What Bachmann can learn from Palin’s 2008 VP run (Daily Caller)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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U.S. Congresswoman and likely Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann speaks at an event to pay tribute to veterans on Memorial Day in Dover, New Hampshire May 30, 2011.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ANNIVERSARY MILITARY HEADSHOT)Daily Caller – Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann will announce in June her plans for 2012. Many speculate that Bachmann’s announcement, which she says she will make in Waterloo, Iowa, the city of her birth, will kick off a bid for the presidency.

What we’ve learned about Sarah Palin’s presidential aspirations from her bus tour (Daily Caller)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Daily Caller – Reporters chasing Sarah Palin across the country as she tours historic sites by bus keep asking her the same question: “Are you running for president?”

Christie tells Iowa donors he’s still not running (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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FILE - In this May 24, 2011 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Trenton, N.J. For Republicans who once supported combating global warming, the race for the presidency is already getting hot. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)AP – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still not running for president.

NYT: As debt bill fails, neither party blinks

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Beyond this week, however, Wall Street has reason to be nervous as Congress nears the actual deadline on Aug. 2 to raise the .3 trillion borrowing ceiling.

GOP presidential contenders drift to the right

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signs autograph in Des Moines on May 27.In the first presidential election since the tea party’s emergence, Republican candidates are drifting rightward on a range of issues, even though more centrist stands might play well in the 2012 general election.

Pre-existing condition insurance plan requirements/cost being eased

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

There’s some very good news from the Department of Health and Human Services today, on the pre-existing condition insurance plan set up by the government in the Affordable Care Act. The program was set up in the law as a precursor to the insurance reforms that are being phased in over the next three years. It has, thus far, underperformed, with few enrollees often paying excessively high premiums. That could be changing.

WASHINGTON — The government announced Tuesday that it will lower premiums and ease eligibility requirements for its fledgling health insurance program for people shut out from the private health insurance market because of pre-existing conditions. Premiums will fall by as much as 40 percent in some states.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, run by the Department of Health and Human Services in 23 states and by state governments in the rest, offers relatively affordable coverage for people who’ve been uninsured for at least six months because of conditions like diabetes or heart disease. The plan launched last summer as one of the first components of the health care reform signed into law by President Obama in March 2010….

To boost enrollment, Sebelius said monthly premiums, which vary by age and region, will drop in 17 of the states where HHS runs the program starting in July. In Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, premiums will plummet by 40 percent. Come July, people older than 55 who enroll in the Virginia PCIP’s standard plan will have to pay 7 a month, a steep drop from the current 8 monthly premium.

So far, only 18,000 people have enrolled in the PCIP, despite the millions of Americans who have been denied private insurance because of pre-existing conditions. The ACA outlaws the practice of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, but that provision of the law won’t be enforced until 2014, when the PCIP will cease to exist. Patients then will be able to find plans in the health insurance exchanges set up by the law.

In addition to reducing the premium costs in the states where the HHS operates the program, Sebelius said that they will ease requirements for proof of denial from insurance companies. Patients will be able to provide a doctor’s note indicating their condition, and won’t have to produce denial letters from insurers. Apparently the states where the federal government doesn’t administer the program will determine whether to implement these new guidelines. “Richard Popper, director of the HHS Office of Insurance Programs, noted that the HHS would be ‘issuing a guidance letter to all the 27 state-run PCIPs encouraging them to take a look at the premiums that they charge and the benefit packages, as well as the eligibility rules, allowing them to consider making adjustments similar to what we’re doing in the federally-run pool.'”

What can’t be changed, unfortunately, is the rule that would-be enrollees have to wait six months while being uninsured before being eligible for enrollment. That was written into the law and can’t be changed by regulation. That’s a real barrier to new enrollees, and one reason why the program has such relatively low numbers.


Palin, Trump to meet and dine in NYC

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Just in case you thought that Sarah Palin’s press-goosechase bus tour of the I-95 corridor couldn’t get any more surreal…

House to reject debt limit increase without cuts (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Vice President Joseph Biden arrives for a Budget meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)AP – House Republicans lined up to reject their own proposed .4 trillion increase in the nation’s debt limit Tuesday, a political gambit designed to reinforce a demand for spending cuts to accompany any increase in government borrowing.

NY rep hires lawyer after Twitter account hacked

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., testifies before the House Rules Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 6.New York Rep. Anthony Weiner has hired a lawyer to investigate what steps to take regarding a lewd photo sent from his hacked Twitter account.

The poor pay no taxes? That’s a big surprise to them

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2011-05-2008

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Charts created by the
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

 

A couple of months ago, Media Matters took note of yet another typical bit from the liars at Foxaganda:

On the April 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, after co-host Gretchen Carlson stated that “yesterday we were reporting a story that 47 percent of all Americans don’t pay any taxes,” Fox Business host Stuart Varney stated: “Yes, 47 percent of households pay not a single dime in taxes. And some of those households actually make a profit from the Treasury.” Co-host Steve Doocy asked, “Is that fair.”

The message was clear: They’re freeloaders. Just a new version of “welfare queen.”

Chuck Marr and Brian Highsmith at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrate just how utterly bogus that claim is:

The notion that “half of Americans don’t pay taxes” not only overstates the share of households that do not pay federal income taxes in a typical year. It also ignores the other taxes people pay, including federal payroll taxes and state and local taxes. …

The reality is that the income tax is one of a number of types of taxes that individuals pay, both over the course of their lifetimes and in a given year, and it makes little sense to treat it as though it were the only one that matters. Some 86 percent of working households pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes. In fact, low- and moderate-income people pay a much larger share of their incomes in federal payroll taxes than high-income people do: taxpayers in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale paid an average of 8.8 percent of their incomes in payroll taxes in 2007, compared to just 1.6 percent for taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income distribution. …

Low-income families also pay substantial state and local taxes. Most state and local taxes are regressive, meaning that low-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in these taxes than wealthier households do. The bottom fifth of taxpayers paid 12.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) model. That was well above the 7.9 percent average rate that the top 1 percent of households paid.

Chopping taxes for the wealthy has been a going concern in America for half a century. In the latest installment, a majority of Representatives in the House of Representatives agreed this spring with Rep. Paul Ryan that the top tax rate for the top tier of American billionaires should be the same as it was 85 years ago, 25 percent. Because, you see, the tax burden is just too great on “job creators” and makes America uncompetitive with the rest of the world. In fact, the average tax rate in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the latest year for which data are available, 2008, was 44.8 percent. In the United States, it was 26.1 percent.

But, hey, please do not inject facts into the discussion.

The claim that top income Americans are being crushed by their tax burden is bad enough. It’s made worse by the divide-and-conquer-at-the-polls claim that half the country is made up of low-income freeloaders getting a hand-out from the hard-working other half.

But worst of all is that, at a time of spending cuts in programs for Americans with the toughest economic row to hoe, these demonizing claims are being deployed as persuasion for making the tax code ever less progressive. In the name of fairness. In the name of prosperity. In the name of those who prefer not to be named, and who, thanks to Citizens United, don’t have to be.