Wages slow, health care fast

July 31, 2009

From the US Department of Labor this morning –

Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 1.5 percent for the 12-month period ending June 2009.

This is the smallest percent change published for this series since it began in 1980. (italics mine) The deceleration of cost increases was evident in both wages and salaries as well as benefits, registering the smallest increases published in the series history. The wage and salary series, which began in 1975, increased 1.6 percent for the current 12-month period.

DoL goes on to note a slightly different story in health care costs:

The cost of benefits, which has been measured since 1980, increased 1.3 percent for the 12-month period ending June 2009. Employer costs for health benefits increased 4.4 percent for the 12-month period ending June 2009. In June 2008, the 12-month percent change was 4.2 percent.

You listening, Blue Dogs? Senators Baucus, Nelson, et. al.? Or has Health, Inc.’s money made you deaf?



How do you measure success?

July 31, 2009

When your program is so good, it runs out of money in less than a week: Cash for Clunkers a big hit with buyers

Of course, this is what some of those investment-bank geniuses, whose word should never, ever be questioned, had to say back in May:

A review of the costs of a fuel-efficient vehicle show that even after the voucher and fuel savings, the marginal benefit of participating in the program is less than clear, especially given the consumer preferences of drivers who own 10- (to) 18-year old SUVs and pickup trucks,” the investment bank report concluded.

The vehicle trade-in plan is unlikely to drive significant behavior changes for the owners of these fuel-swilling sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, FBR said, because with gasoline prices below $2.50 a gallon, there is little incentive for drivers to swap into smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“In our view, the impact of a ‘cash for clunkers’ program on U.S. automakers, secondary market dealers and suppliers has been overstated,” FBR said. “Proposals that are impactful enough to be effective are likely to be prohibitively expensive, while a frugal approach is unlikely to generate significant participation.”

In my view, you’re a bunch of dorks. Now, other critics said the program – a short-term fix tied into other stimulus-related efforts – wasn’t enough, and they are right about that. But if you give people a financial incentive to do the right thing, meaning, get their gas-guzzling BinLadenmobiles off the road and start driving something with reasonable mileage, they’ll do it.

UPDATE – House has passed a bill adding $2B to continue this highly-successful program, and the Senate expects to act next week: Keep turning in those clunkers


They that sow iniquity and plow wickedness shall reap the same

July 31, 2009

That’s from Job 4:8. This is from this morning’s Washington Post: Blue Dogs raking it in

This is, and will always be, about protecting money.


The Obamas’ family doctor writes a prescription

July 31, 2009

I have seen Dr. Scheiner’s comments characterized as “Obama’s doctor knocks ObamaCare,” as if to give the impression he merely opposes the President’s health care plan, along with the rest of Health, Inc. This is a mis-characterization. Dr. Scheiner says we need more – Dr. Scheiner: the cure is single-payer

For my own part, I would agree. Single-payer – or better yet, national health care – is how we guarantee health care for everyone. But if we can’t get there now, we must, at least, have the public option included in the reform package.


The relentless attacks on the public option are working

July 30, 2009

In cases like this, much like a defense attorney in front of a jury, you only have to create doubt – honestly or otherwise – in the minds of a few in order to win:

Polling on support for health care reform

There is some heart to be taken from the latest Wall St. Journal polling (the second one referred-to in the Kos link above) – WSJ health care poll

Meanwhile, AFSCME fights back on our behalf – AFSCME nurses ad


A ray of hope, even in tragedy

July 30, 2009

Iran – This is not over; people can still assert themselves – At Neda Agha-Soltan\'s graveside

And they’re telling the world – BBC Iran\'s citizen-journalists


Meanwhile, let us remember how good a “public option” can be

July 30, 2009

My friend Marie Cocco lifts her glass to Medicare – Happy Birthday, Medicare

Paul Krugman pints out that Medicare has cost less than private insurance – Medicare – the bargain

Then he notes – I can read the “sigh” between the lines – that, even though this system works, and in fact pays more claims than private insurance, some people still think it’s not a public program – Keep the government\'s stinkin\' hands off my Medicare – oh, the irony

If I were Obama’s message guy, I’d have scheduled a press event today to commemorate the signing of Medicare.