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May 12, 2003
Monday, Redux

I'm hoping like heck that the perception of Lieberman as the Democrat best-choice is just wishful thinking on the part of the less-than-illustrious OpinionJournal. Personally, I think the next Democratic Presidential nominee should be a liberal.

Remember those smallpox injections half a million heath care workers and ten million others were supposed to get? The NYTimes does.

The prime goal of the vaccination campaign remains valid to protect enough health workers to investigate any outbreak of smallpox, care for the victims and vaccinate others in danger of being infected. The only issue is how large the cadre of vaccinated personnel needs to be. The initial goal of 500,000 was always a bit arbitrary and now seems wildly unrealistic. With the program slowed by resistance in the medical community and fights over liability and compensation, only about 36,000 people have thus far been vaccinated.

Federal health officials are now suggesting that perhaps 50,000 vaccinated health workers will be enough to do the job. A thorough reassessment and clear public explanation of the minimal requirement is urgently needed, not only for the first phase of health workers but also for the much larger second phase.

I say this is one of those cases where the government should butt out and let the health care community make these decisions. I also say that if "50,000 will do" then whoever decided to put the other 450,000 at risk in the first place should be smacked.

The NYTimes is also dissing the energy bill currently in front of Congress. Apparently it's smoke and mirrors and doesn't do what most of us would like an energy bill to do, which is to reduce our dependence on oil (any oil, not just foreign oil) and protect the environment.

Looks like Canada is paying the price for not buying buttons and bumper stickers to support George's War.

Hmph. In spite of a clever headline ab out education and civility, this Business Journal article hints at some of the problems faced by this year's Colorado Legislature.

Facing the worst budget shortfall in decades, state legislators made painful cuts throughout their 2003 session, but they also addressed important business issues, including the drought, health and auto insurance reform and tourism funding.

Sagging state tax revenues forced $974 million in spending cuts from this year's budget and $893 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Among the casualties were health benefits for the poor and higher education. Business leaders said they understood legislators were in a tough spot but that some reductions will cost the state more down the road and hurt economic development.

The Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Bill Owens also passed bills they struggled with for years, including school vouchers and lower-cost health plans for small businesses.

"It's a mixed year. The most success that we had came in the areas of tort reform," said Tim Jackson, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. He said health care reform was "a wash at best."

"I would call auto reform a total loss," he said. "They had a chance to create a win-win for business."

Lobbyists described the final days as tense, particularly after Republicans introduced a bill to redraw the state's congressional districts at a time when there was still a lot of work to do.

The session ended at midnight May 7, and just hours before the deadline, legislators still grappled with major issues, including reforming Colorado's no-fault system for auto insurance.

For the record, there wasn't time to really deal with health care reform or the auto insurance issues because the Republicans forced the legislature to use up valuable time fighting over redrawing the congressional districts.

For the record, the redrawing in question gave Republican majorities to two additional districts, although the article doesn't mention this. Nor does it mention that this was, not surprisingly, a highly controversial measure introduced at a highly inappropriate time when the legislature had a significant amount of work that would benefit Colorado residents, and not just the Republican party, on-hand. Anyhow. They rammed it through and Owens signed it.

Colorado residents should read the article (requires registration) for the other measures dealt with.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:28 AM