TheDC Morning: Nursing homes are using our old people as entitlement cash cows

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) Incoming congress knows that water wears down the rock not by force, but with constant falling — “To prevent deficit reduction from being used as an excuse for tax hikes, Republicans are getting rid of the ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ rule and replacing it with a ‘Cut-As-You-Go’ rule,” reports The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward. “The rule will require that any legislation that seeks to increase mandatory spending (which is spending that once added to the federal budget recurs year after year and is thus permanent) cuts spending by a similar amount.” If successful, this would change the entire economy of the House. “As [Blunt] put it, ‘Let’s turn the activists for big government on each other, instead of letting them gang up on the taxpayer,’” said Majority Leader John Boehner. “Through this public discussion, we might end up finding out that neither program has a whole lot of merit in the first place.” Instead of trading horses, people will start shooting them. This means fewer horses to feed.

2.) Listicle alert: The best of Keith Olbermann — TheDC’s Ruth Graham has been watching ‘Countdown’ every night since January 2010 as part of an ongoing project to see if methane can travel through TVs. In the process of discovering that TV is not a conduit for anything besides pretty pictures and noises, Ruth also documented her favorite moments from Olbermann’s show. Coming in at number 1: “Olbermann suspended ‘indefinitely’ by MSNBC bosses after making undisclosed donations to Democratic candidates, including one to Congressman Raul Grijalva on the very day Grijalva appeared on ‘Countdown.’ The break ends up lasting for two shows.” At number three: “Olbermann gives gossip magazine Us Weekly one of the awards for Worst Persons in the World because they slandered the name of actor Jason Bateman, who Olbermann considers a close personal friend. Bateman’s offense: Possibly cutting in line while waiting in line to buy an iPhone.”

3.) Cuban government rips off Wikipedia, misses the ‘wiki’ part — The idea of a wiki-anything is that it has no fixed list of contributors. Building a Wikipedia (for instance) is by definition a communal exercise. This concept should make total sense to Cuba. Apparently, it does not. “Last week, Cuba launched EcuRed, it’s own version of Wikipedia. It was an intriguing move for a country whose population has very minimal Internet access. But the Cuban regime produces a large amount of propaganda targeted at the outside world, and EcuRed fits neatly into that framework,” writes TheDC’s Alexis Levinson. “If building an entire online encyclopedia seems overly elaborate for propaganda, one need only look at Cuba’s newspapers: all six major newspapers in Cuba are state run, but each claims to represent a different voice in the population, leading to the perception that multiple different viewpoints are represented in the media.” What a magically horrible place!

4.) Does America’s farm lobby love the Axis of Evil? — “Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found,” reports the New York Times. “Most of the licenses were approved under a decade-old law mandating that agricultural and medical humanitarian aid be exempted from sanctions. But the law, pushed by the farm lobby and other industry groups, was written so broadly that allowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes.” So, in addition to developing nukes and threatening to annihilate Israel, the Iranians are also getting jacked on American supplements.

5.) Nursing homes are using our old people as entitlement cash cows — “For-profit nursing home companies led by Kindred Healthcare Inc. and Sun Healthcare Group Inc. are likelier than non-profit counterparts to overbill Medicare for the costliest services,” reports Bloomberg News. “The findings, based on audits of nursing-home billings from 2006 to 2008, ‘raise concerns about the potentially inappropriate use of higher-paying’ billing codes, said the report by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Inspector General.” How dare they use our old people like this!

6.) Alleged progressive Joe Biden poo-poos Pat Robertson’s concerns about broken families — The Rev. Pat Robertson made waves yesterday when a clip of him arguing for drug law reform during the 700 Club went viral. Robertson’s argument, in so many words, is that harsh prison sentences are worse for America’s families and young people than marijuana, and that America should invest in rehabilitating and helping drug users, not in locking them up with murderers and rapists. Vice President Joe Biden has no time for such nuance. “I still believe it’s a gateway drug. I’ve spent a lot of my life as chairman of the Judiciary Committee dealing with this. I think it would be a mistake to legalize,” Biden said on Good Morning America today. “The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake.” What’s funny about this is that there are three potential Republican presidential candidates who have a more sensible position on pot than the “most progressive” president since FDR.