Archive for April, 2013

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Probity for thee, but not for me

April 30, 2013

News from Techdirt:

Congress Quickly And Quietly Rolls Back Insider Trading Rules For Itself

In November of 2011, the TV show 60 Minutes did a big expose on insider trading within Congress. While everyone else is subject to basic insider trading rules, it turned out that members of Congress were exempt from the rules. […] Of course, after that report came out and got lots of attention, Congress had to act, and within months they had passed the STOCK Act with overwhelming support in Congress to make insider trading laws that apply to everyone else finally apply to Congress and Congressional staffers as well. […]

Of course, here we are in 2013 and, lo and behold, it is no longer an election year. And apparently some of the details of the ban on insider trading were beginning to chafe Congressional staffers, who found it hard to pad their income with some friendly trades on insider knowledge.

So… with very little fanfare, Congress quietly rolled back a big part of the law late last week. […]

Because the best way to rebuild trust in Congress, apparently, is to roll back the fact that people there need to obey the same laws as everyone else. That won’t lead the public to think that Congress is corrupt. No, not at all.

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Sharing the awesome

April 27, 2013

Last fall I bought a new phone to check out Republic Wireless which was doing its beta roll out at the time. Since then, Republic has gone into full production mode and we’ve moved all the phones in our family to Republic.

Why? Well, because…

republic-wireless

The deal Republic offers is commitment-free service which includes all the voice, text and data you want to use. Pretty awesome — it was just the deal I’d been looking for the last couple of years. We reduced our household cellular bill by 50% when we switched to Republic plus we ended up with more services on all the phones.

The only downside to Republic’s deal is that you can only get the service on phones you buy from them. Those phones are Motorola Defy XTs, which are fully-featured Android smartphones. They’ve got good specs and they work great. I haven’t found an Android app that I can’t run on the Defy. But the Defy XT only comes in one size and it doesn’t have all the bells & whistles of a Samsung Galaxy S4 or an iPhone 5.

If you like the idea of full phone service at a great price with no contractual commitment (and you can live without the latest bells & whistles) then Republic’s deal can’t be beat.

Republic is offering incentives for new customer referrals. People I refer get a $19 credit – and so do I.

Check it out.

republic-wireless-2

(For more info about how Republic’s service works, here’s their What’s the catch? page.)

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Time for tar and feathers yet?

April 26, 2013

To see the Congress considering exempting itself from the burdens of a law it passed is just adding insult to the injuries imposed on us by the PPACA.

But that’s just what Politico reports.

Lawmakers, aides may get Obamacare exemption

Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.

Read the whole thing and you’ll see that members of Congress aren’t dummies. They can see the costs of PPACA as well as any business person can.

The difference is that the people in Congress weren’t smart enough to vote against PPACA when it came time to vote on it.


Update
Ezra Klein at The Washington Post writes that the Politico article was inaccurate:

No, Congress isn’t trying to exempt itself from Obamacare

There’s a Politico story making the rounds that says that members of Congress are engaged in secret, sensitive negotiations to exempt themselves and their staffs from Obamacare.

Well, they were secret, anyway.

The story has blown up on Twitter. “Unbelievable,” tweets TPM’s Brian Beutler. “Flat out incredible,” says Politico’s Ben White. “Obamacare for thee, but not for me,” snarks Ben Domenech. “Two thumbs way, way down,” says Richard Roeper. (Okay, I made the last one up).

If this sounds unbelievable, it’s because it is. There’s no effort to “exempt” Congress from Obamacare. No matter how this shakes out, Congress will have to follow the law, just like everyone else does.

Based on conversations I’ve had with a number of the staffs involved in these talks, the actual issue here is far less interesting, and far less explosive, than an exemption. Rather, a Republican amendment meant to embarrass Democrats and a too-clever-by-half Democratic response has possibly created a problem in which the federal government can’t make its normal contribution to the insurance premiums of congressional staffers.

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Maggie in the House

April 8, 2013

RIP, the Right Honourable the Baroness Thatcher.

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