Texan4Hillary offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist.
We have lots of progressive news to catch up on so let us get to it!
Progressives are never going to let the Right off the hook for their move to end Medicare. Republican Congressman Charlie Bass, in swing state New Hampshire, is caught up in a firestorm over his vote to kill Medicare. This effective new ad from PCCC/DFA is sure to boost his opponent progressive Ann Kuster, who barely lost to him in 2010. And the GOP is begging for it to be taken off the air! The ad:
Senator Sanders has a new bill to radically cut costs of prescription drugs in America. Whenever our very serious deficit hawks decide to actually enact programs to do so they might want to check out Sanders’ very smart plan to end high drug costs in this country:
Drugs are cheap. There are few drugs that would sell for more than $5-$10 a prescription in a free market. However, many drugs in the United States sell for hundreds of dollars per prescription and sometimes several thousand dollars per prescription. There is a simple reason for this fact: government-granted patent monopolies.
The government gives patent monopolies to provide an incentive for drug companies to carry through research. This is an incredibly backward and inefficient way to pay for research. It leaves us paying huge amounts of money for cheap drugs. It also often leads to bad medicine.
We can do better and Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a way. He has introduced a bill to create a prize fund that would buy up patents, so that drugs could then be sold at their free market price. Sanders’ bill would appropriate 0.55 percent of GDP (about $80 billion a year, with the economy’s current size) for buying up patents, which would then be placed in the public domain so that any manufacturer could use them at no cost.
This money would come from a tax on public and private insurers. The savings from lower-cost drugs would immediately repay more than 100 percent of the tax….
What a concept! End the drug company monopolies on patents and let the government allow drugs to be sold at their cheap free market prices. The dilemmas of high drug costs would disappear for the consumer and for healthcare providers.
FDR’s grandson, Curtis Roosevelt, has a great piece at Huffington Post on the banks, Congress and our trust:
Widows like Granny, my great-grandmother Sara Delano Roosevelt, had implicit trust in the people who handled her financial affairs, in much the same way that she assumed integrity and professional standards in her doctor or lawyer.
Looking back again, I’m not at all sure that my grandfather, Franklin Roosevelt, swallowed his mother’s idealistic notions. As Assistant Secretary of the Navy during eight years in Woodrow Wilson’s administration, he had handled all the Navy’s contracts and labor relations. He then observed during the Harding and Coolidge presidencies how business interests were given the highest priority, and then, even during the Great Depression, how President Hoover considered our capitalistic system sacrosanct, untouchable.
The Pecora Commission was set up right before FDR was sworn in but he defended it and believed in its work:
Alan Brinkley, in a recent edition of Vanity Fair, describes the Pecora Commission’s investigation, concluding that it “had a lasting impact on the public’s image of the financial world, and it helped make possible new laws and regulations aimed at preventing a depression-size calamity from befalling the country again.”
He adds: “Congress has been remarkably decorous about investigating what went wrong.” He writes that, in contrast to the Pecora Commission, today, “showboating and modestly informed members of Congress berate witnesses without eliciting any useful disclosures — only self serving apologies.” (Replies from the CEO of Goldman-Sachs come to mind.)
But to ask, “Where is our Ferdinand Pecora?” sidesteps the real questions: Where is the White House? Where is presidential leadership in our crises?
President Obama should note that President Roosevelt’s slamming the bankers and financiers — beginning with his inaugural address and right up through his campaign for a second term — did not destroy the country’s banking system.
Yes we share Curtis Roosevelt’s alarm at the lack of concern from Obama and Congress about our out of control financial system. He then hits Obama:
We haven’t been able to count on the banking community since my childhood, and we can’t count on this Congress to give us the equivalent of the Pecora Commission. However, we should be able to count on our president.
There are many differences between those days and today, but presidential leadership should remain the same. Confidence in FDR won for the Democrats the 1934 mid-term election, and then provided Roosevelt with an overwhelming victory in 1936, electing him to a second term. Enough said.
FDR’s grandson is no fan of he current Democratic president. Is this a problem?
Meanwhile in Versailles, these days known as Washington DC, our president and Congress are mired in negotiations over raising the debt limit. Why negotiate over this when the GOP ransom is Medicare and Medicaid? especially after the Dems won a GOP House district last week? What nonsense. But we have some signs lead Dems plan to push against cuts not only to Medicare but Medicaid:
A Democratic briefing for several dozen Medicaid advocates on Republican plans to cut the program by close to $750 billion resulted in what one participant called a “clarion call” to action.
The advocates filing out of the darkened Senate building were under strict orders to keep tight-lipped, but a few participants indicated that no firm decisions were made during the meeting. Rather, they said, the public can expect to increasingly hear that the magnitude of cuts contemplated by Republicans would not be achievable without hard budget caps; that approach would hurt beneficiaries and would shift costs to the states, participants said, since the growth in Medicaid spending is expected to remain below that of the private sector, according to the latest CBO projections.
Turning Medicaid into block grants like Ryan wants will cost states up to 30pct more, like Texas. If anything Medicaid should fully subsidized by the federal government with no burden on state budgets.
Robert Reich is one of those progressive economists too few listen to on the Hill. He wonders if the hit Wall St. took this week is a turning point . The destruction of Main St. might now be hurting Wall St. and forcing changes that might be positive:
.. The economy needs 125,000 new jobs a month just to tread water, given that at least 125,000 people join the potential labor force every month. Simply put, if new hires are in the range of five digits, American consumers will not have enough purchasing power to buy what the private sector can produce.
The leaders of the Street and big business may now have to wake up to a reality they’ve tried to avoid — that the central economic problem of our time isn’t the long-term budget deficit but the immediate deficit in aggregate demand.
They may not yet see the necessity of a renewed social contract linking pay to per capita productivity, but they will understand something must be done to fuel jobs and wages.
Never underestimate the power of Wall Street and big business to set the terms of the economic debate in our nation’s capital. After all, Wall Street and big business pay the tab of politicians on both sides of the aisle. Even if the middle class can’t get the attention our representatives in Washington, those who fund their campaigns can.
Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, is seeking to harness the energy of voters enraged at their Republican governors, but isn’t sure about getting those voters to support Obama this time:
President Barack Obama faces waning enthusiasm from union members as he prepares for his 2012 re- election bid, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
“It will be more challenging this time than it was last time to motivate our members,” Trumka, 61, said in an interview today at Bloomberg’s offices in Washington.
With the DC focus on debt not jobs, free trade pacts which ship out our jobs and cuts to programs the people need Trumka is trying the only real thing he can do: organize locally, punish candidates who do not fight for workers. Trumka wants a progressive America and doesn’t care if the Right calls it socialism:
Trumka said he’d like to see the U.S. become more like a European nation that provides pensions and health care for all its citizens. He said he is accustomed to criticism and doesn’t mind if conservatives call that socialism.
“Being called a socialist is a step up for me,” he said.
Good news: Russ Feingold is seriously considering running for Senate in 2012 and will decide this summer. Should he run he will walk back into the Senate as voters have huge remorse for dumping him.
On Right wing nut watch we have yet another winner from Governor Scott. Governor Rick Scott continues to get into law the most outrageous affronts imaginable. He is the Dems’ best friend for ’12 and a terrible enemy of the poor and minorities. I cannot imagine the courts upholding this one:
Saying it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed legislation requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening.
“It’s the right thing for taxpayers,” Scott said after signing the measure. “It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.”
Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify. Those who fail the required drug testing may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of their children.
Shortly after the bill was signed, five Democrats from the state’s congressional delegation issued a joint statement attacking the legislation, one calling it “downright unconstitutional.”
“Governor Scott’s new drug testing law is not only an affront to families in need and detrimental to our nation’s ongoing economic recovery, it is downright unconstitutional,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings. “If Governor Scott wants to drug test recipients of TANF benefits, where does he draw the line? Are families receiving Medicaid, state emergency relief, or educational grants and loans next?”
Uh yeah. What were voters thinking to put in a guy who paid billions to the government over defrauding Medicare fraud? What a monster.