Snoopy, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu and 12 other massive balloons will fly in the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York police say. Forecasts had called for high winds close to the maximum that New York City will allow for the balloons to fly over the parade route.
"You know when you put something in the bin, and in your head, say to yourself 'that's a bad idea'? I really did have that," James Howells says. And boy, was his intuition right: Howells tossed a hard drive that held millions of dollars' worth of Bitcoins, the currency whose value has skyrocketed this year.
We’re coming up on two months since the government started signing folks up for the new Obamacare health exchanges, and let’s just say it hasn’t been the smoothest rollout in American history. If you look back a bit, there are a few times the government has pretty successfully managed to enroll a huge number of people. Like Social Security, and Medicare. So what’s so different this time?
First of all, and most obviously, this time it’s all about the website. In the fall of 1936, when the government wanted to get everybody over 65 to sign up for Social Security, the only way to connect with them was the Postal Service.
Then, they invented a whole new system to identify all of us – the social security number. Everyone’s information was stored in a cavernous warehouse in Baltimore.
“They had, you know, millions and millions of pieces of paper and numbers to keep track of, but they had people to do it, they had enough expertise to do it,” says Ed Berkowitz is a history professor George Washington University. “I don’t think we quite have that luxury today in terms of manpower because the government is very constrained in its operations.”
Also, it was easier to identify everyone who was over 65. With healthcare today, it’s tricky to figure out which Americans don’t have insurance. For Social Security, you didn’t get a choice – it was law and you had to sign up. 30 years later, signing people up for Medicare was a little more complicated. But still way simpler than Obamacare is. Ted Marmor is an emeritus professor at Yale who was part of the government team that rolled out Medicare.
“It’s easy to make the case to an older American in 1966, ‘you know what, you’ve got hospital insurance now that you’ve already paid for,’” says Marmor. “And this is going to be done under the auspices of the Social Security Administration, in which there was considerable public trust.”
The Social Security Administration used the whole apparatus they’d built over the previous 30 years to construct the new Medicare program. There were leaders who were experienced, everybody knew what their job was, and Marmor says there was a clear chain of command.
“Now just contrast that with the apparatus since March of 2010 and now. Do you have any comparable sense of that?” asks Marmor. “No, you don’t because it isn’t here.”
During the Medicare rollout, there were Social Security offices all over the country that people could just walk into and ask a question. We actually do have something like that today. Problem is, there’s just two. And they’re both in Connecticut.
Officials at the Connecticut healthcare exchange say the enrollment centers in New Haven and New Britain are the only storefront locations in the country specifically for helping people enroll in Obamacare. Sure, around the country there are navigators and application counselors. You can call them up or find them at health fairs. But Ted Marmor says it’s not the same as having a well established location in every town, like the Social Security offices back in the day.
For Jermaine Monk, who came to sign up at the New Haven enrollment center, the hardest part was creating a password that had enough numbers and symbols to satisfy the state’s website.
“I think it worked fine,” says Monk. “It actually didn’t take as long as I thought. I thought it would take maybe four hours or something.”
Of course, it’s not as easy other places, especially in states that aren’t as on board with the whole exchange thing. Jonathan Oberlander, who’s a health policy professor UNC Chapel Hill, says that’s a key difference between the Obamacare rollout and the big ones of yesteryear. Social Security and Medicare were federal programs through and through.
“And one of the Achilles Heels in Obamacare is that its success depends on the cooperation of states that want the law to fail,” says Oberlander.
He says as much as the current rollout has been bungled, when you compare it to Social Security and Medicare, this one was just a lot harder from the beginning.
Concerned by China's move to assert itself in an area claimed by Japan, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with his Japanese counterpart Wednesday. China's military says it monitored Tuesday's flight by U.S. bombers through an air defense zone outlined by China this week.
Helaine Olen says:
"Coming out against financial literacy is like coming out against apple pie. What on earth could be wrong about learning about your finances, right? But in fact, what I learned when I looked at it very carefully, that financially literacy had simply become a very personal way of attempting to solve what is essentially an economic and polical problem. Which is that the financial marketplace has become extremely complicated in the last 30-40 years. And at the same time, our ability to keep up financially has fallen behind, with income stagnantion and inequality"
"I think these efforts are helpful, but I think they miss the bigger point, and the bigger point is this: We've been thrown out there, almost defenseless, and we're being told, 'you can master all of this.' And some people can, but many can't, and many can't because of things that aren't their fault. We need to look at the financial structure"
Dan Kadlec says:
"Long-term, I think people need to be able to fend for themselves. This notion of 'just-in-time' education sounds nice, but it's really more problematic than teaching financial education. The time to learn about mortgages isn't when you're sitting down to sign the document, that would be just-in-time. The time is when you start thinking about buying a house, so that you know what houses you should even be looking at. The long-term solution: Start [teaching financial literacy] in Kindergarten, make it mandatory through 12th grade. Teach it as either part of other courses or as a standalone course, but teach it every year and build year after year as you do with any other subject."
What do you think? Leave a comment or vote!
An estimated 300,000 kids born in the U.S. are now living in Mexico because their parents were either deported or went south of the border when jobs in the United States dried up. Schools in border areas aren't equipped to educate these children, who may be Mexican but don't feel Mexican.
No online registration for you, the Obama administration told small-business owners interested in using the Affordable Care Act exchanges to buy employee health insurance. Online access was pushed back to November 2014. Employers can still enroll through an insurer or broker.
The push to get women to breast-feed has been so successful that many mothers who can't do it are looking for other mothers' extra milk. Milk banks that pasteurize and sell donated breast milk have sprung up. Informal online swapping of extra mother's milk has become popular, despite quality concerns.
As Americans prepare to baste and roast plump, juicy holiday birds, we couldn't help but wonder which antibiotics the average Thanksgiving turkey might have been given. The government doesn't collect data on antibiotic use in turkeys. And producers don't volunteer any.
As Americans prepare to baste and roast plump, juicy holiday birds, we couldn't help but wonder what antibiotics the average Thanksgiving turkey might have been given. The government doesn't collect data on antibiotic use in turkeys. And producers don't volunteer it.
Right now, there are about a dozen full-time navigators and a few part-timers to help 200,000 Iowans make decisions about health insurance. In the countryside, it's particularly hard to get help to people who want it.
A world traveler discovers how to celebrate Thanksgiving everywhere.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emerged as one of the loudest international critics of the nuclear deal with Iran. It's just his latest clash with President Obama.
"The office of the presidency — the most powerful position in the world — brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities," President Obama said. "This is not one of them." He gave an official pardon to save Popcorn the turkey from a Thanksgiving dinner table.
There are a few news stories you can pretty much guarantee to see during the holiday season these days. Ones about air travel anguish, fried turkey fiascos and desperate parents battling tooth, nail and sometimes fist over this year's hot toy. And nearly every year for the past two decades, one of those hot toys has been some incarnation of Elmo. There's been Rock ‘n Roll Elmo, Chicken Dance Elmo, Hokey Pokey Elmo, TMX Elmo, Let’s Rock Elmo and the one that started it all (for better or for worse) Tickle Me Elmo. All of them have been blockbuster sellers, and Quartz writer Roberto Ferdman says they all make a big statement about the current status of the toy industry in America. Ferdman wrote an article for qz.com titled, "From Tickle Me Elmo to Big Hugs Elmo: nearly two decades of Christmas toy dominance." He says Elmo's appeal is still somewhat of a mystery, even to toy industry experts.
" I remember one analyst in particular going through what exactly is so appealing to pre-schoolers about (Elmo). You know, Elmo is like a pre-schooler, Elmo can speak, Elmo is warm and fuzzy and nice so parents like Elmo. And then I spoke to another analyst who said that if anybody says they know why Elmo's really popular, they're probably making it up."
This final note might be a bit worrisome for Sriracha lovers.
Sriracha, the hot chili sauce, is produced at a plant in Southern California. The factory has now been partially shut down under a judge's order.
Residents who live near the plant complained of heartburn, asthma and nosebleeds that they said were caused by the spicy smells coming from the Sriracha plant.
The city and the factory owner -- Huy Fung foods -- are trying to come up with a solution that works for people who live there and for those who love to buy and eat the spicy red stuff.
Check out our exclusive interview with the founder of Sriracha where reveals why he prices his sauce the way he does.
The Obama administration says it is delaying until November 2014 a requirement that small businesses shop for health insurance via the troubled federal HealthCare.gov site, which has been blamed for many problems since its launch last month.
New rules aimed at clarifying what constitutes political activity for dark-money, non-profit groups are likely to give more heartburn to the right than the left. The majority of big-spending social-welfare organizations known as 501(c)(4) groups in 2012 were conservative.
The two-story designer suitcase was to house an exhibition, but its presence on what many people consider sacred ground angered Russians. Some Russians viewed the suitcase not only as an eyesore, but as as an impediment to New Year's celebrations at the square.
The Obama adminstration has delayed yet another element of the Affordable Care Act health care law. The White House says that an online marketplace for small businesses to buy coverage, called Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP exchanges, will be delayed until next November.
Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary asked our health care reporter Dan Gorenstein to answer some questions about Obamacare so that we all have something to say when our Thanksgiving dinner conversation turns to the topic.
Q. Who does this rule apply to?
A. Small businesses, according to the ACA. That is: "For 2014, the SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (FTEs). You may qualify for tax credits if you use SHOP."
Q. How big a deal is this delay?
A. "Small businesses are still going to be able to use the shopping qualities, checking the prices if you will, of the different insurance policies that are offered ... but they aren't going to actually be able to enroll online."
Q. Why do it?
A. Capacity: "They're trying to prioritize things ... the SHOP exchanges are a lower priority, frankly, than making sure that consumers can go online and use healthcare.gov."
Q. So what about healthcare.gov? How is that going? Will it be able to handle 50,000 users at a time (as promised) on Dec. 1?
Q. Will the IT folks for healthcare.gov be working on Thanskgiving?
A. The administration says tech workers continue to work around the clock to monitor and upgrade healthcare.gov, including on Thanksgiving.