The cost of secrecy?

Kudos to Dan Kane at the N&O for breaking this story about claims processing fees at Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I wish I understood the technical details better, but it sure looks like their fees are out of line with what's fair. And just in case you're wondering how things got to this point, we have a strong assist from Senator Tony Rand:

A state law sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand had kept the PPO contract's contents private from all but a handful of state officials. Plan officials had repeatedly denied requests to make contract information public, but reversed their position after The (Raleigh) News & Observer protested, contending that Rand's law did not pertain to the cost of claims-processing contracts.

If there's one thing we learned from the Bush administration, it is this: when there is no transparency, we the people get screwed.

Take Action to Save Family Homes Now - Part One

Save Our Family Homes

Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina has worked for years to protect consumers from predatory lenders and now he's battling the banking industry to clean up the mess these lenders made. He has introduced legislation that will prevent the foreclosure of millions of homes.

The Republicans and some Democrats are buying into the hype created by the banking industry. Most of the talking points are flat out lies and much of what is being regurgitated by those members standing in opposition shows they have a profound lack of understanding of the legislation.

Today's action plan has three parts. This is part one.

First call or email your congressional representative.

Here is a simple script for a call:

Rep. Brad Miller's Testimony before Judiciary

Congressman Miller was kind enough to write a post just for BlueNC and put a great deal of time into it. As many here have experienced at times, the post was lost into the ether. In its place, I am posting Congressman Miller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Conyers, Ranking Member Smith, members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to address pending legislation to empower bankruptcy courts to modify home mortgages, just as bankruptcy courts already can modify every other kind of secured debt. The mortgage industry treats that peculiarity in the law as if it were brought down from Mount Sinai on stone tablets. In fact, it appears to have been just a sloppy compromise in the Senate in 1978, and that nonsensical quirk in the law is now responsible for much of the paralysis in our nation’s response to the foreclosure crisis.

We are just beginning to see the effects of the foreclosure crisis.

Richard Burr - Weekly Out of Toucher's Address (Feb. 28)

Another bad week for Republicans, and as usual, they didn't notice once again. Our less than esteemed Republican Senator, Richard Burr (R - Out of Touch) was given the opportunity to give the Republican Weekly Address to the Nation on Saturday, February 28 and as usual, he and his merry band of deniers have yet to learn a damned thing about what the American people want and need from their Congressional Representatives.

Rep. Virginia Foxx Blames Mortgage Crisis on Welfare Mentality

As I sat and listened to the debate on H.R. 1106 on Thursday, I could not believe my ears. North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx blamed the mortgage crisis on the welfare mentality of dishonest borrowers who never intended to pay the money back. I have never been so ashamed of something that I personally did not say or do. It was disheartening to hear such bigotry come from a North Carolina representative to congress.

Fortunately, Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida set Foxx straight.

Save Our Family Homes Act is not a Bailout

As debate on the Save Our Family Homes Act of 2009 or H.R. 1106 heated up on Thursday, House Republicans spun one lie after another in an attempt to turn the bill into something it is not. Some of the biggest lies were told by North Carolina's own congresswoman, Rep. Virginia Foxx. At times I couldn't tell if her lies were intentional or she really is that stupid. Now we need to set the record straight.

Options for violence

Obama said from the beginning of his campaign that he would expand the war in Afghanistan. Anyone who thought he would do otherwise is either hiding under a rock or a Republican. Some of us continue to work on changing his mind. The US could spend another trillion fighting this next new war, and maybe win the illusion of stability for a while. Would that be a good investment?

Bush's war in Iraq should have never been fought. There is no disagreement among honest people about that. It was a spectacular waste of political and economic capital. I believe the same is true in Afghanistan.

Is "war" really the solution to the problem the US is trying to solve? If our country is going to do violence (and we appear hell-bent on that), what are our standards and values? Do it surgically, ruthlessly, quickly? Publicly, visibly? With massive collateral damage? Subsidize the arms industry? Should we really fight the long war when one assassin's bullet might do the job?

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