“To divide fairly among the people the obligation to pay for these benefits has been a major part of our struggle to maintain Democracy in America. Ever since 1776, that struggle has been between two forces; on the one hand there has been a vast majority of citizens who believe the benefits of democracy should be extended and who are willing to pay their fair share to extend them. And on the other hand, there has been a small but powerful group which has fought the extension of these benefits because they did not want to pay a fair share of their cost. That was the lineup in seventeen hundred and seventy-six and it’s the lineup today. And I am confident that once more, in nineteen thirty-six democracy in taxation will win. Here is my principle, and I think it’s yours too; taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
First of all, we’re pretending that the economy is doing better because we have fewer people on unemployment, but that’s for a number of factors, most of them not good. The austerians cut the number of weeks for available benefits. Plus, we’ve had a MASSIVE economic pivot that pushed people from full-time positions to contract work, which means they’re not even eligible for unemployment. Unemployment is one of the few economic stimulus programs we still have, so you’re damned right that any austerity deal better include federal unemployment extensions:
WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress demanded on Thursday that any upcoming “fiscal cliff” deal include a continuation of federal unemployment insurance, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
“We have 2 million families that are in a very difficult situation if we do not extend unemployment insurance benefits,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said during a press conference at the Capitol. “This is the real cliff.”
Unless Congress acts to reauthorize federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, 2 million laid off workers will abruptly stop receiving benefits after Dec. 29, according to the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy and research group.
The unemployment lapse is one of the less-noticed elements of the so-called fiscal cliff, the moment at which a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes is scheduled to take effect. The biggest disagreement is over expiring Bush-era tax cuts; top Republicans want to keep all the cuts, while Democrats only want to renew them for annual household incomes below $250,000.
“The dire consequences of failing to help jobless Americans are not debatable,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said. “If there is an agreement on the fiscal cliff, unemployment insurance must be included. If there is not an agreement reached, we must extend unemployment separately.”
As early as 2004, Merck knew its blockbuster osteoporosis drug Fosamax was causing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) after in-office dental procedures and ridiculed afflicted patients. The condition, also called jawbone death, occurs when traumatized tissue doesn’t heal but becomes “necrotic” and dies. “Ma toot hurts so bad” mimicked Merck bone scientist Don Kimmel in a 2004 email to Merck health science consultant Sharon Scurato about the type of patient who was developing ONJ. Such a patient “could be an oral hog,” wrote Kimmel, then a bone scientist in Merck’s department of Molecular Endocrinology/Bone Biology and trained as a dentist–someone with pre-existing infections and periodontal disease who omits preventative care.
Newly available emails and internal Merck documents reveal the company was far from concerned or surprised when ONJ-links to Fosamax surfaced in the early 2000’s and launched elaborate spin campaigns to keep the $3 billion a year pill afloat. In fact, animal studies revealed ONJ in rats given bisphosphonates (the class of drugs Fosamax belongs to) as early as 1977, Kimmel admitted under oath in 2008.
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients who say they developed ONJ after dental procedures like tooth extraction because they took Fosamax. Treating ONJ is almost impossible, said dentists and oral surgeons quoted the Review-Journal in 2005, because “further surgery in an effort to correct the problem only exacerbates it, leaving the patient with even more exposed bone and even more disﬁgured,” Jaw removal, bone grafts, and even tracheostomies were reported by the News-Press in 2006. “Even short-term oral use of alendronate [Fosamax] led to ONJ in a subset of patients after certain dental procedures were performed,” read a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association in 2009.
Besides attributing ONJ to patients’ bad oral hygiene and, tautologically, their advanced years, Merck withheld crucial safety data from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) when the group sought to develop a position paper on bisphosphonate-related ONJ. Of 428 suspected ONJ cases related to Fosamax, 378 of which were highly likely to be ONJ, only 50 cases were shared with ASBMR, according to court documents.
The teevee in my bedroom stopped working last night. No more Craig Ferguson for me! Ah well, I only paid $90 for it used, and got three years out of it.
You may have noticed Atrios mention this. Basically, if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, Obama can order the Treasury Dept. to issue trillion-dollar coins and use them to pay debt. Perfectly legal, too!
Krugman on why people are confused.
In Japan this morning, with a small tsunami in its wake:
It seems clear to me that Obama decided early on that his administration would go lightly on regulation enforcement, lest we destroy more jobs. Okay, I get it. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. However, I can think of no good reason why he’d let his administration ignore the many, many environmental and social sins of the coal industry when everyone knows it is already dying. In fact, he should have this latest death on his conscience.