Archives for FUBAR

Americans divided on government health care

Tell Americans that letting the government sell insurance in competition with private industry would be cheaper for them, and a majority is in favor. Tell them the government would be making decisions about what medical care they could get, and support sinks. The findings from an Associated Press poll come as lawmakers struggle to advance President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul, with the final shape of any government insurance plan very much in doubt. The issue has been the biggest flash point in the health care debate, and the poll results underscore that how it is defined can make a big difference in the public's response.
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Government lost $98 billion from waste, fraud, abuse

More than $98 billion in taxpayer dollars spent by government agencies was wasted, much of it on questionable claims for tax credits and Medicare benefits, representing an increase of $26 billion from the previous year. In all, about 5 percent of spending in federal programs in fiscal year 2009 was improper, according to new details of a government financial report that were released Tuesday. Saying the overall error rate was similar in 2008, officials attributed the $26 billion jump to some changes in how to define improper spending as well as an increase in overall spending due to the recession.
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Americans worry about cost of health care reform

It's the cost, Mr. President. Americans are worried about hidden costs in the fine print of health care overhaul legislation, an Associated Press poll says. That's creating new challenges for President Barack Obama as he tries to close the deal with a handful of Democratic doubters in the Senate. Although Americans share a conviction that major health care changes are needed, Democratic bills that extend coverage to the uninsured and try to hold down medical costs get no better than a lukewarm reception. The poll found that 43 percent oppose the health care plans being discussed in Congress, while 41 percent are in support. An additional 15 percent remain neutral or undecided.
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Big tobacco exploits tax loopholes

With a simple marketing twist, tobacco companies are avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars a year in taxes by exploiting a loophole in President Barack Obama's child health law. Obama and Congress increased taxes on tobacco products earlier this year to pay for expanded children's health insurance, but tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes saw a disproportionate leap, from $1.10 to $24.78 per pound. Some predicted the tax would kill the roll-your-own industry, which had offered a cheaper alternative to packaged cigarettes.
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Army set to probe Hasan’s career

The Army will conduct an internal investigation to examine whether it missed warning signs about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the man accused of killing 13 people in the Nov. 5 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, two newspapers reported Monday. Citing anonymous officials, The Wall Street Journal said the probe would focus on Hasan's six years at Washington's Walter Reed Medical Center, where he worked as a psychiatrist before he was transferred to Fort Hood in July. The Washington Post reported that Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army's chief of staff, is forming the investigative panel. It "will look longitudinally across Hasan's entire career to figure out how did this happen and what can we do to stop it from happening again," an anonymous Army official told the Post.
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Gitmo detainees finally get their day in court

In courtrooms barred to the public, dozens of terror suspects are pleading for their freedom from the Guantanamo Bay prison, sometimes even testifying on their own behalf by video from the U.S. naval base in Cuba. Complying with a Supreme Court ruling last year, 15 federal judges in the U.S. courthouse here are giving detainees their day in court after years behind bars half a world away from their homelands. The judges have found the government's evidence against 30 detainees wanting and ordered their release. That number could rise significantly because the judges are on track to hear challenges from dozens more prisoners.
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Fine print on health care worries many Americans

What's it going to cost me? Americans are worried about the fine print in the health care overhaul, an Associated Press poll says, and those concerns are creating new challenges for President Barack Obama as he tries to overcome doubts in Congress. Despite a widely shared conviction that major health care changes are needed, Democratic bills that aim to extend coverage to the uninsured and hold down medical costs get no better than a lukewarm reception in the latest results. The poll found that 43 percent of Americans oppose the health care plans being discussed in Congress, while 41 percent are in support. An additional 15 percent remain neutral or undecided.
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In bad economy, small cities lose their appeal

America's small cities are losing some of their traditional appeal to upwardly mobile families seeking wholesome neighborhoods, a stable economy and affordable living. A review of newly released census data shows, for example, that cities of between 20,000 and 50,000 residents have lagged behind their larger counterparts in attracting higher-educated residents in this decade. In 2000, small cities, which include remote towns and the distant suburbs known as "exurbs," ranked at the top in the share of people with college diplomas. They slipped to No. 2 last year with 30 percent holding degrees — in between medium-sized cities, which had 31 percent, and big cities, at 29.8 percent.
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Is GM ready to start repaying its debt?

General Motors Co. will begin paying back $6.7 billion in U.S. government loans by the end of 2009 and could pay off that full amount by 2011, four years ahead of schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter. The government debt represents about 13 percent of the $52 billion that U.S. taxpayers have invested in General Motors, the majority of which was exchanged for a 61 percent ownership stake in the company. GM will announce the repayment plan Monday when it releases its preliminary third-quarter earnings results, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan ahead of the announcement.
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Hillary on Sarah: Let’s talk over coffee

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she would be happy to talk to Sarah Palin over coffee. In an interview for broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Clinton says she's never met the one-time GOP vice presidential hopeful and former Alaska governor and thinks it would be very interesting to sit down and talk with her. Clinton was responding to a question about a passage in Palin's new book. Palin writes that if she and Clinton ever meet for coffee, "I know that we would fundamentally disagree on many issues." But Palin says, "my hat is off to her hard work on the 2008 campaign trail." Clinton, in Singapore for a meeting of world leaders, says she's ready to have a cup of coffee and maybe she could make a case on some of the issues on which the two women disagree.
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