Election May Decide Medicaid’s Future

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.

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Romney’s Wrong Economic Answers

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.

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Barack Obama: Let’s Finish What We Started

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.

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Bain and Mitt Romney: What’s Fact and What’s Opinion

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.

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Jobs and Politics

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.

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Obama’s Task: Keep the Race a Choice

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.

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Thompson campaign official emails video of Baldwin at gay pride event

Patrick Marley and Jason Stein | Journal Sentinel | September 6, 2012

The political director for the U.S. Senate campaign of former Gov. Tommy Thompson highlighted his opponent’s participation in a gay pride event and criticized her ability to discuss “heartland values.”

Thompson, a Republican, is running against U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who if elected would become the nation’s first openly gay senator.

Thompson’s political director, Brian Nemoir, sent an email and posted a Twitter message about Baldwin dancing at the gay pride festival in advance of Baldwin giving a prime time speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Baldwin has said that speech will focus on “heartland values.”

“Clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy,” Nemoir wrote in his email, which was obtained by WisPolitics.com.

The email included a link to a video of Baldwin dancing in 2010 on Library Mall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus with the costumed disco band VO5 playing the “Wonder Woman” theme. Baldwin, wearing sunglasses, dances on stage with the band and at the end hugs a dancer who is dressed like the comic book hero Wonder Woman.

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DNC 2012: R.I. guv says primary race ‘pivotal’ for marriage equality

Chris Johnson | Washington Blade | September 6, 2012

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks before the Democratic National Committee (Blade photo by Michael Key)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The independent governor of Rhode Island said Tuesday that an upcoming Democratic primary could be key in determining whether the state will pass same-sex marriage legislation next year.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a supporter of marriage equality, told the Washington Blade that a victory on Sept. 11 for  Laura Pisaturo, a lesbian attorney running for state Senate, would be “pivotal” when asked about his expectations for advancing marriage equality.

“There’s a key Senate race in Rhode Island, which is really revolving around this issue, and the head of the committee who overseas marriage equality is having a tough primary race,” Chafee said. “So a week from tonight, we’ll kind of have an indication. A big pro-marriage equality candidate against this committee chair. That’s a pivotal race in Rhode Island that will be an indication.”

Pisaturo is running against State Sen. Michael McCaffrey, another attorney and chair of Rhode Island’s Senate Judiciary Committee. Pending same-sex marriage legislation has never advanced in his committee, even though he’s a Democrat. Last month, McCaffrey said during a TV debate that the committee may not have the votes to move the bill, adding his position is he “believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

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Gay politician (and YouTube sensation) headed to Atlanta to support documentary on LGBT elected officials

Laura Douglas-Brown  | The GA Voice | September 5, 2012

Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns, who drew national media attention when his story of surviving bullying went viral, is headed to Atlanta later this month to support “Breaking Through,” a project from local filmmaker Cindy Abel.

Burns will be on hand for a Sept. 27 fundraiser for the film, which tells the personal stories of openly gay elected officials around the country. Details of the event are TBA.

“Joel is coming because he knows ‘Breaking Through’ will bring hope: to teens who, like he once did, are wondering if life will have purpose and [if they should] commit suicide, and to adults, who conclude their career choices will be limited if they’re openly gay,” Abel said in an email announcing the fundraiser.

Funds raised will help pay for the completion of “Breaking Through,” which Abel said has completed interviews and is slated to be finished in October. You can learn more about the film at its website.

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“The movie is about breaking through barriers to live happy, passionate, fulfilled lives. The prism, or the lens, through which we’re looking is openly LGBT elected officials — it could be any group of people but this just happens to be a group I am so inspired by,” Abel told GA Voice in an interview about the film last year.