Friday, October 25, 2013

Pam Bondi's Death Panels

"I want Florida to have the power to decide your medical treatments!"
Florida's Tea Party Attorney General has made the news in her push to ban a public initiative legalizing medical marijuana in the southeast state, but in doing so Bondi had revealed conservative's desire to grow governmental control over our lives and personal decisions.  While the right's "War On Women" is well documented, Bondi decided to step up to the plate on another front - legalized marijuana - and shed some light on the GOP's intentions.

"The ballot title and summary suggest that the amendment would allow medical marijuana in narrow, defined, circumstances, and only for patients with 'debilitating diseases.' But if the amendment passed, Florida law would allow marijuana in limitless situations," she said. "So long as a physician held the opinion that the drug use 'would likely outweigh' the risks, Florida would be powerless to stop it."

So the get this clear, Bondi believes the State of Florida should make decisions about your health - not you and your doctor.  Have a debilitating disease or chronic ailment?  Doctor prescribes medical marijuana?  Sorry.  Pam Bondi and her death panelists have decided to deny medical treatment a trained professional has deemed necessary.  What Bondi implied in her statement is a slippery slope.

And I thought the GOP was supposed to be the party of limited government.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fox News Hypes ACA Prices, Uses Right-Wing Lobbyist As Proof Law Sucks!

 While every other media outlet is reporting on the government shut down, Fox News has not lost their anti-Obama focus and have been headlining story after story about the evils of the Affordable Care Act.  Their most recent article claims the law has caused a spike in premiums all across the nation using as proof anonymous stories from conservative legislators reading notes from "Phil" and "Mike," but their lead-in account regarded a family man by the name of Andy Mangione.  What Fox News doesn't tell you is that Mangione is a small government conservative lobbyist who has worked for giant pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Inc., Invacare Corporation, and Humana Inc.

"Andy Mangione, who lives in Louisville, Ky. with his wife Amy and their two boys," reads the Fox News article, "is doing the same thing millions of people are doing --trying to figure out how much his insurance will cost under ObamaCare."

This account of course comes from a blog post family man Andy made on the AMAC website.

What is the AMAC?

The AMAC, or Association of Mature American Citizens, claims to be the "conservative alternative to the AARP" and believes that the "present system of State regulations and free enterprise has proven satisfactory for over 85% of our citizens" in providing health care.  Presumably they come to that figure by citing United States Census Bureau statistics that show roughly 15% of Americans, or 48.6 million people, lack health insurance.  Do you think those 48.6 million people are uninsured because they are satisfied with the current system?

In Mangione's blog post he insists that his family premium would more then double under the health care law and provides a link to a document that alleges to prove the health care law will put his family into financial ruin.  The problem with that is if you actually click on the link and read the letter Mangione received it states that he could pick one of two options.

Option A is his current policy, which costs $333.65, and Option B, which costs $965.07, but as the Fox News article states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation site, Mangione could be eligible for a $414 monthly subsidy bringing Option B to $551.07.  That would be a 65% increase in premiums but the two policies differ slightly with Option B having a lower deductible, lower out-of-pocket coinsurance, essential health benefits, and children's dental.

So in reality, Mangione's premiums did not skyrocket - they would either stay the same if Option A is chosen or they would raise 65% with Option B, but Mangione would receive greater coverage and less upfront costs (typically the premiums are higher when the deductible is lower, and there is a $5300 difference between the two policies family deductible).  And as the letter states, if Option A is chosen, come the end of 2014 new ACA compliant options will be made available, giving Mangione time to prepare and decide what choice is best for his family.

Here was the title of Andy's blog post:

Now considering the facts would you say that headline is accurate or extremely disingenuous?

Walmart's Newest Unsustainable Offensive: Matching Publix and Other Florida Competitors' BOGOs

Earlier this month it was reported that retail behemoth Walmart will be matching Buy One Get One Free, or BOGO, advertisements from its Florida competitors in an attempt to capture a greater share of the market.  Susan Thurston wrote the follow for The Tampa Bay Times:
Under the new policy, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company will match other stores' BOGO deals using Walmart's everyday price, even if it's lower than the competitor's price. That means a BOGO deal for Cheez-It crackers costing $3.69 at Publix could actually cost $2.50 at Walmart.

Stores will keep track of BOGO deals at Publix, Winn-Dixie and other stores and give them to customers who ask at checkout, Philhours said. Shoppers do not need to bring in a competitor's ad.

The match guarantee squashes many shoppers' arguments that Walmart doesn't have the lowest prices if you factor in sales and weekly BOGO deals offered at other grocery chains. It applies to all Walmart stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets across Florida but does not apply in other states.
It was noted that this move appears to be a swipe at another Florida retail giant - Lakeland-based Publix Supermarkets - whose marketing campaign has relied heavily on such BOGO deals.  While there are other competitors in the state, since the sale and exit of Albertsons from the state and the bankruptcy of other Florida chain Winn-Dixie, Publix tops out the list with market share at nearly 43 percent with a double digit lead over their next competitor, Walmart, which stands at 26.3 percent.  The next would be Winn-Dixie with roughly 16.4 percent (that number includes the acquisition of Sweetbay by Winn-Dixie's parent Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC.)

Walmart's business model has been largely unsustainable.  Ever since they rolled out the superstore format, their plan seemed to center around constant growth, invading markets, stealing customers, make profits, and then move to the next Walmart-virgin market.  Their business model relied heavily on weaker competition and saturating the market with big box stores but once you eliminate the new growth Walmart's figures would appear to stagnate.  Walmart has been experiencing lackluster sales growth, decreased same-store comparable sales, and increased pressure from local competition - namely Publix - and when you take into consideration the low profit margin Walmart operates at (roughly 3.5 percent), attempting to steal even more business from competitors like Publix (which operates at a higher profit margin and has shown greater growth then Walmart) appears to be a desperate move on behalf of the Bentonville retailer.

In an industry known for low profit margins, Walmart is not only doing everything to try and stem their losses and recapture their growth, now matching BOGO deals from every Florida competitor shows a company struggling to survive in a marketplace dominated by what Forbes had dubbed "The Walmart Slayer" - Publix.  Publix has also struck back against the invasive chain with a series of ads, something few other retailers have done - fight Walmart.  Not to mention Walmart is suffering on its flanks from other discount retailers such as Aldi, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and ethnic markets such as Sedanos or Bravo.  Essentially, Walmart is hoping that chipping into their already low profits to attack their more dominant competitors in the state can help drive business but considering Walmart is already peppering the state with their smaller-sized Neighborhood Markets and they still cannot beat Publix, it is safe to say that customers have already made up their minds as to what they want and Walmart is just pursuing another unsustainable avenue. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Conservatives Clamor To Change Narrative, Adopt Budget Hypocrisy

Conservatives have been taking a beating during the this most recent shutdown and they have been desperate to change the narrative.  They have attempted to minimize reports regarding the negative effects of the shutdown (or ignore some matters altogether), they invaded war memorials for photo ops instead of working on a compromise, and they have shifted their stories multiple times to try and come out on top.  For instance, one such messaging change came in the form of a proposal to fund the parts of the government Republicans love and are politically safe - veterans, sick children, etc. - but they have failed in their attempts.  Now they are trying to claim there are divisions in the Democratic party and that the Republicans will soon have more votes on their side to fix this impasse.  What is even funnier about that is that conservatives are also praising the idea of piecemeal budgeting when just a year ago they criticized the Democrats for not passing a complete budget.  In essence, the Republicans are now praising a solution that they criticized the Democrats for using in previous budget showdowns! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Shutdown Flashback! GOP Expresses Reason For Deadlock

Sound familiar???

The government shutdown this week for the first time in nearly two decades.  Over the course of debates Republicans have shifted their story several times.  First they wanted to shutdown the government unless funding was cut for the Affordable Care Act.  Then they wanted to delay the president's signature law.  Once that failed and the government shut down they pushed for a piecemeal method of funding the government, cherry picking the projects they deemed fit to fund so that they could save face in the media.  When that didn't work they broke into closed parks to let tourists in and posed for photo ops blaming the president all the while ignoring the fact that they previously argued that a government shutdown would be a great thing.  What is interesting about all of these accounts is that they really don't represent the GOP's true intentions.  What does is this quote from Indiana Representative Marlin Stutzman: "We're not going to be disrespected, we have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."

This is very reminiscent of the last shutdowns when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich stated he helped grind the government to a halt when he felt snubbed by President Bill Clinton on a plane ride on Air Force One.

"When you land at Andrews [Air Base] and you've been on the plane for 25 hours and nobody has talked to you and they ask you to get off by the back ramp so the media won't picture the Senate majority leader and the speaker of the House returning from Israel, you just wonder, where's their sense of manners, where's their sense of courtesy?" Gingrich said.

"Had they just been asleep all night and it hadn't occurred to them that maybe Bob Dole deserved the dignity of walking down the front ramp? Forget me -- I'm only speaker of the House. But you just have to say to yourself, was it a deliberate calculated aloofness or just total incompetence?"

Stutzman's comments are horrifyingly similar and rings true the cries of hostage taking- the GOP shutdown the government because they felt disrespected because nobody would pass their legislation and now they want something in return in order for them to help restore our nation.