Daily Archives: June 28, 2009

Joan Vennochi: The forbidding arithmetic of healthcare reform

The Fuzzy math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up – just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation.

Because of a recession-related drop in state revenues and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed, the truth is emerging at an inconvenient time. Massachusetts doesn’t have enough money to pay for the coverage envisioned by the law.

In June, state officials announced they are cutting $100 million from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents. The poorest residents, along with the newest – legal immigrants – will take the hit.

This outcome is not surprising, but it is instructive as President Obama pushes for a national healthcare plan.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, State Government, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Financial Times on the U.S.: Deficit disorder

The figure then being projected for this year was above the $1,000bn mark for the first time. But in the few short months since, the number has rocketed much further ”“ to $1,800bn (£1,106bn, €1,291bn) or 13 per cent of gross domestic product.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan watchdog, forecasts that the US will post deficits in excess of a trillion dollars in each of the next 10 years. Even on its relatively optimistic assumptions for economic growth, moreover, the CBO predicts national debt will double to 82 per cent of GDP in the next decade ”“ a level not seen since the second world war.

This would push the US close to the chronic debt levels seen in Japan and Italy. “People used to talk about America’s long-term fiscal crisis,” says Douglas Elmendorf, head of the CBO. “That crisis is now.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Deal on U.S. healthcare overhaul still uncertain

President Barack Obama’s drive to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system may be back on track thanks to Senate efforts to cut the price tag to $1 trillion, but a bipartisan deal on the sweeping proposal still is far from certain.

Obama wants changes that rein in the escalating costs of healthcare in the United States and bring insurance to most of the 46 million Americans who currently lack it.

He also wants a bill that the Democrats who control Congress and the Republican minority can support to give a bipartisan stamp of approval to his top legislative priority.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Damian Thompson–Anglican meltdown: there are now two Anglican Churches in the US

Please welcome the 39th province of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Church in North America. “Formal recognition awaits,” writes Ruth Gledhill, but the head of the ACNA, Archbishop Robert Duncan, is in talks with Rowan Williams and the new province is already in full communion with 30 million Anglicans around the world.

Great news, eh? Funny that it took Anglicanism 400 years to establish a presence in North America, but better late than never….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

Notable and Quotable (I)

Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others. I know about this moaning because I have done my share.

–M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (Touchstone, 1978 original), p.15, and quoted in this morning’s sermon by yours truly

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life

Notable and Quotable (III)

Last of the True Believers?

By risking his popularity now, Mark Sanford may be quite popular in 2012

–From the April 25, 2009 Newsweek (article entitled Mark Sanford: Last Conservative Standing?)

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

United Church News to cease print publication, move news online

The decision to cease the newsprint edition of United Church News was made on March 20 by the board of directors of the Office of General Ministries (OGM), which has been struggling with skyrocketing costs for the newspaper’s production. Postage and printing costs have more than doubled during the past five years, with costs now surpassing $125,000 per issue.

The National edition will publish one more issue in September. The Conference editions ”” or “wrap arounds” ”” ended with the April edition, although Conferences were offered the opportunity to print one additional issue if willing to share the costs equally with the UCC’s National setting.

“This was a difficult decision for board members, because it was rooted in significant financial angst,” said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC’s communications director and a former editor of United Church News. “But it also paves the way for the development of an expanded online news portal and, most likely, a new and different print publication for the United Church of Christ.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Other Churches, United Church of Christ

Notable and Quotable (II)

”¦Sustained discussion of the human propensity towards self-deception has all but disappeared from twentieth-century analyses of the spiritual life. There are, of course, still specialists in philosophy and psychology working out the details. But, for most of us, self-deception simply doesn’t jump immediately to mind as an explanation of our experience. We rarely think of it. Lots of people I talk to have never so much as considered the possibility that they’ve fallen prey to it in any significant way. One is reminded here of the haunting suggestion in Bishop Butler’s tenth sermon that “those who have never had any suspicion of, who have never made allowances for this weakness in themselves, who have never (if I may be allowed such a manner of speaking) caught themselves in it, may almost take it for granted that they have been very much misled by it.”

— Gregg A. Ten Elshof, I Told Me So: The Role of Self-deception in Christian Living (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), p, 7

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Pastoral Theology, Theology