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Why I heart Elizabeth Warren

Just listen:

Give peace a chance

John Baer offers this column in the Philadelphia Daily News for United Nations Peace Day:

A startling “Costs of War” study, recently released by the Eisenhower Research Project, at Brown University, says our government low-balls war costs, and by a bunch.

Figures most often cited by Washington, Obama and the General Accounting Office are $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion.

The Brown study, a comprehensive examination and estimate of the full and ongoing price, put together by 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers and humanitarians, says that it’s at least $3.7 trillion and climbing to $4.4 trillion.

Government accounting, the study says, is just too narrow to measure everything.

Catherine Lutz, a Brown research professor and the “Costs of War” project co-director, tells me that the Pentagon and GAO report only “direct” or “special war” allocations.

There are other costs that are basically hidden.
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Read it and weep

Brad DeLong reads Suskind’s new book and discovers that Obama is actually a Republican.


There’s a lot to say, not the least of which is the fact that the president seems to have been remarkably hostile to any discussion of trying to do another stimulus when it was obvious the first wasn’t doing what was needed. (And evidently he particularly didn’t want to hear any more about it from someone who didn’t have a penis in her pocket.)

In the excerpt about the “jobless recovery” Suskind reports that when the administration was informed of the potential for unemployment at 9.8% in 2010, Obama was pensive, knowing that the midterms could be a bloodbath and he asked for some input. (Apparently he prefers “pro and con” lists rather than detailed analysis or charts, which seems oddly Bushian.) In any case, he was apparently unmoved by the various scenarios, passively saying he hoped the rosier scenarios came to pass and that was that.

It certainly does clear up any thought we might have had about whether or not the president is a real fiscal conservative or whether he was just flogging this deficit obsession for political effect. He’s a true believer. And we know this because of his reliance on other deficit hawks and because when the political bloodbath the jobless recovery had predicted came true, his first move was to validate the Republicans’ manufactured narrative about what had motivated their voters and launch his program of budget cuts and deficit reduction.

I have thought that his fetish for a Grand Bargain was mostly born of a delusional belief that he was someone who could bridge unbridgeable differences and be remembered as the man who brought cats and dogs together. But it looks as though he was just as motivated by the fact that he’s a true blue, Concord Coalition, Pete Peterson deficit hawk.

Told ya.


Dear God, make it stop:

Are you having chest pain, a possible miscarriage, shortness of breath or abdominal pain? You should head into the emergency room and get that checked out.

Well, unless you are poor.

In an effort to cut back on Medicaid costs, the state of Washington is proposing a new set of “non-emergent” conditions that are no longer are covered if you go into the emergency room too many times in one year. Among those new “not an emergency” symptoms are excessive bleeding due to possible miscarriage, pain that could indicate severe appendicitis or organ failure or the tell-tale signs of the beginnings of a heart attack.

Under the new system, if you are a Medicaid patient you are allowed three “non-emergent” visits to an emergency room each year, otherwise, you need to either see your primary care provider (whenever you can manage to make an appointment with him or her) or you can have your claim denied and be forced to cover the full costs out of pocket.

But don’t worry, the system isn’t totally heartless. There are a few exceptions to the “three visits then you’re done” rule. If you happen to die in the E.R., they won’t turn down your final claim.


Look, don’t be distracted by the shell game. Obama the Kenyan Socialist still intends to cut Medicare and Medicaid in order to make Wall Street happy, and the best possible outcome would be for the super committee to be deadlocked — thus making the military cutbacks kick in. It would be a good idea to call your congress critters and tell them that:

But President Obama was still compromising with the Tea Party right when he delivered his remarks on Monday. Indeed, he proposed $580 billion in cuts to health and welfare programs, with $248 billion coming from Medicare and $72 billion from Medicaid.

That’s bad.

Very bad.

The president would have us believe that the cuts can be made by addressing “waste, fraud and abuse.” The reality is that cutting a quarter-trillion dollars from Medicare will undermine the quality of care for seniors and the disabled. The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care estimates that Obama’s approach would lead to $42 billion in cuts for post-acute care providers placing patients, our workforce and local facilities at risk.”

The proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will put new stress on the economy by making it harder to maintain hiring levels at the skilled nursing facilities that have been some of the real job creators in a period of layoffs and rising unemployment rates.

The proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts place new stresses on working families, many of which are already struggling to care for elderly and disabled relatives.

And the proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts will cause aging workers to think twice about retiring, thus reducing the number of openings for young workers.

Medicare and Medicaid are efficient programs. They are not perfect, but they have been pressured on “waste, fraud and abuse” issues for years; meaning that there is no chance that the cuts Obama proposes will be painless.

They will, in fact, be painful, for retired people and the disabled, for families, for workers and their unions, for communities and for the broader economy.

It is for this reason that FamiliesUSA, the progressive health policy group, is warning that proposed changes to Medicaid “shifts the burden to states and ultimately onto the shoulders of seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families who depend on the program as their lifeline.”

Troy Davis

Trying not to think about a political system that rewards politicians for executing the innocent.

Things go slicker with Koch

Isn’t that nice:

ARLINGTON, Va. — A recently-formed judicial “academy” funded by industry groups and conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is offering members of Congress and their staff free meals and trips in order to “educate” the lawmakers on controversial pro-business reforms.

The group is the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy (CCJCA), launched earlier this year by theLaw and Economics Center (LEC) at George Mason University’s School of Law. Despite being part of the university, the right-leaning LEC depends entirely on specially-designated donations which come from acore group of about 50 corporations and foundations, including The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Merck, Exxon, Eli Lilly, Altria, Wal-Mart, and the conservative Bradley Foundation.

You just knew there weren’t going to be any liberal groups involved, didn’t you?

Unlike similar LEC programs for judges and attorneys, however, the CCJC academy is connected to Congress via the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus. The two groups share the same goals, but are separate entities. Formed in February of this year, the caucus is made up of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats committed to promoting “a civil justice system that … advances job creation and economic growth.” For co-chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), that means a justice system wiped clean of “excessive and frivolous litigation” and “inefficient rules.” Goodlatte’s caucus co-chair is retiring Democrat Dan Boren (Okla.), who is joined by Republican House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (Texas) as well as GOP Reps. Randy Forbes (Va.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) and Lee Terry (Neb.). On the Democratic side are Utah’s Jim Matheson, Minnesota’s Colin Peterson, Nick Rayhall of West Virginia and Loretta Sanchez of California.

According to promotional materials, the caucus academy aims to provide “rigorous and balanced education programs on a range of civil justice issues for the benefit of the general public and members of the U.S. Congress and their staff.”

Thus far, however, the academy has fallen short of this goal.

During the past three months, the CCJC academy has organized a closed symposium on Capitol Hill and a lavish, invitation-only gala dinner for legislative branch staff at the impressive Reagan International Trade Center, both of which were free for attendees. Next up is a three-day getaway — no cost to attend — for senior congressional staff in colonial Williamsburg.

Scrapple News for 9/21/2011

With your host, AP Ticker.

Party before country

Always. Some days, the moral bankruptcy of the right wing is really too much to take in:

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their respective number twos sent an extraordinary letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. “It is our understanding that the Board Members of the Federal Reserve will meet later this week to consider additional monetary stimulus proposals,” they say. “We write to express our reservations about any such measures.”

It is not intrinsically illegitimate for congressional leadership to convey its preferences to the Federal Reserve. The Fed is protected from political interference, not from the opinions of politicians. But it is quite unusual for the leaders of a major political party to make a public, unified request of the chairman, and to ask that their request “be shared with each Member of the Board.”

And let’s be honest. The implication of this letter is that Ben Bernanke backs off or political interference comes next. As Bernanke knows, Boehner and McConnell have a posse. Gov. Rick Perry has threatened to “treat him pretty ugly” if he engages in further monetary easing, and Gov. Rick Perry may soon be President Rick Perry. John Taylor, the most popular monetary economist on the right, is writing op-eds saying the Fed should be stripped of its dual mandate. Rep. Ron Paul, who wants to “end the Fed,” was put in charge of the House Subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.
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Last night

I had a great time talking to Ted Rall about the eyeopening new Ron Suskind book and a bunch of other stuff.

You can listen here.

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