Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Mar 22, 2010

Good morning. Hope you had a good weekend. The main focus this morning, of course, is on health care, so I’ve pulled a few items on that. Plus, what if women ran Wall Street?

Health care reform, at last (New York Times)

The bill, which was approved by the Senate in December and by the House on Sunday, represents a national commitment to reform the worst elements of the current system. It will provide coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, prevent the worst insurance company abuses, and begin to wrestle with relentlessly rising costs — while slightly reducing future deficits.

The House passes a very expensive bill (Wall Street Journal)

Liberals will try to blame insurers once again, but the public shouldn’t be fooled. WellPoint, Aetna and the rest are from now on going to be public utilities, essentially creatures of Congress and the Health and Human Services Department. When prices rise and quality and choice suffer, the fault will lie with ObamaCare.

What the final health care vote really means (Robert Reich)

So don’t believe anyone who says Obama’s health care legislation marks a swing of the pendulum back toward the Great Society and the New Deal. Obama’s health bill is a very conservative piece of legislation, building on a Republican rather than a New Deal foundation. The New Deal foundation would have offered Medicare to all Americans or, at the very least, featured a public insurance option.

The significance of Obama’s health legislation is more political than substantive. For the first time since Ronald Reagan told America government is the problem, Obama’s health bill reasserts that government can provide a major solution. In political terms, that’s a very big deal.

Health care passage hinged on abortion language (NPR)

What anti-abortion Democrats couldn’t get into the final bill, they managed to achieve with that executive order: a blanket prohibition on the use of federal funds for elective abortions, the explicit separation of federal subsidies from private money when consumers buy health plans that cover abortions, and a clarification that the new health care laws legally protect hospitals, doctors and other providers that object to providing abortions as a matter of conscience.

It was enough to change the whole narrative about the health care legislation.

“The health bill that will move forward today is actually a bill about life,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), a staunch abortion opponent who became a big supporter of the bill.

What if women ran Wall Street? (New York Magazine)

According to a new breed of researchers from the field of behavioral finance, Wall Street’s volatility is really driven by our body chemistry. It’s the chemicals pulsing through traders’ veins that propel them to place insane bets and enable bank executives to make risky decisions–and those same chemicals tend to have the same effect on everyone, turning them into a herd of overheated animals. And because the vast majority of these traders and finance executives are men, the most important chemical in question is testosterone.

Toyota, Walmart incidents show how gullible the media can be (Christian Science Monitor) I couldn’t agree more…

“Journalism schools are supposed to teach that skepticism is paramount,” writes Michael Fumento, director of the nonprofit Independent Journalism Project, about a questionable claim of a stuck Toyota gas pedal in California. “Yet comments on Web sites across the country reveal that practically everyone thought the Prius incident was a hoax – though they couldn’t prove it – except for the media…”

Many media outlets quickly assumed the worst in the Wal-Mart incident. Gothamist ran the headline, “More racism at Walmart, this time over PA system.”

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