One of the items on the Democrats' "100 hours" agenda is reforming the Medicare prescription drug bill. The bill passed by the Republican Congress prohibited Medicare from offering its own plan. This denied seniors the benefits of Medicare's lower administrative costs (@ $5 billion annually, or $200 per enrollee, according to CBO) and it means that drugs cost almost twice as much as if Medicare bargained directly with the industry and secured the same prices as the Veterans Administration or the Canadian government. The Republicans also added a seemingly gratuitous clause that explicitly prohibited Medicare from negotiating prices with the industry.
In a short piece on the Democrats' top agenda items, one of their reporters discussed their plan to raise the minimum wage. In noting the objections of small businesses, he said that they are worried that a higher minimum wage would raise costs and force them to lay off workers.
Well, maybe they are concerned about having to lay off workers (a large body of economic research shows little or no employment impact from modest increases in the minimum wage), but it is reasonable to believe that they are also concerned about the prospect of lower profits. Is it too radical on National Public Radio to say that small business owners care about profit?
A FEW GOOD INTERNS. The Prospect is looking for interns for Winter/Spring 2007. Any Tapped readers out there who are interested in (or who know someone who might be interested in) spending a semester in our DC office, helping out with the magazine and the site, should definitely apply. It's a fun time, and a rewarding experience in every sense of the word except the one that means getting paid money. Check it out.
GUESS WHO�S BACK? So with President Bush begging for a new spirit of bi-partisanship in Washington, he re-nominates the next-most-divisive administration official after Rumsfeld: the recess-appointed ambassador to the UN John Bolton. One has to wonder what the president is thinking -- or what tricks he has up his sleeve.
RAHMBO REDUX. OK, this whole business about who's allowed to spike the ball in the end zone gets to last until midnight tonight and then we all hold hands and sing together. On Rahm-v.-netroots, I'm more on Perlstein's side than Lizza's here -- and I think Sammakes a critical mistake by minimizing the fact that the DCCC's support in many cases came, as he put it, "relatively late." That, it seems to me, is understating what actually happened.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE MIDTERMS. Here's an abridged version of an election wrap-up memo I've been sending around:
The prevailing geographic trend for 2006 was a Rust-Belt realignment in which a cohort of Rockefeller-Ford GOP moderates was ousted by progressive Democrats who ran to their left. A major consequence of this mini-realignment is that both parties will be more ideologically and regionally coherent and, perhaps, more polarized as a result.
LITTLE CHANGE IN EVANGELICAL VOTE. I hate to go around puncturing blue balloons, but let's get this hype about a big shift in the white evangelical vote out of the way right now. When the Associated Press reported yesterday that "nearly a third" of white evangelicals voted for Democrats in Tuesday's elections, Dems got all excited, spinning this as something new. In fact, the percentage appears to be about the same as voted Democratic in the 2002 mid-terms (see the link).
The spinners are getting milage out of comparing the evangelical vote in the 2004 presidential election to Tuesday's mid-terms. Apples and oranges, kids -- apples and oranges.
BEYOND IRAQ. A nice piece by Matthew Stannard in the San Francisco Chronicle lets panda-hugger Thomas Barnett raise a point hitherto overlooked in excitement at Rumsfeld's departure: his leaving heralds a positive change of direction on China policy. Says Barnett:
HMM.Hey, Sid. You're happy. I'm happy. All God's children -- well, most of them anyway -- are happy, but what's the deal with this sentence?
Reagan drew his raw material for "morning again in America" from an idealized viw of his boyhood in Dixon, Ill. where his father was the town Catholic drunk, rescued at last only by a federal government job.
Does every little Illinois town have a Catholic drunk, a Methodist drunk, and a Unitarian drunk? Or is "Catholic" Sid-speak for "Irish"?