Monday, September 30, 2013

Restriping on Payson streets this week

Minimal delays expected
A street restriping project will start in Payson this week, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Work will take place on the following streets: Airport Road, Country Club Drive, Green Valley Parkway, Longhorn and McLane roads.

The work is part of a highway safety improvement project, which consists of restriping specified local roads and crosswalks in Payson, Globe, Sedona, Flagstaff, Cottonwood, and various locations in Apache County.

The work hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Law enforcement will be on-site to ensure crews are safe during work hours.

For more information, email or call the ADOT project hotline at 1-855-712-8530.

GCC offers Windows 8 workshop Oct. 19

Windows 8 was first launched last October to what many have called mixed reviews. The new approach with a Start Screen and tiles instead of a Start Button has caused a fair amount of confusion. Like any new operating system, it just takes some getting used to and having a better understanding of the features.

Ray Baxter, a Gila Community College computer instructor, will be conducting a three hour class explaining the basics of using Windows 8 on Saturday, October 19th from 9 am – noon. This class is geared for those who have purchased a new computer with this operating system as well as those who are contemplating buying a new Windows 8 computer during the upcoming holiday season.

Those with new laptops are encouraged to bring them to the class for some hands-on training. A $10.00 donation to Friends of Rim Country GCC, Inc. requested for attendance.  Call 928-468-8039 to register.

Four Fox lies about seniors' Obamacare coverage

By Hannah Groch-Begley

Media Matters / Research

Published: Friday 27 September 2013

Fox falsely claims Obamacare
is “sticking it to the seniors.”

Fox & Friends hosted Amy Frederick of the anti-Obamacare group 60+ Association to push a series of debunked falsehoods about how health care reform will affect seniors' insurance coverage. Contrary to Fox's claims, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides more health benefits to seniors, will strengthen Medicare, does not tax medical devices such as hearing aids and wheelchairs, and does not interfere with medical decisions seniors make with their doctors.

Fox Falsely Claims Obamacare Is "Sticking It To The Seniors"

Fox News' Elisabeth Hasselbeck: Obamacare Is "Sticking It To The Seniors." On Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that "President Obama passed Obamacare by making a lot of promises to Americans, but now some broken promises are hitting those who need health care the most: sticking it to the seniors, that's what's going on." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/26/13]

Health Care Reform Gave Millions Of Seniors More Health Benefits While Saving Them Money

Kaiser Health News: Health Care Law Provides More Medicare Preventative Care Services. According to Kaiser Health News, Medicare beneficiaries will have new benefits under the health care law, including more preventative care services and "more savings on prescription drug coverage":

Q: Does the health care law offer any new benefits for Medicare beneficiaries? 

A: Beneficiaries receive more preventative care services - including a yearly "wellness" visit, mammograms, colorectal screening, and more savings on  prescription drug coverage.  By 2020, the law will close the Medicare gap in prescription drug coverage, known as the "doughnut hole." Seniors will still be responsible for 25 percent of their prescription drug costs. [Kaiser Health News, 9/23/13, via] 

Consumer Reports: ACA Offers Free Preventive Care To Seniors. A September 2012 guide from Consumer Reports on the effects of the ACA explained that under the law, Medicare beneficiaries can receive free preventive screenings and treatments:

Seniors no longer need to put off preventive care or yearly check-ups because of cost. Since 2011, they have been eligible for free cancer screenings, wellness visits, personalized prevention plans, vaccines, flu shots, and more. [Consumer Reports, "Health Reform: Seven Things You Need to Know Now," accessed 9/26/13]

HHS Secretary Sebelius: Medicare Beneficiaries Saved More Than $6 Billion On Prescription Drugs. In a blog post on the Department of Health and Human Services website, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained that by March 2013, the ACA had already helped seniors save billions of dollars on prescription drugs:

Today, we are announcing that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 6.3 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have saved more than $6.1 billion on prescription drugs since the health care law was enacted three years ago. This is the result of the law's closing of the prescription coverage gap known as "the donut hole."

Nearly 3.5 million people with Medicare saved an average of more than $706 each on their prescriptions in 2012. [Department of Health and Human Services,,3/21/13] 

Fox Falsely Claims Health Care Reform Cuts Medicare

Fox News' Hasselbeck Claims Obama Broke His "Promise" To Strengthen Medicare For Seniors. On Fox & Friends, Hasselbeck said she and her guest, Amy Frederick of the 60+ Association, would "go through some of [Obama's] broken promises," and claimed that Obama had failed to strengthen Medicare with health care reform. Frederick then claimed the ACA was "the end of Medicare as we know it": 

HASSELBECK: He told seniors he'd strengthen Medicare.


HASSELBECK: What's happening?

FREDERICK: Well we see that the health care bill has largely been passed at the expense of senior citizens. Cutting $716 billion to pay for health care. And seniors are savvy enough, they know that you can't cut from a system and strengthen it, it's like saying let's cut $700 billion from the education system and that that's, and somehow strengthening it. So I think this is the end of Medicare as we know it.

HASSELBECK: This is a group of people who truly understand budgeting and they know that you can't take water out of a stone here. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/26/13]

ACA Strengthens Medicare And Does Not Cut Benefits

Wash. Post's Wonkblog: Medicare Cost Reductions Do Not Cut Any Benefits. The Washington Post's Wonkblog explained that the majority of cuts to Medicare "come from reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies," but made clear that "there's one area these cuts don't touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to." [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 8/14/12] "The Law Stipulates That Guaranteed Medicare Benefits Won't Be Reduced, And It Adds Some New Benefits." According to, the health care law "stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals." From As we have written many times, the law does not slash the current Medicare budget by $500 billion. Rather, that's a $500 billion reduction in the future growth of Medicare over 10 years, or about a 7 percent reduction in growth over the decade. In other words, Medicare spending would continue to rise, just not as much. The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals.

Most of those savings come from a reduction in the future growth of payments to hospitals and other providers (not physicians), and a reduction in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans to bring those payments in line with traditional Medicare. (MA plans have been paid more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.)

And it assumes they actually happen. There's good reason to think that some of those reductions won't be implemented. The law calls for cuts in the future growth of reimbursement payments to hospitals and other health care providers -- that accounts for $219 billion of the Medicare savings in the law. But Congress has consistently overridden similar scheduled cuts in payments to doctors. [, 6/28/12]
Medicare Trustees: ACA Extends Medicare Solvency By 10 Years. A May 31 article on Talking Points Memo reported that the Medicare trustees' 2013 report stated that the ACA extends Medicare's solvency through 2026, for a total of 10 extra years:
The chief of Medicare on Friday credited Obamacare for continuing to help extend the life of Medicare after a new trustees' report said it will be solvent for two years longer than expected.

The trustees' report found that Medicare's trust fund will remain fully solvent until 2026; last year's projection was 2024. The two years comes on top of eight more years of initially projected solvency for Medicare due to the Affordable Care Act.

"The Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund is projected to be solvent for longer, which is good news for beneficiaries," said Marilyn Tavenner, who runs the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are taking important steps to improve the delivery of care for seniors with Medicare." [Talking Points Memo, 5/31/13] 

Fox Falsely Claims Seniors' Wheelchairs And Hearing Aids Will Be Taxed

Fox News' Hasselbeck Hypes Claim That Health Care Is Unaffordable Because Medical Devices Will Be Taxed. On Fox & Friends, Hasselbeck suggested that health care under the new law would no longer be affordable for seniors, while Frederick claimed the law taxed "essential things as wheelchairs and hearing aids, and that is stuff that is coming right out of senior citizens' budgets": 

HASSELBECK: Affordable. This was one word that was tossed around to seniors, this is affordable. What's the truth here?

FREDERICK: It's really, it should be called the unaffordable health care act. You know, the president promised he's not gonna raise taxes on middle class and hard-working families, and really this is just another tax increase. 30 billion in new taxes on prescription drugs for seniors and really such essential things as wheelchairs and hearing aids, and that is stuff that's coming right out of senior citizens' budgets. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/26/13]

The Tax Exempts Medical Devices Bought By Public For Individual Use

IRS: Medical Device Tax Does Not Apply To Devices That Are "Generally Purchased By The General Public At Retail For Individual Use," Such As "Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses, And Hearing Aids." The IRS explained that the medical device tax was a "tax on the sale of certain medical devices by the manufacturer or importer of the device," and includes exemptions for "eyeglasses, contact lenses, and hearing aids. There is also an exemption for other devices that are of a type that are generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use (the retail exemption)." [Internal Revenue Service, 5/22/13]

IRS: Wheelchairs Fall Within Retail Exemption From Medical Device Tax. A FAQ on the medical device tax on the IRS website explains that wheelchairs are included in the retail exemption for the medical device tax:

Q17.  Do the regulations illustrate how the retail exemption facts and circumstances test should be applied?

A17. Yes. The regulations include examples that apply the facts and circumstances test to several types of medical devices. Based on the totality of the circumstances presented in the examples, the examples conclude that non-sterile absorbent tipped applicators, adhesive bandages, snake bite suction kits, denture adhesives, mechanical and powered wheelchairs, portable oxygen concentrators, and therapeutic AC powered adjustable home use beds are devices that fall within the retail exemption. Based on the totality of the circumstances presented in the examples, the examples also conclude that mobile x-ray systems, nonabsorbable silk sutures, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging systems are not devices that fall within the retail exemption. [Internal Revenue Service, 5/22/13]

Fox Falsely Claims Bureaucrats Will Make Seniors' Medical Decisions

Fox News' Hasselbeck Gives Guest Platform To Claim That "Bureaucrats" Will Come Between Seniors And Their Doctors. On Fox & Friends, Hasselbeck claimed that seniors were falsely promised "no one would come between their doctor, and their health": 

HASSELBECK: And now one thing I know that's important to seniors is that -- their relationship with their doctor. And it was promised that they could have -- no one was going to come between their doctor, and their health. What's the truth here?

FREDERICK: And that's something that's so important to senior citizens. The health care bill, it creates something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, it's also known as IPAB, which is essentially 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who are now -- their sole purpose is to decide what Medicare will or will not cover. So that relationship between you and your doctor, where they would decide what treatment was best for you, will now have a bureaucrat in between to decide is it something that they're going to cover or not. [Fox News,Fox & Friends, 9/26/13]

Independent Board Cannot Make Medical Decisions For Individuals
CBPP: Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) Is An "Expert Body" With 15 Health Care Experts Appointed By The President And Confirmed By the Senate. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: 

The Independent Payment Advisory Board is an expert body charged with developing and submitting proposals to slow the growth of Medicare and private health care spending and improve the quality of care. The President nominates the board's 15 members, who require Senate confirmation, for staggered six-year terms.  The board must include physicians and other health professionals, experts in health finance, health services researchers, employers, and representatives of consumers and the elderly.  To prevent control by special interests, health care providers may not constitute a majority of the board's membership. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/12] 

Health Care Law Explicitly States That IPAB Cannot Make "Any Recommendation To Ration Health Care." The text of the ACA confirms that IPAB cannot make "any recommendation to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria": 

The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost- sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria. [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 8/13/13,]

PolitiFact: IPAB "Wouldn't Make Any Health Care Decisions For Individual Americans." A PolitiFact analysis of the claim that IPAB would make the final decision on available treatments found that IPAB would make broad policy decisions, not individual recommendations. It also noted that IPAB is "forbidden from submitting 'any recommendation to ration health care'": 

The health care law directs a new national board -- with 15 members who are political appointees -- to identify Medicare savings. It's forbidden from submitting "any recommendation to ration health care," as Section 3403 of the health care law states. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, coinsurance or co-payments. The IPAB also cannot change who is eligible for Medicare, restrict benefits or make recommendations that would raise revenue.

What it can do is reduce how much the government pays health care providers for services, reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of re-admissions or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. Some argue that because the IPAB can reduce the money a doctor receives, this could lead to an indirect form of rationing.

But the board wouldn't make any health care decisions for individual Americans. Instead, as PolitiFact Georgia reported, it would make broad policy decisions that affect Medicare's overall cost. [PolitiFact, 10/4/12]

40,000 AZ workers impacted by govt. shutdown

From left, Moody’s Analytics economist Mark Zandi, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities economist Chad Stone and Allan Meltzer, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of political economy testify to a Senate committee on the negative economic impact of the political uncertainty on the U.S. budget. (Cronkite News Service photo by Brandon Brown)

Cronkite News Service 

WASHINGTON – With Congress at an apparent budget impasse, a looming government shutdown could send thousands of federal workers in Arizona home this week and pull millions of dollars from the state’s economy in the process. 

It’s not clear how many of the more than 40,000 federal workers in the state would be affected – or even if there will be a shutdown at all before the Tuesday deadline for a budget deal.

But economists said any shutdown would be felt not just by federal workers but by other businesses and individuals in the state as well.

“If you follow the money, it ends up in the pockets of private individuals,” said Dennis Hoffman, an economics professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Hoffman said that government worker salaries account for $5 billion to $6 billion of the $65 billion the federal government spends in Arizona in a year. Most of the money goes to contractors in the state, he said.

Not all that money is at risk. Most federal employees in Arizona work for the military, Veteran Affairs or Customs and Border Protection, agencies that could be protected from furlough the event of a shutdown.

But Hoffman said that, depending on the length of a shutdown, other federal payments could start being delayed.

The last time Congress and the White House shut the government down because they failed to reach a budget deal was for three weeks, from December 1995 to January 1996.

A Congressional Research Service report after that shutdown outlined several effects, including more than 200,000 passport applications that went unprocessed and the loss of $14.2 million a day in tourism revenues to communities near shuttered national parks.

Not all government workers were put on furlough then, but those who did continue to work did not get paychecks until after the government was back up and running.

If there is a shutdown this week, as before, each government agency would determine which employees would continue working.

A shutdown could occur if Congress fails to pass a budget – or a “continuing resolution” that would keep spending going at previous levels – by Tuesday, the first day of fiscal year 2014.

But Congress and the White House are locked in a partisan battle over the budget. The House last week, largely on party lines, approved a continuing resolution that funds government through Dec. 15, but strips out funding for health care reform that was scheduled to kick in Oct. 1.

President Barack Obama has said he will not sign a bill that guts health care reform – better known as “Obamacare” – and Senate Democrats have sided with him. A Senate vote on a budget bill restored Obamacare funding.

In a Senate Budget Committee hearing last week, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., accused Tea Party Republicans of holding the nation’s economy hostage in their zeal to defund Obamacare.

But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who said that there are too many taxes and regulations in the country now, noted that the country has survived government shutdowns in the past.

A panel of economists told the committee, however, that even the possibility of a shutdown can have a negative effect on the economy.

“Political uncertainty has been a significant weight on the economic recovery,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, testified at the hearing.

Zandi said that debate over the federal budget, the debt ceiling and continuing policy gridlock is a strain on the national economy, keeping monthly hiring rates 20 percent lower than they should be in a healthy economy.

Zandi also said the political situation keeps entrepreneurs from starting companies. “The political uncertainty is key to the lack of hiring and the unwillingness for businesses to take a risk,” he said. 

Allan Meltzer, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told the committee that investments are critical to a strong economy, but budget uncertainty keeps people from investing. A long-term budget plan would help stabilize the economy, he testified.

Hoffman said that those people who are not worried about a shutdown, believing that the vital services will keep running, are ignoring the loss of money from the state economy. And they are misinterpreting “vital” services, he said.

“Why are we funding nonvital services anyway?” he asked. “All government work benefits someone, somewhere, somehow.”

Obama plots to force Americans to live longer

The Borowitz Report

September 27, 2013

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—In a blockbuster documentary to be broadcast tonight, the Fox News Channel alleges that Obamacare is “little more than a thinly veiled scheme to force Americans to live longer.”
The documentary, called “The Ugly Truth About Obamacare,” claims that President Obama “is cynically using the health-care law to achieve his true objective: raising the life expectancy of Americans without their consent.” 
“In America, how long you live has always been your own business,” says the documentary’s narrator, Sean Hannity. “Under Obamacare, though, it’s the government’s business—a government that wants you to live as long as humanly possible.” 
The documentary lays out a nightmare scenario of Americans being saddled with sky-high life expectancies for years to come. 
In perhaps the most chilling prediction of the documentary, Mr. Hannity warns, “If Obamacare goes into effect, Americans will be forced to live as long as people in Finland, Denmark, and other socialist countries.” 
Speaking with reporters today, Mr. Hannity said he hoped that the documentary would be a “wake-up call about the secret agenda behind Obamacare.” 
“President Obama is playing God with American lives,” Mr. Hannity said. “And if he stubbornly insists on making those lives longer, that could be grounds for impeachment.”

Photograph by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.

Friday, September 27, 2013

In case you're not yet angry at Republicans...


By Dave Johnson
Filibusters, Real And Imagined: Real Is Better
People know that Sen. Cruz talked in opposition to the government helping uninsured people get health care.

People know that Sen. Davis talked in opposition to a bill that would close most of Texas’ abortion providers.

People know that Sen. Paul talked to demand answers on the policies surrounding the use of drones to kill Americans ...

Almost no one knows Republicans filibustered a bill to stop giving tax breaks to companies to move jobs out of the country.

Almost no one knows Republicans filibustered a bill to stop giving tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies ... 

The current form of filibuster in the U.S. Senate actually keeps people from knowing what is going on. It is silent, invisible, unaccountable ... 

People have no idea whatsoever that there have been almost 400 filibusters in recent years, and if they did know they’d be a lot angrier at Republicans than they already are.

Bipartisan deal reached to shut down Ted Cruz

The Borowitz Report

    September 25, 2013

    boro-cruz-speech.jpg WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In what is being hailed as a rare example of bipartisan co√∂peration, Senate Democrats and Republicans came together today on a near-unanimous vote to defund Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
    The measure, which shuts down all nonessential functions of Sen. Cruz, passed by a margin of ninety-nine to one. 
    As the final vote was announced this morning, Sen. Cruz’s microphone was unplugged and the Senate exploded with cheers on both sides of the aisle. 
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said that the vote to defund the Texas senator showed that bipartisan co√∂peration is possible even in the usually rancorous Senate: “Every now and then the two parties can reach across the aisle and find something that we both despise with all our might.” 
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) acknowledged that the budget impact of defunding Sen. Cruz would be minimal, but added, “This was never about money. We got Ted Cruz to stop talking, and you can’t put a price tag on that.”

    Photograph: CSPAN/AP.

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    AZ Obamacare premiums lower than expected

    A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in Arizona, consumers will see increased competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace, leading to new and affordable choices for consumers.

    According to the report, Arizona consumers will be able to choose from an average of 106 health plans in the Marketplace.  Nationally, the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least 2 different health insurance companies - usually more.  Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected – with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower than expected premiums – before taking into account financial assistance. 

    “We are excited to see that rates in the Arizona Marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” said Secretary Sebelius. “In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable.”

    In less than a week, the new Marketplace will be open for business where millions of Americans will be able to shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place.  Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side based on pricing, quality and benefits.  No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition.  October 1 marks the beginning of a six-month long open enrollment period that runs through March 2014.  Coverage begins as early as January 1, or in as little as 100 days from today.

    Today’s report (see attachment) finds that individuals in Arizona will have an average of 106 qualified health plan choices.  Plans in the Marketplace will be categorized as either “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze.”  Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a “catastrophic” plan, increasing their number of choices.  

    In Arizona, the average premium for the lowest-cost silver plan will be $248 and for the lowest cost bronze plan it will be $214. The average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates.  About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the Marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections.  And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.

    Premium and plan options are broken down by state where information is available. For example, the report shows that a 27-year old living in Arizona who makes $25,000 per year will pay $120 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $145 per month for the second lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits.  For a family of four in Arizona with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $192 per month.

    In Phoenix, a 27-year old who makes $25,000 per year will pay $123 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $145 per month for the second lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits.  For a family of four in Phoenix with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $202 per month.  And Phoenix consumers will be able to choose from among 111 qualified health plans.  

    The majority (around 6 out of 10) of the individuals who are uninsured today will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month in the Marketplace taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.

    Consumers can get help finding Marketplace coverage through a number of different resources.  They can get more information through, or   They can participate in an online web chat, or call 1-800-318-2596 toll free (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to speak with a trained customer service representative with translation services available in 150 languages.  There will also be people in local communities who can provide in-person help with coverage choices.  Those will include Navigators and other assisters, community health centers across the country, local libraries, and hundreds of Champions for Coverage that have signed up to help consumers learn about their options.

    To become a Champion for Coverage, visit:

    Why won't Bill O'Reilly debate me?

    Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
    Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

    By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
    24 September 13

    ill O'Reilly slammed me on his Fox News show last night for mentioning, in a New York Times op-ed last weekend, that he has called me a Communist. In that op-ed I referred to his Communist name-calling as an example of the kind of ad hominem incivility that now passes for political debate in America - of which O'Reilly is a part.

    O'Reilly took umbrage that I would even bring it up. Apparently he thinks it's perfectly fine to call me names but offensive for me to criticize him for doing so.

    Yet O'Reilly refuses to have me on his show to debate any of this - either his initial charge I'm a Communist, or his indignation that I mentioned it in last weekend's op-ed. When he first claimed I was a Communist I challenged him to a debate - a civil debate. He refused. He still refuses. He won't even debate the topic of my op-ed - the increasing shrillness and divisiveness of Fox News and other media outlets, which are only adding to the vitriol of American politics.

    Why won't O'Reilly debate me? What's he afraid of?

    Please email him and tell him that instead of talking about me he should have the courage and decency to talk with me directly. His email address is: 

    See Also: Robert Reich | American Bile

    Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    GOP warns Iranian President not to shake hands

    The Borowitz Report

      September 24, 2013 
       Posted by

      WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republican leaders warned the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that they would frown on his shaking hands with President Obama at the United Nations today, saying that any embrace of Obama would signal that Iran was not serious about abandoning extremism.

      “We welcome President Rouhani’s moderate rhetoric,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken.). “But those words are rendered hollow if he is willing to shake the hand of a notorious extremist.”

      “This is a man who has enslaved his people, saddling them with a health-care law not of their choosing,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). “The President of Iran should think twice before shaking hands with a man like that.”

      House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sounded a warning of his own: “If the President of Iran wants to give the world the impression that he cares about human rights, he should be careful about cozying up to a despot who has continually tried to take away his people’s assault rifles.”

      “We encourage Mr. Rouhani’s wish that Iran join the community of civilized nations,” added House Speaker John Boehner, “but first he must renounce Barack Obama.”

      Obamacare: It’s better than you think

      Dean Baker

      In just one week the main part of Obamacare will begin to kick in. This is the state level exchanges that will allow the uninsured to be covered. Beginning on October 1, people will be able to sign up to get insurance in their state regardless of their health.

      Most people signing up on the exchanges will qualify for subsidies based on their income and family size. This means that the cost of insurance will be less than the advertised price.

      This is good news. It means that tens of millions of people who are uninsured now will likely be insured in the next year or two as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However this is actually the less important aspect of the program. The more important part is that those of us who now have insurance will have real health care insurance for the first time.

      Most of the insured get covered through their job. This creates an obvious problem. If they develop a chronic illness, they may be unable to keep their job. Once they are no longer employed, workers will be left trying to buy insurance in the individual market.

      Insurers don’t want to insure people who are sick. If a person with a chronic health condition applies for insurance in the individual market, they would be facing premiums of tens of thousands of dollars a year, making it unaffordable for all but the very wealthy.

      This situation will end with the start of the exchanges. Workers who lose their job because of an illness will still be able to find affordable insurance. This will provide a huge element of security that is currently lacking. In effect, most workers will have true health insurance for the first time.

      Workers of all ages will benefit from this transformation of the insurance market, but it will be especially important for older workers in poor health. There are a large number of older workers who struggle to stay employed despite bad health, because this is the only way that they will be able to afford insurance until they are old enough to qualify for Medicare.

      Many of these people will now find insurance to be affordable with the subsidies on the exchanges even if they do not work. Some critics of Obamacare have argued that it will undermine incentives to work. In the case of older workers in poor health they are right, and this will be good.

      There is much real basis for criticism of the ACA. Private insurers are the sole providers of insurance. Not only are we not getting universal Medicare, we did not even get a public option, the right to purchase a Medicare-type plan that would compete with private insurers.

      The drug companies and medical equipment suppliers both end up as winners under Obamacare. They will be able to secure even greater profits from their government-provided patent monopolies since the ACA does little to rein in costs.

      As a result, we will still be paying close to twice as much for drugs and medical devices as people in other wealthy countries. This is a guaranteed recipe for bad health care since the enormous profits provided by these patent monopolies give drug companies an incentive to push their drugs even when they may be harmful.

      And we will still be paying twice as much for our doctors as people in other wealthy countries. These failures on cost controls will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the cost of health care each year.

      The fact that so many states refused to go along with the expansion of Medicaid will leave millions of working poor uncovered. Undocumented workers were explicitly prohibited from being covered through the exchanges. And the plan will effectively penalize many workers who get insurance through union-sponsored plans, since they will not be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges.

      These are serious complaints about the inadequacy of Obamacare that will have to be addressed in the years ahead. But none of these problems changes the fact that the ACA is an enormous step forward. Most of the country will now have real security in care system.

      The above was originally published at Truthout