The Veterans Administration is under fire for long wait times. What’s really going on, and how much does it matter?
The NYT highlights three ways the new Republican majority will try to roll back the Affordable Care Act:
Republican lawmakers said, for example, that they would propose limiting the money and personnel available to theInternal Revenue Service, so the agency could not aggressively enforce provisions that require people to obtainhealth insurance and employers to help pay for it. Under the law, individuals and employers who flout the requirements will face tax penalties.
Moreover, Republican leaders said, they plan to use spending bills to block federal insurance regulations to which they object. And they will try to limit access to government-subsidized private health plans that include coverage ofabortion — one of the most contentious issues in Congressional debate over the legislation.
On the first issue, defunding the IRS, the truth is that the fines were always symbolic: “the penalties are low and enforcement is nonexistent.” One the second issue, the Republicans plan to carry water for the insurance industry, well, good luck with that! Even the most incompetent Democrat should be able to come up with an attack ad against any Republican who tries something like that. Finally, the abortion thing is truly messy, but abortion politics are always messy. If the Republicans want to re-start the Abortion debate, then that’s going to play out as abortion debates usually do, whether they’re debates over late-term abortion or federal funding in general, the contours of that debate are pretty clear, and the Democrats, in the long run, tend to do pretty well.
So, if this is all Boehner’s got, then, at the risk of sounding hubristic, bring it on.
Episode 435 is up. Happy Independence Day!
Running about 24 hours behind schedule this week, due to travel.
Hi folks. Very sorry, but the show had to take a back seat this week to a nasty case of British Petroleum’s Revenge (aka Montezuma’s Revenge, aka … well you get the point). Apologies for the unplanned holiday. Hope you had a great Memorial Day, and talk to you next week.
I have to admit that I’m not quite sure if I should pat myself on the back or start chewing shoe now that the Louisiana oil spill shows just how dangerous off shore drilling can be. After all, I was pretty pragmatic back when Obama announced that he’d allow expanded drilling. “Will never see the light of day,” I thought, sure that this was nothing more than a political feint.
Still, I figured that the plan was to make sure than any expanded drilling came with enough bureaucratic costs that it would surely get so bogged down in process that no oil company in its right mind would ever even conceive of a serious attempt to drill for the pathetic amount of oil actually available. And so I supported the President’s announcement – very savvy, especially following the passage of the health care legislation.
And now we have an epic disaster on our hands. The benighted Gulf coast, still recovering from Katrina, now faces an ecological disaster that will capture imaginations for a generation, the Cuyahoga fire or Valdez wreck for the Twitter set. Will it change minds? Can Palin ever again utter her drilling mantra without irony, shame, or – at least – qualification? I doubt it, or at least I hope not.
The bigger question to me now is, how does this change the debate around energy policy? If Rahm Emanuel were Karl Rove, I’d almost say he’d blown up the oil rig himself, given the timing. I’m looking forward to the debate between the Red State fisherman and shrimpers along with the Red State property developers and the Red State governors and legislators versus the Red State oil interests. Talk about a wedge issue!
I’d say it would be fun to watch, but it’s a shame that it takes a tangible disaster like this for people to reconsider misguided opinion.
When the airlines started aggressively charging for checked bags, I, like many travelers, did two things: packed more lightly and traveled with only a carry-on whenever possible. Turns out, the airlines are still making money even if I don’t check bags, since my luggage is now lighter, and they can sell the empty space in the cargo hold for freight packages.
Still, the checked bag fee is having the unintended consequence you’d expect:
In the United States, the most visible consequence of baggage fees has been the increase in more, and heavier, items in the passenger cabin, the very behavior that prompted Spirit’s new fee for carry-on policy. A survey by the Association of Flight Attendants found “excess amounts of oversized carry-on items” were causing flight attendants to be injured. Eighty percent of the flight attendants reported muscle pulls and sprains. Thirty-five percent said they were hit by falling bags.
One thing baggage fees were expected to do but have not done is to reduce the turnaround time at the gate. With so many passengers trying to bring everything they need for a trip into the passenger cabin, departures are often delayed to deal with the problem of trying to squeeze too many bags into too little space.
Also, the article doesn’t mention it, but I would imagine that this results in delays at the security checkpoint. If you’re checking bags, you’re probably checking your toiletries and causing as many plastic-bag-related delays with the TSA folk.