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The Bidens’ Love Story: Jill & Joe Talk Policy Fights, Lunch & Political Marriages On Good Morning America
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon will unveil steps next week that the military will take to lay the ground for a repeal of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which permits gays to serve in uniform as long they hide their sexual orientation, officials said on Thursday.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, will present an “implementation plan” to U.S. lawmakers next Tuesday, spelling out measures that the Pentagon will take internally before the White House and the Congress move to change the law.
In his first State of the Union speech on Wednesday, President Barack Obama called for ending the policy, saying: “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
From NBC’s Courtney Kube
A senior defense official says to expect Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen provide more details about the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the Senate Budget hearings next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Posted by: Audiegrl
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to the Pacific January 11-19, 2010.
Secretary Clinton will deliver a policy speech in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 12, focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement, and will be consulting with Pacific Command.
From Hawaii, Secretary Clinton will travel to Papua New Guinea on January 14 where she will hold bilateral meetings as well as meet with local civil society leaders to discuss environmental protection and women’s empowerment.
On January 15, Secretary Clinton will travel to Auckland, where she will meet with senior New Zealand officials, including Prime Minister John Key. In addition, the Secretary will engage in discussions with New Zealand citizens and meet with U.S. and New Zealand veterans at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Secretary Clinton will continue on January 17 to Canberra, Australia and Melbourne, Australia. While in Canberra, the Secretary, along with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, and Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner, will participate in the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to discuss key global and regional security challenges.
Op-ed by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com
Pick your sub-headline:
a) It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real.
b) Here’s hoping a picture is worth 1,000 words.
OK, I imagine that there will be a few. Here’s how I came up with these numbers.
Senate Bill. These estimates are straightforward — they’re taken directly from the CBO’s report on premiums for people at different income levels. A family of four earning an income of $54,000 would pay $4,000 in premiums, and could expect to incur another $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The $4,000 premium represents a substantial discount, because the government is covering 72 percent of the premium — meaning that the gross cost of the premium is $14,286, some $10,286 of which the government pays.
One caution: this reflects the situation before the public option was removed from the bill. But, provided that the subsidy schedule isn’t changed as well, that shouldn’t change these numbers much.
Status Quo. In 2009, the average premium for a family in the individual market was $6,328, according to the insurance lobbying group AHIP. However, this figure paints an optimistic picture for two reasons. Firstly, the average family size in the AHIP dataset is 3.03 people; for a family of four, that number would scale upward to $7,925, by my calculations. Secondly, the CBO’s estimates are based on 2016 figures, not 2009, so to make an apples-to-apples comparison, we have to account for inflation. According to Kaiser, the average cost of health coverage has increased by about 8.7 percent annually over the past decade, and by 8.8 percent for family coverage. Let’s scale that down slightly, assuming 7.5 annual inflation in premiums from 2009 through 2016 inclusive. That would bring the cost of the family’s premium up by a nominal 66 percent, to $13,149. And remember: these are based on estimates of premiums provided by the insurance lobby. I have no particular reason to think that they’re biased, but if they are, it’s probably on the low side.
Not only, however, would this family paying a lot more under the status quo, but they’d be doing so for inferior insurance. According to the CBO, the amount of coverage in the individual market would improve by between 27 and 30 percent under the Senate’s bill. Taking the midpoint of those numbers (28.5 percent), we can infer that there would be about $1,427 in additional cost sharing to this family in the status quo as compared with the Senate bill; this would bring their cost sharing to $6,427 total.
Add the $6,247 to the $13,149 and you get an annual cost of $19,576 — for a family earning $54,000! Obviously, very few such families are going to be able to afford that unless they have a lot of money in the bank. So, some of these families will go without insurance, or they’ll by really crappy insurance, or they’ll pay the premiums but skimp on out-of-pocket costs, which will negatively impact their fiscal and physical health. But if this family were to want to obtain equivalent coverage to that which would be available to them for $9,000 in the Senate bill, it would cost them between $19,000 and $20,000, according to my estimates.
Status Quo with SCHIP. Fortunately, some families in this predicament do receive some relief via the SCHIP program. SCHIP eligibility varies from state to state; a family earning income at 225 percent of the poverty line, as this family does, is eligible for SCHIP in about half of the country.
Premiums are fairly cheap under SCHIP — for a family at 225 percent of poverty, generally on the order of about $60 per month to cover two children. We’ll assume that this will inflate slightly to $75 per month, or $900 per year, by 2016.
The two adults in the household will still have to buy insurance in the individual market, which will cost $7,684 by 2016. That makes the family’s total premium $8,584.
For the adults, we assume that the cost sharing component runs proportional to premiums, and totals $3,756. For the children, this calculation is a little bit more ambiguous. Out-of-pocket costs under SCHIP are capped at 5 percent of family income, which would be $2,700 for this family. But that’s a cap and not an average — we’ll assume that the average is half of the cap, or $1,350. Total cost-sharing, therefore, is $5,106 between the adults and the children.
This means that premiums plus out of pocket costs will equal $13,690 for this family. I estimate the subsidy by subtracting this figure from the cost of unsubsidized insurance in the individual market; the difference is $5,885.
Caveat/Disclaimer. There are, obviously, some simplifying assumptions here, especially with regard to SCHIP. The only thing I can promise you is that I’m “showing my work“. I would actively encourage people to pick apart these numbers and come up with their own, more robust estimates. One thing that should probably be accounted for is that the families in both the status quo and the status quo + SCHIP cases will frequently be able to deduct their health care expenses from their taxable income, especially if they’ve incurred substantial out-of-pocket costs. That means that the difference in net costs is slightly exaggerated by my figures.
I understand that most of the liberal skepticism over the Senate bill is well intentioned. But it has become way, way off the mark. Where do you think the $800 billion goes? It goes to low-income families just like these. Where do you think it comes from? We won’t know for sure until the Senate and House produce their conference bill, but it comes substantially from corporations and high-income earners, plus some efficiency gains.
Because this is primarily a political analysis blog, I think people tend to assume that I’m lost in the political forest and not seeing the policy trees. In fact, the opposite is true. For any “progressive” who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement. The more compelling critique, rather, is that the bill would fail to significantly “bend the cost curve“. I don’t dismiss that criticism at all, and certainly the insertion of a public option would have helped at the margins. But fundamentally, that is a critique that would traditionally be associated with the conservative side of the debate, as it ultimately goes to mounting deficits in the wake of expanded government entitlements.
And please do pick apart my numbers: I’m sure that you will find some questionable assumptions and possibly some outright errors. But if you found a persuasive, progressive policy rationale against the bill, I’d be stunned.~~Nate Silver
This video was produced by the talented folks at NewLeftMedia. They catch up with Sarah Palin fans standing outside of Borders Books & Music in Columbus, OH. The reporters asks them why they like Sarah Palin, how they feel about her policies, and what they think about the country under President Obama. Lets just say the interviews are very interesting….and that these fans have the Fox News soundbites down cold.
Robin Williams Takes On Sarah Palin
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Posted by Audiegrl
Daily Kos/Senator Kirsten Gillibrand—Since 1994, almost 13,000 gay servicemen and women have been discharged from the military based not on their performance but on their sexual orientation. In 2009 alone, we’ve had more than 400 of our brave men and women leave the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This is simply unacceptable. It is time to repeal this outdated and immoral policy once and for all and end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly and honestly in our armed forces.
To that end, I’ve secured the commitment from Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee, to hold the first hearing on the policy since it began 16 years ago. Chairman Levin expects to hold the hearing soon and it’s my hope that it will be instrumental in demonstrating the level of support that exists for repeal not only throughout the country — where polls consistently indicate that solid majorities oppose the policy — but within the military itself.
I’m happy to see that, as the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing approaches, there are signs of momentum building toward repeal.
On September 24, Majority Leader Harry Reid sent letters to the President and Secretary Gates reiterating his support for repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and requesting their recommendations to Congress on the policy. I agree with Senator Reid. I know the President opposes DADT, and I am confident he and his Administration will work to engage Congressional and military leaders in this debate.
Then, just last week, an article was published in the Joint Force Quarterly — a publication considered to be the scholarly journal of the Pentagon and released by the Joint Chiefs — that goes beyond addressing just Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but overtly calls for a repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the US military. In the article, Air Force Colonel Om Prakash writes:
After a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly. Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.
It’s heartening to see such a strong statement coming from the top levels of the military. Not only did this article appear in a publication published by the Pentagon, but it was written by a man currently working under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and was reviewed by the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen. Supporters of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell often cite the lack of support for repeal among the top levels of the military. With this article, those leaders are sending a clear signal that that’s simply not the case.
Then, yesterday, the New York Times published an editorial in which they cited the Joint Force Quarterly article and called for a reversal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Read more of the diary @
ThinkProgress/Amanda Terkel—For the first time ever, the Census Bureau has released estimates from the annual American Community Survey (ACS) of same-sex couples who identifed as married spouses in 2008. (Although the Census Bureau has been keeping track of same-sex marriages since 2000, the Bush administration refused to release the data, citing the federal ban on marriage equality.) Nearly 150,000 people said they had a same-sex spouse, and approximately 415,00 identified as “unmarried partners“:
Associated Press: Census: 150,000 gay couples report they’re married
Washington Post: Census Count of Same-Sex Couples to Stir Policy Fights
The Williams Institute: Same-Sex Couples in the 2008 American Community Survey