Votes Not Available For Public Option (For Now)

Having more time to review the proposals and the politics of health care reform since I posted yesterday I find I was overly optimistic about the prospects of a public option. There is a simple reason that it was not included in Obama’s health care proposal–there are not enough votes at present for it to pass through reconciliation. Jay Rockefeller stated that the votes are not there in the Senate, and Robert Gibbs stated this at a press briefing.

This might not mean that the public option is dead yet. Many Senators are pushing for it. Polls show that a majority of people want the public option and it might be possible to pass this through a separate bill. One problem with health care reform is that its complexity makes it easier for Republican distortions to fool people. Several polls have showed that far more people support components of health care reform when asked about them individually, including the public option, than say they support the full bill. (This is due to both people not understanding what is in the bill, and because those who oppose the bill because they do not believe it goes far enough are often lumped with conservative opponents, giving a false reading of the opposition.)

Once health care reform is passed it might be possible to put pressure on more Senators to allow individuals the option of voluntarily purchasing a public-run plan modeled on the popular and successful Medicare program. Another alternative might be to return to the idea of allowing people age 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare if they choose.

Obama’s proposal does help make up for the loss of a public option with other benefits over the original Senate plan as I noted in the previous post. The individual mandate will be watered down further. The plan lowers the maximum penalty for not having insurance to $695 which won’t be phased in until 2016. There is a hardship waiver so people can opt out of the requirement if premiums cost over 8 percent of their income. Couples earning under $18,700 would be exempt from the requirement, with tax credits being available for many who earn greater than this. The proposal also includes new controls to limit the ability of insurance companies to increase rates.

Sarah Palin Visiting Talk Show With Host Who Actually Made Jokes About Under-Aged Daughter

Jay Leno, needing some guest which might help revive The Tonight Show when he returns, is having Sarah Palin on as a guest on his second night back. This will be Palin’s first appearance on a late night talk show (and she has so far stayed away from all the Sunday morning interview shows).

I’m sure that it is no coincidence that Palin’s first appearance is on the late-night show which competes with Late Night with David Letterman. Letterman is one in the long list of people Palin is feuding with.  Last spring some right wingers launched a smear campaign against David Letterman claiming he told a joke about an under-aged daughter and Sarah Palin fell for it. She was too dumb to realize that the joke was obviously about Bristol’s pregnancy, not about a younger daughter, who by then was eighteen.

Palin also fails to realize that Letterman actually told fewer jokes about her family than the other late night comedians, and his was tamer than many of the other jokes told. While Letterman did not tell a joke about a daughter who was under the age of eighteen as was claimed in the smear campaign, other comedians did tell cruder jokes about the younger daughter, as well as jokes about Bristol before she turned eighteen. For example, it was Jay Leno who clearly realized he was joking about Bristol when only seventeen when he quipped, “Governor Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. Oh, boy, you thought John Edwards was in trouble before, now he’s really done it!”

Republicans Eat Puppies

Well, maybe we can’t prove that, but this tweet from Reid Wilson on Twitter is sure curious:

Bizarre FEC find of the day: Someone at the RNC spent $15 at a pet store on 8th SE and listed the expense as “meals.” Um…

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CBO Reports Stimulus Created Up To 2.1 Million Jobs In 4th Quarter

The CBO report shows that the stimulus did create up to 2.1 million jobs in the fourth quarter. ABC News summarized the report:

The Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus bill created up to 2.1 million jobs during the final three months of last year, according to a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

During the fourth quarter of 2009, the stimulus added “between 1.0 million and 2.1 million to the number of workers employed in the United States,” the CBO said.

The stimulus also boosted the country’s economic growth by 1.5 to 3.5 percent during the time period and lowered the nation’s unemployment rate by between 0.5 and 1.1 percentage points…

The effects of the stimulus bill are expected to increase as the year goes on, before falling off in 2011 and fading away by the end of 2012, the CBO noted. The non-partisan research office uses economic models to analyze the stimulus and estimate the program’s impact.

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