It’s sixteen degrees in Montana, and word ’round the Combat! blog offices is that today’s bitter cold is part of some sort of pattern that might last for months. It seems like only a week ago we were in sunny California, kind of posting vague reminders that the outside world existed between bouts of eating and abruptly falling asleep. All that is like unto a dream now, as the cruel winds of the national zeitgeist or possibly just some regular geist howl and batter against our windows. It’s really sunny out there, too. That’s the worst. Fortunately, we’ve got the internet to keep us warm, and there’s enough absurd stuff going on out there to keep one burning with indignation throughout the sharpest cold snap. Except our toes. Our toes are going to be cold until April, and we just need to accept that.
First of all, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Newt Gingrich is a big Skynyrd fan. Second of all, get ready to have a lot more completely unproductive arguments over facts with guys like this, because the Congressional Budget Office has released a report projecting that the proposed health care reform bill will have little impact on insurance premiums. Kind of. It turns out that the math on this one was really hard—so hard that the CBO initially refused to make an estimate. On the insistence of Senators Max Baucus and Evan Bayh, though, they’ve been crunching numbers for weeks now, pausing only to drink Mountain Dew and watch Buffy on Netflix, and they have concluded that, um, a bunch of stuff will change. But not really. The upshot of the CBO report is that premiums for individuals in large-group employer plans—that is, those in pools of 50 or more—would see a +1% to -2% change by 2016, while those in small-group employer plans would see their premiums drop by zero to 3%. Individuals who purchase policies for themselves—my unemployable ass, for example—will see the largest difference, with a projected 10 to 13% increase in premiums. Yes, increase. That’s a little misleading, though, because A) the cheapest policies currently offered to individuals fall below proposed minimum standards, so people paying higher premiums will also get better coverage and B) federal subsidies will reduce the actual cost to individuals by about 50%. Are you confused yet? The health care debate just got a little more complex, and that’s a boon to Republicans.
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is an independent in the truest sense of the word. He may be an elected representative of the American people, but that doesn’t mean he gives a damn what you think. You think he’s against George Bush just because he was on the opposite ticket in a Presidential election? Bam!—he votes to invade Iraq. You think you can keep him out of the Senate by voting for the other guy, who didn’t want to invade Iraq, in the Democratic primary? Bam!—he runs as an independent. You think the $1.98 million in campaign contributions he’s received from securities and investment firms since 2005 make him a darling of the financial industry? Girl, Joe Lieberman can’t be tied down to one lobby. Even though the insurance, health and pharmaceutical industries have only given him a million dollars in the last four years, he’s still declared himself willing to filibuster any health care bill that includes a public option. Joe Lieberman is the Senator from the great state of Fuck You, and when Harry Reid moves for cloture on whatever Keep America Strong and Healthy Flag-Lovers Bill he comes up with, Lieberman is going to stand up, look straight into the C-SPAN camera, and spend the next 36 hours calmly describing exactly which blindingly white and quivering part of his body the American people can bite.