Jul 212004

Jenna Bush mugs for the cameras

For bloggers, it hasn?t been a bad few days. Elections always provide good grist. We?ve gone from Dick Cheney?s potty mouth to the first daughter giving reporters some tongue from the back of a Presidential limousine.

Its interesting how those two daughters have been kept so much under wraps. Now the Kerry campaign has John Edwards and his really nice family, so I guess the Bush?s decided they?d better show the fa?ade of a family. He is, after all, running a ?family values? based campaign. Of course, the first daughters are proof positive the apple doesn?t fall far from the tree. I believe George isn?t the only Bush to have a bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol.

I suppose some people would quibble about whether it?s right to put a politicians family under such scrutiny. Actually, I completely agree, the families should be left out of it. However, when the candidate puts them on the campaign trail on his behalf, that restraint goes out the door.

And where?s Dick C. been while all this has been going on. Well, he was stumping up in Ohio earlier this week complaining about medical malpractice, and how lawyers alone are running up the cost of healthcare in this country, and calling for caps on medical malpractice awards. I guess the fact that the insurance industry has, since 2000, donated over $67 million to Bush and the Republicans in Congress. At least they?re getting their money?s worth.

The claim just gets more and more absurd when the facts are examined. California put malpractice caps in place in 1975. A 1993 study showed the caps had not reduced malpractice insurance rates relative to any other state. It doesn?t take a math genius to figure out that means the insurance companies raised the rates in California at the same pace as everywhere else in the U.S., but have just had to pay out a lot less. Where do you think that money went? Maybe going to an insurance policy for the insurance companies?with a premium that?s something like $67 million?

The Administration has often claimed that recovery caps were also necessary because "lawsuits are driving docs out of the practice, which means there’s less availability." While there are isolated markets with problems, a report by the General Accountability Office found that nationally, "reductions in supply by health care providers could not be substantiated or did not widely affect access to health care." In fact, in Pennsylvania and West Virginia ? two of the 19 states supposedly in a "full-blown liability crisis," the number of doctors per capita has actually gone up over the past six years, according to the GAO. Bob Herbert of The New York Times took a look last month at how the Bush administration is cooking up the myth of a crisis.

Oh, and at almost the same time Dick was trumping up the ?crisis? about malpractice suits, he also cooks up some lies about hourly wages. Last Friday, four days after Vice President Cheney informed Americans that "wages have been rising," the Bureau of Labor Statistics "reported that hourly earnings of production workers ? non-management workers ranging from nurses and teachers to hamburger flippers and assembly-line workers – fell 1.1 percent in June, after accounting for inflation. The June drop, the steepest decline since the depths of recession in mid-1991," represents the second straight month there has been a significant decline. Real hourly earnings fell 0.8 percent in May.

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