Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page
So I’ve been meaning to say if you want to follow the latest on the Health Care reform and the public option, there is no better source then Open Left and Chris Bowers. Here is a partial run down of the various efforts to influence the House bill:
The remaining barriers to passage of the health care bill in the House are two-fold:
1. Bart Stupak’s Regressive Block. Representative Bart Stupak is still looking to round-up forty votes to prevent he bill from going to the floor unless abortions are not covered under all health care plans that receive subsidies in the new insurance exchanges.
The leadership is convinced that if Stupak is able to offer an amendment to that affect on the House floor, that it will pass. If the amendment passes, it will kill the entire bill, because dozens of pro-choice Democratic votes would be lost. As such, the leadership will not allow any amendments to the health care bill on the floor. This means that once the bill hits the floor, that is the bill that will go to conference committee.
2. The Tri-Caucus Progressive Block. For months, the Progressive Caucus, the Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus (and, I think, the Asian-American Caucus) have been trying to round up House Democrats who would vote against a health care bill unless it included the Medicare +5% option. Now that the bill will not include the Medicare +5% public option, the tri-caucus is sounding noncommittal about the bill.
What’s notable is that Chris Bowers makes no effort to be objective, in fact he’s actively pushing for a particular outcome, but he’s still more informative then most media sources. It’s matter of focus.
A typical media source reports a development, quotes a few people on the meaning of the development and maybe outlines the basic facts of the issues. The result is snap shot of a hugely complicated and constantly shifting reality, with side commentary from PR professionals trying to mislead people.
By contrast Open Left is constantly building a complete picture, looking to see if there is contradictory information from other sources and updating the picture rationally, instead of trying to present each day’s developments as game changing and shocking.
And of course the whole picture is what’s important. Lots of members of Congress want something to happen, make a scene, or throw a wrench in the process, but the important thing is if those actions change the big picture. If you want to know that then reading Open Left will get a lot further then the AP wire.
Interesting article by the AP shooting down the theory that the Earth is cooling, which brings up a lot of questions about modern media.
In which section will newspapers put the story? Surely this story is more a political then science story.
Why does the AP feel the need to quote a self published researcher cherry picking data, when the whole point of the article is such practices are unscientific? It’s good they’re willing to call out distortions, but you really can’t justify quoting somebody that is just re-emphasizing the distortions.
Why exactly does Steven Levitt think reaching conclusions on a major issue (global temperatures) by “eyeballing” the numbers is OK? The whole ‘analyzing numbers’ thing is how he purports to make a living.
The Senate is gearing up for a big week on Energy policy, with the Environment and Public Works (EPW) pulling out the high ranking Administration officials tomorrow. The Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) will also do a hearing on Natural Gas and Climate Change.
I’ve been meaning to write about the contrast between ENR and EPW in terms of the relationship between Ranking members and Chairs. At ENR Jeff Bingaman and Lisa Murkowski basically seem like they’re on the same page as much as you could expect for members of opposite parties. They’re both pro-industry, but make an effort to be reasonable. Neither wants to seen as non-responsive to either industry or environment concerns, even if they don’t agree on policy.
By contrast Jim Inhofe thinks Climate Change is a scam, invites science fiction writers to testify about their conspiracy theories and is more likely to quote the bible then the EPA to explain his vote. Barbara Boxer was the lead Senator against drilling in ANWR, is pushing Climate legislation and is currently directing her office to cut their electricity consumption in half.
ENR is much more in the traditional mold of Congressional Committees, with both sides realizing that working together is the best way to make sure their hard work crafting legislation actually becomes law. The EPW Committee relationship is more reflective of modern politics, which is to say defined by polarization and cable news style blasting each the other side’s legislative priorities.
Interesting article in the New York Times a few days ago on advocates of factoring energy more rationally into economics.
A small but growing group of academics believe the latter is true, and they are out to prove it. These thinkers say that the neoclassical mantra of constant economic growth is ignoring the world’s diminishing supply of energy at humanity’s peril, failing to take account of the principle of net energy return on investment. They hope that a set of theories they call “biophysical economics” will improve upon neoclassical theory, or even replace it altogether.
It’ll be interesting to see what new(ish) ideas move to the forefront as people look for new paradigms to deal with 21st century problems.