Confirmation Expected of First Latina Supreme Court Justice
NYT sizes up the SCOTUS battle ahead, or lack thereof: “The left was quiet Tuesday. Aside from commending the president’s pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, most liberal groups kept their comments to a minimum so that she could hold the spotlight. But privately several acknowledged that they begin this debate with far fewer resources than they could martial during the Bush administration. Democratic dominance of the White House and Congress had sucked the urgency out their fundraising appeals and put liberal donors at ease. Still many liberal organizers said they weren’t too worried either. In addition to the sizable Democratic Senate majority, several predicted that Republican senators would tread lightly around the first Hispanic nominee…”
Near Certain GM Bankruptcy
“General Motors has fallen far short of the bondholder support it needed for its proposed debt-for-stock offer … virtually guaranteeing that the nation’s largest automaker will be forced to file for bankruptcy court protection within the week … The company owes the bondholders $1 billion in interest payments on June 1 – money it says it does not have.”: CNN/Money.com
McClatchy weighs in on how complex an expected GM bankruptcy would be: “Because GM is publicly traded, it must make a number of regulatory filings in coming days, and while the Obama administration may drive the process, it won’t have control over the message as GM makes disclosures to its shareholders and investors. The person familiar with the talks said this is ‘not necessarily be the timing we would choose’ and warned of a ‘slightly confusing period for all of us’ over the next week.”
“Details of the automaker’s tentative deal with the United Auto Workers showed, meanwhile, that the union will wind up with a lower stake in the company than expected … The agreement with the union, reached on May 21, will reduce labor costs and drop the stake to be taken by the union’s health-care trust—which will pay worker and retiree medical benefits starting next year—to 17.5%, from an originally planned 39%, sources say … GM could give the government more equity, which would help the company emerge from its restructuring with a cleaner balance sheet.” More details of union deal from Reuters.
W. Post reports Chrysler bankruptcy moving briskly: “Chrysler has suffered few of the problems some predicted before it filed for bankruptcy. The process has resulted in only temporary setbacks to the nationwide network of suppliers, and sales have not plunged.”
Conservatives Amp Up Fact-Free Attack on Health Care Reform
“Conservative groups are stepping up the battle against Democrats’ proposed health-system overhaul with advertising campaigns contending that the changes could result in long waits for surgery and difficulty obtaining prescription drugs. Americans for Prosperity Foundation … on Wednesday plans to launch a $1.7 million television-advertising campaign that negatively likens the U.S. health-care system envisioned by lawmakers to Canada’s publicly administered system. Another group, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights … plans to begin airing 30-minute segments on Sunday featuring unpaid commentary by patients and doctors from Canada and the United Kingdom detailing what they describe as failings in their health-care systems.”: WSJ
HCAN’s Jason Rosenbaum finds a teabagger connection: “Up until now, there was only one person really going all out against Obama and his health care plan, and that person was Rick Scott. So, disgraced CEOs are against Obama’s health care plan. We can add a new group to that list: Teabaggers! Americans for Prosperity, a lead group behind the lobbyist-organized ‘Tax Day Teaparties’ of ultraconservatives around the country, has set up a new front group called ‘Patients United Now.’”
Change.org’s Tim Foley smokes out Big Pharma’s plans on comparative effectiveness: “The effort to contain the federal push for more comparative effectiveness research to evaluate medical treatments has shifted to an effort to control that same comparative effectiveness research. So says Merrill Goozer and many others, noting that the lobbying efforts of Big Pharma and the medical device industry has kicked it up a notch. But the goal isn’t to kill this research. It’s to put the industry in a watchdog role over the research designed to watchdog them.”
“Frank Luntz: It Doesn’t Matter What Obama’s Health Care Plan Says, We’ll Still Call It ‘Government Takeover’”: Wonk Room
Reuters previews the next phase of the health care fight: “The first test comes in a few weeks when Congress unveils legislation, launching months of expected wrangling over the specifics of tax hikes, spending cuts and the government’s role in a revamp that could cost as much as $1.5 trillion.”
“Rumors are circulating that the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee (HELP) will release its bipartisan health care legislation this Friday. Insiders tell the Wonk Room that the proposal will 1) include a robust health insurance exchange that prohibits insurers from denying coverage of preexisting conditions 2) offer subsidies for individuals and small businesses to offset the costs of insurance, 3) invest in prevention and chronic disease management and 4) and may expand eligibility for the Medicaid program. The fate of the most controversial aspect of health care reform — the public option — remains a mystery, however.”: Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky
“A new study from the Urban Institute shows that, absent serious health reform, fewer and fewer Americans will have health insurance, employers will drop coverage, and health care costs will eat up an ever-greater share of household and government budgets. They find that, absent reform, individual and family spending on health care (the sum of insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs) will rise approximately 40% per capita under a best case scenario of low unemployment and economic growth.”: Wonk Room
“It’s malpractice,” a family physician who had practiced here for thirty-three years said.
“McAllen is legal hell,” the cardiologist agreed. Doctors order unnecessary tests just to protect themselves, he said. Everyone thought the lawyers here were worse than elsewhere.
That explanation puzzled me. Several years ago, Texas passed a tough malpractice law that capped pain-and-suffering awards at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Didn’t lawsuits go down?
“Practically to zero,” the cardiologist admitted.
“Come on,” the general surgeon finally said. “We all know these arguments are bullshit. There is overutilization here, pure and simple.” Doctors, he said, were racking up charges with extra tests, services, and procedures…
…About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this. But they failed to discourage those who did. So here, along the banks of the Rio Grande, in the Square Dance Capital of the World, a medical community came to treat patients the way subprime-mortgage lenders treated home buyers: as profit centers.
Global Big Biz Calls For Carbon Cuts
“Efforts to secure a new United Nations deal on climate change got a boost Tuesday when around 500 business leaders issued a call for greenhouse-gas emissions to be halved by 2050. But a separate meeting in Paris of some of the countries responsible for the most carbon pollution made little progress on what targets to set — showing how difficult it will be to clinch an agreement that both developed nations like the U.S. and emerging economies like China will be prepared to sign on to … French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the U.S. had backpedaled on promises to make deep cuts in its carbon output.”: WSJ
Opposite take from Grist’s Geoffrey Lean: “…even an impassioned and remarkably erudite speech by the Oscar-winning actress [Cate Blanchett] failed this week to persuade world business leaders to go beyond mere rhetoric in pushing for action on climate change.”
“The League of Conservation Voters and its allies this week launched a television campaign attacking two Democrats and one Republican who voted against the climate change bill in committee last week. The advertising campaign comes on the heels of the long-anticipated committee vote and ahead of what may be a similarly tough fight to get the bill past the House floor. The campaign by LCV and the groups VoteVets.org and America’s Building Trades Unions will target Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).”: Greenwire
“The U.S. recession will probably end in the third quarter, a survey of business economists showed, even as
rising joblessness indicates the recovery will be weaker than previously estimated.”: Bloomberg
USA Today editorial board backs creation of Financial Product Safety Commission: “A broad financial products overseer, with the sole mission of protecting consumers, could remedy the situation — assuming that it is carefully structured to prevent it from becoming just another level of weak regulation and bureaucracy.”
Terrance Heath contributed to the making of this Breakfast