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National health plans competing with the private sector

John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute makes a great point in an email today: One key item on President Obama’s health care agenda is to “establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.” The chairmen of five congressional committees have all agreed that there should be a government-run plan that competes against private health insurers and is available to all Americans. Senators Kennedy and Baucus; and Representatives George Miller, Henry Waxman, and Charles Rangel, have been engaged in secret negotiations to hammer out a deal. They are […]

Reform for Thee, Not for Me

The House passed a limited version (more to come, they promise) of pension reform last night. I note one particular amendment that got added on the floor: FAGAN AMENDMENT – EFFECTIVE DATE: Rep. Fagan offered amendment # 48 providing that only employees hired after July 1, 2010 will be affected by provisions of the bill prohibiting public officials earning less than $5,000 from crediting that time toward their pensions. The amendment was adopted. [Provided by State House News, sub. req.] As our 2006 paper noted: According to the legislators’ biographies on the General Court website, at least 62 out of 200 representatives and senators served in one or more of these local positions [i.e. local positions at no or low […]

Potemkin Reform

It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy into the notion that reform is really happening up on Beacon Hill. Transportation reform, which got off to an auspicious start with the original proposal from the Senate, has gotten quite watered down as it has progressed through that body and to the House. In this case, Governor Patrick is right. Yep, let me write that again: Governor Patrick is right. The House and Senate transportation bills do not go far enough. And on pension reform, I’m doubtful that we will get anything more than a tactical closing of the obvious loopholes without any real strategic thinking about the pension system’s flaws. There is a Special Commission on Pension Reform meeting regularly. But […]

How Not to Advocate for Transit

Yesterday’s Globe covered the expansion of the Green Line into Somerville and Medford. The article talked to newcomers to that community (who generally wanted the subway) and ‘old-timers’ (who generally opposed it). One quote stood out: “It will be that much more connected to civilization,” said Elizabeth Bolton, a real estate agent who moved here in 2005. Eh, I don’t think the negative space around that comment are great for building coalitions. The notion that Medford is somehow disconnected from ‘civilization’ will not endear you to the ‘old-timers’.

Hmmm, Astrid Glynn returns

New York State Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn is resigning to return to the Boston area. I wonder if there is a soft landing awaiting her here in a transportation-related position?