Let’s Not Forget

As things look up for Obamacare and those getting covered, let’s not forget the almost 8 million who could get insurance if all the states expanded Medicaid.  The failure to expand is expected to cause between 7 and 17,000 thousand unnecessary deaths, not to mention who-knows- how-many unnecessary instances of people ending up with an amputation, going blind, etc.

Care delayed is care denied.

“Thank God for Obamacare”

I suspect — and fervently hope — these stories, unlike the BS in the Koch Brothers ads, are going to become more common between now and the mid-terms in November.

So Republican Scott Brown, who used to be a senator from Massachusetts and is trying to become a senator from New Hampshire because he just really, really likes being a senator, went to visit Herb Richardson, a GOP state legislator, hoping to win his endorsement.

Richardson used to own a 12-room house, but after getting injured on the job, he lives on workman’s comp, lost his house, and lives in a trailer.

Workman’s comp pays him $2,000 a month, and Richardson would have had to pay $1,000 of that just to keep his health insurance under COBRA.

But because of Obamacare, Richardson and his wife get health insurance for only $136 a month.   That’s very different, as Emily Litella would say.

So when Brown, I guess oblivious to the fact that he was visiting a guy in a trailer, called Obamacare a “monstrosity,” Richardson said, au contraire, it was a “financial lifesaver.”  To which Mrs. Richardson added, “Thank God for Obamacare.”

According to the local reporter present, Brown had no response.

 

Raise the Minimum Wage? What Are You, a Nazi?

“Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany.  You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

Ken Langone, billionaire founder of Home Depot and huge Republican donor, on income inequality.

So if you hate carried interest and want to raise the minimum wage and extend unemployment benefits, well, heil to you, you despicable Nazi.

We’re going to give the Senate back to these people in November?  Really?  But of course they’re emboldened — they brought down our whole economy and no one went to jail.

Have/Have Not = Alive/Dead

If you live in the Washington, DC suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, home to lawyers and lobbyists, you can expect to live to be 82 if you’re a man and 85 if you’re a woman.*

But if you live 350 miles away, in McDowell County, West Virginia,  where people shovel coal, not bullshit, for a living, you can expect to live to be 64 if you’re a man and 73 if you’re a woman.  That’s about what life expectancy is in Iraq!

Rich people don’t just have more stuff, they get to enjoy it far longer.

* “Income Gap, Meet the Longevity Gap,” Annie Lowrey, NYT

Not So Fast!

As promised, President Obama signed an executive order today raising the minimum wage for employees of federal government contractors from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

But that increase won’t show up in actual paychecks any time soon.  First, the increase doesn’t even take effect until January 1, 2015.  Second, it will take three to five years to be fully implemented as contracts get renewed.

Unemployment Extension, RIP

The Senate defeated two proposals to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed in states with high unemployment rates.

A plan to extend benefits through November, paid for by extending the sequester, lost 52-48.

Another plan to extend benefits for just three months, without paying for it, lost 55-45.

It’s not just heartless, it’s makes no sense economically.  Aside from the families most directly affected, the whole country will suffer from reduced GDP and fewer jobs created this year.

With the need for 60 votes, the GOP might as well control the Senate as well as the House.

Somewhere a GOP Congressman…

I was surprised to read today* that only 3% of adult cancer patients eligible for clinical trials choose to participate and that 40% of such trials don’t achieve minimum enrollment.

It occurred to me that somewhere a GOP Congressman is reading this and thinking that anyone who has cancer and is on Medicaid should be forced to take part in clinical trials.

* “Heroic Measures,” Bill Keller, NYT

Don’t Give a Shit? There’s a GOP Talking Point for That.

GOP House leadership has given their rank and file talking points to try to justify their opposition to extending unemployment benefits without sounding dickish.

The talking points cite the “success” of ending emergency benefits in North Carolina last July, where the unemployment rate did, in fact, drop.  But that’s because people just gave up and stopped looking for work.  The labor participation rate in NC is the lowest it’s been in 37 years.

NC is actually a great talking point for Dems.

They Got the Votes!

Six Republican senators joined with the Democrats to break a filibuster for a three-month extension of the unemployment benefits that expired on December 28.  The vote was 60-37 (Dem Mark Begich of Alaska couldn’t get there).

Thank you to these “good” Republicans — Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dan Coats of Indiana, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Rob Portman of Ohio — for doing the right thing — at least procedurally — for both our long-term unemployed and our economy.

But now they move to the substantive vote — and they still have to find a way to pay for the thing, so it’s far from done.

Then, of course, it would take a miracle to get it through the House, where 207 of the GOP seats are considered safe, so no incentive to rock the boat there .