I’m sitting in a movie theater right now, not posting: tada!
WHEN PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO BUY BROCCOLI, they don’t make broccoli unavailable to those who want it. But when people don’t buy health insurance until they get sick — which is what happens in the absence of a mandate — the resulting worsening of the risk pool makes insurance more expensive, and often unaffordable, for those who remain. As a result, unregulated health insurance basically doesn’t work, and never has.
There are at least two ways to address this reality — which is, by the way, very much an issue involving interstate commerce, and hence a valid federal concern. One is to tax everyone — healthy and sick alike — and use the money raised to provide health coverage. That’s what Medicare and Medicaid do. The other is to require that everyone buy insurance, while aiding those for whom this is a financial hardship.
Are these fundamentally different approaches? Is requiring that people pay a tax that finances health coverage O.K., while requiring that they purchase insurance is unconstitutional? It’s hard to see why — and it’s not just those of us without legal training who find the distinction strange.
— Paul Krugman, “Broccoli and Bad Faith”
Ezra Klein observes: There was a reason conservatives once supported the individual mandate: Of all the arguments being waged over the Affordable Care Act — or, as the Obama campaign now likes to refer to it, “Obamacare” — the one dominating the Supreme Court this week is perhaps the most conceptually trivial.
The individual mandate requires consumers to purchase health insurance in order to eliminate the problem of free riders — people who don’t purchase insurance until they get sick or injured or those who never purchase insurance and end up passing on to the rest of us the costs of care they can’t afford.
Like this kind of bullshit: Mary Brown, a 56-year-old Florida woman who owned a small auto repair shop but had no health insurance, became the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama’s healthcare law because she was passionate about the issue. Brown “doesn’t have insurance. She doesn’t want to pay for it. And she doesn’t want the government to tell her she has to have it,” said Karen Harned, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business. Brown is a plaintiff in the federation’s case, which the Supreme Court plans to hear later this month. But court records reveal that Brown and her husband filed for bankruptcy last fall with $4,500 in unpaid medical bills. Those bills could change Brown from a symbol of proud independence into an example of exactly the problem the healthcare law was intended to address.
In one way or another, everyone paying for health insurance and / or paying for any kind of medical visit or service is subsidizing Teaparty Mary Brown and her freedumb.
(EK cont): Detractors argue that the mandate unconstitutionally infringes on personal liberty by forcing Americans to purchase health insurance. But compare it to three ways of addressing the free- rider problem in health care that are clearly, indisputably, constitutional:
• Single payer: The federal government increases income taxes and, in return, guarantees everyone government-provided health-care insurance. There is no option to opt out of the taxes. This is how most of Medicare works, though the insurance kicks in only after you turn 65.
• Late-enrollment penalty: The single-payer approach only holds for “most of” Medicare because the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit works a bit differently. For every month that you don’t enroll after becoming eligible at age 65, your premium rises by one percentage point.
• Tax credits: Under various health-care proposals — including the plan of Rep.Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — the tax code is changed to give families a tax credit for purchasing private health insurance. Families that choose to go without insurance, or simply can’t afford it, would not receive the tax credit.
All of these plans share the same basic approach: They impose a financial penalty, either before or after the fact, on those who forgo health insurance. Single payer does it through taxes, Medicare Part D through premiums and Ryan’s plan through tax credits.
Now consider the individual mandate. Here’s how it works: Starting in 2016, those who don’t carry insurance will be annually assessed a fine of $695 or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever is higher.
That’s about $58 a month. For health insurance coverage. OR 2.5% of your income, which I’d bet a lot of us are paying more than that now. I’d be happier with single-payer though. Not that what I would be happy with will matter.
(EK cont): If the mandate falls, future politicians, who will still need to fix the health-care system and address the free-rider problem, will be left with the option of either moving toward a single-payer system or offering incredibly large, expensive tax credits in order to persuade people to do things they don’t otherwise want to do. That is to say, in the name of liberty, Republicans and their allies on the Supreme Court will have guaranteed a future with much more government intrusion in the health-care marketplace.
Because of things like Red-State RWNJ Political-Christianity (also known as the laughable Teaparty fiction of a Republican-Atlas-Shrugged Jesus figurehead) combined with the worldwide sordid and hypocritical displays of modern “Christianity,” like the Catholic Church attempting to conceal systemic child molestation by its priests for decades (if not centuries), what we know as organized religion is dying a very slow but well-deserved death.
Newsweek: This week’s cover features a very average-looking Jesus Christ, whose cover line urges we follow him—and ditch the church. The cover story is written by Andrew Sullivan, who who argues that Christianity in America is “in crisis,” as political issues like contraception, health care, and abortion have been usurped by religious thinking, and the kind of Christianity that is most essential and pure has been lost.
Here’s an excerpt (full story online and on newsstands tomorrow AM):
It seems no accident to me that so many Christians now embrace materialist self-help rather than ascetic self-denial—or that most Catholics, even regular churchgoers, have tuned out the hierarchy in embarrassment or disgust. Given this crisis, it is no surprise that the fastest-growing segment of belief among the young is atheism, which has leapt in popularity in the new millennium. Nor is it a shock that so many have turned away from organized Christianity and toward “spirituality,” co-opting or adapting the practices of meditation or yoga, or wandering as lapsed Catholics in an inquisitive spiritual desert. The thirst for God is still there. How could it not be, when the profoundest human questions—Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? What happens to us after death?—remain as pressing and mysterious as they’ve always been? That’s why polls show a huge majority of Americans still believing in a Higher Power. But the need for new questioning—of Christian institutions as well as ideas and priorities—is as real as the crisis is deep.
All organized Christian institutions today are based on The Council Of Nicea, which met to “define” Christianity and Jesus Christ in 325 AD, and which involved exactly zero women (because the common thread between the ancient Abrahamic-based religions — Judaism, Christianity, Islam — is that women are second-class citizens who don’t seem to have independent or valuable souls). The reality of modern Christianity is that the final biblical canon was chosen by and for rich and powerful men — likely for as many political and social reasons as for religious purposes. Kind of sounds familiar, doesn’t it? And it’s interesting that the New Testament that was chosen by this group of powerful men left out more than they put in. What did they accomplish? — what we have today when we think of organized religion.
1) “MR ONE PERCENT”: YOUR 2012 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Mitt Romney is a Scumbag — This is inexcusable: The Romney campaign suggested Friday that President Obama should release notes and transcripts from his meetings with world leaders to prove that he is not promising world leaders to change his position after November, in a statement to National Journal. […] You do not get to demand transcripts of the president’s conversations with the leaders of other nations. You do not get to decide the merits of their conversations. You cannot demand to know what the leaders of other nations are saying to the president. This is disgraceful, and if a Democratic candidate were demanding a Republican president share transcripts of his conversations with other world leaders, the resulting media shitfest would be unparalleled.
Greg Sargent wonders how Mitt Romney (and the Republican Party) can see the Paul Ryan Jump Off The Cliff economic plan as some kind of political prize: Nonpartisan observers say Ryan’s plans amount to a huge giveaway to the rich at the expense of exploding the deficit. Polls suggest that huge majorities favor preserving Medicare’s traditional function, and reject Ryan’s reforms. And yet the amount of influence Republicans have accorded to Ryan over the GOP’s fiscal policies, worldview, ideology, vision, priorities and direction is really kind of extraordinary. They’re going for it.
Dazed And Confused — They’re going for it Greg because they’re counting on your employers at Kaplan, Inc. and the other Village media outlets to sell the Ryan Plan as not only morally desirable but absolutely necessary economically over the next several months and well beyond. It worked for the Bush tax cuts and Medicare drug benefit giveaway. It worked for Afghanistan and especially Iraq. Those cost us trillions but were sold as the right thing to do. The Ryan/Romney Austerity Plan will be no different. It will be the reason why, should the GOP gain control of the Senate, that the filibuster will be done away with and the President will get a nice shiny austerity budget. Selling that Romney will sign such a budget into law will be the big talking point. Meanwhile, austerity is destroying the EU and UK right now. All indications are they are back into a recession with no real hope of getting out. These guys want to make sure we’re next.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney: The Committee to End Medicare — These guys really believe that campaigning on a platform of turning Medicare into a voucher system is a stroke of political genius. Despite all evidence that it’s actually a political death wish, they are plowing forward undeterred. Purely on substantive grounds, it’s a terrible idea—but as they will learn in November, it’s also a political miscalculation of epic proportions. No wonder Democrats are so happy he endorsed Mitt Romney.
Paul Ryan Endorses Romney – Ryan and Romney: A Marriage Made of Our Insane Times – Nevertheless, and god knoweth how, Ryan remains such a sufficient force in our politics that his endorsement of the Romneybot 2.0 on Friday is considered to be a big deal, even though — and, Lord knows, we realize we are repeating ourselves here — if the Romneybot had endorsed anything like zombie-eyed granny-starving early in his career, he wouldn’t have received 11 votes in Massachusetts and we might never have heard of him again…. [...] There was a time in his life, and I’m old enough to remember it, when Willard Romney wouldn’t have given 15 minutes consideration to this kind of supply-side fever-dreaming. The “Ryan budget” shoves the country’s wealth upwards, decimates the social safety net, relies on a new form of mathematics that seems to have been developed by Bighorn sheep, and doesn’t do any more toward reducing the deficit than it does toward re-aligning the teams in the American Football Conference. The Romney who produced the Massachusetts health-care reform — Thanks, Mitt! — wouldn’t recognize the Romney that is such a fan these days of zombie-eyed granny-starving. Paul Ryan’s career as a “budget guru” is as much a miracle of media smoke-and-mirrors as was Newt Gingrich’s long career as a Man Of Ideas, both of them pure products of a culture of media timidity that is unable to confront the fact that one of our two major political parties has gone barking mad. That is the party that is about to nominate Willard Romney. A man is known by the company he keeps.
2) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEA
Urban Outfitters President has donated $13,150 to Rick Santorum over the years — Still doesn’t sell sweater-vests. || Good reason to never shop Urban Outfitters again? Definitely.
Fox News host urges viewers to ‘vote Republican’ — It’s no secret that Fox News leans to the right, but one host may have crossed the line on Friday when he actively encouraged viewers to “vote Republican” if they didn’t like big government. During an interview with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy seemed to endorse the congressman’s “Path to Prosperity” budget. “This really is kind of a campaign document because it draws a bright line between what the Republicans stand for and what the Democrats stand for,” he explained. “If you want big government, then the Democrats are your party.” Doocy added: “Whereas, if you want a party that’s making some hard choices, vote Republican.”
Oinkbama — I try not to nutpick too much, but this is just too fucking funny: The game is to see how many comments in a foxnews.com article that has nothing to do with President Obama do you need to read before somebody says something bad about President Obama. I call it “how many comments in a foxnews.com article that has nothing to do with President Obama do you need to read before somebody says something bad about President Obama”. Not one article goes past 22 comments before they start bashing Obama. The best part is the names they make for Obama, such as “Oinkbama”.
Hewitt Award Nominee — “In other words, [Obama]’s a racist hatemonger. Just to be clear. So much for hope and change. Hope is what he promised. Hate is what he’s delivering,” – Glenn Reynolds. The post is given extra nutball juice from having been written at 3.18 am.
Michele Bachmann Thinks People ‘Choose’ To Not Have Health Insurance – “[Health insurance is] still an opportunity that some people choose to engage in, but 40 million people do not. And the premise was made that people don’t buy insurance because they can’t afford it. That’s not true. There are people who just decide they want to roll the dice and take their chances that they won’t need insurance.“ Bachmann’s assumption that 40 million people “choose” to not have health insurance downplays the plight that people can face trying to find affordable health insurance in the face of rising costs. For the past decade, the number of people uninsured has risen each year, and working families make up 80 percent of those who have no health insurance. And young adults make up the largest share of those who are uninsured. Instead of acknowledging this growing problem, Bachmann has attacked the Affordable Care Act, the very thing that could help slow these costs and expand access to health care.
3) SUNDAY REVIEW OF THE RIGHTWING BIBLE-THUMPERS AND THEIR IDEAS OF ‘CHRISTIANITY’
Pat Robertson says homosexuality is a result of “demonic possession” — On “The 700 Club” this week, viewers were shown a segment about a man who tried to “change” his sexuality by marrying a woman, but nevertheless kept having gay affairs. TV preacher Pat Robertson said of the story, “I think it is somehow related to demonic possession.” He wasn’t kidding. It’s the 21st century; I just thought I’d mention that. [re: quote in image: see video]
Suit alleges financial fraud at TBN ministry — The Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world’s largest Christian network, is embroiled in a legal battle involving allegations of massive financial fraud and lavish spending, including the purchase of a $100,000 motor home for family dogs. Brittany Koper, a former high-ranking TBN official and the granddaughter of its co-founder, Paul Crouch Sr., was fired by the network in September after discovering “illegal financial schemes” amounting to tens of millions of dollars, according to a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court. [...] The lawsuit alleges that Paul Crouch Sr. obtained a $50-million Global Express luxury jet for his personal use through a “sham loan,” and that TBN funds paid for a $100,000 motor home for dogs owned by his wife, Janice Crouch, a network director. [...] TBN directors received about $300,000 to $500,000 in meal expenses and the use of chauffeurs, and oversaw “fraudulent donation and kickback schemes involving third party ‘ministries'” the network controlled, the suit claims. The directors also misused funds to cover up sexual scandals, the suit claims. [image: wonkette]
4) ZIMMERMAN KILLING OF TRAYVON MARTIN
Bill Maher calls Zimmerman a big, fat fucking liar (VIDEO) — On Friday night’s “Real Time,” Bill Maher asked a pointed question based on the tape of Zimmerman at the police station after his alleged “fight” with Martin: “Aren’t we all convinced from that tape that this guy is a big, fat, fucking liar?” But Maher’s criticism wasn’t limited to Zimmerman and the people who have failed to bring him to justice. On the heels of his hilarious “new rules” segment, Maher went on to implicate liberal politicians in shooting deaths like Martin’s: We can go on and on about hoodies and the neighborhood watch guy who looks like Chaz Bono, but it’s not really a discussion until you save some blame for the liberal politicians who unconditionally surrendered in the fight for sensible gun laws. When are they going to stand their ground?
Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman 911 call analysis: Two forensic experts say it’s not George Zimmerman crying out for help — “I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else,” Owen says. The software compared that audio to Zimmerman’s voice. It returned a 48 percent match. Owen said to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he’d expect higher than 90 percent. “As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it’s not Zimmerman,” Owen says, stressing that he cannot confirm the voice as Trayvon’s, because he didn’t have a sample of the teen’s voice to compare. [...] He relies instead on audio enhancement and human analysis based on forensic experience. After listening closely to the 911 tape on which the screams are heard, Primeau also has a strong opinion. “I believe that’s Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt,” Primeau says, stressing that the tone of the voice is a giveaway. “That’s a young man screaming.”