Anthem

On Thursday, September 8, The New Republic, in partnership with the Kennedy Center and the Pentagon, commemorated the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11. Moderated by Christiane Amanpour, the event featured addresses by former Secretaries of State Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright; readings of verse by actress Melissa Leo; and musical performances by Wynton Marsalis, Emmylou Harris, and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others. Watch the event in its entirety at kennedycenter.org. National Anthem: 00:00:00 The U.S.

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The pop charts have gotten awfully crowded. There are still only ten songs in the Top Ten, although some could count as multiple songs for the way they combine elements grafted from other pieces of music. There’s nothing new or scandalous in that method, by which Lupe Fiasco employed parts of a Modest Mouse recording to make “The Show Goes On,” the number-nine hit on the Billboard singles chart this week. What’s extraordinary—in fact, unprecedented in the history of pop music—is the high number of ad hoc teams of collaborators named as artists.

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Fifty years from now, historians are going to study the way our political system handled -- or chose not to handle -- climate change. They'll be struck by moderates who were obsessed by other issues but attached no particular urgency to permanently altering the Earth's climate. They'll also be amazed that it was considered fairly unremarkable for a U.S. Senator to draw his understanding of carbon policy from cult novelist Ayn Rand.

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Adaptation

Earlier this month, in a profile of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, I identified two tactical mistakes the president had made while trying to pass health care reform. The first was his extensive efforts to reach a bipartisan deal—in particular, allowing Montana Senator Max Baucus to negotiate with Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee through most of the summer before weighing in. The second was Obama’s decision to attack insurance companies late last July after months of trying to co-opt them and other powerful groups.

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Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access Weblog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. For weeks, President Obama has not mentioned health reform without invoking the premium rate hikes of up to 39% of Anthem Blue Cross of California, my state’s largest insurer.

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Tangled up in Blue

When Alma Dickson slipped on an icy sidewalk in Dallas, Texas, she knew she was hurt. But she wasn’t sure that she could pay for the medical care she needed. The year was 1929 and Dickson, a schoolteacher, didn’t make enough money to pay for x-rays and treatment on her own. But Dickson had recently signed up for something new: A plan under which she paid a monthly premium in exchange for a promise of care at a local Dallas hospital.

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The Perfect Storm

Marc Ambinder has a nice analysis of how health care reform came back to life after the Scott Brown election in January. He calls it a "perfect storm": President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress made some smart choices, but they also benefited from good fortune, in the form of outside events that helped alter the political landscape. Chief among these was the decision by Anthem Blue Cross in California to announce its huge premium increases. Ambinder's summary is a good way to catch up on the debate if you've been tuned out for the last few weeks.

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Text of President Obama's speech today via the White House: Good afternoon. We began our push to reform health insurance last March with the doctors and nurses who know the system best, and so it is fitting to be joined by all of you as we bring this journey to a close. Last Thursday, I spent seven hours at a summit where Democrats and Republicans engaged in a public and substantive discussion about health care. This meeting capped off a debate that began with a similar summit nearly one year ago. Since then, every idea has been put on the table. Every argument has been made.

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When the administration proposes a final vision for health care reform, in advance of Thursday's bipartisan meeting, it will propose giving the federal government more authority to block exorbitant premium increases, at least for people buying coverage on their own (rather than through an employer). The proposal, first reported in the New York Times and then described in more detail by a senior administration official, has the potential to help protect consumers from precisely the sort of increases Anthem Blue Cross of California has proposed for some of beneficiaries.

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One reason people are skeptical of health care reform is that they don't believe it will help reduce their insurance premiums. On Monday, President Obama will give at least some of these people reason to rethink that skepticism. As part of the proposed House-Senate compromise the administration is unveiling at the White House website, Obama will call for improving the regulation of insurance rates for people who buy individual policies through the new insurance exchanges.

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