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Posted at 6:47 AM ET, 01/10/2011

Wonkbook: Congress grieves; post-shooting legislation; committee chair elections

By Ezra Klein

PH2011010904225.jpg

The awful events of the weekend have reshaped the legislative agenda. Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that the House will be postponing the week's planned votes -- including the repeal of health-care reform. And when the body does return to normal business, expect a more restrained tone to the proceedings. It's very difficult to say how that will change what Congress does and does not get done, of course. But compared to Friday, when the passions of the election were still riding high and the two parties were gearing up for the epic and angry clash they'd promised voters, it's going to be a very different mood when the lawmakers reconvene.

One thing you will see are a series of bills meant to address various parts of the tragedy in Arizona. Already, there's talk of gun-control laws, of legislation regulating the threats you can make against a member of Congress, of security details for legislators. I haven't seen any of these bills, and so I'm not passing judgment on them. But we should be vigilant that the desire to do something in response to the shooting does not lead us to do the wrong thing by mistake.

Attacks on members of Congress remain very rare in this country. The last congressman killed while in office was Rep. Leo Ryan, who was murdered in the events directly preceding the Jonestown Massacre. That was in 1978. What we think we know about the events in Arizona suggest it was even more senseless, and thus even less likely to be part of an organized or even disorganized spree that we need to radically overhaul policy in order to defend against. Above all, nothing we do should make it more difficult for citizens and legislators do follow the example of Rep. Giffords and her constituents and meet for an hour on the street corner to participate in the basic give-and-take of representative democracy. It is, if anything, a moment to double down on the democratic traditions that Giffords and her voters inadvertently took such risks to participate in. Anything that would even indirectly limit such easy contact between legislators and constituents should be viewed very skeptically.

Top Stories

The House has cleared its legislative agenda this week, reports Jennifer Haberkorn: "Lawmakers on Sunday said they still expect to have a spirited but delayed and toned-down debate to repeal the health care reform law after Saturday’s shooting in Arizona. Within hours of the massacre, Majority Leader Eric Cantor postponed the House’s entire legislative agenda for the week, including the vote on repealing the law, which was planned for Wednesday. His office said he’ll make further announcements on the schedule today. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Republican conference chairman, said on CNN’s 'State of the Union' that the rhetoric needs to be turned down."

Lawmakers are preparing bills in response to Saturday's shooting in Tucson, reports Shira Toeplitz: "One of the fiercest gun-control advocates in Congress, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), pounced on the shooting massacre in Tucson Sunday, promising to introduce legislation as soon as Monday...Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Brady, a Democrat from Philadelphia, told CNN that he also plans to take legislative action. He will introduce a bill that would make it a crime for anyone to use language or symbols that could be seen as threatening or violent against a federal official, including a member of Congress."

Junior Senators want to reform committee chair elections, reports Alexander Bolton: "Senate Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 are challenging the internal caucus procedures that have allowed veteran lawmakers to lock up committee chairmanships for years on end. A group of junior Democratic senators are pushing for committee chairmen to stand for election at the beginning of each Congress, a requirement that has not been in effect for years, according to lawmakers familiar with the discussions...The proposed rules change has made some chairmen nervous, Democratic aides say. If chairman have to face reelection at the beginning of each Congress, they might be less willing to cut deals with Republicans."

The Fed is subjecting banks to another round of stress tests, report Francesco Guerrera and Tom Braithwaite: "Large US financial groups are bracing for a new battery of stress tests that will determine which institutions are now healthy enough to raise dividends and buy back shares. The Federal Reserve is expected this week to begin examining data provided by 19 groups, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, to gauge how their balance sheets would withstand a variety of new economic and financial shocks. The exercise, mirroring the tests of May 2009 when the sector was reeling from the crisis, comes as investors have been pressing banks to return part of their surging profits. The calls have gone unanswered...because after injecting billions of dollars to recapitalise the sector, regulators have been wary of sanctioning capital returns."

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Remembering-the-better-times interlude: Rep. Giffords talking with C-SPAN shortly after her election to Congress.

Still to come: The payroll tax holiday this year may not spur growth; a cost control measure in health care reform is being fought by lobbyists; junior Senate Democrats are pushing for secret ballot elections for committee chairmen; the House GOP is planning on cutting the EPA's budget; and the world's most intense badminton match.

Economy

Austan Goolsbee offered a quick preview of the White House's coming bugdet, reports Jonathan Weisman: "Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said Friday the administration’s economic policy will shift from 'rescue and crisis mode' to 'recovery and raise the growth rate mode.'...'The long-run fiscal challenges facing the country remain there. We have known that,' Mr. Goolsbee said. 'And when [the president] comes out with his budget, I don’t think there will be any question that he’s ready to make medium- to long-run fiscal consolidation.' With the chances for another big round of fiscal stimulus slim, the administration’s efforts will be geared to getting the private sector to stand itself up, through low-cost public-private partnerships, the president’s export efforts and trade promotion."

This year's payroll tax cut may not necessarily spur economic growth, reports Ylan Mui: "One of the most visible components of the $858 billion plan passed by Congress is a 2-percentage-point reduction in the federal payroll tax for all workers that will last through the year. The administration hopes the increase in take-home pay - about $1,000 for an average family, according to White House estimates - will boost consumer spending, which in turn drives the nation's economy. But how much of that money will actually be spent rather than saved or used to pay down debt remains a hotly debated topic among economists. Many consumers will not even notice the increase because it is spread over the course of a year, rather than distributed as a lump sum."

The Fed will not bail out state or local governments: http://on.wsj.com/gHsWsw

A new Fed study suggests quantitative easing will add 700,000 jobs, reports Sewell Chan: "Even as the Federal Reserve released new evidence that its plan to buy $600 billion of Treasury securities to stimulate the recovery is working, scholars remain skeptical about the program’s effectiveness in the long run. A new study by Fed researchers, released at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, the world’s largest gathering of academic economists, said the program could lead to a 'significant pickup' in growth and the creation of roughly 700,000 jobs by 2012. Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s vice chairwoman, on Saturday used the study to offer a staunch defense of the program, which is supposed to last through June."

Financial economists are urging further bank reforms: http://on.wsj.com/ecIkPa

The US may not need a debt ceiling, writes Annie Lowrey: "Now, budget wonks argue, the ceiling is no longer really necessary, given Congress' budgetary power and process--as well as the realities of the budget itself. 'It used to help control the amount you could appropriate,' explains Stan Collender, a partner at Qorvis and longtime budget watcher and expert. 'But so much of the debt is mandatory now.' He continues: 'The truth is: You shouldn't have to raise the debt ceiling separately. The debt ceiling should be raised automatically when Congress agrees to a conference report on a budget resolution. That's how it's supposed to work. It is an anachronism.'"

Interspecies wrestling interlude: A bear and cat battle it out.

Health Care

A cost control measure in health care reform is running into trouble with interest groups, reports Jordan Rau: "At issue are "accountable care organizations," which the Obama administration hopes will spring up around the country, initially treating Medicare patients but eventually other people as well. Networks of doctors and hospitals would coordinate patient care and earn bonuses if they save Medicare money and meet quality targets...With regulators planning to issue rules for ACOs in the coming weeks, some prominent doctor and hospital groups are pushing for features that some experts say could undermine the overall goal - improving care while containing costs. They're seeking limits on how the quality of their care will be judged, along with bonus rules that would make it easier for them to be paid extra for their work and to be paid quickly."

A test vote suggests that health care repeal will pass the House: http://on.wsj.com/faqNHz

Striking down the individual mandate could lead to single-payer, write Adam Chandler and Luke Norris: "Suppose that conservatives succeed with their current, safer legal strategy, and knock out the individual mandate. Because the private-only mandate had been the middle, compromise position, Congress would be left with the two more extreme options on health care--either a plan that includes something like the public option, or the status quo. As costs rise and more Americans go uninsured, will the public really want to roll back reform? When Americans are asked about the current health care law, a majority say they either favor it or wish it were even stronger. Making the public option the only option would fulfill the wish of those wanting a stronger bill."

Domestic Policy

The federal government is launching a consumer safety complaints database, reports Lyndsey Layton: "The federal government is poised for the first time to make public thousands of complaints it receives each year about safety problems with various products, from power tools to piggy banks. The compilation of consumer complaints, set to be launched online in March by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has been hailed by consumer advocates as a resource that will revolutionize the way people make buying decisions. But major manufacturing and industry groups have raised concerns about the public database, saying it may be filled with fictitious slams against their brands. Competitors or others with political motives could post inaccurate claims, business leaders say, and the agency will not be able to investigate most of the complaints."

The gun used in the Tucson shooting should be banned, writes Gail Collins: http://nyti.ms/dPmUPv

High-profile gun violence doesn't increase support for gun control, writes Chris Cillizza: "The Gallup numbers are almost entirely unaffected by incidents of gun violence that draw national attention. In 1999, when Gallup asked the question six times after the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, the number of those in favor of stricter laws ranged from 60 to 66 percent. The 'less strict' number ranged from 5 to 9 percent and the 'stay the same' number ranged from 25 to 31 percent. The opinions were similar after the shootings at Virginia Tech in April 2007. By October of that year, 51 percent favored stricter gun laws, a 5 percent decline from a similar Gallup survey taken in the fall of 2006."

Great moments in sports interlude: A surprisingly intense match of badminton.

Energy

Republicans are seeking to cut the EPA's budget, reports Ben Geman: "The newly announced chairman of the House panel that crafts Environmental Protection Agency spending bills signaled Friday that he will seek to scale back the agency’s regulatory powers. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) is chairman of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies subcommittee of the full Appropriations Committee. He was the ranking GOP member of the panel in the last Congress. Simpson’s office, in a statement, said he will be 'tasked with reducing spending levels that have grown out of control in recent years under Democrat control,' and that Simpson has his 'eyes set on EPA' in particular. 'The EPA is the scariest agency in the federal government, an agency run amok,' Simpson said in a statement Friday."

Rising gas prices are spurring more attacks on Obama's drilling policy: http://on.wsj.com/gzTVwS

A "Buy American" provision for solar power purchases by the government is upsetting Chinese officials, reports Keith Bradsher: "The military appropriations law signed by President Obama on Friday contains a little-noticed 'Buy American' provision for the Defense Department purchases of solar panels -- a provision that is likely to dismay Chinese officials as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit the United States next week...China has emerged as the world’s dominant producer of solar panels in the last two years. It accounted for at least half the world’s production last year, and its market share is rising rapidly. The United States accounts for $1.6 billion of the world’s $29 billion market for solar panels; market analyses typically have not broken out military sales separately."

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown may introduce a bill delaying EPA climate rules for a year: http://bit.ly/gF8Oup

A bipartisan group of Senators is fighting the EPA's decision to allow higher ethanol content in gasoline: http://bit.ly/esFRrZ

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst Photo.

By Ezra Klein  | January 10, 2011; 6:47 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Comments

If you read this story about the details of what happened:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/us/10reconstruct.html?hp

It looks like if there were two police officers in the background, they might have stopped this. The man was acting suspicious before the shooting in a way that should have drawn attention from even moderately trained officers. Then he ran up from the back of 20 people leaving time for the officers to stop him, and certainly after he shot the people in front, police officers would have had plenty of time to fire back before he had a chance to turn to the crowd and kill four others.

Having a couple of police officers in the background at these events would make virtually no difference in the ability of citizens to interact with their legislators, but at least in this case it would have probably saved many lives.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | January 10, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the GOP vote to repeal ACA, why isn't anyone demanding the GOP instead allow a vote on their planned replacement to ACA, which itself could contain a repeal of ACA?

The GOP has often said they have a better way than ACA. Well, let them provide their plan up front for all to see. With a single vote, let Congress CHOOSE ether ACA or the GOP alternative.

The fact the GOP hasn't provided an alternative and plans no vote to enact one proves they are not serious about health care reform.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Hard for me to see how a national single payer health system can be constitutional if a simple mandate (which is basically a tax) is not.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

How dangerous is it to be a representative in terms of "number of murders per year per thousand representatives?" Compare that to how dangerous it is to live in the US in general, or to being a police officer. Even though the last time it happened was 1978, I bet it's still a lot more dangerous than an average job.

Posted by: jeanlucj | January 10, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

"Regarding the GOP vote to repeal ACA, why isn't anyone demanding the GOP instead allow a vote on their planned replacement to ACA, which itself could contain a repeal of ACA?

The GOP has often said they have a better way than ACA. Well, let them provide their plan up front for all to see. With a single vote, let Congress CHOOSE ether ACA or the GOP alternative.

The fact the GOP hasn't provided an alternative and plans no vote to enact one proves they are not serious about health care reform."


There is no need to be.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

kudos to Rep McCarty for her soon to introduce gun control bill.

what is scary from weekend's events is how this person from what has been said was released from school and was told that he could return when he was not a threat to himself or his classmates but yet he has the ability to go (without a background check) and purchase semi-automatic weapons. All guns should not be illegal but just like nuclear weapons already can kill the world 17x over there's severe overkill in the ability of many weapons. That should have been the focus (along with the loss of life) as opposed to the disgusting heated political rhetoric around here from both sides.

Its not often you'd hear this but the politicans themselves could teach some of the commenters around here how to act and react to things like this. Good for John Boehner for having a meeting with every member of Congress and their staff yesterday. that was handled perfectly by him. Shame on the blogosphere that looked to score political points on this. Should Sarah Palin et al tone down their rhetoric, absolutely. Should they choose better words, YES. Should those around here focus on that within hours of a nine year old being killed, NO. They'll be time for that. Just not the same day.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

what a shock that the medical community is looking to stunt the ability of ACO's to control costs. That to me Ezra is the one aspect of the HCR debate that you neglected. But don't worry many others do. People don't want to see doctor's as greedy and out for themselves. Many aren't but many are and I hope that the consumer intrest groups will be out there in force to make sure that these rules and regs are as strong as the MLR rules are. It doesn't work if we don't ALL sacrifice including doctors and hospitals.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

"Hard for me to see how a national single payer health system can be constitutional if a simple mandate (which is basically a tax) is not."

why?

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

@jeanlucj:
"Even though the last time it happened was 1978, I bet it's still a lot more dangerous than an average job."

maybe 13,000 americans get killed by gunfire in non-suicides each year; as such, on average you are likely to die of such gunfire every 21,500 or so years. it's been 32 years since a congressman died of gunfire, given 535 congressfolk that comes to 17,120 congressperson years transpiring between incidents (and this one notably not being fatal to the congresswoman). small sample size suggests this data is fairly meaningless, but it may be surprising how close those two numbers are. may also be worth noting how rarely congressfolk are killed by malfunctioning production equipment, workplace falls, explosions, poisonous gas leaks, and other types of events that have caused the workplace deaths of hundreds of thousands of american workers over the years.

all things considered, i would contend that congress has not, in fact, been a deathtrap lately for its workforce.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

eggnofool,

you can also include their staff to somewhat increase your sample size and further make your point. To think they're in "danger" in general in relation to the general population is ludicrous.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@lauren:

it's unconstitutional to encourage people to buy health insurance,

but it's constitutional to force them to?

wait, what?

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday's great laugh came in watching the GOP all over the talk shows explaining why they postponed the vote on repeal of the healthcare law. "We need to focus our time and energy on the tragedy that has occurred in AZ" ... "we can't possibly think clearly about the vote when we are so sadly focused on the shooting" .... OH PLEASE, there's not one of them that needs to "think" about anything. There's not one of them that wasn't before and isn't today 110% going to vote for repeal. Not one. I mean, what are they gonna do, fly down to AZ and help the Neurosurgeons? Pull a McCain and cancel the campaign (the repeal vote) to go fix the economy (heal the Congresswoman). ROFLMAO....

They're postponing the vote because they know it won't change anything, but it will be THE headline and open the doors to all kinds of cable screed, allowing them to refocus the public on all the freedoms that this law takes away and blah blah blah..

Then that pesky little gal gets herself shot in the head and steals all the headlines for God knows how long. All the news media will be talking about is her, her family, the guy that shot her, his family and blah blah blah .... BUT THEY WON'T BE TALKING ABOUT US!!!!!!

So, let's postpone the repeal vote until this damn assassination interruption works its way through the news cycle and we can get the publicity this vote was designed to give us. Oh, yeah, and our sympathies to everyone connected and Liberals are just as guilty of hate speech as we are. Thank you, blah blah blah

Posted by: jsfry | January 10, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

single payer doesn't necessarily mean anyone HAS TO buy insurance.

It could be something you just have, if you want it. Tax payments that everyone will pay could be transparent.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-10/christie-may-cut-medicaid-as-10-5-billion-new-jersey-budget-deficit-looms.html


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives his first State of the State speech tomorrow after saying he may cut Medicaid and employee benefits to eliminate a $10.5 billion budget deficit in the second-wealthiest U.S. state.

This is some great news to start the day.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Even if we enacted laws to ban mentally retarded people from owning guns, does that imply everyone would have to have such tests at some point (perhaps at time of first purchase)?

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

@lauren:

if your health insurance program is paid for by subscriber premiums and people have the option of participating or not participating, then you are recreating the same individual insurance market that has already failed in America due to adverse selection issues.

i'm liberal enough to believe that are real cost benefits to single payer, but i'm also cynical enough to believe that regulatory capture issues will provide a very significant upward pressure on costs at the same time. anyway, that's a different topic.

on the central topic, the first question a hypothetical health insurance system has to address is "how will you overcome adverse selection issues?" and i see a voluntary national single payer system failing question #1 quite catastrophically.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

i don't have much problem with the mentally retarded obtaining firearms. i do have a significant problem with those who have been deemed "a danger to self and others" by the education, healthcare, and law enforcement officials they have encountered as they wander through life obtaining assault weapons.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

you're conflating being mentally retarded and mentally unstable. I've got a cousin who has Down's syndrome and he'd be no more dangerous than most with a gun but this person who commited this act should never be allowed near a purchase of a gun, in fact he should be receiving psychiatric help it seems. Many other states nave laws that require background checks. Its pretty easy to do if you want. The better way though is to outlaw semi-automatic weapons altogether. Gun control laws in NYC helped decrease the crime rate there substantially.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"i'm liberal enough to believe that are real cost benefits to single payer, but i'm also cynical enough to believe that regulatory capture issues will provide a very significant upward pressure on costs at the same time. anyway, that's a different topic."


This is why government provided health care should be set up to have an absolute maximum cost per year per beneficiary. Cap it at $20k per year or so, maximum.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

vision

I agree.

But we are a gun society. Conservative voters will never allow it to be otherwise.

And the new supreme court seems determined to outlaw the banning of any kind of gun by any person.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"Cap it at $20k per year or so, maximum."

My brother had a thumb infection a few years ago that cost almost $40,000. Luckily is insurance paid it.

$20,000 wont pay for the heart attack you are going to have when Obama gets re-elected.

Million dollar policies aren't enough anymore if you get seriously ill.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

the problem is that that thumb infection SHOULDN'T have cost $40k. In Canada that'd cost half of that amount if not less I'd suspect. I'm not saying we should just adopt their costs and go from there because that'd be too far one way but costs need to be in the discussion and they haven't been to this point. We can't just blindly think "insurance will pay for it" and then not realize that when it does our insurance premium goes up and then blame someone else for it or some greedy insurance executive.

Also I don't think Krazen meant $20,000 paid benefits per year I believe he/she meant premiums of $20,000 although I could easily be wrong.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"My brother had a thumb infection a few years ago that cost almost $40,000. Luckily is insurance paid it.

$20,000 wont pay for the heart attack you are going to have when Obama gets re-elected.
"


I have private insurance and would not be subject to such a government cap. You might want to try that sometime.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"Also I don't think Krazen meant $20,000 paid benefits per year I believe he/she meant premiums of $20,000 although I could easily be wrong."

No, I mean $20k per year in benefits.

There's no reason for Medicaid burger flippers to get million dollar policies.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

egg

It's all moot anyway, because if the GOP succeeds at declaring the mandate unconstitutional, then this will signal the USA's utter inability to control our budget and to provide long-term health care.

Sabotage of ACA proves that the GOP is fully able and willing to sabotage our fiscal soundness at every turn, either in the halls of Congress or in the courts.

This is because the GOP's main goal is to downsize the gvmt and eliminate entitlements at any cost and will never cease trying. They have no desire to provide health care to anyone, and a nation can not provide a well managed program when half the people are ideologically opposed and instead empower the GOP to tear it all down.

Right now the people are behind them, even willing to shoot Democrats.

Ergo, I predict such a ruling will seal our inability to be fiscally sound as a nation, and it will lead to budgetary ruin within two decades. What happens beyond that is anyone's guess.

But a part of the consequences will be that, no matter which party takes over at that time, we can no longer afford wars of occupation and in addition we will experience austerity measures. This means loss or significant reduction of medicare and SS because we will be truly bankrupt. In the meantime, medicaid will be torn down state by state, as Christie's actions prove.

David Stockman has an article today declaring we are at the point of no return as regards to fiscal soundness. Everything has to go perfect from here to avoid fiscal calamity, and with the GOP's ascendance, that is an impossibility.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

well it seems that I was wrong (and Krazen is wrong). Just becuase they flip burgers doesn't mean they don't deserve decent healthcare. I also think they should pay something for it but also according to what they afford. I've got a problem with them getting Medicaid if they're running around with cellphones, IPOD's etc. Take care of yourself first and then get the "extra's".

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

krazen

most private plans until recently do have caps. Typically one million.

But I think ACA has now outlawed caps in private plans? Someone? So if you are bragging about having no caps, it may be because Obama helped you.

I tried getting private insurance after I retired. I had too many pre-existing conditions. I wasn't aware of that problem when I idiotically let my previous insurance expire.

And it is strange you want $20,000 caps yet brag about having no cap. This shows your ideological based opinions are irrelevant to any serious discussion.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

visionbrkr, good point re gun control and, well, I guess your point was about tact in the wake of the shooting. I don't necessarily agree that it's inappropriate to question whether we should tone down our political rhetoric at this time, but you made your point well and I agree on the gun control issue.

As for the Constitutionality of single-payer, the issue with the individual mandate is that it requires citizens to purchase a product from a private company. There are, I think, good arguments for why that is Constitutional, but from a legal standpoint taxing people and providing a single payer government health program is on much firmer Constitutional ground.

Posted by: MosBen | January 10, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

every state is different. many states don't have caps including my own of NJ. Caps for specific benefits though have a reason. its to stop over-utilization. For example there used to be a cap on physical therapy in my state of 30 visits per calendar year. it was in place to basically say if whatever is wrong with you if you can't get it resolved with physical therapy after 30 visits its not going to work and we're not going to let providers gouge the system. Now its gone and the gouging (and increased costs) will be back.


I also don't know that they've determined yet if the Tuscon shooter was a Republican or not. I also have heard a lot that he's mentally unstable which has no polticial affilliation to it. I do remember hearing that a liberal blogger in the East here had listed Rep. Giffords as "dead to him" soon after she didn't vote for Rep Pelosi for speaker. He's since taken that down. do yourself a favor and don't be so partisan. Its really annoying.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

mosben,

my point wasn't that it doesn't need to be discussed because it does. The political tone from both sides need to be adjusted. There's no place for crosshairs or anything that can be construed as inflammatory in nature from either side although most of it comes from the right (which is why the left seems to have jumped on this).

My simple point is that hours after a Congresswoman is shot in the head and 5 others dead including a 9 year old child we don't need to have it. There's a time and a place for it. Then wasn't the time. I guess the commenters around here over the weekend took Rahm Emanuel's suggestion to heart to never let a good crisis go to waste. Its really disgusting. Forget the fact that she was a Conservadem that many on the left have hammered away on. I'm sure if i cared to look I could go on firedoglake or somewhere and find them hammering away at her too altough their choices of words would have been better I suspect/hope.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I have family member who have been lifelong Democrats who were once in the KKK.

Many millions of people are registered as they once were but now regularly vote for the other party.

I have read the shooter was very strong anti-gvmt.

There is indeed evidence that over the top anti-gvmt rhetoric affects violence. A Beck devotee was arrested for threats against the Time Foundation and acknowledged that Beck's lamentations with the foundation were a cause.

For some commenters here, how many deaths would be a reason to ask politicians and media personalities to tone down their anti-gvmt and racist rhetoric sooner rather than later? I can't believe I am reading that some here still think the current rhetoric is just fine.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

visionbrkr, my concern is that we have a news cycle culture, and if we don't talk about issues like gun control or heated political rhetoric now, we may never have the conversation at all. The shooting was a tragedy, and we should be careful in linking these issues as causal factors in teh shooting. Still, while people are mourning and waiting/hoping for good news about the victims if they want to have a policy discussion on an important issue I don't think that should be discouraged.

We should be respectful to the victims and be careful about drafting them into the arguments, but I'd rather the discussion happened than it not happening at all.

Posted by: MosBen | January 10, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Mosben,

as I've said my only issue with your comment is timing. I know we've got a 24 hours news cycle but by the time Olbermann and many of the left wing people were attacking the reason behind it hadn't gotten out yet and it still hasn't. What if it had been a left wing person that attacked them for not being liberal enough? I wonder if the rhetoric would change? What if a Republican was attacked? I watched the twitter feeds of some and I thought Rachel Maddow on the one tweet I saw was very responsible in this manner.

Its not as if this story is going away tomorrow. it'll be here thru the week i expect. There's plenty enough time to get the necessary discussions in on changing the political discourse.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@MosBen

Fair enough, the Virginia judge did cite the fact that that consumers were forced to obtain "private" insurance. I strongly doubt he would have ruled differently if the bill had included a public option, however. Probably the guy was just writing down the laundry list of arguments opponents have made, to ensure that he can eventually claim that Justices on the Supreme Court "echoed" his opinion and arguments.

I would find it humorous, however, if after all we went through about the public option, the SC ruled the mandate unconstitutional due to the lack of a public option (however disingenuously).

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

eggnogfool, I know some people on the left are giddily hoping that all the hubub about the individual mandate pushes us towards a single payer system, and I'd be lying if I said I thought that that would be a bad thing. And you're right that I think the Virginia Judge's reasoning is primarily political, but that's my opinion of most controversial/close-call legal decisions. Where the law is somewhat unclear and it could go either way, the judge's politics matter, so we'll see conservative judges coming out against the ACA and liberal judges affirming its Constitutionality. We'll see where it comes out, but after 50+ years of having Medicare, a truly government-run system is much more likely to survive a legal challenge than the individual mandate.

visionbrkr, I understand your concern. I can't really speak to the pundits' reactions, as I didn't see anything from them, so it's possible that I'd agree with you that their phrasing was indecorous. I'm inclined to think that we could probably agree on this, but I'm a bit inherently distrustful of waiting periods on discussion. It just seems vague to me, and as I've said, it's not so much that I'm worried about "wasting a crisis" as I am missing a moment when we can have an honest and frank discussion about something when the stakes are so clear in people's minds.

Like I said though, I don't think we're really in much disagreement here. I think that that no matter how close or far from a tragedy like this we get we should always be careful in how we phrase our arguments, especially if we're using victims as examples to support our positions.

Posted by: MosBen | January 10, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"most private plans until recently do have caps. Typically one million.

But I think ACA has now outlawed caps in private plans? Someone? So if you are bragging about having no caps, it may be because Obama helped you.

I tried getting private insurance after I retired. I had too many pre-existing conditions. I wasn't aware of that problem when I idiotically let my previous insurance expire.

And it is strange you want $20,000 caps yet brag about having no cap. This shows your ideological based opinions are irrelevant to any serious discussion."


You're lying again.

*Some* plans have a $1 million cap. Not *most*.

My plan doesn't have a cap. It in fact never had a cap even before nobody knew who Barack Obama was.


And no, nothing about what I said is strange. I work for my plan. I don't want freeloading losers who leech off government to get what I work for.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

"This year's payroll tax cut may not necessarily spur economic growth,"

I told you that a month ago, that there wasn't any stimumlus in the bill, but do you ever listen to me? NO!


"China has emerged as the world’s dominant producer of solar panels in the last two years. It accounted for at least half the world’s production last year, and its market share is rising rapidly."

I told you that any alternative energy legislation should be called the Chinese stimulus bill, but do you ever listen me? NO!


LOL

Posted by: 54465446 | January 10, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse


Refinancing replaces your current mortgage with a new loan that has a more favorable interest rate and terms that you can afford to manage. The new loan is secured on the same property as your current loan. I refinanced and saving $451 every month! search online for "123 Mortgage Refinance" they got me a 3.11% rate

Posted by: julienash123 | January 11, 2011 5:59 AM | Report abuse

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