Apparently, Fox is trying to enlist allies in its war on the White House, inviting Bruce Josten, the top lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, onto its Sunday "News" program to whine and moan about the Obama Administration.
Isn't it great that we have the Fair & Balanced Fox News to make sure that we get to hear from corporate lobbyists? I mean, without Fox, what would hard-working influence peddlers like Bruce Josten do with themselves?
Josten, by the way, has just gotta' love Fox. Even though he admitted that the Chamber's actual membership total is 300,000, Fox's Chyron claimed the Chamber has 3 million members. Seriously, that "typo" alone just proved Fox's Chyron machine is worth its weight in gold, at least to the Chamber. It's not everyday that somebody will inflate your membership by 1,000 percent!
Of course, for the most part, Bruce Josten doesn't have any better of a grasp on reality than Fox. For example, he accused the White House of having said "in their words, not mine" that they plan to "neuter" and "marginalize" the Chamber. "Neuter" and "marginalize" ... oooh, scary. Big bad Obama gonna' come and take Mr. Josten away.
The thing that Mr. Josten forgot to mention is that those were Politico's words -- not the White House's. But give this to Josten: he had no fear -- he didn't just offer up his false talking point once, he did it twice. Hurray for the ill-informed!
Finally, towards the end of his interview, Josten finally 'fessed up to what his real beef with the White House is: he doesn't like being invited to meetings where there are other people, and you don't get to ask questions in private. You see, Josten knows how important he is to the world, and he believes that if the Chamber cares about something, then the Chamber is entitled to sit down face-to-face with White House staff whenever it wants. In Josten's fantasy, it's just the Chamber and the White House, sitting down at a table, working out a deal together.
That's what we call democracy...Fox-style. We tried it for eight years. Didn't work too well.
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Ouch. Though most polls are showing the New Jersey governor's race to be dead even between incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine and former U.S. Attorney and Republican challenger Chris Christie, a new poll by Suffolk University signals that Corzine[...]
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Several news sources are reporting that Harry Reid plans to put a national public option with an opt-out provision in the merged Senate bill. So far, there have been almost zero details on how this national public option with an opt-out provision would[...]
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.Lagniappe: It appears I spelled Wessagusset wrong. D’oh!underground comix, comix, political, cartoons,political cartoons, parody, satire, Republicans, GOP, comics, comic strips, webcomic, BushZencomix
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So sayeth Greg Sargent:
Senator Harry Reid, whos huddling with senior aides as we speak, has decided to hold a presser today at 3:15 in the Capitol to announce his decision on what to include in the final health care bill, a senior Senate aide confirms. According to multiple, anonymously sourced reports [. . .] Reid is poised to include a public option with an opt out in the bill.
This should be a great moment for Reid and for supporters of a public option. A few things to watch for: will Reid give himself wiggle room? Will Reid argue the merits of the opt out as giving states the chance to opt out if the program does not work for them? (I strongly believe he should.) What will the White House say in reaction to the expected announcement? Will Dan Pheiffer's words be repeated by Robert Gibbs at the podium after Reid's announcement? Should be interesting to say the least.
Speaking for me only
So according to this L.A. Times article, the health insurance got everything it wanted in this healthcare "reform" bill - except the death of the public option. So as relatively small a concession as that is unacceptable to them - which tells you who really owns this country. (Not us.) All the more reason to push your congress critter. Call today!
Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington - As President Obama's push for a healthcare overhaul moves toward its final act, the oft-vilified health insurance industry is on the verge of seeing a plan enacted that largely protects its financial interests.
That achievement, should it stand up in the final legislation, would be the capstone of a sophisticated lobbying and strategic campaign that began even before Obama was elected president.
The specifics of the healthcare legislation are still being hashed out on Capitol Hill, and key details will evolve in the days ahead. Even so, there is broad agreement that the final plan will, for the first time, require Americans to buy health coverage, with taxpayer subsidies for millions who cannot afford it.
For the health insurance industry, that means millions of new paying customers. What's more, there are likely to be no limits on what insurers can charge, while at the same time the plan is expected to limit competition from any new national government insurance plan that lawmakers create.
I mean, really. What's not to like?
These anticipated wins -- from an initiative that has at times been portrayed as doomsday for health insurers -- is the result of a strategy developed by one of Washington's savviest lobbyists, Karen Ignagni. Under Ignagni's leadership, the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans adopted the goal of universal coverage while setting out to shape it in a way that benefited insurers -- a crucial move that aligned their interests with those of other groups, including consumers and hospitals.
Insurers poured campaign donations into the coffers of key sympathetic members of the House and Senate, and loaded up on lobbyists. And when Obama and other Democrats began attacking the industry, insurers made a strategic choice not to walk away from the negotiating table.
"While so many in this town have been playing checkers, Karen has been playing chess," said Mark Merritt, a veteran lobbyist who heads the Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn.
[...] In addition to fighting the public option, insurers that offer Medicare health maintenance organizations are battling more than $100 billion in cuts in federal payments to that program. And they are trying to beat back a move by Democrats to go after the industry's decades-old exemption from antitrust law.
But in Washington, many marvel that lawmakers have not wrung more from an industry that, surveys show, is held in low regard by the public.
"The industry is really in no position to be making demands," said Celinda Lake, a longtime Democratic pollster.
And yet, they continue to do so - especially through senators like Olympia Snowe and Kent Conrad. Don't you love it that no matter how much we donate, politicians say they can't support the netroots agenda "because you're not in my district", yet are so very sympathetic to the millions of dollars poured into their states from giant industries like insurance? Looks like our
bribes contributions just aren't big enough.
For much of the last three years, industry leaders have been laying the groundwork for this battle. Amid horror stories about insurers dumping sick patients, denying coverage for medical treatment and cherry-picking customers, Ignagni and a few insurance company executives pushed the idea within America's Health Insurance Plans that the industry risked political catastrophe if it did not move proactively.
"They knew they had a very big [public relations] problem, and they knew this day was coming," said Wendell Potter, a Cigna Corp. public relations executive who quit last year. "They knew they had to be perceived as coming to the table with solutions. It was a departure from their previous point of view. But they knew they would be slaughtered if it weren't."
video details and more
Harry did good today. His merged Senate bill will include a public option, an opt out with a decent timeline and neither an opt in nor a deadly Snowe Trigger. Durbin says progressive senators were organized enough to make it clear that without a public option sans triggers, they couldn't support a bill that would have, in effect, just bolstered the bottom lines of the avaricious, bad faith insurance giants. Watch our Senate Majority Leader above-- and feel good.
He can count the moderate Republicans on two fingers. Unfortunately it takes more fingers to count the Democrats who almost routinely will back the most anti-family of Republican agenda items. And two of the worst are Ben Nelson (NE) and Blanche Lincoln (AR). Let me come back to those two in a moment. Blue America was buzzing all day about starting an ActBlue page to raise money for Harry Reid-- to thank him for his good work. But some of us are a little worried that it might be premature. I mean what he did was swell, no doubt. The Senate is a corrupt and byzantine place and there are a lot of very powerful forces out to kill health care reform-- and anyone who gets in their way. Reid already has a tough re-election battle and enemies of meaningful health care reform will redouble their efforts to defeat him.
Ezra Klein interviewed Sherrod Brown today and I'm sure he won't mind us looking at one of the exchanges they had:
Ezra: Olympia Snowe has said she won't vote for the bill if it contains a public option. Ben Nelson has made similar noises. Will a couple of moderates have a hammerlock on this legislation?
Sherrod: I don't think so. Two reasons. First, I don't think any Democrat wants to be the person who killed the most important Democratic initiative of their lifetime on a procedural vote. They may vote against the bill. But I don't think they vote against it on cloture. Second, I've done a bit of writing on Medicare in the 1960s. In those days, there were Rockefeller Republicans, which don't exist anymore except for Snowe. Collins isn't really one of them. But a lot of the Republicans voted no. And many of them had buyer's remorse a year or two later. Some number thought later that that was the wrong vote. And pretty clearly it was the wrong vote. It may not be till the conference report. But I think we're going to see more votes than predicted.
I just got back from Maine, where I was blogging on the ground with the No On 1 campaign, and[...]
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