The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Congress

Americans of a Lesser God?

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I came across this honest piece at the excellent Blog for Iowa.  Sounds like it was originally published in my home-town newspaper, The Burlington Hawk-Eye.  [That’s beautiful Burlington,  left, at the top.]

I had the following published in the Burlington newspaper last Saturday. I offer it here for people to use, distribute further, etc. My essay is a little long and rambling, but I have been silent too long. And we dare not lose this fight.

David Ure
Burlington, Iowa

~To what lesser God do those people who have no health care insurance belong? What sin did they commit? I have no doubt some of them have made mistakes, made bad choices, engaged in illegal or immoral activities in some instances, didn’t get themselves elected to the state house or Congress; but not all 47 million plus.

The time has come, if we are to continue to call ourselves a nation of God and faith and fairness, for every American to have health insurance. My preference is to plop everyone into Medicare whose operational costs are half to 2/3 lower than the private sector, and allow the insurance companies the opportunity to sell all of us supplemental policies as my elderly, now long-gone, relatives purchased for years.

But I won’t say it has to be this way or nothing. More than anything else, I want to see coverage in place for everyone, and for it to be there in as direct and obvious a manner as can be cobbled together. Read the rest of this entry »

IA Rep Steve King is sole objector to slave labor memorial at US Capitol

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Steve, Steve, Steve.

Iowa has a cherished history of getting it right early on civil rights issues. Why must you so disgrace us?

clipped from www.bleedingheartland.com

Congressman Steve King showed us again on Tuesday why Esquire magazine named him one of the 10 Worst members of Congress last year.
On Tuesday King distinguished himself as the only member of the U.S. House to vote against placing “a marker acknowledging the role that slave labor played in constructing the Capitol” in a “prominent location in the visitor center’s Emancipation Hall.” This was not a partisan resolution; 399 members of Congress voted yes, including certifiable wingnuts such as Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann.
King objects:

Our Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation and should not be held hostage to yet another effort to place guilt on future Americans for the sins of some of their ancestors.

Reading King’s statement reminded me of Esquire’s observation:

King believes himself to be clever, and his list of idiot declarations is probably the longest in Washington.

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Written by Monte

July 21, 2009 at 8:46 am

Robt Reich: What you can do

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Excellent advice!
clipped from tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com

“What Can I Do?”

Someone recently approached me … asking “what can I do?” […]
I soon realized the question was … what can I do about the way things are going in Washington?
People who voted for Barack Obama tend to fall into one of two camps: Trusters … and cynics […]
In my view, both positions are wrong. A new president — even one as talented and well-motivated as Obama — can’t get a thing done in Washington unless the public is actively behind him.
As FDR said … “Maam, I want to do those things, but you must make me.”
We must make Obama do the right things. Email, write, and phone the White House. Do the same with your members of Congress. Round up others to do so. Also: Find friends and family members in red states who agree with you, and get them fired up to do the same. For example, if you happen to have a good friend or family member in Montana, you might ask him or her to write Max Baucus and tell him they want a public option included in any healthcare bill.
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Just to the right of these words, under the heading “Contact” are links that will take you to your Members of Congress and the President. Go for it.

Yes, we can.

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NYTimes Poll: 72% of Americans favor Public Option in healthcare

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Americans overwhelmingly want a government-administered insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

Will Congress deliver?  Or will it cave to Big Insurance and pro-industry lawmakers?

clipped from www.nytimes.com
Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.
72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan
that would compete for customers with private insurers
But in the poll, the proposal received broad bipartisan backing, with half of those who call themselves Republicans saying they would support a public plan, along with nearly three-fourths of independents and almost nine in 10 Democrats.

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Spot the health insurance hokum in this TV ad

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It appears that a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights has begun running healthcare ads designed to knock down changes in healthcare insurance before they can stand.

But good old FactCheck.org points out that the ad knocks down a straw man instead.   Some examples:

clipped from www.factcheck.org

CPR Ad: “Not So Innocent”

A conservative group’s ad implies Congress is on its way to instituting a British- or Canadian-style health system.

Summary

A group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights began airing a television ad this week that criticizes government-run health care and falsely suggests Congress wants a British-style system here in the U.S.:

  • The ad neglects to mention that President Obama hasn’t proposed a government-run plan and, in fact, has rejected the idea.
  • It claims that a research council created by the stimulus bill is “the first step in government control over your health care choices.” The legislation actually says the council isn’t permitted to “mandate coverage, reimbursement, or other policies.”
  • The ad quotes a Canadian doctor who has been critical of his country’s system, but leaves out the fact that the doctor has praised other government-funded systems, such as those in Austria and France.

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A conservative group’s ad implies Congress is on its way to instituting a British- or Canadian-style health system.

Lots more good details may be found at the link.

The health insurance industry is a marvel of cynical ingenuity: it keeps itself profitable by insuring people who are healthy (whose claims, on average, will not exceed their payments), and terminating people when they become too sick to be profitable (i.e., when those people most need health insurance).

The industry – having become fabulously wealthy by offering insurance to selected clients, while posing as a helper to Americans generally – has a great deal to lose from an honest public discussion. Expect more alarmist hokum.

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Senators Kyl and Lincoln propose cuts in multi-millionaires’ estate taxes

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UPDATE, April 4: “As the New York Times explained, under Obama’s budget, ‘99.8 percent of estates will never — ever — pay a penny of estate tax.'”


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Jesus’ take on things includes the idea that the rich can help themselves and the poor deserve the help of all of us. That view, espoused by many teachers, has become Government Morality 101 for Christian and non-Christian alike through the centuries: hence, most Americans today believe in progressive tax rates.

The rich have their champions, too. Two senators—one a retirement-state Republican and one a Wal-Mart-headquarters-state Democrat—have proposed relieving the nation of $250 billion to help adult kids of the very rich enjoy wealth without work:

clipped from thinkprogress.org
Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) have offered a $250 billion proposal to cut estate taxes for the children of multi-millionaires
Kyl and Lincoln’s “most pressing issue is clear: America’s wealthiest families need help. Now.”
“only 0.2 percent of the additional cost of the proposal, relative to [the Obama proposal], would go toward tax cuts for small businesses and farms.”
The rest of the cost, approximately $249.5 billion, would go to the inheritors of estates worth over $7 million. Paris Hilton, get excited.
The Waltons — the Arkansas-based family that founded Wal-Mart — are one of the key groups financing the campaign
“With all the serious work before Congress, it is a colossal waste of time to have to rebut the false claims and warped premises of ardent estate-tax cutters,” the NYT writes. “Ms. Lincoln’s and Mr. Kyl’s colleagues in the Senate should make short work of it and move on to urgent matters.”
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I’m sure this will be pitched as a valiant, virtuous war of liberation against the “death tax,” but we’re talking about $7 million estates and up, here, not Grandpa’s 120 acres. And the years of Bush have given us the greatest disparity between rich and poor since the Great Depression.

Moving government income sourcing away from those who can effortlessly afford it and onto the backs of those who earn less is ethically questionable, especially in times like these. And inviting the very rich to create a generation that need not work while those who work for them can’t afford healthcare (with the Waltons, ironically—heirs of America’s largest low-benefit employer—leading the charge) ought to offend us.

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Obama asks GOP for more than ‘Just say no’

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President Obama asks those in Congress who object to specific budget proposals to work on “problem solving” rather than “point-scoring,” in yesterday morning’s “Statement on the Budget:”
clipped from www.dailykos.com
The answers don’t have to be partisan, and I welcome and encourage proposals and improvements from both Democrats and Republicans in the coming days.

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But the one thing I will say is this:  With the magnitude of the challenges we face right now, what we need in Washington are not more political tactics — we need more good ideas.  We don’t need more point-scoring — we need more problem-solving.  So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive, alternative solutions.  If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do.  “Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs.  It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party.

The American people sent us here to get things done
Let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity.
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Written by Monte

March 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm