Archive for June 7th, 2009

by jhwygirl

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton Administration has a blog, succinctly titled Robert Reich’s Blog. With that resume, he isn’t your stereotypical blogger, and well worthy of paying careful attention.

In his most recent piece, titled How Pharma and Insurance Intend to Kill the Public Option, And What Obama and the Rest of Us Must Do, he provides first hand information on what the public option means for Republicans, moderates and those opposed to national health care reform.

Disappointing stuff to read, I have to say. Very disappointing. If you are advocating for single-payer, or even willing to accept a strong public option – and especially if you are from Montana – you will find this post not only disappointing, but disturbing, to say the least:

So they’re pulling out all the stops — pushing Democrats and a handful of so-called “moderate” Republicans who say they’re in favor of a public option to support legislation that would include it in name only. One of their proposals is to break up the public option into small pieces under multiple regional third-party administrators that would have little or no bargaining leverage. A second is to give the public option to the states where Big Pharma and Big Insurance can easily buy off legislators and officials, as they’ve been doing for years. A third is bind the public plan to the same rules private insurers have already wangled, thereby making it impossible for the public plan to put competitive pressure on the insurers.

Max Baucus, Chair of Senate Finance (now exactly why does the Senate Finance Committee have so much say over health care?) hasn’t shown his cards but staffers tell me he’s more than happy to sign on to any one of these. But Baucus is waiting for more support from his colleagues, and none of the three proposals has emerged as the leading candidate for those who want to kill the public option without showing they’re killing it. Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy and his staff are still pushing for a full public option, but with Kennedy ailing, he might not be able to round up the votes. (Kennedy’s health committee released a draft of a bill today, which contains the full public option.)

A few days ago I came across this article in Bloomberg, titled Kennedy Health Plan Would Include Public Insurance. It was paragraph 7 that drew my ire:

Kennedy’s proposals might go further than another plan being drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Baucus, a Montana Democrat, has said he is weighing whether to include a government-run program in a measure and, if so, how it might be structured to attract Republican votes and industry support.


I had to check the date on that article. “Is this thing a month old, or what?,” I thought. But nope – that was written just two Fridays ago. I let that one ride, thinking, possibly, that the article was overly-biased to its corporate-leaning audience…but with Reich’s post this past Friday, I’m not thinking that any more.

Baucus got away with Medicare Part D back in (what was it?) 2005. With little repercussions and plenty of kudos from the Republican side, looks like all he took out of it was encouragement. Which is rearing its ugly head once again.

Jon Tester campaigned for his senate seat mentioning the Medicare Part D fiasco at nearly every campaign stop he made. At some point, Senator Jon Tester needs to speak out and talk about meaningful public option, and he needs to let both Montanans and Baucus know that is where he stands, and that a strong and viable public option is what he expects.

Montanans want to know that we’re getting some representation over there in Washington, and it is becoming increasingly clear that Baucus is not only ignoring us, he’s obfuscating a public option plan.

From the looks of things, he’s trying to pull a Medicare Part D type ‘reform’ – in name only – again.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread….

Welcome Yellowstone County Democratic Party to the blogosphere…

I’m a birder, so here’s a Summer tanager alert:Male and Female Summer tanagers

Here’s an interesting NYTimes story on blogs and bloggers, titled Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest,

The latest news out of the dam removal at Milltown: Volunteer vegetation has sprouted in excavated cells in pre-reservoir soils. These seeds may have been lying dormant under the reservoir sediments for over a century. Another interesting factoid from Diana Hammer, who is the face for the EPA on the project: 2.5 million tons (about 1.9 million cubic yards) of contaminated sediments removed/loaded/disposed. Usually she tells us how much that is in railroad cars, which I find interesting…

The Montana legislature wasted very little time getting to interim session – they were getting at committee assignments and such with in a week of the drop of the gavel. Its newsletter – The Interim is out, with a rundown of the what is going to be discussed and who is going to be leading those discussion. Wanna keep in the loop? Be sure to read it and then sign up for email alerts.

On that note: DEQ is facing a budget crunch. Lovely, huh? Democrats like JP Pomnichowski and Mary Caferro tried heroically this last session to update regulations and get this Department sufficient resources to address things like unregulated dumps and the huge backlog of meth contaminated properties and the inefficiencies and complete failure of the DEQ to address open-cut mining issues and existing regulations. You-know-who voted against or amended to worthlessness the bills these legislators proposed to help correct these issues.

Well – there’s a start. What do YOU have?

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