Liberty Planet Weblog

Archive for July 2009

Here’s some genuinely good news for a change. A new Rasmussen poll shows 75% Favor Auditing The Fed.

So much for the ongoing secrecy of the nation’s independent central banking system. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 75% of Americans favor auditing the Federal Reserve and making the results available to the public.

Just nine percent (9%) of adults think that’s a bad idea and oppose it. Fifteen percent (15%) aren’t sure. Over half the members of the House now support a bill giving the Government Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative agency, the authorization to audit the books of the Federal Reserve Board.

While the president hopes to expand the Fed chairman’s regulatory controls, 46% of Americans say he already has too much power over the economy.

Fifty-one percent (51%) oppose expanding the Fed’s regulatory powers.

Despite Bernanke’s pledge that the Fed will keep interest rates and inflation down, 54% of Americans think interest rates will be higher a year from now, up 20 points from April.

Perhaps helping to drive the support for regularly auditing the Fed is the growing unpopularity of Obama’s economic initiatives to date. While the Fed is an independent agency, just 20% of Americans believe the Fed chairman is truly independent of the Obama administration. Sixty percent (60%) say his decision-making is influence by the president.

Source:  http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/07/75-favor-auditing-fed.html

CBO deals new blow to health plan

For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat’s health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.

A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan “probably the most important piece that can be added” to the House’s health care reform legislation.

But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill’s $1 trillion price tag.

“In CBO’s judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized … but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Saturday.

On his White House blog, Orszag – who served as CBO director in 2007 and 2008 – downplayed the office’s small probable savings number in favor of the proposal’s more speculative long-term benefits.

“The point of the proposal, however, was never to generate savings over the next decade. … Instead, the goal is to provide a mechanism for improving quality of care for beneficiaries and reducing costs over the long term,” Orszag wrote. “In other words, in the terminology of our belt-and-suspenders approach to a fiscally responsible health reform, the IMAC is a game changer not a scoreable offset.”

But scoreable offsets are the immediate savings that fiscally conservative Blue Dogs and other Democratic moderates have been pushing for precisely because they will help offset the bill’s cost.

The proposal’s meager savings are a blow to Democrats working furiously to bring down costs in order to win support from Blue Dogs, who have threatened to vote against the bill without significant changes. The proposal was heralded as a breakthrough on Tuesday after Blue Dogs and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman emerged from the White House with agreement on giving the independent panel, rather than Congress, the ability to rein in Medicare spending.

Republicans pounced on CBO’s analysis as another demonstration that Democratic proposals don’t control costs.

“The President said that rising health care costs are an imminent threat to our economy and that any reform must reduce these long-term costs. But CBO has made clear once again that the Democrats’ bills in Congress aren’t reducing costs and in fact could just make the problem worse,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Saturday’s CBO analysis caps a tough week of blown deadlines, partisan bickering and fierce intra-party fighting among Democrats. On Friday, the tension between the Blue Dogs and Waxman exploded when Waxman threatened to bypass his committee and bring the reform bill straight to the House floor without a vote. The move infuriated Blue Dogs who have used their crucial committee votes to leverage changes to the bill.

But by late Friday, Waxman said their colleagues had pulled the two groups “back from the brink” and back to the negotiating table.

Still, Hoyer said there was little chance that that the House would pass a health reform legislation before Friday when lawmakers are expected to leave Washington for summer recess.

House Republican Leader John Boehner’s office said that it’s time to hit the legislation’s reset button.

“This letter underscores the enormous challenges that Democrats face trying to pay for their massive and costly government takeover of health care. In their rush to pass a bill, Democrats continue to ignore the stark economic reality facing our nation,” said Boehner spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier. “Let’s scrap the current proposal and come together in a meaningful way to reform health care in America by reducing cost, expanding access and at a price tag we can afford.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25415.html#ixzz0MPXL8cSd

Via: AP:
The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time, the government has already taken steps to head that off.
Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, government health officials said Friday.
Since the 1980s, the government has protected vaccine makers against lawsuits over the use of childhood vaccines. Instead, a federal court handles claims and decides who will be paid from a special fund.
The document signed by Sebelius last month grants immunity to those making a swine flu vaccine, under the provisions of a 2006 law for public health emergencies. It allows for a compensation fund, if needed.
The government takes such steps to encourage drug companies to make vaccines, and it’s worked. Federal officials have contracted with five manufacturers to make a swine flu vaccine. First identified in April, swine flu has so far caused about 263 deaths, according to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.
The CDC said more than 40,000 Americans have had confirmed or probable cases, but those are people who sought health care. It’s likely that more than 1 million Americans have been sickened by the flu, many with mild cases.
The virus hits younger people harder that seasonal flu, but so far hasn’t been much more deadly than the strains seen every fall and winter. But health officials believe the virus could mutate to a more dangerous form, or at least contribute to a potentially heavier flu season than usual.
“We do expect there to be an increase in influenza this fall,” with a bump in cases perhaps beginning earlier than normal, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the regular winter flu vaccine, a final step before shipments to clinics and other vaccination sites could begin.
The last time the government faced a new swine flu virus was in 1976. Cases of swine flu in soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., including one death, made health officials worried they might be facing a deadly pandemic like the one that killed millions around the world in 1918 and 1919.
Federal officials vaccinated 40 million Americans during a national campaign. A pandemic never materialized, but thousands who got the shots filed injury claims, saying they suffered a paralyzing condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome or other side effects.
“The government paid out quite a bit of money,” said Stephen Sugarman, a law professor who specializes in product liability at the University of California at Berkeley.
Vaccines aren’t as profitable as other drugs for manufacturers, and without protection against lawsuits “they’re saying, ‘Do we need this?’” Sugarman said.
The move to protect makers of a swine flu didn’t go over well with Paul Pennock, a prominent New York plaintiffs attorney on medical liability cases. The government will likely call on millions of Americans to get the vaccinations to prevent the disease from spreading, he noted.
“If you’re going to ask people to do this for the common good, then let’s make sure for the common good that these people will be taken care of if something goes wrong,” Pennock said.

Source: http://cryptogon.com/?p=9960


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 28,872 hits

Categories

Top Clicks

  • None