Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
There's no excuse for anyone to pretend any longer that Lieberman's behavior can be explained in terms of logic, evidence or principle. Ezra Klein's comments on this are particularly apt.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Here's a list of events, most in New York, some not. Please do what you can.
TUESDAY – OCTOBER 13
Upper Manhattan Health Care Reform Forum with Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan
Time: 7 PM
Location: The Armory – 216 Ft. Washington Ave., between 168th & 169th St. (ground floor theater).
• State Senator Eric Schneiderman, sponsor of a bill that would enact universal health coverage in NY State.
• Councilman Bill de Blasio, Democratic nominee for NYC Public Advocate, and sponsor of a bill to promote healthy eating.
• Geoff Berman, Deputy Field Director for OFA NY.
• Dr. Aaron Fox, National Physicians Alliance
WEDNESDAY - OCTOBER 14
National Day of Action - Rally for the Public Option
Time: 4:30 - 5:30 PM
Location: Southwest corner of Union Square.
Bring thank you cards written to Sen. Schumer, or write them right there at the event. A member of Sen. Schumer's office will be on hand to accept the cards.
SATURDAY – OCTOBER 17
Get BACK on the Bus for Health Care Reform
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: Easton, PA - Departing from Port Authority Bus Terminal
Host: Tom Predhome
UPCOMING EVENTS – WEEK OF OCTOBER 19TH
MONDAY – OCTOBER 19
"Health Care Issues: Urgent Issues, Critical Information"
Time 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Location: New York Presbyterian Hospital - Main Building 21 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, NY 10605
Host: NASW NYS Westchester Division & the League of Women Voters of Westchester
• Mark Hannay, Director, New York Metro Health Care for All Campaign
• Mary Beth Morrissey, MPH, Health Care Attorney, Fordham Ravazzin Center on Aging
TUESDAY – OCTOBER 20 - HEALTH CARE REFORM DAY OF ACTION
OFA Phone Bank for Health Care Reform
Times: Shifts at 12 pm, 2 pm
Location: OFA office in Midtown East
Staten Island Senior Center Tour
Time: 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Location: TBD (Staten Island, NY)
Women Calling Women to Fight for Health Care Reform
Time: 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Bronx, NY 10463
Time to Deliver Call Party
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Location: 308 East 72nd Street, 11 D (New York, NY)
Queens Senior to Senior Phonebank
Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Location: TBD (Jamaica, NY)
Women Calling Women to Fight for Health Care Reform
Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Location: TBD (Bronxville, NY)
Bushwick Health-Care Reform Telephone Soiree
Time: 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Location: Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn, NY)
Call for Health Reform (UWS)
Time: 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Location: 300 W 110th Street, Apt. 5E, New York, NY 10026
THURSDAY – OCTOBER 22
TEACH-IN ON HEALTH CARE REFORM
Busting the myths and making the case for health care for all!
LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO to fight the myths and misinformation about health reform!
• Time: 7:00 - 9:00 pm; Doors open at 6:30 pm with refreshments
• Location: Rosenfield Building, Hess Commons (Main Flr.)
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University722 W 168th St.
Myth-busting speakers will include:
• Karen Wang, MD; THE NATIONAL PHYSICIANS ALLIANCE
• William Jordan, MD, MPH; THE NATIONAL PHYSICIANS ALLIANCE
• Tim Foley; NYC FOR CHANGE
• Mark Hannay; METRO NY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL
• Carmina Bernardo; PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF NYC
For up-to-date information on speakers, visit www.phanyc.org
Help make sure we get health reform this year!
More events on my.barackobama.com
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Tuesday is primary day in NYC, which of course means we're all being bombarded with flyers, ads, etc. You all know the drill.
I got home last night to find a really sleazy flyer in my mailbox from one Delia Hunley-Adossa containing the following:
At the top of the page is a very unflattering black & white photo of my councilwoman, Letitia James.
Underneath, in bold solid caps, is the following text:
CONVICTED BROOKLYN COUNTY ORGANIZATION LEADERS SOLD POLITICAL OFFICE TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.
So just how much did Letitia James have to pay?
James' political career was borne of a corrupt county system that put a price on holding office and collected big from ambitious candidates like James. The party bosses ruled and the power-hungry paid for their support.
The County Organization hand-delivered James into office and James... well, let's just say that one hand washes the other.
A few points:
1. Note the juxtaposition of the word "convicted" with the photo, clearly implying , by association, criminality on the part of James.
2. Unnamed "leaders" are accused of selling "office" (which office?) in the upper-case text. Just below, the flyer asks how much James had to pay. There is nothing in the flyer specifying any charges whatsoever against James.
3. The accusations are all made via implication, which is pretty underhanded. The implicit argument seems to be the following:
- The Brooklyn Democratic organization (never mentioned by name, btw) is corrupt;
- Letitia James is part of the Brooklyn Democratic Party;
- Ergo, she must be corrupt, too (this is obviously guilt-by-association, which is a slimy way to make an argument).
4. The last sentence in the flyer is in two parts. The first says "The County Organization hand-delivered James into office..." This is false. James actually had decided not to run for the council seat then held by James Davis, but his assassination led to the problematic candidacy of his brother. James then entered the race, winning handily.
5. The second part of the last sentence is another unsourced smear: "and James... well, let's just say that one hand washes the other." What's the basis for this claim? As with all the other innuendos in the flyer, no evidence is provided to support it.
So who is the object of all these innuendos and smears?
Letitia James is a lawyer whose role models were Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley & Barbara Jordan. She worked for the Legal Aid Society, then was Assistant Attorney General under then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. She served as Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Roger L. Green, then as counsel to then-State Assemblyman Albert Vann. She gained a reputation as a rough-edged election lawyer for the Democratic Party, which probably earned her the enmity of some. On the City Council, she led efforts to set up a Business Improvement District on Fulton Street, opposed Mayor Bloomberg's successful effort to repeal term limits, supported the creation of bike lanes, and for greater stimulus funding for the 35th district, and, most relevant to the Hunley-Adossa flyer, has been one of the most prominent opponents of the Atlantic Yards project.
And who, you ask, is the candidate behind the sleazy flyer?
Delia Hunley-Adossa is a long-time community activist whose group, Brooklyn Endeavor Experience, has received over $400,000 from Bruce Ratner. Yes, that Bruce Ratner--the developer of Atlantic Yards. Needless to say, Hunley-Adossa is a staunch supporter of the Atlantic Yards project. Her group is also heavily stocked with family members, according to The Brooklyn Paper, a practice commonly known as nepotism, and one we certainly don't need to see on the City Council.
Hunley-Adossa has distinguished herself in this campaign by comments in a debate at the offices of The Brooklyn Paper in which she exhibited unfamiliarity with the powers and responsibilities of the City Council, and a pronounced aversion to questioning by the news media, as reported by Brooklyn Paper:
The debate was a rare opportunity for The Brooklyn Paper to question Hunley-Adossa, who stopped returning phone calls from The Paper’s reporters months ago. She explained the snub, saying she didn’t know that we had called, though later revealed that she must have known about the reporters’ calls because they came to her home phone and cellphone — devices that she does not answer because they are “private” lines.
“It’s invasive,” said the candidate, whose opinion about privacy was not shared by the other candidates.
She promised to answer her phone 24 hours a day if she’s elected to office.
It remains to be seen whether Hunley-Adossa's veracity with regard to accessibility will be any greater if she's elected than it has been during the campaign.
Hunley-Adossa is very well funded, thanks to Ratner. The flyer in question is very well produced--heavy paper stock, glossy finish, high resolution, perfect registration, and diabolically clever wording & positioning of page elements. It looks and feels, in fact, very much like a piece one would expect to find in a Republican Party campaign. National political consultants have been hired to work on election races in NY city & state before, and this certainly feels like the work of the kinds of people who gave us the Willy Horton ad, the assaults on Michael Dukakis and the teabaggers, with their bogus claims about Obama plans for euthenasia, kidnapping and indoctrination.
Let's give the people behind this sort of campaigning the kind of result they deserve. Let's vote on Tuesday for Letitia James, who has done a good job representing us in the 35th district, and who does not reduce public discourse to the gutter level to promote her candidacy.
Friday, September 11, 2009
[H/T Marta Evry at Venice for Change]
Thursday, August 13, 2009
UNITED, WE WALK FOR REFORM
2 PM Rally at Times Square, 42nd St. and 7th Avenue
Health reform is finally within grasp. Opponents are spending millions every day to destroy it. We cannot let this happen. We voted for change in '08 and we must see it through.
On Saturday, August 29, 2009, New Yorkers will walk from all parts of the city for the first ever United We Walk for Reform Rally in support of the historic health reform legislation before Congress.
It's our health care. It's our time. Save the date to make your voice heard.
MID-MORNING, ACROSS THE CITY: Grassroots groups will meet in front of hospitals and health clinics across the city to walk to rally at Times Square. Check out mybarackobama.com for meeting locations in the next week (or set up one of your own).
2 - 3:30 PM - UNITY RALLY: Rally for health care at Times Square, 42nd St. and 7th Avenue
Want to organize your own walk to the rally? It's easy:
1) List your "United, We Walk for Health Care Reform" event on mybarackobama.com and spread the word to your friends.
2) To calculate the time you'll need to get to Times Square, we recommend hopstop.com.
3) Have fun and bring banners, wear t-shirts and buttons. Be creative!
4) Remind people to use sidewalks and bring posterboard signs (nothing on sticks).
Thank you for being a leader for health care reform. This can't happen without you!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Saturday, August 15 at 3pm
2479 Frederick Douglass Blvd just below 133rd St.
Featuring Harlem4 members:
Dr. Janet Taylor (Today Show, Star Jones Live)
Steve Leser (Editor, OpEd News)
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
In November-and against all odds, we took the driver's seat. We cannot become guilty of falling asleep at the wheel.
The availability, the expense and the inadequacies of health care in America are a national disgrace. We worked hard to elect an Administration that is responsive to the needs of everyday Americans. The next stage requires that we continue our call that health care in America is regarded as a human right. We are making the statement that national health care is a national imperative and we feel that there is no more appropriate place to make our stand than in Harlem.
Join us. Bring your family. Bring your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Please forward and distribute the flier below. To make change, we must make our stand.
As Barack Obama said himself, change in health care "requires a mobilization of energy of the American people to insist on a Congress and a White House that are actually going to deliver this time."
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Film Screening Party
Tuesday, August 11th, 7-10 PM
Irish Rogue, 356 W. 44th St (between 8th and 9th Ave.)
Join us at the Irish Rogue to view this powerful documentary made by a group of New York grassroots volunteers!
We will also talk about how we will help cure our "sick" system!
The film features real life stories, which have been central to swaying Congress and is something President Obama's been asking for. It's the all volunteer work of a young director, Brooklynite Brian Umana, and his team of twelve, who have interviewed dozens of New Yorkers over the past few months. We're learning how important personal stories are to this movement, and that's why this particular volunteer effort is so important: to get these stories to legislators.
Check out clips here:
Kelly (from Brooklyn): http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Saturday, August 8 10:00 AM
|Time||Saturday, August 8,10 AM|
|Host:||Joanne A Bailey|
|Location:||Calvary Cathedral of Praise (Brooklyn, NY)|
|45 East 8th Street|
|Brooklyn, NY 11218|
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
These organized mobs remind me of Mussolini's black shirts. After the Brooks Brothers riot in Florida (2000), I can't say I'm completely surprised, but it still does amaze me that a major political party and its allies are willing to stoop this low.
I guess the only antidotes are intense blogger pressure on the media to report on the groups involved and their leaked strategy memo, and large crowds of people genuinely interested in rational public discourse.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Health Care Reform Myths
Health Care--An International Comparison (great tool!)
National Coalition on Health Care--Facts on Health Insurance
Mythbusting Canadian Health Care, Part 1
Mythbusting Canadian Health Care, Part 2
CBO Gives the Public Option the OK
Paul Krugman--Why Markets Can't Cure Health Care
Monday, July 27, 2009
Health Care Reform and You
Published: July 25, 2009
The health care reform bills moving through Congress look as though they would do a good job of providing coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. But what would they do for the far greater number of people who already have insurance? As President Obama noted in his news conference last week, many of them are wondering: “What’s in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health insurance reform?”
Many crucial decisions on coverage and financing have yet to be made, but the general direction of the legislation is clear enough to make some educated guesses about the likely winners and losers.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF REFORM?
The House bill and a similar bill in the Senate would require virtually all Americans to carry health insurance with specified minimum benefits or pay a penalty. They would require all but the smallest businesses to provide and subsidize insurance that meets minimum standards for their workers or pay a fee for failing to do so.
The reforms would help the poorest of the uninsured by expanding Medicaid. Some middle-class Americans — earning up to three or four times the poverty level, or $66,000 to $88,000 for a family of four —would get subsidies to help them buy coverage through new health insurance exchanges, national or state, which would offer a menu of policies from different companies.
IS THERE HELP FOR THE INSURED?
Many insured people need help almost as much as the uninsured. Premiums and out-of-pocket spending for health care have been rising far faster than wages. Millions of people are “underinsured” — their policies don’t come close to covering their medical bills. Many postpone medical care or don’t fill prescriptions because they can’t afford to pay their share of the costs. And many declare personal bankruptcy because they are unable to pay big medical debts.
The reform effort should help ease the burdens of many of them, some more quickly than others. The legislation seems almost certain to include a new marketplace, the so-called health insurance exchange. Since there will be tens of millions of new subscribers, virtually all major insurers are expected to offer policies through an exchange. To participate, these companies would have to agree to provide a specified level of benefits, and they would set premiums at rates more comparable to group rates for big employers than to the exorbitant rates typically charged for individual coverage.
Under the House bill, the exchanges would start operating in 2013. They would be open initially to people who lack any insurance; to the 13 million people who have bought individual policies from insurance companies, which often charge them high rates for relatively skimpy coverage; and to employees of small businesses, who often pay high rates for their group policies, especially if a few of their co-workers have run up high medical bills. By the third year, larger businesses might be allowed to shift their workers to an exchange. All told, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 36 million people would be covered by policies purchased on an exchange by 2019.
IS THERE MORE SECURITY FOR ALL?
As part of health reform, all insurance companies would be more tightly regulated. For Americans who are never quite certain that their policies will come through for them when needed, that is very good news.
The House bill, for example, would require that all new policies sold on or off the exchanges must offer yet-to-be-determined “essential benefits.” It would prohibit those policies from excluding or charging higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions and would bar the companies from rescinding policies after people come down with a serious illness. It would also prohibit insurers from setting annual or lifetime limits on what a policy would pay. All this would kick in immediately for all new policies. These rules would start in 2013 for policies purchased on the exchange, and, after a grace period, would apply to employer-provided plans as well.
Current estimates suggest that it would cost in the neighborhood of $1 trillion over 10 years to extend coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans. Under current plans, half or more of that would be covered by reducing payments to providers within the giant Medicare program, but the rest would require new taxes or revenue sources.
If President Obama and House Democratic leaders have their way, the entire tax burden would be dropped on families earning more than $250,000 or $350,000 or $1 million a year, depending on who’s talking. There is strong opposition in the Senate, and it seems likely that at least some burden would fall on the less wealthy.
Many Americans reflexively reject the idea of any new taxes — especially to pay for others’ health insurance. They should remember that if this reform effort fails, there is little hope of reining in the relentless rise of health care costs. That means their own premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses will continue to soar faster than their wages. And they will end up paying higher taxes anyway, to cover a swelling federal deficit driven by escalating Medicare and Medicaid costs.
WHO WON’T BE HAPPY?
Healthy young people who might prefer not to buy insurance at all will probably be forced to by a federal mandate. That is all to the good. When such people get into a bad accident or contract a serious illness, they often can’t pay the cost of their care, and the rest of us bear their burden. Moreover, conscripting healthy people into the insured pool would help reduce the premiums for sicker people.
Less clear is what financial burden middle-income Americans would bear when forced to buy coverage. There are concerns that the subsidies ultimately approved by Congress might not be generous enough.
WHAT IF I HAVE GOOD GROUP COVERAGE?
The main gain for these people is greater security. If they got laid off or chose to leave their jobs, they would no longer be faced with the exorbitant costs of individually bought insurance but could buy new policies through the insurance exchanges at affordable rates.
President Obama has also pledged that if you like your current insurance you can keep it.
Right now employers are free to change or even drop your coverage at any time. Under likely reforms, they would remain free to do so, provided they paid a penalty to help offset the cost for their workers who would then buy coverage through an exchange. Under the House reform bill, all employers would eventually be allowed to enroll their workers in insurance exchanges that would offer an array of policies to choose from, including a public plan whose premiums would almost certainly be lower than those of competing private plans.
Some employers might well conclude that it is a better deal — for them or for you — to subsidize your coverage on the exchange rather than in your current plan. If so, you might end up with better or cheaper coverage. You would probably also have a wider choice of plans, since most employers offer only one or two options.
WILL I PAY LESS?
Two factors could help drive down the premiums for those who are insured. In the short-term, if reform manages to cover most of the uninsured, that should greatly reduce the amount of charity care delivered by hospitals and eliminate the need for the hospitals to shift such costs to patients who have private insurance. One oft-cited study estimates that cost-shifting to cover care for the uninsured adds about $1,000 to a family’s annual insurance premiums; other experts think it may be a few hundred dollars. In theory, eliminating most charity care should help hold down or even reduce the premiums charged for private insurance. When, if ever, that might happen is unclear.
In the long run, if reform efforts slow the growth of health care costs, then the increase in insurance costs should ease as well. And if the new health insurance exchanges — and possibly a new public plan — inject more competition into markets that are often dominated by one or two big private insurance companies, that, too, could help bring down premiums. But these are big question marks, and the effects seem distant.
WILL MY CARE SUFFER?
Critics have raised the specter that health care will be “rationed” to save money. The truth is that health care is already rationed. No insurance, public or private, covers everything at any cost. That will not change any time soon.
It is true that the long-term goal of health reform is to get rid of the fee-for-service system in which patients often get very expensive care but not necessarily the best care. Virtually all experts blame the system for runaway health care costs because it pays doctors and hospitals for each service they perform, thus providing a financial incentive to order excessive tests or treatments, some of which harm the patients.
An earlier wave of managed care plans concentrated on reining in costs and aroused a backlash among angry beneficiaries who were denied the care they wanted. The most expensive treatment is not always the best treatment. The reform bills call for research and pilot programs to find ways to both control costs and improve patients’ care.
The bills would alter payment incentives in Medicare to reduce needless readmissions to hospitals. They would promote comparative effectiveness research to determine which treatments are best but would not force doctors to use them. And they call for pilot programs in Medicare to test the best ways for doctors to manage and coordinate a patient’s total care.
Any changes in the organization of care would take time to percolate from Medicare throughout the health care system. They are unlikely to affect most people in the immediate future.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR OLDER AMERICANS?
People over 65 are already covered by Medicare and would seem to have little to gain. But many of the chronically ill elderly who use lots of drugs could save significant money. The drug industry has already agreed to provide 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs to Medicare beneficiaries who have reached the so-called “doughnut hole” where they must pay the full cost of their medicines. The House reform bill would gradually phase out the doughnut hole entirely, thus making it less likely that beneficiaries will stop taking their drugs once they have to pay the whole cost.
Not everyone in Medicare will be happy. The prospective losers are likely to include many people enrolled in the private plans that participate in Medicare, known as Medicare Advantage plans. They are heavily subsidized, and to pay for reform, Congress is likely to reduce or do away with those subsidies. If so, many of these plans are apt to charge their clients more for their current policies or offer them fewer benefits. The subsidies are hard to justify when the care could be delivered more cheaply in traditional Medicare, and the subsidies force up the premiums for the beneficiaries in traditional Medicare to cover their cost.
Reformers are planning to finance universal coverage in large part by saving money in the traditional Medicare program, raising the question of whether all beneficiaries will face a reduction in benefits. President Obama insisted that benefits won’t be reduced, they’ll simply be delivered in more efficient ways, like better coordination of care, elimination of duplicate tests and reliance on treatments known to work best.
The AARP, the main lobby for older Americans, has praised the emerging bills and thrown its weight behind the cause. All of this suggests to us that the great majority of Americans — those with insurance and those without — would benefit from health care reform.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Bill Moyers' interview with former insurance company executive Wendell Potter (a real eye-opener).
Here's a conundrum from the inspector general's report on Bush/Cheney era spying programs--Did the threat assessments drive the surveillance program, or, Alice-in-Wonderland like, was it the other way around?
Here's a review of Andrew Bacevich's latest book, The Limits of American Empire.
Obama increases pressure on Congress re health care legislation.
Keynes and the Efficient Markets Hypothesis.
The Daily Show on Palin resignation (I hadn't seen this before--it's hilarious).
Not wanting to be left out of the meltdown on the right, wingnut bloggers --never mind; see for yourself.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) catches hoof-and-mouth disease at the Sotomayor hearings.
The House of Representatives release of its version of the health care reform bill.
Eric Martin on Obama's Afghanistan conundrum.
Eric Martin, contra Peter Bergen, agrees that historical analogies shed little light on the situation in Afghanistan.
Ben Stein seems to have problems with ethics.
The GOP presented a confusing chart on the floor of Congress Friday, supposedly illustrating that the Obama health care plan is complicated. No fooling... Here I thought a bill reforming interactions between doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, patients, labs, etc., making up a significant portion of the economy was going to fit on the back of a bubble gum wrapper. In response, The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn offers his own chart--of the system we have now.
Ezra Klein interviews conservative economist Bruce Bartlett on taxes and health care reform.
Conservatives, says Kevin Drum, are trapped by their own ideology on health care.
An article in Parameters, the U.S. Army War College Quarterly, argues that tying defense spending to GDP is a bad idea.
Wingnut blogger predictions about Iraq in 2003 didn't turn out very well.
The myth of conservative judicial restraint.
Matthew Yglesias on economic recovery based on recapitalization via profits.
He illustrates with a chart showing the percentage of total income earned by the top 1% of the population, 1913-2008.
The mechanism proposed to keep costs down in the health care reform bill.
Intellectual irresponsibility test (wingnut bloggers jump off cliff, chapter ???).
Fasten your seatbelts for a jobless recovery.
Yoo on Yoo.
Help for one time homeowners.
Buchanan being Buchanan.
Jon Stewart on Goldman.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
To that end, grassroots organizers in Brooklyn have organized a number of local canvasses and phone banks this weekend in support of health care reform. Below are some times and locations for events, or, as always, feel free to organize one of your own.
Like during the election, you also have the option to phone bank from home using barackobama.com
We hope to see you out at a canvass or phone bank this weekend!
Saturday, July 18th
Canvass at the Brooklyn Flea
12 to 3
176 Lafayette (b/w Clermont & Vanderbilt)
RSVP here: http://my.barackobama.com/
Canvass at the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market
10:30 to 12:30
Grand Army Plaza
RSVP here: http://my.barackobama.com/
Canvass at Carroll Park
1:30 to 3:30
RSVP here: http://my.barackobama.com/
11 to 1
Contact organizer for details
RSVP here: http://my.barackobama.com/
12 to 1
Contact organizer for details
RSVP here: http://my.barackobama.com/
Sunday, July 19th
Help Community Learning Center
1821 Nostrand Ave
RSVP here: http://my.barackobama.com/
Friday, July 17, 2009
Youth Hostel, 103rd & Amsterdam, BOARD ROOM
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
12 Grammercy Park South (E. 20th St. between Park and Irving)
7 Davenport St, Harrison, NY 10528
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Q: Here’s something I’d like to know. In your mind, what is a reasonable amount of time to give this admin to do whatever it can to turn the economy around that it says it inherited?Note Cantor's insistence on portraying Obama's recovery plan a failure while refusing to say how much time a plan should be given to take effect, all while claiming he doesn't want to assign blame--but that Obama and the Democrats "own this economy." One wonders how many more sides of his mouth Cantor has from which to speak.
A: Steve, I don’t actually think that’s the right way to approach this question. When we considered the first stimulus bill in January, representations were made, promises were made by President Obama that if we acted quickly and passed the bill, we’d be able to stave off job loss and stop the unemployment rate from exceeding 8 1/2%. So I think that the proper test is, representations and promises that were made did not come to fruition.
Q: But the reason I ask that is because, as you know, the administration has said, “Wait a minute, we never said it would work in the first few months, we have not even gotten around to spending all the money yet, give us a little bit of time.” What is a reasonable amount of time to give them?
A: Again, this is not what the administration said. The administration said that we needed to act with a sense of urgency, that is how we were going to be able save jobs and avoid folks from having to go on the unemployment lines. That should still be our goal. We shouldn’t have been expediting the review of an 11-hundred page bill without anyone in the House reading it if the course that we expected was going to be a one- or two- or three- or four-year period in which to see the money go out. That’s where we get into the situation where you waste taxpayer dollars.
Q: Although the administration is saying now it took years to get into this mess; it’ll take time to get out. What’s a reasonable amount of time? What’s the time on the clock for him as far as you’re concerned?
A: Steve, there’s not a question—we shouldn’t be arguing about how we got here because that’s pointing blame. I think the American people are tired of that. They want to know how we’re getting out of this situation. Republicans had a plan, I went and personally gave him our stimulus plan back in January. We still want to work with this president. The way we see an economic recovery coming about is through investment. We’ve got to get small businesses back into the business of putting their money to work, taking risks, so that jobs can be created.
Q: Do you think that the economy will be the heart of next year’s congressional elections?
A: Well, listen, no one has a perfect crystal ball. But clearly I think that the economic situation before us needs to be satisfied in order for the electorate to begin to have some confidence in their leadership. I think what you’re seeing in polling right now is a reflection of the fact that this president & this congress own this economy.
Q: How many Democrats do you think are vulnerable?
A: Steve, again, you look at the numbers out of the last election. There are 49 Democrats sitting in seats that John McCain won. Obviously not all of those are vulnerable, but I do think you start there. And then you also look at the seats that have individuals who are new to Congress that perhaps were in seats that were held by the Republican candidate prior. I do think there are a sufficient number of vulnerable Democrats that will allow Republicans to make significant gains, if not take over the Congress and the U.S. House in 2010.
Cantor claims that Obama didn't say that time would be required for the recovery plan to take effect. A turn to google shows that not to be true. Here's what President Obama had to say on the subject during his January 8, 2009, Fairfax, VA speech introducing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan:
It will not come easy or happen overnight, and it is altogether likely that things may get worse before they get better. But that is all the more reason for Congress to act without delay.Of course, Obama's economic package was passed without a single GOP vote in the House of Representatives, and it got through the Senate only after four GOP "moderates" forced a compromise which included removal of federal funding to states for school construction (considered one of the more effective recession-fighting tools, as it would have created jobs) and cuts to state fiscal stabilization programs, also important during a recession. Nor did the GOP offer anything like coherent objections to Obama's plans, as noted by economist Brad DeLong.
There was a strategy behind the monolithic opposition, as noted by Greg Sargent. In fact, a GOP Representative responsible for "messaging" admitted as much in public.
Months of consistent opposition and obstruction didn't work very well for the GOP. Their poll numbers were (and still are) in the sewer. On March 26, they attempted to unveil an economic (ahem) plan of their own, but that didn't work very well.
They put out something a little more substantive on April 1 (how fitting), but as noted by Ezra Klein, among many others, the plan offered little in the way of details and was completely unrealistic.
Meanwhile, here’s what the stimulus IS doing:
Ezra Klein cites a study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities showing that the stimulus is closing 30-40 percent of state budget deficits. Why does that matter?
States must balance their budgets, as mandated by their respective state constitutions. How can they do that?
1. Raise taxes (Conservatives all raise your hands if you’re in favor. Ahh, I didn’t think so.); or
2. Cut spending. What happens if they do this during the worst downturn since the Great Depression?
a. States would have fewer resources at a time when they need them most to cope with the crisis.
b. State employees would lose their jobs (further deepening the recession).
c. The social safety net would collapse (imagine what happens if, as state employees lose their jobs, SCHIP funding is slashed).
It's not enough, God knows. People need jobs, and it takes a long time for an economic plan to take full effect. But surely we shouldn't be taking seriously complaints about the economic recovery plan from a party as completely cynical, dishonest and deeply unserious as the current GOP.
As of July 2, 2009, the Fed reported the following assets on its balance sheet:Moreover, all of the loans in question are short-term, and have already been repaid.
* Term Auction Credit: $283 billion
* Commercial Paper Lending Facility: $115 billion
* Central Bank Liquidity Swaps: $115 billion
* "Other" Loans (includes the Primary Dealer Credit Facility): $119 billion
Together, these assets amount to $632 billion. And what do they all have in common? They are all LOANS. Note also that they comprise the bulk of the $726 billion in reserve balances held by banks the Fed reports on its liability side.
The fear among Fed critics is apparently that the Fed lacks an “exit strategy;” i.e., it has no clear plan to counter the rise in reserve balances, which they claim will lead to inflation. Yet Fullwiler explains that
Banks DO NOT use reserve balances to create loans. They create loans and deposits simultaneously out of thin air. They use reserve balances to settle payments or meet reserve requirements ONLY. If a bank is short reserve balances for either of these purposes, the Fed provides an overdraft AUTOMATICALLY at a stated penalty rate, which the bank then clears via the money markets or the cheapest alternative. Whether banks in the aggregate hold $1 or $1 trillion in reserve balances, there operational ability to create loans is the same . . . infinite! (Though the creation of even 1 loan requires a willing, credit-worthy borrow in the first place, of course.)...That is how loan creation works in a modern monetary system. The belief that banks need reserve balances in order to lend is only applicable in a gold standard-type of monetary system.In short, there’s no danger of inflation stemming from the Fed’s activities discussed above & there’s no need for an exit strategy.
Interestingly enough, Fullwiler observes that the financial press (he cites the Wall Street Journal specifically) doesn’t understand how the Fed works.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A FEW SPACES ARE STILL AVAILABLE
The Time is NOW to Mobilize Nationally for Health Care for ALL
Health Care Rally & Town Hall in Washington, DC
Join thousands of Americans at the
largest health care rally in history!
Meet at 5:30 AM at Union Square; leave at 6 AM
Back at 9:30 PM
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday, June 25th
Join thousands of Americans from all across the country at the largest health reform rally in history! Come for the rally, town halls, and visits with key policy makers. Congress is voting on health care reform legislation in July. They need to hear our voices now!
Irish Rogue (map)
356 W 44 St
New York, NY
Thursday, June 25th at 7pm
Can't make it to DC? Amplify your colleagues’ voices. Join us to write letters to our representatives urging health reform and supporting the public health insurance option. Bring your personal stories and letterhead from your office.
RSVP: Echo Event
Tuesday, June 23rd at 2pm
Come hear Dr. Dean, former chair of the DNC, former governor of Vermont, and founder of Democracy for America, talk about the fight for the choice of a public health insurance option.
Saturday, June 27th
Still not sure how to get involved? Find a service event in your own neighborhood on Saturday, June 27th.
SEARCH: Organizing for America
5. PHONE BANK
Week of June 27
Some of our elected officials are starting to back down on supporting the public health insurance option. Help keep up the pressure. Join or organize a phone bank. Speak to your elected officials or reach out to doctors in other key states to mobilize them.
EMAIL: Nina Agrawal
6. HEALTH ACTION REPORT
NPA Success in Washington Last Week!
Last Wednesday, members of the New York NPA hand-delivered a box of 1000 post cards to Senator Schumer's office in DC and met with 6 Congress members on Capitol Hill. We received a very warm welcome from all, and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez even personally sent us a thank-you letter afterward. Staffers and Congress members alike were very impressed to see physicians stand side by side with patients to fight for something other than their own financial interests.
Watch our Introductory Film
Sunday, June 21, 2009
...Let's just use numbers without liberal or conservative pundit spin, okay? Here's how things stood at the end of 2006, no commentary:
Economic expansion was in its 74th month. The country had a rolling average of 103,000 job increases for the last three months of 2006. Unemployment stood at 4.7 percent. The household job count, which picks up small businesses, posted a 303,000 average gain.
Worker wages rose 3.8 percent in 2006, a full percentage point ahead of inflation. U.S. productivity surged 6.3 percent in the third quarter, its best pace in four years. Business inflation fell from 3.5 percent a year ago to 1.5 percent.
U.S. household net worth hit a record high of $58.6 trillion, and household wealth increased 43 percent from 2001-2005.
Now give me numbers showing me how "delusional" I am. No spin, just facts.
Age: 16 years and over
(Additional source data available at U.S. Department of Commerce website—fee required for access.)
1. Reduce costs
2. Guarantee choice
3. Ensure all Americans have quality, affordable health care.
Nowhere else in our country do people in communities like Harlem know better that Health Care Reform is urgently needed. It is essential that our voices are heard.
Saturday, June 27 from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Staging Location: African Services Committee (New York, NY)
429 West 127th Street (between Amsterdam & Morningside Aves.)
Hosts: Oscar Carter and Gregg Ross
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
If one starts from a traditional, often fundamentalist Christian point of view, and accepts the premise that the US is perfect, any problems we face must be due to a sinister external force. The government is an easy target, especially since it embraced in the late 20th century a bureaucratic-technical approach to modernity, rather than emphasizing traditional church-based values.
Add to that the traditional conservative position that government is an inherent threat to individual liberty, and the western mythology of the rugged individual (contra the reality that the prosperity enjoyed by most Orange County conservatives was dependent on massive government spending in the form of defense manufacturing and the infrastructure required to support it) & it was easy for conservatives to feel that government programs aimed at amelioration of poverty represented confiscation of the fruits of their hard work and potentially a threat to their freedom (freedom largely being defined economically; the more fundamentalist among them were less concerned about freedom when moral concerns were involved). This is not to say, by the way, that there were/are no reasonable bases for concern about government threats to individual liberties; rather, the point here is that the threats perceived by modern conservatives have been generally imaginary (fluoridated water,gun rights, the Soviet Union as an imminent threat to the U.S. at the very moment the former was unraveling, etc.).
The inherent contraditions in these positions, as noted above, are pretty easy to see. Conservatives were generally hostile to the civil rights movement and many, including William F. Buckley Jr., infamously argued that efforts to expand rights to African Americans constituted government intrusion into individual rights of free association. Nor have many conservatives, despite their traditional zealotry about government encroachments on liberty, been similarly concerned about the potential for similar threats to individual rights by corporate power. The obviously selective choices of objects for conservative outrage lead many outside the movement to conclude that the stated motives for opposition are but smokescreens for racism, defense of socioeconomic privilege, and various other bigotries and fears.
It's kind of striking that movement conservatives depend on a manufactured sense of grievance and paranoia, and increasingly, a rejection of evidence & logic to maintain group cohesion & a sense of identity. Even after they got Reagan & then Dubya elected, the right continued to peddle conspiracy theories and nurture a sense of grievance. Now, after undeniable political dominance for 6 of the last 8 years (and really, considering the haplessness and complicity of many Democrats, it’s been more like 40 years), virtually every aspect of every policy enacted by conservatives stands revealed (to those willing to look honestly) as a total failure of massive proportions. Yet lacking a more sophisticated intellectual framework for interpreting the results, many on the right continue to resort to a belligerent form of denial. Hence the hysterical screeching, wild accusations and even occasional shootings we observe on cable TV and elsewhere. A simplistic template is inadequate for efforts to understand the complexities of the world we live in.
Monday, June 15, 2009
This Tuesday, June 16th, learn about the public option, why it's critical to health care reform, the debate on Capitol Hill, and what you can do to support President Obama's historic health care reform initiative. Health care policy blogger Tim Foley (Change.org) will present a balanced overview as well as key messaging points.
The Irish Rogue Pub
356 West 44th St. (Southeast corner of 9th Ave.), 2nd Floor
Pub food, drink specials, comfortable couches, and great company!
Tuesday, June 16th, 7:30 to 9:30PM
RSVP: here. This is your opportunity to be part of the legislation of a lifetime. Please spread the word to your family, friends, co-workers. Health care affects everyone!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I just got this message from moveon.org. Given its implications, I thought it best to post it on my blog & give it whatever publicity I can:
Less than 48 hours ago, the biggest corporations in the country declared war on President Obama's agenda. The scale of the attack is mind-boggling.
The right-wing lobbyists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will spend $100 million to defeat Obama's plans for health care and a clean energy economy. They call it their "most important project" in nearly 100 years.1
Congress is voting on a crucial energy bill in less than two weeks, and you can count on a barrage of misleading TV ads and arm-twisting in Congress aimed at weakening the bill. We're countering with an emergency organizing drive to strengthen the energy bill—but we urgently need to raise the funds to power our organizing drive.
Can you chip in $35 to help fight back against the Chamber's campaign?
Your local Chamber of Commerce represents small businesses, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is different—it represents the interests of mega-corporations, especially Big Oil and Coal.
In the next ten days, we'll pull out all the stops to block the Chamber and strengthen the energy bill. And after the big vote, we'll keep going just as strong—demanding a public health insurance option in the health care bill, fighting for tough new rules to rein in the financial industry, and making sure Obama's progressive agenda gets enough grassroots support to succeed.
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, so we're pulling together our best online, grassroots, and legislative strategies to:
- Flood Capitol Hill with thousands of phone calls.
- Buy online ads targeted to get the attention of opinion-makers in key House districts.
- Bring together progressive members of Congress to speak out about the problems in the bill.
- Hand-deliver petitions to dozens of local congressional offices—and hold media events outside to highlight the voices of unemployed people calling for clean energy jobs.
- Hold face-to-face meetings with congressional staff in Washington and in communities across the country.
- Launch a new website, StrengthenIt.org, where we'll rally local environmental groups to the cause.
We're deciding this weekend on our final plan for pushing Congress before the vote—so we need to know what resources we have available. Can you chip in $35?
Thanks for all you do.
–Anna, Wes, Noah, Nita and the rest of the team
P.S. If you're a member of your local Chamber of Commerce or run a small business, please sign our petition asking the U.S. Chamber to stop lobbying against Obama's clean energy jobs plan:
1. "Chamber defends free-market system," Politico, June 10, 2009