Nina Bernstein | The New York Times | Readers Supported News | September 7, 2012
Medicaid has long conjured up images of inner-city clinics jammed with poor families. Its far less-visible role is as the only safety net for millions of middle-class people whose needs for long-term care, at home or in a nursing home, outlast their resources.
With baby boomers and their parents living longer than ever, few families can count on their own money to go the distance. So while Medicare has drawn more attention in the election campaign, seniors and their families may have even more at stake in the future of Medicaid changes – those proposed, and others already under way.
Though former President Bill Clinton overstated in his convention speech on Wednesday how much Medicaid spends on the elderly in nursing homes – they account for well under a third, not nearly two-thirds, of spending – Medicaid spends more than five times as much on each senior in long-term care as it does on each poor child, and even more per person on the disabled in long-term care.
Bernie Sanders | Reader Supported News | September 7, 2012
Given Mitt Romney’s business record as an outsourcer and tax avoider, and his desire to continue the failed economic policies of George W. Bush, President Obama should be 20 points ahead in the polls right now, not struggling to stay even. At a time when the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, Romney’s plan to provide more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires is dead wrong.
At a time when we have lost more than 56,000 factories and 5.3 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs since 2000, Romney is wrong in pushing for more unfettered free trade, which will make it easier for large corporations to throw American workers out on the street and ship American jobs to China and other low-wage countries.
At a time when millions of Americans continue to struggle through the horrendous recession caused by the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, Romney is wrong to believe we need more deregulation of too-big-to fail financial institutions.
Ewen MacAskill | Guardian UK | Readers Supported News | September 7, 2012
Barack Obama has made his pitch for a second White House term, pleading in his keynote address to the Democratic convention for more time in spite of the slow economic recovery and warning of the dangers posed by a Mitt Romney presidency.
Employing sombre pragmatism in place of the soaring optimism of the 2008 campaign, he told 23,000 people in the arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the tens of millions watching at home: “I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy.
“You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.
“But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.”
Throughout the week Obama campaign officials had been briefing that he would lay out a “roadmap” for the next four years to secure economic recovery.
Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone | Reader Supported News | September 7, 2012
A few people wrote to me this morning asking me about Dan Primack’s critique of my Romney piece (“Greed and Debt,” August 29) on CNN.com. His article (“Greed, Debt, and Matt Taibbi“) purports to provide a list of factual inaccuracies, but like a lot of these pieces that pore through long features in search of mistakes, the resultant list ends up mainly being a discussion of non-factual issues where Primack and I simply disagree.
For example, take this passage, where Primack quotes me and then critiques:
“Now your troubled firm – let’s say you make tricycles in Alabama – has been taken over by a bunch of slick Wall Street dudes who kicked in as little as five percent as a down payment.”
While perhaps there have been certain leveraged buyouts that involve just 5% equity, the typical contribution is significantly higher. For example, S&P Leveraged Commentary & Data reports that average LBO equity contributions since 1997 have come in between 28% and 45%. Still a debt game, but not quite so severe.
This is exactly why I used the term “as little as” five percent. I referenced two Bain deals where the company put down such obscenely small amounts of cash to take over companies: the Ampad deal where they put down $5 million to take over a company that was eventually forced to take on over $448 million in debt, and the KB deal where Bain put down $18 million and financed the remaining $302 million (meaning Bain put down more or less exactly five percent on the deal). I then noted, in the piece, that most LBO deals are 60-90% financed, which is not quite exactly but very nearly exactly what Primack says (his numbers are 65%-72% financed), except that he got his data from the S&P Leveraged Commentary & Data, while I got mine from the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
New York Times | September 7, 2012
Coming two months before Election Day, the employment report for August is a problem for President Obama. The economy added 96,000 jobs last month, a slow pace that lowered the monthly average this year to 139,000, versus 153,000 in 2011. Even the decline in the jobless rate, to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, was a disappointment, because it indicated a shrinking labor force as people gave up looking for work.
But properly understood, the report should not encourage voters to support Mitt Romney. That’s because boosting tepid job growth requires stimulative fiscal policy — including spending to rehire teachers and to rebuild schools, roads and other infrastructure, as well as loan modifications for underwater homeowners. Mr. Obama has proposed all of that, while Republicans have blocked such measures and the Republican agenda rejects them.
Republicans are even increasingly adamant that the Federal Reserve should do nothing to try to help the economy, with Representative Paul Ryan saying on Friday that monetary easing by the Fed would be a “bailout of bad fiscal policy.” Really? The Fed, if it acts, would be trying to compensate for the dearth of fiscal solutions, the result of Republican obstructionism. The Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, has been explicit in asserting correctly that the ailing housing market and contractionary fiscal policy are the biggest threats to the economy. He has indicated that Congressional action to address those issues would be preferable to more Fed easing. Yet the Republican response is to tell the Fed to back off.
Ken Thomas | Associated Press | EDGE Boston | September 7, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Barack Obama’s fall mission: Remind voters why they chose him in the first place, hope the economy doesn’t get worse – and paint Mitt Romney as an unacceptable alternative.
“On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America,” the Democrat said as he accepted his party’s nomination.
His re-election is far from certain and his task is far from easy, despite the built-in advantages of incumbency.
In a sharp reminder of that, his administration was releasing its August jobs report early Friday, offering the latest snapshot on whether the country’s 8.3 percent unemployment rate was improving. No president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has been re-elected with a jobless rate higher than 8 percent.