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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—November 3, 2012

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "preventive service coverage and retiree medical insurance options" by "scnc12". Full excerpt: I am interested to get confirmation from anyone who is recently retired and eligible for FHA whether, from the open enrollment information they received last week, IBM does not cover preventive services with 0% copay in any of the retiree medical options offered in North Carolina for employees eligible for FHA.

    I am currently an active employee and so only receive information applicable to active employees, but am just this year able to preview the retiree health coverage options available next year in NetBenefits. None of the retiree medical options appear to offer preventive services at 0% copay like is provided for active employees. thanks.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: preventive service coverage and retiree medical insurance options" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: You are correct. I am FHA eligible (however still on TMP) in NC. I received the package for retirees (not eligible for Medicare). Yes, all the Preventative/Routine Services options for all plans are at least a 20% co-pay. This is shocking, thanks for pointing it out.

    I thought part of PPACA was to make Preventative free. I also thought there was a move afoot to get people more healthy. Oh, that's right, ibm doesn't give a good crap about my health. Wonder if this is new this year? Perhaps someone else will know. Gee, I want door number 2, I can't wait for the health care exchanges, this is a (ibm) rip.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: preventive service coverage and retiree medical insurance options" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Yes, thanks to the PPACA, flu shots, mammograms, cholesterol and b/p screenings, and annual wellness visit/exams are totally free.

    IBM can't charge you 20% for them. If it happens, you need to push back and take control of the situation.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: preventive service coverage and retiree medical insurance options" by "msb_3200". Full excerpt: Obamacare only covers preventive care at 100% for employees and retirees on Medicare. Those of us who are retired but not on Medicare are not included.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: preventive service coverage and retiree medical insurance options" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: Early retiree plans are not covered by the ACA. The only feature is the ERRP (Early Retiree Reinsurance Program) where there is a government subsidy to companies for costs should they elect to participate. IBM does participate and 2013 premiums are reduced accordingly - the intent of the program. This program stops in 2014 and I am not sure how the exchanges will interplay with early retiree plans.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "preventive care for retirees - teamb562, can you check your enrollment guide" by "scnc12". Full excerpt: Thank you for responding. I, too, find it shocking. Almost worse is that two separate "benefits specialists" in the ESC told me that preventive care was covered at 0% copay for retirees until I pointed out the discrepancy and thereafter it was confirmed that the information they were giving out was incorrect.

    Could you please check your "2013 IBM Benefits Enrollment Guide" for retirees and look for a section titled "notice regarding IBM's grandfathered health plans" and see what it lists. I only have the guide for active employees and when I initially called the ESC I asked them to quote me what was in the guide provided to retirees regarding grandfathered plans and all they would say is that I get such a guide once I am within 90 days of retiring. thanks.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: preventive care for retirees - teamb562, can you check your enrollment guide" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: You are welcome scnc. I perused "2013 IBM Benefits Enrollment Guide" for Retirees". It does not contain a section titled "notice regarding IBM's grandfathered health plans". How convenient is that. It would appear that netmouser is very much correct(not that I ever doubted you mouse). The question is why? Why are post employment/pre-Medicare plans exempt from the ACA rules. Heck, there was a time before PPACA got signed that early-retirees were going to be able to enroll in Medicare.

    For reference, I uploaded this document to the "Files" section of this board as: HW_HRL_SR_515U.101AE2013Pre65Guide_41728.pdf. (Editor's note: You may download this PDF file from the ibmemployee.com site here.)

    On a side note, you may have access to this document online. On NetBenefits:>) Click "Health and Insurance", select "Medical" and click "Visit the Reference Library" under "Resources". It seems I have access to everything(employee/retiree, etc) so I doubt they are restricting access per user.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: preventive care for retirees - teamb562, can you check your enrollment guide" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: Very strange that the PPACA does not intersect (no-cost Preventative) with early retirees plans. Gee, why only Medicare people and younger working people get zero cost preventative? Do we (early retirees) have some disease no one can cure so we're not worth a checkup?

    lso interesting that no one knows or can say how we early retirees will or will-not be able to take advantage of the ACA exchanges. Since it's only about a year away, I asked the ESC yesterday how will retirees/FHA people be affected? They have no clue and did not volunteer to try and find further information. I explained to them that decisions I need to make now (burning of FHA$$) are possibly affected by our intersection with the exchanges. I was told that 2014 health care plans/guides/enrollment are not available yet. Gee, really? thanks for that.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • Flexible workplace but not the greatest pay or hours.” Current Advisory Hardware Engineer in Poughkeepsie, NY. Pros: Pretty flexible work times, except if you have to work with IBMers overseas you have to use your personal hours, dinner/breakfast time to be on calls with different time zones. No personal time available anymore. Work comes in waves. When it's busy it's really stressful. We are finally starting to hire some new hires and new blood into the company. Still pretty top heavy and hard to move up. Cons: It seems like our budget for anything is smaller and smaller every year when we are reporting record profits. Healthcare benefits aren't great. A lot of out of pocket costs. They are outsourcing a lot. Advice to Senior Management: Our management up to 3rd line is doing the best they can.
    • Don't waste your time!” Former Senior Financial Analyst in Somers, NY. Pros: Telecommuting -- it's how they keep you interested. Diversity.

      Cons: Either align yourself with an "executive sponsor" (someone you do the work for so they don't have to) and ride their coat tails from job to job or start the countdown 'til when your number comes up -- and everyone's number comes up usually around when you're 45-50 years old. No loyalty at all no matter if you've been a 2+ performer forever. Once they find a way to outsource your job -- they will, simple as that. You will waste the best years of your life trying to get ahead in a company where NO ONE gets ahead -- unless you're friends with the right folks.

      Completely unreasonable expectations for work hours. Nothing is ever enough. Only successful people (besides Sales) have no kids or make their families a completely secondary priority. They will talk about work/life balance but I am surprised they can do it with a straight face.

      Worst set of internal systems in corporate America. Change jobs internally every three years -- and then learn three new systems because every department has their own.

      No training. No positive reinforcement. No hope. Of the 14 managers I had in 14 years, 8 are no longer with the company and I haven't met any of the last 4 face-to-face. Costs too much.

      The people I know who HAVE somehow survived now HATE everything the company has become but feel too "trapped" to try and make a change. All that your work experience there readies you for are more lateral jobs within IBM. Nothing you learn is useful outside their walls. They have lost their soul.

      People are as expendable as MIPs. Get hired as a Director or don't even consider a job there -- oh yeah, they need scapegoat Directors too for the bad years so tread carefully. All this being said, they did me the biggest favor they could when they forced me to move on.

      Advice to Senior Management: Keep doing what you're doing -- it works! Nothing I could offer as counsel will ever matter to you.

    • shiny on the outside, rotten inside” Former Technical Sales in Belgrade (Serbia). Pros: the best technology in IT, lots of possibilities for learning and developing skills, good salaries, doors are open at every customer for IBM reps. Cons: very bad relationships between employees, salary was late often (sometimes even 7 days), unfair variable pay ratios, harsh cost cutting methods (removed drinking water machines from the office), management doesn't stand up to their direct promise to employee. Advice to Senior Management: protect employees from retaliation of lower management if they report unethical behavior of their immediate superiors
    • Disappointing” Former Global Manager in Los Angeles, CA. Pros: Big company, many resources, lots of training opportunities Cons: Too much emphasis on short-term results, quarter-end focus skews all work schedules and long-term planning; bureaucratic to the nth degree; stock options only for Band 10 and above, and most of the decisions are based on what it will do for/to the stock price; small or no pay raises, even for top performers. Advice to Senior Management: Walk in your employees shoes for a week--do you REALLY want to make THAT decision after you see how it affects them?
    • Underpaid and overworked” Current Reporting Analyst in Boston, MA. Pros: Flexibility to work from home. Good medical, dental, and vision benefits. Plenty of vacation time and holidays. Discount on purchases of IBM stock. 401K matching. Some really great people.

      Cons: IBM favors self-service so it is difficult to obtain IT help; they prefer to let you spend three days fighting to upgrade your computer than maintain an IT staff at each site to assist people. IBM also requires salespeople to do all of their administrative work (including preparing quotes, submitting orders, and even drafting legal contracts) themselves rather than providing administrative and legal support to assist salespeople so they can concentrate on selling.

      Raises are extremely low or sometimes even non-existent; even taking over all of your manager's work when he leaves the company is not considered a reason to increase your pay. Resource actions occur regularly, and even obtaining the highest rating on your annual evaluation cannot save you from them. The higher your pay, the larger the target on your back at RA time.

      The bureaucracy of such a large company is extremely frustrating, and heaven and earth must be moved and 39 approvals obtained to make an exception to "policy." In the past, IBM may have stood for "International Business Machines," "Identical Blue Men," and "I've Been Moved," but now I would say it stands for "Immense Bureaucratic Miser." A task that would have taken me 5 minutes at my last job will take me 5 days at IBM because I have to involve three other teams and seven different systems to get it done. In addition, many IBMers are quicker to respond, "That's not my job" than to help close a sale or resolve a customer issue.

      Advice to Senior Management: Good administrative staff is as valuable as good developers-offer fair pay for the work performed. Don't let employees feel as though they have to choose between a competitive salary and a reasonable sense of job security. Don't expect a team to produce the same results when you force the manager to RA an employee every year but do not decrease the tasks for which the team is responsible.

    • No interest in supporting employees. Horrible HR reps. Managers, Execs, HR can't be trusted” Current Systems Engineer in Sydney (Australia. Pros: Global company with great employees and work opportunities. Like the Australian Army in that they bastardise with an inept management team who take advantage of staff loyalty around but something amazing happens when the chips are down and a real effort is needed. The employees pull together and resolve the challenge.

      Pay is slightly above the industry average but not much. Be warned though they make sure you more than earn it.

      Cons: HR abuse processes, remove and change employee benefits without notification or a audit trail visible to employees. HR first look at any potential impact to IBM before supporting an employee, if there is even the slightest risk of legal repercussion the employee looses out. Discriminates against white males in their policy towards parental leave. What it says and what they do does not match. Managers will work staff into the ground. 37.5hr weeks are for part time employees. If you want to be considered an "IBMer" 60+ hours a week is the norm.

      No tea, coffee, sugar or cups.

      Few perks.

      No work life balance.

      Advice to Senior Management: People are IBM's most valuable asset. They will work their hearts out and yet you use their feeling of being an IBMer against them to screw the last drop of blood out and then when they're broken after you have ignored OH&S guidelines against over work you off load them. You do not deserve the good people you have. Pretty soon you will only be left with the bad ones who make you feel good unless you lift your game and treat your people better.

    • Big Blue, does not always mean Big $'s” Former CSSR (Client Software Sales Representative ) in Bethesda, MD. Pros: The company has worldwide recognition. You get invited to every (or close to it) technical evaluation. There are a lot of opportunities to work on...along with a team of fellow IBMers. There are so many people involved on accounts. This is especially true on high profile accounts. You can "work at half speed" and still be a "hero" because there are so many people working alongside you. That is one of the reasons why IBMers stay there for so long. Being hired at IBM is a validation of your merit, it’s like getting the "good housekeeping seal of approval." Great resume builder Good / Great benefits I would recommend this company but you need to go in with open eyes...not star struck.

      Cons: From a software sales reps standpoint, anyone working at IBM beyond 5 years is perceived in the open market as a person who "settles and is not motivated." With one caveat, unless you are being interviewed by a former IBMer then you might be seen as part of the “club.”

      The pay is fair. IBM believes they do not need to compensate their employees on the high-end because they believe that employees will get intangible value by being able to say that they work(ed) at IBM.

      The company is truly run by accountants...this becomes painfully clear if you are due a large commission. The accountants will create a scenario that will allow them to change your compensation plan while the deal is booking, so that you don't get paid or get paid far less than what you are due. There have been many lawsuits filed by former employees affirming what I just stated...including myself.

      In several cases, IGS (IBM Global Services) commissioned personnel get paid more commission if they sell the competitors’ products over IBM’s on a project. (e.g. Oracle versus DB2) I know it sounds crazy but ask...you'll be surprised at the answer.

    • “IBM's current 2015 plan is "Race to the Bottom" strategy” Current Employee. Pros: IBM offers a very broad set of opportunities both in terms of positions and technologies. It is hard if not impossible to find the same breadth anywhere else in the industry. You get to work on a variety of technologies and you get to interact with a lot of smart people. The non-executive population is best described as smart, cooperative and helpful. While it may be a generalization, I found it to be true in all areas of the company I have worked in. Cons: The executive team in general composed of very smart people who consistently apply their talents towards undermining their peers. Most executives have a razor sharp focus on their careers with nothing more than lip service paid to the product. Executive effectiveness is measured by ability to manage execution even when executing on the wrong objectives. "Product" is where the company suffers the most. Almost all new technologies are coming from acquisitions with existing teams focusing in incremental, non disruptive, enhancements. One exception is Watson but it s a very minor part in the overall scope of the company. There is a real leadership void at the executive level. Advice to Senior Management: Stop the race to the bottom. Focus on growing the business, new lines of business. Stop obsessing about 2015 and your golden parachutes. If you can't lead, get out of the way.
    • You thought they could not squeeze blood from a stone?” Current Senior Software Engineer in Hursley, England (United Kingdom). Pros: Mmmmm. Tough question. Let me think. Ah yes. A beautiful site. But that is only because IBM has not found a way of offloading it yet. Cons: Probably the most depressing place I have worked. Staff are treading water waiting for the next piece of management stupidity. Advice to Senior Management: I would tell them to wake up and smell the coffee but they already know what they are doing. The policy to squeeze margins and employees to breaking point is deliberate. Eventually you will squeeze the life out of the golden goose.
    • A lot of career opportunities” Former Business Intelligence Analyst in Brno (Czech Republic). Pros: I would highlight the opportunity to work in a multicultural environment. Cons: I did not find any. Advice to Senior Management: Keep up the good work, and try to be impartial with respect to foreign communities.
    • Disappointing experience working for IBM” Former Advisory Engineer in San Jose, CA. Pros: Full Benefits and competitive salaries. Cons: Broken management system. Company needs overhaul its management system. Advice to Senior Management: Management should work on keeping its work force in the US. Most of the current work force is been outsourced leaving a smaller percentage of the work force in the US.
    • Not great” Current Employee in Washington, DC. Pros: Looks good on a resume. Cons: Extremely poor employee management. My official "manager" had no idea what I did for the company, since I never worked with him and had a completely different role in a completely different area. It was ridiculous.
    • Great learning experiences but they don't necessarily know how to exploit what you've learned"” Current Associate Partner in London, England (United Kingdom). Pros: Some amazingly clever people to work with. Info and angles on everything. Opportunities to do new things Cons: Middle management and lack of opportunity to make own decisions. Excessive squeezing of the workforce in the name of cost saving. An amazing lack of career planning support from most managers. Advice to Senior Management – Cut back the reviews of reviews and reviewers. If people are our greatest asset treat them like it. Purge executives.
    • Getting worse year on year, which is a real shame as it should be so good” Former Project Manager in London, England (United Kingdom). Pros: Great people on the whole, lots of opportunities to move around, massive variety of job roles. Cons: Poor salary, dreadful work/life balance, deteriorating pay and conditions, unrelenting pressure, unsupportive middle management, too many glory-hunters. Advice to Senior Management: Clear out the current glory-hunting, me-me-me middle management and put back some people who actually care about IBM's core values and respect the staff.
    • A company that manages its balance sheet well, but not its employees” Current Senior Systems Engineer in Alpharetta, GA. Pros: They allow work from home. Helps balance work-life during normal work days! Cons: Work is way too much and without any overtime pay!! When the time's bad, they make you sit at home without pay for months on furloughs!! They unlike many other companies cannot have anyone sit without work for even a moment! They do not even inform ahead of time of impending furloughs, for you to find a better opportunity...its always last minute that way! Advice to Senior Management: It's not always about working towards managing 'stock price' but there is a lot more involved in running a company!
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • Remember to Vote on November 6th!
    • Biden Video Captures the Message
    • Voter Protection: The Effect of Hurricane Sandy
    • Kaiser Study Gives Clues to what is on Voters’ Minds
    • Florida Alliance Goes International
  • Investment News: Employer-sponsored retiree benefits fading. By Darla Mercado. Excerpts: Data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute show that in 1997, 10.2% of private-sector employers provided health insurance to Medicare-eligible retirees, while 11.3% provided such coverage to early retirees. As of last year, those numbers had fallen to 6.1% and 6.7%, respectively. ...

    Most companies that continue to provide benefits have raised premiums that retirees must pay for coverage, restricted eligibility for new retirees or limited benefits, according to EBRI.

  • CBS MoneyWatch: Pension buyouts: Who wins and who loses? By Steve Vernon. Excerpts: Why are employers offering pension buyouts to former employees who have a vested right to a future pension? This is something many readers are asking about the buyout offers they've been receiving lately.

    This post follows up my previous two posts that showed a pension buyout is unlikely to produce a higher retirement income, compared to simply waiting and receiving a monthly check from your pension plan. While the amount of retirement income is certainly a critical consideration when you're deciding whether to accept a lump-sum buyout, there are other important considerations as well. This post addresses these issues and wraps up my series of posts on pension buyouts. ...

    If your employer offers you a lump-sum cash-out, it's really placing two bets:

    • That the assets in the pension trust will perform worse than the assumptions the IRS allows your employer to use when calculating lump-sum payments. Currently, the effective interest rates used for this purpose are around 4 percent to 5 percent per year. So employers are betting that their pension assets will consistently earn less than these percentages in future years.
    • That you and your co-workers will live longer as a group than the average life expectancy. Cashing you out now reduces their exposure should you live a long time. This is an important point -- lump-sum cash-outs are based on average life expectancy.
  • Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch: Health coverage shrinks for young retirees. Fewer employers offer insurance to people who step down early, and those who do are charging more. By Glenn Ruffenach. Excerpts: Many workers still harbor dreams about early retirement, but their employers don’t necessarily share the same dreams. The latest evidence comes from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which recently looked at the state of retiree health benefits.

    The findings are of the bad-news and worse-news variety. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit found that only 17.7% of employees in 2010 worked for a private-sector business that offered health coverage to early retirees. That’s down from almost 29% in 1997. In the same vein, 15.9% of employees in 2010 worked for a business that offered health coverage to Medicare-eligible retirees, down from 25.4% in 1997.

    The worse news: The few companies that still offer retiree health benefits are raising premiums, tightening eligibility or reducing coverage. ...

    What lies ahead? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, if it survives, will enable retirees (and most individuals) to purchase health insurance directly from health-insurance exchanges. Prices will vary depending on average spending on health care where you live, plus your age and the plan you choose. Four tiers of coverage will be available: bronze, silver gold or platinum. In 2016, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, average monthly premiums for bronze plans nationwide, the least expensive among the four tiers, will run about $400 for a single person and $1,000 for families.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 10/31/12: I'm a sub-K, or rather was, today is my last day. Was told Monday. IBM Manager was totally unaware, cuts came from above, CDI manager told me there were "many, many". I'm assuming they targeted those of us whose contracts were coming up for renewal. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/01/12: I attended a party with some very senior finance people here in RTP tonight. The EOY 2012 US full-time employee US headcount will come in at 84,500. They are considering going down even further if it turns out there are federal tax incentives to hire in 2013. Dump in 2012, then get an incentive to hire back or new hire in 2013 at lower pay. These guys have no morals, they're only focused on bean counting and executive bonuses. -Apocalypse Rider-
    • Comment 11/01/12: I was layed off yesterday. I believe a bunch of contractors were also layed off. -anonymous-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times op-ed: Medicaid on the Ballot. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: There’s a lot we don’t know about what Mitt Romney would do if he won. He refuses to say which tax loopholes he would close to make up for $5 trillion in tax cuts; his economic “plan” is an empty shell.

    But one thing is clear: If he wins, Medicaid — which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform — will face savage cuts. Estimates suggest that a Romney victory would deny health insurance to about 45 million people who would have coverage if he lost, with two-thirds of that difference due to the assault on Medicaid.

    So this election is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid. And this, in turn, means that you need to know something more about the program.

    For while Medicaid is generally viewed as health care for the nonelderly poor, that’s only part of the story. And focusing solely on who Medicaid covers can obscure an equally important fact: Medicaid has been more successful at controlling costs than any other major part of the nation’s health care system.

    So, about coverage: most Medicaid beneficiaries are indeed relatively young (because older people are covered by Medicare) and relatively poor (because eligibility for Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is determined by need). But more than nine million Americans benefit from both Medicare and Medicaid, and elderly or disabled beneficiaries account for the majority of Medicaid’s costs. And contrary to what you may have heard, the great majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are in working families. ...

    So Medicaid does a vast amount of good. But at what cost? There’s a widespread perception, gleefully fed by right-wing politicians and propagandists, that Medicaid has “runaway” costs. But the truth is just the opposite. While costs grew rapidly in 2009-10, as a depressed economy made more Americans eligible for the program, the longer-term reality is that Medicaid is significantly better at controlling costs than the rest of our health care system.

    How much better? According to the best available estimates, the average cost of health care for adult Medicaid recipients is about 20 percent less than it would be if they had private insurance. The gap for children is even larger. ...

    Last year a government study compared the prices that Medicaid paid for brand-name drugs with those paid by Medicare Part D — also a government program, but one run through private insurance companies, and explicitly forbidden from using its power in the market to bargain for lower prices. The conclusion: Medicaid pays almost a third less on average. That’s a lot of money.

  • Reuters: Analysis: Employees to face healthcare sticker shock. By Caroline Humer. Excerpts: Visit to New York City orthopedist: $223. One X-ray: $50. One follow-up magnetic resonance imaging test: $766. Total bill for checking out that aching shoulder: $1,039 - all to be paid by the patient, rather than the insurer.

    Healthcare has gone retail.

    Over the next 18 months, between one quarter and one half of Americans who get insurance coverage through their employers will pay more of their doctor bills themselves as companies roll out healthcare plans with higher deductibles, benefits consultants say. The result: sticker shock.

    "They have huge out-of-pocket costs before they get any insurance coverage, it's a real slap in the face," said Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a healthcare advocacy group.

    High-deductible plans set a threshold for medical expenses that an individual must pay for, often in the thousands of dollars, before insurance kicks in. Studies show people on these plans are three times more likely to delay or skip care than people on traditional plans, where doctor or emergency room visits are covered by a relatively low co-payment. ...

    Critics of this shift say it leaves consumers at the mercy of providers when it comes to medical costs. While insurers have been able to leverage their scale to negotiate rates down, ordinary individuals do not have that clout.

  • Benefits Law Update: HSAs in Operation: Ten Common Questions. Excerpt: It’s open enrollment season and many employers are implementing high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with a Health Savings Account (HSA) feature. Our prior posts about HDHPs and HSAs have explored the general eligibility requirements for HDHP/HSA arrangements and HSA contributions. Today we address common questions about the operation of an HDHP/HSA arrangement.
  • Modesto Bee, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Buying medical care is not like buying a car. By Charles V. Allen, M.D. Excerpts: David Brooks ("It's past time to change Medicare," Oct. 11) is right when he says Medicare costs are too high now and will get worse unless things change.

    But, no, Mr. Brooks, the solution is not in competition, free enterprise and market forces.

    Buying medical care is not like buying a car. If we bought cars the way we buy health care, the car salesman would tell us when we needed a car, what kind of car we need and how much it would cost. But we wouldn't care how much it costs because we aren't paying for it. The more cars the manufacturer produced and sold, the more money he would lose. And because 20 percent of the customers buy 80 percent of the cars, he would know exactly whom to not sell cars to! Confused? No wonder.

    Translation: The patient/customer usually has little control when illness hits, no choice of what must be done (the doctor/hospital decides) or what the cost is, but doesn't care (insurance is paying).

    Insurance companies seek to insure mostly the healthier members, knowing that 20 percent of the public will consume 80 percent of the health dollar. Avoiding that 20 percent is mandatory to remain profitable — and most non-Medicare companies are for-profit.

    Medicare was designed to be available to all — healthy or sick — and so was Medicare Advantage but a funny thing happened along the way. Call it what you may — cherry-picking or skimming — but Medicare commercial insurance companies have successfully managed to insure a population healthier and less costly than average, leaving a sicker and more expensive membership for regular Medicare — and the taxpayer. ...

    We have not one but four medical care systems: the uninsured (50 million), Medicaid (50 million), Medicare (50 million) and the commercially insured, mostly for-profit, under 65 (150 million).

    Each has its own set of rules, regulations, payment schedules and deficiencies. Reforming one without changing the others is not possible, and a major overhaul in today's political environment is unthinkable. ...

    A handful of other countries — all first world, industrial, democratic and yes, capitalistic — nations have achieved four things we have not: coverage of all citizens, costs half to two-thirds our cost, equal or better medical outcomes and a level of public support higher than ours.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Canada’s health costs for seniors rising slowly, points way to Medicare solvency: Archives of Internal Medicine article. Researchers find the U.S. could have saved more than $2.15 trillion on Medicare since 1980 had it employed cost-saving measures similar to Canada's. Excerpts: A study published in today’s Archives of Internal Medicine finds that per capita Medicare spending on the elderly has grown nearly three times faster in the United States than in Canada since 1980. (Canada’s program, which covers all Canadians, not just the elderly, is also called Medicare.) Costs grew more slowly in Canada despite a 1984 law banning co-payments and deductibles.

    In the first study of its kind, Dr. David U. Himmelstein and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professors at the City University of New York’s School of Public Health, analyzed decades of detailed Medicare spending data for persons aged 65 and older in the U.S. and Canada.

    After adjusting for inflation, the authors found U.S. Medicare spending per elderly enrollee rose 198.7 percent from 1980 through 2009. In Canada, the comparable figure was 73 percent.

    According to the authors, the findings have important implications for the debate on how to save Medicare. “Had U.S. Medicare spending per elderly enrollee increased as slowly as in Canada, the savings from 1980 through 2009 would have totaled $2.156 trillion,” said Himmelstein. “That’s equivalent to more than one-sixth of the U.S. national debt.” ...

    The article cites several reasons for Canada’s better record on cost containment: Less paperwork and administrative bloat throughout their health system (administrative costs account for 16.7 percent of total health spending vs. 31 percent in the U.S.); the use of lump-sum budgets for hospitals; stringent controls on spending for new buildings and expensive new equipment; the use of single-buyer purchasing power to rein in drug and device prices; relatively low litigation and malpractice costs; and an emphasis on primary care.

  • California HealthLine: How Health Care Changed While You Were Watching the Election. By Dan Diamond. Excerpt: In fact, many of the most significant stories in health care from the past two months haven't come from the campaign trail -- where candidates have mostly rehashed their existing policies -- but from the private sector, as employers and providers have made aggressive, and sometimes unexpected, deals and changes. Reforms that will continue regardless of who's sitting in the Oval Office next year. Here are some of those stories.
  • The Commonwealth Fund: Jobs Without Benefits: The Health Insurance Crisis Faced by Small Businesses and Their Workers. By Ruth Robertson, Kristof Stremikis, Sara R. Collins, Michelle M. Doty, and Karen Davis. Overview: The share of U.S. workers in small firms who were offered, eligible for, and covered by health insurance through their jobs has declined over the past decade. Less than half of workers in companies with fewer than 50 employees were both offered and eligible for health insurance through their jobs in 2010, down from 58 percent in 2003. In contrast, about 90 percent of workers in companies with 100 or more employees were offered and eligible for their employer’s health plans in both 2003 and 2010. Workers in the smallest firms—and those with the lowest wages—continue to be less likely to get coverage from their employers and more likely to be uninsured than workers in larger firms or with higher wages. The Affordable Care Act includes new subsidies that will lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses and workers who must purchase coverage on their own.
News and Opinion Concerning the "War on the Middle Class"
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • The Economist: For richer, for poorer Growing inequality is one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges of our time. But it is not inevitable, says Zanny Minton Beddoes. By Michael Morgenstern. Excerpts: The democratisation of living standards has masked a dramatic concentration of incomes over the past 30 years, on a scale that matches, or even exceeds, the first Gilded Age. Including capital gains, the share of national income going to the richest 1% of Americans has doubled since 1980, from 10% to 20%, roughly where it was a century ago. Even more striking, the share going to the top 0.01%—some 16,000 families with an average income of $24m—has quadrupled, from just over 1% to almost 5%. That is a bigger slice of the national pie than the top 0.01% received 100 years ago. ...

    The widening of income gaps is a reversal of the pattern in much of the 20th century, when inequality narrowed in many countries. That narrowing seemed so inevitable that Simon Kuznets, a Belarusian-born Harvard economist, in 1955 famously described the relationship between inequality and prosperity as an upside-down U. According to the “Kuznets curve”, inequality rises in the early stages of industrialisation as people leave the land, become more productive and earn more in factories. Once industrialisation is complete and better-educated citizens demand redistribution from their government, it declines again.

    Until 1980 this prediction appeared to have been vindicated. But the past 30 years have put paid to the Kuznets curve, at least in advanced economies. These days the inverted U has turned into something closer to an italicised N, with the final stroke pointing menacingly upwards.

  • Huffington Post: The Final Days, the Biggest Issue, and the Clearest Choice. By Robert Reich. Excerpts: As we go into the final days of a dismal presidential campaign where too many issues have been fudged or eluded -- and the media only want to talk about is who's up and who's down -- the biggest issue on which the candidates have given us the clearest choice is whether the rich should pay more in taxes.

    President Obama says emphatically yes. He proposes ending the Bush tax cut for people earning more than $250,000 a year, and requiring that the richest 1 percent pay no less than a third of their income in taxes, the so-called "Buffett Rule."

    Mitt Romney says emphatically no. He proposes cutting tax rates on the rich by 20 percent, extending the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, and reducing or eliminating taxes on dividends and capital gains.

    Romney says he'll close loopholes and eliminate deductions used by the rich so that their share of total taxes remains the same as it is now, although he refuses to specify what loopholes or deductions. But even if we take him at his word, under no circumstances would he increase the amount of taxes they pay.

    Obama is right.

    America faces a huge budget deficit. And just about everyone who's looked at how to reduce it -- the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles Commission, and almost all independent economists and analysts -- have come up with some combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

    The practical question is who pays those increased taxes. If Romney's view prevails and the rich don't pay more, everyone else has to pay more.

    That's nonsensical. The rich are far richer than they used to be, while most of the rest of us are poorer. The latest data show the top 1 percent garnering 93 percent of all the gains from the recovery so far. But median family income is 8 percent lower than it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation.

    The gap has been widening for three decades. Since 1980 the top 1 percent has doubled its share of the nation's total income -- from 10 percent to 20 percent. The share of the top one-tenth of 1 percent has tripled. The share of the top-most one-one hundredth of 1 percent -- 16,000 families -- has quadrupled. The richest 400 Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together.

    Meanwhile, the tax rates paid by the wealthy have dropped precipitously. Before 1981 the top marginal tax rate was never lower than 70 percent. Under President Dwight Eisenhower it was 93 percent. Even after taking all the deductions and tax credits available to them, the rich paid around 54 percent.

    The top tax rate is now only 35 percent and the tax on capital gains (increases in the value of investments) is only 15 percent. Since so much of what they earn is from capital gains, many of the super-rich, like Mitt Romney himself, pay 14 percent or less. That's a lower tax rate than many middle-class Americans pay.

    In fact, if you add up all the taxes paid -- not just on income and capital gains but also payroll taxes (which don't apply to income above incomes of $110,100), and sales taxes -- most of us are paying a higher percent of our income in taxes than are those at the top.

  • New York Times: When Low Taxes Don’t Help the Rich. By Robert H. Frank. Excerpts: Although big-money donors are a diverse group, many of them want lower tax rates for themselves and less stringent regulations for their businesses — and they’ve been brilliantly effective in getting them. Their success has increased their incomes still further, allowing them to make even larger contributions and to demand even bigger favors. This vicious circle was strengthened considerably by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case. And so, each year, the possibility of any new laws to curb money’s influence appears to recede.

    But as the economist Herbert Stein once joked, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Eventually, the social and economic consequences of further growth in income inequality may become so severe that even the most generously financed candidates won’t prevail against reform-minded opponents.

    Alternatively, extreme inequality might one day spawn a violent revolution, as has happened in many other countries. Such routes to change still seem distant, however, and are hardly something to hope for.

    There is a more encouraging possibility: in time, wealthy political donors may become convinced that their contributions poorly serve even their own narrow interests.

    Lower tax rates have affected these donors in two opposing ways. On the positive side, they have supported higher consumption in the private sector. But on the downside, the resulting budget deficits have reduced the quantity and quality of public services. Compelling evidence suggests that the negatives have been much larger, and the positives considerably smaller, than many donors have expected.

    Through private schools, gated communities, personal aircraft and other adaptations, the wealthy have been insulated from many costs of a decaying public sphere. But ill effects remain. Declining quality of public schools, for example, makes it harder for businesses to recruit productive workers, and a shrinking middle class makes it harder to sell their products in volume.

    Many other effects of budget deficits also cut across the income divide. First, consider two extreme examples: When a poorly maintained bridge collapses, rich drivers are no less likely to die than poor ones. And if cutbacks in the Energy Department’s program for locking down loosely guarded nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union one day enable terrorists to detonate a dirty bomb in Manhattan, hedge fund managers and their families will suffer along with everyone else.

  • New York Times editorial: A Big Storm Requires Big Government. Most Americans have never heard of the National Response Coordination Center, but they’re lucky it exists on days of lethal winds and flood tides. The center is the war room of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where officials gather to decide where rescuers should go, where drinking water should be shipped, and how to assist hospitals that have to evacuate.

    Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it. At a Republican primary debate last year, Mr. Romney was asked whether emergency management was a function that should be returned to the states. He not only agreed, he went further.

    “Absolutely,” he said. “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job. He said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.

    It’s an absurd notion, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican resistance to federal emergency planning. FEMA, created by President Jimmy Carter, was elevated to cabinet rank in the Bill Clinton administration, but was then demoted by President George W. Bush, who neglected it, subsumed it into the Department of Homeland Security, and placed it in the control of political hacks. The disaster of Hurricane Katrina was just waiting to happen.

    The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast.

    Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness. Representatives Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other House Republicans have repeatedly tried to refuse FEMA’s budget requests when disasters are more expensive than predicted, or have demanded that other valuable programs be cut to pay for them. The Ryan budget, which Mr. Romney praised as “an excellent piece of work,” would result in severe cutbacks to the agency, as would the Republican-instigated sequester, which would cut disaster relief by 8.2 percent on top of earlier reductions.

  • Washington Post opinion: Romney would pass the buck on disasters. By Eugene Robinson. Excerpts: Back when he was being “severely conservative,” Mitt Romney suggested that responsibility for disaster relief should be taken from the big, bad federal government and given to the states, or perhaps even privatized. Hurricane Sandy would like to know if he’d care to reconsider.

    The absurd, and dangerous, policy prescription came in a GOP primary debate in June. Moderator John King said he had recently visited communities affected by severe weather and noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency “is about to run out of money.”

    “There are some people . . . who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role,” King said. “How do you deal with something like that?”

    Romney replied: “Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” ...

    Now, with an unprecedented and monstrous storm bashing the East Coast, this glib exercise in ideological purity is newly relevant. Was Romney really saying that the federal government should abdicate the task of responding to natural disasters such as the one now taking place? Yes, he was. Did he really mean it? Well, with Romney, that’s always another question.

  • Washington Post: Romney goes off-road with the truth. By Dana Milbank. Excerpts: Mitt Romney spoke to supporters in the Ohio town of Defiance last week, but his words came from the twin cities of Duplicity and Deception.

    “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China,” the Republican presidential nominee proclaimed, referring to the automaker President Obama saved from dissolution with taxpayer funds. “I will fight for every good job in America.”

    The truth, however, was roughly 180 degrees opposite Romney’s claim. Chrysler, which owns the Jeep label, has added about 7,000 jobs in North America since it emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in June 2009, and it continues to expand its U.S. workforce and to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in American plants. ...

    Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” Chrysler executive Gualberto Ranieri wrote in a statement, using italics for emphasis. “A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.” Ranieri said the conclusion that it was moving all production to China was “a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.”

    But in the game of trickery, Romney is exceedingly dexterous. A couple of days later, his campaign came out with an ad in Ohio repeating the allegation in a way that tweaked the wording to make it technically true, while continuing to give the same false impression: “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.” ...

    The fast-and-loose with Jeep points to a troubling Romney instinct: When the stakes are high, as they are for him in must-win Ohio, the truth is often the first casualty.

    It’s difficult to quantify a candidate’s relationship with the facts, but The Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, has calculated that, for much of the campaign, Romney and Obama were roughly even in their prevarications — until the past few months, when Romney has sharply ramped up his output of falsehoods. ...

    A Romney adviser said this summer that “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers” — and on Tuesday, they proved it. The Post’s Greg Sargent reported that the campaign had bought radio time for another ad in Toledo — just up the road from Defiance — where the Chrysler plant is located.

    By making Jeeps in China, the ad alleged, Chrysler was breaking “the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo . . . the same hard-working men and women who were told that Obama’s auto bailout would help them.”

    When it comes to the truth, Romney still lives in Defiance.

  • Washington Post opinion: Warfare waged by the upper class. By Katrina vanden Heuvel. Excerpts: In an era of Gilded Age inequality, we’ve witnessed the first act of class warfare waged by the upper class. Wall Street bankers, miffed that they weren’t worshiped after blowing up the economy and getting bailed out by taxpayers, anted up millions to displace President Obama. Running for reelection, Sen. Sherrod Brown, a tribune for working people, witnessed more than $30 million in outside money — much of it anonymous — flood Ohio with negative ads against him.

    Republicans finally settled on a true Plutarch — Mitt Romney — as their banner carrier. Romney has waged a campaign of upper-class disdain for the electorate. He was the “gated candidate.” He didn’t let his presidential race impede plans for a multimillion-dollar expansion of one of his beach homes, complete with elevators for his cars. He scorned revealing tax returns that would reveal the dodges and havens he exploited to pay a lower rate than do the cops who patrol his streets.

    His disdain was reflected in his agenda. He called for tax cuts for all — particularly the wealthy — without revealing how he would pay for them. He called for deep cuts in domestic spending without revealing what he would cut, other than Big Bird. He called for repealing Obamacare without revealing what he would replace it with. He called for turning Medicare into a voucher system that would put more costs on seniors without revealing how he thought they would pay for it. He championed a “territorial” corporate tax system that would make any profit earned abroad tax-free — giving multinationals multimillion-dollar incentives to move jobs or report profits abroad. ...

    Obama inherited an economy in free fall, a financial system on the verge of collapse, a plummeting housing sector. He faced immediate, unrelenting and treacherous obstruction from Republicans willing to risk the economy to gain partisan advantage. Yet his policies have provided the United States with a better recovery than any other industrial nation has seen.

  • National Memo: No Denial: ‘Son Of Detroit’ Profited From Bailout — And Jobs Shipped To China. By Joe Conason. Excerpts: “I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars,” said Mitt Romney on Monday night when he met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy. “And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry.”

    That might be considered true—unless moving the most important American auto parts manufacturer to China counts as hurting the U.S. auto industry. But those words now stand as one of Romney’s most glaring falsehoods in the final debate.

    Romney’s defensive statement came in response to a remark by Obama noting that the Republican nominee is “familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas.” Moments later, he added: “If we had taken your advice, Governor Romney about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.”

    Most viewers had little idea what Obama was talking about or why Romney felt the need to rebut him so specifically. But their coded exchange almost certainly referred to an investigative report that broke wide on the Internet, without much attention from the mainstream media so far—Greg Palast’s article in The Nation magazine, exposing Romney’s huge profits from Delphi, a crucial auto parts company that moved nearly all of its jobs to China after taking billions in auto bailout money from the Treasury.

    As Palast reported, the Romneys made millions from that intricate deal, put together by one of his main campaign donors, billionaire investor Paul Singer — through a “vulture fund” known as Elliott Management. Having bought up Delphi at fire-sale prices, Singer and his partners essentially blackmailed the Treasury into paying them billions so that Delphi would keep supplying parts to General Motors and Chrysler. They stiffed the company’s pensioners, pocketed the bailout funds, and moved all but four of the firm’s 29 plants to China.

  • New York Times editorial: Romney Versus the Automakers. When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.

    Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.

    This started months ago when he realized that his very public 2008 stance against the successful and wildly popular government bailout of G.M. and Chrysler was hurting him in the valuable states of Ohio and Michigan. In February, he wrote an essay for The Detroit News calling the bailout “crony capitalism on a grand scale” because unions benefited and insisting that Detroit would have been better off to refuse federal money. (This ignores the well-documented reality that there was no other cash available to the carmakers.) ...

    Nearly 1.5 million people are working as a direct result of the bailout. Ohio’s unemployment rate is well below the national average. G.M.’s American sales continue to increase, and Chrysler said this week that its third-quarter net income rose 80 percent. These companies haven’t just bounced back from the bottom; they are accelerating.

    What Mr. Romney cannot admit is that all this is a direct result of the government investment he would have rejected. It’s bad enough to be wrong on the policy. It takes an especially dishonest candidate to simply turn up the volume on a lie and keep repeating it.

    By doing that in a flailing, last-minute grab for Ohio, Mr. Romney is providing a grim preview of what kind of president he would be.

  • Huffington Post, courtesy of AlterNet: Let's Call the "Grand Bargain" What It Is: The Grand Betrayal of the American People. If Obama tries to unravel the social safety net in a second term, he'll be in for a fight. By Bill Black. Excerpts: Robert Kuttner has written much of the column I intended to write on this subject, so I will point you to his excellent column and add a few thoughts. Kuttner wrote to warn that Obama intends to seek a “grand bargain” causing the U.S. to adopt the type of austerity program that threw the Eurozone back into a gratuitous recession.

    Worse, Obama intends to begin to unravel the safety net (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) to convince the Republicans to enter into this Faustian bargain. Just as only a conservative Republican could visit “Red” China, only a Democrat can begin the destruction of the safety net. The difference, of course, is that normalizing relations with China was a good thing while unraveling the safety net is a terrible thing.

    Wall Street’s greatest desire is privatizing Social Security. Wall Street stands to make scores of billions of dollars annually in additional fees should it ever buy enough politicians to privatize Social Security. The Republican Party’s greatest goal is unraveling the safety net. They always wish to attack the most successful and popular programs introduced by the Democratic Party. Their problem is that they know it is toxic for Republican candidates to try to destroy the safety net. Only Democrats, through a “Great Betrayal” can give Republicans the political cover they need to unravel the safety net.

    The safety net is so popular with the American people because it consists of superb programs that constantly put the lie to Republican memes that the government is incapable of success. There is no need to allow Social Security to “go bankrupt.” The necessary expenditures can easily be made by the Treasury.

    There is a need to contain the rise in medical costs, but we know how to do that without harming health outcomes. Most advanced nations attain the same health outcomes at half the expense (relative to GDP) of the U.S. Obama’s opposition to the “public mandate” was a grave mistake that needs to be reversed.

  • NBC News: Ad spending closes in on $1 billion. By Domenico Montanaro. Excerpts: Team Romney, including the campaign and groups supporting the Republican challenger, are outspending Team Obama $96.4 million to $46.2 million this week. Accounting for this massive spending disparity, there are 11 outside groups pitching in to support Romney this week while just two are doing the same for Obama. ...

    The vast majority of outside money has gone to support Romney. In fact, 85 percent of all outside money poured in during this campaign has gone to support Romney or oppose Obama.

    Nearly two-thirds -- 63 percent -- of all the money going to support Romney has come from outside groups. By contrast, just 16 percent of the money supporting the president has come from outside groups.

  • Toledo Blade: UAW says Romney got $15M from auto bailout. By Mark Reiter. Excerpts: The leaders of two unions on Thursday accused GOP candidate Mitt Romney of failing to disclose profits he made from the auto bailout and asked a federal agency to investigate his investments.

    Tom Woodruff, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, and United Auto Workers President Bob King called on the presidential candidate to disclose his financial dealings in the investment group that purchased Delphi Corp., a former subsidiary of General Motors. ...

    Some of the allegations made by the group are based on an Oct. 17 article in the Nation magazine that reported the Romney family personally profited at least $15.3 million from the auto rescue of 2009 through his investment in Delphi, a supplier of auto parts to Chrysler and GM.

  • Detroit Free Press: GM calls latest Romney auto ad 'politics at its cynical worst'. By Nathan Bomey and Brent Snavely. Excerpts: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has broadened his attack on President Barack Obama’s auto industry restructuring, implying that General Motors used the aid to hire more workers in China than in the U.S.

    “Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio or China?” says the narrator in a radio spot running in Ohio. “Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs, but they are planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China. And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in, you guessed it, China.”

    GM quickly defended its performance.

    “We've clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said. “No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

    Separately, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne used an e-mail to employees today to refute the implication in a Romney TV ad that Chrysler may move all Jeep production from the U.S. to China.

    “Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” Marchionne stated in the e-mail. “The numbers tell the story,” followed by specific investments Chrysler has made at its plants in Detroit, Toledo and Belvidere, Ill. “Those include more than $1.7 billion to produce the successor of the Jeep Liberty and hire about 1,100 workers on a second shift by 2013.”

If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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