|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Any veteran observer of Congress is used to the rampant hypocrisy over the use of parliamentary procedures that shifts totally from one side to the other as a majority moves to minority status, and vice versa. But I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans and their acolytes at the Wall Street Journal, and on blogs, talk radio, and cable news. It reached a ridiculous level of misinformation and disinformation over the use of reconciliation, and now threatens to top that level over the projected use of a self-executing rule by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of “deem and pass.” That strategy, then decried by the House Democrats who are now using it, and now being called unconstitutional by WSJ editorialists, was defended by House Republicans in court (and upheld). Dreier used it for a $40 billion deficit reduction package so that his fellow GOPers could avoid an embarrassing vote on immigration. I don’t like self-executing rules by either party—I prefer the “regular order”—so I am not going to say this is a great idea by the Democrats. But even so—is there no shame anymore?
The number of middle-income earners covered by employer health insurance fell by three million from 2000 to 2008, and government programs and the individual market aren't picking up the slack. The total number of uninsured middle-income earners rose from 10.5 million to 12.9 million, representing 16.2 percent of the income bracket -- a bigger increase than for any other income group.
"It really underscores how the problem of uninsurance is not something simply affecting lower-income Americans but is increasingly affecting the middle class," said Brian Quinn, the foundation's research and evaluation office. The most recent Census Bureau estimate puts the total uninsured population at 46.3 million.
Just 66 percent of people in families earning between $45,000 and $85,000 are insured through an employer plan -- 52.7 million people, down from 55.5 million eight years prior -- a drop of nearly seven percentage points.
People who earn less money were more likely to lose employer coverage, but also more likely to be covered by a government program like Medicaid. According to the report, only about half of the decline in employer-sponsored coverage for middle-income earners was offset by government insurance programs.
Those who missed the safety net have been flung into the cold-hearted individual market, where insurance companies deny coverage based on preexisting conditions and charge exorbitant, ever-increasing premiums. (Insurance companies, whose executives earn million-dollar salaries, routinely plead that other industries within the health sector have much fatter profit margins.)
"For a lot of middle class Americans, the individual market is not a real option," said Quinn.