With Apologies To The Titmouse

As the weak job numbers came in this morning, I thought about just how successful Republicans have been in preventing the economy from increasing employment.

Economists know what would increase job growth in the short term, most Republican legislators know it, almost all Democrats know it, and President Obama is certain of it.

But yet we are still treading water, and almost 13 million folks who want jobs don’t have them, and millions more are working only part-time, against their wishes. And worst of all, millions are in the dreaded category of the long-term unemployed.

Mitt Romney, basking in the partisan glow of anemic job growth—only 84,000 private sector jobs added in June, for a running total of 4.4 million over the last 28 months—said this morning:

American families are struggling. There is a lot of misery in America today.

Indeed there is. And, to the extent Republican politicians can summon a whit’s worth of concern about that misery, the solutions they offer are, as President Obama said yesterday (and again this morning) just the same old trickle-down economics, which he called a “coherent theory”:

You can see it on their websites.  They don’t make a secret about what they’re planning to do.  The only problem is we tried it — we tried it for about 10 years right before I was elected as President of the United States, and it didn’t work. It didn’t make the middle class stronger.  Job growth was sluggish.  Your wages and your incomes did not go up. It didn’t grow our economy the way it needed to.  And it culminated in the worst financial crisis we’ve had since the Great Depression.  So their theory was tried.

Well, Mr. Obama may give the other side too much credit for having a theory of middle-class-aiding economics, coherent or otherwise. His opponents’ twin operating theories alternate between a strategy that can deliver an electoral knockout punch to what they perceive to be the economic glass jaw of the President, and the need to protect the moneyed class that supports their lamentable lust for power.

If the poor, the children, the elderly, the working  and middle classes, and the country in general suffer because of these alternating theories, then so be it.

Other than Mitt Romney, who has traded what political decency he may have had for a mess of pottage cooked up by contemptuous and contemptible conservatives, the person who to me most represents the right’s unseemly appetite for power and unreserved advocacy for the wealthiest Americans, is Mitch McConnell.

On Fox “News” Sunday, Chris Wallace tried to pin down the electorally lustful McConnell several times on just how he and the Republican Party, after killing the Affordable Care Act, would “extend insurance access to 30 million people who are now uninsured.”

Obviously stunned by a Fox host practicing real journalism, McConnell finally managed to say:

That’s not the issue…

WALLACE: You don’t think the 30 million people that are uninsured is an issue?

MCCONNELL: Let me tell you what we’re not gonna do: we’re not gonna turn the American health care system into a Western European system. That’s  exactly what is at the heart of ObamaCare. They want to have the federal government take over all of American health care…

So, the short answer is, nope, Mitch McConnell doesn’t think that a tenth of the country going without health insurance is an issue, at least an issue more important than the country going another election cycle without him as the Senate Majority Leader.

All of which leads me to a story on Politico.

President Obama was speaking Thursday in Sandusky, Ohio, when he met a woman named Stephanie Miller, who was crying when they talked. Here are a couple of photos of the moment:

Here is the account from Politico:

“I thanked him for the getting the Affordable Health Act passed,” Miller said, referring to the health care overhaul the Supreme Court upheld last week.

Miller said her sister passed away from colon cancer four years ago — partly because she could not purchase health insurance.

“Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was told her income was too high for Medicaid,” Miller said.

I don’t know why the Republican Party has devolved into a shelter for repugnant reactionaries, who by their politics and selfish political theories suggest that Stephanie Miller’s sister isn’t worth discussing with a host on Fox “News,” or, more important, with the American people.

But I do know if more Americans are forced to confront the harsh reality lived by people like Stephanie Miller’s late sister, if they are obliged to acknowledge that millions upon millions of folks are not enjoying the bliss of American exceptionalism, and if they find out that Republicans offer nothing to change that reality other than a Randian economics that has previously shipwrecked the economy, then Mitt Romney will never hold the office he has corrupted himself to get.

And Mitch McConnell will remain a tiny titmouse of a man whining his crestfallen song before an increasingly irrelevant minority in the United States Senate.

19 Comments

  1. Kabe

     /  July 6, 2012

    I have a question and hope that I can find an answer here. I have asked many people this lately, with no answers. What is the plan of the Republican Party concerning health care? On one hand they are killing jobs at all levels of government. These are folks that have, or I should say HAD insurance. With so many covered people being thrown out of the system, what is the plan?

    Kabe

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  July 6, 2012

    It is a great question, Kabe, and one that has yet to be promulgated in any detail. But I would suggest that if you ask such a question, you should have some thoughts, yourself, what you would accept as an answer.

    The goal is HC for all Americans at an affordable cost to each one. At least that seems to be the goal of progressives. Sort of like a well paying job for every American that wants such a job. Everyone in America wants to be at least in the middle class and somehow the American Dream is everyone in the middle class has such HC and such jobs. And of course those that “made it” into the middle class at a young age, maybe born into such a class, want to move UP the economic ladder to become “rich” as well. Everyone wants “more” which is human nature.

    I suspect Duane, Jim and for sure me, looked at where we started and wanted “more” for ourselfs and future families. You too probably though I do not know your age.. I for example did not want to “just” be a small down, non-college graduate, insurance agent. That is NOT because I viewed Dad as a failure, I simply wanted “more”. And of course he pushed the hell out out of me to do “better” than he had done. Thus the normal American Dream, to try hard to be “more” than what one was “used to”.

    Today many people look to government to give the “leg up to become more than….” I did exactly that by going to a government funded college that my father could not have paid for in the private sector. But I EARNED my way into that college. No preferences, no special deals, etc. The government “invested” money in me and I returned that investment a few thousand fold, in my view, with my service. Compare what I could have made in the civilian world with what I made in the military and the government was repaid many times over through my service, far more than the cost of my education.

    That is hopefully not viewed by you aleast, Kabe as self serving.. Janesreaction will of course go “nuts” telling me I don’t deserve anything for my service. But she will certainly not tell you that your eventual Union retirement pay is undeserved, anymore than she will claim such for Duane!!!

    Now back to HC. Who pays for the goal stated above is the overriding question. For ACA it seems as those without HC insurance, by and large the young and poor, are now being forced to do so, like it or not. There is the flaw in ACA in my view in that it did nothing to control cost of HC overall. It left that as TDB.

    So the REAL goal is how to reduce the cost of HC to the point that all Americans can afford, thru insurance or out of pocket to pay for it with government subsidies for those that have nothing in their pockets.

    I WISH I knew how to do that, but I have not a clue. And frankly neither do any progressives, in my view. My only solution for now is to figure out how to keep people pain free and comfortable as they die. All this expense to prolong life is just too much to bear for the COUNTRY whatever the humanitarian concerns might be.

    That provides at least a “glimmer” for what I would hope for in HC cost control. It is the EOL ( whether young or old) costs which are by far the most expensive HC costs that I am aware of at least in Medicare.

    So take a “tour” or intensive care wards and nursing homes and tell me how much could be saved by just keeping those folks comfortable but with no extraodinary money spent to do otherwise. Then tell me how governments can make such decisions. Bottom line, in my view, no government can do so. Thus such expenses should be left to “we the people”, at least for starters.

    Yes, more people die, but they at least go relatively pain free with modern technology. Now if some people want more than that, then at least for now, they must figure out a way to pay for it, in my view. Cerainly we have not figured out a way for “others” to pay for such personal choices.

    Anson

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    • Kabe

       /  July 7, 2012

      AB, I appreciate your honesty that you, and I assume many repubs do not have a plan for health care. Perhaps many Dems do not either, but I say we have to at least try something. I have seen my premiums rise 10 fold in the past 15 years or so. I take good care of myself and rarely use the system that I am paying into. I personally like incentive laden programs, for instance, I would like to get a break on my costs for staying in good health. Also, adding to my original post, many private firms are slashing health benefits also. So the pool of contributors is shrinking.
      As far as getting a leg up, I to used the GI Bill to get an education. I also took a job with the government, in which my friends literally laughed at me and warned me not to do it. lol Now, because of the failing economy it has turned into one of the best jobs in the country as far as I am concerned. I do not bemoan a veterans retirement such as yours, but do you bemoan my union benefits? I simply wanted a stable job that would allow me to invest in real estate ( I believe my real estate activity makes me a “job creator”) lol I have no regrets, but I will not stand by and take the abuse, and lies for that matter, that the far right has thrown at myself and co-workers for our employment.

      Kabe

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  3. Grant

     /  July 6, 2012

    Are you kidding?
    You’re putting healthcare (preventive, primary, secondary, tertiary) in the same category as a good job? If you don’t have enough money to pay for lifesaving healthcare you should just be made comfortable so you can die and not impose on anyone, young or old?
    You say that progressives don’t have an answer for our healthcare problem. Have you heard of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. What part of it do you find unacceptable? Access for all?
    If you’re worried about the cost, a return to a reasonable level of taxation of the wealthiest Americans would take care of that. The tax rate for those wealthiest Americans during the most prosperous period of the last century was 90%. Now people like Romney are paying a lower rate than their employees.

    To say that access to health and being allowed to live is only for the privileged and the prosperous is preposterous.

    Like

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  July 7, 2012

    First Grant, seemingly a newcomer herein. Beware, as I am the “duty conservative” that comments frequently herein in opposition of most of what the EC writes as his political views. If you are touting ACA as the Dem answer to HC then standby for Nov 2012. It may well be shoved up you know where.

    Now back to Kabe,

    I do not begrudge the pay and benefits fairly negotiated by unions with management. It is only when government steps in to take sides in such disputes that I become concerned.

    However I also look with great disdain when union mobs react as they did in Wisconsin. Consider this point. Congress decides how much pay I received while I was in the military and the same body decided today my retirement and HC benefits. Now suppose Congress decided to “slash and burn” such current benefits. Can you imagine active duty military personnel acting as did the public service unions in Wisconsin? No way.

    I also agree with you that Dems gave HC reform their best shot in 2009/10. It turns out however that it was a lousy shot, in my view. They MISSED the real target, cost of HC. Instead they went for expansion of coverage alone and the cost chickens are now becoming more and more evident as I have written rather extensively since the SCOTUS decision two weeks ago or so (seems like a year!).

    It would seem to me that if Dems and GOP got out of the politics of HC then smart men and women could figure a way to get control of COSTS as a matter of priority and then begin to increase participation by the poor. Grant above takes the typical Dem party line that if only the “rich” would pay more for HC all would be well.

    Baloney. The math simply does not work out to produce such results as I have argued forever it seems in various blogs. Just for Grant’s sake I repeat the oft written numbers. We pay something like $2.5 Trillion a year, plus, for HC in America. That number MUST come down. Hell progressives and conservatives cannot even agree what that number must become to be able to provide HC for all Americans at an affordable price.

    And the situation is getting worse as we speak. GDP is growing at about 2% (optimistically) and HC costs are going up in the 10%=15% range each year. We are currently at about 19% of GDP for HC costs and that number is going up and up as well. Where does it stop? 25%, 30%, etc. and how in the hell do we find a way to pay such costs?

    I could go on, but……

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      Here is an article that helps to address your points re the ACA – http://keepingamericagreat.org/politico-time-for-real-health-care-reform/

      It was written by David Walker, former Comptroller General of the U.S. and head of the GAO from1998 to 2008. Walker is one of my heros and I think you’d find a lot to like about his Keeping America Great website. I’m already a subscriber, which is how I found this article.

      Herb

      Like

      • ansonburlingame

         /  July 8, 2012

        Herb,

        Yes I liked, to a degree the linked article. But here is the real catch written by Walker. “After all, the United States does need to achieve universal health coverage that is appropriate, affordable and sustainable.”

        I am still not convinced that such is POSSIBLE if you add to that sentence “for all Americans”.

        As well, consider the four points advocated by Walker. They all roll up into essentially one point, called government rationing of HC by limiting payments for “only” the items mentioned in the article.

        For example, please define “catastrophic”. Is child birth a catastrophy that MUST be paid for by government? How about a broken arm? And the whole spectrum of EOL care could easily be considered “catastrophic” when death begins to knock on the door.

        Finally, and just off the top of my head, we in fact have a federal budget for HC of a sort. The budget for Medicare, federal Medicaid and VA care taken together and rolled up into one number (around $1.5 Trillion per year, maybe) is what we spend but only budget a fraction of that spending, today.

        Before 1965 (Medicare legislation) HC costs were truly an “individual mandate”. Other than for employees, the federal government was not involved in the payment for medical services, by and large. As far as I know every nickel of my HC costs while growing up came right out of Dad’s “pocket” via insurance or direct payments to providers.

        I think the same would be said for all of the 4,000 people living in my hometown in the 40’s and 50’s. And yep, some of those folks paid with “chickens”.

        Anson

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      • @ Herb,

        I visited your David Walker link and I like the tone of what he has to say about healthcare but I see no practical solutions in his stuff. He is in favor of limited government support under a budget and more personal responsibility. I like motherhood and apple pie too, but how do you implement that? Walker’s four points:

        1. Focus on Needs rather than Wants.
        2. Move toward evidence-based care.
        3. Create a federal budget for healthcare.
        4. Increase individual’s financial stake.

        Points 1. and 3. indicate limiting care in many cases, thus leaving us with the same old conundrum. How do you differentiate need from want? I don’t know what he means by evidence-based care, but it sounds like more limitations and less preventive care. As for point 4., isn’t that the point of the individual mandate?

        I see that Anson recognizes the same problem. The devil is always in the details, which reminds me, the GOP still needs to tell us what they are going to offer to replace the hated ACA. I am left still thinking that a Public Option under a real budget is the way to go.

        Like

    • Kabe

       /  July 7, 2012

      Your “union mob” vs Active duty Personal scenario is unrealistic. I would bet that if the Federal Gov. decided to take away your earned benefits and those of current active duty benefits you would see a very similar response. I know I would be pissed, as a veteran. You cannot change the rules after the game is almost over, so to speak. I do think your assessment of the Wisconsin rallies is greatly overblown. For a gathering of that size with that much emotion I thought it was rather tame. Lets not forget the Republican gatherings during the Florida election fiasco in 2000, hardly an exercise of self discipline.
      Back to health care, if someone wants to say they have a constitutional right not to buy health care, that is fine. But stop putting their cost on my tab. Lets call this a “tax” on me and others who are supporting the entire system as well then. That has been the cry of the far right. They think the constitution gives them a right to have me pay their share. Hell, I have VA benefits, I should just say the screw it and quit paying into the system as well!
      As far as the left getting health care wrong, I will disagree for now. It seems that the rights only intent was to put up a fight and offer no alternatives. The Rights refusal to compromise has left us with the ACA. It is my point of view that they are content with leaving things as they are, which brought me to my original question of how do they intend to support our system while throwing paying members off the books. I see the ACA as producing much needed revenue into the system instead of just “taxing” me more.

      Kabe

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  July 8, 2012

    First Herb,

    I will check your link to see how Walker approaches things. Thanks for the tip.

    And again Kabe,

    We for sure are in agreement that ACA in fact “puts more money into the HC system”, about $100 Billion or so according to my best guess. It is where that money comes from that is causing increasing consternation amongst many folks, primarily those that have previously chosen to not purchase HC insurnance. I don’t see the “rich” getting taxed or penalized at all in ACA as they already had great HC insurnance, by and large.

    But as well Kabe, there are still unforseen consequences of ACA that no one has yet figured out. For example, another X Million people will now have HC insurance to now demand more from the HC system. More people demanding such care with the current limited supply of personnel and facilities….. there goes your supply and demand curve back into action, maybe. Increase demand on a limited supply and yep, costs go up.

    As for Union mobs taking over the house of legislation in Wisconsin, I assume we both watched the same clips but with different reactions.

    Anson

    Like

    • Kabe

       /  July 8, 2012

      AB, I read an article a few weeks before the ACA decision in the USA Today. Some of the health care providers were planning to keep several of the provisions that the law would bring. At the time it was written as if the SCOTUS would come out against ACA. Also, one health care official stated that they would be better off getting more young, healthy people contributing into the system. Makes sense to me.

      Now, back to Wisconsin. You originally said that you could not imagine active duty persons reacting the same way. If you told all current and former military personal that they would be losing pay and benefits because they were the reason the country is going broke all Hell would break lose, and rightfully so. The reaction in Wiscy was not hard to see coming. The people in the cross hairs were dedicated to serving this country and their communities no less than military personal. Wisconsin wrongfully vilified these people, and unfairly I would add.

      Kabe

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  6. ansonburlingame

     /  July 9, 2012

    Kabe,

    Scott Walker did NOT take any current pay or benefits away from public union members. His actions were implemented to prevent the same form of “bargining” used in the past that created unaffordable things like plush pensions, HC benefits, etc.

    Make no mistake, changes in military pay and benefits in the future is headed our way. I seriously doubt that future members of the military will be able to receive the same “package” that I have received. That will NOT be reflected in such future members protesting in the streets, a al Wisconsin. It will just affect, greatly, the military recruitment and retention rates we have today. Such affects go hand in hand with downsizing our military force structure which many Americans call for now.

    Now if Congress decided to “take away” my current benefits, that becomes a whole different discussion. It would be like “restructuring” SS, not for future beneficiaries but the current ones. That would be a political death knell for anyone trying to make today’s Granma eat dog food. If the “restructuring” is done well enough for the futre, the argument will be that tomorrow’s Granma will be able to plan ahead to eat steak, as well.

    Unions seem to me to have made a fool out of themselves in Wisconsin as reflected in the vote in that State, even from union household members. The last thing this country needs today is thug like tactics to achieve political goals, in my view.

    Anson

    Like

    • Kabe

       /  July 9, 2012

      So, just because the Unions lost the re-call election they are fools? How foolish did it look that the opposition had to spend 10 times as much to squeak out a victory? Don’t forget, they also regained control by winning one of the legislative recalls( although that will not help much this year) To say people should not stand for what they believe, that is foolish. To use a metaphor, you do not let someone bully you. Even if you take an ass whipping, you still need to fight. I have lost a couple fights in my life, but no one asked for a rematch.
      Now, I am not for recalling people simply because you do not like their policy. As of now he did nothing that broke the law. But Walker never campaigned on that issue. If conservative union households want to vote for the people that want to end their lively hood, now that if foolish. We have discussed that before. But forcing a recall is not “thug” behavior, as you seem to allude.

      Kabe

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  July 9, 2012

    The Wiconsin actions in the streets and within the Capital buildings were thug like in my view. We cannot let mobs determine American policies. Deep consideration, very careful thought and planning among other things is how America policy making should evolve.

    Yet it becomes harder and harder to do so in today’s “information age”. Duane with his union background takes the local “cake” in terms of polemics just as an example.

    Unions undoubtedly pulled out all the “stops” in their effort to recall Walker and they FAILED to win the election. You may try to claim that the only reason they failed to get their way was being outspent. I disagree over both the money actually spent, in total by both sides and the effects such spending might have had on the outcome.

    The assumption is the more money spent the more likely the political outcome. Beyond some point, I doubt that view. But on the other hand, it is my understanding that Obama outspent McCain by a large amount in 2008. I didn’t hear any progressives (or conservatives for that matter) screaming “unfair” in that election.

    Anson

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    • Kabe

       /  July 9, 2012

      AB,The money in politics has changed since the 08 election. I do not like any of the obscene amounts then, or now for that matter. I was thinking about our previous issue after my last response. You say that the unions made fools of themselves because they lost the recall vote. That said, you must feel the same about the Republicans efforts to repeal the ACA. After all, Obama campaigned on this issue, won his election, and made the law. The law was affirmed by the SCOTUS. Walker, on the other hand did not campaign on the issue of collective bargaining and then brought it out after he came to office. This is not what democracy is about. He went against the will of the people that put him in office in my opinion, Obama did what he said he would do. So when will the Right stop this foolishness?

      Like

  8. ansonburlingame

     /  July 9, 2012

    OK, Kabe ( I really like these exchanges by the way),

    I have no idea what Walker campainged about. I only know what he did once gaining office as Governor. I admire what he did, at great political risk. But eventually he won and his political risk was minimized. To me that is good leadership. And that leadership prevailed at the polls when Unions went “nuts” over it. Surprise!!!

    Obama initially campaigned against “wars” in general. HC was seldom a major point in his rhetoric. With the advent of the GR during the campaign he took a tact saying I will “make it better”. He also said “If I don’t make it better I will be a one term President”.

    Now we await the outcome though we had a hint of what might happen in 2012 from the 2010 election where “Obamacare” was for sure front and center. Given the SOCTUS ruling ACA is now back in play. So we will wait and see.

    As well, we now see, today, the old “tax the rich only” play by Obama. He tried it many times before and lost, big time, particularly in 2010. Was that a referendum on HC reform or tax the rich only or just what kind of referendum might it have been?

    Will you claim that money in politics was the real referendum and not the “will of the people” voting?

    Bottom line here for me Kabe. We are in deep trouble, economically and poltically see no way out. Apolitically, I say we, all of us MUST pay more taxes and still cut spending drastically to begin, nationally, to live within our means, meaning that what we produce more in GDP. Want more from government, great. Then grow GDP.

    Both Dems and GOP say baloney. GDP is “sluggish” and Dems want to tax the rich more while GOP wants to cut spending for the ……?

    Want a way out of our economic decline? I say tax more to provide that which is REALLY NEEDED BY THE POOR, and then cut the living hell out of government spending particularly the spending that sustains the “rich”.

    As for unions. Simple. Get government completely out of union/mamgement debates now unless either one of them violate laws related to violence to achieve their respective goals. NEVER in my life in management did violence every come into play as a tactic. But was I threatened by unions? You bet your bibby I was. Physical harm as well as legal threats were part of my normal day in management.

    Despicable in my view, such tactics. Wisconsin played that out on a national stage in my view and look what happened, democratically.

    Anson

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  9. Kabe

     /  July 10, 2012

    AB, How can you say Obama did not campaign on health care? If you cannot see the parallel to my point then you simply do not want to.

    As far as unions, you are hopelessly scared by your experience. I have never seen the things you speak of, but the most aggressive union activity I ever witnessed was a result of poor management. It was all done legally and MANY, in fact over 90%of decisions went against management. I will no longer speak of unions with you- that’s a promise.

    Kabe

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  10. Kabe

     /  July 10, 2012

    AB, we won’t have to wait until Nov. I just saw where Congress is voting again on Wed. to repeal ACA. It is reportedly the 31st time. That’s not foolish, now is it?

    Also, I am not as doubtful of the US as you. I think there is a very simple solution to our economy. If you bring back jobs to US Soil, you get tax huge breaks. If not, you pay more. Union wages are not a factor in manufacturing jobs anymore. I would factor in where any such company sells their product. If they have more sales abroad, I would not penalize them.

    Also, as far as your Nov. referendum, your candidate has created the same program in Mass. This election is about 1 thing for the Right and that is to get Obama out regardless who your candidate is.

    kabe

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  11. ansonburlingame

     /  July 11, 2012

    Kabe,

    Only one more point in this string of comments from me. Yes the first step for conservatives is indeed to “get Obama out of office” but that is really secondary. The REAL goal is to get this country moving forward again, economically primarily.

    Many Americans are very disappointed with the lack of progress to recover from the Great Recession. After four years of a Dem administration many are ready, again, for a change from that administration. How many? Who knows.

    Obama won in 08 in hopes of “change” and he may lose in 12 because Americans have little confidence in him and his administration’s ability to turn around the economy, regain more influence in foreign affairs and yes, somehow come to grips again with some sort of HC reform.

    Every Dem since Lord only knows has campaigned on HC reform. But you know as well as I do that Obama’s first entry into the 08 campaign was his anti-war position. By Sept or Oct of 08 he had begun to emphasize the economy instead of just war as well.

    But we as a nation NEVER heard of the nuances of ACA until long after the election was over. But in 2010 and now in 2012 (thanks the the SCOTUS ruling) ACA is going to be front and center, for sure.

    Anson

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