The DC Morning – 9/21/10

Pat McMahon Contributor
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Obamacare screws the very children it was supposed to help — Stimubucks fail: Detroit edition — Michelle Obama’s diet crusade should probably start at home — This is the lamest economic recovery EVER — Georgia all out of HOPE — Confused cops aren’t sure whose lives to ruin

1.) Obamacare inspires insurance companies to stop selling insurance — Starting this week, insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. President Obama’s health-care plan made sure that every sick little tyke in America would have access to the finest waiting rooms, copay headaches, and deductible delights. Except, it seems there is a problem. According to The Hill, “Health plans in at least four states have announced they’re dropping children’s coverage just days ahead of new rules created by the healthcare reform law.” There’s nothing in said law, apparently, that requires an insurance company to carry all types of insurance. So, in an effort to circumvent a.) parents who might wait until their kids get sick to buy insurance and b.) state regulators who have been fighting insurance price increases, some health plans are just getting out of the kids’ game altogether. “The latest announcement by the insurance companies that they won’t cover kids is immoral, and to blame their appalling behavior on the new law is patently dishonest,” said HCAN Executive Director Ethan Rome. Perhaps Rome got so worked up over the news that he forgot that the insurance mandate–the one that is a tax, but isn’t, and that if universally adhered to, but won’t be, might bring down everybody’s costs–doesn’t kick in until the year 2014.

2.) Reports of Stimubucks failure don’t need exaggerating — “On the same day in March 2009 that Shenetta Coleman picked up applications from 46 companies, she received an email from the Michigan Department of Human Services telling her she couldn’t award work to anyone,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Coleman, a city administrator in Detroit, was ready to spend millions and millions of dollars from parts of the country that do not look like Chernobyl in order to “weatherize” Detroit’s abandoned buildings. “The problem: Ms. Coleman hadn’t met requirements for her advertisement. Those included specifying the precise wages that contractors would have to pay, and posting the advertisement on a specific website. There were other rules—federal, state and local—for grant and contract-award processes, historic preservation and labor standards.” BUT WAIT! It gets better. According to the WSJ, “the bureaucratic obstacles Ms. Coleman hit took more than a year to clear. Some were mandated by the stimulus bill, the same legislation that was supposed to rapidly create jobs. For example, there is a union-backed provision that requires that weatherization workers receive the prevailing wages in the area.” In other stimubucks news: Recovery Summer ends this week!

3.) Does the First Nanny know that Pres. Obama broke his diet? — Just one week after Michelle Obama lectured a group of restaurateurs for treating their adult customers like adults, “Potus made an unnanounced stop at the Reading Terminal Market, a lively meat and produce market downtown. He shook hands in front of a falafel stall and of course stopped for cheesesteak. He ordered two, with sweet peppers and mushrooms,” according to the pool report. “’President Obama, how ’bout an apple? Something healthy too,’ a fruit vendor cried out….The president also ordered a small mint chocolate chip ice cream cone on the way out.” Can. You. Believe. It? The guy has a full market in front of him, and he orders cheesesteaks and ice cream (as well as a handful of apples, but only after being called out by a vendor). Is the president of the free world an idiot? If Michelle Obama really wants to reform America’s waistlines, she should start with her junk-food junkie of a husband.

4.) REJOICE: We are in the midst of a recovery — “The United States economy has lost more jobs than it has added since the recovery began over a year ago,” reports the New York Times. But that is no reason to be sad! Tenured experts say the recession is over! Since June 2009, when we officially began our forced march back to economic health, the “total output — the amount of goods and services produced by the United States — has increased, as have many other measures of economic activity.” Yes, it’s true that “nonfarm payrolls are still down 329,000 from their level at the recession’s official end 15 months ago, and the slow growth in recent months means that the unemployed still have a long slog ahead,” but the recession is over! The people with the jobs are making more stuff! MOST IMPORTANTLY, BUSH ISN’T PRESIDENT ANYMORE! Let’s celebrate!

5.) Higher Ed. bubble watch: Yet another state runs out of free money to give college students — Excessive student borrowing may be the most ominous indicator that the American higher education industry is headed for a collapse, but there’s also a parallel problem: The handful of states that thought it would be a good idea to pump unlimited dough into Georgia’s college system are running out of money. “Since its introduction in 1993, Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program — short for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally — has seen an explosion of participation and spawned similar merit-based programs in other states across the country,” reports Inside Higher Ed. “But with the lottery funds that support the program slowing in growth, and an uptick in the number of students participating, HOPE’s reserves are being drained and will be completely tapped by the close of the 2013 fiscal year, according to current projections. The expected shortfall in the next two years exceeds $550 million.” The irony? As much as 70% of HOPE funds doled out over the past few years went to students who didn’t need the money.

6.) Police just need to know whose dogs to shoot — Police in states that allow medical marijuana are confused. Due to patient confidentiality laws, they do not know which marijuana smokers are suffering from acute IBS, and which marijuana smokers deserve to have their doors knocked in, their kids tackled and shackled, and their dogs’ legs shot off. According to the AP, “Boulder, Colo., police complained last year about their state’s grower confidentiality provisions, saying officers spent considerable time investigating operations that turned out to have legal permission to have pot. Providence, R.I., police secretly monitored a suspected dealer, only to find out he was allowed to have marijuana, too.” It’s like, one of these guys contracted HIV during unprotected sex with a Thai Lady Boy, and so now we have to let him smoke weed. But this other guy just smokes weed because it makes him feel good! HOW CONFUSING! In New Mexico, where police almost shot a man for owning a plant, there is a state-run hotline that the cops can call to verify the identity of legal weed users. But even this has problems. Said one cop: “If we get a tip that there’s a marijuana grow, I don’t think agents are going to feel comfortable calling someone who’s not even law enforcement and asking if they’re legit.”

Pat McMahon