Video: Vermont Approves Single-Payer Health Care: ‘Everybody in, nobody out’

From our friends at Occupy Democrats regarding the state of Vermont adopting a single-payer health care system where all hospitals will operate as not-for-profits:

The program will be fully operational by 2017, and will be funded through Medicare, Medicaid, federal money for the ACA given to Vermont, and a slight increase in taxes.  In exchange, there will be no more premiums, deductibles, copay’s, hospital bills or anything else aimed at making insurance companies a profit.  Further, all hospitals and healthcare providers will now be nonprofit.

This system will provide an instant boost the state economy.  On the one side, you have workers that no longer have to worry about paying medical costs or a monthly premium and are able to use that money for other things.  On the other side, you have the burden of paying insurance taken off of the employers side, who will be able to use the saved money to provide a better wage and/or reinvest in their company through updated infrastructure and added jobs.  It is a win-win solution.

Win-win indeed.

This, by the way, is precisely the way Canada moved to a single-payer health care system: state by state.

And now it’s our turn.

Thank you, President Obama!

NYTimes: Third-Quarter U.S. Growth at 4.1% Rate in New Estimate. Good News?

Underemployment BLS June 2013
Source: BLS

The economy is improving, and has been for years under President Obama.

It’s just been sluggish, and there are plenty of people out of work still. There are even more who are underemployed (above graphic is from June 2013). According to Forbes, the "official" underemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs, or have just given up. These people, properly tracked under what’s called the "U-6" rate, showed underemployment at 14.3% in June 2013.

So, what exactly are we to infer from the revised estimate, reported today by the New York Times, that third quarter estimates for the economy showed 4.3% growth? The NYTimes reports:

The United States economy grew at an astonishing 4.1 percent annual rate, the federal government said Friday in its third and final revision of gross domestic product for the third quarter.

The rate was the fastest in almost two years.

The Commerce Department said business spending was stronger than it originally thought, leading to the revision up from 3.6 percent. Economists had expected the final estimate of growth to be unchanged from that 3.6 percent.

According to the Times, the growth rate for quarter two was 2.5%.

So, this is good news, right?

Not so certain, given the underemployment rate and other factors. Those of us in the middle and lower are making less, therefore spending less.

Consider the rise in companies buying back their own shares of stock, to the tune of $211 billion.

Enter Robert Reich from December 17, via Facebook (emphasis added):

A big reason why CEOs are about to rake in big year-end bonuses even though their sales are lousy (after all, America’s vast middle class and poor aren’t earning enough to buy much) is CEOs been using their companies’ cash, plus whatever they can borrow at rock-bottom interest rates engineered by the Fed, to buy back their own shares of stock. This maneuver raises the price of the remaining shares, thereby giving the CEOs – whose pay is tied to share prices – huge rewards. This year, the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average authorized $211 billion in buybacks, lifting the Dow (and CEO pay) to record heights.

This $211 billion could have gone instead to American workers in the form of higher wages – which would have come back to companies in the form of higher sales. McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.

It’s a vicious cycle as long as CEO incentives are directed toward raising share prices rather than sales, and as long as the economy is organized around the stock market rather than good jobs.

Since many of our pensions were shifted to the stock market via crapshoot 401Ks, we have learned that the stock market is not a safe environment for our retirement funds to exist. Know anyone who was unable to retire because his or her 401K lost half its value or more — just when that person was planning to exit the work force?

I do. Too many, in fact.

So, yes, a 4.1% growth in the economy is good news. However, as long as the corporations are defining growth based on the stock market as opposed to job growth, most of us in America will have to wait — and work — for a paradigm shift in the outlooks of corporations.

Or, we will have to fight for it, just like we did in the early 20th century.

Let’s begin by organizing the Service Industry.

More on that to come.

Damn the GOP. What They’re Doing Is Unprecedented, Immoral, and Evil

The GOP government shutdown just hit home for a close friend.

His son, a laborer who lives in a so-called "Right To Work" state, was out of work. He had been let go from his previous job because he became injured outside of work. Rather than give him a month to heal, which is all he needed, his employer at the time just let him go. Tried to tell him that he was doing him a favor. That he could collect unemployment, as opposed to making nothing for the 30 days or so he would need to heal.

And his employer knew that this lad had only worked for him for five months, therefore not qualifying for unemployment. And, it turns out, this employer has done this to other workers, letting them go in the fifth month of employment, so the employer has to pay neither benefits nor unemployment.

This is what the GOP refers to as "Right To Work," the myth that, forbidding unions from requiring workers to join a union when they get a job, workers now can be "free" of union dues and work, because, dammit, they have the right to work.

In reality, it means states full of workers, like my friend’s son, who have no union protection, no unions who negotiated fair working conditions. None of that. Not at all.

And employers can be as ruthless as the nasty members of the GOP, some of the meanest pols we’ve seen since just before the Great Depression, when robber barons ruled, and pols danced to their commands.

So my friend’s son applied for another job. Went through the entire interview process. Passed every background check, drug test — paid for by the hiring company — and was given his "new employee" packet.

And, on what was supposed to be his first day of work, was told that the company could not start him, because of the government shutdown.

Because of the government shutdown, the company was not certain that some contracts would be upheld.

That’s not what they told him at first. But, after he pressed them, they admitted this was, in fact, the case. The government shutdown.

The damn GOP government shutdown.

His son says it was evident the company was scrambling. Some news from on high had reached the blue collar workers, and the company, and American company, was being downsized.

These inglorious GOP members of Congress have got to go.

All of them.

They claim that this shutdown is the fault of the Democrats and the Democratic President who "refuse to negotiate.

Bullshit.

And here’s proof.

From BillMoyers.com, proof that this debt ceiling crisis is not politics as usual:

Never before has a minority party linked controversial legislative demands with a threat to shut down the government or imperil the global economy. But House Republicans would have you believe otherwise.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this morning, Rep. Paul Ryan writes that president Obama “says he ‘will not negotiate’ on the debt ceiling. He claims that such negotiations would be unprecedented. But many presidents have negotiated on the debt ceiling—including him. ”

Ryan was referring to a speech given in September before the Business Roundtable — an association of CEOs of large US companies — in which the president said, “You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party, and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and have nothing to do with the debt.”

Ryan continued: “He’s refusing to talk, even though the federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling. That’s a shame — because this doesn’t have to be another crisis. It could be a breakthrough.”

But that’s spin: Negotiating would set a dangerous precedent, because Obama’s right that this time really is different. Here are three reasons why.

Go to the original article here and read, and then act.

Video: Former President Bill Clinton Explains the Affordable Care Act

On Wednesday, September 4, President Clinton delivered remarks from the Clinton Presidential Center on the critical role a high quality, affordable and accessible health care system plays in the United States and any country’s economic and social well being. Throughout his public career and now through the work of the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton has championed increasing access to health care and improving health systems for everyone.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Smug and Crafty Politician

Donald Wuerl, smug politician
Cardinal Donald Wuerl is a crafty, smug pol. (Catholics for Equality)

Donald Cardinal Wuerl has come a long way.

From John Cardinal Wright’s secretary, to bishop, to cardinal.

He’s come far.

But, in his heart, at his best, he’s just another pol.

Unelected, mine you.  But a pol nonetheless.

Our friends at Catholics for Equality are trying to talk some sense into him, but his sanctimoniousness won’t listen.

Here’s their release, where they note His Eminence’s blatant electioneering:

Catholics for Equality, the country’s largest national political organization of pro-LGBT equality Catholics, joined hands today with several fair-minded and faithful Catholic social justice groups in organizing a peaceful protest outside the Archdiocese of Washington, DC’s rally promoting the U.S. bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom” election year political campaign. The Catholic groups came together with prayers and hymns under one giant united banner which read, Bishops: We Need Pastors, Not Politicians, Your Antics are Hurting the Church.

The peaceful protest took place outside a rally held at George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Center. The special event presided over by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was billed as a prayerful service, but was in fact a political campaign rally to motivate Catholics to vote against the re-election of President Obama because of the Health Care Reform Act and his support for LGBT equality. Wuerl and his fellow bishops claim that the exemptions provided in the Act are not sufficient for the Catholic Church and that they are being victimized by the federal government. Furthermore, the bishops claim that the Act is the greatest infringement upon religious liberty in American history and see themselves as martyrs like St. Thomas More, St. John Fischer, and others in church history.

“The bishops no longer represent Catholics in the pews on so many social issues, from contraception to legal equality for LGBT people,” said Joseph Palacios, Director of the Catholics for Equality Foundation. “We also reject the bishops’ election year campaign that they are now somehow victims of religious liberty, especially as the U.S. Catholic Church receives 62% of its funding for Catholic Charities from federal and state funds — money coming from the taxes of all Americans. Catholics Charities in Washington, DC, receives 68% of its funding from taxpayers. This does not include taxpayer vouchers for Catholic schools and other support for Catholic health care programs. If the bishops want exemption from the law, then they should stop receiving taxpayer funding.”

According to a new report released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute, 57% of American Catholics do not believe that the right to religious liberty is being threatened in America today. The report also notes that 65% of Catholics believe that most employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception at no cost and that 63% believe religiously affiliated agencies should not be able to refuse to place children with qualified gay and lesbian couples.

“The bishops’ 2012 “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign is nothing more than election year political posturing,” said Phil Attey, Executive Director of Catholics for Equality. “For the past 10 years the bishops have earned the public branding of abusers, oppressors, and political bullies. They’ve lost the ear of Catholics in the pews and political leaders in Washington … including Catholic political leaders. In order to change this political reality, the bishops know they have to first have to change their public image. But instead of doing so by championing social justice issues — fighting for the poor, the sick the marginalized and the oppressed, as bishops have done in the past — our bishops are opting to run around spending our collection plate money on a campaign to claim they are the real victims in today’s society. Catholics aren’t stupid, though. We know what we see and we’re not buying it. The bishops are only bringing more embarrassment to our church.”

The USCCB’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign launched this week consists of events in over 37 dioceses across the country. The campaign officially concludes on July 4th with a nationally televised Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, though the bishops’ election year political activities are expected to continue all the way to election day.

Catholics for Equality empowers pro-equality Catholics to put our faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families.

Catholics for Equality was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom andequality at the federal, state, and local levels for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family, parish and community members.

Will no one save us from these meddlesome clerics? They, who now claim moral authority, after decades of shielding pedophiles.

Will no one save us?

 

Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney: The (Un-)Artful Dodger

Ask Romney Anything?
Ask Willard "Mitt" Romney, the (Un-)Artful Dodger, anything? Really?

For those who watched the GOP circular firing squad Saturday night, you may recall Mitt Romney referring to a question about states banning birth control “silly.”

The only thing “silly” was his dodge, as he tried to deny his own state the right to offer birth control in 2005.

From the Huffington Post:

Mitt Romney artfully dodged a question about whether states have the right to ban birth control during Saturday’s Republican presidential debate, calling the question “silly” and saying that states wouldn’t want to do that anyway. But as governor of Massachusetts in 2005, Romney took a harder line on contraception, vetoing a widely supported bill that would make the morning-after pill available over the counter in that state and require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.

His surprising veto did not stand. The Massachusetts state Senate voted unanimously to overrule it, and the state House voted 139-16 to do the same.

Imagine that.

If he does get the GOP nomination, this multi-millionaire’s record will speak for itself, even as he tries to blow smoke over it.

‘Punished for Living Too Long,’ Paralyzed High School Football Player Dies at 27

Rocky Clark in his home in Robbins in 2010.
Rocky Clark in his home in Robbins in 2010.

The sad news comes from the Chicago Tribune: “Rasul “Rocky” Clark, who was paralyzed while playing football for Blue Island’s Eisenhower High School in 2000 and later fought an unsuccessful battle to keep his health insurance, died Thursday after undergoing surgery at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, a hospital spokeswoman said.”

More from the Trib:

He was a 16-year-old backup running back on Sept. 15, 2000, when Eisenhower’s starting running back separated his shoulder in a game at Oak Forest High School. Mr. Clark went into the game. Four plays later, he was tackled and suffered two broken vertebrae in his neck and a spinal injury.

Left a quadriplegic, Mr. Clark for 10 years received top-notch health care through the catastrophic medical insurance provided by Community High School District 218. That included nurses in his home around the clock, access to pain medicines and prescriptions and a storeroom of supplies.

But in August 2010, Clark was informed the $5 million health insurance had reached its maximum and would no longer cover his medical needs. Officials with Clark’s insurance agency, Health Special Risk Inc., previously declined to discuss his case or their policies on claims and lifetime maximums with the Tribune.

At the time his policy ended, Clark said he felt he was being punished for living too long. Many quadriplegics die within 10 years after their injury because of lung or kidney failure. But Clark was able to thrive, in part because of the meticulous health care he received, his physician and family members said.

Punished for living too long.

Read the whole story here.

From Liberal Values: To Hell With Facts–Rick Santorum Wants To Keep Science Out Of Politics

From Liberal Values by our good friend Ron Chusid:

Conservatives have developed their own “news” sources such as Fox and right wing talk radio to protect them from hearing actual facts about the outside world. When the wish to hide the fact that they are promoting views which directly contradict the views of the Founding Fathers on subjects such as separation of church and state, they promote their own revisionist history. They ignore sound economic principles to promote their brand of Voodoo Economics, regardless of how often their economic view fail in the real world. Conservatives especially concentrate on rejecting science when the facts contradict their views, including on creationism, denying geology and cosmology when it contradicts their views on the creation of the earth and the universe, and denying climate change.

I’ve had numerous discussions with conservatives who have openly rejected science, believing scientific evidence can be ignored when it contradicts their religious beliefs, but political leaders are rarely as open in their contempt for science. Rick Santorum is an exception in his open hostility towards science. He opposes keeping religion out of government, but does want to keep science out. According to the Des Moines Register, while discussing controversial subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum suggested that “science should get out of politics.”

Read the entire post here.

New Look for Turning Left

I’ve always thought of Turning Left as a dark place screaming to the light.

For what it’s worth.

Haven’t posted in a while.  With the 2012 presidential election heating up, it’s time to get back into action.

With that comes a new look with some of our old colors from our previous look.

Heading to 2012, my friends. Let’s get to work.

The Weird Right is stranger than ever.