Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave a speech this week that made headlines and raised eyebrows: “Lax Oversight Caused the Crisis, Bernanke Says.” Finally, many thought, the Fed Chairman would fess up to his role in the crisis! Alas, 98 percent of the speech is dedicated to justifying what the Fed did right over the last decade, and the “lax oversight” apparently had more to do with other agencies charged with regulating mortgages and underwriting practices, not his own.
Despite proclaiming a need to cut medical costs, the Senate health care reform bill contains a provision that will benefit large drug companies while hurting manufacturers of generic drugs. As it is now written, the bill will keep less-expensive generic drugs from entering the market for fully 12 years, far longer than the five to seven years President Barack Obama had advocated. The concession to Big Pharma companies, which manufacture expensive brand-name drugs, follows an $80 billion agreement made earlier this year between the White House and large drug makers like Merck and Pfizer, who promised to support President Obama's health reform plan, cut drug prices and pay additional taxes to help expand health insurance coverage over the next 10 years. Kathleen Jaeger, President and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, said the health reform bill passed by the Senate " ... unfortunately, amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies who stand to make enormous profits from health care reform -- putting brand drug profits over patients ... With generics saving the health care system one billion dollars every three days, Congress should be looking at increasing, not decreasing, access to safe effective and affordable generic and biogeneric medicines."
A White House policy of encouraging U.S. government agencies to exclude registered lobbyists from sitting on government advisory boards has irked some business lobby groups.
Last spring, President Obama signed a bill into law that raised the tax on roll-your-own cigarette tobacco from $1.10 per pound to a whopping $24.78 per pound. The revenue from the tax was to be put towards expanding children’s health insurance programs.
H1N1 is here. President Obama declared a national health emergency. Health workers and schools are worried because the vaccine is seriously behind schedule. Parents are worried about how they will stay home with their kids and keep their jobs. What are the watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office worried about?
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released updated figures for the number of civilian contractors killed in American war zones since September 1, 2001. A minimum of 1,688 civilians have died, and there have been over 37,000 injuries reported among people working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but the DOL acknowledges that the report is incomplete.
Last week, I was honored to be invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Patriot Act, a new endeavor for the Center for Media and Democracy, even though CMD has covered national security-related issues in its books and on SourceWatch.
One of the reasons I was so pleased to be able to join CMD is because in Washington, DC, I saw first-hand how propaganda and selective disclosures were used to influence and distort public opinion. In my testimony, I highlighted examples from the Patriot Act debate in 2005 where key information was hidden while the bill for reauthorization was being publicly debated, and did not come out until after the bill had passed. With parts of the Patriot Act up for renewal and reform this fall, I wanted to make sure the public record included the story of how the previous Bush administration misled the American people. I also wanted to share my views about why these extraordinary powers need to be fixed to better protect civil liberties and human rights.
Lisa Graves, the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, was the only public interest group advocate invited to testify in Washington on Wednesday, September 23, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in its hearing on the Patriot Act and national security surveillance issues.
The complete hearing, including her testimony, is viewable online. In her written testimony, Lisa dissected U.S. government propaganda and spin from the previous Patriot Act debate of 2004 and 2005, calling for policy improvements to better protect human rights and civil liberties.
She was interviewed by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now! program on September 22, where she explained the issues at stake in the current debate over Patriot Act renewal advocated by the Obama Administration.