Daily archives: October 13th, 2009

CTA Cutting Service, Raising Fares

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The CTA’s plan to cut service dramatically and raise fares as high as $3 for express bus and rapid transit service is “very, very ugly,” but so is the 30 percent drop-off in local tax revenue that created the crisis, Mayor Daley said Tuesday.

Although the plan to erase a $300 million shortfall was crafted by the mayor’s handpicked CTA president, Daley stopped short of giving it his blessing in an apparent attempt to avoid taking the blame.

“No. This is only proposed. And like anything else, that’s the last resort. No one wants to see fare increases or service cuts. But they are in a very difficult position,” the mayor said.

“When you raise fares, it drives people away. You know that. That’s why they’re coming up with every form of cost savings . . . to keep the CTA reasonable and fair to everyone….You have to analyze everything and try to come up with some new solutions, if it’s possible.”

A $300 million shortfall is unconscionable.

The Great Recession.

Everything must change.

Read more from the Sun-Times here.

Christopher Columbus and The Myth of ‘America’


To mark Columbus Day In 2004, the Medieval and Renaissance Center in UCLA published the final volume of a compendium of Columbus-era documents. Its general editor, Geoffrey Symcox, leaves little room for ambivalence when he says, “This is not your grandfather’s Columbus…. While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing – not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting biblical scripture – to advance his ambitions…. Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently. The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail – if it was recognized at all – in light of his role as the great bringer of white man’s civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise.”

But does it?

I don’t want to jump on the annual “bash Christoper Columbus” bandwagon.  But this article is worth your consideration.

Read more here.

GOP’s Olympia Snowe On Board for Democratic Health Care Reform Bill

Already referenced here, t his one deserves its own headline.

From WTAE Pittsburgh:

Washington– Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe broke with her party Tuesday and said she will vote for a Democratic health care bill, handing President Barack Obama a much-sought boost in his quest to expand access to medical coverage to all Americans.

Approval of the legislation by the Senate Finance Committee was a foregone conclusion going into Tuesday’s vote, since Democrats outnumber Republicans 13-10 on the panel. But Snowe’s decision gave the vote a significance that transcends partisan divisions. For months, congressional Republicans have been virtually unanimous in denouncing the Democratic bills as an unwarranted expansion of government influence.

The Maine senator kept virtually all of Washington guessing about how she would vote until she announced it late in the Senate Finance Committee debate Tuesday. She told her colleagues she has misgivings about the bill, but "when history calls, history calls."

Perhaps the ice is thawing between Democrats and Republicans. It would be nice to have Senator John McCain on board too. That would be good for the country.

Read more.

Will Health Insurance Industry Report Be Enough to Set Congress on Fire?

The health insurance industry issued a report that has Democrats fuming, finally. Will it be enough to set Congress on fire for reform?

From the Sun-Times:

Insurance companies aren’t playing nice any more.

Their message that health care legislation will drive up premiums for people who already have coverage comes as a warning shot at a key point in the debate and threatens President Obama’s top domestic priority.

Democrats and their allies scrambled on Monday to knock down a new industry-funded study forecasting that Senate legislation, over time, will add thousands of dollars to the cost of a typical policy. “Distorted and flawed,” said White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass. “Fundamentally dishonest,” said AARP’s policy strategist, John Rother. “A hatchet job,” said a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

But the health insurance industry’s top lobbyist in Washington stood her ground. In a call with reporters, Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, pointedly refused to rule out attack ads on TV featuring the study, though she said she believed the industry’s concerns could be amicably addressed.

At the heart of the industry’s complaint is a decision by lawmakers to weaken the requirement that millions more Americans get coverage. Since the legislation would ban insurance companies from denying coverage on account of poor health, many people will wait to sign up until they get sick, the industry says. And that will drive up costs.

The first sentence of this article is absurd, “Insurance companies aren’t playing nice any more.”

When have the insurance companies ever played nice? It’s not about playing nice. It’s not about health insurance profits. It’s about people’s lives against an industry’s quest for obscene profits.

The good news today is that GOP Senator Olympia Snowe says she will support the reform bill currently in the Senate Finance Committee. The rest of the GOP and the Conservadems need to jump on board also.

Look, the New Deal was passed because the rich got it. They understood that a 90% tax rate on upper income brackets was good for everyone in the economy, including the rich! Do the rich really want to see the United States return to a Gilded Age with tent cities popping up in ever suburb?

I’ve said it before: the for-profit health insurance industry should be illegal. The purpose of the industry is to make a profit, an obscene profit.

Congress needs to finally feel the fire. Right now it’s burning us alive.