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Health Care Summit
President Obama smartly brings health care demons into the light on Thursday, cleverly drawing his opponents into a public and interactive forum where blank statements and blatant lies can hold no water. Kudos to the Administration for smart political play! And the Republicans are game, since the very core of the insurance companies' public relations people is effectively tempted by this opportunity. Take note though that the PR firms representing the insurance companies will be preparing their most loyal Congressmen carefully. In the end, I think the Republican party ends up a poorer pawn, since I see no hiding place for argument engineered lies in the light.
The televised health care summit will air on C-SPAN3 (good luck with that) and probably show off and on at Fox, CNBC etc. (all the usual suspects) from 10 AM to 4 PM ET. Catch all the highlights via video at Wall Street Greek; we hope to have lengthy video, and we hear the commercials could be a real treat as well. Health Care Summit Party anyone?
The shadow-play some Republicans have stooped to with regard to health care is simply appalling to me, especially since I share many of the same views as the party on other issues. This nonsense they are spewing out about tax dollars being prepared to pay for abortions and euthanasia has been engineered to scare the far right into line. Otherwise, how could big-insurance hand-holding be overlooked? I'm sorry to say that too many of my old party's representatives seem to be using lies to avoid being held accountable for trying to kill the most important human rights effort since Martin Luther King led African Americans to their country's promised equality.
We cannot let evil interests, who happen to have more money, garner a victory on health care! You let me know what I can do to rally people for the sake of Obama's healthcare effort, and I'll do it.
Every time I take a political side though, I feel it important to destroy non-critical criticism that would call me "just another liberal media punk," which I am far from. As I have said countless times before, I was a lifelong Republican who voted against a Greek/American for my party's man, Bush the senior; that's how loyal I was to capitalism and to the Republican creed. Now, I'm an Independent, and I see things from an open perspective, creating a mosaic of views taken from the open market of ideas. What's wrong with independent thinking anyway? Fortunately, there's still room for us too in this democracy.
We must do what is right, and that is taking health care out of the hands of profit-prioritizing insurance companies. We should not demonize them though right? After all, they are only doing their job, representing their shareholders' interests. That's what they'll tell their families over Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Meanwhile, some bright day they will have to face their conscience and the truth. Health care is a basic human right, not a business; but our system functions to provide a perversion of that basic right.
If you work a regular job and never get cancer, or rather, don't get cancer before you switch insurance providers and are therefore not denied coverage due to "pre-existing condition" bull, then of course you will never believe the system is flawed. Lose your life's savings and fall into insurmountable debt in order to take care of your sick wife when your insurance company drags you through the mud on some typographical or clerical screw up, and you will be lighting fires for the sake of this cause. Similarly, bear a simple toothache for a year as it manifests into a cavity, and then mutates into root damage before metamorphosis into jaw bone decay, and you might take the other side of the argument. (He sighs as his tongue finds his tooth).
I DEMAND MY GOVERNMENT PASS THIS LAW WITHOUT PERVERSION AND WITHOUT DELAY. It is what is right! It is needed! It is demanded by the poor and simple people who built this country and keep it running today. If you need to see us massed in the streets to believe in our conviction and our numbers, then so be it. We demand our representatives represent our interests, not those of insurance companies. And we demand the truth be spoken to us, rather than the relaying of the whispers of demons.
Thursday's Economic Data
Initial Jobless Claims
We are still unemployed! A good 16-20% of us are deeply under-employed, depending on whom you ask. What's 20% of 152 million (the labor force size)? That's about how many Americans, minus a few insured part-timers, that could be on the National Mall today letting our elected representatives know how we feel about our right to health-care.
Hefty weekly initial unemployment benefits claims have resumed, after a holiday season spell of good cheer and less firings. Last week's report for the period ended February 13 showed new benefits filers amounted to 473K, up 31K from the week before. Does that sound like economic recovery to you? A jobless recovery is not sustainable. The President is rightly focused on job creation and energy innovation, a.k.a. the revival of American industry. Economists forecast that this week's claims figure will measure a relatively light 460K.
Durable Goods Orders
At 8:30, look for the Durable Goods Report for the month of January. Durable Goods Orders have increased in eight of the last nine months, and they rose 1.0% in December. Orders fell 0.4% in November, after revisions. Excluding transportation, orders improved by 1.2% in December.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft improved by 2.2% in December. This measure is taken as the best barometer of business investment, and is therefore a powerfully positive signal. So what's this crazy Greek talking about then? The economy is apparently recovering. Recovering, or restocking, I ask you?
Economists forecast January's orders could gain 1.5%. That's a big number, and it's supported by manufacturing data out of the Midwest and New York, though Philly Fed data showed softness in activity.
FHFA Housing Price Index
This sad cousin of the equally late S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index will report on the month of December. November's data (way back when) showed a 0.7% increase on a month-to-month basis, and a 0.5% year-over-year gain. Case Shiller offered a mixed report earlier this week, with seasonally adjusted prices falling. However, we noted that while seasonal adjustments are helpful, they are not likely accounting well for this year's heavy snowfall across the country. Weather affects demand, and demand affects price. There is no forecast for this data point, so you are on your own. We can, however, tell you that the market is likely unconcerned about December as we enter March.
EIA Natural Gas Report
The EIA will report on natural gas inventory at 10:30 as always. Last week's report covering the period ending February 12 showed an inventory withdrawal of 191 Bcf. Natural gas stocks stood 53 Bcf above the five-year average for this time of year.
Day 2 of the Fed Chairman's semiannual report to Congress will have Chairman Bernanke addressing the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs at 9:00 AM. When he addressed the House panel on Wednesday, Chairman Bernanke reassured the confused bunch that his discount window changes of last week did not signal any near-term fed funds rate hawkishness. At 8:30, look for Cleveland Fed Bank President Pianalto's speech to a Dayton area group. St. Louis Fed President Bullard is scheduled to make a luncheon address.
Peace talks between India and Pakistan are scheduled, as we (the US) seem to be arming the entire subcontinent... which oh by the way, is already a hot-bed of adequate-enough-to-wipe-out-one-other weaponry and nationalist passion. I have grown more hopeful however since the change in government in Pakistan, for as long as it holds anyway.
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