THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: Although Dems desperately want to make Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) outburst during President Barack Hussein Obama’s Great Oration the story - Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) even equates the breach of protocol to the Sept 11 terror attacks – the real story is that Blue Dog Dems are still on the fence about healthcare “reform,” reports The Boston Globe. Obama was forced to “summon” 16 moderate Dems to the White House for another sales pitch.
The Washington Times reports that Wednesday night’s speech “did little to immediately convert factions in the Democratic party to unify behind a health care overhaul plan Thursday, and his call for an end to ‘bickering’ was met by Republican carping that he failed to reset’ the debate”:
Liberal House lawmakers said they still want to see the president embrace a government-sponsored public insurance option as part of any bill, and centrist Democrats said they remain worried about the price tag. …
[T]he liberal Progressive Caucus, strong proponents of a public option, sought a meeting with the White House to push their case for the controversial proposal, which helped fuel the August town-hall battles and drive down support for the overall effort.
For their part, the bipartisan Gang of Six on the Senate Budget Committee are focusing their efforts on addressing the hot-button issues of abortion, illegal immigrants, and medical malpractice reform in their proposal.
Meanwhile, a new Rasmussun telephone survey of voters conducted immediately after the president’s speech shows that Obama gained a smidge of support amongst Dems, but failed to move Repubs and unaffiliated voters:
46% favor the plan and 51% are opposed. The survey was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The previous two-day sample, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday nights, found that 44% favored the plan while 53% were opposed. …
Eighty percent (80%) of Democrats now support the health care plan, up from 72% in the previous survey results. Support among Republicans declined two points while support among those not affiliated with either major party rose by a single percentage point.
As usual, Obama is all sizzle (the atmospherics of a joint session of Congress) and no steak (lofty rhetoric to say nothing new or important) and this will ultimately prove his undoing. Already, Dems are bracing for losses in the 2010 mid-term elections that rival those of Repubs in 2006, reports The Washington Times:
"A lot of recent polling on individual Senate races has suggested Democrats might be in trouble next year, and these numbers show that to be more broadly true," said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, which this month found that just 36 percent of Democrats are happy with the job their party is doing in Congress. …
"Things can change over the next year, but it wouldn't be surprising for House Democrats to lose 40 to 50 seats," said Tony Fratto, former deputy press secretary for Mr. Bush. …
That Democrats are beginning to talk openly about dropping seats in the midterms is a far cry from 10 months ago, when the party swept into the White House and built huge majorities in Congress, including a filibuster-proof edge in the Senate. Since that day, however, wary independents have been watching every move Mr. Obama makes, and many are beginning to have buyer's remorse.
In a variation on James Carville’s famous aphorism, the American people are telling
† All Stressed Out: A report by the Congressional Oversight Panel, which is overseeing the bailout programs, concludes that the federal government is unlikely to recover a significant portion of the billions of dollars poured into General Motors and Chrysler, reports The Washington Post:
The report said that a $5.4 billion portion of the $10.5 billion owed by Chrysler is "highly unlikely" to be repaid, while full recovery of the $50 billion sunk into GM would require the company's stock to reach unprecedented heights. …
The report also recommended that the Treasury Department act with more transparency and provide a legal analysis justifying the use of financial rescue funds for the automakers. The report was prepared by the Congressional Oversight Panel, which is overseeing the federal bailout programs.
In all, the government has invested $74 billion in the nation's auto industry, including $12.5 billion into auto financing giant GMAC and $3.5 billion into auto suppliers.
† Employers Hiring Forged Documented Aliens Are Lawbreakers In Other Ways, Too: Federal contractors are now required to use E-Verify to check immigration and citizenship status of workers hired or assigned to service new federal contracts lasting four or more months and worth at least $100K, reports The Associated Press:
Contractors have 30 days from the date a contract is awarded to enroll in E-Verify, and 90 days to start submitting information on new hires and certain current workers. Contractors have the option of checking their entire work force, once they notify the government of their intent to do so. They also will be responsible for requiring subcontractors to use E-Verify.
As the rule takes effect and more workers' information goes through the system, there is likely to be a spike in the number of workers who are not confirmed as permitted to work in the
Employers already use a paper application, known as I-9, to check workers' legal status. E-Verify is a Web-based system that cross-checks names and other information against Homeland Security Department and Social Security Administration databases.
E-Verify is intended to help find people who are in the country illegally, and those who are legally present but not authorized to work, such as students.
Casinos and lotteries in most states are reporting a downturn in revenue for the first time, resulting in a drop in the money collected by state and local governments, according to new state data.
The decline comes as states are rapidly expanding gambling in hopes of stemming severe budget shortfalls, and it indicates that gambling is not insulated from broader economic forces like recessions, as has been argued in the past. ...
In hopes of enticing more gamblers,
Leaving aside the fact that encouraging drinking and smoking is counterproductive at a time when taxpayers are up in arms at the thought of being forced to subsidize health care coverage for millions of uninsured people, the gaming industry can’t decide whether there are too few gamblers to support the plethora of casinos and gambling options available, or whether business will pick up again once the economy improves. Maybe they should toss a coin.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, Why Middle Class Americans Can’t Afford Health Insurance: Part II): In an effort to build support for what he hoped would be the signature accomplishment of his term in office, President Barack Hussein Obama has recast healthcare “reform” as health insurance “reform.” The tactic work, reports The Washington Post, because “[t]ales of cancellations have fueled outrage among regulators, analysts, doctors and, not least, plaintiffs' lawyers, who describe insurers as too eager to shed patients to widen profits”:
Rescission - the technical term for canceling coverage on grounds that the company was misled - is often considered among the most offensive practices in an insurance industry that already suffers from a distinct lack of popularity among the American public. …
Those sentiments have become central to the health-care debate, as President Obama tries to tap into dissatisfaction with the insurance industry to build support for reform efforts. Each of the bills pending in Congress would prevent insurers from rejecting clients because of preexisting conditions.
No one claims to know how often policies are canceled - in large part, congressional investigators say, because insurance companies are regulated by a patchwork of state laws and policies. But the practice is common enough to spur lawsuits and state regulatory action. …
"These cases are very, very good in front of a jury," said Bill Shernoff, whose
Insurance company officials argue that rescission enables them to control fraud, which adds an estimated $100 billion annually to their costs.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, A Court Of Law, Not Of Justice): The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a federal grand jury handed down a 48-count indictment against former Luzerne County judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., reports The Legal Intelligencer:
The indictment charges Conahan and Ciavarella with fraud, money laundering, extortion, bribery and federal tax violations while alleging they received "millions of dollars in illegal payments," according to Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Each charge is related to the judges' ties to two juvenile detention facilities: PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care.
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $2.8 million - an amount the government alleges were proceeds from the judges' criminal activity. That amount is slightly higher than the $2.6 million the judges originally admitted to accepting in their conditional plea agreements.