Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Student Debt is Challenging the Reason for Getting that Long Sought After College Degree

What has changed for many of the college educated is finding themselves in debt longer than their parents were after college, being penalized for having student debt when going to buy homes, cars, etc., and in the end having less wealth and a lower salary when compared to those without a college education.

One reader’s comment. “I’ve been meaning to write back, but a large number of days on the road takes precedence. I disagree about the relevance of my experience working endless shit jobs while living in crappy apartments and eating pb&j to pay back my loans. That said, I do respect your opinion, and I hope you continue to share your thoughts about how entirely fucked up our priorities are as a Nation when it comes to education.

As my father who is in his late sixties recently said to me “sorry your generation got screwed”, something I’m quite cognizant of as I lose twenty grand selling a home to pursue a career. In the meantime, time to bust some ass and take care of what is in our power to affect. Patrick “Ripping Off College Students Economic Future”

The argument for a college education has always been the earning potential the 4-year degree holder has as opposed to those without a 4-year college degree. As more and more students have trouble buying into the Middle Class with the degree they have earned because of the overwhelming debt, the value of a college education has come into question considering the debt load carried by college graduates. What has changed in the last decade is tuition increases outstripping the cost of healthcare, the decline in state support for colleges, and the increased use of credit cards, home equity, and retirement account borrowing to fund college education. What remains after the piece of paper is passed out at graduation day is debt remaining with the student into his thirties and sometimes well into their forties.

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Here’s what “unaffordable” long-term leukemia care ACTUALLY looks like, Ms. Boonstra. And Rep. Peters.

Just when I thought I’d written my last post on Julie Boonstra, I read Kenneth Thomas’s post below, from Sunday.  The only comment to that post–mine, which I just posted–reads:

How very, very, very sad that there was no ACA during his years of leukemia treatments and hospitalizations, and that we still do not have single-payer.

And how ironic that he had the very same fatal illness that Julie Boonstra has.  I’d like to shove your post in her face, Kenneth.

I’d also like to see Rep. Gary Peters use this family’s situation in his Senate campaign ads in Michigan, and ask whether Julie Boonstra has any idea of what “unaffordable” means with respect to medical care for leukemia.

When she cut the first of her two ads for AFP in mid-February, Boonstra apparently was genuinely unaware of the full terms of her new Blue Cross plan and of the out-of-pocket-costs limitations legislated in the ACA.  And part of the reason why was the failure of healthcare.com to work in October and November and, apparently at least for Michigan’s exchanges, during early December–coupled with Michigan’s decision to not provide its exchange system through a webstie and run and operated by the state.

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RIP BartCop

I’m a little late on this, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the recent death of Terry Coppage, aka BartCop. Bart died March 5th at the age of 60, from complications of the flu, pneumonia, and leukemia.

Bart was one of the pioneers of the liberal blogosphere, starting out in February 1996 with an email newsletter that was converted to web pages by Marc Perkel. He gave much support to new bloggers, including luminaries like Digby and Atrios. Though I never knew him, I am in his debt as well. The affiliated site, Marty Pflugrath’s BartCop Entertainment, was the first to permanently and prominently link to me.

In his final column, Bart requested financial help for his wife to help pay for his medical bills. You can send a PayPal payment to bartcop@bartcop.com. If you still use checks, you could send a contribution to bartcop.com, PO Box 54466, Tulsa, OK 74155.

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Julie Boonstra Tells the Detroit News Why Her New Healthcare Plan Doesn’t Work for Her: It Requires Her to Read the Policy or Ask Blue Cross a Few Basic Questions In Order to Learn What the Plan Actually Covers and What Her Expense Cap Is.

Oh, dear. I won’t summarize this for you; you really have to read it in full.  (Or maybe just read Glenn Kessler’s article about it posted today.)

And to think I had thought Julie Boonstra’s only comprehension problem was with basic math.  Turns out she also has a problem with reading comprehension and with understanding explicit short answers to oral questions posed to, say, a Blue Cross representative. Or maybe just with recognizing that she could learn the specifics of her plan simply by doing one or the other of those things.

Hey, she could have done both!  But first she’d have to have figured out that reading her plan or asking a Blue Cross representative might provide that information.

Yep.  The Republican Party really is the party of stupid. Then again, maybe she knew all along, but thought everyone else is stupid. Okay, I’ll give in and quote this, from Kessler’s post:

Boonstra’s response to this report was that it “can’t be true” because she was worried about high expenses early in the year and because she thought one of her prescription drugs was not covered. A spokesman for Blue Cross told the News that all of her prescriptions are covered and her co-pays on the drugs would help with meeting her out-of-pocket maximum.

It can’t be true, because the truth exists not in reality but instead in her mind. Hopefully, this woman doesn’t fear a nuclear attack by Martians.  Or by the Koch brothers, although that might be prescient, if the attack is to be on, say, Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district.

Seriously, folks.  Does anyone really think this woman had no idea what her plan provided, if not when she purchased it, then sometime shortly afterward?  This new information brings into question the truth of her back-story about being unable for nearly three months to access the Michigan link at healthcare.com and gain information about available plans.  (It also raises questions about whether she is in fact receiving subsidies for her new in-any-event-lower monthly premiums, although of course there is no way to learn that.)

Let’s hear it for Detroit News reporter Marisa Schultz.  And, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Detroit newspaper market: Detroit has two longtime mainstream newspapers, the Free Press, which leans Democratic, and the News, which leans Republican, but both papers’ reporting staffs are journalists in the old-fashioned sense. They’re real journalists, not propagandists.

Yes, folks. The Detroit News leans Republican.

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How A CBS Video About An Obamacare Victim Misled Millions – Part 2 (What the ‘Victim’ Revealed in Our Final Interview)

run75441: This portion of a report by Maggie Mahar at The Health Beat Blog is a masterful piece of investigative reporting doing much of the groundwork which CBS should have performed well before going to broadcast or publication. You can begin to see how much of the news concerning the PPACA is being manipulated and distorted through media reporting without checking the facts of the story and the credibility of those interviewed both of which support the report. This is a follow-up to Part 1 Why Are So Many Americans Confused About Obamacare? How a Video Produced by CBS’ Washington Bureau Misled Millions

 

“Woman Battling Kidney Cancer Losing Company Health Plan Due To Obamacare.”

Maggie: That was the headline on a story that CBS’ Washington Bureau sent to its affiliates last fall.  CBS correspondent Susan McGinnis narrates the piece: “During the 10 years that Debra Fishericks has worked at Atkinson Realty, the company has provided group health insurance with manageable premiums,” McGinnis explains –“until owner Betsy Atkinson learned the policy would be terminated because it doesn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“Debra has scoured the website looking for a new policy,” McGinnis adds, referring to healthcare.gov, but “so far, she cannot afford the premiums.”

“They (premiums) just keep going up higher and higher when there is a pre-existing condition,” says Fishericks.

McGinnis wraps up the story: “Debra hopes that eventually she will find a plan that fits her budget so that she can still makes trips to Indiana –to visit her grandson.”

The camera then turns to Fishericks, sitting at her desk, looking at a photo of her grandson.

“If I can’t go to see him—that’s the worst,” she says.  And she begins to cry.

I was astonished: I thought most people understood that, under the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer charge a customer more because she suffers from a pre-existing condition. Later, when I interviewed Fishericks, I realized that she honestly believed she was going to have to pay more for coverage because she had been diagnosed with cancer. Like a great many Americans, she didn’t understand how the ACA would protect her. Given how hard Obamacare’s opponents have worked to obscure the law’s benefits, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.

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Julie Boonstra Says That Because Obama Lied to Her, She’s Entitled to Lie to Others. [UPDATED]

Julie Boonstra is a Michigan mother currently battling leukemia. Her medical coverage has been adversely affected by the onset of Obamacare. She’s had the courage to let people know about her struggle by speaking truth to power in an ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity’s chapter in her state.

Julie tells John that she blames Congressman Peters for trying to quiet her & President Obama for lying to her and the American public about Obamacare. (Boldface in original.)

“The President Lied to me” Cancer Patient Julie Boonstra tells Gibson she will not stay quiet, Fox News Radio, Feb. 25

Apparently, this woman continues to claim, falsely, that her medical coverage has been adversely affected by the onset of Obamacare.  She also claims that Peters, who requested documentation from AFP, which sponsored the ad featuring her, supporting her claims was an attempt to silence her from saying that Obama said falsely that everyone who wanted to keep their health care plan could do so.  

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Julie Boonstra, Americans for Prosperity, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Trial

The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity has now released its factual documentation for its misleading ad featuring Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman stricken with Leukemia who suggests Obamacare forced her to take on a new plan that is now “unaffordable.” The ad has been widely pilloried ever since Glenn Kessler discovered that her premiums had come down, likely making her overall costs a wash or even cheaper. Gary Peters, the Dem candidate for Senate in Michigan, had written to TV stations insisting on documentation.

The documentation provided by AFP, which was passed along from TV stations by the Peters campaign, doesn’t actually back up the ad’s key claim. But it tells us something interesting about how the AFP campaign — and by extension, the broader GOP strategy against Obamacare — really work.

To buttress the ad’s charge that Boonstra’s “out of pocket charges are so high, it’s unaffordable,” AFP cites a single Politico article reporting that “consumers may have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to pay for health care in the Obamacare insurance exchanges,” because the law could mean additional out of pocket expenses. Needless to say, that doesn’t shed light on Boonstra’s individual situation. And on that front, AFP’s documentation offers this (emphasis mine):

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Not even Americans For Prosperity can defeat Glenn Kessler’s love of "both sides"

by Robert Waldmann

Not even Americans For Prosperity can defeat Glenn Kessler’s love of “both sides”

I mean that he loves the phrase “both sides”. This fact check is pretty much “Opinions on shape of planet differ. Both sides overstate their case.” He is discussing a grotesquely dishonest ad by Americans for Prosperity about an Obamacare victim who ” told the Detroit News that her monthly premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571. That’s a savings of $529 a month”

I am mainly objecting to this “Too many anecdotal stories, on both sides, have fallen apart under close scrutiny.” Before the cut and paste comment, I’d like to make a really rude question here. You do facts right ? OK how many pro ACA anectdotal stories have fallen apart.

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What is the Opposite of a Weasel Word ?

by Robert Waldmann

What is the Opposite of a Weasel Word ?

I need a metaphor and no one is answering at metaphor customer service.

I need a nuancing partner for weasel word. A weasel word is a qualifier which makes a statement so weak it is unfalsifiable without making it sound like “I don’t know either.” I think there is an equally seriously problem with words used only to set up straw men. There are words which can be used to make a perfectly reasonable claim false.

I am tempted to call them “berserker words” as only the sort of person who would go into battle unarmored would actually use them. On the other hand, berserkers were people and not at all like weasels. I also thought of “rabid lion words” but, come on, syllables. I think “wolverine words” might be good, since wolverines are closely related to weasels (who are ferocious and fearless so whose weaseling whom here ?).

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