Tuesday Morning Open Thread

The 11 Show, starring me, today at 11. Topics for today: The BCS and the travesty that is Northern Illinois' inclusion, Mayor Hillary?, the fiscal cliff, and why being a "unique body" with "unlimited debate" is not a good thing for the Senate.

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Open Thread.

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    And a good joke from the program (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:10:03 AM EST
    That followed BTD:  Dick Armey is taking his entire dick army and going back to Texas.

    I loved (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Amiss on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:42:02 PM EST
    His resignation letter to the Koch brothers as well. A good story  about his resignation is posted on "Mother Jones" along with tthe letter.

    Also Erskine Bowles demanding they remove his name from the bill known as Bowwles/Simpson.


    According to many sources (none / 0) (#58)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:19:06 PM EST
    He'll get paid $400,000 per year for the next twenty years. I'd resign in a heartbeat for that parachute.

    One of the CEO's (none / 0) (#52)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:02:03 PM EST
    that Obama recently met with told him that if he really, really really really, wanted to show he was serious in finding a bipartisan solution to the looming fiscal cliff dilemma he could do no better than appoint Armey as his next Sec. of the Treasury to replace Geithner.

    p.s. I was going to make a crack that, compared to Geithner, he might actually be an improvement; but I'll just leave it at that.


    Did that CEO also suggest... (none / 0) (#62)
    by unitron on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:12:52 PM EST
    ...John Bolton for Secretary of State and Michelle Bachmann for Defense?

    I know, right? (none / 0) (#64)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:26:07 PM EST
    BTW it was Cain, not Bachmann; women only get one shot.

    Holy Christ (none / 0) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:00:21 AM EST
    Bachmann for Defense?  I have said that I don't believe an expert is needed but the person can't be nuts.  They can't be even more nucking futs than Donald Rumsfeld.  They must possess good leadership and critical thinking skills.

    A lengthy (none / 0) (#1)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:10:05 AM EST
    but interesting read from mostly Bill Clinton era officials now at the Center for American Progress on their plan titled "Reforming Our Tax System, Reducing Our Deficit"

    I have to go over the report in more (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:42:58 AM EST
    detail, but this did raise at leat one of my eyebrows:

    We would like to acknowledge the critical support of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. This plan was based, in part, on work prepared for the Peterson Foundation's Solutions Initiative.

    CAP can claim all the independence it wants, but the involvement of Pete Peterson in any way, shape or form, is troubling.

    And I am not a Bob Rubin or Larry Summers fan, either.


    The English language (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 12:16:22 PM EST
    just isn't what it use to be.

    The Center for American Progress recently released a plan entitled the "Senior Protection Plan,"25 which finds $385 billion in additional savings from federal health care programs, mainly from Medicare. These savings do not come from slashing benefits or shifting the cost burden onto senior citizens, families, or states

    Wow, that sounds great. No shifting costs to senior citizens. Hmm... in the details of cost savings....

    * Increasing premiums for high-income Medicare beneficiaries. High-income beneficiaries pay higher premiums under current law. But the share of beneficiaries who pay higher premiums should be expanded and the higher premium amounts should be increased by 15 percent.

    Yeah, I saw that, too, and wondered (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 12:39:22 PM EST
    how to reconcile those statements.  Because, as I read that, they think people who make less than the current floor for higher premiums should be subject not just to the existing higher premium, but the premium amount should be raised 15% so they can pay even more.  

    I think it's time we acknowledged that just because something comes with the imprimatur of the Center for American Progress does not mean it's at all in line with what I think of as progressive policy.

    What continues to bug me is that instead of having a real discussion about fiscal and monetary policy, and whether or not this country places any value on the old, the poor and the sick, the starting point for what we are currently in the middle of with all this fiscal cliff hysteria has already been conceded: we have a debt/deficit/entitlement problem that has to be solved.

    So, whether or not that's true - and I don't think it is - we are doomed to get policy that lines up with that assumption.  

    When you manufacture a problem in order to apply the solutions you're after, all that remains is the sales job, and that's what we're being subjected to now.

    All I can say is "Caveat Emptor."


    Were you aware of this provision in ACA? (none / 0) (#19)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:01:09 PM EST
    New information for me.

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 modified current law related to the Part B income-related premium.6 The law imposed a freeze on the income thresholds that were in place in 2010 from 2011 through 2019, rather than allowing the thresholds to rise with inflation. This provision will increase the number and share of beneficiaries who will pay the higher income-related Part B premium over these years.7 In 2020 and subsequent years, the income thresholds will once again be indexed to inflation as if they had not been frozen between 2011 and 2019. PDF

    Obama's FY 2013 permanently removes indexing the threshold to inflation permanently.


    Honestly, it's like trying to make one's (none / 0) (#37)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:59:54 PM EST
    way through a mine field - and what concerns me is that no one really has any idea how this is all going to work in practice.

    And I still don't understand why one's access to and ability to afford health care should be so dependent on where one lives.


    Continuing with that brand of English, (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:50:03 PM EST
    increasing premiums for Medicare Part B, is increasing revenues,  not cuts.  Hence, this is part of the balanced approach and the strengthening of Medicare in accord with the "senior protection plan", not to be confused with the witness protection program which is covered under another section.

    The cavalier approach of  many progressives to changing the social insurance nature of Medicare by linkage of premium levels to beneficiaries' incomes is surprising. The Medicare payroll tax, which does not have a cap, was the intended way to finance the program.  

    The present means-testing of Medicare was one of those good Republican ideas slipped into the Medicare Modernization Act  of 2003 which started Medicare Part D, and means-testing was started for the first time in Medicare's history in 2007.   It is high on Senator McConnell's (R.KY) negotiating list, not so much, in my view, for the revenues generated (which is not immense), but for the undermining of the program, eroding public support and threatening universal attractiveness.  


    Additional means testing in Obama's (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 04:23:23 PM EST
    FY 2013 budget and in his initial "fiscal cliff" offer to Boehner.

    Starting in 2017, the proposal would increase income-related premiums in section B (which covers doctors visits and similar services) and D (which covers prescription drugs) by 15 percent. Those higher premiums currently are required of taxpayers with income over $85,000 ($170,000 for couples filing joint returns). Obama proposes keeping the income threshold stable (not adjusting for inflation) until such time when 25 percent of beneficiaries pay an income-related premium.......

    Kaiser Foundation provides details on the real world effects of these changes:

    ...it is estimated that by 2035, just over one-quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part B (20.2 million beneficiaries) will be required to pay the income-related Part B premium.....
    The income thresholds for the higher-income Part B and D premiums in 2035 are equivalent to about $47,000 for individuals and $94,000 for couples in today's inflation-adjusted dollars. In other words, if the proposal to have 25 percent of beneficiaries pay the income-related premium was implemented in 2012, rather than reached gradually by holding the income thresholds constant over time, beneficiaries with incomes at or above $47,000 for individuals and $94,000 for couples would be paying higher income-related Medicare premiums this year.

    Under these proposals, beneficiaries subject to the income-related premium would be required to pay a larger share of the Part B and D premiums than they do under current law. Effective in 2017, the proposals would increase the 35 percent level to 40.25 percent, the 50 percent level to 57.5 percent, the 65 percent level to 74.75 percent, and the 80 percent level to 90 percent PDF

    Raising resources via Medicare (none / 0) (#46)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:04:46 PM EST
    I'll tread gently here because, I think, it is important to hold firm insofar as alterations to Medicare.  IF--and that is a big "if" premised only on speculative deductions from years worth of opinions on purported costs as the program enlarges with Babyboomers--documentation in future establishes that additional funding will be needed to sustain the program at it's current level, then looking at the highest level of those enrolled in Medicare for premium increase for the supplementals (e.g., Part D) makes some sense. In a similar way as tax increases for the top 2 percent, I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of retired Medicare recipients have "income" over the $85,000 mentioned in your comment...and, if the $$$ level would change, is the top 10 percent acceptable, or what level would be?

    There have been indications for years from segments of society beyond the usual politicians that additional revenue would have to come from somewhere.  Mostly, I've disregarded those yelps as coming from the right or from those who never supported the program in any event.  But, I have to say--to myself, mostly--"we need to eventually do the math." Since mathematics was never my best subject...I really don't know.  I can say this (to myself, for openers):  Christinep, are you just wanting to hold the line or do you have math on your side in some, as yet, unexplained way?


    If the real concern was the solvency and viability (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:26:57 PM EST
    of Medicare into the future, we would be talking about enrolling younger, healthier people instead of talking about raising the eligibility age and premiums.

    Medicare does a pretty decent job of controlling costs without denying people needed care, unlike for-profit insurance companies. Sure, let's look for places to save. My first suggestion? Let Medicare negotiate the price of drugs under Part D. That'll save a nice bit of change.

    The reason I object to just about all the present proposals for "strengthening" Medicare by lowering its costs is that these proposals don't lower the costs. They simply transfer that cost from the Medicare program to seniors and the disabled.

    These discussions, from both sides of the aisle, have nothing to do with strengthening Medicare and everything to do with destroying the safety net.


    I believe (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:53:12 PM EST
    that President Obama has included the negotiating of drugs as part of his opening offer to Republicans in the current Fiscal Cliff situation. He claims it will reduce costs by approximately 400 Billion over ten years.

    I'll try to find, and post,the link.


    Agree that a necessary improvement (none / 0) (#67)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:48:49 PM EST
    involves expansion...would love to see a broadening, first by age to 50 or so, and then to all.  As others have indicated, the convergence of Medicare & ACA may be the key that opens the doors we've been trying to get through.

    I think a lot of the criticism (none / 0) (#71)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:06:48 PM EST
    Of Obama's handling of the ACA negotiations could be mitigated somewhat by his goal being different (less than) the most Progressive advocates desires. Yes, getting "something" done could be deemed very important if, in fact, it really does establish a framework for a much better, and more inclusive, program going forward. Obama may have been more interested in getting an "improvable," while currently flawed, health care system. If it turns out that way, he'll be a hero.  

    A work in progress......we'll see.


    Exactly. (none / 0) (#72)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:19:49 PM EST
    The majority of the questions you posed (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:38:30 PM EST
    were answered in my comment. But let me restate the information for you

    The income thresholds for the higher-income Part B and D premiums in 2035 are equivalent to about $47,000 for individuals and $94,000 for couples.

    Freezing the threshold at the current level was designed to ensure that 25% of all Medicare recipients will have to pay the income related higher premiums as the result of means testing. The math on that is 20.2 million beneficiaries.

    25% is considerably higher than 2%. An increase of 15% is considerably higher than 4%.

    No one has prepaid their taxes for 40 years. Requiring someone who has paid for that length of time to pay 90% of the premium is a sure fire way to go to a voucher system that will seriously hurt poorer seniors.



    More data (none / 0) (#74)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:23:07 AM EST
    If the income thresholds are frozen as Obama proposes in his FY 2013 budget, 20.2 million would have to pay the higher income related premiums vs 7 million if the income threshold was adjusted for inflation. 14.2 million more seniors, many of whom have moderate incomes, would have to pay the higher premiums. Once a substantial number middle class people are receiving reduced value from their 40 plus years of prepaying premiums, it will go from being considered a social insurance program to being viewed as welfare.

    ...if the income thresholds are frozen over a longer period of time, then a growing share of elderly and disabled people who would not be considered high income by today's standards would face higher premiums, and as the income-related premium amounts increase over time, they would consume a larger share of income. In addition, there is some possibility that such proposals could lead some higher-income beneficiaries to drop out of Medicare Part B and instead self-insure, which could result in higher premiums for all others who remain on Medicare if the dropout group is large and relatively healthy.

    Requiring higher-income beneficiaries to pay more might seem to be a reasonable approach to addressing fiscal concerns about Medicare. Yet given the relatively low incomes of most people on Medicare23, significant savings from such proposals are only possible by going relatively far down the income scale to reach a sizeable share of beneficiaries - at which point the affordability of these additional costs could be called into question.

    And what do you bet that most people (none / 0) (#76)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:46:32 AM EST
    would think that freezing the income levels is a good thing?  I'm sure most people don't realize that not adjusting incomes for inflation is the same thing as lowering the levels.

    If it is a bipartisan agreement (none / 0) (#79)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:06:33 AM EST
    that Obama and the Republicans both like, what could possibly be wrong with the idea. :o(

    Not to dispute your piece on FY 2013 Budget (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 09:51:49 AM EST
    (I haven't done enough research on it), but I think your concerns on impact thru 2019 are a little overstated.


    Actually, only 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are paying the basic rate. The rest -- 73 percent -- are paying less under a "hold harmless" provision triggered by the lack of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security this year or last year. Most are still paying $96.40.

    Those impacted by the income-related premuim change would be in the 27 percent, and then, only if they were above certain income levels.

    Currently, about the top 5 percent of seniors pay an "income-related premium" that was enacted as part of the same 2003 law that created the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Upper-income seniors have been paying more than the standard premium since 2007. Currently those earning between $85,000 and $107,000 for individuals (between $170,000 and $214,000 for couples) pay a total of $161.50. The amounts grow larger for higher-income groups, reaching $369.10 per month for seniors making more than $214,000 (or $428,000 for couples).

    You might want to read my comments once (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:55:45 AM EST
    again. The information per your link is based on the president's budget for fiscal year 2012 that does not contain the increase and changes that are reflected in Obama's FY 2013 budget.

    And when we contacted Medicare's Office of the Actuary, we were given these projections -- the most recent available -- which are current as of the president's budget for fiscal year 2012 issued in mid-February: (your link)

    The data I quoted from the Kaiser Foundation reflects the affect the changes to Medare in Obama's FY 2013 will have both near term and beyond to 2035. You are comparing apples to oranges. Since you are using data that does not reflect the changes, I would suggest you are ignoring how the changes in Obama's FY budget would affect Medicare.

    Quoting current premiums is misleading since they do not reflect 15% increase contained in Obama's FY 2013. Your information also ignores the cumulative effect of freezing the threshold of income levels until 25% of the Medicare beneficiaries are required to pay the means tested premiums.

    You might have an argument why the changes that Obama's is requesting in his FY 2013 are a good thing but using data that doesn't reflect those changes is not IMO a convincing argument.


    Any feedback from AARP on this 2013 proposal? (none / 0) (#82)
    by christinep on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:29:22 PM EST
    Not a specific statement on the (none / 0) (#83)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 02:56:19 PM EST
    budget particulars, but here's AARP's statement on the 2013 premium increase:

    "While AARP is pleased that the vast majority of people in Medicare will see a lower than projected increase in their Part B premiums, health care costs continue to outpace general inflation, which was 1.7 percent this year. As a result, the Medicare Part B premium, which increased 5 percent, will eat up nearly 25 percent of the monthly Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

    "AARP has opposed deficit reduction proposals that would reduce Social Security benefits by adopting the Chained Consumer Price Index (CCPI). The COLA is already based on an index that under-reports rapidly increasing health care costs and today's announcement of a $5 premium increase is further proof that these costs are being disproportionately felt by seniors.

    "With millions of America's seniors struggling with higher expenses - particularly higher health care costs - we need to do more to lower costs across the health care system and avoid further cost-shifting to seniors."

    I would imagine, based on this statement, that they would not be in favor of the income level freeze or the proposed 15% increases.


    My preliminary search could not find a statement (none / 0) (#85)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 03:24:06 PM EST
    from AARP that specifically referenced Obama's 2013 FY budget proposal.

    Here is their stated position as of November 30, 2012 on two of the proposals in his budget:

    AARP's stance on health programs rules out most of the deficit-reduction proposals favored by Republicans, including shifting recipients to private insurance coverage and a slow increase in the Medicare eligibility age to 67 years old from 65. It also puts off limits changes that have won limited support from some Democrats, such as increased Medicare payments by higher-income enrollees, or restrictions on private supplemental Medicare plans that cover more of a policyholder's costs. link

    Here are statements from Obama and AARP regarding means testing from 2011.

    Obama and AARP's position on means testing in 2011.

    During a Friday morning news conference, Obama was asked whether he was open to considering "means testing," which would require wealthier seniors to pay more for Medicare. He said that was one of several ideas on the table to make the Medicare program more sustainable.

    He said he could "envision a situation where for somebody in my position, having to pay a little bit more on premiums, or co-pays, or things like that would be appropriate. And, again, that could make a difference."

    "Modest modifications can save you trillions of dollars," he said.

    Not sure that I agree that paying 90% of the total premium cost after contributing to the system for 40 plus years is a modest modification.

    AARP immediately fired off a press release criticising the president for endorsing means testing.

    "Medicare is not a welfare program," said AARP Senior Vice President Joyce Rogers. "Seniors pay into Medicare their entire working lives based on the promise that they'll have secure health coverage when they retire. Applying a means test for their earned benefits would erode the popular support that has sustained these programs for years and made them so effective in helping older households."

    Earlier statements on means testing:

    Seniors' advocacy groups, including AARP, based in Washington, are staunchly opposed. They argue that means testing won't save the government much money, and that it undermines the everyone-in-the-same-boat nature of the program.

    "The great thing about Medicare," says Deane Beebe, a spokeswoman for the Medicare Rights Center, an advocacy group based in New York, "is that everybody is in it together." link

    Assuming it is passed (none / 0) (#84)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 02:57:28 PM EST
    i.e. Obama's FY 2013 vs. the ACA which is actually law.

    Again, not disputing your points about the proposals, merely the sky is falling tone of your comments. The larger point about changes only impacting certain beneficiaries remains.

    You are also talking about 15% premium increases as though all benes would pay that.  The vast majority would not.

    Not saying these aren't valid points, just the scope isn't as broad as your posts imply.


    Once again please read my comments (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:35:52 PM EST
    The data that I have been quoting was prepared by the Kaiser Foundation and is an actual analysis of Obama's FY 2013 budget. It is using the criteria specific to that budget. Each of my comments have direct quotes from that analysis that are accompanied by links. Per the Kaiser Foundation,  Obama's proposal raises the premiums for increase income-related premiums in section B (which covers doctors visits and similar services) and D (which covers prescription drugs) by 15 percent.

    Per the Kaiser Foundations review of the FY 2013 budget, Obama proposes keeping the income threshold stable (not adjusting for inflation) until one in four beneficiaries are paying extra premiums. One in four equals 25% the number I referenced in most of my comments. Their actual analysis estimates that 25.8% or 20.2 million senior would eventually pay the increased income related premiums.

    The larger point which you chose to ignore

    By design, these proposals would gradually increase the number and share of Medicare beneficiaries paying an income-related premium.

    If you chose to interpret the direct quotes from a highly respected Foundation as a "sky is falling tone," you might want to ask yourself why you feel that way. If you disagree with my opinion, shared by most senior organizations, that

    "Seniors pay into Medicare their entire working lives based on the promise that they'll have secure health coverage when they retire. Applying a means test for their earned benefits would erode the popular support that has sustained these programs for years and made them so effective in helping older households."

    please state your argument as to why you disagree.


    We are talking past each other (none / 0) (#87)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:29:42 PM EST
    Do you disagree that 25% is less than 75%?

    Do you disagree that the vast majority would not be impacted by premium increases considering most would see an offsetting COLA increase under SSI?

    To your question specifically, I don't see anything wrong w/asking those who can pay more to pay more. Particularly when a primary goal is to keep costs low for those that can't.

    Of course, I'd like to see a total restructuring of spending so that we always take care of those in need, but sadly the majority of our populace isn't prepared to spend their money in that manner.


    Class, please pay attention for a moment (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by NYShooter on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 09:19:36 PM EST
    "Of course, I'd like to see a total restructuring of spending so that we always take care of those in need, but sadly the majority of our populace isn't prepared to spend their money in that manner."......(Bold mine)

    "Death Tax, Death Panels, Tax & Spend Liberals, Democrat Party......."

    See what I'm doing here? I'm talking "past" you. Or, rather, I'm illustrating how the Disingenuous Party (Republicans, if you needed a hint) attempts to win their positions by discombobulating the English language.

    We don't need "...a total restructuring of spending." We need an intelligent method of investing in our citizens, and their futures, by funding critically needed services; services which the entire rest of the civilized world has unanimously determined to be its "Right" as enlightened, progressive, and intelligent humans.

    See how that sounds a little different?


    WTF?! (none / 0) (#91)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:07:27 PM EST

    FWIW, I was not (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by NYShooter on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:17:11 PM EST
    accusing you of being a (gasp!) Republican, simply of borrowing one of their techniques, namely using words to give them an onerous meaning, rather than what the speaker/author meant.

    If you withdraw money from your bank account is the bank "spending" its money on you?


    Gotcha (none / 0) (#94)
    by vicndabx on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 12:11:09 AM EST
    Do you agree that 25.8% is a large (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:05:05 PM EST
    increase over the current 2.4%? Do you agree that 20.2 million is larger than the current 2.4 million who now are means tested.  

    You are advocating turning a social insurance program into a welfare program. You are recommending that the middle class as well as the  rich assume a large percent of the cost of their insurance premiums after they have paid into the system for most of their adult lives. You have stated that the majority of our populace wouldn't be willing to support a complete restructuring of spending. Why do you think the middle class and the rich would be willing to support a complete restructuring of Medicare into a system where they get little return on their long term investment in order to pay for people who have contributed much less.


    No (none / 0) (#93)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:29:20 PM EST
    I was expressing an opinion about how we should take care of one another.

    I'm honest enough to know that's not going to happen in the current climate however.


    You're not talking past each other (5.00 / 3) (#95)
    by sj on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:06:17 PM EST
    at all.  You are just trying to take the conversation sideways to something else entirely and MO Blue won't let you.

    It's kind of amusing actually.


    Thank you for that comment (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by MO Blue on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:48:07 PM EST
    I would give you multiple 5s if I could.

    BTW, we would have saved a lot of (none / 0) (#90)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:12:36 PM EST
    time and bandwidth if you had just stated from the beginning that you support the expanded means testing and rate increase contained in Obama's FY 2013 budget.

    I'll say it for you (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:07:39 AM EST
    Horse hockey.

    The entire deficit issue is a unicorn being crowned King Bullsh*t by our own homegrown fertilizer barons.

    It's fiat currency, worthless trinkets and blips, and the "prudent solution" to our "economic and fiscal problems" is thus pretty damn well clear: design a fair game, with a humane and overly generous floor, where wealth is still quite possible, but where social destruction is not. IOW, the Golden Rule, don't be a phucking acehole, really simple stuff our parents taught us, or should have.

    The absurdity of our flailing is laughable and so terribly, inexcusably sad.


    The church of the savvy doesn't matter (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 10:39:47 AM EST
    When all they can do at this juncture is damage the rest of us to get their world to make sense to them.

    I love the Church of the Savvy (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:00:48 AM EST
    I hope it use the observation framed that way in the future.

    Oops....hope YOU use it (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:01:13 AM EST
    Elizabeth Warren (none / 0) (#4)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 10:51:05 AM EST
    not surprisingly will be appointed to a position on the Senate Banking Committee Boston Globe

    This is great news - she's so perfect for (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:13:11 AM EST
    that spot I was worried she wouldn't get it...

    This is kind of interesting, too, from a power-consolidation perspective:

    From Roll Call, via David Dayen

    With a small purge of rebellious Republicans -- mostly conservatives -- from prominent committees Monday, Speaker John A. Boehner is sending a tough message ahead of the looming vote on a fiscal cliff deal.

    David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina were booted from the Financial Services Committee. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas were removed from the Budget Committee; Huelskamp lost his place on the Agriculture Committee as well.

    Huelskamp was undaunted. "The GOP leadership might think they have silenced conservatives, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our conservative convictions. This is clearly a vindictive move, and a sure sign that the GOP Establishment cannot handle disagreement," he said in a statement.

    But the message from leadership was clear.

    "You want good things in Congress and to have a good career? Better play along nicely," a GOP aide said, characterizing the message behind the moves.

    Let the games begin.  Or continue.  Or go to the next dimensional level.


    This sort of political kabuki ... (none / 0) (#41)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:20:54 PM EST
    ... used to give me headaches when it was playing out in our own 51-member Hawaii House of Representatives. Watching it happen in a 435-member U.S. House is migraine-inducing.

    Is Jones out... (none / 0) (#65)
    by unitron on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:27:48 PM EST
    ...from Financial Services because he tried to defend the troops from predatory payday lenders?

    Walter B Jones (none / 0) (#70)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:02:08 PM EST
    is a bit of an enigma. The man that brought you freedom fries and freedom toast and was gung ho on Iraq, then stood with Kucinich wanting us out of Iraq, wants Obama impeached, and yet is also considered the most liberal Republican in Congress by his local tea parties.

    Kind of hard to know what actually set off the GOP leadership on this one but it appears Jones marches to the beat of his own drummer...which I guess likely explains it.


    NIU: It is what it is. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:17:34 AM EST
    The Huskies earned their place in the Orange Bowl, according to the BCS's own rules.

    Rather than complain about them, I hope that you'll find time to criticize the fact that had Oklahoma taken care of business at home in either of their two losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame, they wouldn't have found themselves in the position of praying for an at-large BCS bid.

    Further, the Huskies are 12-1m and are ranked higher than not one, but two BCS conference champions, Louisville (10-2) and Wisconsin (8-5). Please deal with it thoughtfully and rationally, and please don't take your cue from Kirk Herbstreit and the yahoos at ESPN, shilling for the big boys.


    NIU took care of business against Iowa? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 12:58:00 PM EST
    This is a joke.

    Just stop it.

    NIU is the worst team ever in the BCS.


    You first. (none / 0) (#38)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:01:30 PM EST
    BTD: "Just stop it."

    The Huskies lost by lost one point to Iowa in the season opener 14 weeks ago, and have since won twelve straight games. This was also a particularly strong year for the MAC, with four teams ranked at various times in the Top 25, and Northern Illinois ran the table in-conference.

    (I don't care what league you're in, going unbeaten in conference play is never an easy feat. Just ask the Ohio Bobcats, who beat Penn State decisively in their season opener en route to a 7-0 start and a No. 24 national ranking, before losing four of their last five in MAC play. For that matter, ask Alabama and Stanford, too.)

    If I were to take the BCS to task for anything, it would be for its propensity to first penalize high-ranking teams who had the misfortune of losing their conference championship game, and then elevate those division runners-up which were otherwise sitting home watching those games on TV that final weekend -- Florida over Georgia this year, and also Michigan over Michigan State last year.

    Those two arbitrary decisions served to greatly cheapen the accomplishment of finishing in first place during the regular season. Criticizing the committee's choice of Northern Illinois at the expense of BCS perennial Oklahoma is nothing but a red herring, IMHO.

    Florida was invited to the Sugar Bowl, and the Gators lost a very sloppy game to Georgia, 17-9, and thus didn't even play for the SEC championship. Further, Bowling Green gave Florida all they could handle last September, and the Gators were also damned lucky to not lose to Louisiana-Lafayette at home only three weeks ago, before fattening up late in the season on Div. 1-AA Jacksonville State.

    Shouldn't we also now question the BCS selection committee's wisdom for passing over the SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs in favor of your runner-up alma mater? I think I just briefly outlined a fairly compelling case for doing so, but the decisions were made, and thus que sera sera.

    Look, the BCS was originally constituted for the sole purpose of placing the supposedly top two teams in a national championship game. That's all. It was never designed to do anything else, except function unofficially as a cartel to practically monopolize the big payola of major bowl games on behalf of a relative handful of conferences and schools, which it seems to have done pretty damned well.

    And of course, it's because suspicions about the latter function had become openly prevalent in high places (i.e., Congress) that the BCS had to come up with a resonable means to allow good teams from non-AQ conferences to share occasionally in the booty-- er, excuse me, I mean, compete on the field come New Year's Day. Otherwise, BCS member schools and conferences would've been staring in the face of an anti-trust action in federal court some time ago.

    According to its own rules, the BCS is obligated to take a non-AQ conference winner, whenever that team finishes either (a) in the top 12, or (b) in the top 16 and is ranked ahead of at least one AQ conference champion. And that's why NIU, and not Oklahoma or anyone else, is playing in the Orange Bowl. The Huskies played and earned their way in.

    Regardless, teams should ultimately be judged for their actual body of work over the course of a season, and not for how they might look on paper or in one's own imagination. As to whether NIU can compete against the self-styled "big boys" on the national stage, well, we'll find out the Huskies' mettle soon enough, when they line up opposite Florida State four weeks from today on New Year's Day -- won't we?

    Until then, I'm just going to enjoy the bowl season, and tune out that same loud little handful of people who also once insisted that Boise State couldn't possibly hang with Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, and that Utah really had no business playing Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Quite frankly, such punditry enjoys all the credibility of John Bolton at the United Nations.



    There are 21 tickets (none / 0) (#43)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:58:34 PM EST
    on StubHub right now for $5.00 for the Orange Bowl game. The demand must be light.

    For comparison purposes only, the cheapest ticket for this Saturday's quarterfinal FCS game between Wofford and North Dakota State in Fargo goes for $190.00. The cheapest to the BCS Championship game goes for $1,174.00


    Go Bison! (none / 0) (#45)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:01:59 PM EST
    Yeah sure, you betcha.

    Didn't last year's Orange Bowl ... (none / 0) (#60)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:45:13 PM EST
    ... between West Virginia and Clemson fail to sell out? I guess the scalpers are panicking.

    In celebration of their team's historic achievement, NIU is offering free Orange Bowl tickets to all 23,000-plus students who are presently enrolled at the university. And the NIU community has been responding in support, as well.

    Personally, I'm now looking forward to this year's Orange Bowl game, if only to root for the underdog. And if I were the Florida State Seminoles, I'd ignore the blathering punditistas at ESPN, and instead be very wary of their lightly regarded opponents. No doubt, the NIU Huskies are probably getting irritated at the blatant disrespect being shown them in the national media and are pinning their ears back, in anticipation of having something to prove.


    Last year didn't sell out (none / 0) (#61)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:08:32 PM EST
    because the schools weren't able to sell all of their NCAA mandated allotment leaving 9000 empties.

    Idiotic (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:10:36 PM EST
    The Boise State that beat Oklahoma was incredibly accomplished.

    You are really spewing nonsense.

    As for "the rules," of course those are the rules. Who in their right mind would have picked NIU?

    The WORST team in a BCS bowl EVER.

    A travesty.


    You're saying that ex post facto, ... (none / 0) (#55)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:46:10 PM EST
    ... with the benefit of obvious hindsight. But the fact of the matter is that back in 2006, Boise State's selection for the Fiesta Bowl was roundly criticized by this very same sports punditocracy that's currently criticizing NIU's selection, for no other reason than because the Broncos played in the WAC.

    It's funny how that criticism always seems to be conveniently forgotten by those same pundits in the wake of Boise's subsequent successes, except of course when the Broncos looked to be possibly challenging for the BCS championship the previous two seasons after their road victories over Virginia Tech and Georgia. Then once again, the same biased and clicheed arguments reared their ugly heads, i.e., "Who do they play?" and "Well, if they had to play in the SEC / Pac-12 / Big 12 ..."

    You don't have to tell me about how good the Boise State Broncos are, because we've seen them play Hawaii every year for the past 12 seasons. I've long contended that they were indeed a legitimate college football power, and was doing so before it ever became fashionable.

    And since you're not bothering to back up your assertion about the matter of NIU's selection, apparently preferring instead to spout the so-called "conventional wisdom," I'd be really careful about accusing someone else of "really spewing nonsense" -- especially in the wake of your having recently picked Nebraska over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

    I've never claimed to be an expert on college football, and I can freely admit that I could well be wrong and NIU could indeed stink up the joint on January 1. But you've not exactly proven yourself to be any great font of wisdom when it comes to these matters, either.

    I mean, honestly, BTD -- "The WORST team in a BCS bowl EVER" and "[a] travesty"? That's nothing more than baseless hyperbole, by which you're stated definitely that this year's NIU Huskies are a worse team than Connecticut (8-5) in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, Pittsburgh (8-5) in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, and / or perhaps Wisconsin (8-5) in this year's Rose Bowl. Hell, I'll even throw Hawaii's 2008 Sugar Bowl appearance into that mix, given the Warriors' 41-10 pratfall. And yet, I'm the one who's "really spewing nonsense"?

    If you believe me to be wrong, that's fine. That's what an honest debate is supposed to be about. So, either make a cogent argument to support your contention, or else ignore me and don't bother to respond at all.

    I've never attacked you personally by dismissing you as some sort of nonsense-spewing crackpot. And I would really appreciate the same courtesy from you in the future. Surely, you can disagree with me and others here, without being a jerk about it.



    Nooo (none / 0) (#69)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:52:11 PM EST
    Look at the record.

    Boise BEOFRE it beat Oklahoma was accom;ished.


    To compare (none / 0) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:11:35 PM EST
    The Utah teams and the Boise teams to NIU does such a disservice to those teams it is just ridiculous.

    As I said, we'll see, won't we? (none / 0) (#56)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:59:12 PM EST
    Go back and re-read what I wrote. I never compared the NIU Huskies to the 2006 Boise State or 2008 Utah teams.

    Rather, I simply noted that the punditry's vitriole currently being thrown NIU's way in the wake of their Orange Bowl invite, is really no different than the criticism leveled at Boise and Utah when they were selected for the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls.

    Further, I'd lay better than even odds that you've probably never even seen the NIU Huskies play once this season.


    We've seen (none / 0) (#68)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:51:32 PM EST
    For crissakes Donald.

    Hillary Mayor?8 Please clarify. (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:39:33 AM EST
    Kate 's pregnancy is all the news here, not Hillary.

    Word has it she said No. (none / 0) (#15)
    by nycstray on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 12:44:49 PM EST
    Bloomberg asked her (none / 0) (#21)
    by indy in sc on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:13:42 PM EST
    to run for mayor of NYC after his term is up.  Of course she said no.  He should have known that would be a non-starter.  I can understand why anyone would want her in almost any role, but talk about a waste of talent running a city--however populous--instead of running the country.

    Hubris on his part (imo)  to think she would take over his role and that someone of her stature is the only one who can replace him.

    I would not be surprised if he went back on his word and tried to run for yet another term.


    Hubris? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:36:26 PM EST
    or strategic planning? I suspect Bloomberg was just hoping to get the top seed out of the way in case he wants to run for president in 2016.

    Christine Quinn.... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:29:12 PM EST
    is gonna be pissed! She's been brown-nosing it up for that endorsement for over 4 years;)

    We've had enougy mayoral tyrants anyway...I want Ron Kuby!  He'd stop Stop and Frisk cold.  If not mayor, Supreme Court Justice...how's that for some Christmas pipe-dreaming!


    House Dems File Discharge Petition Today (none / 0) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 12:43:58 PM EST
    House Democrats filed their discharge petition today seeking to force a vote on legislation that would extend middle income tax cuts and let the top marginal rates return to Clinton-era levels.

    Filed by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), the petition requires 218 signatories to succeed -- in other words, a significant number of Republicans.

    Love this sentence even though it IMO overstates the urgency of the situation.

    "Our economy and our families cannot wait any longer for action and cannot afford a Republican tax increase on the middle class," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).


    I believe it would need 27 (none / 0) (#17)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 12:56:03 PM EST
    of the 241 GOP House members to agree if every Dem signs on.

    I'll take that back (none / 0) (#20)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:04:08 PM EST
    with 2 current vacancies (I think) they should only need 217 signers which would be 25 GOP members if the Dems stand firm AND if vacancies don't count as total members of the House.

    According to Brian Beutler at (none / 0) (#22)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:25:18 PM EST
    TPM (Dec 4), Leader Pelosi is taking a key role in the budget negotiations with the pressure of the discharge petition on the senate-passed bill and the subtler position of a warning to all negotiator, including the president, not to cut a bad deal. Leader Pelosi let it be known that Boehner's idea of tax deductions rather than tax rate changes on the high end were unacceptable as are benefit cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  


    Sounds like you are! (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:36:50 PM EST
    Lucky Duck...did Jeralyn ever do a post/review of the Denver show?  I will have to backtrack.

    Way to start the holiday season Sarc...enjoy!

    I kicked it off with Neil Young & Crazy Horse last week, Patti Smith opened....heavy heavy show.  

    Onto the 2013 Concert Series for my arse!


    I would have (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Amiss on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    Loved that! You lucky kdog!

    Yes I am Amiss... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:05:08 PM EST
    I can cross the mad Ontarian off my concert bucket list, finally!  Slept on that sh*t too long, too long.

    You should be in SF, dude (none / 0) (#42)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:21:00 PM EST
    They have no dates out this way.

    Really looking forward to the show tonight!


    Hardest Working Man... (none / 0) (#36)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:58:29 PM EST
    in show business, no disrespect to the late great James Brown.

    Jersey Boy goes home tonight!


    "From our "Get a Free iPod" file: (none / 0) (#23)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:34:13 PM EST
    Now that U.S. District Judge William Shubb has ruled that SB 1172, which prohibits "conversion therapy" that seeks to alter a minor child's sexual orientation from gay to straight, may inhibit the 1st Amendment rights of therapists who oppose homosexuality, is it also okay for gay men and lesbians to resume the recruitment of impressionable youngsters as part of their nefariously secret plan to impose the homosexual agenda upon an unsuspecting America?

    I'm not quite sure how a state-imposed ban on this particularly insensitive (and potentially harmful) form of pseudo-psychotherapeutic quackery constitutes a government assault on one's free speech rights. Gov. Jerry Brown was right to sign SB 1172 into law, and hopefully, someone will step up to the plate and challenge Judge Shrubb's noxious ruling. Simply put, conversion therapy has no place in an enlightened, 21st century American society.

    Streep and Clinton take a picture. (none / 0) (#26)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:57:03 PM EST
    This past weekend Hillary hosted a dinner for this year's recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors awards. Meryl, a past winner, was there as was her iPhone which she used to take this picture of herself with Hillary.

    It is a sweet pic, but even sweeter was what Meryl did with the photo. She donated it to an organization called Shutter to Think. Actors, directors, writers and musicians donate photos they have taken to Shutter to Think which then sells copies of the photos and uses the money to support programs around the world that help girls.

    You, too, can buy an 8x10, printed on quality paper, of this Meryl and Hillary photo and know that somewhere in the world  is a girl or two or three whose lives will be made better because of you.

    The pictures aren't cheap, but it is a charitable contribution.

    h/t Shakesville.

    The US Senate rejected (none / 0) (#28)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:27:52 PM EST
    a U.N. treaty on the rights of the disabled modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Thirty-eight (38) Republicans voted no (61-38), five short of the 2/3 needed to ratify a treaty. Former Senator Dole (R.KS) and former Republican presidential candidate who was present so as to give his support to the bill, to no avail.  

    The treaty has been signed by 155 nations and ratified by 128  countries.  The Republican senators, lead by tea party favorite Mike Lee (R. UT) did not want to take up the treaty in a lame duck session and they saw this treaty as an affront to American sovereignty.  

    I think it has less to do with this being a (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:32:36 PM EST
    lame duck session and more to do with the fact that the treaty supports reproductive health measures for the disabled.

    Considering how much it drives policy, (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:05:11 PM EST
    maybe Time's Person of the Year ought to be not a person, but The Uterus...and all of the Ladyparts that comprise its constellation.

    Yes, a case (none / 0) (#32)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:41:35 PM EST
    of moving forward into the eighteenth century.  And, of course, treaties can't any longer be ratified in a lame duck sessIon (they have in the past) but we can revamp and "reform" our entire economic system, including social programs in a lame duck session.   We don't have to worry about what moral plane that puts us on with the world, but we do have to be concerned about the foreign markets reaction to going over the so called cliff.

    what was even worse (none / 0) (#75)
    by Amiss on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 01:00:53 AM EST
    Was them waalking by hiim in his wheelchair, shaking his hand,etc and voting NO.

    Maybe one of our expert (none / 0) (#53)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:12:27 PM EST
    Congress students here can explain further...........

    I heard today that Harry Reid is going to try some Parliamentary procedure to thwart the Republican addiction to filibusters. There seems to be some quirk in the rules whereby each vote taken on an issue reduces the number required to pass by one........eventually leading to a simple majority required to pass a bill.


    verizon email (none / 0) (#54)
    by womanwarrior on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:28:01 PM EST
    Haven't been able to access since about 2:30.  Our paralegal got through to verizon help and they said it was a system problem in ny, nj, pa.  Anybody heard anything about this?

    Don't you read The Mayan Gazzette? (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:09:24 PM EST
    First, communication fails, then the electric grid implodes, then they steal your canned food.

    I thought you were an informed TL member.


    oh, thanks. (none / 0) (#59)
    by womanwarrior on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:34:46 PM EST
    I wasn't expecting it until later in the month.  Of course, I was at a play last week where dead birds fell from the sky.  

    Ok, what do you recommend?


    What was the name/writer of (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 11:20:17 PM EST
    the play?

    Seriously...... (none / 0) (#63)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:18:05 PM EST
    My son and I continue to run gigantic generators from Tennessee to N.J. and Long Island. It will be months before many systems will be reconnected to a main grid, whether electricity, or communication.

    With everything connected by duct tape while they dismantle, dry out, and reassemble permanent modules, connections, and systems it's no surprise there are some temporary inconveniences.

    My suggestion?



    BTW, (none / 0) (#66)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:30:47 PM EST
    dead birds falling from sky are factors of Zombies, not Grid Destruction.

    Get your End Times straight, please.


    Speaking of Zombies (none / 0) (#78)
    by kmblue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:02:01 AM EST
    Two whole months until the next episode of "The Walking Dead".  Whatta cliffhanger.  The wait means I has a sad.