Third Way Perspectives

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Archive for June, 2012

Are We There Yet?

June 12th, 2012


With less than three weeks left before the Supreme Court leaves for the beach — also known as the end of their term — speculation around the fate of the Affordable Care Act has reached a fever pitch within Washington, DC. When will the Court decide?  Will the law be upheld or struck down? Or will the Court leave it bruised and battered? How will it shape the election?  How is it trending on Twitter?

Lost within this uncertainty is a bigger issue—most Americans still have no idea what the bill does. While the public supports numerous individual provisions of health care reform, roughly half do not believe those provisions have been enacted.  Thus, millions of U.S. families won’t know what the Court’s decision actually means for them.

Yesterday’s announcement by three health insurers was a helpful recognition of some of the important provisions in the legislation. UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, and Humana all announced that they would retain some of the benefits found in the Affordable Care Act, whether or not the Supreme Court upholds the law. These provisions—which include allowing dependents to remain on parents’ policies up to age 26 as well as guaranteeing free preventative care, among others—are integral components to ensuring stable and secure health benefits.

We cannot control the Court’s decision—but we can go to back to basics and explain to people what is in this bill. Whether you are a progressive health insurer, a journalist, or a parent, let’s use the Court’s decision to educate Americans about the actual health care benefits at stake.

MLPs: Leveling the Energy Finance Playing Field

June 8th, 2012


By Jeremy Twitchell and Josh Freed

In a week rife with political bickering over government’s role in energy R&D, a bipartisan duo of senators proposed a tiny piece of legislation that could once and for all place fossil fuels and clean energy on the same playing field.

The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act would allow clean energy projects to form under the same low-tax business structure that has enabled the oil and gas industry to raise $350 billion in private capital. As we noted in a Third Way report released in 2011, master limited partnerships, or MLP’s, are attractive to investors because they face the low tax rate of a partnership, but have the capitalization potential and liquidity of a publicly traded corporation.

With a 200-word tweak to the tax code, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) propose to unleash a torrent of private investment on the clean energy market. If Congress has been running its energy policy like a beauty pageant, as the accusation goes, then this proposal puts every contestant behind a curtain and makes private investors – not Congress – the judges. Read the rest of this entry »

Wisconsin recall: Playing politics with voter anger

June 7th, 2012


This piece was originally posted on Politico.

If only Wisconsin Democrats could have done what Ohio Democrats did.

Voters in both states gave Republicans total control of state government in 2010. The Republicans used it to limit collective bargaining rights for public sector workers. The result, in both states, was a wave of protests by organized labor and Democrats

In Ohio last year, angry Democrats got a measure on the ballot to repeal the law restricting collective bargaining. The repeal passed by a landslide last November — 61 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Wisconsin a Weathervane for November?

June 6th, 2012


The political class will inevitably spend today discussing what last night’s elections in Wisconsin mean for President Obama in November. Simply, the exit polls show that if he was on the ballot last night, President Obama would have won. But there are two main reasons to pause when attempting to extrapolate the results to make Presidential predictions.

  1. The recall electorate looked much more like the 2010 midterms than a presidential election turnout in the state.
  2. Most Wisconsin voters deemed recall an extraordinary measure and made their decisions accordingly. Read the rest of this entry »

Congress Stands in the Way of All of the Above

June 5th, 2012


By Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Freed

This piece was originally posted on the National Journal.

A more appropriate question this week could be, why are Republicans in Congress standing in the way of a booming American energy sector?

In the last three years, we’ve seen significant progress in the building of a modern, cleaner, and domestic American energy infrastructure. The license for the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in more than a generation was approved. Natural gas exploration and use has skyrocketed. Installed clean energy grew by 28% from 2006 to 2011 and the US ranked first in clean energy investment. Conventional cars in the US use less gasoline and American drivers can choose between a variety of hybrid and electric vehicles. Advanced research programs like ARPA-E have drawn private investment off of the sidelines and into the energy economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Unity Has Failed

June 4th, 2012


This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

Can President Obama get reelected the same way President Bush did in 2004? The recall election in Wisconsin on Tuesday will give us a pretty good idea.

Bush got reelected with a base strategy. He rallied conservatives with an “us versus them” campaign. Republicans demonized John Kerry and tried to discredit Democrats as soft on terrorism. It was an intensely divisive campaign that embittered the electorate. Read the rest of this entry »