Opinion

Employment-Based Health Insurance Fails America

If you haven't gotten much of a raise lately, it's probably because the extra money that might have been put in your paycheck instead went to your health insurer if you are enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan.

Many Americans haven't seen a pay increase of any kind because their employers can't both increase their wages and continue offering decent health care coverage. It has become an either-or for people like Zeke Zalaski, a factory worker in Bristol, Connecticut, who hasn't had a raise in years.

The Decline of Employer-Based Health Insurance

The global consulting firm McKinsey & Company set off a firestorm when it released a report last week suggesting that 30 percent of U.S. businesses will stop offering health care benefits to their employees after most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect in 2014.

The White House was quick to challenge the validity of the report, noting that McKinsey has so far refused to provide any details of the methodology used to reach its conclusion. All McKinsey will say is that its report was based on a survey of 1,300 employers and "other proprietary research."

White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle, who previously headed the president's office of health care reform, called it an "outlier" and cited other studies predicting that few if any employers would drop coverage because of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Feingold urges Netroots Nation crowd to fight the special interests

Russ FeingoldMINNEAPOLIS — In his first-ever Netroots Nation appearance, former Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold asked the crowd to take back the Democratic Party and the U.S. government.

"I fear the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity," Feingold said, asking the Netroots crowd to redouble its efforts.

Feingold decried shady strategies such as Priorities USA Action, a Democratic Super PAC that does not disclose all of its donors, telling the audience "we can win without selling our soul" and urging transparency.

Much of Feingold's speech focused on his fight to overturn the Citizens United decision, which he referred to as "lawless."

"Speech doesn't corrupt," Feingold said. "Money corrupts, and money isn't speech."

False Flag Operation in Wisconsin's Open Primary

Upside down US flagWhen Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette pushed for the creation of an open-primary system in Wisconsin, his intent was to weaken the power of political party bosses beholden to special interests, like the railroad barrons. A central tenet of the progressive movement, opening up the primaries allowed independent, progressive activists to advance their political causes.

In its purest form, an open-primary system means that anyone can vote in any primary, and anyone can run in any primary.

Health Insurers Pump Your Premiums Into a Financial Black Hole

Money black holeEver wonder what happens to the premiums you pay for your health insurance?

You might be surprised to learn that more and more of the dollars you pay for coverage are being sucked into a kind of black hole.

It doesn't really disappear, of course. It just doesn't do you a bit of good -- unless, of course, you believe it is to your advantage that it ultimately winds up in the bank accounts of a few investors and insurance company executives, including those who have to power to deny coverage for potentially life-saving care.

A Laugher: Tom Ridge Says, "I'm Not a Lobbyist" on Colbert Report

Tom Ridge's bookTom Ridge, on the Thursday, June 9 edition of the Colbert Report, claimed he is "not a lobbyist." A quick glance at his resume shows that nothing could be further from the truth.

Ridge, now 65 years-old, has worn multiple hats throughout his extensive political career.

Among them: first-ever head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Bush Administration from 2003-2005, former Governor of Pennsylvania from 1995-2001, and former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from from 1983-1995.

R.I.P., Fairness Doctrine

FairnessOn June 8, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski agreed to wipe the Fairness Doctrine completely off the agency's books, even though the rule has been officially dead since 1987. House Republicans have long pushed to get the Doctrine off the rule books for good, and they've finally gotten their way.

From the time it was put in place in 1949 until its demise in 1987, the Fairness Doctrine required holders of broadcast licenses to provide the public with news and public affairs programming, and present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. Back then, the airwaves were dominated by the "big three" networks ABC, CBS and NBC -- which broadcast over publicly-owned airwaves under licenses issued by the government. The idea behind the Fairness Doctrine was to keep broadcasters from monopolizing the airwaves with a biased viewpoint, and assure that those entrusted with the public airwaves broadcast a diversity of viewpoints on important issues.

With Affordable Housing Under Attack, Wisconsinites Fight Back

Protesters formed a picket line on Thursday morning in front of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Fluno Center for Executive Education chanting, “Housing for the needy, not profits for the greedy!”

About 100 people gathered with signs and noisemakers to protest the Wisconsin Real Estate and Economic Outlook conference, headlined by Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan. The event was sponsored by several groups, including the Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA). Walker received not only an endorsement from the WRA, but also more than $150,000 in WRA-related campaign contributions in the 2010 election cycle, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Twitter the Winner in Weinergate

Twitter WeinerThe only winner to emerge from the "Weinergate" scandal is Twitter, which once again paraded its effectiveness at everything from bringing down dictators to engaging in political self-immolation. Twitter is truly a double-edged sword. It can be used for good things like facilitating communication after natural disasters, or it can facilitate disaster itself by amplifying the effects of poor human judgment. In the time it took to make a single stroke on a computer key and then lie about it, Anthony Weiner destroyed his credibility, damaged his marriage and his integrity, handed endless fodder to his political enemies and singlehandedly diverted attention from a huge number of truly important domestic and global issues, for example that the U.S. is spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan while cutting desperately-needed programs and services here at home, or that an unprecedented three nuclear reactors experienced full meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Weinergate scandal shows that a little salacious piece of information sent out on Twitter has the tremendous power to wipe far more important news off the media map -- a realization that itself has huge implications when it comes to controlling what people see and hear in the mass media.

Nurses' Open Letter to Wisconsinites –- Carry on!

Guest post by Jean Ross, RN and Co-President for National Nurses United

The fight in Wisconsin continues to be an ongoing an inspiration to the entire nation. As a registered nurse for 37 years, I have been part of a proud tradition of protest as well. My number one priority, as it is for all nurses, is to advocate for my patients. This is a daily struggle we must wage against corporate insurance and hospitals that care more about the bottom line than patient care. As nurses we fight every day for our patients -- by marching on our administrators, disrupting our halls of government, and protesting in the streets.

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