Last night, March 21, 2010, the congressional vote announced a change in America that has been compared to the institution of social security and medicaid.  This highly controversial issue has sent rivets throughout the country as the American people either cringe or celebrate.  Today in our news update, we have posted 4 links to provide information on what the health care reform vote means to us and some of the implications for today and in the future.

Democrats hail landmark US healthcare bill

Democrats have hailed the approval of legislation extending healthcare to an additional 32 million Americans as a historic advance in social justice.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi said it was comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security.

The bill was passed in the House on Sunday evening by just seven votes.

Sebelius: Americans Will Embrace Health Reform

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says that, despite a new CBS News poll showing widespread skepticism and confusion, Americans will be “enthusiastic” about the health reform bill passed by the House of Representatives once they understand it.

“I think what’s been going on for the better part of a year is a lot of attempts to confuse and scare Americans,” Sebelius told “Early Show” co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.

Sebelius said she was “absolutely convinced” that “once people understand what’s in the bill and the fact that a lot of what they’ve been hearing has never been contemplated, has never been in the bill, that they’ll be very enthusiastic about what congress did last night.”

Health care bills change game for states

The package of health care legislation passed by the U.S. House Sunday night (March 21) would bring major changes to patients and the medical system that treats them, but it also could shake up state government in ways felt in the courtroom, on the campaign trail and in regulatory offices.

Three Republican state attorneys general — from Florida, South Carolina and Virginia — are chomping at the bit to challenge the planned changes in court. In Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli vowed to file suit “as soon as the ink is dry” from President Obama’s signature on the bills, the Washington Post reports.Cuccinelli’s legal reasoning for attacking the scheme hinges on a mandate that would require individuals to buy health insurance. He says the requirement goes beyond Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce, the rationale for federal action.

Will Obama now blame GOP for faults in his health care plan?

After Democrats finish dancing in the streets to celebrate narrow passage of new health care laws Sunday night, they’re likely to switch to another favorite pastime: shifting blame.

Why? Because there are two bills, with one being enacted into law but the other still hung up in the process, very possibly indefinitely.

That will likely lead to a classic game of political spin and propaganda. President Obama’s has admitted that the first bill—which passed and he is signing into law—is deeply flawed. But the second bill—the supposed clean-up-and-fix-the-first bill—may never become law.

In today’s news update we are covering a few links related to the 2010 census, health care and Obama’s transparency pledge.

Obama taking health care push to Ohio

Washington (CNN) — President Obama heads to Ohio on Monday to push for a health care overhaul.

Obama is set to deliver an address on health insurance in Strongsville, outside Cleveland.

The president will spend time “going through why reform is important, going through what it will do the minute he signs the legislation on behalf of millions of Americans, discussing what happens, again, if we decide now is not the time,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at a news briefing Friday.

Poor census response feared

A decennial tradition that dates back 220 years to the days of George Washington continues today when federal census forms start arriving at more than 120 million households across the United States.

But hanging over this 23rd U.S. census are concerns about a decline in participation.

While the U.S. census has always evoked some resentment toward the feds for poking their nose into people’s business, there’s a sense that America’s distrust of the government has reached greater heights and could contribute to poor census returns.

FOIA-request audit shows response to Obama transparency pledge is uneven

The Obama administration’s first year of efforts to improve access to government information has yielded mixed results, according to an audit of Freedom of Information Act requests set to be released Monday. The report by the National Security Archive at George Washington University comes at the start of Sunshine Week, the annual attempt by federal groups and news organizations to promote better access to government information.

In today’s news update we feature links to the job rate, Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and Toyota’s apologies for the recalls.

Jobless Rate Falls to 9.7%; U.S. Sheds 20,000 Job

The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly declined in January, but the economy continued to shed jobs and revisions painted a bleaker picture for 2009, casting doubt over the labor market’s strength.

The unemployment rate, calculated using a household survey, fell to 9.7% last month from an unrevised 10% in December, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast the jobless rate would edge higher to 10.1%.

Toyota’s Chief Steps Forward to Apologize for Problems

NAGOYA, JAPAN — The president of Toyota apologized at a hastily arranged news conference Friday night for the quality problems that led to the recall of more than nine million cars worldwide.

Analysis: Obama-Dalai Lama meeting only option

WASHINGTON — Just a week after enraging China with an arms sale package for rival Taiwan, President Barack Obama risks more damage to this crucial relationship by agreeing to meet with the Dalai Lama in two weeks.

In today’s news update we provide links to information that is going on in Haiti, Obama’s banking proposals, China and Internet censorship and GE’s Q4 Profits.

Obama’s banking proposals: The impact on Europe

“If these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have,” Mr Obama vowed on Thursday.

The president’s opening salvo, designed to stop banks taking too many risks in the future, comprises a four-punch combination:

  • To limit the overall size of banks
  • To ban banks from buying and selling assets with their own money, a practice known as proprietary trading
  • To ban them from dealing in hedge funds
  • To ban private equity trading, or buying and selling whole companies.

But these wide-ranging activities are undertaken by big banks across the world, and not just in the US.

Haitian Government to Relocate 400,000 Displaced by Quake

Haitian government officials say an estimated 400,000 residents displaced by last week’s earthquake will be moved to new villages to be set up outside the devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.

Officials said Thursday they will provide transportation for the residents and hope to begin moving them as soon as possible. The 7.0 magnitude quake left an estimated 1.5 million people homeless, and earthquake survivors have been living outside in overcrowded camps with little or no sanitation.

China Says U.S. Internet Accusations Harm Ties

BEIJING — The Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out Friday against a speech on Internet censorship made the previous day by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, calling on the United States government “to respect the truth and to stop using the so-called Internet freedom question to level baseless accusations.”

2nd UPDATE: GE 4Q Profit Drops 19% On Finance-Arm, NBC Weakness

General Electric Co. (GE) on Friday beat expectations with a 19% drop in fourth-quarter earnings, with an upbeat outlook that foresees a return to growth in 2011.

Orders have improved since its investor update in December, with delinquencies in its problematic finance unit also trending down, though commercial real-estate remains a key concern.

“The world we look at really has improved,” said chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt on a conference call with analysts.

Net profits for the December quarter of $3.01 billion, or 28 cents a share, compared with $3.72 billion, or 35 cents, a year earlier and a 26-cent consensus forecast among analysts. Revenue dropped 10% to $41.44 billion.

In today’s news update, we provide links regarding the U.S. job market, AIG Payouts and health care priorities.

Obama Returns to Job One — Jobs

President Obama hoped to put the Christmas Day terror scare behind him — at least temporarily — by saying Thursday that the “buck stops with me” and setting in motion a streamlining of intelligence efforts and a ramping up of passenger screening.

Today, he returns his focus to jobs after the latest unemployment report showed the jobless rate stuck in double digits.

N.Y. Fed Told AIG to Shield Payouts

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York told American International Group Inc. not to disclose key details of their agreements to make big payouts to banks in the insurer’s regulatory filings in late 2008, according to a set of email exchanges released Thursday.

House Democrats discuss health care priorities

Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives briefed party members on Thursday on healthcare talks with the Senate, with competing approaches on taxes and the shape of new insurance exchanges topping the list of priorities.

In today’s news round-up, we view links to news articles on the Obama-Bush debate, the EU economic summit and a report on US job satisfaction.

Obama’s terrorism summit — and another Obama-Bush debate

As President Obama conducts a summit meeting on the Christmas near-tragedy, backers and critics beyond the White House are sure to be arguing about his approach to terrorism — writing yet another chapter in the battle between the Obama and George W. Bush presidencies.

New EU President calls for economic summit on first working day

BRUSSELS, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU)’s first full-time President Herman Van Rompuy marked his first working day on Monday with a call for a special summit among EU leaders to discuss economic issues.

“This is my first official working day. I am preparing already the next European Council (summit) on Feb. 11, I took the initiative to convene this council,” Van Rompuy, who took office in the new year but just started his job Monday due to the holiday, said in a statement.

US job satisfaction has hit 22-year low, survey says

An annual survey suggets that Americans who still have a job are less satisfied with their work than at any time in the last two decades.

Researchers found that only 45% of workers were happy with their jobs, dropping from 49% in 2008.
The Conference Board research group concluded that the recession was only partly to blame for the drop.

Bonus Link:

C-SPAN Challenges Congress to Open Health Care Talks to TV Coverage

The head of C-SPAN has implored Congress to open up the last leg of health care reform negotiations to the public, as top Democrats lay plans to hash out the final product among themselves.

C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb wrote to leaders in the House and Senate Dec. 30 urging them to open “all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings,” to televised coverage on his network.

“The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of the sessions LIVE and in their entirety,” he wrote.

Monday’s news round up includes articles linking to the health bill, Obama and Afghanistan and holiday spending post Black Friday.

Cost Control Big Question in Senate Health Bill

As the Senate takes up health care legislation this week, the question of whether it will “bend the curve” of soaring costs has emerged as a central dispute among experts and the subject of an all-out push by the White House.

With polls showing the public alarmed about deficits and dubious about the health care bill, White House budget director Peter Orszag said last week that the Senate legislation will control costs. He cited a letter signed by 23 top economists, including former Bush administration Medicare chief Mark McClellan, that said four provisions of the bill will help slow spending.

3 Keys to Understanding Obama’s West Point Speech

The president still must convince ordinary Americans he can be trusted to keep the nation safe.

When President Obama finally announces his Afghanistan decision Tuesday, the number of additional troops he sends will dominate headlines. But the real test of his leadership will depend on the depth of his commitment.

This article offers keys to understanding the speech.

Cyber Monday: Hope for disappointed stores

The good news for merchants is that more Americans this year turned out to bag Thanksgiving weekend deals than last year. The bad news, however, is that shoppers on average spent less on their purchases compared to a year ago.

For nervous sellers, it’s next about Cyber Monday, or the online retail world’s version of Black Friday, when millions of people take a few minutes at work to surf the Web to score “doorbuster”-like deals from e-tailers.

Barack Obama Nobel Peace Prize

Barack Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

LONDON — The surprise choice of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful leader has not yet accomplished much on the world stage.

The new president was hailed for his willingness to reach out to the Islamic world, his commitment to curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons and his goal of bringing the Israelis and Palestinians into serious, fruitful negotiations.

Health Industry Concerned about Health Care Reform

The industry heavyweights President Obama neutralized through the summer are agitating that the health-care bills in Congress violate agreements they made with the White House, leave 25 million Americans uninsured and have the potential to increase medical costs.

GM Expected to Seal Hummer Sale

BEIJING – General Motors Co. is expected to seal a deal as early as Friday to sell its Hummer unit to China’s Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. for $150 million, according to people close to the talks

China’s central government could still balk at the acquisition because of Hummer’s reputation for gas-guzzling excess, although the people said Chinese regulators have been briefed on the talks frequently, and that support may be building for the deal.

newsReport: More troops needed for Afghan war success

“WASHINGTON — The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has reported to President Barack Obama that without more troops the U.S. risks failure in a war it’s been waging since September 2001.

“Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary. His 66-page report, sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30, is now under review by Obama.”

Dollar Gains on Rivals

“NEW YORK — The dollar is stronger Monday as the yen and higher-yielding currencies give back some of their recent gains versus the greenback while investors consolidate their positions.

With markets in Japan, Singapore and several other Asian countries closed Monday for holidays, the dollar took advantage of thin conditions to push to an almost two-week high against the yen, although remaining in range.”

Oil Prices Slide Below $70

“NEW YORK – Crude futures fell Monday as the market’s two biggest cues in recent months, the dollar and equities, both pointed to sharply lower oil prices.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery recently traded $2.63, or 3.7%, lower at $69.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange traded $2.85, or 4%, lower at $68.47 a barrel.

The dollar stretched a correction into a second day after hitting its weakest point against the euro this year on Thursday, raising the relative cost of commodities priced in the U.S. currency. Oil prices came close to a 2009 high as the dollar weakened steadily earlier this month.”

Obama to focus on innovation in New York speech

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama travels to New York on Monday to promote his strategy to improve the U.S. economy by spending on education and innovation, as he shifts his focus from healthcare reform to a week of diplomacy and international economic issues.

Obama will talk about his strategy, building on more than $100 billion in economic stimulus funds, as well as regulatory and other initiatives, in a speech at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, a city in eastern New York 140 miles north of New York City, the White House said in a statement.”

Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute joins Dennis McCuistion and marketing consultant, Terry Brock, at Freedom Fest.  Michael Tanner presents his perspectives on the Obama health care plan.

Michael Tanner presently heads research into a variety of domestic policies with a particular emphasis on health care reform, social welfare policy, and Social Security. His most recent book, Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution (2007), chronicles the demise of the Republican Party as it has shifted away from its limited government roots and warns that reform is necessary.

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Under his direction, Cato launched the Project on Social Security Choice, widely considered the leading impetus for transforming the soon-to-be-bankrupt system into a private savings program. Time Magazine calls Tanner, “one of the architects of the private accounts movement,” and Congressional Quarterly named him one of the nation’s five most influential experts on Social Security.

According to Michael, the Obama health care plan is,

“essentially government taking over 1/6 of the US economy. Government would then control some of the most personal and private information. Government would tell us what type of insurance to buy, the benefits we would have, how doctors have to practice medicine, and what employees have to carry. It’s top down command and control economics. The Government plan is subsidized by the taxpayer so it can always have lower premiums and higher benefits… You can’t compete against an entity backed by government. That’s like competing against the Mafia.”

Join in for more of Mr. Tanner’s outspoken and cutting edge views on the Obama health care plan. And as always thanks for watching as we talk about things that matter with people who care.

Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/ Producer