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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 9,314

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Opt out from the the Medicaid portion or the entire Act?

It has always been true that a state could opt out from the entire Act if it created legislation similar enough to the Act that the same consumer protections were in place. If they did, they could get funding for their individual program. Approximately 9 states have begun doing this (or are seriously studying it), and I am envious of those people who live in those states. The programs being implemented, such as in Vermont, are the same as single payer.

But states can also decline the Medicaid portion of this Act. What the Federal Government cannot do is cut off the current aid it is giving to those states which do this, but should a state refuse to accept the funds for the Medicaid portion of the Federal law, they will not receive the increased funding provided under that law. At its inception, the Federal Government will fund Medicaid at the state level I believe at 100 percent for 3 years; then it starts to gradually drop down to like 95, then 90 percentages (approximately). I am not sure quite where it levels off. It seems to me this is so generous that any state that declined it would probably be one with a Republican Governor who did so for political reasons, not economic ones.

Regarding all the discussion on this thread about labeling the penalty a tax, the Dems always knew it was the equivalent of a tax but thought for PR reasons it would be better to call it a penalty. As time progressed in the negotiations of enacting the Federal legislation, the Dems did whittle away at the amount of the penalty (and/or tax) clauses, stripping the IRS of the ability to for instance attach a person's wages for non-payment or taking assets. They did so (whittled away) because the Dems from the beginning were always against a mandate -- it was the Republicans who insisted on it. The penalty is waived for those making small salaries, and kicks it at a certain level of I think about $40,000 yearly. At that point, if one does not buy coverage, he or she will be penalized/taxed about $100. No pay - no problem.

Attorneys defending the Act, said even if it were found to be not Constitutional to enforce the mandate because those judging read the Commerce differently, the fact of the matter was that that penalty was indeed a tax, just not labeled as such in the wording of the legislation. And the Federal Government is empowered to levy taxes. Roberts agreed with that argument.

Those judges in fact reading the Commerce Clause differently bought the plaintiffs' assertions that people not now covered were not participating in commerce, and thus they could not be fined.

See -- pretty simple right?


There are so many myths about this election it is difficult to address them all in a single thread

The Republicans' threat to still submit a Republican slate of electors to the electoral college regardless if the recount continued and Gore prevailed, was an unconstitutional move which if truly carried out would have enabled the Electoral College to not count Florida's slate. Of course, we do know who presided over that vote, but that still would have not changed the unalterable facts. It is unconstitutional to change the way a state government selects its slate of electors after an election has been held but before the electoral college meets. Florida's state constitution outlined how that slate would be decided, and even the state legislature could not constitutionally change the state constitution and changed that process after the vote but before the electoral college met. This is irrefutable. That of course did not stop the Republicans from threatening it and many people believing they would do exactly this.

Three counties in Florida NEVER submitted its final tallies for consideration in any of the re-examination of the ballots conducted by the papers at a later time. They refused and even though pressure was applied until the last minute, these three counties still held out. It would have been impossible to have a truly accurate assessment by the papers without all counties' ballots being considered. This is a little known fact.

Yes one can disagree with the ruling by simply saying the Supreme Court had no constitutional authority to even challenge the Florida Supreme Court's decision. The clear reading of the U.S. Constitution turns the running of the Presidential election over to the states, and each state is to have in its State Constitution a specific outline for how the election will be handled. The U.S. Supreme Court has no authority to challenge the results of a Presidential election conducted by any state as long as the state constitution is in place and is followed. None. Well, actually it has no authority to challenge a state's slate that should do that; that is the responsibility of the Electoral College, and there is precedent it has happened.

And beyond that using a law that was enacted during the days of the Pony Express delivering the slate of electors to the Electoral College, the Safe Harbor provision which deadline was enacted so that the horses would leave the states on time in order to arrive before the votes were counted is no excuse in the 21st Century to discount 51 million votes nationwide. None.

That is it for this evening. Hope I didn't make any silly mistakes because of the lateness of the hour, but this is one issue that always merits a comment regardless of the lateness of the evening.


I want to tell you a story

I was inspired by Sheepshank's thread to tell you a story. Here goes.

Some time ago, I relocated to a small rural area in the panhandle of West Virginia. Having grown up for the most part and having been educated in the DC metropolitan area, I lived in a state of culture shock for the first five years. I could tell you many incidents that would surprise you, but the one that came to mind as I read Sheepshank's thread was the one that involved a visit with my former husband's friend in rural Pennsylvania.

He and his wife were very friendly and talked of life events in the area in which they lived. His wife in particular focused on a couple down the road where the husband habitually beat his wife to keep her in line. To my shock and horror, the husband said many men in that area thought the Bible taught that a man should discipline his wife in the same manner he would his children if she sinned against God or failed to submit to her husband, the head of the household.

"But he really hurts her when he beats her, and it happens all the time," his wife weakly objected. Perhaps she did not want to risk appearing to question a husband's authority....

One day we returned for another visit, and the wife volunteered another installment of the ongoing problems down the road. It turned out one night when the husband went to bed and fell asleep, his wife tied him up with the bedsheets. She picked up his baseball bat and then proceeded to beat the -- shall I say the Bejesus -- out of him. Things had quietened down considerably since that incident.

I rode home that evening for a short while in stone silence, not being able to believe some of the things I was learning about cultural beliefs held by some in the midst of where I now lived. I quietly looked over at my companion behind the wheel, and said, "Always remember, regardless of what happens, YOU GOTTA SLEEP SOME TIME. He looked shocked momentarily, but then broke into laughter and said he would keep that in mind.

For the remaining duration of my life in West Virginia, when things would happen that seemed headed towards a disagreement between the two of us, take a wild guess at the line that was always my opening response. Good natured that he was, those simple words always diffused whatever tension had arisen.

As all good stories end, that couple in question lived happily ever after with a newly-found sense of parity of their relationship.


There is both the Big Lie and the Unknown Truth that should be under our political microscope

We discuss the Big Lie often but what about the unknown truth? What is the unknown truth?

One of the reasons several pension funds in many states do not have enough money is because during previous years some state governors did not deposit the required contributions at the time required. In New Jersey, for instance, one governor took a "tax holiday" and skipped some payments some years. I know this also happened in Pennsylvania because I have heard Ed Rendell say when he became Governor of Pennsylvania one of things he had to work on was the underfunding of the pension plans. He mentioned payments due in the past into the plan had not been made, and that was a problem. I have also seen stories over the years where this has happened in other states but cannot remember exactly which states those were. I believe California might have been one.

So when it is said what a "burden" these plans present to states, part of that "burden" is the inside information that the state has in some years not paid that which it was legally required to contribute. To change the laws in some cases to lessen or alleviate pension benefits would help offset those past missed donations and relieve the state of the burden to restore that which it should have contributed in past years.

Basically, it is the same principle being applied to Social Security. The U.S. Government has accrued 2.6 Trillion in a Social Security Trust Fund (and there is a Medicare Trust Fund as well that we never hear about) backed by U.S. Treasury Bonds. Those funds have been spent, and Geithner himself has spoken publicly about the difficulty in selling bonds during this time when so many countries have depressed economies.

Guess what? The time has come to pay the pipers (that would be the babyboomers) and the till is empty. Therefore, "Social Security is broke" and must be reformed. Medicare as well. Translation: the U.S. Government needs to relieve itself of part of this debt it cannot repay. It just must reframe the situation to one it can sell to its citizens, and that reframing does not include the literal truth but a different version of the truth that sounds plausible. We have heard several versions by different politicians, have we not?

Additionally, during a crisis situation, the U.S. Government has the legal authority to "borrow" from funds accrued in government employee pension plans. One of the times it did so was right after 911, immediately following the terrorists' attacks. There was a public statement to assure the citizens that we would still be able to run our government despite the fact Wall Street had been shut down, and this was how we could partially accomplish that. The money would be paid back.

During the government shutdown engineered by the Republicans (of course), another public statement was made that during this time the U.S. Government would "borrow" funds from the government employees' pension plans. There is a law which enables the government to do this. In all honesty, during these difficult economic times, should I believe those funds have now been restored? When I hear what a -- here is that word again -- "burden" these plans are putting on government revenue and there must be "reform", cynic that I am I start pondering is the problem the fact the U.S. Government has in that arena borrowed money it cannot repay.

So we have the Big Lie and the Unknown Truth and the Spin to sort through. Personally, my view is that when one borrows money from another, there is a legal and a moral obligation to pay back that debt. Don't float trial balloons to mask the problem and ask for "sacrifice." We the people are just not that gullible.

At least we are aware of the Big Lie. The Unknown Truth is just what is the extent of the underfunding and borrowing from citizens' monies and how will that debt be relieved? Stay tuned.

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