Friday, July 23, 2010

Congressman Bob Etheridge on Health Care Reform

One thing I have repeatedly said about the Health Care Reform bill that passed this year is that if people really knew what is in it the vast majority would be all for it. The one thing President Obama failed to do was to explain the law in clear terms. Perhaps a month ago Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) did precisely that on an oversized postcard sent to constituents. I live in Mr. Etheridge's district so I received the mailing. I've decided I should share it.

For the skeptics out there: yes, this is campaign literature. Having said that, fact check the statements Congressman Etheridge made and you will see that everything he says is true. Here is the text:

Better plans at lower costs.

Brings down costs. Limits premiums, reduces out of pocket costs, and bands caps on benefits. In North Carolina, family premiums will be $1,570 - $2,240* less than without health reform.

Takes care of children. All insurance will cover maternity benefits, eliminate pre-existing condition exemptions for children, and allow young adults to stay on their parent's plans until 26.

Ends discrimination. Currently, women and minorities pay as much as 50% more for coverage. Reform makes it illegal to charge more for some groups than others, and expands access to preventative care.

Lower out of pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

No Co-Pays For Checkups. Covers 100% of the cost of preventative care to keep you healthier.

Makes Medicine Affordable. Immediate 50% discount on brand name drugs and a $250 rebate if you enter the "donut hole." Over time it totally eliminates the coverage gap.

Strengthens Medicare. Reduces average cost for Medicare beneficiaries by $400 and extends the life of the trust fund by a decade so beneficiaries get the benefits they were promised.

*Senate Finance Committee estimate based on CBO, 11/30/09

There it is in simple terms. There is no government take over of healthcare. There are no "death panels" and it won't kill granny. It does NOT increase the deficit. It is simply much needed regulatory reform.

Please, don't believe Fox News or right wing talking heads. Look into it for yourself. You'll see that Congressman Etheridge is doing what the President should have done all along: laying out the facts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finally... The President Speaks Out About the Failure to Extend Unemployment Insurance

Yesterday President Obama finally spoke out about how all but two Republicans have been blocking the attempt to extend unemployment insurance in the U.S. Senate. I wrote about this two months ago, but... hey, better late than never. It takes less courage and less in the way of leadership skills when you probably finally have the votes to end the filibuster. Mr. President, is that the reason for the delay?

I'm still glad President Obama spoke out and did so forcefully. Perhaps even more important was that the President finally called the Republicans out on their rank hypocrisy.

The reason this has been held up, according to Congressman John Boehner, not because Republicans oppose extending unemployment, but rather because the measure wasn't paid for and would add to the deficit. Funny, Republicans are all for extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, which will add $685 billion to the deficit, but are against spending $33 billion to help middle and working class Americans who can't find jobs. If you take away the Bush tax cuts and the cost of the two wars President Bush got us into we'd have still been running a surplus until 2008. We would have had seven more years with no deficits at all.

Oh, and while the Republicans have been playing politics with people's rent and mortgage payments and other essentials over 2.5 million people have lost their unemployment benefits. Nearly one third of American families now include someone who is unemployed, and a frighteningly large number have been unemployed for a long time.

Let's also be very clear about something: most people who are unemployed long term right now really do want to work. In most cases it's through no fault of their own. Here are three articles which explain why:
We have millions of people who now face a truly daunting task when it comes to finding work. Surely in the richest country in the world we can help these people get by until the do land on their feet. We also, in time of high debt and deficits, do not need to maintain tax breaks for the wealthy. It seems like affluent Americans did just fine in the 1990s under Clinton era tax rates.

I hope people are taking note of which party is looking out for working people who have been hit hard by the recession and which is looking out for the wealthy and will vote accordingly in November.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

To anyone here in the U.S. who reads my blog: a very Happy Fourth! It's Independence Day and I would like to encourage and challenge everyone to do more independent thinking. Look at what the media presents or what politicians say to you with an oh-so-critical eye.

Again, a very Happy Fourth!