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The Odd Case of the Undecided Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal

The Odd Case of the Undecided Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal | Coffee Party News |

[Note:  Tonight Tuesday 10/16, The Middle Ground airs at a special time -- 7:30 PM EST.  We will host a call-in discussion on the topic of what it means to be Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal.  Here, falling like manna from heaven, is an article on that very topic....]


The undecided voters quoted in this James Fallows post don’t have very good arguments for their indecision. One wrote:

"For example, I’m fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. So my quandary is choosing which set of policies are more important to me, and to the country, this time around."

Judging from the voter’s ideological self-identification and his reported history of presidential voting, it’s clear that this person is a moderate Republican and normally a reliable Republican voter (except in ’88, ’92 and ’08). “Fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is the standard way for moderate Republicans to describe themselves, and like many other usually reliable Republican voters they are under the illusion that the Republican Party is fiscally conservative. The main reason that this voter is in a quandary seems to be that he thinks the Republican ticket has something to do with fiscal conservatism, but his past votes for president suggest that fiscal conservatism isn’t very important to him. For instance, no one votes for the fiscally irresponsible Bush in 2004 to express support for an extremely costly and unnecessary war if one is concerned with being fiscally conservative.

What’s particularly odd in this person’s voting record is that he never voted for the elder Bush (probably the Republican candidate most in line with his stated preferences), voted against Clinton’s re-election “on grounds of integrity,” and then voted for Bush’s re-election to express support for the Iraq war. According to the way he described himself, he has consistently voted for the wrong candidate in almost every election, and he has done so for reasons that don’t fit the description of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” at all.

He voted third-party in 1988, which suggests that he would be open to doing so again. Gary Johnson would seem to be the most obvious candidate for this voter, but Johnson’s name is never mentioned and a third-party vote is never even raised as a possibility. I take this as one more piece of anecdotal evidence that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” Republicans are not meaningfully “libertarian.” When presented with a credible Libertarian candidate as an alternative, these voters will tend not to support him despite the apparent unacceptability of the major party candidates. If someone truly is “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” he certainly should vote for Johnson, but the vast majority of those that describe themselves this way will typically end up backing a Republican ticket that doesn’t represent their stated preferences in the slightest. [MORE]

Via Michael Charney
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At The Vice Presidential Debate: Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes

At The Vice Presidential Debate: Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes | Coffee Party News |

At The Vice Presidential Debate: Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes, not quite measuring up to Mitt Romney's rate of 27 myths in 38 minutes. Will Romney top Ryan again in Obama rematch?

by Igor Volsky, Think Progress

Paul Ryan spoke for 40 of the 90 minutes during Thursday night’s vice presidential debate and managed to tell at least 24 myths during that time:

  1. “It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that [the Libya attack] was a terrorist attack.” Obama used the word “terrorism” to describe the killing of Americans the very next day at the Rose Garden. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” Obama said in a Rose Garden statement on September 12.
  2. “The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough [Iran] sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.” Even the Israeli President has effusively praised President Obama’s leadership on getting American and international sanctions on Iran, which have significantly slowed Iran’s progress.
  3. “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” [T]he possibility of Medicare going bankrupt is — and historically has been — greatly exaggerated. In fact, if no changes are made, Medicare would still be able to meet 88 percent of its obligations in 2085. Social Security is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter. There is also an easy way to ensure the program’s long-term solvency without large changes or cuts to benefits.
  4. “The vice president was in charge of overseeing this. $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups.” Multiple reviews, including an independent review of all Department Of Energy loan programs by Herb Allison –- finance chair for McCain for President 2008 –- have found no “pork” in the stimulus’ funding of green projects, concluding that the loans were not steered to friends or family, as Ryan claims.
  5. “Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?” As PolitiFact has pointed out, the money for electric cars in Finland did not come from the stimulus. Rather, it originated with the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which predated the Obama administration. The claim about “windmills in China” is also inaccurate. [MORE]
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Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s Longest Serving US Senator, Dead at 82

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s Longest Serving US Senator, Dead at 82 | Coffee Party News |

By Mark Abrams


US Senator Arlen Specter, whose political career took him from Philadelphia City Hall to the US Congress, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia at the age of 82 from complications of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was born February 12, 1930.


His career was marked by what the pundits and Specter himself called “fierce independence.” But long before Specter ever stepped onto the Senate floor in Washington DC, he made it into national prominence by serving as assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, which investigated the 1963 assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy.


Specter postulated the controversial “single-bullet theory” that was eventually embraced by the panel and still stands to this day, despite the cry of conspiracy theorists who say there was more than one gunman in Dallas that November day.


“Admittedly a strange path for a bullet to take, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction,” Specter said.


Arlen Specter’s roots stretch back to Wichita, Kan., where he was born in 1930, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants.


His family moved east to Philadelphia during the Depression to live with relatives.


It is that part of his early life which figured into his 2009 vote in favor of Pres. Obama’s economic stimulus package despite strong opposition from fellow Republicans.


“A very, very difficult decision as to whether to support the vote for a stimulus,” Specter recalled in a recent interview, “being the critical vote on getting it passed — which ended up costing me my seat in the United States Senate.”

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Obama Wins the 3 AM Phone Call Test

Obama Wins the 3 AM Phone Call Test | Coffee Party News |

Excerpt from post by Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

...Obama outpolls Romney on every specific issue except for the deficit — which certainly attests to the power of brand management, since there's really no good reason to think that Romney would be any better at reducing the deficit than Obama. Quite the contrary, in fact: Romney has given us every reason to think that his real priorities are cutting taxes and raising defense spending. Aside from that, though, what I found most intriguing was the very strong belief that Obama would be better at handling an unexpected crisis. The "no-drama Obama" schtick might not work so well in a national debate, but in real life it sure seems to be a winner. [MORE]

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Substance-free Republicans default to lazy mendacity

Substance-free Republicans default to lazy mendacity | Coffee Party News |

Romney's criticisms of Obama — on full display during the debates — don't even make sense. Does it matter?


The hallmark of Republican thinking these days, especially as expressed in Romney/Ryan rhetoric, is just the sheer laziness of it. That’s presumably a consequence of having developed an amazingly efficient partisan press. There’s just very little incentive remaining to develop actual policies or even a real critique of Barack Obama’s administration. After all, if the president is a Kenyan socialist intent on destroying the United States, it’s hardly necessary to explain exactly where his policies are going wrong or why.

That often shows up in the way that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan dissemble. Every presidential campaign lies, but what distinguishes this crowd is a lazy mendacity in which there’s not even an attempt to make their falsehoods plausible (here’s another recent, excellent example).

But it also shows up in their basic rhetoric. Why put together a critique of Barack Obama’s foreign policy when they can just refer to unspecified disasters and know that anyone watching Fox News will nod in agreement? And thus we get Paul Ryan’s astonishingly substance-free line that “What we are witnessing, as we turn on our television screens these days, is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”

Ryan trotted out “unraveling” three times in the vice-presidential debate.

The first one was at the end of a scattershot answer that was mostly about Libya:

And with respect to Afghanistan and the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want to do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here. This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself. But unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem, and that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world more — more chaotic and us less safe.

Apparently something is happening “on our TV screens” that’s self-evident to Ryan. [MORE]

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Scooped by Coffee Party USA! : Veep Debate Violations


SummaryThe Biden-Ryan debate was marked by some spirited claims that didn’t always match the facts.

Ryan said Obama’s proposal to let tax rates rise for high-income individuals would “tax about 53 percent of small-business income.” Wrong. Ryan is counting giant hedge funds and thousands of other multimillion-dollar enterprises as “small” businesses.

Biden exaggerated when he said House Republicans cut funding for embassy security by $300 million. The amount approved for fiscal year 2012 was $264 million less than requested, and covers construction and maintenance, not just security.

Ryan was wrong when he said a rise in the jobless rate in Biden’s hometown was “how it’s going all around America.” The rate nationally has sunk back to where it was when Obama took office. And in Ryan’s hometown, it’s more than 4 percentage points lower that it was at the start of Obama’s term.

Biden seemed to question Ryan’s assertion that administration officials called Syrian President Bashar Assad “a reformer” even when he was killing his own civilian countrymen. Ryan was right. Early in the bloody Syrian uprising Hillary Clinton called Assad a “different leader” who many in Congress believe is “a reformer.”

Ryan claimed the Obama administration spent stimulus money on “electric cars in Finland.” Not true. Although the cars have been assembled in Finland, the money went for work in the United States.

Biden quoted Romney as saying that he would not “move heaven and earth” to get Osama bin Laden. What Romney said was that he’d go after other terrorists as well.

Ryan misquoted a Medicare official as saying “one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business” as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Not quite. The official said that many could become “unprofitable,” and the the situation could be monitored to head off bad outcomes.

Ryan claimed that the ACA contains “taxpayer funding” of abortion. In fact the law provides no direct funding of abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother’s life. And it’s a matter of interpretation whether subsidized private insurance would amount to indirect federal support for abortion.

Ryan was off base when he said of a cost-saving panel created by the Affordable Care Act, “not one of them even has to have medical training.” Actually, the board must include physicians and other health care professionals among its members. [MORE]

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My thoughts on VP debate (before seeing the spin)

My thoughts on VP debate (before seeing the spin) | Coffee Party News |

by Eric Byler


Debates are important for the impressions they leave on vast numbers of people. I think the biggest impression the VP debate left on Americans is "Paul Ryan is not ready to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office."  This is a direct consequence of the debate's solid focus on national security.


I liked the way Joe Biden spoke softly, earnestly, and off the cuff. He showed great command of the issues and "the facts," something to which he often referred.  He took advantage of being able to say "I was there" not only during the historic and trying times in the Obama White House, but also during negotiations with President Reagan on reforming social security.   Ryan didn't seem eager to admit that he was there for anything that's gone on in Congress since his arrival. In fact, he seemed perturbed when Biden reminded him he'd been there and how he'd voted (on deficit exploding measures during the Bush administration for instance).  


Only once did Biden seem to be reciting a memorized speech. Maybe it's just me, but I don't  like to see memorized lines in a debate. I prefer to see the candidate thinking on his or her feet. Ryan really turned me off when he resorted to a memorized and misleading list of attack lines when asked what he would say to a decorated veteran who is concerned about incivility in politics. 


By far, the most decisive factor in the debate was the foreign policy chops of moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Raddatz' expertise, poise, and assertiveness kept both debaters on their toes. The Vice President's advantage over Mr. Ryan in the arena of national security is so pronounced that one could argue it was unfair of Raddatz to spend so much time focusing on it. Mr. Ryan looked like the odd man out for more than half of the debate. He looked out of his depth, as if he had no more knowledge of national security issues than the average Fox News consumer. At one point, he basically said, "We want to leave Afghanistan too but we have to complain about it because that's our job."  His heart really wasn't in the complaints. He seemed to be reciting someone else's words.  


The fact that this is the first impression Mr. Ryan will make on millions of voters is unfortunate. It will be difficult for him to overcome. But let's not forget Bill Clinton once made a "he's not ready" first impression on a national stage, and he recovered nicely.


If the VP debate had been moderated in the same fashion, and with the same issue focus as the first Presidential debate, Mr. Ryan would have done much better than he did tonight. I wonder if others will say this, but the questions seemed stacked against him. [MORE]

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Scoop: Ben & Jerry's Cofounder Wants to Freeze Money in Politics

Scoop: Ben & Jerry's Cofounder Wants to Freeze Money in Politics | Coffee Party News |
Ice cream magnate Ben Cohen wants to lick Citizens United, one dollar bill at a time.
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Why black voters reject Romney -

Why black voters reject Romney - | Coffee Party News |
Sherrilyn Ifill says GOP attacks on Obama are experienced personally by millions of black voters, which is why they won't vote for Romney.

One of the reasons African-American voters do not support Romney is that they see the Republican Party's treatment of Obama, from the first weeks of his presidency, as an assault on a kind of racial collective dignity. This includes remarks such as GOP trash-talker John Sununu's description of the first black president of the United States as "lazy" after his poor debate performance.
Sununu stands by welfare criticism Mitt Romney speaks with Wolf Blitzer Stacey Dash on Romney and Twitter Burton: Race hasn't fundamentally changed

It may seem like a long time ago to most Americans that Obama gave his first post-State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress. But for many African-Americans, it seems like yesterday that the shaky credibility of the Republican Party began its final downward slide. What we now know as the "you lie" moment, when Republican Rep. Joe Wilson actually heckled the president of the United States, will one day be remembered as a watershed moment in racial politics.

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Yesterday My Daughter Emigrated

Yesterday My Daughter Emigrated | Coffee Party News |
What future awaits a society in which the youth only have two options: disappear, or adapt to work conditions that are more often than not abusive, and which require the support of their parents?
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Biden, Ryan Under Pressure In Lone V.P. Debate

Biden, Ryan Under Pressure In Lone V.P. Debate | Coffee Party News |
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold their only debate Thursday night in Danville, Kentucky. Biden will be under pressure to shift the momentum back to the Democratic ticket.
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Obama's bird-brained attack

Obama's bird-brained attack | Coffee Party News |
Opinion: It plays less like a spoof of Romney than a parody of the Obama team's own negative ads.
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It’s not about the jobless rate, it’s about wages lost

by DAN ARONSON, Party Recon

In today’s sound-bite universe, people tend to grab onto any little detail and, no matter how insignificant or misleading, use it to support their side of an argument. For instance, Giants fans will happily inform you that Eli has two Super Bowl rings and Payton only has one, which proves Eli’s the better QB. Really? In whose universe (outside of NY, that is)? The fact is that you have to be willing to dig deeper for the truth; and before that, you actually have to be interested in the truth. [MORE}

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Coffee Party Radio tonight 8 pm Pacific: The GOP economic argument = "acting like someone else did what?"

Coffee Party Radio tonight 8 pm Pacific: The GOP economic argument = "acting like someone else did what?" | Coffee Party News |
"Love how the GOP, after bringing the economy to the brink of ruin in 2008, are now acting like someone else farted."  Andy Borowitz
Mr. Borowitz' humor is duly appreciated, but can someone please come up with a more pleasant analogy?!?  Today on Facebook and CP Originals, and tonight on Speaking of America (8 to 10 pm Pacific), we're holding a contest to see who can come up with the best, less-gross way of encapsulating this complex idea that half of American seem to be missing.
Time and time again during the first two debates, the Republican strategy has relied entirely on a spell that causes mass amnesia when it comes to the fact that the Bush Recession actually began during the Bush administration.
This graphic speaks for itself doesn't it? Common sense tells us that economic policies do not have immediate impact. In the chart above, for instance, the Recovery Act and rescue of the auto industry do not immediately lead to positive private sector job growth numbers. The impact is gradual, and, it takes about a year before our country is adding private sector jobs at a healthy rate. Are we better off than we were four years ago? Romney and Ryan have all these clever ways of saying no. But see if you can find October 2008 in this chart, and you tell us how best to explain the truth to the American people in a comment below or on our FB page, or in an few paragraphs on Coffee Party originalsOr better yet, call 646-929-2495 between 8 pm and 10 pm Pacific tonight and tell me on the air!

Mondays from 8 to 10 pm Pacific time (11 pm to 1 am Eastern)
CLICK HERE to listen live on line
Or call (646) 929-2496 to add your voice

Today we'll be reading your comments and posts, and tonight we'll be taking your calls to find the Better-than-a-fart-joke Messaging Champion of 2012. There will be prize winners for funniest, most concise, and most convincing. You can win books, CD's, DVD's, and films made by Coffee Party leaders.
Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 15, 2012 8:49 PM
Thank you for posting this.-Margaret
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Koch Brothers Among U.S. Billionaires Pressuring Thousands of Employees to Vote GOP on Election Day

Koch Brothers Among U.S. Billionaires Pressuring Thousands of Employees to Vote GOP on Election Day | Coffee Party News |

By AMY GOODMAN, Democracy Now

A new exposé raises alarming questions about the ability of corporations to influence the voting decisions of their employees.


AMY GOODMAN: We’re continuing our 100-city tour, back in New York. We’ll be covering the presidential debate tomorrow night at Hofstra and expanding the debate Wednesday morning on Democracy Now!, bringing third-party candidates in to respond to the very same questions that are put to the major-party candidates.

With about three weeks to go before the November election, we’re turning now to a new exposé that raises alarming questions about the ability of corporations to influence the voting decisions of their employees. In an article published by In These Times magazine, labor journalist Mike Elk examines the contents of a voter information packet that Koch Industries sent to tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific. The packet advised the employees on whom to vote for and warned them of the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country, should they choose to vote otherwise. Koch Industries is run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who helped bankroll the tea party movement and dozens of other right-wing causes.

The cover letter, by Koch Industries president and chief operating officer, Dave Robertson, said, quote, "If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills," unquote.

The packet also included an anti-Obama editorial by Charles Koch and a pro-Romney editorial by David Koch. Koch Industries and other corporations are legally allowed to pressure their workers to adopt their political views at the ballot box because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The ruling granted free speech rights to corporations, effectively removing regulations preventing employers from politically manipulating their workers.


Video also available from the same link.

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Scooped by Coffee Party USA from Medical Rescue: Healthcare Needed!

People DO die every day because of lack of health insurance (i.e.) medical care. Comments from an ex-insurance insider.

People DO die every day because of lack of health insurance (i.e.) medical care. Comments from an ex-insurance insider. | Coffee Party News |

BY WENDELL POTTER, Huffington Post

The reality is that most people who are uninsured are not that way by choice; they have no insurance because they can't afford coverage or can't even find a company willing to sell it to them.

I understand where Mitt Romney was coming from when he said last week that Americans without health insurance don't have to worry about dying at home.

"We don't have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don't have insurance," the GOP presidential nominee told members of the Columbus Dispatch editorial board. "We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack.' No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, and it's paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital."

I have no reason to believe that Romney saw anything wrong with what he said. In fact, I probably would have said the same thing back when I was still a health insurance PR guy and trying to convince folks that the problem of the uninsured wasn't really such a big deal.

And Romney is absolutely right, people who are uninsured don't have to die in their apartments. They can indeed be rushed to a hospital, and the hospital is obligated to treat them. It's what he didn't say, and likely doesn't understand because he simply can't relate to 47 percent of us, that is actually more important: many of the uninsured die in the hospital, in the emergency room, because they could not afford to get care earlier when it might have saved their lives. Instead of going back home to their apartments, many of them, unfortunately, go to the morgue....

A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that almost 45,000 annual deaths in this country are associated with a lack of health insurance.

The researchers found that uninsured Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts. One main reason: the quality of care for those with insurance is considerably higher than for those without it.


Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 20, 2012 9:18 PM
You're welcome Nancy!
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Senators McCain and Whitehouse take on Citizens United

Senators McCain and Whitehouse take on Citizens United | Coffee Party News |

by SEUNG MIN KIM, Politico

The bipartisan duo filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday in a Montana Supreme Court case that upheld the state’s ban on independent expenditures by corporations. That case, American Tradition Partnership vs. Bullock, is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a stay of the decision in February.

In the 31-page brief, McCain (R-Ariz.) and Whitehouse (D-R.I.) defends Montana’s ban and calls on the Supreme Court to review Citizens United’s finding that vast independent expenditures don’t have a corrupting influence in campaigns.

“Evidence from the 2010 and 2012 electoral cycles has demonstrated that so-called independent expenditures create a strong potential for corruption and the perception thereof,” their brief reads. “The news confirms, daily, that existing campaign finance rules purporting to provide for ‘independence’ and ‘disclosure’ in fact provide neither.”

McCain and Whitehouse said in a joint statement that they were “deeply concerned” about the rise of unlimited and undisclosed spending in elections. [MORE]

Rhett Rebold's comment, October 14, 2012 8:00 PM
This article is from May 18, 2012.
Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 15, 2012 2:52 PM
Rhett, this was recently posted through a major newswire, so I put it up when I saw it. I believe that the information is still current.
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Reframing America's Debate

Reframing America's Debate | Coffee Party News |

by Peter A. Georgescu, Huffington Post

A nation is a family. Like a family, a nation offers support to the member who, in turn, support the family -- pay taxes, remain loyal, and maybe even defend the homestead when needed. What this big family called a nation owes its members varies depending on its resources and state of well-being. The point is, we're all children of this union and we're being forgotten.

Few would disagree that this family of ours is in a state of crisis. Politicians and the media too often describe our current situation as an economic crisis, a job crisis, a crisis of confidence and more. The real question, not asked, identified or discussed, is the status of most of the nation's citizens. How are the people doing? What are the needs of different groups of Americans? What does the nation owe its citizens in this time of crisis? Are we a happy family or a dysfunctional one? [MORE]

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Green Party Vice-Presidential Nominee Cheri Honkala Post-Debate Speech in Denver 10/3/12

Third Party VP candidate for the Green Party making a speech right after the presidential debates.  Since she was not invited to the VP debates that we just saw, it seems appropriate to share her views today-10/12/12, so that they may be heard.

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60 seconds of FDR speech: "Let me warn you..." (1936) | Warns of Romney-like Sales Pitch

by GREG MITCHELL, Pressing Issues

I posted this for a second time yesterday and Jon Stewart ran with it tonight. Not sure there's any connection but hell, I'll run it again. Like me, he was egging on Obama to follow suit. Jon advised, "Oh yeah, this guy lost, right?" [MORE]

From the notes posted by nYankee2003 via YouTube:

President Obama should just run this as a 60 second spot in all of the swing states. If Medicare had existed in 1936, it would have been at the top of FDR's list.  FDR is basically talking about Mitt Romney's position on RomneyCare/ObamaCare

Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 9, 2012 11:40 PM
I just saw the show and didn't know that you had posted it!
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Goldman Sachs CEO Gets Harsh On Politicians Handling Fiscal Cliff

Goldman Sachs CEO Gets Harsh On Politicians Handling Fiscal Cliff | Coffee Party News |

by Linette Lopez, Business Insider

Lloyd Blankfein is clearly tired of everyone in Washington kicking the can down the road when it comes to the fiscal cliff. CNN has a clip of him getting a little heated about it during the Clinton Global Initiative.

How heated (from CNN):

"After the election regardless of who wins and regardless of where the compromise gets set, people who've been pouting for 18 months and holding their breath aren't going to want to do that for another four years...but.. there is a substantial risk that we won't get action."

[MORE including video]

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Scooped by Coffee Party USA from Medical Rescue: Healthcare Needed!

Private Insurers Have Cost Medicare $282.6 Billion in Excess Payments Since 1985

Researchers say privately run Medicare Advantage plans have undermined traditional Medicare’s fiscal health and taken a heavy toll on taxpayers, seniors and the U.S. economy


WASHINGTON - October 10 - In the first study of its kind, a group of health policy experts has determined the amount of money that Medicare has overpaid private insurance companies under the Medicare Advantage program and its predecessors over the past 27 years and come up with a startling figure: $282.6 billion in excess payments, most of them over the past eight years.

That’s wasted money that should have been spent on improving patient care, shoring up Medicare’s trust fund or reducing the federal deficit, the researchers say.

The findings appear in an article by Drs. Ida Hellander, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein titled “Medicare overpayments to private plans, 1985-2012.” The article was released online today and is forthcoming in the International Journal of Health Services.

Hellander is policy director at Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit research and advocacy group. Woolhandler and Himmelstein are professors at the City University of New York School of Public Health, visiting professors at Harvard Medical School and co-founders of PNHP.

The article appears at a time when some lawmakers, including vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, have proposed a dramatic expansion of private Medicare plans and criticized the Obama administration for the modest cuts in the overpayments contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the administration has also touted the fact that private plans are on the upswing.

Private Medicare plans – previously referred to as Medicare HMOs and now called Medicare Advantage plans – have been in existence for about three decades. Such plans, most of them for-profit, currently cover about 27 percent of Medicare enrollees and have been growing at a fast clip. UnitedHealth and Humana are among the largest players in this market, and together operate about one-third of such plans. [MORE]

Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 15, 2012 3:29 PM
Hi, Sorry that it took so long to reply. I am not a spokesperson for the PNHP, but I beilieve that they do look quite closely at the overall cost of medical acre here in the USA and write often about the 1/3 wasted extra cost that we all bear for private insurance and inflated pharmaceutical costs. The costs of administering the private insurance take away from the actual care and system improvements that we receive. I don't know about how the doctors have played into this current system, but it is known that the costs for training all medical professionals is a major problem and that some countries offer free training in exchange for national service afterward, which could be enacted here. Our health care outcomes are also very poor in large part due to lack of insurance and access to medical care and medications due to cost here. These things are prohibitively expensive for many which also adds to the emergency and hospital costs nationwide. I have seen PNHP work to address and propose solutions for these problems and some of the best research on these problems comes from MD's within this group. Dr's Himmelstein and Woolhandler, in particular. They have a Q&A section on the website that discusses answers to many of these questions. Thank you for writing-Margaret
Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 15, 2012 3:30 PM
PS Sorry for the typo on "believe" in the second sentence.
Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 15, 2012 3:32 PM
This is the website, if you are interested:
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Romney Moves Closer To The Center As Election Nears

Romney Moves Closer To The Center As Election Nears | Coffee Party News |
In an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said anti-abortion legislation would not be part of his White House agenda.
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5 things to watch in VP debate

5 things to watch in VP debate | Coffee Party News |
Ryan looks to win his first national face-off and Biden will try help change the race's momentum.
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Documenting Votes From ‘The Most Anti-Clean Energy, Do-Nothing, Pro-Pollution Congress In History’

Documenting Votes From ‘The Most Anti-Clean Energy, Do-Nothing, Pro-Pollution Congress In History’ | Coffee Party News |
by Luke Morgan A new report released this week breaks down 223 of the 315 votes the House of Representatives has made against clean energy and in favor of the fossil fuel industry over the last two years.
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