Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said the Republican health care plan is “don’t get sick,” and if you do get sick, “die quickly.” After offering those facetious and sadly accurate remarks, Grayson came under criticism from Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who demanded that Grayson apologize on the House floor. Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Grayson said, “Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek. I’m surprised I have to explain that, but that’s the way it goes these days.” He added that he’s “not taking any of it back” and will “stand by what I said.” When asked if he would apologize, Grayson offered this response:
“I would like to apologize,” he said. “I would like to apologize to the dead.”
Citing a statistic that 44,789 Americans die each year because they don’t have health insurance, Grayson said, “That is more than ten times the number of Americans who died in the war in Iraq, it’s more than ten times the number of Americans who died on 9/11. …It happens every year.”
Grayson added in another apparent dig at the GOP, “We should care about people even after they are born.”
Grayson apologized one last time.
“I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner,” he said.
“I don’t think the Democrats need to be on defense,” Grayson told reporters. “I think we should be on the offense and not the defense, and that’s where I plan to stay.”
This afternoon, Grayson appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room, where he engaged in a fierce debate with the panel. He stood his ground, arguing, “I’m not the one who should apologize, they should apologize to America.” He added, “Democrats have to have guts. And now we have to have the guts to take the majority that the American people gave to us and do something with it. And what we have to do is solve people’s problems.” Watch it:
Buried in the E&E News (subs. req’d) story this morning about the Kerry-Boxer bill is this piece of news:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said floor action this year remains on the agenda. Asked yesterday whether the Senate is on track to pass a climate bill before December’s international climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, he replied, “Yup.”
While I don’t think it’s crucial, I certainly would like to see a fast track for the bill. Two guesses as to whether these comments by Reid get anywhere near as much attention in the status quo media as his earlier comments that the bill might not get to the floor this year.
Kerry and Boxer intentionally left out the details of key provisions needed to bring along moderates and Republicans, including a nuclear title and final negotiations on coal with carbon capture and storage. Still, the reaction wasn’t as bad as I had feared:
Today, the Senate Finance Committee began addressing a series of amendments to Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health care plan that will dramatically affect the benefits that legal immigrants will be able to receive. The amendments cover a range of issues: verification requirements, cross-agency information sharing, waiting periods for tax credits, and eligibility restrictions. The mostly-Republican sponsored amendments seek to limit the coverage of legal immigrants while creating even more verification obstacles for immigrants and US citizens alike:
Proof of citizenship could be authenticated by a future biometric verification system that is mandatory for employment.
Biometric technology is costly, controversial and prone to errors.
Requires applicant to present a government-issued photo ID at the time of application for Medicaid or CHIP benefits.
Creates a significant barrier to coverage and undermines the simple, mail-in and online application processes.
Kyl C12 & C14, Grassley F6, Ensign C1
Reinstates five year waiting period for legal immigrants for tax credits.
Legal immigrants would be required to have health insurance but are barred from accessing federal health programs which they help fund.
Requires applicants for health insurance tax credits to supply a valid SSN of spouse and qualifying child in the individual’s tax filing unit even if spouse/child is not applying for a tax credit.
Would discriminate against citizens and legal immigrants by denying them health insurance tax credits solely because other members of their households do not have SSNs.
Establishes a penalty for sponsored legal immigrants who fail to obtain health coverage.
If an immigrant cannot obtain coverage, the sponsor would be required to pay either the penalty or the tax credit provided to the sponsored immigrant, whichever is greater.
Requires real time information sharing by SSA, IRS and DHS for tax credit application
In direct conflict with health privacy protections and basic confidentiality protections in tax code.
When it comes to verification provisions, the Baucus bill already already requires all applicants’ name, social security number, and date of birth to be verified with Social Security Administration (SSA) data. The information of immigrants is checked against DHS data to verify they are lawfully present in the US. Piling on more verification requirements doesn’t just over-complicate the application process for immigrants, it hurts US citizens. Grassley’s amendment would’ve required Medicaid applicants — the poorest US residents — to put originals of documents such as a driver’s licenses in the mail or take precious time off work to visit the Medicaid office in-person. Meanwhile, Schumer may be trying to seem tough on enforcement in anticipation of a looming immigration reform battle which he plans on leading, but his health care amendment is off-the-mark. Besides the fact that it’s going to take a whole lot of time and taxpayer money to develop a national biometric verification system, the system would be built on E-Verify, a flawed web-based verification system that currently has a 4% error rate and could accidentally block millions of eligible citizens.
As it currently stands, the Chairman’s Mark would allow legal immigrants to qualify for health insurance tax credits without a waiting period. The proposed “waiting period” amendments, however, put legal immigrants who have been in the US for less than five years in a position in which they are paying taxes and funding a program that they don’t even have access to. They would still be required to purchase insurance (and face a steep fine if they don’t), but wouldn’t receive any government assistance to do so. Their lack of participation would meanwhile limit the pool of participants and increase the cost of health care for everyone.
Ensign C2 & C3 would impose onerous requirements that many immigrant families will be unable to meet. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Agriculture has found that requirements similar to those in Ensign C2 imposed by states would violate Civil Rights laws. It’s certainly unfair to require legal immigrants to purchase insurance and then fine them if a family member can not provide a SSN or if they are sponsoring an immigrant who can not afford insurance.
The Senate Finance Committee had good reason to vote down Kyl C15 and keep the DHS, IRS, and SSA operating independently of one another. Tax collection and immigration enforcement efforts are conducted separately “in order to make sure that everyone who earns income within our borders pays the proper amount of taxes,” regardless of their immigration status. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) called Grassley C8 “a solution looking for a problem” before it was defeated this afternoon. The same could be said for most of the amendments proposed to further limit the few benefits that legal immigrants in the US might be able to receive.
Last night on Fox News, Sean Hannity devoted his top segment to hitting Obama over the Olympics. He brought up a tragic incident in Chicago where an innocent 16-year-old boy died after getting caught in gang violence crossfire. Hannity said the murder had turned “political” in light of Obama’s Copenhagen trip — even though the two are completely unrelated and no one else has tied them together:
HANNITY: This is absolutely chilling. Well, now the story has turned political. This Thursday President Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. But in light of this tragedy and all of the pressing issues facing the country, is the president making the right move?
One of Hannity’s guests was former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino, who agreed that the killing had become “part of a political issue.” She admitted that “this type of school violence, unfortunately, happens all over America,” but quickly added, “But as I read today that this is not the first child that’s been murdered this school year in Chicago.”
Hannity also tried to compare Obama’s Copenhagen trip to sending more troops to Afghanistan, saying that since the President was able to make the first decision so quickly, he should similarly make a snap decision about the war. Watch it:
CNN’s Lou Dobbs made a similar argument yesterday, saying, “The president is heading off to Denmark later this week to try to sell Olympic officials on Chicago, but many say the president’s focus on Chicago should have more to do with stopping the worsening violence in that city.”
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a jab at Steele and the other Olympics critics, asking, “Who’s he rooting for? Is he hoping to hop a plane to Brazil and catch the Olympics in Rio? Maybe it’s Madrid.” Former Massachusetts governor and head 2002 Olympic Organizing Committee Mitt Romney also endorsed Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen, saying “I think the people in the IOC want to understand the level of the commitment of the host country. … And nothing says that like having the presence of the leader of that country and, particularly, the case of Barack Obama.”
Appearing at a climate summit in Los Angeles today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will announce the administration’s plan to regulate industrial global warming pollution, with or without the support of Congress. Today’s proposed rule limits regulation to large greenhouse gas polluters, from coal-fired power plants and oil refiners to methane-emitting landfills. The details of today’s proposed rule are explained further in the Wonk Room.
Former White House political adviser Karl Rove says he has an appreciation for all things Norse.
Rove says any food that has lye in it “takes an acquired taste.” Rove is to be inducted into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame in Minot on Wednesday, despite criticism from state Democrats.
Fair enough on the lutefisk but it can’t be worse than hakárl. The real question is what other Nordic things are we supposed to believe Rove does like. Is he a big Jens Lekman fan? He enjoys high taxes and generous social welfare provision?
LOS ANGELES – U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will announce today in a keynote address at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit that the Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Administrator will announce a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.
The full text of the Administrators remarks will be posted at www.epa.gov later this afternoon.
This is from an EPA press release. I will phone in to the press call shortly and add any interesting updates. It’s great to see that the EPA and the Obama administration have not been intimidated by the efforts of Lisa “fiddle while Alaska burns” Murkowski to block EPA regulation.
Last night on Glenn Beck’s show, the leader of the American conservative movement undertook to explain to his viewers some of the details and nuances of Iranian Shi’ite Islam, particularly its “Twelver” sect.
Beck’s helper in this task was Joel Rosenberg, a former research assistant to Rush Limbaugh and political adviser to Israeli Likud politicians Binyamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky who has written a number of books claiming to show that we are currently living in the End Times. While it’s clear that Rosenberg has spent a lot of time counting words in the Bible, it’s also clear that he’s spent a vanishingly small amount of time studying Twelver Islam:
BECK: So the Ayatollah Khomeini and the revolution of ’79, he said these Twelvers are too crazy for even him. What happened, because is Ahmadinejad the only one? Are there a lot of them? It’s my understanding that the government now is full of these people. Is that true?
ROSENBERG: That’s right. Well, the Ayatollah Khamenei, the current supreme leader was a disciple of the Ayatollah Khomeini and he has been a secret closet Twelver, because he clearly believes the same thing as Ahmadinejad.
Ayatollah Khamenei — “a secret Twelver?” Twelvers “too crazy” for Khomeini? Here’s a news flash for Beck and Rosenberg: Almost all of the clerics in Iran are Twelvers. They are the largest sect of Shi’ism. The idea that Khamenei concealed his Twelverism from Khomeini is complete nonsense — because, like eighty percent of Shi’i Muslims, Khomeini was a Twelver. You know who else is a Twelver? Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani! Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki? Twelver. Maliki’s Da’wa Party? Full of Twelvers. In fact, my friends, there are Twelvers right here in America. I sat next to one on a plane to Seattle a few months ago! I even talked to him! I kid you not!
Of course, the vast majority of Twelvers, like the vast majority of Christians, while they may believe in the Apocalypse, do not believe that it is their duty to trigger it. It’s true that many Iranian leaders, including President Ahmadinejad, believe in the return of the Hidden Imam and the Last Days (many American leaders believe similar things about Jesus Christ.) It’s also true that Ahmadinejad, a pious conservative Muslim, lards his speeches with references to the return of the Hidden Imam, so much so that he was chastised last year by several Iranian scholars, who told him he “would be better off concentrating on Iran’s social problems…than indulging in such mystical rhetoric.” There is no evidence, however, that Iranian policy is guided by a strategy to hasten the Imam’s return.
As for Khamenei’s own beliefs about the End Times, according to Mehdi Khalaji, an Iran analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who spent more than a decade studying Shia theology in the Iranian seminary city of Qom, Ayatollah Khamenei — who, not Ahmadinejad, actually has the final say over Iranian government — is much more concerned with the here and now:
Not one of [Khamenei's] speeches refers to any apocalyptic sign or reveals any special eagerness for the return of the Hidden Imam. As the theory of the guardianship of the jurist requires, the most significant task of the Supreme Leader is to safeguard the regime, even by overruling Islamic law. Therefore, it seems like Khamenei, unlike the Iranian president, does not welcome and military confrontation with the West, the United States, or Israel.
In other words, Rosenberg, who was brought on help Beck and his viewers know what they are talking about, doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Rosenberg pretty clearly does seem to know, however, that Beck is walking the far side of loopy, but he’s also more than happy to help Glenn Beck scare the crap out of the already-frightened sheep who watch Glenn Beck.