"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Flashback 2007: Tim Pawlenty Proposed Establishing A Health Insurance Exchange

Politico’s Kendra Marr and Kate Nocera reviewthe health care records of the GOP presidential candidates and find that Mitt Romney isn’t the only contender who previously supported parts of the Affordable Care Act. Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich all flirted with various provisions that ultimately ended up in the health law.

ThinkProgress Health reported on Pawlenty’s past support for “universal coverage” here, and his positive assessment of Massachusetts’ individual mandate, but Cal Ludeman, his commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, recalls that Pawlenty also advocated for establishing an exchange:

Minnesota’s exchange proposal would have required all employers with more than 10 employees to create a “section 125 plan” so workers could buy cheaper insurance with pre-tax dollars. During a 2007 news conference, Pawlenty said launching such a system would only cost employers about $300.

“Remember how new that idea was, even back then,” said Ludeman. “Everybody was talking about how this was a new Orbitz or Travelocity, where you just go shop. It was never talked about in our conversations as a hard mandated only channel where you could go. But that’s where Massachusetts ended up.”

Pawlenty advanced the non-profit Minnesota Insurance Exchange in 2007, arguing that it could “connect employers and workers with more affordable health coverage options.” “If just two of your employees go out and buy insurance through the exchange, the benefits to the employer on a pre-tax basis — because of their payments to Social Security and otherwise into the 125 plan — more than cover the cost of setting up the plan,” Pawlenty explained.

The exchange originated as a Republican idea and was developed in part by the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler. The measure was eventually adopted by Mitt Romney and later became part of the Democrats’ health reform plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, states that don’t establish their own exchanges by 2014, cede control of the new health market places to the federal government. In 2010, while still governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty rejected the ACA’s “insurance exchanges,” dubbing them a federal takeover.


By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, June 13, 2011

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, Democrats, GOP, Government, Governors, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Individual Mandate, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Under Insured, Uninsured | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Polls Are Sinking For New GOP Governors Like Scott Walker

If you’ve  been wondering lately who’s been writing the Republican playbook, I think I’ve  found him. It’s none other than Lenny Dykstra.

Back in his baseball  playing days, Dykstra was a tough as nails leadoff hitter famous for filling  his cheeks with huge wads of tobacco and crashing into outfield walls.  After his playing days were over, he wowed the world with his stock-picking  acumen. Made millions. Drove fancy cars. Owned an $18 million  mansion. He even had a sink that cost $50,000. (It’s true.)

And then, it all came  tumbling down. He went bankrupt. His house was  seized. He was indicted.  And what did he do? He broke back into his old  house … and stole his  prized sink.

Back in November, a new  breed of Republican governor was enjoying its own “wow” moment. Rick  Snyder was the “one tough nerd” to get Michigan’s financial house in  order. Scott Walker was about to take a blow torch to Wisconsin unions.  Florida’s Rick Scott won perhaps the most coveted prize on the presidential  election map. They were supposed to be the leading edge of the Republican  revolution, finally doing what conservatives have long held Americans want  their leaders to do: fundamentally recalibrate the way government operates in  the public square, and disentangling it from the everyday lives of ordinary  people.

But in Sunday’s Washington  Post, Norman Ornstein of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute took a  moment to detail the woes these boy wonders have since encountered. Rick  Snyder’s approval rating is at 33 percent. Scott Walker’s is 43  percent. Rick Scott: 29 percent.  [Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Congress Raise the Debt Ceiling?]

Seven months ago they were  the toast of the town. Now, milquetoast. What happened?

Well, as Ornstein  describes it, the governors launched initiatives aimed at “cutting benefits for  the poor and middle class while adding tax breaks for the rich” while also  trying to get rid of collective bargaining. As you might imagine,  that wasn’t very popular with a lot of people (for instance: the poor and  middle class). And, shockingly, it hasn’t done much to balance their state budgets either. So now, according to Ornstein, “the only areas left for  meaningful budget reductions are education, Medicaid, and prisons.”

Let’s see: Your approval  numbers are in the tank, and all you’ve got left are gutting schools, letting  out convicts, and taking healthcare away from disadvantaged kids.  I’m guessing, as a re-election strategy, that leaves something to be desired.

In other words: fellas, it  ain’t working. And what’s so surprising about all of this is that for  some, it’s so surprising. Is it really so hard to figure out that one of  the reasons government is its current size and shape is that people have needs  that they want their government to try and meet? It doesn’t always work,  of course. But frustration over government spending on programs that  aren’t working isn’t the same thing as saying people no longer want good public  schools. Understanding that distinction is the difference between doing  the hard, more complicated work of reforming something that isn’t working as  well as we would like, and becoming fixated on an ideological goal that doesn’t  end up fixing anything at all.

Which brings me back to  Mr. Dykstra and his beloved sink. Now, in fairness, those of us who have  been consigned to using standard-issue sinks can only dream about the  hydrological wonders of the $50k variety. Perhaps it dispensed nothing  but delicious milkshakes. More likely: Even as his world was crashing down,  Dykstra couldn’t take his eyes off the one thing he coveted the most. Now  it looks like he’s going to prison.

Republicans may be in for  a similar electoral fate. Instead of helping the people they were elected  to serve, they’ve gone about ruthlessly pursuing an elusive conservative holy  grail. Dismantling government—it’s the GOPs $50,000 sink. And they can’t  take their eyes off of it even as their house burns down around them.

By: Anson Kaye, U. S. News and World Report, June 13, 2011

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Bankruptcy, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Government, Governors, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Labor, Lawmakers, Medicaid, Middle Class, Politics, Public Employees, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP Health Care Assault On Planned Parenthood Exposes The Hypocrisy Of The Pro-Life Movement

I tend not to get involved in discussions on abortion because I have never been able to resolve the conflict which comes from understanding both sides of this difficult issue. I understand those who believe in the pro-choice approach. Certainly, a woman wants, needs and deserves to be in control of her own body and make the decisions that she believes are best.

But I also get the pro-life movement. If an individual believes that a life is ‘in being’ at the moment of conception, I can well appreciate the distress such a person would feel over such a life being terminated.

What I cannot understand is how the very people who are so profoundly committed to the pro-life movement seem to lose all care, concern and compassion for that life once the child is born into the world.

Nowhere is this hypocrisy more prominently on display than in the current war being waged by the GOP on Planned Parenthood – the organization that spends 97% of their efforts and money providing millions of impoverished American women with critical front-line health care, essential medical testing to discover disease before it is too late to successfully treat a patient, and the very family planning and sex education services that might help women avoid an unwanted pregnancy and thus moot the question of abortion.

Yes, the remaining 3% of the Planned Parenthood budget is dedicated to providing abortion services but, contrary to what the anti-abortion forces would have you believe, not one cent of taxpayer money – federal or state – pays for so much as an IV needle used in an abortion procedure. The legal prohibition against taxpayer money being spent on abortions is as clearly enforced as the Roe v. Wade decision that confirms a woman’s right to choose in the United States.

Despite the important work done by Planned Parenthood – and the lives they save – the GOP has made it a cornerstone of their social agenda to put this vital service to the working and non-working poor out of business.

Should you doubt that the organization does, in fact, save lives, take a look at this letter written by Maggie Davis of Saratoga Springs in response to her Congressman’s voting to defund Planned Parenthood.

I am writing this in answer to Congressman Gibson’s vote against the funding for Planned Parenthood. I have no idea why he did this. Regardless of the pro and con of Planned Parenthood, they do save lives. I speak from experience.In the early ’70s I went to Planned Parenthood here for a checkup and they found something that was wrong and advised me to see my doctor right away. I did and within one month I had to have surgery to save my life. I would not be here today writing this letter. If it were not for Planned Parenthood and Dr. Streit of Saratoga, I would be dead. I will always be thankful to Planned Parenthood for discovering something and telling me to go to my doctor.

Mr. Gibson, I think you should take another look at how many lives Planned Parenthood does save. When we voted for you, we expected you to work for the taxpayers who pay you.

Maggie Davis, Saratoga Springs

Via The Saratogian

So, how do the pro-life forces defend their position that Planned Parenthood must go because, on occasion, they perform medical procedures that end what these folks perceive to be lives in being while fully understanding that closing the organization’s doors will result in the loss of lives of women we know are in being?

How did the 240 Members of the House of Representatives (a total which included 10 Democrats) justify their votes when they passed a bill in February to defund Planned Parenthood knowing that while their vote may or may not have resulted in a few less abortions had the Senate agreed (they did not), that same vote would also take the lives of people like Maggie Davis as a result of the legislation?

Had the House had their way, how many additional abortions would result – under conditions one shudders to contemplate – due to the loss of the counseling services designed to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies?

Now, as we watch the GOP assault on Medicaid – the federal and state funded health program relied on by over 40% of women who visit Planned Parenthood – one is left to wonder just how much of this drive to destroy the state-based medical safety net is based on actual budgetary concerns or whether budget difficulties are simply a cover for the effort to win the battle against legal abortion.

And while we are looking at the questions, maybe someone can answer how the eleven states that have either passed or introduced legislation this year designed to ban groups like Planned Parenthood from receiving family-planning funding or prevent them from contracting with the state for payment for services provided by these organizations, justify their own actions?

The simple truth is that there is no rational way to conclude that these alleged pro-life forces are, in fact, pro-life as it is difficult to fathom how one can desire to protect the life of the unborn by sacrificing the life of the already born. If you believe in protecting the unborn, does it not necessarily follow that you are equally as concerned about protecting the lives of those already here in the flesh.

What I can work out is how pro-life politicians are, in reality, ‘pro’ their political careers and are more than willing to sacrifice the lives of the poor who rely on the services of Planned Parenthood to burnish their anti-abortion credentials.

Seriously, does it get any worse than that? Making the matter even more despicable is the reliance upon religion as the basis for the pro-life consciousness. I fully understand and respect that religions teach that taking the lives of the unborn is morally wrong just as I understand and respect that it is up to each individual to hear those teachings or not. This is the way we roll in America.

Yet, I am aware of nothing in any of the competing religious tomes suggesting that while is it essential to protect the unborn so that they may have life, protecting those currently here so that they might continue life is no big deal. I’m also pretty sure that the Bible does not endorse allowing people to get sick and die because ‘we can’t afford it.’

Here’s a thought for those dedicated GOP ‘fighters for life’ – show a little consistency and maybe you’ll have more success in convincing the public that your closely held religious beliefs are something more than just the worst kind of cynical and despicable politics.

Show you are as concerned for the lives and health of those already walking the planet as you profess to be for those who have not yet arrived. Then, and only then, can any one willing to scrutinize your motives view you as the God fearing, compassionate human beings you pretend to be.

Failing the same, even the most religious and zealous among us should not, in good conscious, avoid the fact that our elected officials are picking and choosing between the lives they save and the lives they sacrifice in the name of good politics.

If your beliefs lie with the pro-life side of the abortion issue, I respect that. I encourage you to continue your fight just as I heartily support both your right and need to do so.

But don’t effectuate that fight by requiring the taking of the lives and health of others because you have not yet won your battle.

While you may be right that compassion for life must begin with conception, there is no logical or emotional basis that suggests that the same compassion should end with birth.

Tell your elected representatives to back off on Planned Parenthood. Then, and only then can you truly be among those who are pro-life.

By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, Forbes, June 13, 2011

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Anti-Choice, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Health Care, Human Rights, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Pro-Choice, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: