If you like it, you can keep it

Updated: Friday, November 15, 2013
If you like it, you can keep it story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A quiet piece of legislation from a West Michigan Congressman turned Washington on its head Thursday in the ongoing debate over the Affordable Care Act.

Congressman Fred Upton's bill to hold President Barack Obama to his promise that "if you like your health care you can keep your health care," instead inspired the President today to do in a more casual way what Upton wanted to make him do by law.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's not much of a fix.

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A politician woke up to find himself at the pearly gates, face to face with a panel of robed figures at a large table studying a set of books.

He waited until they looked up and said to him, "you've got an amazing record here. From what we can tell...just about everything you've said over the past 20 years has been a lie."

The politician smiled, looked at them with confidence, and said, "those weren't lies...that's what we call 'spin.'"

The joke doesn't inspire much of a laugh because its rooted so firmly in what we now see as a sad reality.

So when President Obama on at least 12 occasions said, "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period," you have no reason to disbelieve him, until you learn that it wasn't true.

Just not true. Millions of policy holders have been told they've been or are about to be canceled.

When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted today that five-million people have signed up for Obamacare, you have no reason to disbelieve her until you find that its not true.

Only 126,000 have done so, and only a fifth of them through the Obamacare website.

And when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the overseer of this disastrous, trust-destroying roll-out, said yesterday that the healthcare marketplace "is working," you have no reason to disbelieve her until...well...you get it.

So when Congressman Upton filed what he calls the "Keep Your Health Care Act," still scheduled for a vote in the House tomorrow, it struck fear into the heart of the Obama administration.

Because there's no spin.

This quiet little bill, forcing the President by law to keep his promise, has the potential to do what 42 Congressional efforts have so far failed to do—to knock the Obamacare train right off its tracks.

All it wants is to help the millions who don't know what to do now for replacement coverage. In the process it would provide people with an escape from Obamacare. And simply put, if people can escape Obamacare, the plan will ultimately not work.

How insurance companies reverse that they've already done isn't clear.

But that's why Obama held his news conference today—to say he was going to fix the problem administratively.

That the Upton bill wasn't necessary. The problem is an "administrative adjustment" has no force of law. It was also, by the way, an effort by the President to take the heat off a growing number of democrats who are distancing themselves from the whole mess.

In the words of former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, as reported in the Washington Post today..."It offends that a politician would lie to me when he knows that I know that he's lying—because it makes me think that he thinks that I'm a fool."

For me, personally, this debacle is particularly tragic because I believe so strongly that our nation needs a national health care plan. I've got my fingers crossed. But I'm not holding by breath.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on March 27, 2015 17:24 GMT

ECONOMY-GDP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter and economists are looking for an even weaker showing in the first quarter as severe winter weather takes a toll on the economy.

But the slowdown is expected to be short-lived. Stronger growth is expected for the rest of the year as a recovering job market supports healthy gains in consumer spending.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December period, an estimate that was unchanged from a month ago. The economy had surged at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.

The final look at fourth quarter GDP found consumer spending was stronger than previously estimated but business restocking was weaker.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bad weather and rising gasoline prices pushed U.S. consumer sentiment a bit lower in March.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index slipped to 93 this month from 95.4 in February. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, notes that despite the monthly drop, consumer optimism was the highest in a decade for the first three months of 2015.

Sentiment dropped most this month among low-income households, which are especially sensitive to high utility bills in the winter. Confidence rose for mid- and high-income households. Curtin predicted that an improving job market would boost consumer spending the rest of the year.

AIRLINES-COCKPIT RULES

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Europe's aviation safety agency is recommending that airlines across the continent always have two people in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.

European airlines, including the Lufthansa Group that includes Germanwings, have been making commitments to implement the measure after it emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit to crash the plane.

U.S. airlines revamped their policies regarding staffing in the cockpit following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the procedure is not standard in Europe or Canada.

The European Aviation Safety Agency's executive director, Patrick Ky, says "while we are still mourning the victims, all our efforts focus on improving the safety and security of passengers and crews."

The president of the German pilots union Cockpit tells The Associated Press that his organization would support measures requiring two people in the cockpit at all times during flights, but he cautions that such a move wouldn't solve all security problems.

UNITED STATES-ASIAN BANK BLUES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. resistance to a Chinese-led Asian regional bank is leaving it isolated among its Asian and European allies.

That's giving some heft to China's frequent complaints that Washington wants to contain its rise as a world power.

One of America's closest friends in Asia, South Korea, announced Thursday it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The institution is intended to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure.

The U.S. has expressed concern that the new bank will allow looser lending standards, undercutting the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, where the U.S. and Japan have the most clout.

But since Britain broke with Washington two weeks ago, other major European economies have signed up for the Chinese-led bank. Australia also appears poised to join.

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's alternate minister for international economic relations says his government is prepared for a "rupture" with the country's creditors if its current bailout negotiations don't go well.

Euclid Tsakalotos said Friday the government would not be negotiating properly if it didn't envisage a rupture with its partners, although he would not say what exactly a rupture might entail.

Greece's government is in talks with its creditors -- eurozone nations, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to unlock urgently needed funds from the country's bailout. It must present a list of reforms by early next week, which it hopes will lead to the disbursement.

Tsakalotos, speaking on private Star TV, said the government was intentionally creating ambiguity with its partners regarding its intentions as a negotiating tactic.

SILICON VALLEY-SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jurors deciding the outcome of a much-watched gender discrimination lawsuit against a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm are set to enter their third day of deliberations.

The jury of six men and six women are due back in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday in Ellen Pao's lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias.

Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations and says Pao had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

The case has put a spotlight on gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.

ARCTIC OIL DRILLING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. oil storage facilities are filling up and the price of oil has collapsed, but an Energy Department advisory council says the U.S. should push now to exploit the trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil.

The U.S. has drastically cut imports in recent years and transformed itself into the world's biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the National Petroleum Council's study predicts that the shale boom won't last much beyond the next decade.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson chaired the committee that drafted the study. He says oil companies need to start probing the Artic because it takes decades of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market.

Geologists estimate the Arctic holds about a quarter of the world's undiscovered conventional oil and gas deposits. But environmental advocates say the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile to risk a spill.

OBAMA-CHEMICAL BOARD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is operating without a permanent leader. Its chairman has been forced to resign, following accusations of mismanagement.

A White House official says Rafael Moure-Eraso (rah-fah-YEL' moh-RAY' eh-RAH'-soh) stepped down Thursday at the administration's request. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

The National Safety Council says the independent federal agency under Moure-Eraso repeatedly fell under scrutiny for board departures, delayed investigations and other issues. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had accused Moure-Eraso of violating his oath of office and the law. Committee members had requested his resignation.

The board is responsible for investigating chemical accidents. Its members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

President Barack Obama has nominated Vanessa Sutherland to succeed Moure-Eraso.

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