Jonathan Gruber explaining ObamaCare a year ago: The Comic Book

November 1, 2013

THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY: Some 2,700 people lined up in July for free medical treatment at the Virginia-Kentucky Fairgrouds, in 2009. Inc. Magazine photo

THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY: Some 2,700 people lined up in July for free medical treatment at the Virginia-Kentucky Fairgrouds, in 2009. Inc. Magazine photo

Description from PBS NewsHour:

Published on Jun 8, 2012

Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser talks with Jonathan Gruber, the author of “Health Care Reform,” the comic book. The MIT economist and professor of economics hopes the graphic layout of his book will help more Americans understand the complex law and its implications.

Read more about Gruber’s book and the health care reform law on the NewsHour’s Health Page:….

Be sure to see what’s going on more than a year later, in the immediately previous post, “Winners and losers.”

Got questions about ObamaCare? Check out this site

June 24, 2013

I get e-mail; this one may prove useful to more than a few people, especially anyone who owns a small business and has questions about how ObamaCare — the Affordable Care Act — will affect your taxes, your hiring, your expenses, etc.:

The White House, Washington

Hi, all —

In fewer than 100 days, the new health care reform law takes an important step forward. On October 1, 2013, Health Insurance Marketplaces will open in every state, and millions of Americans will be eligible to apply for coverage. Between now and then, we’re sure that lots of people will be looking for information about the upcoming changes.

That’s why we revamped

On the updated site, you’ll be able to get a personalized list of coverage options, tailored to your situation, and a checklist to help prepare for October 1. You’ll find a rich set of answers to frequently asked questions, powerful search features to help you find the specific information you need, and two great ways to talk to customer service representatives, 24/7: a new 1-800 number (1-800-318-2596) and online chat.

When open enrollment starts on October 1, 2013, you’ll be able to use the site to compare various health care plans side by side to find a plan that fits your life and your budget. You’ll even be able to use to apply for coverage or be directed to your own state’s application portal.

We hope you’ll use the site to get answers to your questions about the health care law — and forward this email to your friends so they can do the same.



Tara McGuinness
Senior Communications Advisor
The White House

P.S. — Have questions about what else you can expect from health care reform? Click here for a timeline of the key features of the Affordable Care Act.


[My e-mail address cut out ]

The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

Several people I’ve run into have questions about the program — some of the questions are serious, and difficult for me to answer, and some are silly (“Why do I have to give up my insurance now?” Answer:  You don’t.)  There’s a great need for answers.  Distortions of the plan from the nasty political fights involved, have taken hold in the mind of many as representations of what the plan weill do.

Go try the site.  Does it answer your questions?  What questions do you have that are not answered by this site?


Screenshot of Click to visit the site.

Screenshot of Click to visit the site.

Fact vs. Fiction on the Affordable Care Act (Sen. Leahy)

July 2, 2012

From the good offices of Vermont’s Sen. Pat Leahy (a few links added):

Fact vs. Fiction

It is disappointing that inaccurate and purposely misleading information regarding health care reform continues to be widely circulated. Throughout the past two years during the lengthy debate on Health Care Reform, Senator Leahy has continued to post updated information regarding the various health care legislative proposals being debated, including the full text of proposals, questions asked by directly by Vermonters, and daily updates on floor proceedings in the Senate in an effort to provide Vermonters with accurate and timely information on the health care reform debate.

Below are some of the most common myths regarding the Affordable Care Act with accurate information dispelling those myths and providing information about where to learn more.

To review some of the most commonly questions by Vermonters please also visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on this website.

To test your knowledge about what is actually included in the health care reform law visit the Kaiser Family Foundation website and take their Affordable Care Act quiz.

Fact vs. Fiction

  • Fiction

    If you don’t buy health insurance, you will be sent to jail.

  • Fact

    Taxpayers who are required to purchase health insurance and do not will receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with the amount of the penalty they owe. Individuals who fail to pay the penalty are not subject to criminal prosecutions and the government cannot file notice of lien or levy any property for a taxpayer who doesn’t pay the penalty.

    The obligation for individuals to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014 was included as part of the Affordable Care Act.  The provision requires individuals to maintain minimum essential coverage for themselves and their dependents or pay a penalty of $95 in 2014. Families would pay half the amount for children, and the requirement includes a cap on the total allowable fine per family. If affordable health insurance coverage is not available to an individual, then the penalty would be waived.  Along with the individual responsibility requirement, the Affordable Care Act also provides subsidies to some individuals beginning in 2014 to help pay for their health insurance premiums and other costs associated with their health insurance.

    Taxpayers who are required to pay a fine but fail to do so will receive a notice from Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If an individual still neglects to pay the fine, the IRS can attempt to collect the funds by reducing the amount of their tax refund in the future.  Individuals who fail to pay the penalty, however, will not be subject to criminal prosecution. The government cannot file notice of lien or levy on any property for a taxpayer who does not pay the penalty.

    The aim of this provision is to encourage all Americans to obtain health insurance, which will result in lower health care costs for everyone. The Affordable Care Act relies on the shared responsibility of individuals, employers, states and the federal government.

    For additional information regarding the individual responsibility requirement please visit the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

  • Fiction

    Members of Congress are exempt from the health care reform law.

  • Fact

    No one has received a special exemption from the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the health care reform law explicitly includes language regarding the health insurance plans for Members of Congress and their staff.

    As a United States Senator, Senator Leahy’s health plan options are the same options offered to all federal employees.  Included in the Affordable Care Act, was a provision that requires that “the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and Congressional staff shall be health plans that are created under this Act or offered through an Exchange established under this Act.”  Members of Congress and their staffs can only purchase health insurance coverage from the health insurance exchanges that are made available for uninsured Americans. The full text of this provision is available on pages 80-81 in section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act which you can read here.

  • Fiction

    Health care reform will jeopardize Medicare and will mean cuts in services and benefits for seniors.

  • Fact

    Health care reform will help strengthen Medicare so that seniors can continue to receive quality health coverage for years to come.

    The Affordable Care Act explicitly states that no benefits guaranteed under Medicare will be cut as a result of health care reform legislation.  Today’s forecasts estimate that Medicare will be insolvent by 2017 because of ever-rising health care costs.  The Affordable Care Act takes aim at that unfolding threat by addressing cost inefficiencies now, instead of waiting until later.  The Affordable Care Act strengthens the financial stability of Medicare by targeting fraud and ending wasteful overpayments to insurance companies, while maintaining the benefits and services to seniors who use Medicare.  The Act also helps Medicare users by offering prescription drug discounts to seniors who are trapped in the “donut hole,” by creating a better pathway for generic drugs to enter the marketplace, by eliminating the cost-share for preventative services, and by promoting coordinated care to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions.

    For more information about what the health care reform law means for Medicare beneficiaries read Medicare and the New Health Law -What it Means for You prepared by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    • Beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare beneficiaries entering the Medicare donut hole will get a 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs. Click here to learn more about this provision.

  • Fiction

    The health care reform law includes a tax on all real estate sales.

  • Fact

    Under the Affordable Care Act, only certain real estate transactions for certain individuals above a particular income level would be subject to a Medicare Tax.

    Unfortunately, much of the information widely circulated about a tax on home sales and other real estate transactions inaccurately describes the purpose and the effect of this provision. The 3.8 percent Medicare tax is often misunderstood, and has frequently been described as a 3.8 percent “sales tax” on all real estate transactions, which is inaccurate.

    The provision that establishes this tax can be found on page 946, Section 1402 of the Affordable Care Act.  This tax is often referred to as the “Medicare tax,” because it was designed to raise funds for Medicare. The Medicare tax goes into effect after December 30, 2012.

    The Medicare tax is not a tax on all new home sales; it only applies to the profit that certain high income Americans make from the sale of their home.  The groups that may be affected by this provision are individuals with annual incomes over $200,000 and married couples with a joint income of over $250,000. The only home sellers who will be affected by this provision are those who fit the above description, and who sell their home for a profit of more than $250,000. The tax will not apply to the first $250,000 in profits for the individual selling his or her home or to the first $500,000 in profits for a married couple.

    While undoubtedly some home sales will see a tax increase under this provision, the tax will affect only a small percentage of home sales.  A report released by the Tax Foundation on April 15, 2010 predicts that the new tax on investment income (including real estate) will affect only the top-earning 2 percent of American families.

    The full text of the Affordable Care Act is available on the health care reform page of this website.

  • Fiction

    Health care reform will hurt small businesses.

  • Fact

    The Affordable Care Act will help small businesses, many of which are struggling now to even afford health plans for their employees.

    Small businesses are a vital engine of Vermont’s economy. Unfortunately, rising health care costs are hitting small businesses especially hard, putting them at an even greater disadvantage against larger corporations. The Affordable Care Act will help level the playing field and give affordable options to small businesses that wish to offer insurance to their workers.

    For example, the Affordable Care Act:

    • Provides tax credits to small businesses to help them offer health insurance to their employees;
    • Requires insurance companies to provide free preventative care so businesses do not suffer productivity costs because of sick employees;
    • End the “hidden insurance tax” that has prevented small businesses from being able to afford to offer insurance to their employees.  This hidden tax is built in to the premiums for insurance to compensate for the unpaid care given to the uninsured.  Health reform will help get Americans health insurance and will end the inflated premium costs.  And investments to lower health care costs overall will help spur the economy, enabling more businesses to thrive;

    For more information regarding how health care reform efforts will help small businesses please visit the Implementation Center on this website as well as the Small Business Administration website and the Small Business Majority website for additional resources.

  • Fiction

    The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies for illegal immigrants to receive health insurance.

  • Fact

    The Affordable Care Act explicitly defines who is eligible for federal payments, credits or subsidies for health insurance coverage and makes clear that undocumented immigrants are ineligible.

    Some have expressed concerned that undocumented immigrants will have the ability to receive subsidies for health insurance under the reform proposals in Congress.  Senator Leahy does not support using government funding to subsidize insurance for those who have entered the United States illegally or who are residing in the United States in an undocumented status. The full text of the law clearly defines who is eligible for federal payments, credits or subsidies.

    The relevant statutory language is below:

    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    Subtitle D—Available Coverage Choices for All Americans
    PART II–Consumer Choices and Insurance Competition Through Health Benefit Exchanges

    • Section 1312 (f)(3) makes clear that undocumented immigrants are ineligible to participate in the health insurance exchanges: “ACCESS LIMITED TO LAWFUL RESIDENTS- If an individual is not, or is not reasonably expected to be for the entire period for which enrollment is sought, a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully present in the United States, the individual shall not be treated as a qualified individual and may not be covered under a qualified health plan in the individual market that is offered through an Exchange.”

    Subtitle E—Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans
    Subpart B—Eligibility Determinations

    • Section 1412(d) unambiguously states “NO FEDERAL PAYMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS NOT LAWFULLY PRESENT.—Nothing in this subtitle or the amendments made by this subtitle allows Federal payments, credits, or cost-sharing reductions for individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

    The Act also establishes a fair process to accurately verify eligibility for participation in the benefits of health insurance reform that does not place unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for U.S. Citizens nor undue administrative costs on the government.

    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

    Subtitle E—Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans
    Subpart B—Eligibility Determinations

    • Section 1411(a) required that the Secretary of Health and Human Services “shall establish a program . . . for determining . . . whether an individual who is to be covered in the individual market by a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange, or who is claiming a premium tax credit or reduced cost-sharing [is] a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully present in the United States.”
    • Section 1411(b) requires applicants for enrollment in a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange in the individual market to provide “name, address, and date of birth.”  For those individuals claiming eligibility based on an attestation of citizenship, they must provide their social security number.  For those individuals whose eligibility is based on an attestation of their immigration status, they must provide “the enrollee’s social security number (if applicable) and such identifying information with respect to the enrollee’s immigration status as the Secretary, after consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, determines appropriate.”

    Senator Leahy has also heard from Vermonters with small businesses who employ seasonal workers and their concern about the requirement that employers purchase health insurance for their employees.

    The Act exempts small businesses from the employer mandate to provide health insurance for employees, and employers are not subject to penalties if they employ 50 or fewer employees.  Seasonal workers do not count towards the 50 employee threshold.  And for those employers subject to the penalty, they are only responsible for providing health insurance for full-time employees.

    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    Subtitle F—Shared Responsibility for Health Care
    Section 1513—Shared Responsibility For Employers

    • Section 1513(a) states:


    (i) IN GENERAL- An employer shall not be considered to employ more than 50 full-time employees if—

    (I) the employer’s workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during the calendar year, and

    (II) the employees in excess of 50 employed during such 120-day period were seasonal workers.

    (ii) DEFINITION OF SEASONAL WORKERS—The term `seasonal worker’ means a worker who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis as defined by the Secretary of Labor, including workers covered by section 500.20(s)(1) of title 29, Code of Federal Regulations and retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons.”

  • Fiction

    Health care reform will lead to rationing of health care

  • Fact

    Health care reform is aimed at increasing the options for Americans, not limiting them.

    Unfortunately, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act rationing of health care happened all too often. Insurance companies decided whether or not beneficiaries could have a certain test or procedures, based not on medical necessity, but on the insurance plan and whether the test is affordable. This rationing left millions of Americans without adequate care or coverage and is taking away the decision making from patients and their doctors, putting those decisions instead in the hands of insurance company bureaucrats.

    The Affordable Care Act is intended to improve the ability of patients to receive the care they need by setting ground rules for insurance companies to follow.  No longer will insurance companies be allowed to deny coverage for preexisting medical conditions or to discriminate against consumers because of their gender. No longer will insurance companies be allowed to revoke insurance coverage from a patient who has been ill and deemed too sick for coverage. The government will have no role in telling patients what tests they can and cannot have. In fact, for the first time, the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from limiting choice of doctors.  The Affordable Care Act guarantees your right to choose a primary care doctor from any available participating provider, designate any available participating pediatrician as your child’s primary care provider, and prohibits insurers or employer-sponsored plans from requiring a referral for obstetrical or gynecological (OB-GYN) care. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurers and plans from restricting access to and charging patients more for out-of-network emergency care.

    Health care reform is about improving choice for all Americans.

  • Fiction

    The health care reform law will force individuals to pay taxes on their health benefits.

  • Fact

    Health benefits will not be taxed under the Affordable Care Act, even though the value of your health insurance will be included on your W-2 form.

    Title IX of the Affordable Care Act, Section 9002 on page 800 states that beginning in the tax year 2011, employers are required to report the value of the health insurance coverage they provide employees on each employee’s annual W-2 Form so that employees can be informed consumers and know the full cost of their plan. The amount reported does not affect tax liability and the value of the employer contribution to health coverage will continue to be excludible from an employee’s income and is not taxable.

    Updates and guidance will be posted regularly on the IRS website regarding all tax provisions included in the Affordable Care Act.

  • Fiction

    The government will encourage or force seniors to choose euthanasia as an end-of-life option.

  • Fact

    This has been shown over and over again to be another false rumor.  Nothing in the Affordable Care Act requires that seniors participate in consultations about their end-of-life wishes.

    Unfortunately, this rumor has been spreading fast and is worrying many Vermonters and Americans across the country. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act will force seniors to have consultations regarding their end-of-life choices, or have a consultation to discuss suicide.

    Currently, voluntary end-of-life planning is covered as a part of the “Welcome to Medicare” doctor visits available to seniors with in the first year of joining the program.   The Affordable Care Act authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physician exams, or wellness visits for beneficiaries. Specifically, section 4103 of the Affordable Care Act provides coverage under Medicare, with no copayments or deductible, for an annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan services.  Often times patients are not given the time to ask important questions about options available to them such as hospice, or home care, or additional services available to seniors.  This provision would simply give seniors the choice to have a discussion during their wellness visit, about the topics of their choosing, with their doctor. It empowers seniors to have conversations about living wills and other questions they might have but do not have the opportunity to ask.  In no way does the law mandate these conversations or tell doctors what options to discuss.  If seniors do not wish to have these discussions with their doctors and families, nothing will force them to.

Bagley’s cartoon on criticizing Obamacare

April 6, 2012

Generally the Pulitzer Prize committees look at specific works submitted by candidates.  Bagley‘s day-in, day-out brilliance must make it difficult for editors to choose what to nominate, no?

This cartoon is just perfect, in so many ways:


Criticism of ObamaCare. Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 2012.

I hope these cartoons get picked up by newspapers far outside of Utah. They deserve to be seen more broadly. Click cartoon to go to Salt Lake Tribune’s archives of Bagley’s work. Cartoon of March 28, 2012.

President Obama’s campaign film, “The Road We’ve Traveled”

April 1, 2012

Some encouragement for those who follow Santayana’s Ghost, and recall history; some information to change the minds of those who don’t:

Good news about health care in the U.S.: The case for Obama’s health care reforms

March 7, 2012

Here’s a preview of another piece of television that many Republicans hope you will not bother to see, a piece that explains exactly how and why the health care reforms championed by President Obama will help you and millions of others:

Program: U.S. Health Care: The Good News

Episode: The Good News in American Medicine

Journalist T.R. Reid examines communities in America where top-notch medical care is available at reasonable costs and, in some instances, can be accessed by almost all residents. Included: Mesa County, Colo.; Seattle; Everest, Wash.; Hanover, N.H. In Mesa County, for instance, doctors, hospitals and insurers place an emphasis on prevention; and a program that offers pre-natal care to poor women has proved popular.

T. R. Reid’s report started airing on PBS stations in mid-February.  If you haven’t seen it, go to this site to view the entire production.

More, resources (suggested by PBS, mostly):

Do you know what socialism is? Really? Episode 1

June 24, 2011

Management consultants seize on all kinds of ideas in the drive to heal businesses from whatever it is that ails them.  This is not criticism delivered lightly, considering the many years I made a living as a management consultant.

At the site for Constitutional Business Consulting, I came across a history of socialism — I think the author’s idea is to convince business managers that they are really using socialism in their management practices, and so the businesses should pay Constitutional Business Consulting to inject some workplace democracy.  It doesn’t really matter — what I liked was the history of socialism claimed at the site, and the comparison to the modern, free-enterprise business model.

We could quibble on the history, but why bother:  The point is worth discussion:

The Origin Of Socialism

Socialism literally sprang from observing the success of capitalism, while believing that conditions for workers could be improved if the control of production were moved from capitalists to the state. A top-down control system, such as that used in large business, was the model for socialist society. Yet the true engine of capitalism, the free market, was overlooked and left out of the plan.

Social reformers, from the early Utopian Socialists to the Marxists, were literally awed by the tremendous success of capitalistic industrial production. In The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx stated:

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor. [1]

The socialists did not want to disrupt this technological miracle, but merely to distribute the profits of it more fairly. They observed the workers earning profits for the wealthy business owners and maintained they were being unfairly exploited. Believing the strength of the system was in its structure, they didn’t want to eliminate businesses, but merely to replace the wealthy business owners with the state.

As early as 1791 Talleyrand, in France, compared the ideal society to a National Workshop. [2] In the 1820s Henri de Saint-Simon envisioned the ideal society as one large factory.[3] After his death, his followers, calling themselves the Saint-Simonians, devised a system in which all of society would be organized like a single factory and socialism was the word they chose to represent it. [4] This was the origin of socialism—the conception of a centrally-planned society run like a business.

Throughout socialist writings the theme is recurring. Thomas More, Etienne Cabet, Louis Blanc, Robert Owen, Wilhelm Weitling, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Sydney Webb, William Clarke, and Nikolai (V.I.) Lenin all relied on a top-down structure, like that used in businesses, as the model for socialist society.[5] While they didn’t all express their philosophies the same way, their line of reasoning was basically this: Capitalism, with its scientific approach, had developed the methods of production to such a degree that they became routine tasks. The wealthy capitalists, desiring to live by the labor of others, had divorced themselves from the day to day duties by training others to perform those tasks. The role of the capitalists had therefore become superfluous, and production could go on without them, thus eliminating the exploitation of the workers.

In his work The State and Revolution, Lenin states:

Capitalism simplifies the functions of ‘state’ administration; it makes it possible to have done with ‘bossing’ and to reduce the whole business to an organization of proletarians (as the ruling class) which will hire ‘workers, foremen and bookkeepers’ in the name of the whole of society. [6]

And The Communist Manifesto proclaims:

The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers…. [7]

And, these views were not just restricted to socialists. Even scholars who were avowedly against socialism, believed the success of businesses, with centralized and top-down controls, proved the viability of socialism. In 1942 Joseph Schumpeter—Chairman of the American Economic Board—saw in large business enterprise all the ear-markings of a socialistic structure, and from this he surmised that capitalism could readily be replaced by socialism. [8]

The passage of time has revealed a conclusion quite different from that of Schumpeter’s. Unfortunately, the naive belief that capitalistic efficiency is due to the top-down structure within businesses is simply grist for the mills of social reformers.

Within a few minutes of finding that site, I found a message at a Facebook site from a guy taking exception to John Kennedy’s famous statement about liberalism. I quoted part of the definition above, noting that socialism was organization “like a business,” and responded:

Perhaps some who claim to see socialism in a health care system where private physicians are chosen by patients to deliver medical care in privately-owned facilities, associating with privately-owned hospitals, using therapeutic devices manufactured by privately-owned businesses and pharmaceuticals developed by privately-owned drug companies, really do mean to rail against such free enterprise. But I’m willing to wager they just don’t know them meaning of the word “socialism” nor would they recognize socialism if it moved into their bedrooms and slept with them every night.

What do we mean when we say, “socialism?”

I wonder what sort of success Constitutional Business Consulting gets?

Footnotes, as listed by Constitutional Business Consulting [hotlinks in the quoted sections should take you back to CBC’s site]:

  1. Marx , Karl; and Engels, Friedrich, The Communist Manifesto, 1848, Penguin Books Ltd., Middlesex, England, 1986, p. 85.
  2. M. Talleyrand-Périgord, Charles Maurice, Rapport sur l’instruction publique fait au nom du comité de constitution de l’Assemblée Nationale, les 10,11, et 19 septembre 1791, Paris, 1791, p. 7-8.
  3. Manuel, Frank E., The New World of Henri Saint-Simon, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1956, p. 308-309, 367.
  4. Hayek, Friedrich A., Individualism and Economic Order, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill. 1948, p. 3.
  5. Laidler, Harry W., History of Socialism, 1968, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York. Although Laidler’s socialist leanings clearly show through, as a single source of diverse socialist viewpoints this 900+ page book is superb. See particularly, p. 28, 48, 62, 95-96, 108, 109, 197-202, 416, 658, and 660.
  6. Lenin, Vladimir Ilich, The State and Revolution, 1917, Penguin Books, New York, 1992, p. 44 See also p. 40, 42-46, 56, 61, 86-87, 90-91, and 98-99.
  7. Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, (noted above), p. 94. Also, p. 85-86.
  8. Schumpeter repeatedly makes claims such as these in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. 1942. New York. Harper & Roe. 1950. See particularly p. 61, 132-134, 186, and 214-215. He also believed managers of American businesses were suitably trained for future roles as leaders in a socialist society, p. 186, 204-205, and 207.

Just how broken is the U.S. Senate?

January 3, 2011

Important question.

George Packer asked in back in August, in an article he wrote for The New Yorker, “The Empty Chamber.”

Illustration of U.S. Senators for New Yorker, August 2010

Illustration from The New Yorker. Caption from the magazine: “Sit and watch us for seven days,” one senator says of the deadlocked chamber. “You know what you’ll see happening? Nothing.” (Is there any Republican portrayed in this illustration?)

It’s troubling to me that back in August Packer could note a list of subjects critical to our nation that the Senate had been blocked from considering, and even after a “record setting” lame-duck session, all but one of those issues remain untouched.

Packer wrote:

On July 21st, President Obama signed the completed bill. The two lasting achievements of this Senate, financial regulation and health care, required a year and a half of legislative warfare that nearly destroyed the body. They depended on a set of circumstances—a large majority of Democrats, a charismatic President with an electoral mandate, and a national crisis—that will not last long or be repeated anytime soon. Two days after financial reform became law, Harry Reid announced that the Senate would not take up comprehensive energy-reform legislation for the rest of the year. And so climate change joined immigration, job creation, food safety, pilot training, veterans’ care, campaign finance, transportation security, labor law, mine safety, wildfire management, and scores of executive and judicial appointments on the list of matters that the world’s greatest deliberative body is incapable of addressing. Already, you can feel the Senate slipping back into stagnant waters.

Read more

Only food safety got done, though a few judicial appointments squeaked through (less than two dozen).

Health care legislation as Waterloo – Oliphant (and Benson)

April 17, 2010

Pat Oliphant on health care legislation as Obama's Waterloo, March 23, 2010

Pat Oliphant on health care legislation as Obama's Waterloo, March 23, 2010 - Washington Post

How’s that “make health care Obama’s Waterloo” working out for you, Sen. Demint?

Didn’t expect Obama to be Wellington at Waterloo, eh?

See Steve Benson’s take, below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Benson courts controversy: Obama’s political resurrection

April 17, 2010

When he interned for our office, he was such a clean-cut, return-missionary sort of guy.  Steve Benson’s cartoons continually push the envelope for what is acceptable in an editorial cartoon, not exactly what I had come to expect from his early work with conservatives.  A welcome surprise.

This one was probably quite controversial in Phoenix, don’t you think?

Steve Benson in the Arizona Republic, on the Affordable Care Act and President Obama, April 2, 2010

Steve Benson in the Arizona Republic, on the Affordable Care Act and President Obama, April 2, 2010

Scaremongering against health legislation is nothing new . . .

March 19, 2010

You’ve read the health care reform bill, and you didn’t find any creeping socialism in it, nor did you find any little Joe Stalins hiding in Section 34, nor anywhere else.

How could people make such bizarre, outlandish claims?

It’s historic, really.

Flyer from 1955, Keep America Committee

Keep America Committee flyer, 1955 - courtesy of Alex Massie

That’s right!  Good mental health is anathema to conservative Republicans!

Christian pastor “wants his country back”

December 21, 2009

I get e-mail — sometimes because I belong to a list-serv.  Some of those provoke thought.

Bill Longman sent some thoughts from Jan Linn, a Disciples of Christ pastor and author of The Jesus Connection and What’s Wrong With the Christian Right.

Bill wrote, “I’m going to foward this seasonal meditation from pastor Jan Linn reflecting thoughts about our lack of concern for the common good as seen in the battle for health care legislation.”

A Christmas Wish

By Jan Linn

This past summer I heard a woman attending a town hall meeting tearfully say, “I want my country back.” So do I. That is my Christmas wish this year. I want my country back.

I want to experience the pride I used to feel at the sight of the American flag being raised as a sign of victory as a proud American athlete stood tall on the center platform at the Olympics.

I want to feel that catch in my throat I used to feel when the star spangled banner was played just before the start of a football game.

I want to experience again the excitement I felt when our college team had the chance to meet the governor of our state before the season started and to hear him speak about his pride in the kind of university we were representing.

I want to see the workers of our nation valued as they once were for all they do to make their companies a success.

I want to take my grandson fishing so he can enjoy the excitement and fun of  telling everyone about the fish he caught that gets bigger every time he tells it.

I want to go to church on Christmas Eve and give thanks to God for all people who come to the Communion Table, regardless of creed, nationality, or sexual orientation.

I want to be able to tell children of all different races, religion, sizes and shapes, that all of them have an equal chance to do whatever they can with the abilities they have

I want the rest of the world to know that we appreciate who they are just as we want them to appreciate who we are.

Yes, my Christmas wish this year is to have my country back, too, only I know based on what this woman said before she said she wanted her country back that her reasons and mine are very different.

You see, I want my country back so our nation’s top athletes will once again want to compete fairly and live up to the responsibilities of being the role models they are to our youth.

I want my country back so that the loyal opposition will once again be part of how we understand the meaning of patriotism.

This Christmas my wish is to have my country back so that politicians from opposing parties and ideologies will stop demonizing one another and respectfully disagree about what is best for our country.

I want my country back so that honest work is rewarded rather than exploited by those for whom enough is never enough.

I want my country back so the water I take my grandson to fish in will not be contaminated by toxic runoff, and that companies with chemical and nuclear waste will know they will be shown no mercy if they do not ensure it is stored safely.

I want my country back so all Christians can know that our faith has a place among the religions of the world without having to prove they are wrong and we are right.

I want my country back so every child in this nation will know he or she is loved and valued, secure and protected as every child should be.

My Christmas wish is to have my country back so that America can once again be a beacon of hope and light to other nations, not because we think we are better than they are, but because we understand the responsibilities that go with being the heirs of those who have sacrificed so much to give us the land we now have.

I want my country back so I can help make room for everyone who agrees with me and everyone who does not, knowing that it is only when we keep our differences from becoming divisions that we can be a strong and enduring democracy.

Most of all, my Christmas wish is to have my country back so we can be a people who don’t just talk about justice and peace, but work for both, and to do everything we can to preserve our nation, make it better, and pass on its enduring values to the next generation.

So, yes, my wish this Christmas is to have my country back, because for me what that means to me goes to the heart of how I understand what celebrating the birth of Jesus is truly means.


No health insurance: Can you look this man in the eye and tell him you want to let him die?

November 29, 2009

Our National Conscience, Nicholas Kristof asked the question in his column a week ago:  Are we going to let John die?

45,000 Americans die each year because of a lack of health insurance.  What do you think:  Should we allow John to die?

Which system saves John’s life, “socialism,” or “free enterprise?”

Here, you can help:

UPDATE: Several readers have asked how they can help or if there is a fund to help John. There isn’t any such fund, but with John and Esther’s permission I’m posting their mailing address: John and Esther Brodniak, 770 W Main St., Sheridan, OR 97378.

Check Kristof’s blog for more details, and nearly 400 comments.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

The birth of death panels in the unprincipled opposition to improving health care in America

November 16, 2009

Heckuva story.  Earl Blumenauer is the man responsible for the language in H.R. 3200 that Sarah Palin erroneously claimed created “death panels.”

He’s a Congressman from Oregon.

In Saturday’s New York Times he detailed how critics hijacked the debate with false claims.  Fascinating story.

A very odd result:  Because of the false claims, a provision to help people plan to avoid death panels was stricken from health care reform proposals.  More citizens will face death panel-like decisions as a result.

Previously I thought Orwell was convoluted.

Rep. Pete Sessions: Being a woman is “pre-existing condition”

November 10, 2009

When I first joined the Dallas Bar I quickly met a delightful woman who had some experience from which she spoke:  Louise Raggio.  On a few occasions I was fortunate enough to sit with her at a continuing education session and benefit from her explanations of how law really works in Texas.

I was interested to get an e-mail from her this morning, in which she complains about Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions’s vote on the health care bill that passed the House of Representatives Saturday.  You might enjoy it, too:

A Message from Louise B. Raggio
(a.k.a. the Texas Tornado)

This is an outrage.

As our Members of Congress debated health care reform legislation late into the night this weekend, our incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions likened the insurance industry’s practice of charging higher rates to women to their practice of charging higher rates for smokers.  According to Sessions, being a woman is a pre-existing condition – and it merits higher insurance rates (read it here).

Hey Pete, are you serious?

Rep. Sessions’ blatant disrespect for women is precisely why we need a change in Congress.  Will you contribute now to help bring new leadership to Washington?

Give online today at Act Blue!

When I first became a lawyer in the 1950s, Texas women could not buy or sell their own property, could not sign contracts, and could not have control over their own paychecks or open their own bank accounts without their husbands’ permission.  I decided to devote my career to changing those laws so I helped write legislation that secured legal equality for married women and became the Texas Family Code.

Now my son Grier is running for Congress.  I couldn’t be prouder to see him carry on our family’s legacy of public service.  After hearing about Rep. Sessions’ remarks pushing gender inequality, I am more determined than ever to do whatever it takes to send my son to Congress and to stand up for women.

Can you help Grier with his campaign?  We have to send a message to Pete Sessions and his allies in Congress when they try to turn the clocks back on women’s rights – we can’t let this stand.

Please help by contributing today!

Thanks for all you do to support my son and his campaign for Congress.


Louise B. Raggio

PS:  Grier is traveling to Washington, DC tomorrow to meet with DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen to discuss his efforts to unseat Rep. Sessions.

Please help Grier show Chairman Van Hollen that he has the support and commitment of Democrats like you.

Donate today!

It came to me as a message paid for by Raggio for Congress.  There’s no cash floating in the Bathtub; I pass it along for the entertainment and information value.

%d bloggers like this: