Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Business Channel. More
Thompson has written for Slate, BusinessWeek, and the Daily Beast. He has also appeared as a guest on radio and television networks, including NPR, the BBC, CNBC, and MSNBC.
Compare, for example, the stock-market value of Regions Financial Corp. with the bank's reported net worth. At $3.97, the Birmingham, Alabama-based company's stock is up 69 percent since its February low, giving Regions a $4.5 billion market capitalization. That's still only a third of the $13.5 billion book value it showed as of March 31. In the market's view, the bank's asset values remain grossly overstated.
It's no secret that the Obama administration is deeply troubled by the continuing rise in unemployment. The national unemployment rate has risen to 9.4% from 7.2% in December and 5.5% in May 2008. The number of employed workers has fallen to 132 million from 135 million in December and 137.5 million in May 2008.
Even though more and more Americans have no health insurance at all, Americans consider health care to be a right. Not just that: We consider the best possible health care to be a right. Few would find it acceptable for a poor person to die of a medically curable disease for lack of money. Even fewer would find it acceptable that they themselves should die because the system won't spend the money to cure them. This is all in theory, of course. In practice, people die all the time because some effective treatment is too expensive. But whenever an issue gets drawn into the political system and becomes explicit, it becomes harder. That is what health-care reform will do to the question of rationing.
Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history.
When the Heritage Foundation did its analysis of Waxman-Markey, it broadly compared the economy with and without the carbon tax. Under this more comprehensive scenario, it found Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill's restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035.
This is the world that Karl Rove lives in: Obama's approval rating is in deep trouble, the public wants to kill government-run health care, and the Republicans have a shot at riding health reform like a gust of wind out of their smoldering ashes. The rest of us live in a world that looks, well, the utter and exact opposite. This is what Karl Rove being wrong looks like:
Why has health-care reform stalled in Congress? Democrats, after all, control both Houses, and President Obama, whose popularity remains high, has made universal health care his No. 1 priority. What's more, an overwhelming majority of the public wants it. In the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 76% of respondents said it was important that Americans have a choice between a public and private health-insurance plan. In last week's New York Times/CBSNews poll, 85% said they wanted major health-care reforms.
So why the stall? Mainly because Congress can't decide how to pay for it. The hardest blow came last week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the trial-balloon bill emerging from the Senate Health Committee would cost a whopping $1 trillion over 10 years and would cover only a fraction of Americans currently without health care. According to the CBO, another tentative bill, this one coming out of the Senate Finance Committee, would cost even more -- $1.6 trillion.
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