Sen. Ron Johnson (E-WI) proposes a bill extending Affordable Care Act subsidies into 2017, apparently aiming to blunt the effect of a possible Supreme Court ruling striking down said subsidies. Naturally, the bill comes with poison pills -- it would also strike down both the individual mandate and the employer mandate, though health insurance corporations would surely fight the former -- and of course Mr. Johnson whines that he's doing this because Democrats will blame Republicans if the Supreme Court strikes the subsidies down, like that's not an entirely predictable result of putting far right-wingers on the Court.
Corporation whose CEO increased his employees' minimum wage to $70,000 annually is already seeing increased business, with its best week of new business in all of its 11 years. Folks pooh-poohing this development, saying it's because of the publicity, may need to square that observation with their belief that minimum wages always kills business. I mean, they never say "it kills business, but gives business a boost in the short term."
North Carolina state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (or DENR) warns 19 homes in Dukeville not to drink (or cook) with the wellwater. Perhaps not coincidentally, all 19 homes stand within a quarter-mile of Duke Energy's coal ash pit. Duke's spokeshack tries her best to bait-and-switch, saying the wells didn't have boron and sulfates in them, which are apparently "early warning" signals of coal ash contamination -- which ignores DENR's finding of actual chemicals and metals directly associated with coal ash contamination, which one might describe as an actual "warning." Also, Duke Energy has been shipping bottled water to one of these homes since November, and asked them not to tell anyone. I'd have to be a real schmuck to give Duke Energy the benefit of the doubt at this point.
Former three-term New York Governor George Pataki says he's Really Serious This Time about running for the Republican nomination for President. I would welcome his entry, since he's close enough to being a moderate that he might dissuade large numbers of people from mistaking Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie for "moderates." But he'll never have a following like Ron Paul did, and if he's "evolved" on certain matters (cf. Dennis Kucinich on abortion in 2004, Mitt Romney on a lot of stuff in 2008 and 2012), his following won't even be that big.
Ho hum, electricity utilities serve up anti-climate change regulation booga-booga, claiming THERE WILL BE BLACKOUTS if the EPA's regulations stand as they are. 15 years to cut greenhouse gases below 2005 levels not long enough for you fellas? I gotta say, this is not the can-do attitude for which we Americans are famous -- it's more like the attitude that says I can do stuff if you just stop asking me to do stuff.
Finally, Araz Hachadourian at Yes! magazine describes a USDA-backed program operating in Michigan, which helps food stamps count for double in farmers' markets, which in turn enables food stamp recipients to take home twice the fruits and vegetables and farmers to make twice the money. It's a bit of a winding road from the USDA to programs like Double Up to the farmers' markets, but it's worth it to get working families to spend more in local economies and eat healthier food. And I bet a President Scott Walker makes damn sure he strangles programs like these in their cribs.