In The Reading Room

   Information concerning the relationship of Medicare to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is bountiful, albeit not always accurate or informative.   Perrspectives explains “The Return of Republican Medicare Frauds” with clarity and fact based analysis.   Perrs quotes Jackie Calmes’ article in the New York Times; and, those wanting to place the issue in a political framework will want to read Calmes’ summary of why the Medicare messaging from the Republicans has become such a muddle.


Politicususa highlights a Republican provision concerning SNAP (food stamps) in the House version of the Farm Bill which is as draconian as it is nonsensical.   “The Republican plan eliminates “categorical eligibility” which means that a family living at or below the poverty line that owns a dependable car will be cut off of food assistance. According to Republicans, a dependable automobile will be figured in to the family’s income and when they are near the eligibility cut-off point, even a moderately-priced used car sends them over the limit.”   (emphasis added)   Think about this for a minute, or think back to the time in your early life when you need the car to get work and the work to keep paying for the car.

If a family doesn’t own a “dependable automobile” then they will be eligible for food stamps, thus in order to qualify for food assistance the family has to part with the means to get to work!  Precisely how this is supposed to incentivize people to find jobs escapes any logic, especially if they are required to give up the means to get TO a job in order to eat.  If one has an undefined “undependable automobile,” then must a person only be able to accept work from an employer who doesn’t care when or if he or she can show up?  Seen any of those recently?


This pathological perseveration about someone receiving any form of public assistance, lest they become “dependent,” leads right wing members of Congress into such silly statements as Rep. Allen West’s comment that Social Security is a 21st century version of slavery. [Think Progress]   Rep. West seems to have missed the obvious point wherein individuals receive Social Security benefits — because they paid into the system during their working lives.


Apparently pointing out that someone is very rich is now a “character assault?”   “In a statement, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said “The Obama campaign’s latest unfounded character assault on Mitt Romney is unseemly and disgusting.”  [WashMonthly]  ICYMI, Vanity Fair’sWhere The Money Lives” approaches being a primer on how the ultra-rich avail themselves of tax loopholes and other accounting treatments to avoid paying taxes.  Governor Romney is quite precise about it — stating he pays just what the law requires and not at dollar more.   And… about those arguments predicated on the assumption that Governor Romney can’t be blamed for any actions taken by Bain Capital since he left?

Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.”

Americablog observes that Governor Romney needs to answer some basic questions about his tax returns.


The Chart of the Day:  What would a graph of the Real GDP look like using data from January 1, 2009 to Q3 2012?  This:

Probably not something the Republicans are going to post on their campaign web pages?


More LIBOR.  Robert Reich calls it “a mammoth violation of public trust.” [BusInsider] The Guardian (UK) reports a Barclays whistleblower alleges Bob Diamond would have to have known about the rate rigging.   The BBC reports that the Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation. From the Telegraph, “Vince Cable: Banks are throttling UK recovery,” (Cable is the UK Business Secretary.) On Friday authorities said external audits were being conducted to see if Deutsche Bank was involved in the LIBOR rigging scandal, today it’s reported two bank employees have been suspended. [Reuters]

ZeroHedge has been following the story, and has several interesting analytical posts on the subject.  Pragmatic Capitalism yawns and tells us that the LIBOR scandal doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. The main bit of evidence is the fact that the LIBOR and Effective Federal Funds rates are closely aligned — which is good, BUT it’s the little spaces in which the Big money can be gleaned.   And lost.

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