell should take the opportunity to convey some Powell-isms to Barack Obama.
The eight pillars of the Powell Doctrine, which means achieving victory by applying overwhelming assets to a clearly defined challenge, are worth working through -- whether in considering a build-up on Afghanistan or hatching another war:
1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7. Is the action supported by the American people?
8. Do we have genuine broad international support?
Barack Obama's "good war" on Afghanistan does not fare well when viewed through Powell's portals.
George W. Bush, at the beginning of his presidency, had several tutorials from journalist and national security expert Robert Kaplan on how to conduct foreign policy decisions in a world in which Bush believed American power was on the ascendancy.
Colin Powell will hopefully be given the opportunity by Obama to teach the President a few things about the cultivation and deployment of power in a world that doubts America's ability to achieve its objectives.
-- Steve Clemons
BUZZFLASH EDITOR'S BLOG
By Mark Karlin
Lost in the fog of all the healthcare bills on Capitol Hill is the issue of how for-profit insurance can co-exist with the goal of reducing medical costs.
Excellent point, and Big Insurance and Big Pharma have the usual "free market" answer: let the taxpayers subsidize our profits!
In short, if you require Big Insurance to eliminate pre-existing conditions and not cut off people who become sick and not deny care, then how can Big Insurance make a profit?
Easy, we -- the taxpayers
If it's Wednesday, it must be time for YAPR.
The buses that rolled into the U.S. capital over the weekend, carrying protesters steamed up about government spending and decrying the advent of "socialism," may appear to represent a rich new vein in American politics.
In fact, though, these Tea Party Patriots and like-minded brethren represent the latest resurfacing of a vein that has always been there and that simply goes below ground from time to time. This vein is populist and antiestablishment; it alternates between suspicion of government in general, and anger at the idea that government seems to be doing more to help fat cats or the other guy. In some fashion or another, it has been around since the time George Washington quelled the Whiskey Rebellion.
The last big appearance came when Ross Perot tapped into it in the 1990s. Mr. Perot, who ran for the presidency in 1992, when he got 19% of the vote, and in 1996, didn't create the movement then, any more than Fox News broadcaster Glenn Beck has created it now. He simply gave voice to it.
The differences are there and listed, but there are also similarities. We had a lengthy discussion about it here, but that (and this) isn't the last of the Perot comparisons.
There are few things in politics more annoying than the right's utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word "freedom"—that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up for human liberty, the noblest cause of them all.
The pressure from House Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, on Joe Wilson to apologize was a rare triumph for civility in a country that seems to have lost all sense of it.
Oh, stuff it, Maureen. [Just kidding. Reminds me of Tom Lehrer: "I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings and I hate people like that."]
Partisan Heat Shows No Sign of Cooling
On Capitol Hill, There's Anger -- And Then There's Anger About Anger
China and Germany understand that prosperity and growth depend on nurturing a renewable energy industry. When will the United States?
Harold Meyerson: On John Sweeney.
Likewise, opening up the exchanges to more takers could destabilize the employer-sponsored system -- to which one rational response might be, "Yippee." But President Obama decided not to mount such a broad assault on what Wyden describes as "the status quo caucus." Wyden noted that Obama, speaking to a rally in Minneapolis on Saturday, emphasized the importance of choice and competition in the health-care marketplace. "Now, the question is: Can you make the legislation resemble the speech, and so far there's a big gap."
From an ally of the administration, those are strong words. From someone who has put so much effort into health reform, they are disturbing ones.
Cross posted from Show Me Progress
Our previous coverage:
The second and final part of Al Franken's remarks:
....The truth is, if we don't fix the system most of us are gonna lose the health care because we're simply not gonna be able to afford the health care. [applause] And at the Minnesota state fair that's the question everybody was asking, Democrats and Republicans. But right now in Congress Democrats seem to be the only ones asking it. Republicans are busy asking Washington questions. They're asking, "How do we break President Obama? How do we make sure he fails?" That's what they're asking.
Tom referred to Jim DeMint of South Carolina, our esteemed colleague who is, is close friends with, well, both of us. [laughter] Good, good friend. [laughter] And Senator DeMint said this, I'm gonna quote what he said, "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo." Well I don't think this debate should be about President Obama. [applause] [cheers] It should be, it should be about the people who are going bankrupt because of the cost of health care, [applause] even when they have insurance. [applause] The number one cause, the number one cause of bankruptcy, of personal bankruptcy in this country are health care crises. More than half of the personal bankruptcies in this country are caused by health care crisis. And more than two thirds of those people who go bankrupt because of a health care crisis have health insurance....
....This debate should be about that woman in Fergus Falls, the one I mentioned, the one with diabetes. See, her adult son has diabetes, too, but he can't afford health insurance so she shares her insulin with her son. In America. [pause]
This debate should be about the older woman who came up to me at the booth. She said to me, "You know when you're my age, everything is pre-existing." [laughter] This debate is about the American people. And if this debate is about what's gonna help the American people well then there's really no debate. We've gotta change the system. And that's what we're going to do. [applause]
So the question is, the question is, if you get sick, how do you get health care? And how do we keep people healthy in the first place? And the answer to the question also happens to be the answer to keeping costs down. Tom knows that. In Minnesota we know that. In Minnesota we do pretty well. Ninety-one cents of every health insurance dollar goes to actual health care in Minnesota as compared to seventy to eighty cents in the rest of the country. In one health care roundtable a, a health care economist said to me, "You know, in Minnesota we get an 'A'." But then, then he continued saying, "But that's only because we grade on a curve." [laughter] Now here in Iowa you're also in the top quintile in, in health care. But the way our system works we don't really pay our doctors to keep people healthy. A doctor won't get paid for helping a diabetic control his diabetes. But we do pay doctors a lot for removing a diabetic's foot.
Now let's take for example McAllen, Texas - the most expensive medical market in the country. In McAllen they spend three times as much on health care for Medicare patients as they do in Mayo Clinic. Even though at Mayo the get better outcomes. Well that's because in McAllen doctors own the hospitals and they own the imaging clinics. So they perform more tests and procedures and Medicare pays for the tests and the procedures, but they don't pay for the outcome. At Mayo it's patient centered. The doctors who flock to Mayo are paid salaries. They don't get paid more money for [inaudible] procedure, they get paid to keep people healthy. [applause]
See, right now we're paying for sick care we're not paying health care. [applause] And when doctors, and when doctors look at a patient as a dollar sign we get a far different outcome. Then when doctors look at a patient as someone you want to keep, get healthy and then keep 'em healthy. So we're gonna change the system so that we emphasize preventive care on front end and reward doctors for good outcomes on the back end. [applause] And we're gonna make it so insurance companies can't deny you, your claim because of pre-existing condition. [applause] We're gonna make sure that insurance companies face real competition with [emphasis] a public option. [applause] [cheers] we're going to improve electronic health records [applause] so that doctors don't do duplicative tests that are unnecessary. These changes are gonna keep us healthier, save families money, and bring down the cost of health care. And call me crazy but it just seems like a pretty damn good idea. [applause]
Now even though these are good ideas some people are gonna fight 'em with everything they got. And it's pure, it's pure politics. These people rail against government health care but they're sure happy that their parents have Medicare. President Obama could propose just about anything and some of our Republican friends would still oppose it. They don't even think the President should be allowed to tell kids to stay in school and work hard. [applause] [cheers] That's how ridiculous this is. Their goal isn't to see how much we can do, it's to see much we can undo, or they can undo.
The last time the Republicans were in power they undid a lot. [laughter] Under Republicans we couldn't get vaccines to kids during flu season. Under Republicans we couldn't get clean water to New Orleans when the levees broke. Under Republicans we couldn't tell the difference Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Ladin. [applause] [cheers] And the last Republican President, I, I forget his name [laughter], left us, left us on the brink of a great depression. It's that old Republican tactic. They run for office saying that government doesn't work, then they get elected and they prove it. [laughter] [applause]
But what our friends across the aisle don't get is this, this is a Democracy. It's not the government versus the people. The government is the people. We're on the same team [applause], we work together. And when government reflects the will of the people and responds to the people we make a lot of progress as individuals and as a country. I think President Obama said it best last Wednesday night in that great speech. He said this, "Our predecessors understood that government could not and should not solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains and security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little. That without the leavening hand of wise policy markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, the vulnerable can be exploited."
This is something we know in, in my family. When my wife Frannie was about seventeen years old her father, a World War II decorated vet, died in a car accident on the way home from doing two straight shifts at the paper mill in Portland Maine, leaving Frannie's mom widowed at age twenty-nine with five kids. Now, Frannie's mom had a high school education, that's it, and they had a tough time, but they made it. And they made it because of Social Security survivor benefits. [applause] Sometimes there wasn't enough food on the table, sometimes they turned the heat off, and this is Portland, Maine, it was kind of cold. But they made it. My brother-in-law, middle kid, went into the Coast Guard. Became an electrical engineer, he still works with the Coast Guard. My three sisters-in-law and Frannie all went to college on combinations of Pell Grants and scholarships. [applause] And Frannie's younger sister, there's one younger than Frannie, Bootsie. And Bootsie went to high school, my mother-in-law got a four hundred dollar GI loan to fix a hole in the roof, instead of using it to fix a hole in the roof, she used it to go to college at the University of Maine at Gorham. And she got three more loans and graduated. And got another loan, then got a masters in teach, in, in teaching kids to read and she became a teacher. And she had a career teaching Title I kids to read and because she taught Title I kids all her loans were forgiven. [applause] Every member of my wife's family, every member of my wife's family became a productive member of society. And they did it because of Social Security. [applause] They did it because of Pell Grants. [applause] They did it because of the GI Bill. [applause] They did it because of Title I. [applause] Now, they tell you in this country pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And that's something that everyone of us here believes. But first you gotta have the boots. [voice: "Yeah."] [applause] The government Frannie's family the boots. And that's what we're about, that's what we're about. [applause] [cheers] I ran for the senate because I know that Frannie's story isn't unique. It's Tom Harkin's story. It's the politics that he practices. It's America's story.
The health care bill we're fighting for right now, it isn't just about health care. It isn't just about bringing down the costs, bringing down the debt. It's about opportunity. It's about giving people the boots. If you go in to debt because a family member gets sick or hurt you're gonna spend years just keeping your head above water. If your child has a pre-existing condition you can't change your job to start a small business which creates seventy percent of the new jobs in this country. You can't do it because you won't get health care. Think about what this means for families and then what it means for our economy.
You hear Democrats talk a lot about opportunity. That's because we really do believe in opportunity. And everything we've done [applause] in the last nine months reflects that. We inherited an economy on the brink of a depression and we passed a major recovery act that pulled us from the brink. Cut taxes for families, a third of it was tax cuts for people under two hundred fifty thousand dollars. [applause] It kept states, it kept states from having to cut even more than they've had to cut, saving jobs and police and nurses and firefighters and social workers. People who are needed at a time of financial crisis. And we invested in today's infrastructure and tomorrow's infrastructure. We passed a law in the last nine months to keep the credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers. [applause] [cheers] A law, a law to protect equal pay for women. [voce: "Yeah!"] [applause] We covered seven million uninsured children through SCHIP. [applause] We gave the FDA the power to regulate tobacco, to regulate it like the health risk that it is. [applause]
In any other year that would be enough. But this year we have the chance to confront the single biggest threat to America's future and the greatest unmet moral obligation in our history, all rolled into one. That's what health care is. [applause] [voice: "Obama's (inaudible), he's our President!"] This is, this is our moment of opportunity. This need, needs to be the moment where the debate changes, when the heat of an angry summer breaks. So, we need you. We don't want to look back and say we squandered this opportunity because we allowed ourselves to be shouted down. Or that we voted for change and got scared of actual change. [laughter] [applause] [cheers] We want to look back on this day from an America in which everyone has health care and say, it wasn't the easiest thing, but it was the right thing. [applause] And together we got it done. [applause] Thank you. [applause] [cheers] Now, now. [applause] [cheers]
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Was it the thesis?
That will be the question asked all day Wednesday when this new Clarus Research Group poll sees the light of day in the morning. Regardless of whether it was Bob McDonnell's thesis or something else, the margin between the former Virginia Attorney General and Democratic state senator Creigh Deeds is as narrow as it has been in any poll since mid-July.
Notably Deeds has pulled even with McDonnell among women (a figure that has been all over the place in recent polling in the Old Dominion) and has a slight edge (five points) among voters in vote-rich Northern Virginia. Solid numbers for the Democrat.
However, there are some aspects of this poll that stand out.
1) 20% undecided? In September? That is a very high number this late in the race. Now, it could just simply be that some respondents in this sample are reconsidering their position given the news in the race of late, but are hesitant to shift over to Deeds completely. There has not been a total of undecideds that high since the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll a week before the Democratic primary; in other words, in a time when there was uncertainty surrounding Deeds' viability or even candidacy.
2) Registered voters? Again, at this late stage, most polling firms have switched to a likely voters only model (and others are even including leaners. cough! Rasmussen. cough!). It is curious, then, that Clarus has stuck with the registered sample and not the narrower likely voter sample. We saw just yesterday in the Monmouth poll in New Jersey how large a discrepancy can exist between the two samples. Chris Christie led by eight points among likely voters, yet Jon Corzine edged the former US attorney out among registered voters by a point (something the DNC wanted to point out today.). That's a nine point swing. A similar nine point swing in Virginia would put McDonnell up 14 (Not that that would be the case here. I'm just trying to illustrate what we're actually looking at in this case.) and that would be in line with the Survey USA poll that was released the week after the thesis revelation occurred.
Of course, FHQ did state last week, that we would have to give it a week or so to see how much impact the bombardment of thesis stories would have on the race. That much time is now behind us, and the race looks closer.
...with some caveats.
As for FHQ's graduated weighted average of the race, McDonnell has been pulled back under the 50% mark but continues to hold a sizable advantage over Deeds. Is the momentum on Deeds' side now, though? Maybe. But recall that there were a series of polls that had Corzine within a handful of points of Christie about two weeks ago. Those polls now seem a part of the distant past, however.
This post is cross-posted at Frontloading HQ.