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Joan has a lovely post up today that notes the progress made on Obamacare signups through February, and the real numbers might be even better than what's being reported.

I'm a healthcare provider, so I get a monthly "Blue Alert" from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, which ensures a large percentage of Tennessee's self-insured population.  The March 2014 Blue Alert reports the following:

Understanding "On" and "Off" Marketplace Terminology

Group Number 127600 indicates members purchased coverage "On" the Marketplace. When you contact BlueCross to verify benefits and eligibility, you may see this represented as "On Exchange."

Group Number 129800 indicates members purchased coverage "Off" the Marketplace, meaning they purchased a traditional individual insurance plan from an independent source - not through the Marketplace. When you contact BlueCross to verify benefits and eligibility, you may see this represented as "Off Exchange."

As a self-insured and self-employed person, I am one of probably millions who did what a lot of people do when they buy refrigerators or cars.  I shopped online, then talked to a broker/sales agent to sign up for a policy off the Exchange.

This means that there are probably a lot more people who are benefiting from the Marketplace, the Exchanges, and the choice and competition created by the Affordable Care Act.  While states like Tennessee are currently dominated by one insurance company, which diminishes competition, we can see that insurance companies are motivated to do their own direct outreach to consumers.  This is further reducing the overall number of uninsured people, and expanding access to affordable coverage.

Win. Win. Win.

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President Obama made an appearance at an invitation-only event in Nashville yesterday.  But Republicans stiffed the President.  Senators Corker and Alexander weren't there.  Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper, whose district includes the city of Nashville, was in attendance along with US Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis).  Al Gore was on hand, and even Ashley Judd, who considered a run for Senate in Kentucky but has lived in Tennessee for several years with her family.

The rest of the Tennessee congressional delegation - all Republicans - decided not to attend.

And where was Gov. Bill Haslam?

Steven Hale of the Nashville Scene has a good summary here.

Lots of people were there. But Gov. Bill Haslam wasn't, and nearly 24 hours later, we still can't figure out why.

Oh yes, we know the official reason: he was attending economic development meetings in another state, according to a spokesman. He had planned to meet Obama at the airport, but the president was running late and so the governor had to jet without greeting him on the tarmac.

How do we put this mildly ... uh, Pants on Fire.

More below...
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So, it's been a while since I posted here.  I've been busy.  Started my own business.  Almost went bankrupt.  Have had to move to a cheaper place.  My daughter is now in Kindergarten.

When my daughter was born, George W. Bush was still President.  Now, we've had three full years where John Boehner was Speaker of the House.

I read Cathy McMorris Rodgers' response to the State of the Union last night, which included this passage:

Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President's policies are making people's lives harder.

Republicans have plans to close the gap...

Plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape...

Every day, we're working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time.

So you can see where I was really interested to learn more about these plans.  They sound almost too good to be true!
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Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 07:03 AM PDT

Don't Forget the 99ers

by Benintn

While I think it's great that the unemployment rate dropped below 8% in September, I think we should continue to remember the long-term unemployed.

President Obama has successfully brought this nation out of the greatest financial catastrophe since Republicans brought us the Great Depression in the late 1920s.  For that alone, he deserves to be re-elected.

But he also deserves re-election because his plan to restore America is better than Mitt Romney's.  The Romney-Ryan plan will eliminate Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher program.  He will gut education funding, continue to give big fat wet kisses to his corporate puppetmasters, and deregulate the same Wall Street firms that got us in this mess to begin with.

The fact is, real unemployment is higher (perhaps higher than 14.7%, which BLS U6 numbers suggest).  This economy is getting better but we still need to shore up housing.

In other words, we need more and better Democrats in Congress and we need to re-elect President Obama.


Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 08:58 PM PDT


by Benintn

The general consensus is that President Obama didn't win the debate tonight with Mitt Romney.  And that's fine.

I'm not about to panic.  But it does remind me that we have 435 Congressional races and 33 Senate races to think about as well.

We can't count on President Obama's re-election.  Mitt Romney could win this thing.  In January, we could inaugurate our first Mormon President.

And if that happens, we need to make sure he has a Congress that represents us.

So, yes, by all means support President Obama, and I sincerely hope he wins.

I just think we need to remember that it's not about one man or one race.

We need more than a great President.


Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 10:35 AM PDT

Four More Years of What?

by Benintn

Want four more years of President Barack Obama?

Vote for Obama.

Want four more years of gridlock, filibusters, and policies written by and for corporate lobbyists?

Ignore Congress and just worry about the Presidential election.

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Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 11:06 AM PDT

Military Does Not Equal Troops

by Benintn

Mitt Romney says military and troops are the same thing.

He's dead wrong, for the same reason that corporations are not people.

People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They thrive. They dance. They live. They love. And they die. And that matters. That matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.
Romney continues to deny the fundamental humanity of human beings, while promoting the lie that non-human entities deserve the full rights of citizenship.

Republicans largely agree with him, in practice if not in theory.

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So, I started writing on Facebook and realized that what I was really doing was engaging in a point-by-point refutation of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Republican Budget Committee Chairman and VP candidate.

I'm basing my comments below the Orange Fleur de Lis on this link.

I welcome comments.

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Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 04:11 PM PDT

"An owner, if you will..."

by Benintn

I took it upon myself to view to the full interviews that Mitt Romney gave last Friday to discuss his noninvolvement with Bain Capital, and it raised a significant concern for me about the core values that make our nation great.

Romney smiled as he graciously explained that there is a difference between being "a shareholder - an owner, if you will" and being involved in the day-to-day management of an organization.

This is certainly true.  But what we have is Romney claiming that he was not involved "in any way" with Bain, and yet he was still holding the titles of CEO, President, etc.

This raises some significant questions about the leadership style that Romney would bring to the White House, as well as his views on the economy and the value of work.

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Editor's Note:  This was already diaried today by joelgp.  I'll keep this diary up for a bit more information and background on local races.  But please recommend and comment on the joelgp diary if you're interested in discussing the horse race in Tennessee.

Vanderbilt University's Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions has a new poll out that shows President Obama in a virtual dead heat with likely GOP nominee Willard "Mitt" Romney.

The poll of 1,002 Tennessee residents who are 18 and older found 42 percent would vote for Romney and 41 percent for Obama if the election were held now. The survey, conducted May 2-9 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for Vanderbilt, had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Republican leaders in Tennessee tried to downplay the significance of the poll, spinning the poll's findings as "laughable".  

The registered voter numbers were slightly more favorable for Romney, who polled ahead of Obama among all registered voters by a margin of 47-40%.

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Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 02:59 PM PST

An Open Letter to Rick Santorum

by Benintn

Dear Rick:

I'm kind of new to this whole Catholic thing.  I went through RCIA in 2008 and 2009, got confirmed at Easter of 2009, and was raised Protestant.

Being new to this, I bring a certain sort of humble curiosity to the Catholic faith.  I love the liturgy.  I love the Catechism.  I love the community.

Maybe you're way better at this than I am.  It's entirely possible.  I can understand where  you might know how to live out your Catholic faith much better than I do.  So I guess I need to ask some questions.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 at 02:55 PM PST

Defending Dionne - A Reply to Armando

by Benintn

Armando's front page diary this afternoon cites a January 29 op-ed in which E.J. Dionne discussed the Obama Administration's approach to mandatory contraception coverage as part of the HHS rule on the Affordable Care Act.  The diary, titled, "E.J. Dionne breaks faith with progressive values," says the following in the second paragraph:

Before the president's announcement, the past week had provided us the spectacle of ostensibly "progressive" Catholic men pontificating (pun intended) on how it was wrong of the Obama Administration to enact public policy supported by science and common sense because some leaders of certain religions object to the requirement that their religions must comply with the law and the public policy of the government.
Not only does Armando create a straw man of Dionne, but he uses outdated two-week-old op-eds to make his point.

More after the jump.

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