The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
757 Third Avenue, Suite 17-02
New York, NY 10017
Dear Senator Schumer,
I am writing you for two purposes. The first is to ask you to vote AGAINST any healthcare plan that does not include a "public option" for people to buy healthcare coverage.
A healthcare plan that relies on state or regional co-ops to somehow bring healthcare costs under control and yet have a large enough pool of currently healthy participants to pay for any currently unhealthy participants -- as every insurance organization needs, whether for-profit, nonprofit, or governmental -- is nearly akin to telling people that if they don't like their choices among private insurers, they're always welcome to go start their own insurance company. As fellow New Yorkers, we both know that lip-service programs (such as "No Child Left Behind" and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue") ultimately do more harm than good. A collection of small insurance co-ops across the country will be similarly destined to fail. Please vote against any healthcare plan that does not include a "public option."
Second, but even more important, I am also writing you -- as my senator, as the vice-chair of the Joint Economic Committee, and in your roles on the Healthcare Subcommittee and the Securities, Insurance and Investment Subcommittee -- to ask you to consider a bill should the healthcare plan fail to include a public option. In that event, I'm hoping you and your fellow leaders in the Senate would work to save Medicare by introducing and passing a "Save Medicare Now" Act.
As we know, Medicare will be insolvent within a decade. Medicare is one of the most popular government programs today, and its bankruptcy would be disastrous to the many older Americans who depend on it for covering their healthcare costs. With the aging Baby Boomers, more and more Americans will be entering the age of Medicare-eligibilty, even as less funds are paid into the program by fewer younger, working taxpayers.
A Save Medicare Now Act would allow U.S. citizens not yet eligible for Medicare to buy Medicare coverage for themselves and their dependents by paying an annual fee (in addition to the contributions they already make via payroll withholding) perhaps equal to a flat 6% of their adjusted gross income. In addition, individuals and families with incomes less than two-times the poverty rate should be provided Medicare coverage as if they were already eligible at age 65.
Not only would such a simple-to-explain and simple-to-execute plan introduce a much larger potential pool of younger, healthier, paying people -- including many self-employed people and small business owners -- into the Medicare program, righting its finances, such a bill could be politically popular for a number of reasons:
- Medicare needs to be solvent, and America's seniors will be enthusiastic for Congress to save it.
- Medicare is universally popular; in surveys, over 60% of Americans think that saving Medicare from bankruptcy is a priority.
- By making it a flat fee, it could garner support from libertarians and those who normally oppose progressive taxation plans.
- By making it a bill to save Medicare, it could be more palatable to senators from states with a high percentage of older citizens. And particularly popular for senators from states with a high number of people approaching Medicare eligibility who may be very glad to have Medicare as an option if they were to lose or have lost their job so late in their career.
- Many employers, particularly small business owners, will be enthusiastic for the program, because it would allow them to finally get out of the healthcare business and focus their employee costs on their business strategies.
- Finally, a Save Medicare Now Act avoids introducing any new "public option" or "single payer" idea into the debate -- and at this point, the less said with those two terms, the better, regardless of their meaning.
And, as I know you are aware, because the purpose of the Save Medicare Now Act is to provide financing for a popular but increasingly insolvent federal program, it is a budget bill, and cannot be filibustered according to Senate rules.
I thank you for your consideration of such a bill, or a similar bill. I am also writing to Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Rangel with this request. I am proud to have the three of you representing me in the U.S. Congress, but I am troubled by the current direction the healthcare debate is taking and thus urge your support of a Save Medicare Now Act -- for the physical health of our senior citizens, the economic health of our medical system, and the moral health of our country.
Derek A. Baker
The palace master said to Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king." Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: "Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe." So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.— Daniel 1:10:16
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live."
So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'." He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
John McCain, Part 1
John McCain, Part 2
Barack Obama, Part 1
Barack Obama, Part 2
"There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest what we call investment is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or "usury" as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only thinking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said. This is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not. This is where we want the Christian economist. But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilizations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952.
More recently, instruments that are more complex and less transparent--such as credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and credit-linked noteshave been developed and their use has grown very rapidly in recent years. The result? Improved credit-risk management together with more and better risk-management tools appear to have significantly reduced loan concentrations in telecommunications and, indeed, other areas and the associated stress on banks and other financial institutions.
Remarks by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan
Before the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C.
November 19, 2002
Benjamin M. Friedman, author of "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth," recalled that when he worked at Morgan Stanley in the early 1970s, the firm’s annual reports were filled with photographs of factories and other tangible businesses. More recently, Wall Street’s annual reports tend to highlight not the businesses that firms were advising so much as finance for the sake of finance, showing upward-sloping graphs and photographs of traders.
"I have the sense that in many of these firms," Mr. Friedman said, "the activity has become further and further divorced from actual economic activity."
The classic measure of whether the stock market is overvalued is the price-earnings ratio, which divides stock prices by annual corporate earnings. At the height of the bubble, in 2000, companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were trading at 36 times their average earnings over the previous five years. It was the highest valuation since at least the 1880s, according to the economist Robert Shiller.
By 2004, surprisingly enough, the ratio had dropped only to about 26, still higher than at any point since the 1930s. At the start of last year, it was still 26.
But after the market closed on Friday, the ratio was down to roughly 17, which happens to be about its post-World War II average. At least by this one measure, stocks are no longer blatantly overvalued.