What the Court did, Why, and what it means for politics and health care policy

We got very good news from the Supreme Court today. There are no constitutional barriers to the ACA going fully into effect. The exchanges, subsidies for insurance and the expansion of Medicaid will provide affordable insurance for over thirty million people who don’t have it now. Over a hundred million people will be protected from losing their insurance or paying more if they have pre-existing conditions or are older or women. And the provisions already in place—that make preventive care free, that reduce pharmaceutical costs for seniors, that enable people 26 and younger to stay on the insurance of the parents—will remain in place. This is all great news. And it would not have happened without all the hard work you did in support of what became the ACA. That work didn’t stop after the legislation was passed. As I explain more below, the decision today was in no small … Continue reading

Two thoughts in advance of the Supreme Court decision

Can we progressives not attack each other after the decision? I’m going to be writing more about the ACA and the Court after we hear the decision. But here is one plea in advance of the decision: can we progressives not get in a circle and start shooting at one another? That means, can the single payer folks not lead off with “if Obama only had pushed single payer through Congress we wouldn’t have to worry about the Court today?” Everyone who pays any attention to Congress knows that single payer had no chance in 2009-2010 and it does the progressive cause no good to make up stories about what is politically possible and what is not. More importantly we need to unite against the enemy, which is not the supporters of Obamacare but the corporate conservatives who, if they get their way today, are going to go after Medicare … Continue reading

What’s the rush? Save the Cohen wage tax rebate!

One of the last accomplishments of long time progressive Councilmember David Cohen—a rebate on the wage tax for those with low incomes—may be repealed tomorrow. It shouldn’t be. There are good policy arguments both for and against the wage tax rebate. I’ll come to some of them in a moment. But, frankly, at the moment those arguments are secondary. The key reason not to repeal the legislation tomorrow is that the decision to put off AVI for a year means that Council is going carry out a broad examination of taxation in the city next year. The Cohen wage tax rebate is not scheduled to go into effect until 2016 anyway. So there is plenty of time to reconsider it as we think through the future of taxation in Philadelphia. Any city like Philadelphia has to balance considerations of progressivity and economic growth. While, progressive taxation has very little negative … Continue reading

Bonnie Raitt in Philadelphia, June 16, 2012

I have absolutely no capacity for objectivity about Bonnie Raitt. But I think her performance last night in Philly was the best of the four I’ve seen. (Pictures are here.) She was energetic and engaging, powerful and emotional. Both the ballads and the rockers were great. And, as always, it was just wonderful being the presence of her because, well, she’s just a mensch. I saw her for the first time in the fall of 1972 as a college freshman—sitting right in front of her at McConaughy Dining Hall as she sang, played guitar and joked around. I was 16, she was 22. (Maria Muldaur, who had just released Midnight at the Oasis, was the warm-up!). I developed a bit of a crush. And I’ve admired her voice, musical choices, activism, and sense of humor ever sense. Amazingly enough, I’m 56 and she’s 62 now. And at least she has aged well! … Continue reading

Youth is not wasted on the young

I’ve been organizing my personal files, paper and electronic, and just rediscovered this piece. I wrote June 9, 2006 pretty soon after I started my blog. I didn’t post it because a young friend of mine who knew I was thinking about running for office talked me out of doing so. She was a little worried that it wasn’t serious enough and the Viagra joke bothered her. But having reread it–and being 6 years older and coming off of major surgery– I still like what it says about the importance of cross-generational collaboration and about the pleasures and pains of aging. And while I’ve lost touch with some of the young people I was working with in 2006, many of them are still friends and allies, and others have been replaced, in some cases by younger versions of themselves. Staying engaged with young people is still important to my life as a health appreciation for the knowledge and occasional wisdom that comes with age. Continue reading