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    • The Problem With Neoliberal “It’s Never Been Better” Triumphalism
      Saying that humanity is currently the best off it has ever been (a dubious proposition in any case) is like saying “I’ve never been warmer” as you burn down your house. People like Pinker have been trotting out stats to claim that we’ve never been better off. Those stats are questionable, based on a definition […]
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B-B-B- But we MUST pay the Bank (Health Care is Still Off the Table)

Taking health care off the table wouldn’t bother me so much if actually made some sort of financial (or logical) sense. Or for that matter if it was actually possible. But, I’m sitting here waiting to go for a doctor’s appointment and a blood test and no one took my diabetes or the co-payment off the table.

You see, we are already paying for health care. A National Single Payer Health Care Plan would only shift some of the money that’s going to pay for administrative costs to private insurance companies murder-by-spreadsheet — using it to cover the medical expenses of the un (and under) insured. From the Physicians for a National Health Plan, Single Payer FAQ:

Won’t this raise my taxes?

A universal public system would be financed in the following way: The public funds already funneled to Medicare and Medicaid would be retained. The difference, or the gap between current public funding and what we would need for a universal health care system, would be financed by a payroll tax on employers (about 7%) and an income tax on individuals (about 2%). The payroll tax would replace all other employer expenses for employees’ health care, which would be eliminated. The income tax would take the place of all current insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket payments. For the vast majority of people, a 2% income tax is less than what they now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket payments such as co-pays and deductibles, particularly if a family member has a serious illness. It is also a fair and sustainable contribution.

Currently, 47 million people have no insurance and hundreds of thousands of people with insurance are bankrupted when they have an accident or illness. Employers who currently offer no health insurance would pay more, but those who currently offer coverage would, on average, pay less. For most large employers, a payroll tax in the 7% range would mean they would pay slightly less than they currently do (about 8.5%). No employer, moreover, would gain a competitive advantage because he had scrimped on employee health benefits. And health insurance would disappear from the bargaining table between employers and employees. Continue reading

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Bad Bank, Bad Bank! Or I’m not an economist, but this sounds REALLY Bad to me

Does the idea of a Bad Bank have anything to do with this  story from a couple of days ago?  And can they REALLY be thinking of a $4 Trillion Bailout?  For Banks?  Well, remembering this:

Schumer’s $3-4 Trillion Horror Story

While questioning Treasury nominee Tim Geithner at his confirmation hearing this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer said he spent some time calling around Wall Street this weekend, and what he heard was that if the government wants to clean out all the toxic assets from the financial system, it will cost some three to four trillion dollars. Which is to say, an order of magnitude larger than the second $350 billion in TARP money the Senate just approved.

That’s pretty daunting stuff when you consider that the banking system probably won’t recover until most of this bad debt gets cleaned up. And that the economy won’t recover till the banking system does. Alas, the only thing worse than spending $3 trillion to clean up the banks may be not doing it.

That doesn’t sound like a joke.  Then today  via Calculated Risk we learn that the idea of a Bad Bank is close to a sure thing:

The Obama administration is close to deciding on a plan to purchase bad—or non-performing and illiquid—assets from banks, according to industy sources. The plan could be announced early next week.

The so-called “bad bank” plan, would address the key problem of how to price the assets by using a model-pricing mechanism.

The model would take account of the government’s ability to hold onto assets, even to maturity, and pay for the them with cheap funding. Result: the government might end up paying more than current market prices for the securities.

. . .

Clearly, the idea of a “bad bank” is gaining momentum. On Capitol Hill today, Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd said he was aware the idea is under discussion and “it makes some sense to me.”

The move toward a bad bank concept comes amid growing speculation that banks may need another government bailout.

Jesus! No wonder they’re so sure we can’t finance Health Care For Everyone.  We’ll be lucky to buy toilet paper when this is all over.

No Soup for You! Democrats take “Universal” Health Care Off the Table

As half a million Americans a month lose their jobs and employee-based health insurance, it would be some comfort if our Democratic leaders could at least pretend some concern about the issue:

Top Dem: No comprehensive health reform this year

A prominent House Democrat said he doesn’t expect a comprehensive healthcare reform bill to pass Congress in 2009, saying an incremental approach to covering the uninsured would be better “than to go out and just bite something you can’t chew.”

House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) timeline on tackling healthcare is at odds with the timetable proposed by Senate Democrats and could represent a major shift in the House Democrats’ strategy of dealing with the uninsured.

During an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program that aired on Sunday, Clyburn said he doesn’t anticipate that comprehensive healthcare legislation will be approved in 2009.

While noting he does not know exactly when President Obama want to move forward with a universal healthcare measure, Clyburn said, “If you take what we’ve done with [the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill] and then you follow with [more spending] on community health centers, you would have gone a long way to building a foundation upon which to build a universal access healthcare program.

“I would much rather see it done that way, incrementally, than to go out and just bite something you can’t chew. We’ve been down that road. I still remember 1994.” Continue reading