Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in October, 2014

SandersWallStreet

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed only 11% of Americans know that Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) enrollment opens on November 15, 2014.  If you know someone that needs health insurance please let them know enrollment is available at www.healthcare.gov

Below are some of the benefits of Obamacare.

Plans signed before 2010 may have grandfathered status. Learn more about Grandfathered Health Plans. Here is a quick overview of the different benefits, rights and protections which are all covered in detail below and discussed in-depth on the site.

• New Health Insurance Marketplaces (AKA Exchanges) allow shoppers to compare Health Plans that include all new benefits, rights and protections.

• Cost assistance to individuals, families and small businesses through the marketplace.

• Medicaid eligibility is expanded in 26 states to 138% of the federal poverty level giving millions of Americans access to healthcare.

• No annual or lifetime limits on healthcare.

• All major medical insurance is guaranteed issue, meaning you can’t be denied coverage for any reason.

• Insurance companies can’t drop you when you are sick or for making a mistake on your application.

• You can’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.

• You have the right to quickly appeal any health insurance company decision.

• You have the right to get an easy-to-understand summary about a health plan’s benefits and coverage.

• Young Adults can stay on their parent’s plan until 26.

• A large improvement to women’s health services.

• Reforms to the healthcare industry to cut wasteful spending.

• Better care and protections for seniors.

• New preventative services at no-out-of pocket costs.

• Essential health benefits like emergency care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and maternity and newborn care must be included on all non-grandfathered plans at no out-of-pocket limit.

• You can’t be charged more based on health status or gender.

• Plus many more benefits, rights and protections.

Do you remember Solyndra?  Solyndra was a solar power based company that received $535 million in Department of Energy loans.  Despite these loans, Solyndra went out of business.  This prompted all the right-wingers to offer this as the definitive example of wasted tax dollars by government picking winners and losers.  So what really happened?  What caused Solyndra, a maker of solar panels, to fail even as solar energy is becoming more popular?

The answer can be found by reading between the lines of a story in the current edition of Fortune magazine.  Included in their look at 40 under 40, Rising Stars You Need To Know, is a feature on Lyndon Rive.   Lyndon is the CEO of SolarCity and the cousin of Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX).  The feature gives a good perspective on Solar energy in America and Mr. Rive’s actions to make it more accessible and affordable.  It is an enjoyable read.

The Solyndra issue is raised on page 104…

How is he going to do it? One place SolarCity is looking for cost savings is in the solar panels themselves. Over the past few years the cost of photovoltaic solar panels has dropped some 70%. Starting about a decade ago, the Chinese, who now control 90% of the photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing market, built up huge overcapacity that has been driving down prices. Over the past two or three years a bloody shakeout has occurred, with many solar manufacturers going bankrupt, including some in the U.S. (like Solyndra, which received $535 million in Department of Energy loan guarantees). Today the price of panels has stabilized at about 70¢ a watt, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. To put that in perspective, in the mid-1970s, PV panels cost $79 a watt. With economies of scale there’s still a lot of room to drive down the price of the panels.

The answer is bold above and familiar in practice.  China built a subsidized, export-oriented business model that accesses our market with the help of low tariffs.  They dump goods at below the cost of production into our market, forcing domestic companies out.  This is the personification of modern free trade practice as pursued by right wing economists and politicians.  Some of these politicians like Mitt Romney, then had the chutzpah to try and make the claim that the loans to Solyndra were a violation of the free market and destined to fail.  Clearly, this is an assumption of dubious quality when one set of rules and costs are applied to domestic producers and are not on a subsidized imported product.

It could be argued that in a evolving market experiencing rapid technological change this situation is not as abusive as it is in more established sectors such as steel, which the Chinese have been dumping at the expense of American producers.  But a big question remains to be answered – “If these dumped solar panels lead to a monopoly, will prices rise?”

If you have played the board game Monopoly and landed on Boardwalk with a hotel on it you have the answer.  Even if that hotel has solar panels on it.

 

 

Contraceptionlifejacket

This week’s audio netcast:  What did Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan have in common – besides their landslide victories? Author Jonathan Darman says they had the same political hero. With women potentially a decisive voting bloc in the midterm elections, law professorDeborah Rhode explains why a vast majority of Americans agree with feminist principles, but don’t identify as feminists. And Bill Press talks about ebola with Vermont Congressman Peter Welch.

Sandersendfreetrade

Popular Mechanics has this review of the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized trucks made by Missourians…

Much to the chagrin of we who love them, mid-sized pickups have been one of the most neglected parts of the automotive world. Ford killed off the Ranger a few years back. Chrysler axed the Dakota. And when GM quit making the Chevy Colorado/GM Canyon duo in 2012, the field became so moribund that the remaining players, Toyota and Nissan, felt little need to improve their Tacomas and Frontiers.

Things were bad. But a flicker of hope appeared when GM said it would bring back the Colorado and Canyon for 2015. This week we hopped into these new trucks, and man, they are excellent. 

Smartly, General Motors addressed the main problems that saw medium-sized trucks lose their market share. As more people’s lives because increasingly urbanized, the thinking goes, they no longer had room for a truck and turned to crossovers and SUVs. So GM made the Colorado/Canyon a full foot and a half shorter than the full-size Chevy Silverado, and six inches narrower, making the new trucks considerably easier to park and maneuver.

A lot of drivers also didn’t want to drive something that rode so high, especially if they had a hard time climbing in and out of it. The Colorado and Canyon sit at crossover height, which is a much easier sell these days.

The big surprise when you climb in one of these trucks is how refined they are compared to the Nissan and Toyota. They’re quiet and ride smooth, even unladen. Steering is sharp, even sporty. On a windy, rolling, wet mountain road, we chased a Hyundai Genesis and kept up with no trouble until the terrain got exceedingly twisty. All automakers have been working hard to deliver sharp ride quality and refined interiors with their big trucks and crossovers. Here, admirably, General Motors brings that quality to mid-sized trucks.

They’ve also killed it on interior space. GM/GMC spokespeople say they expect to sell most of their rigs in crew cab guise with short box (5.2-foot) beds. In that configuration, their cabins are roomier than the Toyota Tacoma’s by several inches just about everywhere. The GM trucks also best the Tacoma in base payload and towing capacity (up to 7000 lbs.). And the Chevy version starts at $20,995, about $500 cheaper than the base Tacoma.

Lastly, the Chevy and GMC are packing superior tech. Forward collision alert (an audible warning and flashing light that tell you you’d better brake), lane departure warning systems, and a standard back-up camera are all new to the category. So is touch-screen navigation and connectivity. You can also get GM’s OnStar with 4G LTE, which can turn your truck into a hotpost.

If this sounds good to you, check one out and remember a lot of Franklin County residents that make this truck appreciate it.

 

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