The NYT has a good piece about how some of the insurance companies in the Medicare drug plan failed to notify seniors of changes in their plan. These changes often involve higher prices and the dropping of some drugs from the plan.
Of course, even seniors who did get notified would have to read through 30-40 page booklets. That sounds like a great holiday present for elderly people, many of whom have bad eyesight and problems concentrating.
"Determined to banish their image as shameless fearmongers who constantly raise the threat of terrrorism for political purposes, the Republicans are planning a new approach to foreign policy." Well, the Washington Post didn't write that sentence, instead the lead story in today's paper began "Determined to banish their old tax-and-spend image, Democrats want to shrink the federal deficit, preserve tax cuts for the middle class and challenge the president to raise money for the Iraq war when they take control of Congress next week."
The country's private pension system is broken, so there is nothing wrong with creating new systems of private accounts in addition to Social Security. However, there are grounds for suspicion about the motives of people who propose such accounts using public funds, esepcially when they make up numbers.
As part of its ongoing Jihad against Social Security, the Washington Post published a column by Republican senator Jeff Sessions advocating such accounts, with the usual invented numbers. Basically, it allowed Mr. Sessions to use preposterous rate of return assumptions.
THE EX-PRESIDENT FACTOR. I see the point of Garance's defense of Senator Clinton against the argument that she is too compromised by her husband to win/deserve election to the presidency, but comparing her to 1984 vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro does Clinton no favors!
Well, they certainly seem to have lost the ability to talk about it coherently. The peaceful disintegration of the Soviet Union and the subsequent course of Russian history is a remarkable story. Unfortunately, one gets very little of the real picture in the Washington Post's piece marking the 15th anniversary of the collapse.
The BBC had a short article on the possibility that Venezuela will shift from trading its oil in dollars to trading in euros. This article gives me an opportunity to trash two common myths about the meaning of such a shift among producers.
The first issue is the importance of the shift to the value of the dollar. A story often circulated across the web is that there will be dire consequences for the dollar if oil producers made this shift. Some simply arithmetic should quickly eliminate such concerns.
THE BILL FACTOR. People who object to Hillary Clinton's potential presidential candidacy often do so on the grounds that it will revive media focus on Bill Clinton in a way that will damage her and Democrats generally, not to mention drag America back into a deeply annoying and contentious moment in our past. Some different woman candidate, one not married to a former president -- and, specifically, not married to him -- might have a less controversial time of it, according to this line of thinking, because her husband would be less of an issue.
TRUTHS ABOUT PHARMA. A new report out of the GAO sheds some useful light on that majestic pharmaceutical industry everyone's always talking about. The GAO was asked to look into the industry's trends because, despite R&D increases over the past decade, there's been a sustained drop in the number of genuinely new drugs being submitted to the FDA. The culprits? Well, among other things, entirely 68 percent -- more than two-thirds -- of the drug company's new applications are for "me-too" drugs, knockoffs of other company's blockbusters with enough molecular differences that they evade patent restrictions.
RETURN OF THE DRAFT? Even if the Bush administration doesn't support a draft, the Iraq War, the stress it's created on the military, the socioeconomic dispaprities it's laid bare, and all the rest has created a fairly unlikely coalition of folks who do want one.
DEFICITS DON'T MATTER. Nice to see Krugmandismissing the deficit chatter that plagues so many Democrats these days. As he argues, fiscal responsibility has become something of a shell game in contemporary politics, with dutiful Democrats (Clinton) cleaning up after profligate Republicans (Reagan) only to see their demolished by the next GOPer to take the White House (Bush 43). Why enable their tax cuts and giveaways?