Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Medicare for All

Nurses, Progressive Dems Seek Stepped Up Action for
Real, "Robust" Healthcare Reform

Single-Payer, Medicare for All, as Best Solution to Crisis

WASHINGTON - June 24 - With action heating up in
Washington for enactment of comprehensive healthcare
reform, the nation's largest RN union and professional
association joined with progressive Democratic Party
activists today in calling for the most "robust" reform
of all to repair the nation's healthcare crisis, by
enacting a single-payer system in the form of an
expanded and updated Medicare for all.

In a joint statement, the National Nurses Organizing
Committee/California Nurses Association and Progressive
Democrats of America announced they are stepping up
calls and other lobbying efforts to urge Congressional
leaders to include discussion of the single-payer
option in upcoming deliberations on the healthcare
reform legislation now advancing in Congress.

As President Obama holds several public healthcare
events, major committees in Congress unveil
legislation, and some liberal constituency groups set
to rally in Washington Thursday, NNOC/CNA and PDA said
that a single-payer/Medicare-for-all approach is "the
best way to achieve goals of universality, effective
cost controls, and improving the quality of care for
all Americans."

All other proposals, the groups said, suffer the same
limitations. They:

* Leave the insurance industry, with its emphasis
on generating profits and revenues rather than
providing care, in control of our health. * Fail to
assure financial security of American families by
not cracking down on insurance pricing practices. *
Avoid the strongest cost controls that are achieved
in a single-payer system with one shared risk pool
that covers everyone, elimination of the
administrative waste associated with private
insurers, and use of the power of the public entity
to negotiate lower costs. * Does not protect choice
of doctor, hospital, and other providers, as occurs
in a single-payer system, because insurers can
still limit choice to their own approved network of
doctors and providers.

Even the public option favored by the President and
leading Democrats would not achieve these goals, said
NNOC/CNA and PDA. Private insurers would still be able
to cherry pick healthier patients through their
aggressive marketing techniques, with sicker patients
likely being dumped into the public plan. The result is
the public plan would face higher costs and the
likelihood of having to cut or ration services to stay
financially afloat.

PDA and NNOC/CNA are asking people to continue to call
Congress and the White House to insist that single-
payer, and the single-payer bills in Congress, HR 676
in the House and S 703 in the Senate, be given equal
consideration in the legislative review process this

The two organizations have worked together since early
last year on a variety of healthcare projects,
including pressing the Democratic National Party to go
on record in "support of guaranteed healthcare for all"
at the national convention in Denver, campaigns on
behalf of single-payer candidates across the country in
the fall, and rallies and forums in cities throughout
the U.S.

"The time is ripe for real reform. For our personal
well-being and for the sake of our great nation, now is
the time to institute a real healthcare system instead
of tweaking the patchwork of corporate non-care that
now envelopes us," said NNOC/CNA Co-President Geri
Jenkins, RN.

Jenkins will be attending the ABC White House Town Hall
meeting with President Obama on healthcare reform
tonight, along with Patty Eakin, RN, President of the
Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied
Professionals and an NNOC/CNA board member.

"As long as a profit-motive is the centerpiece of our
system, as it is and will be with healthcare
corporations calling the shots, we entertain no notion
that a public option will be the fix that so many
Americans desperately need and want," Jenkins said.
"Medicare for all is the only solution to what ails

"Regardless of the claims that the majority of people
want a 'public option,' what most people really want is
a system of healthcare that covers everybody, and they
believe the government can do a better job of it than
the healthcare corporations can. It's time for
Congress to stop nibbling around the edges of reform
and provide real leadership toward enacting healthcare
reform for the people, instead of yet another windfall
for wealthy corporations," said Tim Carpenter, national
director of PDA.

The Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign presses forward
with a "Week of Action for Medicare-for-All - H.R.
676." Participating organizations will make calls to
Congress asking representatives to provide leadership
in the healthcare debate. On July 30, the 44th
anniversary of Medicare will be celebrated with a rally
and lobby day in Washington, D.C. ### The California
Nurses Association, and its national arm, the National
Nurses Organizing Committee, is one of the nation's
premiere nurses' organizations and health care unions.
One of the fastest growing health care organizations in
the U.S., CNA/NNOC presently has 80,000 members in 50
states, representing nurses at scores of hospitals,
clinics, and home health agencies.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Can the Democrats lose in 2010?

Mark Weisbrot
Plans are already being made for the 2010 elections for the U.S. Congress, and the Democrats would appear to have some advantages. They have a popular president, a 6-percentage-point lead in party identification and 9 points for a generic Congressional ballot. Majorities of the electorate see both Obama and the Democratic Party as pushing for a change from the failed policies of the past. The Republicans seem divided and confused over a recovery strategy, plagued by high-level defections (such as Senator Arlen Specter) and spokespeople (such as Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney) that seem too extreme to win over the necessary swing voters.

But the president's party almost always loses Congressional seats in non-presidential-year elections. And if next year's elections reduce the Democrats' margin, it would be even more difficult to make progress on important reform legislation, such as health care. At the end of the day, the ability to deliver reforms that actually improve the lives of the majority of Americans will most likely determine their long-term success as a political party.

The 2010 elections will very likely be about who gets blamed for the current economic disaster. Even if the economy is recovering in the latter half of next year - and that is a big "if" - it will not feel much like an economic recovery for most Americans. The labor market will still be very weak, with unemployment projected to pass ten percent and rising in the second half of next year. Millions will have lost their homes and their jobs, and many millions more will have lost most of the equity that they had accumulated in their homes - the main source of retirement savings for most households. The party that gets blamed for the mess will be most likely to lose seats in Congress.

The Democrats have a chance to defy electoral history and increase their Congressional lead next year, and perhaps even push the GOP toward the status of a permanent minority party. Celinda Lake, one of the Democratic Party's leading pollsters and political strategists, has recently found that 71 percent of voters want Congress to hold investigations into the "events leading up to the Wall Street financial crisis." More importantly, the proportion is just as high among swing voters.

A Congressional investigation, if done right, would probe the errors, excesses, fraud, corruption and other abuses that led to the country's worst recession since the Great Depression. There is plenty of blame to go around, but much of it would probably land on Wall Street and the country's bloated financial sector. The vastly overpaid executives, who made ever-increasing bets on the proposition that obviously over-valued house prices would continue to rise indefinitely, would come under fire.

Some of them were rewarded for their failures with high positions in government: for example, President Bush's Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who made $164 million in 2006 at Goldman Sachs during the peak of the housing bubble, helping to steer the economy into an iceberg and then coming to Congress to ask for a blank check of $700 billion to bail out his Wall Street friends.

The most important policy makers, such as Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan - who has to some degree fallen from grace - but also current Chairman Ben Bernanke, might also be asked to explain how they failed to notice the biggest asset bubble in the history of the world as it swelled over a period of several years to obviously threatening proportions.

The obvious analogy to such an investigation would be the famed Pecora commission during the 1930's, as some have pointed out. It was named for its intrepid chief counsel Ferdinand Pecora, who went after the Wall Street titans of that era and helped pave the way for the nation's most important financial regulatory reforms, such as the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis, and has written numerous research papers on economic policy. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.

Bailing out Wall Street

Arianna Huffington
Posted: June 18, 2009 07:20 PM
Mission Shrink: We've Gone From Saving Wall Street in Order to Save Main Street to Just Saving Wall Street
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Read More: Barack Obama, Economic Recovery, Economy, Foreclosures, Housing Market, Joe Biden, Recession, Tim Geithner, Unemployment, Business News

Remember how, back when taxpayers were being asked to fork over hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out Wall Street, we were told it was essential to saving Main Street?

Well, in just a few months, we've gone from saving the banks in order to save the economy to just saving the banks. It's the opposite of mission creep.

In announcing his proposed "overhaul of the financial regulatory system," President Obama said, "Financial institutions have an obligation to themselves and to the public to manage risks carefully. And as president, I have a responsibility to ensure that our financial system works for the economy as a whole."

But parsing through his 85-page plan, it's not clear how these reforms will ensure that our financial system works for the economy as a whole.

"The Obama plan," writes Joe Nocera in the New York Times, "is little more than an attempt to stick some new regulatory fingers into a very leaky financial dam rather than rebuild the dam itself." For Obama's plan to have any lasting value, says Nocera, "he is going to have to make some bankers mad."

We are already hearing the usual whining from the financial industry about too much regulation and the dampening of incentives. And we are already seeing a concerted push from the banking lobby to kneecap the newly proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. But, all in all, there is little there to make bankers mad.

I don't expect there will be too many on Wall Street unhappy with the massive loophole the new plan leaves by calling for so-called plain vanilla derivatives to be traded on an exchange but allowing customized derivatives -- which were at the heart of the financial meltdown -- to remain largely unregulated. This is very good news for the wheelers and dealers who helped turn Wall Street into a casino.

The larger problem continues to be the administration's habit of conflating the health of the Wall Street economy with the health of the real economy -- when, in fact, the two economies have become decoupled. The Dow may be up 30 percent since March, but the numbers that matter most to everyday Americans continue to tell a very different tale.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why Obama needs tough love

Representative Donna Edwards provides a look into the Congressional Progressive Caucus and urges progressives to speak up and challenge the Obama presidency to deliver innovative and powerful legislation. Edwards discussed the state of the presidency at the "Obama @ 100: A Progress Report from The Nation" forum April 22 in Washington, DC
For more video of the discussion please watch Obama@100 .
at The Nation.comP

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

California school budget crisis

Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Issues
Statement on Newly Proposed Education Cuts May 29,2009.

ANAHEIM — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today issued the following comment in response to Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to add an additional $680 million in cuts to public education:
'With his proposal to reduce spending for public education by another $680 million in the 2009-2010 budget year, the Governor is now asking schools to make more than $1.4 billion in cuts during the last few weeks of the school year, and close to $4 billion in the next. If these proposals become a reality, we will see the dismantling of vital education programs up and down our state. Already, the Los Angeles Unified School District has eliminated summer school. Classroom teachers are being let go. Class sizes are swelling. Regular school maintenance will become a distant memory.

"'While I know that teachers, administrators, school staff, school board members, and parents will make valiant efforts to continue to focus on improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap, these devastating cuts would make their job exponentially harder, and jeopardize the progress we have seen over the past decade.

"I recognize that California's budget shortfall continues to grow deeper. However, it is critical that we focus on ways to protect and preserve Californians' top priority — public education. We protect our collective economic viability by educating students to their full potential and preparing them to compete in the global economy. Failing to do so is not worthy of our great state."
Jack O'Connell

Note: the California economic crisis was caused by the national looting of the banking system by finance capital.
It was not caused by California students, the disabled, teachers, firemen, and public service workers,