Tempers flare as Senate debates health care
WASHINGTON — A Republican senator asserted Tuesday during a rancorous floor debate that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul will shorten the lives of America’s seniors by cutting Medicare.
“I have a message for you: You’re going to die sooner,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., an obstetrician-turned-lawmaker.
Health Care Issues: Shopping for Insurance
A look at key issues in the nation’s health care debate:
THE ISSUE: Is there an easier, more transparent way for consumers to shop for health insurance?
THE POLITICS: Most Americans under age 65 get insurance coverage through their employers. Small employers, however, increasingly find policies unaffordable. And for the approximately 18 million Americans who buy their own insurance plans, it can be a baffling experience to wade through or even understand competing offers. People who buy their own policies risk paying higher rates or being denied coverage for their health history.
A kinder, gentler abortion compromise
The abortion issue threatens to drive a fatal wedge into the Democratic Senate bloc favoring health care reform, just as it nearly did in the House of Representatives. But it’s possible to keep intact the strongly held principles of anti-abortion and pro-choice members of Congress and avoid a schism. The solution is a compromise – based on simple mathematics.
This observation, overlooked until now, is that abortion coverage reduces health care costs. Full-term deliveries – and complications following “back alley” procedures – cost much more than a typical abortion. Published estimates show that funding abortion coverage would probably offset as much expense as it generates. And if not, the differences would be trivial, but pennies per woman per month.
Health amendments stack up
The Senate’s first votes may come today. Reid urged colleagues to focus only on top priorities.
By Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery
WASHINGTON – Senators prepared to cast their first votes today on health-care legislation, but even as partisan divisions hardened and contentious amendments stacked up, Democrats increasingly expressed optimism that they would succeed in passing a bill before Christmas.
The initial amendments offered illustrated the legislation’s vast scope and lingering vulnerabilities. The first, cosponsored by Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D., Md.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R., Maine), would increase preventive health care for women at a 10-year cost of $940 million. One aim of the measure is to blunt concerns raised last month when an independent commission recommended that women undergo mammograms less frequently.
The boon of immigration: Newcomers to America more than pull their economic weight
Using data from the Census Bureau, the report looks at 25 major cities, from Los Angeles to New York to Miami to Seattle, and proves that immigrants more than pull their weight.
In New York – including suburbs – immigrants make up 28% of the population and are responsible for 28% of the economic activity. Miami is 37% immigrants; they produce 38% of that’s city economic output.
U.S. gov’t set to triple
BY SETH GALINSKY
In a sharp escalation of attacks on undocumented workers, U.S. officials announced November 19 that they had ordered immigration audits at 1,000 companies. This brings the number of audits this year to at least 1,650, more than triple the number in 2008.
During the audits Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents review company records to determine if employees are legally authorized to work in the United States.
A bedrock premise of smart immigration reform is the sharp distinction it draws between criminal aliens and Americans-in-waiting. While it acknowledges that illegal immigrants need to get right with the law, it treats illegal status as a civil matter to be resolved by the machinery of naturalization, not by the police and prisons.
To hard-line opponents of legalization, illegal immigrants are irredeemable lawbreakers by definition, and the only thing they should be waiting for is deportation.
The racial divide, again
You’d think it would be a simple question: How popular is Barack Obama?
And you’d think it would have a simple answer: According to a recent Gallup poll, the president’s approval rating stands at 49 percent, the first time it has slipped to less than half. Of course, Obama — you may have heard this somewhere — is our first African-American president, and it is a reliable truism that when race enters the picture, “simple” leaves it.
Hence, when you parse the Gallup numbers more closely, you discover a not-so-startling divide. It turns out that among nonwhite voters (meaning in this case, African Americans and Hispanics), Obama’s approval rating remains stratospheric. A staggering 91 percent of blacks and a healthy 70 percent of Hispanics approve of the job he’s doing.