May 5, 2009
Some days you have to ask yourself, my God, what if these people were Republicans?
Democrats took back Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 in no small part because of their ability to bang their spoons on their high chairs about what they called the Republican "culture of corruption." Their choreographed outrage was coordinated with the precision of a North Korean missile launch pageant. And, to be fair, they had a point. The GOP did have its legitimate embarrassments. California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff were fair game, and so was Rep. Mark Foley, the twisted Florida congressman who allegedly wanted male congressional pages cleaned and perfumed and brought to his tent, as it were.
Of course, it wasn't as if Democrats were without sin. Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson was indicted on fraud, bribery and corruption charges in 2007, after an investigation unearthed, among other things, $90,000 in his freezer. Then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was busted in a prostitution scandal.
But that's all yesterday's news. Let's look at the here and now. Barack Obama, who vowed he'd provide a transparent administration staffed with disinterested public servants with the self-restraint of Roman castrati, appointed an admitted tax cheat to run the Treasury Department -- and he's hardly the only one in the administration.
New York Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is under investigation for, among other things, failing to report income from his Caribbean villa. Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, got sweetheart deals from subprime lender Countrywide and has yet to adequately explain his too-good-to-be-true deal on his million-dollar "cottage" in Ireland, which he may have gotten in exchange for finagling a pardon (from President Clinton) for a felon. Oh, Dodd also secretly protected those AIG bonuses that raised such a ruckus last month.
Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, Nancy Pelosi's moral authority on military matters during the Iraq war, has been revealed as a kleptomaniac of sorts, delivering as much of the federal budget as possible to various cronies and lobbyists.
John Edwards, who had an affair even as he was scoring Oprah-points as the supportive husband during his wife's battle with breast cancer, is being investigated by the feds for the improper use of campaign funds. It looks like the silky haired champion of the little guys may have used their donations to bribe the alleged "baby mama" into silence.
And it would be a shame to let it pass that Obama's Senate seat was put up for sale by the then-Democratic governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, and Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is under investigation for trying to buy it.
But you know what? We ain't seen nothing yet. For starters, the real corruption isn't what the media are ignoring or downplaying as isolated incidents. It's what the media are hailing as bold, inspirational leadership. The White House, as a matter of policy, is rewriting legal contracts, picking winners (mostly labor unions and mortgage defaulters) and singling out losers (evil "speculators") while much of the media continue to ponder whether Obama is better than FDR.
If a Republican administration, staffed with cronies from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, was cutting special deals for its political allies, I suspect we'd be hearing fewer FDR analogies and more nouns ending with the suffix "gate."
Take Obama's "car czar," Steven Rattner. According to ABC's Jake Tapper, Rattner is accused of threatening to use the White House to smear a Chrysler creditor if it refused to back the administration's bankruptcy plan. He's also connected to a massive pension fund scandal involving the investment firm he used to run. One allegation is that conspirators used investments in the low-budget movie "Chooch" to expedite their alleged chicanery. Chooch, by the way, is Italian slang for "jackass," which just happens to be the Democrats' mascot.
More to the point, political corruption is inevitable whenever you give hacks -- of either party -- too much discretion over public funds. Businesses look to Washington for profits instead of to the market. The thing is, this has become the governing philosophy of the Democratic Party, from banking and cars to healthcare and now student loans. The federal government is taking over, and the culture of corruption inevitably trickles down. That in itself should be a scandal. Call it "Choochgate."
BUSH WAR PROFITEER AND MAJOR OBAMA DONOR, SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN LOOTS MEDICARE. THERE’S NOT MUCH THAT HAPPENS IN WASHINGTON THAT FEINSTEIN AND HER PIMP HUSBAND, RICHARD BLUM DON’T PROFITEER FROM.
FEINSTEIN, ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT POLITICIANS IN AMERICAN HISTORY, HAS AMASSED A STAGGERING FORTUNE FROM DEALS HER HUSBAND COOKS UP AND FEINSTEIN AND BARBARA BOXER PUSH IN THE SENATE.
FEINSTEIN HAS LONG HIRED “CHEAP” LABOR ILLEGALS AT HER S.F. HOTEL, ONLY MILES FROM HER $16 MILLION DOLLAR WAR PROFITS WHORE MANSION.
Husband's investments entangle Feinstein
LATEST FLAP OVER MEDICARE PAYMENT DENIALS
By David WhitneyMcClatchy NewspapersSan Jose Mercury News
WASHINGTON - California lawmakers are questioning whether an auditing company in which San Francisco investor Richard Blum, the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has a major financial stake is rejecting Medicare claims at California rehabilitation hospitals in order to reap millions of dollars in profits at the expense of patient care.
The company, PRG-Schultz International, has a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the overseer of the Medicare program, to check payments in California for mistakes. Its only pay is a bounty of up to 30 percent on the "overcharges" it identifies.
The California Hospital Association first raised concerns in November that PRG-Schultz was targeting rehabilitation hospitals that cared for Medicare patients after knee or hip replacement surgery. The hospital association said PRG-Schultz has reviewed thousands of cases dating as far back as 2002 and has rejected nearly all as medically unnecessary. Melinda Staveley, president of the 38-bed Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara, said more than 100 such cases from her non-profit institution had been rejected. The facility could face having to repay more than $2 million.
As difficult as that would be financially for a small hospital with a $12 million annual budget, she said the bigger concern is future patient care. The frail and elderly surgery patients with compound medical problems no longer will have access to rehabilitation hospitals and will have to rely on home or outpatient services.
"This is devastating," Staveley said of the audits.
Her husband's business interests in PRG-Schultz have proved awkward for Feinstein, the state's Democratic senior senator, as the hospital association turns to Congress for relief.
This is not the first time Blum's business interests have collided with his wife's job. Blum Capital Partners is a major investor in Northwest Airlines, which in 1995 won the first contract by an American air carrier to fly to Beijing. Feinstein had been friends with a former Chinese political leader since she was mayor of San Francisco.
More recently, concerns have been raised in Republican circles about some of Blum's investments benefiting from defense contracts at a time when the senator was serving on the Senate military construction appropriations committee.
Feinstein's press aide, Scott Gerber, said the senator played no role in the legislation creating the auditing program and did not intervene with program administrators to help PRG-Schultz get the three-year contract in 2005.
On Thursday, after questions from McClatchy Newspapers, Feinstein sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that called the hospital association's concerns "potentially serious." She asked program administrators to investigate, saying the concerns are spreading beyond its determinations on rehabilitation hospitals to other aspects of Medicare-financed hospitalizations for the elderly, including short-stay hospital admissions.
Feinstein made no mention of her husband's interest in PRG-Schultz, which she lists in her annual financial disclosure reports. According to PRG-Schultz, Blum's investment companies own 10.5 percent of its outstanding common stock, 53 percent of its outstanding preferred stock and 28 percent of its notes and securities.
California House members soon will follow with a joint letter of their own asking for an investigation.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, is taking the lead among Democrats. Her press aide, Emily Kryder, said 15 members - more than a quarter of the state's congressional delegation - have agreed to sign the letter so far.
"The review and collection practices of PRG-Schultz threaten access to rehabilitation services in California," the letter said. "We urge you to examine the actions taken by PRG-Schultz International, Inc."
The auditing program was set up as a demonstration project initially focusing on the three highest-cost Medicare states - California, New York and Florida. Separate contractors are used for each state. PRG-Schultz is the only for-profit contractor among them, and Medicare administrators believe it has been the most controversial because it alone has been zeroing in on rehabilitation hospitals.
On the brink of financial collapse when it won the contract two years ago, PRG-Schultz has found the job to be enormously lucrative. Government figures indicate that it had rejected $105 million in California Medicare overcharges as of Sept. 30, the end of the 2006 fiscal year.
Medicare managers said they could not release figures for how much PRG-Schultz was claiming as commissions for finding the alleged overcharges, saying the information was proprietary. But based on bounties of 28 percent that were used in establishing the program, PRG-Schultz's entitlement could be as much as $29 million.
The California Hospital Association said in a letter to Medicare administrators in November that PRG-Schultz should be suspended for improperly applying Medicare rules and using unqualified personnel.
PRG-Schultz declined to comment. But officials of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services steadfastly defended PRG-Schultz, saying it's applying rules on medically necessary admissions that probably have been ignored in California for years.
PRG-Schultz "coming to town is probably the first real look at these hospitals in many, many years," said Melanie Combs, senior technical adviser for the federal program.
"These rules have been on the books since 1985," Combs said. "Maybe it's possible some have been overlooking them. Maybe there have been consultants out there helping hospitals to, quote, maximize reimbursements. And maybe perhaps some of that has entailed looking the other way."
A call to Blum Capital Partners - of which Blum is board chairman - asking for comment was not returned.
PRG-Schultz reported a first-quarter profit this year of $1.5 million, compared to a $10 million loss for the same period in 2006.
HE HAS WORKED HARD FOR HIS CRIMINAL BANKSTER DONORS. HIS ADMINISTRATION IS INFESTED WITH THEM. OBAMA HAS PROMISED THEM ENDLESS NO-STRING BAILOUTS, MASSIVE BONUSES AS WELL AS NO PRISON TIME.
NOT ONE CRIMINAL BANKSTER HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME OR EVER WILL. AS IS ALWAYS THE CASE OF WALL STREET’S WAVE OF CRIMES, THERE WILL BE A FEW PALTRY FINES, AND THESE WILL BE PAID OUT OF BAILOUT MONEY.
NEXT TO BANKSTERS, OBAMA WORKS HARD FOR HIS LA RAZA PARTY BASE of ILLEGALS. NEXT TO BANKSTERS, HIS ADMIN IS INFESTED WITH LA RAZA SUPREMACIST.
CONGRESS AND OBAMA ARE NOW HANDING OVER OUR BORDERS TO OPEN BORDERS ADVOCATE AND LA RAZA SUPREMACIST JANET NAPOLITANO. OBAMA HAS SQUANDERED BILLIONS PROTECTING THE BORDERS OF MUSLIM DICTATORS OVER THERE, WHILE PUSHING OUR BORDERS OPEN WIDER WITH NARCOMEX.
WIKILEAKS and ALIPAC HAVE EXPOSED OBAMA’S OPEN BORDERS AGENDA… IT’S ALL ABOUT KEEPING WAGES DEPRESSED.
OBAMA’S UNAUTHORIZED PRE-ELECTION GRINGO-PAID DREAM ACT HANDED MILLIONS OF JOBS OVER TO ILLEGALS, AND COST AMERICANS HALF BILLION DOLLARS. MORE TO COME… MUCH MORE! WE ARE MEXICO’S WELFARE, JOBS, PRISONS, AND COLONY FOR LOOTING!
Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)
White House zeros in on Medicare
4 February 2013
Both President Obama and a top economic adviser have confirmed that Medicare, the federal program that underwrites the cost of health care for more than 50 million elderly and disabled people in the United States, is a prime target in the budget-cutting negotiations now going on behind the scenes in Washington.
While talks continue on social program cuts that will affect tens of millions and ultimately the majority of the American people, public attention is being diverted to a serious of secondary issues, such as prospective gun legislation. There was, for example, enormous media attention given to a photograph of Obama shooting skeet with a shotgun at Camp David, including a protracted debate over when the photograph was taken and whether the president could be said to be a hunter.
The real business of the Democrats and Republicans, however, is laid out in the Saturday radio addresses by Obama and a spokeswoman for the congressional Republicans, both of them calling for substantial cuts in domestic social spending.
Obama’s address repeated his empty claims of an economic recovery. He failed to note the radical divergence between the boom in business profits, stock prices and corporate CEO pay and the disastrous state of the job market, with workers’ wages and benefits continuing to decline.
Obama then turned to the question of the deficit, with his usual mixture of doubletalk and demagogy, declaring, “We all agree that it’s critical to cut unnecessary spending. But we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”
In a passage from the brief address that was not quoted in media accounts, Obama continued, “Already, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to reduce our deficits by $2.5 trillion. That’s a good start. But to get the rest of the way, we need a balanced set of reforms. For example, we need to lower the cost of health care in programs like Medicare that are the biggest drivers of our deficit, without just passing the burden off to seniors.”
The last phrase is typical of Obama speechmaking, and of all the declarations by big business politicians in Washington. First, you signal to your corporate masters what you plan to do, i.e., make drastic cuts in Medicare. Then you reassure the victims of this policy that they aren’t really the target.
In truth, that is exactly what the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans are planning. They will impose the burden of the fiscal deficit on the backs of the most vulnerable sections of the working class: the elderly, the disabled, young people and the poor.
There is, as Obama emphasizes, general agreement in ruling circles that such cuts will be made. The only question—about which there is heated debate—is what mechanism to use and how to disguise, as much as possible, the real significance of the measures now being discussed behind closed doors in the US capital.
Gene Sperling, head of the Obama’s National Economic Council, underscored the centrality of Medicare cuts to the deficit-reduction process in a speech Thursday to a health care group. Sperling began by declaring that the administration was opposed to any cuts in Medicaid, the entitlement program that underwrites health care for the poor and nursing home care for millions of elderly people.
This is not out of any concern for the impact of such cuts on the poorest Americans. Quite the opposite. Since extending Medicaid eligibility is a central feature of the Obama health care overhaul, which goes into full effect at the end of this year, it is necessary to keep Medicaid afloat at least that long so as to sustain the fiction that health care “reform” is aimed at expanding access to care and conceal its real purpose—to cut the overall cost of health care for corporations and the government.
Moreover, most Medicaid cuts are implemented at the state level, and state governments, led by Democratic as well as Republican governors, have cut back on benefits and eligibility across the country.
“Medicaid cuts, from this president, from this administration, are not on the table,” Sperling said. But since “we’ve made a tough choice” to rule out Medicaid cuts, he continued, “It means we will have to look harder for Medicare savings.”
Neither Sperling nor any other White House spokesman has spelled out exactly what cuts in Medicare are envisioned. But the failed budget agreement of 2011, reached by Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner, gave a glimpse. It called for raising the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67, which would force millions of retiring workers to pay for private health insurance for those additional years. It also called for increased means testing, a step towards turning Medicare into a welfare program reserved for the poor, like Medicaid, and undermining its universality.
The Washington consensus that entitlement program cuts are unavoidable is justified on the grounds that, as countless big business politicians declare, “There is no money.”
This is the mantra in the richest country on the planet from representatives of a ruling elite that is gorging itself on speculation, profit-gouging and outright swindling. The American financial aristocracy is raking in trillions while begrudging every penny spent on retirement income or health care for working people who have labored all their lives.
The claim that there is no money is a lie. The resources exist in abundance, but the wealth produced by the labor of working people must be taken out of the hands of the financial parasites and billionaires and the major banks and corporations placed under democratic control and public ownership.
AMERICAN’S BIGGEST WAR PROFITEER IS SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN AND HER HUSBAND, OBAMA DONOR RICHARD BLUM. THE CRIME DUAL HAVE PAID OUT BRIBES TO OTHER CORRUPT DEMS TO FEND OFF ANY INVESTIGATION OF FEINSTEIN’S LOOTING OF POLITICAL OFFICE.