Let’s get real. What person in their right mind would really want the United States to default? Of course, nobody, yet over the years many members of Congress have voted against raising the debt ceiling.
Yet now we seem to have the Tea Party, and a larger group of Republicans, clamoring for some kind of show down at the OK Corral. Not a symbolic gesture to some but a real threat. Not smart.
For those who like to cite Ronald Reagan in his 100th year as a stalwart, antidebt, no-tax-hike, no nonsense conservative, they have the wrong guy. Aside from his major tax increases as governor of California and as president here is a little history on the debt ceiling.
In a letter to then-Majority Leader Howard Baker on November 16, 1983, President Reagan asked “for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.”
Reagan went on:
…the United states could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.
This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequence of a default–or even the serious prospect of default–by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate….The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.
The point is that Republicans should shelve using the debt ceiling vote as a means of negotiation. This is not a negotiable item. Should they take this right up until the 11th hour and refuse to fund the government, not only will Reagan’s admonitions come true but the Republicans will seal their fate as an irresponsible, minority party–a pariah for years to come.
Bad policy, bad politics.
By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, May 19, 2011
Is this really what Wisconsin voters had in mind last yaer?
Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.
Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some – but not all – of the rights afforded married couples.
Wisconsin Family Action sued last year in Dane County circuit court, arguing that the registries violated a 2006 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage and any arrangement that is substantially similar.
With no real understanding of the state constitution or the anti-gay measure approved in 2006, I can’t speak to the merits of the constitutional argument in any depth. But as E.D. Kain noted, “Walker is literally going out of his way to prevent two people in a loving, committed relationship from visiting one another at the hospital. In other words, at what is quite likely a couple’s darkest hour, Scott Walker wants to impose legal restrictions barring two people from being with one another. Imagine that your wife or your husband was in the hospital and you were legally prohibited from visiting them. Is this the role we want our government to play in our lives?”
Doug Mataconis added:
I won’t speak to the legal side of this issue because I’m not up to speed on it, but I really have to wonder what kind of person would seek to prevent two people who are in a relationship from making whatever arrangements they want to allow the other to visit them in the hospital, and what right the state has to tell hospitals that they cannot honor those requests.
Is the GOP hatred for gays so pervasive that they could really be this cold and heartless?
Apparently, yes. Cruelty, in some circles, is a “family value.”
For months, it’s been assumed that Scott Walker’s agenda was primarily focused on punishing school teachers and other state workers. We’re now learning his hostility for some of his constituents is broadening.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, May 19, 2011
The revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child a decade ago with a woman who was not his wife—a disclosure that comes just a couple of years after we learned that onetime Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had done the same thing—begs an important question:
Exactly what century are we in?
The issue here isn’t even why a married person would have sex outside his or her marriage, which is not an infrequent occurrence now or at previous points in history. It’s not even about how a public person thinks he or she could behave that way without anyone finding out. Edwards, after all, was castigated for doing something so reckless and foolish during a time when he was under intense media scrutiny. But the fact that Schwarzenegger was able to keep this a secret for the entire time he was in the governor’s mansion is astounding, and suggests maybe Edwards wasn’t as delusional as some people thought.
But has it not occurred to these men to use a condom? Birth control is readily available. It’s legal. It’s simple to use. And it limits the fallout from an affair. Learning of a past sexual dalliance would understandably be very upsetting to a spouse. Learning that a child was produced from the union is devastating and adds a living, breathing reminder of the episode, a pain compounded by the fact that it is not the child’s fault that he or she is a walking symbol of marital betrayal.
But seriously, if a woman approaches a man and says, “you are so hot,” as Rielle Hunter reportedly said to Edwards, does it not occur to the man that she might not mind having a permanent connection to the candidate a child would secure? And what was Schwarzenegger thinking when he had sex with someone who actually worked for the family? Did he not consider the possibility of pregnancy?
Perhaps the use of birth control adds to any guilt the men might feel; if the episode is planned, it is more difficult to convince oneself that passion was to blame. It’s sort of the counter-argument to those who believe that providing birth control to sexually active young people will give them ideas about sex they wouldn’t otherwise have. More likely, they are thinking about sex, and while it may not be wise to engage in sex at a young age because of the emotional implications, the physical consequences of sex without birth control are far more serious. One would think adult men would know that by now.
By: Susan Milligan, U.S. News and World Report, May 18, 2011
Nobody wants to run for the presidential nomination. Mike Huckabee said God told him to stay on Fox News. NBC told Donald Trump to stay on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Whatever happened to putting your country first? Our forefathers would never have passed up the presidency for anything less than the Charlie Sheen role on “Two and a Half Men.”
The Republicans are terrified that they’ll wind up with Mitt Romney, who has been fund-raising like crazy and seems to be planning a campaign based on the slogan: “Money can’t buy love, but it can definitely purchase a grudging, defeatist acceptance.”
Some party leaders are looking hopefully at Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, who’s promised to make up his mind this month. If he runs, one thing you are not going to get from Mitch Daniels is the politics of joy. Have you ever seen “Game of Thrones” on HBO? It’s about a mythical kingdom that sends some of its young men to the remote tundra to live in perpetual celibacy and guard a 700-foot-tall wall of ice. Their reaction is very similar to the way Mitch Daniels looks when he talks about running for president.
Daniels is apparently worried that a presidential run might prove embarrassing to his wife, who ditched him and the kids and ran off to California to marry a doctor and then later recanted everything and came back. I think it is pretty safe to say that this topic might come up.
Which brings us to sex. What is it with Republicans lately? Is there something about being a leader of the family-values party that makes you want to go out and commit adultery?
They certainly don’t have a lock on the infidelity market, and heaven knows we all remember John Edwards. But, lately, the G.O.P. has shown a genius for putting a peculiar, newsworthy spin on illicit sex. A married congressman hunting for babes is bad. A married congressman hunting for babes by posting a half-naked photo of himself on the Internet is Republican.
A married governor who fathers an illegitimate child is awful. A married governor who fathers an illegitimate child by a staff member of the family home and then fails to mention it to his wife for more than 10 years is Republican.
A married senator who has an affair with an employee is a jerk. A married senator who has an affair with an employee who is the wife of his chief of staff, and whose adultery is the subject of ongoing discussion at his Congressional prayer group, is Republican.
We haven’t even gotten to Newt Gingrich yet!
Gingrich is the best-known of the second-string Republicans who are ready, willing and eager to take on Romney for the nomination. The question is whether social conservatives will resent the fact that he was having an adulterous relationship with his current wife while she was a House of Representatives staffer and he was trying to impeach Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky affair. Also, this week, Politico reported that in 2005 and 2006, Gingrich had an account with Tiffany’s that sometimes ran to $500,000 in debt.
Never have we had sex issues with so many layers. It shows you how far we have evolved as a nation. In the old days it was: Warren Harding making whoopee in the presidential coat closet: yes or no?
Really persistent sexual misbehavior says something about the character of the person involved. In Gingrich’s case, we have a failure-to-settle-down problem that extends way beyond matrimony. He can’t even hang onto a position on Medicare for an entire week. This man is a natural for an occupation that rewards attention deficit. Maybe God actually meant to tell Newt to stay on Fox News, but accidentally shipped the message to Huckabee.
As to Governor Daniels, the voters are unlikely to give a fig about the interesting past of his wife, Cheri. But if he wants to protect her from the embarrassment of being asked about it 24/7, perhaps he could just declare her off limits. The news media has generally respected those kinds of rules when it comes to presidential candidates’ children, as long as said offspring don’t show up on reality shows or as teen-abstinence ambassadors for a shoe store foundation.
Of course, a wife who is off limits would not be able to campaign for her husband. I think that would be terrific. Finally, we could end the tradition that a presidential candidate’s spouse is running for something, too. If we want a first family to obsess over, we should just hire a king and queen.
Don’t know how the social right would feel about this. But there’s always Mitt Romney.
By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 18, 2011
Today, you might have seen news stories about waivers from certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. There has been no shortage of confusion and deliberate obfuscation on this issue and we want to ensure you have the facts.
Under the Affordable Care Act, we have implemented new rules that phase out, by 2014, health insurance companies’ ability to slap restrictive annual dollar limits on the amount they will pay for your care. But between now and 2014, we also want to make sure workers are able to maintain their existing insurance, because on their own they would likely be shut out of the individual market or face unaffordable options. To do that, the Affordable Care Act allows the Department of Health and Human Services to issue temporary waivers from the annual limit provision of the law if it would disrupt access to existing insurance arrangements or adversely affect premiums, causing people to lose coverage. So far, we have granted 1,372 of these waivers to employers, health plans, and others in all 50 states, covering less than 2 percent of the insurance market and protecting coverage for more than 3.1 million Americans. We have been completely transparent about this process, announcing the waiver process in a regulation last summer, publishing clear guidance on the application process on our website, and posting a list of waivers we have granted on our website.
These temporary waivers will not be available beginning in 2014 when annual limits are banned and all Americans will have affordable coverage options. And millions of Americans – including many small business owners – will be able to shop for affordable coverage in new competitive marketplaces.
Some have raised questions about waivers that were recently granted to companies in California. So there’s no confusion, here are the facts:
- A company called Flex Plan Services is a third-party administrator that provides benefit administration services for employers in a number of states, including: California, Washington, Alaska, and Georgia. One type of plan they administer is known as a health reimbursement arrangements (HRA or employer contributions to a tax free account). Many of the company’s clients are hotels, restaurants and home health agencies, all of whom employ low-wage workers.
- On March 23, Flex Plan Services submitted 92 waiver requests on behalf of 45 employer clients. On April 4, 2011, HHS approved the request.
- HHS applied the same standard to the application from Flex Plan Services that it uses when reviewing any application for a temporary waiver. Waivers are only available if the plan certifies that a waiver is necessary to prevent either a large increase in premiums or a significant decrease in access to coverage.
- In addition, enrollees must be informed that their plan offers coverage with a restricted annual limit.
- No other provision of the Affordable Care Act is affected by these waivers: they only apply to the annual limit policy.
The Affordable Care Act puts an end to many of the worst insurance company practices including refusing to sell a policy to a family because someone had cancer or a child has asthma; cancelling coverage when a patient files claims because of an unintentional mistake in their paperwork; and slapping annual or lifetime limits on how much care you can receive. When these rules are fully in place in 2014, our country will be much better off and the cost of coverage will be within reach for the millions of Americans who now live day to day without coverage, worrying about an injury or an illness that could plunge them into bankruptcy. To get from today’s broken system to tomorrow’s patient-centered system takes time and patience through a reasonable transition period. But, together, we will get there.
By: Richard Sorian, Asst. Sec for Public Affairs, HHS, The White House Blog, May 17, 2011