Daily Topics - Thursday February 25th 2010

Daily Topics - Thursday February 25th 2010

healthcare imagesQuote:  "It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united." -- Thomas Jefferson

Hour One - Why won't Republicans tell the truth about terrorism and reconciliation? Congressman Steve King www.steveking.house.gov

Hour Two - Is the millenial generation going to save us or destroy us? Jeremy Rifkin www.foet.org

Hour Three - Now that 30 years of supply side economics have destroyed America, what's plan B? Arthur Laffer, Economist, author (w/Stephen Moore) of "The End of Prosperity" and it's sequel "Return to Prosperity" www.arduinlaffermoore.com

Plus...Will America's economy continue to freefall into a second great depression? Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning American economist,  "Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy" www.books.wwnorton.com

Comments

Charles in OH

I'm having a hard time stepping away from the healthcare summit.

Charles in OH

Steve King seems to be awfully familiar with James Clyburn's floor speech to not believe he was the subject.

Quark

It is interesting that, just as majority leader Steny Hoyer started to introduce the idea of the public option, TV channels that were carrying the health care meeting went to commercials.

Quark

Rep. Anthony Weiner: Righteous Anger on the House Floor

Video:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show#3557...

Quark

Gingrich Points One Finger at Obama; 4 Fingers Point Back at Republicans: “Gov’t. is Smart, You’re Stupid”

Excellent summary of Republican/Democratic polices since Eisenhower (video):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/ns/msnbc_tv-countdown_with_keith_olb...

Quark

Science News – “Magic” Energy Box

The Bloom Box may be an important future source of clean energy. This story was featured on last Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” A shorter story was hightlighted on MSNBC. Fascinating (video):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31510813/#35568227

Charles in OH

The HRC is not quite Kabuki Theatre but the Repubs did try to filibuster with prepared statements and notes until Harry Reid called them on it. McConnell's response was to report the time disparity.

Mark K

I was sitting on a bus yesterday behind an older white guy and two Seattle police officers who were discussing the recent incident in the Metro bus tunnel (where a teenage girl assaulted another). The man seemed concerned about his safety, but the cops assured him that he was an unlikely target because his burly size. The officers also joked how they themselves preferred to target short people, because it was “safer.” The man discussed their weaponry, impressed by the lethality of the Glock 40, and waxed gleeful on other weaponry like 9 mm pistols. After that I blurted out that this is the guy you should be concerned about, a view which garnered a few murmurs of approval, which succeeded in ending the conversation between cops and paranoid gun nut

Also, over the weekend, I was listening to an ESPN radio commentator discussing the new business math of Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt. McCourt’s goal is to reduce the player payroll from 40 percent of revenue—already one of the lowest percentages in MLB—to 25 percent. The question then was whether McCourt is at all interested or passionate about the sport enough to put a quality “product” on the field (given current salary levels) for fans who attended the games or helped keep television ratings up to provide a revenue source from network contracts. Some would rather speculate that ownership of a baseball team for McCourt is merely just another business venture in which the goal was to make as much profit as possible. This certainly is in opposition to the Steinbrenners’ passion to put the best team money can buy in New York, where winning—not necessarily profit—is the overriding goal, even if it means having to pay “luxury” taxes for going over the salary cap.

McCourt’s passion for profit over product was also the subject of a Los Angeles Times story the other day. It appears that IRS records show that McCourt hasn’t paid any taxes in recent years, and all apparently legal. Together with McCourt’s stinginess on putting a quality product (meaning players) on the baseball field (somewhat masked by the fact that the Dodgers play in the worst division in the National League) this has drawn the ire of both baseball fans and working stiffs already angered by businesses and corporations that do everything they can avoid paying their fair share of the tax burden. This isn’t just in sports franchises, obviously, but across the business spectrum that cutting payroll and avoidance of taxes is occurring.

As an aside, I don’t mean to embarrass Red Sox fans but did you know that in 1921, Babe Ruth hit 59 homeruns (probably juiced on alcohol), while Boston had a league low 17—as a team?

Charles in OH

Rep James Camp was pushing health savings acounts (HSA) noting that premiums drop for insurers who have HSA. What he did not acknowledge was the total healthcare cost is still there its only split into two funds.

Charles in OH

Pelosi was quoting Teddy.

Charles in OH

For profit health insurance does not operate under the premise of pooling individuals to share the cost. If they did, pre-existing conditions, age, race, and other outliers would have no relevance.

Tracy Baker

When one stoops to conquer, one is conquered by stupes!

Charles in OH

@ Mark K - I don't follow the business dealings of MLB, but I thought the luxury tax was a tool to subsidize small market teams to field better players.

Charles in OH

The caller's analogy misses the point about fire departments. He is equating home insurance with fire response. The fire department will put out the fire regardless of the homeowner having insurance.

Humboldt William

Fire insurance and health insurance have nothing to do with eachother. Fire insurance doesn't cover the fighting of the fire like health insurance does. It covers the cost after a fire.

Charles in OH

A motorcyclist, hit by a car, is comatose and ventilated. If he does not have insurance, does the hospital have the right to refuse care?

Charles in OH

@ Humboldt - exactly

Wendy

Brandon needs to be careful what he wishes for - God forbid he loses his health insurance due to unemployment, illness or astronomical premiums, then finds himself in an ER needing help.

Hello there. Am watching C-span. The Republicans are quite the philosophers. Cantor Minority Whip R-Virginia, McCain and Dave Camp and some other guy from Arizona, are still trying to take on 'Wahsington' setting baseline standards. President just referred to Cantor's bringing in of the 2000+ page bill as a 'prop'. Obama is calling him out on it. He also told Mc Cain that the campaign is over. He is saying we could make food cheaper if we eliminated meat inspectors. Likewise, if we eliminated the FDA, we could allow people to think they are getting one thing when they are not.

@Wendey- it seems the right wing creates a world based around currency, where the rest of us value life and seek to set the rules around what suits the world we want to live in. We are creators and they are slaves to rules, mistreated souls, victims who accept lesser quality lives.

Charles in OH

Brandon is young, self-absorded and most-likely uninsured or insured by his employer. He has no concept of what tens of millions of people deal with on a daily basis.

Quark

KMH,

Thanks for the summary thus far. Very interesting. I'm glad Obama is trying to keep people honest.

The President is having to teach about the concept of pooling. He is doing a good job. I wonder what Hilary thinks of what is happening. Why is she not there? Is she too much of a lightening rod?

Did you hear what Brandon said? He said, "Well I have fire insurance..." That has nothing to do with paying for the Fire Department to come in to your house, rescue you, and put out the house fire. Once the fire is out, you call insurance to fix your house. Weather you are risky or not, has nothing to do with the cost of paying for the Fire Department. The fire department does not charge to rescue people and put out a fire or pull you out of a car wreck, or out of a hidden well, or anything else they do.

Quark

Charles in OH

Exactly!

Cantnor is now back to 'we can't afford this.' Wants to go step by step.

Charles in OH

Hillary has no place because she's the Secretary of State. If the discussion was providing subsidies to Darfur, she would have a seat.

Quark

KMH,

Maybe, as Secretary of State, her job description takes her elsewhere...

I have an awesome business idea! I'm going to build enormous 7-11s in big cities across the country. These 7-11s will have *huge* counters at the front of each store with enough counter space for all of the coffee cans used to collect pennies, nickels and dimes for all of the people in that region that have health care bills that they cannot afford!

Charles in OH

@ Tim - Oh, but the privately ran ambulance will charge you to take you to the hospital.

Charles in OH

Eric Cantor is a douche bag.

Quark

I don't think the point of this health care "summit" is to find a compromise. Instead, I think it is to show Repugs for what they are: greedy sociopaths.

Louise Slaughter is wonderful! Her testimony is amazing!

I'm watching the HC summit (currently in recess). Sorry to be missing Thom's show today, I'll try listening to both!

If CNN talkover bothers you, yahoo's playing it straight: http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=4226934&ch=4...

Charles in OH

During Lamar Alexander's rambling opening statement Obama was visibly frustrated with the tenor he was setting. Repubs plan was to talk for the sake of talking. Good to see him call them on it.

James Clybourn was also hot. He was the only one to bring up that 37% of persons in a particular emergency room were using it as their primary care and many of these had health insurance from their employers, but that coverage did not allow them to see a Dr for some reason or another. The President is going a good job of keeping them at bay, though the unified attack did take place with Cantor right before the break. Also, there was a disagreement over interpretating CBO results as to whether premiums would rise. Obama says this was because those same people, given the optoin to pay more for greater value, would. I.e. paying for 'fake' vs real insurance.

Charles in OH

Bob, so sorry that I won't be contributing to you cans. My change goes toward my son's college fund. At the rate tuition is going up, I might be able to save enough to buy him a class or two.

I am watching on c-span 3 http://www.c-span.org/Topics/Health-Care-Insurance-Reform-Legislation-To...

And I LOVE Jeremy Rikfin, in fact he was one of my guest request for Thom's show quite some time ago.

harry ashburn

@Charles: re: "Eric Cantor is a douche bag."

That's an insult to douche bags everywhere.

"Support mental health or I'll kill you!" - MAD Magazine

Charles in OH

The fact that out-of-pocket costs going down with the minimum coverage plans is lost on Republicans. Or, is it that their core constituents are not concerned about out-of-pocket expenses?

Mark K

Charles in OH:

First, I was just pointing out that the Yankees don't mind spending money to put a good product on the field, and secondly, the tax itself does not go to small market teams but subsidizes retired players' benefits programs and to "promote" baseball around the globe. The only money that is "distributed" to smaller markets is revenue sharing from television contracts.

Charles in OH

@ Mark K - Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering if McCourt was trying to angle for some of that subsidy if he could demonstrate lost revenue. Why put a good team on the field if you can make more money with less effort?

Mark K

Last week Charles Krauthammer in an op-ed gave his usual nauseatingly arrogant and smug assessment of the Democratic congress and especially Obama’s "failure of leadership," at least as the Republicans define it. Somewhat odd given that the right has done everything it can to oppose Obama's agenda. But that was last week; this week Obama has taken some initiative that somewhat resembles a “tougher” approach to dealing with the opponents of his agenda (such as it is)—although, of course, still holding out the fig leaf of “bi-partisanship” for any Republican brave enough to wear it. It would seem, however, that Republican prefer to stand completely starkers before the American people, without the slightest hint of shame or embarrassment. It is amusing to note that in the midst of Obama’s rediscovered sense of purpose, Sean Hannity has lost some of his swagger after taking credit for “killing” health care reform, and Dick Morris is back to making a horse’s arse of himself resurrecting the government “death panel” shibboleth. Randi Rhodes also noted yesterday how the Republicans seemed rather more concerned about where they were eating their lunch than on the substance of the health care summit. To show just how disinterested (or completely unprepared) they are, Republicans wanted to know if they could work on “other business” besides health care.

Meanwhile, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta aired a brief piece on the high cost of health care, which he didn’t necessarily criticize. He noted that just the use of an operating room costs a patient $3,000 a pop. An IV bag cost $280; a surgical stapler $1,200; a chest tube $1,100; a needle for a biopsy $800; and suture threading $200. Some of this cost could be explained by so-called “administration” overhead, except that I doubt that doctor and nurse compensation was even included in this calculation. These costs are also inflated in part to cover “research and development,” and what some health industry flunky said was the government’s failure to provide sufficient funds to cover the cost of the uninsured (4 cents on the dollar, he claimed), but even if the uninsured did have insurance, this would only spread-out the overall cost, not reduce it. Now, if we had a public option, much more money would become available to spread-out that cost and make it less onerous on individuals who have to “pay” not just for the treatment of the uninsured, but everyone who works in a hospital. But I have little faith in the health care industry to do its part. It is easy enough to say tell the health insurance industry to cut the people whose job it is to say “no,” but health care providing is an ever-expanding industry, and reigning in the “administrative” costs of hospitals which would seem to be the single most difficult objective to accomplish.

There was something else of note to mention. Why is it that someone like Jon Stewart on Comedy Central has to tell us that the so-called credit card reform act is a sham? It doesn’t prevent credit card companies from jobbing consumers—they just now have to tell you beforehand that they are doing it.

Thomas Jode

Wait, Thom,
What about people with Aspeger's, ADD, ADHD, and Autism who are said to have limited empathy which disallows them to make those connections? (Of course I can't speak for everyone with such conditions.)

Dave

Some guy called Thom and gave the old argument, “I don't want to pay for someone else’s health insurance” as his reason against gov’t run health insurance. This argument holds no water since he already pays for health insurance for people he has no desire to support. Most services and products one purchases have health insurance costs buried into the price of the service/product. This guy has no say in who the company he’s sending money to hires. So I would imagine he can find many people he’d not want to pay health insurance for in each company he buys a product/service from. I have no health insurance but I know I pay for a lot of health insurance with all my purchases, and that’s what I don’t like.

Brian Goecke

I guess I am a little confused on a portion of what the Republicans are pushing for Health Care Reform.

They want Tort Reform as part of their solution. If I am not mistaken, did the Supreme Court not just hand down a ruling that "Money" is considered "Speech" for Corporations so the Supreme Court could not limit Corporations "Freedom of Speech"?

If that is the case, how can Republicans try to take away "Freedom of Speech" (Money) from the Citizens of this country by limiting how much money (Speech) we can sue Corporations for when they harm us with their actions? Isn't Freedom of Speech (Money) protected by the Constitution?

According to the Supreme Court (and, I am assuming, the Conservatives and Conservative Pundits that are lauding the ruling), there should be no monetary limitations placed on the Citizens of this Country when we have to take Corporations to court to recover damages from them.

If a jury of my peers decides I should get 500 Billion Dollars from a Corporation because they harmed me in some way, why do the Republicans think they should be able to limit my Constitutionally Guaranteed Freedom of Speech?

Tim

@ Charles in OH

I know, that's the problem. We have public Fire Departments that will use the jaws of life to cut you out of your car, but then you better have insurance to take you to the ER.

Is greed .... beyond a reasonable point .... a mental illness?

Why else would health insurance executives feel the need to make so much money for so little work?

Bill Gates earned his billions by creating something new but he would have worked just as hard for a more modest return because the pleasure of creation is (once you satisfy minimum needs) overwhelmingly motivating.

Wellpoint's CEO didn't create anything so the lust for more more more is not mentally right.

Charles in OH

In regards to credit card reform, I do agree that the notification stipulations are for the most part useless. The one provision that is beneficial is that rates on previous purchases are locked in at the rate at the time of the purchase.

BofA lost my business a few years ago by raising my rates (unwaranted) from 7% fixed to 17% variable. I was carrying a balance from a Vegas trip that I had taken months earlier. I had budgeted my payoff timetable at the 7% rate. If I had known that the rate was going to jump, I would have financed the trip differently.

Rafael Esparza

Thom makes a good point about young people elevating Ronald Regan to mythical status. The reason being that Regans buddies in the corporate world, including the publishing companies, have spun world history to tell their side of the story and their version of the facts. History is told by the victorious, and for the past 20-30 years the corporations have been winning the war, but I am still not willing to crown them the victors!!