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Total number of comments: 3 (since 2013-11-28 16:54:23)

Eric Hadley-Ives

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  • Ted Cruz and America's Super-Rich say "Let them eat Cake"
    • Ericrunner,

      Without knowing your family size or income, how can we tell if $625 per month with $40 co-pays is unaffordable to you? What is the "correct" portion of our incomes that ought to go toward health insurance and medical/dental care? Is it 9%? Is it 12%? It must depend on our family size and income. If health care takes up 12% of the economy, does that mean households above the median income ought to expect health insurance and health/dental care costs to be around 10% to 14% of income? How can we even come up with answers to these questions? I don't have the answers.

      In Illinois, where I live, my three-person household lives with an income close to the median. My contribution to the private health plan we have through my employer combined with the out-of-pocket expenses we have is around half of $625, but I'm not seeing the employer contribution to my health insurance, which, if my employer didn't help out with my health insurance, could come to me as taxable income. I'm quite sure that if my employer just gave me its contributions toward my insurance coverage as income and let me use the money as an individual to pay for our insurance, my out-of-pocket health care expenses would exceed $800 per month. A $625 per month plan would probably look pretty attractive.

      Now if our household was making $25,800 as an annual income, a $625 per month premium wouldn't be affordable, but then again, if our income was that low, we would all qualify for Medicaid.

      The Affordable Care Act is supposed to help the poor families that live above official poverty lines (and wouldn't qualify for the newly expanded Medicaid), in that range between $25,000 per year and $50,000 per year I guess. If you are in a household with three or more persons and your income is on the lower end of that range (say, in the low 30,000s), then the $625 monthly premium is about a fifth to a quarter of your income, and that is unaffordable, and that should undermine any support for the Affordable Care Act as it works in your state.

  • Top Ten Wish List Progressives should Press on President Obama
    • Obama's theory of government has been that the legislative branch should take the lead in creating legislation. It is generally the duty of the legislative leaders and their friends in legislatures to create policies that can pass, and the executive power should only give broad outlines.

      In his 8+ years here in Springfield, his other theory of legislation was that he should only put substantial effort into bills that had a realistic chance of becoming laws. His heart was always with us when we wanted more radical legislation or policy, but he had no interest in gestures or symbolic efforts. He also wanted to represent the interests and wishes of the people, the whole people, as much as possible. He has always been more interested in finding what he can do to satisfy the majority and get at least something concrete done to actually bring some benefits, rather than pushing an agenda of a minority (even a minority he agrees with) and risk accomplishing no concrete legislative or policy result.

      Even before he was in our state legislature, I think this was his instinct as a community organizer. Get real things accomplished. Serve the people where they are, and work with what you have got, rather than putting efforts into trying to change the people or getting them to change their desires to something you know would be better for them.

      As president, he may be evolving, and I hope he does evolve, to become more of an activist, pushing for policies that would require a stretch. But the Republicans still control the House, and if the Democrats want to regain control of the House, they will do so by electing some relatively moderate and conservative Democrats in gerrymandered "nearly safe" Republican districts.

      LBJ had more experience in legislative leadership. Obama was never really a leader in his legislative career. He was something of an outsider. Had he run for President as a third-term Senator rather than a first-term, he might have been able to behave like LBJ.

  • Westbrook: Half-Measures in Libya will Fail
    • I am surprised that Westbrook's essay and the initial 18 comments do not address the matter of American law, the U.N. Charter, or the Security Council's Resolution 1973.

      Westbrook characterizes the situation when he writes: "The fact that multilateral institutions, namely the United Nations, NATO, and the Arab League, have approved of at least some of our action does not alter the basic facts that US personnel, using US assets, are committed to foreign combat. Again, this is our war, and while having allies is important, and getting the good housekeeping seal of approval for such violence from international institutions is generally preferable..." [and he continues in this vein]

      I submit that this is not "our" war and really is a United Nations action. I say this because when we ratified the U.N Charter in 1945 that treaty gained the force of federal law of the United States. That U.N. Charter obliges us to give the U.N. Security Council "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security" and commits us to an agreement that, "the Security Council acts on [our] behalf," so, if article VI, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution (Supremacy Clause) still means anything, and we haven't withdrawn from the U.N. or renounced our ratification of the U.N. Charter, this is clearly not "our" war. It is a United Nations action. That makes it our war because we are a member state of the United Nations. This is the appropriate (legal) way to frame the situation.

      To directly commit military forces without authorization from the United Nations would have been, I suppose, a breach of the United Nations charter. I do not think any countries were seriously considering committing and applying military force to the Libyan crisis without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council (there are many lawyers in the governments of the member states and their diplomatic corps). Framed from this point of view, in which the United Nations Charter is a meaningful treaty with force of law, I think it incorrect to frame this as our having sought "approval" from the U.N. to conduct a military action in Libya. Rather, a significant number of U.N. member states, led, I believe, by Lebanon, introduced a resolution allowing member states to get involved, and encouraging such involvement. It was permission and authorization, not approval, that was requested and granted. The Security Council has resolved that the situation in Libya was a threat to peace, and authorized "member states" to "take all necessary measures" to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas. This conflict, like the Korean conflict that began in 1950 (see Resolution 84 adopted by the Security Council on July 7, 1950) is a United Nations effort.

      And Resolution 1973 clearly and explicitly excludes "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory." So, while the so-called "half-measure" is a U.N. action, putting soldiers on the ground would, under current international law, be a violation of the U.N. Charter, and thus unlawful under American law.

      We could introduce a resolution in the United Nations seeking authorization for such action, with an invasion of perhaps a couple dozen member states coming into the scene to remove the Tripoli regime. I personally wouldn't mind living in a world in which a strong U.N. Security Council routinely voted to demand all member nations work in concert to reduce particularly nasty governments to utter submission, and had meaningful military assistance from scores of nations, including all the majors powers, so that nasty governments would cower and quail at the threat of U.N. resolutions, rather than laugh at them, and quickly surrender to a united U.N. rather than defiantly go on their bloody business of making a mockery of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So, in that sense, I think I'm in agreement with the aspirations Professor Westbrook expresses. I'm just calling attention to the legal constraints that must be observed in American foreign policy, because treaties (and the United Nations Charter I take to be such a treaty) do have the force of law.

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