Weekly Pulse: On Health Care Repeal, House GOP Full of Sound and Fury

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

House Republicans will hold a symbolic vote to overturn health care reform on January 12. The bill, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and set the nation’s health care laws back to the way they were last March, has no chance of becoming law. The GOP controls the House, but Democrats control the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate Democrats will block the bill.

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones reports that the 2-page House bill carries no price tag. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ACA would save $143 billion dollars over the next decade. The GOP repeal bill contains no alternative plan. So, repealing the ACA would be tantamount to adding $143 billion to the deficit. So much for fiscal responsibility.

Why are the Republicans rushing to vote on a doomed bill without even bothering to hold hearings, or formulate a counter-proposal for the Congressional Budget Office to score? Kevin Drum of Mother Jones hazards a guess:

[Speaker John] Boehner [(R-OH)] knows two things: (a) he has to schedule a repeal vote because the tea partiers will go into open revolt if he doesn’t, and (b) it’s a dead letter with nothing more than symbolic value. So he’s scheduling a quick vote with no hearings and no CBO scoring just so he can say he’s done it, after which he can move on to other business he actually cares about.

An opportunity?

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly argues that all this political theater around repealing the Affordable Care Act is an opportunity for Democrats to remind the public about all the popular aspects of the bill that the GOP is trying to strip away.

Last weekend several key provisions of the ACA took effect, including help for middle income seniors who are running up against the prescription drug “donut hole.” Until last Saturday, their drugs were covered up to a relatively low threshold, then they were on their own until they spent enough on prescriptions for the catastrophic coverage to kick in again. Those seniors will be reluctant to give up their brand new 50% discount on drugs in the donut hole.

Another crack at turning eggs into persons

A Colorado ballot initiative to bestow full human rights on fertilized ova was resoundingly defeated for the second time in the last midterm elections. Attempts to reclassify fertilized ova as people are an attempt to ban abortion, stem cell research, and some forms of birth control. Patrick Caldwell of the American Independent reports that new egg-as-person campaigns are stirring in other states where activists hope to take advantage of new Republican majorities.

Personhood USA, the group behind the failed Colorado ballot initiatives, claims that there is “action” (of some description) on personhood legislation in 30 states. Caldwell says Florida may be the next battleground. Personhood USA needs 676,000 signatures to get their proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Right now, they have zero, but they promise a “big push” in 2011.

Ronald McDonald = Joe the Camel

In AlterNet, Kelle Louaillier calls for more regulation of fast food industry advertising to children. New research shows that children are being exposed to significantly more fast food ads than they were just a few years ago. Other studies demonstrate that children give higher marks to food products when they are paired with a cartoon character. Louaillier writes of her organization’s campaign to prevent fast food companies from using cartoons to market fast food to kids:

For our part, my organization launched a campaign in March to convince McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald, its iconic advertising character, and the suite of predatory marketing practices of which the clown is at the heart. A study we commissioned by Lake Research Partners found that more than half of those polled say they “favor stopping corporations from using cartoons and other children’s characters to sell harmful products to children.”

Local elected officials are joining the cause, too. Los Angeles recently voted to make permanent a ban on the construction of new fast food restaurants in parts of the city. San Francisco has limited toy giveaway promotions to children’s meals that meet basic health criteria. The idea is spreading to other cities.

2011 trendspotting: Baby food

The hot new snack trend for 2011 is mush, as Bonnie Azab Powell reports in Grist. In an attempt to burnish its portfolio of “healthier” snack options for kids Tropicana (a PepsiCo company) is introducing a new line of pureed fruit and vegetable slurries. The products, sold under the brand name Tropolis, feature ground up fruits and veggies, vitamin C, and fiber in a portable plastic pouch. These “drinkified snacks” or “snackified drinks” will be priced at $2.49 to $3.49 for a four-pack, making them more expensive than fresh fruit.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Lawmakers Consider Alternative Plan to Break Budget Impasse

OUCH - A staffer for Speaker of the House John Boehner shows reporters how the sheep will be sacrificed as he leaves budget negotiations at the White House.

Washington – Details of a secret Congressional plan to break the long-standing deadlock in budget negotiations leaked out Thursday. US lawmakers are considering the use of an unorthodox method favored by the Kyrgyzstani Parliament – sacrificial sheep.

Although Kyrgyzstanis use it for banishing the twin devils of ethnic strife and revolution, Kyrgyzstani oil lobbyist Zhogorku Kenesh said the ritual could be redesigned for US budget purposes for as little as KGS 7 billion Kyrgyzstani som and an arranged lesbian marriage of President Obama’s eldest daughter Malia Ann Obama to Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva.

The initial proposal, offered by Republicans, called for 6 sheep to be slaughtered and placed on a huge altar recently dedicated at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA. However, the proposal immediately met resistance from members of the Republican’s own Christian conservative wing.

“We’re not so bothered by the pagan ritual – after all, it’s for debt reduction and tax incentives for conservative Christian churches – but slaughtering 6 sheep is totally unacceptable,” said Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association.

666, The Mark of The Beast
“The number 6 is an important, symbolic number for Christians. It constitutes one-third of the dangerous mark of the beast, 666. By allowing this number of the Muslim devils in this most unholiest of ways, we are inviting doom and total annihilation by one-third of the Islamic radical empire,” Fischer said.

In order to save the fledgling compromise, Sen. Harry Reed (D-Asslandia) stepped forward with a proposal to raise the number of sheep to be slaugtered to 7. However, Tea Party activists in the Republican caucus killed the idea.

The Partiers insist on cutting the sheep budget by 99% and the abolishment of President Obama’s signature health care bill. According to the Republican Institute of Financial Analysis, the sheep cut alone would erase the Federal deficit within 90 days. Republican officials described the Institute’s findings as, “very insightful”.

“We have to watch out for this sort of insidious attack on our freedoms,” said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Moronohoma). “First we’ll be required to sacrifice sheep every evening before dinner and once lulled by the aroma of the devilish flesh, carted off to concentration camps operated by the socialist Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

Liberals were equally disappointed with the plan. Broadcaster Rachel Maddow, speaking on condition of anonymity on her news show, floated the idea that all sheep be supplied by local, humane farms that do not use hormones on their animals.

Maddow Touts Sacrificial Celery
“I’m vegetarian, so I’d prefer they sacrifice stalks of celery myself. However, I advocate bipartisanship with those asswipes over at the RNC,” she added. “Anything to make those skeevy bastards look bad.”

Further problems are expected from a Republican-sponsored rider to the bill. Called the “Rich People Are Better Than You Act”, it requires most of the leftover carcasses be distributed to the Top 0.999% of wage earners, along with a $356,000 tax credit just because.

Democrats object to the best meat going to the wealthy, wool-clad elite while only the offal, eyes, and tail are promised to the bottom taxpayers.

The Republican plan calls for middle-income families to pay a 37% tax on all orders of lamb chops or rack of lamb served at the haute Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. Democrats also expect Republicans to cut the entitlement after its passage and repossess the sheep parts when low-income families default on their orvis aries windfall. The low-income families will likely be taxed an Offal Abatement Fee of about 69% to cover the costs of removing the left over pig.

With the new proposal already on bumpy footing, Republican lawmakers have called for Newt Gingrich to mediate the ongoing disputes.

“Newt’s the perfect man for the job. Very fair. A very learned man. And, he’s a hell of a Republican,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Sheep Sexingville, VA).

“Not partial in what so any way, except in his strong American belief in the truth,” Cantor added.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

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