Minnesota’s 6th congressional district Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has garnered a lot of attention this last week for comments she made to talk show host Chris Baker of radio station KLTK. Needless to say, her remarks were totally off the wall and were devoid of facts. OllieOx at Bluestem Prairie notes that NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me featured her, “we are running out of rich people”, comment on their latest broadcast. Minnesota Independent has an interesting piece as well as the MN Progressive Project, and of course Dump Michelle Bachmann has all the coverage.
If you would like to weigh in on her latest comments please take the poll below.
The House passed the Wellstone parity legislation 376 to 47. A Bluestem Prairie has nice coverage of the story. As Ollie Ox pointed out, the only member of the Minnesota delegation to vote against this important piece of legislation was Rep. Michelle Bachman. Maybe if there was an amendment allowing drilling for oil in ANWR she could have supported it.
An email from David Wellstone alerts us to the possibility of a compromise and final vote on H.R. 1424, the ”Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008”. From the Wellstone Action website is this description of the bill:
The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness. Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness. This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”
David Wellstone had this to say:
…the final touches are being put on a compromise between the House and Senate, and we believe that a bill could go to the President’s desk next week. But, if it doesn’t happen then, it’s likely we’d have to start all over again with the new Congress next year.
The Senate and House have passed different versions of the legislation and have been working on settling their differences since the House passed its version in March of this year. 1st District Congressman Tim Walz was a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation. Representatives John Kline (R-MN2) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) were both in the NAY column, continuing their tradition of voting against the best interests of their constituents.
Many business groups have long opposed coverage parity, saying costs could drive up premiums substantially. But one estimate by the Congressional Budget Office concluded the impact would be relatively small: a 0.4 percent premium increase for group health insurance. In addition, the federal employees’ health plan has had a parity policy since 2001; one study found no significant cost increase as a result. Part of the explanation likely lies in the value of treating mental conditions early and avoiding expensive complications and hospitalization later.
Many states already have laws in place that provide some protection for patients struggling with mental illness or addiction. Minnesota has one of the strongest. A federal law would not preempt those laws. What it would do is make sure no one falls through the cracks. Mental disorders are one of the most devastating diagnoses families can face. Their health insurers should work with them –not against them — at this difficult time.
A final call-in day to members of congress will is scheduled for Wednesday, July 9. Stay tuned for details on the call-in!
David Wellstone testifies before Congress in March of this year:
This week, the U.S. Senate took an historic vote and passed (75-22) the Webb-Hagel 21st Century GI Bill. The GI Bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this month so now once the two legislative bodies reconcile any differences it will go to President Bush for his signature, signing it into law.
This legislation recognizes the sacrifice of ALL the women and men who have served, including our national guard and reservists who have paid a heavy price in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has strong non-partisan support in Congress and has the support of many veterans organizations, including the VFW and the American Legion. Senator McCain’s legislation is not as generous, would not treat the guard and reserve as equals and would require longer service times to be eligible for full benefits. Some may complain about the cost of this program but if we end our occupation of Iraq we will have plenty of extra cash on hand.
The new GI Bill (HR 5740) is scheduled for a vote soon. Minnesota Central leaves an interesting comment on my previous post about the upcoming vote. Here is an excerpt:
FYI : The improved GI bill may be getting a vote this week. The House plans to add it as an amendment to the Iraq supplemental spending bill. Its smart strategy as the President may have difficulty in vetoing that bill. Currently there are 292 co-sponsors, so it should pass, but the hang-up is the Blue Dog Democrats who are concerned about the fiscal impact as it does not meet the PAYGO concept. The Blue Dogs are right and wrong … the GI Bill does not have the offsets to pay for it, but the entire Iraq supplemental does not either … how can they vote for Iraq funding but not domestic funding?
It should be a fun week … will Bachmann vote against the amendment but when it passes vote for the overall bill thus being able to say that she “supported the troops” ?
Last week, despite enormous momentum, a vote on the GI Bill was delayed by a small group of Democrats in the House. Believe it or not, they’re concerned about the cost of the bill, which amounts to less than 0.5% of war funding for the year. This is Washington ineffectiveness at its worst.
We’ve been pounding the pavement here in DC every day, meeting with all the key players in the fight for a new GI Bill, and today we need your support.
Despite deep bi-partisan support, the endorsement of every major veterans’ organization, and studies showing that a new GI Bill is a fiscally sound investment in our nation’s future, a few members of the House are standing in its way at this late, critical stage.
The new GI Bill (HR 5740) has broad bi-partisan support, and leading Democrats and Republicans have been fighting for it since day one. But thanks to this small group that is mounting an ill-advised opposition, the vote is going to be close, and we need your help to make sure Congress does the right thing.
In our view, the GI Bill is a cost of war, and a smart investment in one of the most motivated, deserving groups of people our country has to offer.
I worked some overtime Sunday (Michelle would be proud), and had to drive the 30 miles home on a windswept I-90. After only traveling several miles and seeing 3 vehicles in the median and ditch I knew it would be a slow, stressful, and frustrating trip home. We did not receive any snowfall in SW Minnesota but the combination of 40 mph winds and a temperature hovering around 32 degrees created slippery conditions on most of the highway.
Allow me to make a few observations and points about winter driving in SW Minnesota on I-90.
1. Please allow plenty of distance between vehicles. This is a prairie interstate not the metro area. There is plenty of room for everyone. I do not appreciate you riding up my ass when you can lose control at any moment.
2. Do not drive in packs.I know sometimes it is lonely on the interstate out here with nothing but windmills, power-lines, and barren snow covered fields but better to be lonely than part of a multi-car pileup.
3. Turn your damn lights on! Yes, it is the middle of the day but with reduced visibility it helps make your vehicle more visible. Oh, yeah, it also is the law.
4. Do not pass me on the slickest part of the road while you are talking on your cell phone. You can call your friends later when you are waiting for the tow truck to pull you out of the ditch.
OK, that’s enough of my rant. Time to think spring!
Here a few of our garden pictures from last summer to get you in the mood.
Over at Think Progress they have a story featuring comments made by Minnesota’s Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Apparently she made this comment:
I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.
What can I say? According to her standards I must be a slacker.