Morning Bunker Report: Wednesday 4.11.2012


imageRick Santorum: thanks for the memories — “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better” with taxpayer money (which he of course qualified as “blah” people). – He said women aren’t capable of serving in combat because there would be “emotions that are involved.” – “I refer to global warming as not climate science, but political science.”  – He told a mother her gay son is engaging in unhealthy activity that the government should not “promote.” – Santorum is pro-income inequality.   -Santorum promised to significantly reduce federal funding for food stamps, arguing that the nation’s increasing obesity rates render the program unnecessary. – He called contraception a “license to do things” – Santorum found “it almost remarkable for a black man” to be pro-choice.  – He told a rape victim: “Make the best out of a bad situation” – In 1994, the candidate said single moms are just “breeding more criminals.” [ThinkProgress]

Idaho’s only black lawmaker gets KKK membership invite — On Saturday, Democratic state Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb used her Facebook page to share photos of the KKK “application,” which asked for $35 and a proclamation that she was “a White Christian man or woman.”…“(It) was addressed by hand,” the lawmaker noted. “Something a little unsettling.” [...] “Initially, I wondered what was someone’s thought process in sending that to me. My first inclination was someone wants me to know the Klan is still around,” she explained. “I am really concerned about the climate of intolerance in a lot of different areas. I see a lot of intolerance toward gays, toward women,” the Boise Democrat said, recalling recent legislative battles over LGBT rights, abortion and contraception. “I would be a fool not to take note and govern myself accordingly,” she added. “It was a sign for me to remain vigilant, to remain careful and to remain thoughtful.”

George Zimmerman’s Attorneys Quit, Say Client ‘Disappeared’ — The attorneys claim that Zimmerman repeatedly rebuffed their legal advice, and that they have now lost contact with him. “On Monday we began fielding questions…’did we know anything about (this) website?’ And our initial response was, well that’s probably bogus, we don’t know anything about that. And we started making inquiries and frankly confirmed that he, through friends or family, had in fact set that site up and it was legitimate. We immediately began telling the media, disregard the earlier website we gave you that we had set up. Go for the one we now know that he set up.” “We were happy enough with that, but disturbed that he had not communicated with us,” Uhrig said. The attorneys said that Zimmerman repeatedly ignored their legal advice. “We learned that he had called Sean Hannity of Fox News directly — not through us,” Uhrig said. “We believe that he spoke directly with Sean off the record and [Hannity's] not even willing to tell us what our client told him.”

Because this wouldn’t be at all weird or basically insane

Glenn Beck, once a shining star in the conservative universe, has seen his influence fade a bit since leaving Fox News to set out on his own. Now he’s built a replica of the oval office to give “Reagan-esque” speechesso says the Glenn Beck TV Team. [tpmmedia]

———————————————————–——PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

President Obama Makes the Case for the Buffett Rule — Instead of giving more than a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the very wealthiest Americans—those who make more than $250,000 a year—we need to be investing in the things like education and research and health care. These are the same investments we’ve been making for generations because they lead to strong, broad based economic growth that helps everyone, as the President explained: What drags our entire economy down is when the benefits of economic growth and productivity go only to the few, which is what’s been happening for over a decade now, and gap between those at the very, very top and everybody else keeps growing wider and wider and wider and wider.” The fact is, the share of our national income going to the top 1 percent of earners is as high as it’s been since the 1920s. And those same people are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years. To address this imbalance in our tax system, President Obama has proposed the Buffett Rule, based on the simple idea that people who make more than $1 million each year pay at least the same share of their income in taxes as middle-class families do…

Beyond a Buffett Rule, the Obama We’ve Been Waiting For — Later, in the speech, he sharpened his criticism of the Republican embrace of zombie-eyed granny-starving to a sharper point, daring the GOP to produce a list of things they would actually cut to make the pixie-dust math of the Ryan budget actually work. “They won’t do it,” he told the crowd, “because they know, if they do, they’ll lose.” This appeal to honesty and political courage likely will fall on deaf ears, alas. (How do I know this? Because of an interview that zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan gave to the Christian Broadcasting Network in which he spectacularly attempted to wedge zombie-eyed granny-starving into the Gospels: “A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan said in an interview released on Tuesday by the Christian Broadcasting Network. “So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person.” First of all, he doesn’t know what in the hell he’s talking about. The social magisterium of the Church is a lot of things, but consonant with supply-side trickle-down economics is definitely not one of them, no matter how hard the crowd at First Things tries to make it so.

Elizabeth Warren Nabs Planned Parenthood Endorsement In Massachusetts Senate Race — The Planned Parenthood Action Fund said their decision to endorse Warren was partly due to Brown’s support of the Blunt Amendment, of which he was a co-sponsor. The amendment would have allowed employers and insurers the right to deny coverage for any procedure that contradicts their moral or religious beliefs. Warren opposed the failed amendment to the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. “Now more than ever, Massachusetts voters want and deserve to be represented in Congress by someone who puts smart policies ahead of political ideologies,” said Dianne Luby, president of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund in Massachusetts, in a statement.

Food Stamp Program Helping Reduce Poverty — A new study by the Agriculture Department has found that food stamps, one of the country’s largest social safety net programs, reduced the poverty rate substantially during the recent recession. The food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009, the most recent year included in the study, a significant impact for a social program whose effects often go unnoticed by policy makers. The food stamp program is one of the largest antipoverty efforts in the country, serving more than 46 million people.

The Republican War on Women: 3 things for Monday morning


  • From a ‘Pro-life’ domestic terrorist cell in Wisconsin: Planned Parenthood Firebombed in Wisconsin — On Sunday April 1, 2012 at 7:41 P.M. the Grand Chute Fire Department responded to Plannned Parenthood, 3800 N. Gíllett St for a fire alarm. While investigating the cause for the alarm, firefighters found evidence of foul play and requested assistance from the Grand Chute Police Department. An unknown person placed a small homemade explosive device on an outside window sill to the buílding. The device later exploded, causing damage to the building. A small fire broke out at the time ofthe explosion, but it quickly burned itself out prior to the arrival of the fire department. The Grand Chute Police Department is investigating this incident. It is believed the incident took place around 7:30 P.M. If anyone has about this incident, please contact the Grand Chute Department at 920-832-1575.

LEAST SURPRISING (yet still extraordinary) thing of the day: 

  • POLL: Women Voters Abandon GOP In Key Battleground States — President Obama has emerged with an impressive lead in swing states around the country — thanks to women voters abandoning the GOP in droves, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll showing President Obama leading among women voters in the top dozen battleground states by a whopping 18 points — greater than the 12-point gender gap he won with in 2008. [...] Both Democrats and Republicans point to the battles over contraception coverage as a reason for the shift. Republican strategist Sara Taylor Fagen, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, told USA Today that “The focus on contraception has not been a good one for us … and Republicans have unfairly taken on water on this issue.”Obama campaign manager Jim Messina likewise pointed to the GOP’s hang-up on social issues. Most notably, Romney endorsed the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny coverage of contraception, among other services, on moral or religious grounds. A poll commissioned earlier this month by EMILY’s List, the PAC dedicated to electing pro-choice, Democratic women, found that 48 percent of voters — including 53 percent among Independents and 40 percent among Republicans — would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the amendment.


  • Rep. Joe Walsh Is A Big Time A-Hole — Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is running for re-election against military veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost her legs and part of an arm in the war. Here’s Walsh blowing off both her service and her injuries in the line: “What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh… She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat. David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel just picked her up and dropped her into this district.”  

What else has she done? Does he mean FOR OUR COUNTRY? Or WTF does he mean exactly? For Republican politicians, and maybe a majority of their base, “Support the Troops” has never carried more importance than a yellow magnetic car ribbon slapped on the back of a car. How else do you explain TAX CUTS for the wealthy during TWO WARS they started? And now we are confronted with the most recent, disgusting example of utter disdain for a woman veteran who lost both legs and an arm in service to our country by  Teaparty favorite Joe Walsh, a ‘man’ who has never served in the U.S. military himself, like so many of the great Chickenhawk Leaders in the GOP.

Walsh is known, however, for not paying his child support. So if he loses this election, it’s likely he’ll be given an AM radio show or a Fox “News” gig, where he’ll be able to continue disrespecting women and veterans, specifically for that segment of our country which live for that kind of slop.

image: unitewomenma

(3/23) TGIF morning’s 6 potentially interesting things


FLASHBACK: Karl Rove: “I Think President Obama Needs To Be Complimented” For Bin Laden Raid – In a Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning, Karl Rove attacked the documentary released by President Obama’s reelection campaign and dismissed “the killing of Osama bin Laden,” writing: “Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film ‘that’s the call I would have made.’ For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are. [...] “Clinton [actually] said: “He took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, ‘I hope that’s the call I would have made.’ ” [...] On May 2, 2011, the day after Bin Laden’s death was announced, Rove appeared on Fox & Friends and said “I think President Obama needs to be complimented on his handling of this operation.”

America’s Dad: (Video) Obama to heckler: “Show me some courtesy” – With a grin on his face, Mr. Obama said he would be happy to read the book and added, “show me some courtesy.” The president motioned to Secret Service to get the book from the man. According to CBS News White House producer Jeff Goldman, the man was not escorted out but did quiet down.

Check it out … at an event last week, a deaf man signs “I’m proud of you” at President Obama and Obama signs back “thank you.”


Mitt Romney lands prize on Hill visit Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who backed Romney in 2008 but has remained on the sidelines this year as the former Massachusetts governor labors to win the nomination, said it’s time the rest of the field consider bowing to the inevitable. “We all need to look at this presidential primary and encourage the candidates to do a little self-reflection here on what’s good for our country,” DeMint told reporters after a morning sit-down with the front-runner. “The sooner we can make a decision, the sooner we can focus on the real problem, which is [President Barack] Obama.” Saying he expects the prolonged and often heated presidential battle to end “pretty soon,” DeMint added: “There’s no need to drag this to a convention if it’s pretty clear who our nominee is.” Without mentioning Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum by name, DeMint said that “the best thing they can do is maybe look at kind of throwing their support behind the one who might be our nominee. And that’s beginning to look like Romney.” [image: triplestandard]

Mitt Romney’s Astonishing Lack of Small Donors – According to renowned rocket scientist Karl Rove, President Obama has a “money problem” because he isn’t bringing in enough large donors. That may be a problem if not for the fact that a clear majority of President Obama’s campaign, or nearly 60 percent, is being funded by people like you and I who donate much smaller amounts in mass numbers. [...] FEC filings on Tuesday showed Romney’s campaign has so far raised $7.5 million from small donors, which comprises only 10 percent of his fundraising. [...] the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama has brought in about $71.1 million in unitemized contributions, 59 percent of the money the campaign has raised so far.

As Governor, Mitt Romney Raised A Gas Tax By 400% – Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been attacking President Obama for the high price of gas prices… [...] But during his time as Governor, Romney actually increased the price of gasoline directly himself according to this 2010 News report from the Boston Fox affiliate. In 2003 Romney increased fees on gas by two cents a gallon to pay for environmental clean ups of leaking underground gas station fuel tanks. The fee increased the clean-up tax on drivers by 400% and hit consumers directly at the pump. The fund, which was originally only half-a-cent, was created in 1992 to aid gas station owners with clean-ups. Two weeks after raising that tax, Romney eliminated the fund for gas station clean-ups entirely but kept the two cent increase. The money raised by Romney’s tax increase now goes directly into Commonwealth’s coffers for legislators to spend as they please.

Does Romney not realize he’s making a Democratic argument? – After winning the Illinois primary on Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s victory speech featured an unexpected argument. The former governor was trying to argue that “government” stands in the way of American progress, which led to this observation: “We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam. Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.”

In case you were wondering why Mitt Romney voluntarily injected George W. Bush into the 2012 campaign yesterday, here’s your answer…


Santorum: Might As Well Have Obama Over Romney – Santorum reiterated an argument he has made before: The former Massachusetts governor is not conservative enough to offer voters a clear choice in the fall election and that only he can provide that contrast. “You win by giving people a choice,” Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there.” Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.”

Santorum Up Big in Louisiana – A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Rick Santorum is headed for a commanding win in Louisiana on Saturday. He leads Mitt Romney, 42% to 28%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 18%, Ron Paul at 8% and Buddy Roemer at 2%. ||| OR NOT?


HERO! Richard Hanna, GOP Congressman, Tells Women To Give Their Money To Democrats – As the only Republican Congressman at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) gave women an unexpected piece of advice: Give your money to Democrats. “I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he told the crowd of mostly women. “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help. [...]If equality had been enshrined in the Constitution for these past 40 years, I wonder if we would still be hearing today from right-wing presidential contenders that women should not serve in combat, that women should think twice before they seek to work outside of the house, that women should not use birth control, and that women who do are called names that are not fit to repeat here.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison Claims Republicans Don’t Want to Restrict Access to Contraception After Voting for Blunt Amendment – If you’re a Republican and you would like to come on the air and repeat one talking point after another virtually unchallenged, this Thursday, Chuck Todd once again showed us he’s happy to oblige you. Todd allowed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to get away with a series of lies right off the bat, like pretending increasing domestic oil drilling will have any major impact in lowering the price of gasline (it won’t), or that Republicans have some sort of “principled” stance on energy production, unless you consider always doing the bidding of the oil companies “principled.” Todd then asked Hutchison about the Republicans “war on women” and he allows her to get away with claiming that Republicans don’t want to restrict women’s access to contraception after she just voted for the Blunt amendment. Heaven forbid he might have reminded her of that during the interview. She finished up with giving a half hearted defense of Planned Parenthood, saying she disagreed with Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to turn down the state’s Medicaid funding. It would have been nice if she’d bothered to say something when the House Republicans were seeking to defund it last year.


Harold Simmons On Obama: ‘That Socialist’ - The reclusive, super-wealthy Republican donor Harold Simmons sat down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he explained why he decided to donate $18 million to conservative super PACs. To put it bluntly: he despises and fears President Barack Obama. “Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama,” Simmons told the Journal (subscription required), in what is the piece’s most provocative quote. “Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country.” [...] The 80-year-old Texan takes his political advice from Karl Rove. And at another point in the interview, he insisted that if more campaign commercials had been run tying then-Sen. Obama to Bill Ayers, “we” — as in conservatives — “could have killed Obama.” By this, he is speaking metaphorically, though the impression is left that those very ads will be featured more prominently in 2012.

Analysis: House GOP Budget Gives $187,000 Tax Cut To Every Millionaire – Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would give away $3 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Roughly $2 trillion of those breaks are aimed at the rich, thanks to the repeal of multiple taxes that primarily affect the rich and the dropping of the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Ryan insisted those breaks won’t blow holes in the federal budget, first by claiming a level of revenue that borders on pure fantasy, and second by promising to close tax loopholes. Even in the unlikely scenario that the GOP managed to close every tax loophole available to the wealthy, each millionaire would pay an average of $187,000 less under Ryan’s plan than they would under current law (which assumes an end to the Bush tax cuts)…

GOP Threatens Transportation Funding Shutdown That Could Jeopardize 1.9 Million Jobs - House Republicans last night rejected the Senate’s bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill and said they would instead adopt a short-term resolution that would maintain current funding levels for 90 days. With just 10 days until the current short-term authorization plan expires, that means House Republicans have made possible a transportation shutdown that could force more than 1.9 million workers off the job. [...] The bill would also create roughly 1 million new jobs, according to Democratic estimates, bringing the total number of jobs in jeopardy to nearly 3 million, [Sen. Barbara] Boxer (D-CA) told the Washington Post: “The clock is ticking on the shutdown of our transportation programs,” said Boxer, who was floor leader in crafting bipartisan support for the Senate bill. “We’re talking about almost 3 million jobs, and the House is playing games. This is a jobs bill — make no mistake about it.” [See this link for explanation of image above]


HHS: Health reform to provide coverage for 13 million uninsured women – Even though millions more women will have insurance coverage, an estimated 14.7 million women will remain uninsured. In addition, insurance companies will no longer be able to charge higher rates due to gender once a provision of the health care reform law takes effect in 2014. The National Women’s Law Center released a report Monday morning that found health insurance companies have charged women $1 billion more than men for the same premium coverage. Even with maternity coverage excluded, nearly a third of the plans analyzed charged 25 and 40-year-old women were at least 30 percent more than men for the same coverage. Because of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for plans to cover essential health benefits, an estimated 8.7 million more women will gain maternity coverage starting in 2014. [image:]

Poll: Too much religion talk - Almost four in 10 Americans say there is “too much” talk of religion and prayer by politicians — an all-time high since the question was first asked more than 10 years ago, according to a new poll. Thirty-eight percent of those polled said there’s too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders, while 30 percent said there’s too little of it, a survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found. [...] The poll also found that more than half of Americans, 54 percent, think churches should stay out of politics, while 40 percent said religious institutions should express views on social and political questions.

3/19: Monday morning’s slightly interesting things


  • Obama’s Spending Record: More Conservative Than Reagan’s – This is the kind of reality that makes Sean Hannity’s head explodes. So far, the GOP candidates have been running against a fictional president with a fictional record. Obama didn’t campaign to increase government spending, but inheriting what was in the final quarter of 2008 an annulaized contraction of 9 percent of GDP, he opted for a stimulus. That accounts for much of the spending. I know we are supposed – along with Fox News – to have total amnesia about the spending record of George W. Bush, wh had nothing like the recession Obama inherited to counter. But there it is. Along with the fact that of the last seven presidents, the top three are all Republicans…
  • Obama Plans Big Effort to Build Support Among Women – On Monday, mailings will go out to one million women in more than a dozen battleground states in three separate versions for mothers, young women and older women, campaign and party officials said. [...] The campaign’s effort to rally women around the health care law had been long planned, to coincide with the second anniversary of Mr. Obama signing it on March 23, campaign officials said. But the effort has gained intensity, they added, because of recent controversies over contraception, abortion and education in Washington and in state capitals that have energized people in the campaign’s far-flung field offices who are essential to putting any national strategy into action.
  • Sen. Daniel Akaka: Congress should stop targeting federal employees - Hard-working federal employees are being squeezed by Congress again, as some of my colleagues attempt to attach an extension of the pay freeze to pending highway funding bills. This comes after Congress last month effectively cut the pay of new employees by forcing them to pay more toward their pensions — permanently — to offset the costs of just 10 months of unemployment. I strongly oppose this new habit of picking the pockets of America’s dedicated middle-class public servants. [...]  CBO’s report said that workers without college degrees were paid higher average wages in the federal government than in the private sector, but noted that workers with college degrees — the bulk of the federal workforce — were paid about the same, and workers with graduate or professional degrees were paid significantly less. Averaged across all categories, federal workers were paid 2 percent more. However, the report was flawed. CBO relied on limited survey data of self-reported wages and occupations, and some federal contractors inaccurately reported that they are federal employees. CBO did not account for complexity or other aspects of jobs, instead using broad occupational categories. As Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry pointed out, we should pay the federal forklift operator transporting nuclear-tipped torpedoes more than the private-sector forklift operator moving boxes… [graph via:]


  • After Santorum tells Puerto Ricans to speak English… Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary – Late Sunday night, with 61 percent of the Puerto Rican votes counted, Romney had 83 percent of them. He won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Romney announced the Puerto Rico win at the Illinois rally and told the crowd, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.” The Santorum campaign accused Romney of pandering. “Mitt Romney says he supports English as the official language of America while on the mainland, but then says Puerto Ricans don’t have to learn English while he’s on Puerto Rico,” Santorum communications director Hogan Gidley said in a press release.
  • Santorum: Obama ‘exposing children’ to risk from porn  – In an undated statement on his official website, the former Pennsylvania senator asserted that “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography” because Obama’s Justice Department was favoring “pornographers over children.” “Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships,” the statement says. “It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.” “Current federal ‘obscenity’ laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier,” the statement continues, adding that these laws should be “vigorously enforced.”
  • LGF: Santorum also accused President Obama of being an “appeaser of evil.” This is very sick stuff; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such twisted counter-factual arguments in a presidential campaign.
  • Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers


  • McCain: GOP needs ‘to get off’ contraception issue – McCain appeared once again on NBC’s Meet The Press (for a record 64th time) and told host David Gregory that the GOP needed to “get off” the issue and “fix the perception” their party currently has with women. “I think we have to fix that,” McCain said. “I think that there is a perception out there, because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out. We need to get off of that issue, in my view. I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives, and make that clear, and get back on to what the American people really care about: jobs and the economy.



    Tennessee Bill May Expose Identities Of Women Seeking Abortions – Tennessee lawmakers will consider a controversial measure on Wednesday that could intimidate women seeking abortions by requiring that the names of doctors who perform the procedures be published online. The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said at an initial hearing on the bill earlier this month that the reporting requirement writes into law a form that the Department of Health already asks providers to fill out whenever they perform an abortion. “The Department of Health already collects all of the data, but they don’t publish it,” he said. “All we’re asking is that the data they already collect be made public.”


  • Paul Krugman: Hurray for Health Reform – Can such a system work? It’s already working! Massachusetts enacted a very similar reform six years ago — yes, while Mitt Romney was governor. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who played a key role in developing both the local and the national reforms (and has published an illustrated guide to reform) has surveyed the results — and finds that Romneycare is working pretty much as advertised. The number of people without insurance has dropped sharply, the quality of care hasn’t suffered, and the program’s cost has been very close to initial projections. Oh, and the budgetary cost per newly insured resident of Massachusetts was actually lower than the projected cost per American insured by the Affordable Care Act. Given this evidence, what’s a virulent opponent of reform to do? The answer is, make stuff up. We all know how the act’s proposal that Medicare evaluate medical procedures for effectiveness became, in the fevered imagination of the right, an evil plan to create death panels. And rest assured, this lie will be back in force once the general election campaign is in full swing. For now, however, most of the disinformation involves claims about costs…
  • U.S. Tells States How to Expand Medicaid in Health Law - The Obama administration on Friday told states how to enroll millions more low-income Americans into Medicaid under the health-care overhaul, 10 days before the Supreme Court begins considering a challenge to the law. The regulations, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, detail the scheduled expansion of Medicaid to cover a larger batch of low earners in 2014, when much of the health-care law is set to take effect. ‘Medicaid will look and feel like a very different program by 2015,’ said Cindy Mann, a top official at the agency charged with overseeing the changes. The Medicaid expansion is part of the broader case brought by opponents of Democrats’ 2010 health-care law that the Supreme Court will begin hearing March 26. To reduce the number of uninsured Americans, the law calls for adding 17 million or more additional people to the Medicaid program in the next decade.


  • Marginal Tax Rates and Wishful Thinking – At least since Calvin Coolidge, politicians have trumpeted the supply-side benefits of cutting marginal income tax rates. Lower rates will unleash economic growth and the cuts will largely pay for themselves — or so it’s often said. Yet careful studies find little evidence of such effects. Perhaps it’s time to reform tax policy based on facts, not worn-out assumptions…History shows that marginal federal income tax rates have varied widely…If you can find a consistent relationship between these fluctuations and sustained economic performance, you’re more creative than I am. Growth was indeed slower in the 1970s than in the ’60s, and tax rates were higher in the ’70s. But growth was stronger in the 1990s than in the 2000s, despite noticeably higher rates in the ’90s…If moderate increases in marginal rates wouldn’t much affect behavior, a mix of rate increases and cuts in tax expenditures might be a sensible path. [...] Finally, income inequality has surged in recent decades. Raising marginal rates on the wealthy is a straightforward, effective way to counter this trend, while helping to solve our looming deficit problem. Given the strong evidence that the incentive effects of marginal rates are small, opponents of such a move will need a new argument. Invoking the myth of terrible supply-side consequences just won’t cut it.
  • AFL-CIO calls for birth control access, immigration reform and overturning Citizens United – Broad statements on Fixing What is Wrong with Our Economy and Organizing and Growth sketch out a vision for the economy and for unions. To “fix what is wrong with our economy,” What we need now is an economic program as serious and far-reaching as the problem President Obama has correctly diagnosed. We must start by shifting the focus of U.S. economic policy from one of maximizing the competitiveness and profitability of corporations that happen to maintain headquarters somewhere on U.S. territory to one of maximizing the competitiveness and prosperity of the human beings who live and work in America. The AFL-CIO proposes massive “productive public investment” in education, energy, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure and more, all paid for by letting the Bush tax cuts expire and imposing new or increased taxes on capital gains, financial speculation and income greater than $1 million. Related, we have to rein in the financial sector and expand and support manufacturing. Additionally, “it is essential that we tackle the problems of wage stagnation and economic inequality,” by increasing and indexing the minimum wage and reforming labor law, among other things.
  • Today in labor history, March 19, 1917:  The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Adamson Act, a federal law that established an 8-hour workday, with overtime pay, for interstate railway workers.  Congress passed the law in 1916 to avert a nationwide rail strike. [via: todayinlaborhistory]

The GOP wants to give your boss “moral” control over your health care

It’s been a week of outrage with the Republican Party and healthcare (specifically, women’s), and Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) amendment to the Affordable Care Act is certainly the most despicable contribution of all – or as Elizabeth Warren calls it below, “cold, political calculation“:

The GOP Plan to Give Your Boss “Moral” Control Over Your Health Insurance | Mother Jones

Last week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) offered a “conscience amendment,” to the law, pitching it as a way to allay religious employers’ qualms about providing birth control to their employees.

But Blunt’s proposal doesn’t just apply to religious employers and birth control. Instead, it would allow any insurer or employer, religiously affiliated or otherwise, to opt out of providing any health care services required by federal law—everything from maternity care to screening for diabetes. Employers wouldn’t have to cite religious reasons for their decision; they could just say the treatment goes against their moral convictions. That exception could include almost anything—an employer could theoretically claim a “moral objection” to the cost of providing a given benefit. The bill would also allow employers to sue if state or federal regulators try to make them comply with the law.

If Republican leaders get their way and Blunt’s bill becomes law, a boss who regarded overweight people and smokers with moral disgust could exclude coverage of obesity and tobacco screening from his employees’ health plans. A Scientologist employer could deny its employees depression screening because Scientologists believe psychiatry is morally objectionable. A management team that thought HIV victims brought the disease upon themselves could excise HIV screening from its employees’ insurance coverage. Your boss’ personal prejudices, not science or medical expertise, would determine which procedures your insurance would cover for you and your kids.

“One of the fundamental purposes of the Affordable Care Act was making sure all health insurance plans cover basic services. The Blunt amendment would do away with that,” says Sarah Lipton-Lubet, a policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “A business could deny coverage for cervical cancer screening for unmarried employees, out of opposition to premarital sex.

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Here’s Jon Stewart describing how he, as an employer, would use Blunt’s amendment on his own employees and their health:

“Lets just start with what the statute says. The statute says that in effect any employer or any insurance company can decide that it has a personal moral objection to providing any kind of health care coverage for anyone and therefore they’re not going to do it. So, if your employer says, ‘You know, I don’t like that vaccine thing, I’m going to have an insurance policy that doesn’t cover it for your children’… that’s just too bad you’re out there on your own now. This is just a cold political calculation. That they can appeal to the employers and insurance companies, who might not want to spend money, and at the same time try to stir up some kind of misinformation among people of good faith by calling this an attack on religion. I think this is why people really hate politics.” – Elizabeth Warren