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The amendment was pushed by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the highest ranking Republican on the finance committee, and quietly breezed through 95 to 1. Grassley said that his measure wasn't aimed at limiting the Fed's independence, but that Congress just wanted to know a little bit about what it's doing. [UPDATE: In response to the justifiably, curious, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was the lone no vote.]The proposal is, said Grassley, "an important reform for holding the entities involved in the massive taxpayer-funded economic bailout accountable to the public."
Let me get this straight: If a political party wants to win, it needs to stay smack dab in the political center?That's the advice Republicans got from Charlie Cook in a January column in National Journal magazine. And the debate has only intensified since Republican Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter defected to the Democrats last month.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to run for the Senate is putting the Republican Party's anti-stimulus stand to the test, with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele backing away from a threat to punish candidates who supported President Obama's signature economic recovery program.
Medicare and Social Security trustees on May 12 painted a grim, but not surprising picture of the failing financial health of two entitlement programs. Social Security will be insolvent by 2016, a year earlier than predicted just last year; Medicare by 2017, two years earlier than last year’s forecast. So why are the Department of Health and Human Services and Social Security Administration fighting tooth and nail to prevent a handful of seniors – including yours truly – from opting out of Medicare Part A, the costly hospital insurance program? Having some percentage of seniors pay for their own hospitalization coverage would seem like a gift to the cash-strapped Medicare program. From a financial standpoint, the more seniors who choose this option the better. But the government will have no part of it. Why? Perhaps because doing so could undermine the push for universal health care. If the government allows us to exercise our legal right to pay privately for medical care, Washington also will have to allow other seniors to decide whether they want Part A coverage or private coverage. And this is the exact opposite of the direction the administration wants to go. This might not be much of an issue except that Medicare coverage is sure to deteriorate over time as the baby boomers retire and their expectations, old-age infirmities and the burgeoning federal budget deficit collide. Medicare benefits already are limited and are sure to be rationed far more in the future. There is no law or regulation that says Social Security recipients must receive their health coverage from Medicare. Yet that is the position the government has taken. According to backdoor administrative measures adopted some 16 years ago and only recently coming to light, Medicare-eligible seniors are denied their Social Security benefits if they do not enroll in Medicare Part A. Without Medicare, many seniors would have no health coverage at all. Others, however, have spent years making plans to provide for their own health care coverage in old age because they realize Medicare services are rationed, inferior to those they could obtain privately, and are administered with little or no concern for privacy. During my 18-year career in public office I campaigned tirelessly for less government intrusion in the lives of Americans. Telling seniors they must accept Medicare coverage or lose their Social Security benefits is the ultimate intrusion. That’s why I have joined four other seniors who wish to make their own health choices in a lawsuit challenging the government’s edict. The government has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court is hearing arguments on their motion on May 22. The government’s arguments, however, are flimsy. The best they can do is argue that the plaintiffs lack standing (nonsense) and did not “exhaust their administrative remedies” before going to court (more nonsense). In fact, John Kraus, a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, asked to withdraw from the hospital insurance program in February 2006. For more than three years, SSA failed to even respond to his request. There can only be two possible explanations for this: incompetence or arrogance. Take your choice. Neither enhances one’s confidence in government health bureaucrats or strengthens the administration’s case for universal health insurance overseen by Washington. The current policy not only violates the right of individuals to make their own health choices, but violates Social Security and Medicare law. If the Social Security Administration wants to defend its decision, it can publish the proposed policy in the Federal Register as required by law, accept comments, hold hearings and issue a formal ruling. But it can’t impose such an arbitrary and harmful policy by fiat. The courts, we are confident, will see to that. Former U.S. House Majority Leader Richard K. “Dick” Armey, Chairman of FreedomWorks, served in Congress from 1985 to 2003. He is a plaintiff in Brian Hall et al v. Kathleen Sebelius et al., a lawsuit challenging the government’s decision to deny Social Security benefits to seniors who refuse to accept Medicare coverage.
Last month's nationwide "tea party" demonstrations to protest massive government spending increases and rising taxes received relatively little coverage from the national news media.Liberal big-government groups dismissed them as the work of right-wing advocacy organizations in Washington, and the events were so dispersed - most of them in small cities and towns - that no one could be sure how many actually had turned out to attend them.
SALEM -- The state can ease its budget crisis by increasing taxes on corporations and adding a new, higher tax bracket for Oregon households that make more than $250,000 a year, a group of House Democratic leaders said Thursday.The tax increases, which could add half a billion dollars or more to the state's general fund, emerged as the centerpiece of the House Democrats' plan to deal with an expected two-year budget shortfall of up to $4 billion.
Savannah — The 2009 Georgia Republican Convention is about to get under way — delegates are finding their counties in the Savannah Trade and Convention Center and the candidates’ hospitality suites are restocking food and beverage.There’s an energy out in the concourse where T-shirted volunteers for the various campaigns are offering stickers, hand bills and posters and various vendors are hawking their wares.
Even before a single vote is taken, the political battle lines are being drawn over higher taxes — particularly on higher-income households and corporations — to balance Oregon's sagging state budget.Depending on legislative action, those battle lines could extend to Oregon's voters, if opponents have their way.
Closing arguments were heard in San Francisco today in a case brought by the Hollywood studios to ban RealDVD from the market. The Motion Picture Association of America made it clear that it beleives consumers have no right to copy legally purchased DVDs. In their view, "One copy is a violation of the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act]." Should Hollywood prevail, the DMCA will trump Fair Use doctrine, that has balanced consumer's uses of content with the rights of the content providers. For an update, check "Fair Use or No Use?"
Last fall, RealNetworks launched a new product, RealDVD, allowing users to legally save a copy of any DVD that they own. However, in what appears to be an ongoing war with consumers, the motion picture studios—including Disney, Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Viacom—have filed a lawsuit against RealNetworks to have the new product banned. Within a week of its unveiling, the studios had a temporary restraining order in place, removing the product from the market.