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By- Mike Sacks

Posted: 06/28/2012 10:10 am Updated: 06/28/2012 11:16 am

WASHINGTON — The individual health insurance mandate is constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, upholding the central provision of President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

The controlling opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, upheld the mandate as a tax, although concluded it was not valid as an exercise of Congress’ commerce clause power. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined in the outcome.

The decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius comes as something of a surprise after the generally hostile reception the law received during the six hours of oral arguments held over three days in March. But by siding with the court’s four Democratic appointees, Chief Justice Roberts avoided the delegitimizing taint of politics that surrounds a party-line vote while passing Obamacare’s fate back to the elected branches. GOP candidates and incumbents will surely spend the rest of the 2012 campaign season running against the Supreme Court and for repeal of the law.

Five justices concluded that the mandate, which requires virtually all Americans to obtain minimum health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, falls within Congress’ power under the Constitution to “lay and collect taxes.”

“The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause,” Roberts wrote. “That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”

Ginsburg, writing separately for the four liberals, said they would have upheld the mandate under the commerce clause too. “Unlike the market for almost any other product or service, the market for medical care is one in which all individuals inevitably participate,” she wrote. “Virtually every person residing in the United States, sooner or later, will visit a doctor or other health care professional.”

Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined in a dissent.

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Posted at  12:27 PM ET, 03/02/2012

The Washington Post   By- Jamila Bey

Radio host Rush Limbaugh is so keen on pornography, he’s suggested an entirely new genre of it.

In an attack against the Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, who House Republicans wouldn’t let testify at a hearing on insurance coverage for contraception, Limbaugh shared his ideas about what should happen to women who dare disagree with him on women’s health.

He said, “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.”

He also called Fluke a “slut” and a prostitute after she argued that birth control should be covered by health insurance at religious institutions.

The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger argued in an earlier piece that Fluke may not have been the best witness for a very different reason: As a student, rather than an employee, of Georgetown, her insurance coverage would not change one way or the other under the Affordable Care Act as currently written, with or without a religious exemption to institutions like the Jesuit school Fluke attends.

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A Look at the Cuts in the New, Leaner 2011 Budget

Firedoglake-  By: David Dayen Tuesday April 12, 2011 6:35 am

he House Appropriations Committee released the final 2011 continuing resolution text, which reflects the agreement between Congressional leaders and the President. You can view a summary of the CR and the list of final program cuts. Or, if you’re daring, you can read the full text.

First of all, there’s a 0.2% across-the-board cut to all agencies and accounts. That’s for starters. The Obama Administration did engage in some sleight-of-hand to get to the $38.5 billion in cuts, however.

The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until late Monday when it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially “score” as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.

…the cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families […]

For instance, the spending measure reaps $350 million by cutting a one-year program enacted in 2009 for dairy farmers then suffering from low milk prices. Another $650 million comes by not repeating a one-time infusion into highway programs passed that same year. And just last Friday, Congress approved Obama’s $1 billion request for high-speed rail grants — crediting themselves with $1.5 billion in savings relative to last year.

Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.

Now this all looks to be true, except for high speed rail, which really is a reduction and a painful one. But because the budget imposes a lot of cuts in a small area, you could also write a story that reads like this:

The spending bill would maintain the maximum Pell grant award for low-income students at $5,550. But it would end a new Pell grant program for summer school students, saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

President Obama successfully resisted Republican efforts to take all federal money from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. But the spending bill cuts money for the program that finances many family-planning services provided by Planned Parenthood and other organizations, Title X of the Public Health Service Act. The appropriation would be reduced to $300 million, from $317 million, Congressional aides said.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been in the cross hairs of the newly empowered House Republicans, took one of the largest hits, according the House appropriations documents.

The agency’s budget under the agreement is reduced by $1.6 billion, or 16 percent from last year’s level. Specifically, funding levels for Land and Water Conservation Fund programs were reduced 33 percent.

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We must destroy Medicare so Charlie Sheen can keep his tax cut

Crooks and Liars- By Brad Reed
April 05, 2011 08:00 AM

So Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who best exemplifies the soulless Randroid bean-counting dweeb demographic, has decided to release his plan to “reform” entitlements this week. As you can imagine, it completely sucks:

Ryan also said that he would propose changing Medicare, the popular health program for seniors, into what he called a “premium support plan” similar to the Medicare prescription drug program. […]

Seniors would be able to pick from a list of private plans competing for their business, Ryan said. Seniors would pick the plan of their choosing, and Medicare would subsidize that coverage.

Children, let’s stop and think about this for a moment.

Do you know why Medicare was established in the first place? That’s right — because retirees had difficulty getting affordable health insurance due to their higher medical liabilities. And of course, even those who could afford such insurance would find their policies rescinded if their care got too expensive — in essence, a private-sector death panel.

So we created Medicare! And it has been one of the most successful government programs of the past century, helping countless seniors get quality care without putting themselves into bankruptcy paying for private insurance. And now Paul Ryan wants to turn it into another corporate welfare scam.

As Ezra Klein notes, this is not going to improve care or really even save money:

The current Medicare program would be dissolved and the next generation of seniors would choose from Medicare-certified private plans on an exchange. But that wouldn’t save money. In fact, it would cost money. As the Congressional Budget Office has said (pdf), since Medicare is cheaper than private insurance, beneficiaries will see “higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare.” […]

In both cases, what saves money is not the reform. It’s the cut. For Medicare, the cut is that the government wouldn’t cover the full cost of the private Medicare plans, and the portion they would cover is set to shrink as time goes on.

Hear that, Granny? Your health care is about to be sacrificed at the altar of Aetna and Cigna! I hope you like it!

But hey, not everyone’s doing quite so poorly. Take a look at what Charlie Sheen’s been up to:

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With copyright permission from my friend, Stephen Pitt.

Now The Republicans Are Going After AARP. Do We See A Pattern Here?

Crooks and Liars- By Susie Madrak
March 29, 2011 07:00 AM

My, they really are hypocrites of the highest degree, aren’t they? After all the water they carried for the insurance industry for Medicare Part B, and during the health care debate, they’re going to try to pin AARP with making money on insurance? What happened to their much-loved free market? Guess it only works when the businesses support the Republicans!

I’m not always a fan of AARP (they do provide affordable insurance to people who otherwise couldn’t get it). They did a lot of work to push the Affordable Care Act, and they stand up for consumers on a wide variety of issues.

Bottom line? Even if I didn’t like them at all, the fact that the Republicans have targeted them would make me want to defend them. After all, sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend!

Newly empowered House Republicans are getting ready to renew their attacks against AARP over its support for the healthcare reform law, The Hill has learned.

The Ways and Means health and oversight subcommittees are hauling in the seniors lobby’s executives before the panel for an April 1 hearing on how the group stands to benefit from the law, among other topics. Republicans say AARP supported the law’s $200 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program because it stands to gain financially as seniors replace their MA plans with Medicare supplemental insurance — or Medigap — policies endorsed by the association.

The hearing will cover not only Medigap but “AARP’s organizational structure, management, and financial growth over the last decade.”

An embarrassing hearing would not only hit AARP back for its support of the law, but fits in with the GOP’s mantra that the law was written behind closed doors to favor Democratic allies. And policy-wise, it could empower Republicans to tackle Medigap policies, which many conservatives want to reform because they believe they contribute to over-utilization of the medical system by reducing out-of-pocket contributions.

Imagine the nerve of old people actually going to the doctor’s, taking care of their health and extending their lifespan. Shame on them!

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Note from Suzie-Q:

This is an older article but relevant to what we are seeing at the gas pumps today and the busting of Unions… And, let’s not forget the Tea Party;  guns, God and gold.

Tea Party movement influenced by corporate oil and Mormon ideology

Examiner- Ron Bynum

January 25th, 2010 11:03 am PT

The Tea Party movement’s supporters think they are a grass roots movement, but their ideology of guns, God and gold reeks of the Mormon (LDS) philosophy, and they receive support from big oil in the form of the Koch brothers, owners of the nation’s largest private energy company.

At the Tea Partier’s rallies, there are many placards and signs citing their trust in guns, God, and gold, a mantra that Glen Beck of Fox News uses, and it appears that Beck, a Mormon (convert in 1999), is proselytizing his faith when he uses that phrase.

The brothers Charles and David Koch, of Koch Industries, are major contributors to the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Cato Institute, and are a major funding source for lobbying groups that deny climate change, and spent more than $8.5 million to stop “cap and trade” because it will cost them big profits. That is the real motivation behind the Tea Party movement, and healthcare reform is a scare tactic and rallying cry to upset ignorant followers and divide the country.

In Modesto, supporters of the Tea Party movement are clueless about the source of their alleged grass roots movement, and believe their liberties are at risk. Many protestors at rallies in the park proclaimed the government would take their guns, restrict their religious freedoms, and increase their taxes. The local gun club posted signs that “Obama’s going to take all your guns away so get them now and don’t register them.”

Religious fanatics claim liberals want to take God out of government and schools, even though God is not allowed in government or schools. Tea Party supporters fervently believe the lies ultra-conservative fear mongers like Sarah Palin and Fox News’ commentators spread, and neo-cons incite Tea Party protestors who remain ignorant of the origins, money, and real brains driving their movement.

It is sad that ignorant, frightened people believe their freedoms are at risk from the legally elected government of the United States. It is also sad these folks who think they are defenders of liberty are really shills for energy companies who will not share their ill-gotten profits with the Tea Party people.

David Koch proclaimed at one event that they are “fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history.” Koch’s only concern is higher profits earned on the backs of the Tea Party people, and they happily bend over for the shaft as Koch goes to the bank.

In Modesto and around the country, when Tea Party protestors make statements to the media and interviewers, they claim they fight for their liberty, ‘guns, God and gold,’ while they scream NO to affordable health care. They do not know whom the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute or the Koch brothers are, and have no idea the oil industry is pushing their agenda on them in the guise of preserving personal liberty.

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