Former Speaker Gets Pricey Perks

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30846_Page2.html

This article talks about the pricey perks that former House speaker Dennis Hastert is receiving. Taxpayers are spending over $40,000 monthly on things like an office, a very well paid staff, computers, cell phones, and even a leased 2008 GMC Yukon. Hastert is allowed to spend $840,000 annually to run his office for five years. This means that he could potentially spend $4,200,000 of taxpayers money. 
I don't think it is right to give previous house speakers this money given our current budget deficit. Yes, he did serve twenty-one years in the House, but he received far too many perks during that time as well. Hastert should have enough money to pay for these expenses on his own. He is a foreign agent, representing the interests of both Turkey and Luxembourg in Washington. He also lobbies for three U.S. companies. Former House speakers are forbidden to use their allowance on lobbying, but how do we know Hastert isn't? 

Health Care Bill addressing the Medicare 'doughnut hole'

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http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/11/17/medicare-doughnut-hole/

I found this article by MPR news that explains the issues with our current Minnesota Medicare system concerning the 'doughnut holes' many recipients face. After Medicare recipients exceed the amount of $2,700, coverage stops and their premiums increase substantially. The only way for coverage to reenact is after the recipient has spent over $4,550. This is just under $2,000 that the Medicare recipient would have to pay for themselves. Over a decade, this could amount in over $6,000 in expenditures. This is leading to a decrease in customer efficiency, as many customers are fiscally forced to stop or decrease the amount of medicine they take on a daily basis. One woman explained that ever since she ended up in the 'doughnut hole' she took her back medication only when her back was in severe pain vs. her everyday pains. What the health care reform bills would do is decrease this senior's gap by $500 and the cost of her dugs would cut in half. Although there would still be a rather large gap between when she is covered and when she is not, it is still beneficial progress. They are unclear as to exactly how much this will cost everyone exactly, but one estimate is that it will cost drug manufacturers up to $80 billion over the course of a decade. Overall, the seniors' overall drug spending would decrease, which will be a big benefit to seniors who are dealing with this 'doughnut hole' situation. I definitely think it's good that Congress is taking a look at the flaws in our system. Of course it'd be nice if there was one easy quick-fix solution to the issue, but as there is not, and since it's hard to enact change at all, any progress should be considered a success. I believe this is a step in the right direction, and I was overall pleased with the reaction and results reflected in the House and Senate Bill reforms.

Left Rebels Against Health Reform

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http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30737_Page2.html

This article talks about how some liberal democrats are no longer supporting the senate health care reform bill because it has become so watered down and is only helping health insurance companies. The author quotes many politicians and other bloggers on the issue. One thing I was not sure about was whether a bloggers opinion counts as good evidence. 
I do agree with the liberals that the current bill is more about getting something passed then on reforming health care. Health care cannot be reformed when the interests of health insurance companies are also considered. The only problem is that the health insurance companies have too much power due to lobbying. In order for true health care reform to happen, insurance companies need to lose the power that they have over politicians. 

Left Turns on Senate Bill

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Left Turns on Individual Mandate. This article examines how the Senate Health Care reform bill, introduced by Harry Reid, is quickly losing support from democrats due to changes made to the bill. Foster argues that because of the elimination of the public option, many democrats are turning on the bill becuase of the cost many middle class taxpayers will incur, and because it will force Americans to purchase insurance from the private sector, which is where the problem originated in the first place. Clearly Foster brings up a great point that due to the amendments the bill is taking on, it can no longer be passed due to the extreme condition it would leave many middle and lower class citizens. However, this still may not rule out passage of some sort of reform, as there is still the possibility of passing the bill, and ironing out the differences in conference committee of both houses.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefing/2009/12/prospects_for_gop_support_of_s.html?wprss=capitol-briefing

 

This article shed light on a major issue surrounding healthcare reform, the time table Senator Reid set up. Senator Snowe says in this article that a political deadline doesn't translate into good policy and I think this is true. There should not be a deadline for healthcare reform if it is just to ensure that the Democrats remain the majority in the House and the Senate after the 2010 election year. Policy should be worked out until we have the best bill possible and clearly with the recent dropping of the public option a concrete bill is not in place. It would be incredibly difficult to correctly review the bill in two weeks time. The deadline of Christmas to get the healthcare bill through the Senate is a ridiculous hope. If a bill were to be passed by Christmas, it would not be a well thought-out bill because of all the flip flopping of items like the public option. If this bill is to pass in the Senate, it needs to be cohesive and not just be kicked through to meet a silly deadline.

 

should Minnesota Opt-out

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Is 'opting out' a real option for Minnesota

Before reading this article I had no idea that an opt out option was even on the table for health care reform. Personally I feel that as a progressive state if Minnesota were to opt out it would be a major setback for the entire state not just the 875,000 Minnesotans who would be eligible to use the public option. If we opted out there would still be 519000 Minnesotans uninsured, and we would become a backwards state in the union. While I can see the points being made by republicans, I feel that if democrats let states opt out they are failing and leaving citizens behind. I also think if we opt out it will continue to put pressure on our health care providers as 519000 uninsured will still be using our facilities and we will still be footing their bills, and the bills for other states. I think this issue will make the race for governor very exciting, as it is not Tim Pawlenty who decides what to do, but the next governor. I also think that this issue really shows why it is important that we stay up to date on our state politics not just federal, as health care is especially an issue for the state.

What should Rahm have done?

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/

I totally agree with Ezra Klein. I don't think that Rahm Emanuel really has any power over the moderates or the Republicans when it comes to health care reform. They are the ones who have all the power right now. The White House isn't going to try and flex muscle with these members when they all individually could completely block the entire health care reform, not just the public option. The President and major Democrats really just want to get some sort of reform and if they tried to twist anyone's arm that just wouldn't happen. Someone would filibuster the bill stopping any reform from happening. To be completely honest when it comes to health care I think its smart for the White House to not flex a lot of muscle. 

The Power of "Moderates"

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http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30601.html

Today, politico.com ran an article about how, because Joe Lieberman is opposed to it, Democrats are considering dropping an expansion to Medicare that they had been proposing. Although this isn't necessarily a bad thing (it all depends on you political philosophy and party affiliation) it is still very interesting to see how powerful one "moderate" senator can be. (I use quotes for the word moderate because it really just means that you share a number of views with the opposite party, not that you have moderate views.) When one party or another desperately needs votes, they are often ready to appease fringe members of both parties by giving in to their demands. It's really crazy how, in the United States, just one or two people are able to shape the debate on an entire issue. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats treat Senator Lieberman if they gain or lose a few votes in next year's election.

Federal Workers Gripe About Senate Health Bill

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/12/07/federal-workers-gripe-about-senate-health-bill/

This blog post talks about the latest group of people who are unhappy with the current Senate proposals on healthcare. The bill would increase government workers insurance premiums between $103 and $159 per year just to help pay for uninsured people. Some people are unsure that this is actually true or if this information was released by the insurer who administers to government employees. In the end, the article states that this bill would hit the low earning government workers the most. For example, a letter carrier earning $45,000 - $50,000 a year. 

I believe that this article brings up very valid information. I think that certain proposals for universal healthcare are impossible and would make the current situation worse. However, I think that some sort of assistance should be given to those who cannot afford healthcare on their own. Although this article only talks about how this senate bill would affect government workers, I believe it is an issue the involves everyone.

Health care changes can't please all

http://www.jsonline.com/business/79183027.html

This article does a good job of pointing out just how complicated healthcare reform is. There is the complexity of the bill (2000 plus pages of ways to improve healthcare), there is the fact that the bill is ever changing (most news days include some sort of change to the bill), and Boulton discusses how people's contradictory opinions make healthcare reform even more difficult. 

The contradictory examples provided ("People are concerned about federal deficit, but think to little is spent on healthcare") mimic the contradictory attitudes about welfare we saw earlier in the year (people were supportive of spending more on the poor, but didn't want to spend more on welfare). The vacillation of the American public really makes it difficult to pass any legislation. Individuals, and their ambiguous opinions, make it hard for the government to form popular legislation. Congressmen will want to please their constituents, but if they get conflicting ideas, they will have a hard time getting anything accomplished. 

However, I believe that by going ahead and implementing some of the pilot programs in the bill, we will, in some ways, force people to make up their minds. Boulton talked in the article about how Medicare had only been supported by 46% of the population when it was enacted, but now Medicare is a very popular program. By enacting some of the pilot programs suggested in the healthcare bill, we will be creating a change in healthcare. Maybe citizens won't like this change, but at least then we will know what not to try in the future - and maybe we could then implement the other side of their conflicting ideas. 

Recent Comments

  • tessm036: Honestly, it's tragic that things like this have been happening read more
  • ivers391: I agree with Mehrx030 in that this deadline does not read more
  • ivers391: I agree with Nick here. It is very unfortunate that read more
  • tessm036: It is unfortunate the course this bill has taken since read more
  • trehu002: This bill is becoming so watered down, it is practically read more
  • schm2718: I think the healthcare bill has a good chance of read more
  • schm2718: I can't see Minnesota opting out of any sort of read more
  • tessm036: This is also very interesting, because Joe Lieberman was one read more
  • Teesh Cole: I think it is very surpirising how powerful Joe is, read more
  • Teesh Cole: I also agree that healthier foods should be subsidized, and read more

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