>Unfree Enterprise: Thus much for the old “free market” philosophy, if Sierra Health Services is absorbed into UnitedHealth Group it “would virtually eliminate Medicare HMO competition in Nevada. “...United would control 95 percent of the Medicare HMO market statewide, and 100 percent in Clark County.” [LVSun] The next person who argues that the health care system should be governed by the “Free Market,” should be reminded that that would be a good idea — if we had one. “Sicko“
Races Yet to Come: Jon Ralston muses about the 3rd Congressional District race in 2008 and possible candidates. [LVSun] “This race is difficult enough for the Democrats, but if they can’t head off a primary fight, Porter will win easily.” Granted, the race will be difficult, if for no other reason than Porter will be supported by the deep pockets of the Republican campaign machine, and the generous assistance of special interest groups — as he was last round. However, all that moolah only got Porter a 1.89% margin of victory over a relative newcomer, Tessa Hafen. [DB] Secondly, there are some good reasons for having a primary election “fight,” not the least of which is to give a strong candidate some early name recognition. As long as the primary campaign doesn’t devolve into mud wrestling, there are scenarios in which it could be a good strategy.
“MessO’Potamia:” The other half of the Splurge [WaPo] we’ve not been hearing about — the outsourcing of operations in Iraq. Private security companies (mercenaries like Blackwater) are taking over some “low priority missions,” and the Pentagon plans to spend a minimum of $1.5 billion to protect U.S. bases ($480 million), to provide intelligence ($475 million), and to protect reconstruction convoys ($450 million). Better yet for the Bush Administration, they aren’t counted among the casualties. “The U.S. military has never released complete statistics on contractor casualties or the number of attacks on privately guarded convoys. The military deleted casualty figures from reports issued by the Reconstruction Logistics Directorate of the Corps of Engineers, according to Victoria Wayne, who served as deputy director for logistics until 2006 and spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq.” [WaPo] When casualties were reported they were only those “registered” with the logistics directorate, and for only a fraction of the total number of convoys. The Post’s full five page article is well worth reading.
Homeland Insecurity: President Bush is threatening to veto the Homeland Security Spending bill passed by the House if the Senate retains the provision requiring department contractor to pay at least the local prevailing wage. [NYT] This provision would prevent the President from doing as he did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and waiving the provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act allowing lower paid “temp” workers from subcontracting companies. [OMBwtch] The President reversed his position after the waiver was widely publicized. [WaPo]
Republicans proposed amendments to (1) ignore local input concerning the Fence along the Mexican border; (2) and to avoid paying the local prevailing wages, and were defeated. (Roll call votes) The Rogers amendment failed 145-277, with Nevada Congressional Representatives Heller (R-NV) voting “yes” and Representatives Porter (R-NV) and Berkley (D-NV) voting “no.” [RC 488] Roger’s “Amendment No. 1″ was also defeated on a 178-243 vote; again with Rep.Heller voting “yes,” and Representatives Porter and Berkley voting “no.” [RC 489] The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations for FY 2008 (H.R. 2638) passed on a 268-150 vote in the House, Representative Heller continuing his stretch of ‘no’ votes, and Representatives Berkley and Porter voting in favor of the bill. [RC 491]
Just for the record, here’s what Congressman Heller (R-NV02) was opposing: state grants to equip and train local first responders; assisting high risk urban areas improve their capacity to prevent, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism; protecting critical transit infrastructure; making up for the $287 million shortfall in Emergency Management Performance Grants program; addressing firefighters’ needs for communication, staffing, and equipment, providing interoperability communication grants; and, funding to help states meet the requirements of the Real ID Act, an unfunded federal mandate. The bill also includes more funds for air cargo screening, and flood map modernization. [AppHouse pdf] The Heritage Foundation thinks items like these are “pork.” [Heritage]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reaction to the President’s veto threat came straight to the point: “President Bush – whose war in Iraq has weakened our military and made our country less secure, and who has never made homeland security the priority it needs to be – has threatened to veto the bill. I hope the clear bipartisan majority voting for the bill will encourage him to withdraw his misguided veto threat and adopt homeland security policies more in touch with the wishes of the American people.” [Gavel]
Nevada legislative news at Blue Sage Views