The President’s Health Care Reform Plan

will:

  • Provide the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing costs for tens of millions of families and small businesses.
  • Cover 31 million currently uninsured Americans.
  • Create a health insurance market that will give tens of millions of Americans access to the same insurance choices members of Congress have.
  • Set policies to lower premiums and prevent abuse and denial of care.
  • End discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • Reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion in the first two decades.

Of course, I expect Republicans to oppose the plan. My question to them is, which parts specifically are you against? The middle class tax cut? The $1 trillion deficit reduction? Giving Americans more choices? Ending waste, fraud and abuse? Preventing discrimination based on preexisting conditions? What part of this, exactly, doesn’t sit well with you?

I mean, the right can gibber on and on about ‘socialism’ and ‘big government’ and ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies but–unless they can point to specific parts of this plan they oppose–that’s all just so much empty fearmongering.

We’re dealing with concrete proposals and detailed policies here — if the right can’t tell us which specific policies they oppose then they don’t really have a leg to stand on, do they?

UPDATE: And for anyone who tries to complain that the President’s plan doesn’t contain any Republican policies–guess what? You’re wrong.

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The Recovery Act: One Year Later (UPDATED X2)

A year ago today, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act–also known as the economic stimulus package–went into effect.

And here’s all you need to know about it:

[Click for full-sized version]

But, what the heck, here’s some more info, just for kicks:

Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.

[Emphasis mine]

We know now that the right’s the-stimulus-has-failed touchdown dance was more than a little premature–while GOP was spiking the ball at the 5 yard line, President Obama and the Democrats were creating 2.5 million new jobs.

Yes, unemployment is still high. Yes, there aren’t enough jobs out there yet. But nobody can dispute now that the Recovery Act has put us back on the right track and has kept millions of Americans off of the unemployment lines–something that never would have happened if the Republicans had their way.

UPDATE: In their typical dishonest fashion, some conservatives are pointing out that the unemployment rate when Obama took office was 7.7% and that it now stands at 9.7%.

I mean, I’m glad they’re finally acknowledging that President Obama inherited much of our economic troubles from his predecessor, but they’re missing the point.  The recovery act was intended to staunch the bleeding, to prevent a massive recession from turning into a massive depression, not to significantly reduce unemployment–it’s  likely that no one bill could have done that.

So yes, unemployment is still high–but it would have been much higher if the GOP had their way and we did nothing. And had Congress listened to progressives and passed a larger stimulus package, I imagine that unemployment would be lower today.

UPDATE II: You know how you can tell that the recovery act worked?

Because the very Republicans who railed against it–and voted against it–are now trying to take credit for it:

Ah, hypocrisy.

Unemployment Fell In January

There’s some good news coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics today–the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 9.7% in January.

While it’s only a slight drop–and the overall economy still lost some jobs last month–the dip in the unemployment is good news.

And there’s more data from January that points toward a positive future:

One interesting fact to note, however, is that the U-6 measurement, which includes people who have lost work hours and those who have given up on finding a job alongside the unemployed, dropped relatively dramatically, from 17.3 of the labor force — where it had held steady for the last several months — to 16.5 percent. This could augur well for the jobs situation: The decrease comes from part-time workers transitioning back to the full-time — nearly 850,000 involuntary part-time employees made the switch — a sign that broader hiring could be in the offing as demand for labor increases.

[Emphasis mine]

Still, we cannot afford to get complacent. Unemployment is still high and there’s no telling whether or not it will continue to drop or remain where it is.

That’s why we need to pass the President’s jobs bill as soon as possible–because the more we do to put Americans back to work, the better off we as a nation will be.

IL-SEN: Giannoulias vs. Kirk

Yesterday was primary day in Illinois, which were also the first primaries of the 2010 election.

In the race for President Obama’s former Senate seat, Rep. Mark Kirk will be the GOP candidate while Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will be the Democratic candidate.

It’s early in the cycle, so polling is pretty unreliable, but a recent Public Policy Polling survey has Giannoulias beating Kirk 42 to 34, while a December Rasmussen poll also has Giannoulias leading 42 to 39.

The NRSC, feeling the heat, has put out an attack ad entitled ‘Alexi Giannoulias: He’d Make Tony Soprano Proud.’  The video contains the same warmed-over pastiche of weak guilt-by-association Blagojevich-Rezko-Chicago nonsense that the GOP has unsuccessfully thrown at Obama for years.

(And I bet you that, had Giannoulias been named something like John Smith, the NRSC probably wouldn’t have come up with that particular ad).

It’s early–and a lot can happen in very little time–but all indications are that Giannoulias starts out this race in a fairly strong position; hopefully he won’t squander that advantage.

GDP Grew 5.7% In 4th Quarter Of 2009

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

The White House puts this in context:

The data show that the total output of the U.S. economy increased strongly in the fourth quarter of 2009.  Real GDP (that is, GDP adjusted for inflation) increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent.  The change from the first quarter of 2009, when GDP fell at an annual rate of 6.4 percent, is truly extraordinary; indeed, the three-quarter swing in growth rates was the largest since 1981.

[…]

[Click for larger]

This is, undeniably, good news for the country and the American people.

But this is particularly good news for President Obama and Congressional Democrats, since it shows that their economic policies are working.  We’ll still have to wait and see how employment fares–since employment is a lagging indicator–but this much GDP growth is a good sign.

On the other hand, this is particularly bad news for Republicans, since they’re relying on continued economic stagnation to help them in the upcoming midterm elections. If Obama and the Democrats turn out to have been right and the economy continues to improve, then I don’t see what the Republicans are going to run on.

Dissatisfaction will only take you so far–if people stop being dissatisfied then Republicans are going to have to come up with actual policies to run on.

[All emphasis mine]

State Of The Union Liveblog (UPDATED CONTINUOUSLY)

Let’s get it started–the President has entered the chamber.

UPDATE: The speech begins:

President Obama starts off talking about America’s trials and tribulations–Bull Run, the Great Depression, Bloody Sunday, etc. But, despite our hesitations and fears, America prevailed because we moved forward as one nation, one people.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economic collapse and a country in severe debt. Experts warned that, without action, we faced a second Great Depression. We acted–one year later, the worst has passed.

But the devastation remains–many Americans can’t find work, houses are shuttered, and life has become that much harder. The recession has compounded the burdens America’s families have dealt with for decades–savings, retirements, college, etc.

UPDATE II: These struggles aren’t new–they are the reason I ran for President. For suffering Americans, change can’t come fast enough. And people can’t understand why bad behavior on Wall St. is rewarded while good behavior on Main St. warrants nothing.

People are tired of the partisanship and of the shouting and division–what the American people deserve is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences and overcome the weight of our politics. The anxieties we all face are the same, our aspirations are shared.

The American people share a resilience in the face of adversity. In one of the most difficult years in our history, the American people remain busy.  One woman wrote to me ‘we are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.’ It is because of this spirit that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight.

[Applause]

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