MITT, MITT, HE’S THE MAN . . .
If he can’t raise Massachussetts’ job creation ranking, nobody can! Except that as governor he led his state down — from ranking 37th out of 50 to a truly dismal 47th. As Paul Begala notes in Newsweek, “While the country as a whole enjoyed 5 percent growth, Romney’s Massachusetts grew at 0.9 percent.” His cuts to higher education and job training, Begala continues, were especially severe.
He assumed public office promising to create jobs — and failed. Now he’s promising to do it again.
And promising to keep us safe from our most serious enemy — Russia. (Huh?) And to snatch health insurance from people with preexisting conditions. And to back a Constitutional amendment enshrining discrimination against gays and lesbians.
One assumes he doesn’t actually mean that last one — and it wouldn’t pass anyway — but as David Axelrod says, “I’m not so much worried about what he says and doesn’t believe as I am about what he says and does believe.” For example: his belief in further cutting taxes for billionaires — to zero, in the case of the estate tax — and in slashing regulation. (Because what could possibly go wrong when banks or mortgage lenders or oil drillers or coal miners or food producers are unregulated?)
I love the way Begala ends his column:
The Romney recipe of cutting education and job training, forcing higher fees on the middle class, and protecting the rich from tax hikes didn’t work in Massachusetts. But his approach to health care did. Paradoxically, the best thing Romney did as governor—and it was a great thing—is the one thing he dares not talk about as a presidential candidate. Too bad, because a solid 62 percent of the folks who actually live under Romneycare—and its dreaded individual mandate—say they like it.
The Romney record in Massachusetts suggests that Romney’s campaign has it backward: instead of talking up jobs and running away from health care, Mitt ought to be bragging about Romneycare and avoiding scrutiny of the one time his economic theories were actually put to the test.
ROOTING OUT MEDICARE FRAUD
(AP) MIAMI — Federal authorities charged 107 doctors, nurses and social workers in seven cities with Medicare fraud Wednesday in a nationwide crackdown on unrelated scams that allegedly billed the taxpayer-funded program of $452 million — the highest dollar amount in a single Medicare bust in U.S. history.
It was the latest in a string of major arrests in the past two years as authorities have targeted fraud that’s believed to cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year. [And that was presumably going on throughout the Bush years as well. -- A.T.] Stopping Medicare’s budget from hemorrhaging that money will be key to paying for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder partnered in 2009 to increase enforcement by allocating more money and staff and creating strike forces in fraud hot spots. . . .
This enforcement ramp-up seems to have begun early in the Obama administration. Arguably (or should I say argumentatively? too simplistically? but perhaps still with a grain of truth), Democrats try to cut down on fraud and abuse in worthy programs; Republicans would rather just end the programs altogether.
Romney’s cuts to education and job training were especially severe. Fees for university students shot up 63 percent as Romney hammered college funding. Robert Karam, former chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, was a Romney backer. But no more. “I think higher education really stood still” under Romney, he has said. Romney even annoyed the business community—his core constituency—by cutting job training, workforce development, and trade assistance.
50% BONUS FOR AMEX CARDHOLDERS
Last year, American Express was running a promotion that let you transfer Amex miles (or “points,” as they call them) into Delta Airlines miles with a 50% bonus. Turn 100,000 Amex points into 150,000 Delta miles (say). I did it and it worked fine. Now — until May 31 — they are doing it with British Airways . . . which is significant, because you can use those miles with any of BA’s One World partners — such as American Airlines. I may be missing something in the fine print (quick – tell me if I am!) but it seems to me as though this is a great deal. The only downside — a fee that works out to $6 for each 10,000 points transferred but with a maximum $99 charge — so you could turn 200,000 Amex points into 300,000 BA miles for $99. Click here to set up a British Airways frequent flier account; then to link it to your American Express rewards account; then to transfer points into it with that 50% bonus. If you figure miles are worth a penny each (and in many situations they are worth more), then the $60 charge for converting 100,000 of them into 150,000 of them brings you 50,000 more miles valued at $500 for a net gain of $440. Don’t say this web site isn’t worth its subscription fee. [UPDATE: BEFORE YOU PULL THE TRIGGER, MORE ON THIS MONDAY]
HOW TO BE SMARTER, RICHER, AND BETTER-LOOKING THAN YOUR PARENTS
Simple: Watch less reality TV, says Zac Bissonnette here on the 700 Club. Have a great weekend.
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Quote of the Day
In finance, decay is more colorful than probity, and the prevailing direction of change in the past generation has only enriched the content of the narrative.~James Grant, Money Of The Mind
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