The Daily Update: Wednesday, Nov. 3

November 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Wednesday, Nov. 3 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Join us for details about Republicans taking back to U.S. House, the two SMU students’ names in the car accident names have been released, and we’ll tell you how long will the cold rainy weather be around in Dallas.

Opinion Blog: Health Care Debate

April 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The health care bill that was the source of heated debate between Republicans, Democrats, and U.S. citizens alike has now been signed. For many, this will only intensify the on-going battle.
Following President Obama’s signing of the health care bill on Tuesday, March 23,
Republican leaders have set out on crusades condemning Obama and vowing to repeal the piece of legislation and replace those who voted to pass it. While the Republicans remain fired up in speaking out against the bill, Democrats cannot be happier.
Health care has been designated a top priority for Obama, going back to his days of preaching “Yes We Can” on the presidential campaign trail. Now, Democrats in Washington, along with the President, only look to the future with excitement and optimism.
Who can blame them?
Once set into action, the $940 billion bill will provide 95 percent of Americans with health care. That’s an additional 32 million Americans who before lived without some or any form of health care. Really? In a society that many see as the biggest and most advanced world power?
Now, with the piece of legislation signed into law, Americans will receive and experience health insurance benefits unlike ever before.
For starters, the bill will put an end to discrimination of those who fall under the “pre-existing” ailment category set up by insurance companies. In the past, insurance companies opted to reject coverage to almost 13 million Americans because of their medical conditions. This included children suffering from autism, a disease the insurance companies classified as “pre-existing.”
According to CNN.com, beginning in 2014 the new bill will make it illegal for health insurance companies to exclude, deny, or set unrealistic rates on the coverage these individuals can receive.
Another benefit that many of us college students should be happy about is the extended length of coverage under our parents’ insurance plans. Although there are some who enjoy the success of gaining economic freedom after graduation, many students still cannot afford to even think about paying for their own insurance plans given what the economy is at the moment.
The bill will make it mandatory for students deemed dependent upon their parents to stay on those insurance policies until age 26.
This perk will allow us students to focus on bigger issues, such as finding employment after graduation.
Another downside to the health care that Americans have lived with for decades is the fact that in many states, there is only one offered insurance provider. For millions, this has created an unfair and unequal catch that if they cannot afford the insurance plan offered in their state, they simply have had to live without health care.
Now, this new piece of legislation will create “insurance exchanges,” which gives states more insurance company and policy options.
Hoping to also improve the health care system is the bill’s aim to see that those who are not currently covered by their employers receive health plans. Taking effect in 2014, if a company employs 50 people or more it is required to offer workers a health care plan that covers at least 60 percent of their overall health costs. Failure to do so could result in a $750 fine per year for each full-time employee. This fine could potentially increase to $2,000 if the current proposed changes to the bill are passed.
If these facts and figures do not have a strong effect, then perhaps look at the health care facts of Texas alone.
In the Lone Star State alone, 6 million people do not currently have some form of health insurance. With the new health care bill, almost 3.3 million Texans could potentially qualify for tax credits that could help them purchase health insurance.
Even with all these numbers and promises floating around in the media, Internet, and through word of mouth, many people are skeptical about the outcome. This includes how we will pay for such a bill, its effectiveness in creating affordable insurance policies, as well as gaining popularity from much of the nation. We will have to simply wait and see.
The topic has polarized many people for more than a year and it does not seem to be headed toward a peaceful resolution. In fact, many fear the passing of this legislation did away with any remaining hope of bipartisanship.
Let us hope these thoughts prove to be false. In the mean time, we can look to the future under a piece of legislation that aims to bring every American one simple truth: the opportunity to end each day knowing they have access to health care.

Posted by Sarah Benchaita

Following President Obama’s signing of the health care bill on Tuesday, March 23,

Republican leaders have set out on crusades condemning Obama and vowing to repeal the piece of legislation and replace those who voted to pass it. While the Republicans remain fired up in speaking out against the bill, Democrats cannot be happier.

Health care has been designated a top priority for Obama, going back to his days of preaching “Yes We Can” on the presidential campaign trail. Now, Democrats in Washington, along with the President, only look to the future with excitement and optimism.

Who can blame them?

Once set into action, the $940 billion bill will provide 95 percent of Americans with health care. That’s an additional 32 million Americans who before lived without some or any form of health care. Really? In a society that many see as the biggest and most advanced world power?

Now, with the piece of legislation signed into law, Americans will receive and experience health insurance benefits unlike ever before.

For starters, the bill will put an end to discrimination of those who fall under the “pre-existing” ailment category set up by insurance companies. In the past, insurance companies opted to reject coverage to almost 13 million Americans because of their medical conditions. This included children suffering from autism, a disease the insurance companies classified as “pre-existing.”

According to CNN.com, beginning in 2014 the new bill will make it illegal for health insurance companies to exclude, deny, or set unrealistic rates on the coverage these individuals can receive.

Another benefit that many of us college students should be happy about is the extended length of coverage under our parents’ insurance plans. Although there are some who enjoy the success of gaining economic freedom after graduation, many students still cannot afford to even think about paying for their own insurance plans given what the economy is at the moment.

The bill will make it mandatory for students deemed dependent upon their parents to stay on those insurance policies until age 26.

This perk will allow us students to focus on bigger issues, such as finding employment after graduation.

Another downside to the health care that Americans have lived with for decades is the fact that in many states, there is only one offered insurance provider. For millions, this has created an unfair and unequal catch that if they cannot afford the insurance plan offered in their state, they simply have had to live without health care.

Now, this new piece of legislation will create “insurance exchanges,” which gives states more insurance company and policy options.

Hoping to also improve the health care system is the bill’s aim to see that those who are not currently covered by their employers receive health plans. Taking effect in 2014, if a company employs 50 people or more it is required to offer workers a health care plan that covers at least 60 percent of their overall health costs. Failure to do so could result in a $750 fine per year for each full-time employee. This fine could potentially increase to $2,000 if the current proposed changes to the bill are passed.

If these facts and figures do not have a strong effect, then perhaps look at the health care facts of Texas alone.

In the Lone Star State alone, 6 million people do not currently have some form of health insurance. With the new health care bill, almost 3.3 million Texans could potentially qualify for tax credits that could help them purchase health insurance.

Even with all these numbers and promises floating around in the media, Internet, and through word of mouth, many people are skeptical about the outcome. This includes how we will pay for such a bill, its effectiveness in creating affordable insurance policies, as well as gaining popularity from much of the nation. We will have to simply wait and see.

The topic has polarized many people for more than a year and it does not seem to be headed toward a peaceful resolution. In fact, many fear the passing of this legislation did away with any remaining hope of bipartisanship.

Let us hope these thoughts prove to be false. In the mean time, we can look to the future under a piece of legislation that aims to bring every American one simple truth: the opportunity to end each day knowing they have access to health care.

Opinion Blog: Deep in the Heart of Texas Politics

February 25, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Elizabeth Siebman

In Texas, Tea Party activists and Democratic Party candidates are sounding anti-incumbent messages. With a particularly vicious Republican primary election this year, the Texas GOP will need to quickly reunite after March 2, to maintain its prominence within the state.

Texas’ political landscape is predominately Republican Party red. The party controls both seats in the U.S. Senate, 20 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and over 130 seats statewide. After GOP wins in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts this past year, the Republican Party is positioning itself for numerous wins during the 2010 midterm elections nationally.

In a New York Times article from August 2009, the incumbent governor, Rick Perry, likened the election to a “civil war, brother against brother.” Perry wants to gain the votes of Tea Party activists by questioning the policies in Washington, at the executive and legislative level. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina, a newcomer to statewide politics and a Tea Party activist, are taking on the current governor for the nomination. Hutchison is campaigning against current Austin policies and politics and is hoping to gain momentum from independents and the anti-incumbent movement. However, Medina is winning support among Tea Party activists. Recently, polls show Medina holding around 20 percent of the vote. Republican debates have demonstrated this “brother against brother” mentality. Candidates point fingers regarding causes of problems but maintain that they can solve Texas’ issues.

However, while the Republicans fight against each other for nomination, Democrat candidates, Bill White, former major of Houston, and Farouk Shami, owner of the hair care organization Farouk Systems, are advocating for a change in Austin. They point to corruption at the executive level, a weakening education system, and problems that have not been solved within the current administration. The anti-incumbency fervor that has risen could prove useful for Democrats.

The civil war that has erupted over the governor’s position must come to an end and the sides must unite behind one candidate in order to reunify the Republican Party. The GOP needs to show voters that they represent Texas’ interests and they want to further those interests and produce results. If the sides do not reunite, then Texas might add a bit of blue to the political mixture in the November election.

Prof Runs GOP Debate Focus Group on Campus

January 31, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

One of the dial tests used in Friday night's debate focus group. (PHOTO BY ELISABETH BRUBAKER / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

One of the dial tests used in Friday night's debate focus group. (PHOTO BY ELISABETH BRUBAKER / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

By Elisabeth Brubaker
ebrubake@smu.edu

SMU Professor Dr. Rita Kirk held a focus group in Umphrey Lee Friday night to study the Republican reaction to the Belo debate. Kirk recruited 30 Republicans- both first time and repeat voters to participate in the focus group during the GOP Debate.

Kirk has been doing research for over 20 years. CNN first hired Kirk for the debates during the presidential election primaries. This past weekend she brought her research back to the Hilltop only one day after going to Ohio to dial test the President’s State of the Union address.

The focus groups are used to “dial test” a particular speech or event. Each participant is given a dial to record their perceptions of the candidates (or the President) at any moment throughout the speech or debate.

Kirk loves analyzing the data afterwards. During the candidates’ closing statements Kirk was able to see who did the best overall. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had the highest rating with 73 out of 100. Governor Rick Perry got a 67 and Debra Medina got a 63.

Some participants offered their opinions of the dial testing and candidates after the debate. Watch the videos for their reactions.

(Editor’s note: Elisabeth Brubaker is a student assistant for Dr. Kirk’s research study.)

One participant said this about the “jeopardy” portion of the debate:

Another participant discussed how she reads the candidates.

Politics Blog: Reid Announces $848 Billion Health Care Bill

November 20, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Allison Donnelly

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced his $848 billion health care reform bill Wednesday, a big step for Senate Democrats.

Although Reid does not know if he will have all 60 votes needed to pass the  2,074-page legislation, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,  a majority of the Democrats support his bill. If Reid does not get the “magic” number of 60 votes, the opposing side will have the ability to filibuster.

According to a Congressional Budget Office report released Wednesday, 94 percent of Americans would have access to a government sponsored public option plan, however, individual states can decided whether to “opt-out” or not. Reid’s plan also would decrease future federal deficits by $130 billion in the next 10 years, the biggest deficit reduced reduction of any health bill to date, according to Politico. The two biggest concerns for Republicans and Moderates are the public option and abortion.

On Thursday, Reid announced that the Senate will vote on the bill at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Until then, Senators will have the opportunity to express their support or opposition for the bill on the Senate floor.