WHEN DONUTS ATTACK. Up till now, seniors have been mostly satisfied with the Medicare Drug Benefit. Bad bill though it is, it remains better than no bill at all, and since that was the comparison, approval ratings have remained high. Call it the soft bigotry of low expectations. Unfortunately for the Bush administration and the Republican Congress, that may be about to change. Millions of seniors are about to tumble into the donut hole, a coverage gap that extends (usually) from $2,250 to $3,600, at which point federal insurance kicks back in. Most seniors, as we already knew, were unaware of the gap. And this is what it looks like when they fall in it:
LIKE FRIST, ONLY COMPETENT. Another Sunday, another exceedingly unimpressive appearance by Bill Frist on a chat show. Meanwhile, Zachary Roth and Cliff Schecter have a good piece in The Washington Monthly about the man who will succeed Frist as Republican Senate leader (be it in the majority or the minority) when the latter retires this term -- Mitch McConnell.
NPR had a piece this morning on the possibiity that Medicare reimbursements for doctors will be cut. It told listeners that if this cut went into effect, then there may be a shortage of doctors who are willing to serve Medicare beneficiaries.
The NYT has a column today reporting that people's assessment of the economy is heavily influenced by their view of the situtaion in Iraq. While I am open to this view, the chart (sorry not linkable) accompanying the column left me unconvinced.
The NYT had an article today on Berlin�s mayor. At one point the article discusses Berlin�s economy, telling readers that it has a 17 percent unemployment rate.
It would have been helpful to point out Berlin�s unemployment rate is 17 percent using the official German measure of unemployment. This measure counts anyone who is working less than 15 hours a week, who would like to be working full-time, as being unemployed. In the United States these people are counted as being employed. This difference adds approximately 2 percentage points to Germany�s unemployment.
The NYT gives us yet another crisis story about declining congestion and pollution in Italy. You guessed it -- fewer children and falling population. According to the article, economists say that communities will struggle to find people for certain jobs like ambulance drivers or police officers.
VALUES VOTERS' VALUES. I just got back from the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit. The audience was what you'd expect -- white and old. The speakers, on the other hand, mixed things up a little. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), addressing George W. Bush's original "compassionate conservative" framework, suggested that being "pro-life" also means caring about the fetus's safety after it's born.
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN INEPT.Bloggers are in an understandableuproar over a Roll Call article in which a hodgepodge of nameless Democratic aides reveal that the leadership is readying to party like it's 2002 and refocus the election on economic issues. I'm a bit skeptical.
GUEST POST: FASTEN THE ROPES. Senator McCain and his colleagues deserve some credit; they have, once again, pushed back on an administration that is congenitally allergic to the rule of law. When faced with the senators� insistence -- along with the stern warnings of two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs and more than two dozen other senior retired military leaders -- that the Geneva Conventions should be preserved as a baseline standard for detainee treatment, administration lawyers did indeed scramble to resurrect Common Article 3 of the treaties, despite their initial attempt to write that commitment out of U.S. law altogether. According to Sen.