Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

>Learn the facts about Health Care Reform: The Manager’s Amendment

December 21, 2009

>Progress is always incremental, and as progressives, we have to accept that the changes we seek may come in stages.

Such is the case with health care reform.

The Senate is poised to pass the amended bill this week, and then after the holidays a conference committee of House and Senate members will reconcile the bill into a form that hopefully both houses will pass.

But every day I run into people who do not understand the bill and its provisions. Oh, there are those who don’t care that they don’t understand it, they just want to defeat it. The Waterlooers, I call them.

But most Americans want to understand the bill that the Senate will pass, and when they do, they are for it.

So here are some facts about the Senate bill which was modified with the Manager’s Amendment.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill, as presented in the senate, will reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first 10 years. Further, during the second decade, the bill will continue to reduce the deficit up to one half of one percent of the GDP, or up to $1.3 trillion.

The bill will also increase coverage with up to 94% of all Americans under age 65 covered.

The bill provides for an immediate ban on excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and for all Americans in 2014.

Health insurers will have to abide by a set of provisions that protect a patient’s choice of doctors.

Annual limits on benefits will be restricted beginning in 2010 and completely prohibited by 2014. Lifetime limits are immediately banned (within 6 months).

Health insurance tax credits for small businesses begin in 2010 which make providing insurance benefits more affordable for employers.

Nationwide plans, at least one of which will be non-profit, will be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that oversees the health plans for members of congress.

The quality of care for seniors will improve, as additional health care providers are reimbursed for services based on quality not quantity of the services they provide.

More children will be covered under CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Community Health Centers will be expanded providing access to care to where it is most needed.

Funding for rural health care providers will increase.

New programs will be funded for fighting cancer, diabetes, children’s heart disease, and the Indian Health System, and will provide support for pregnant teens and victims of domestic violence.

These are not all of the provisions that progressive Americans wanted, but its a start.

And it shows the strength of Harry Reid that he was able to bring this about.

>Western Tribune Column October 1

October 1, 2008

>Regarding Senate Voting Records

In the 110th Congress, meeting now, which senator do you think has missed the most votes? Let me give you a hint. It’s not Tim Johnson, the senator from South Dakota who suffered a brain hemorrhage in December 2006 and spent much of the time in recovery. Fortunately, he is back in the Senate now, but because of his illness, he missed 311 votes, or 48% of the total. He’s number two.

No, the biggest culprit is Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate. Of course running for president requires…no, running for president means one might choose to be away from Washington, but it certainly isn’t a requirement.

McCain has missed 412 votes, or 61%.

We often hear that Barack Obama has been running for president since he was elected senator, but in truth he announced his campaign in February 2007 in Springfield, Illinois. McCain announced his campaign in February 2007 also, on the David Letterman Show, although the campaign claims that this “informal” announcement was not the real thing, and the “formal” announcement was on April 25, 2007.

So Obama’s campaign was either a couple of weeks longer or a couple of months longer, depending on which announcement you count. So it would stand to reason that Obama would miss more votes. But no, Obama only missed 295 votes, or 46%. Still a lot, but at least he voted over half the time.

In Alabama, we can be proud of our Republican senators’ dedication, though not necessarily proud of their votes. Jeff Sessions missed 14 votes, or 2% and Richard Shelby only missed 5 votes, or less than 1%.

Also of interest is that Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens missed only 24 votes or 4%. One would think he would have missed more votes due to travelling to his home state to check the status of home improvements that were taking place. Improvements, that is, that led to an indictment and a trial that is taking place now.

Even Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig has a good record, missing only 38 votes or 6%. That’s in spite of spending time away from congress in Minnesota public restrooms and such seeking gay sex.

There’s not much to conclude from this except maybe it’s interesting that the leaders of each party are leading by missing lots of votes, and the creepy, cheating kinds of guys are casting lots of votes and setting policy. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?