I could have figured this out without the chart below posted at Yahoo News:

One of the main things that makes the difference in the Texas health insurance premiums is the law passed on Texas regarding medical lawsuits.

According to the article:

Perry's most significant achievement on health care was a successful 2003 attempt to convince voters, over the determined opposition of trial lawyers, to amend the Texas Constitution to cap non-economic medical malpractice damages at $250,000 from a physician and $500,000 from hospitals and other providers: an issue that most physicians believe is at the heart of what drives wasteful health spending.

The article also points out some of the other factors involved in Governor Perry's successful healthcare reform in Texas--the legislature Governor Perry was dealing with in Texas was made up of conservative Republicans, when Romneycare was passed in Massachusetts, Governor Romney was dealing with a liberal Democrat legislature.  Governor Romney probably prevented Romneycare from being even worse than it is.  The other thing to consider is that generally the cost of living in Massachusetts is higher than the cost of living in Texas.  The article cites a CNBC survey that ranks Texas eighth-best, and Massachusetts ninth-worst, for cost of living.

The article also has a chart showing how the law in Texas has impacted malpractice claims:

I think the chart above is one of the best arguments for tort reform that I have seen.

Please follow the link to the article at Yahoo News--there is a lot of good information there and also a few very illustrative charts.

The article concludes:

As I said at the top, who you favor between Romney and Perry will depend in large part upon what your priorities are in health care policy. My personal view is that universal coverage is meaningless, if the ultimate consequence of universal coverage is that people can't afford, or gain access to, basic health care. It is Rick Perry's Texas that has done more to keep the growth of health costs down, and we should spend more time drawing lessons from his Lone Star State.

Governor Romney is a very nice man.  I think he did a reasonable job as governor of Massachusetts, but I for one am ready for a Rick Perry in the White House.

Yesterday the Wyofile, a website dedicated to reporting on Wyoming reported that U.S. Federal Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled against an Interior Department's 2010 guidelines on categorical exclusions.  These guildelines were put in place to curtail the use of "categorical exclusions" in permitting oil and gas drilling.

 According to the article:

The plaintiff, industry trade group Western Energy Alliance, successfully argued that the guidance was invalid, in part, because it wasn't created under a formal process that includes public comment. Yet the "categorical exclusion" itself is a procedural tool that allows industry to bypass -- at the permitting stage -- a formal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) analysis that includes public comment.

According to an article in yesterday's New York Times, Judge Freudenthal stated:

"Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury," she said. "Those injuries are supported by the administrative record."

I gladly admit that I don't fully understand the legal ins and outs of this argument.  What I do understand is that the courts are beginning to undo some of the power grabs put in place by some of the more radical environmentalists in the Obama Administration.  Because of the environmental agenda, a lot of America's natural energy resources are being ignored while we continue our dependence on foreign sources with governments that use to money to wage war against us.  That is not a good thing, but I believe it is slowly changing. 

I am sure this is one of many battles to come.

As most Americans are counting their pennies as they plan their family vacations this summer, they are financing a Hawaian vacation for a fortunate bunch of Congressional staffers. 

The article reports:

The entire press staff of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is in Maui, even though a field hearing there won't happen until next Wednesday.

Your tax dollars at work.  The hearings will be held there because Hawaii is the home of Senator Daniel Akaka, who is the committee chairman.  It is unclear whether the committee will deal with any issues related to Hawaii. 

The article further reports:

The Democratic committee staffers used taxpayer funding to travel to Hawaii a full week before their committee's hearing date.  When The DC called the committee's Washington, D.C., office Thursday afternoon, a different staffer who answered the phone said all the committee's communications staffers are already in Maui.

And we wonder why we have a deficit?

Reuters is reporting that the Appeals Court for the11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, ruled today that the individual mandate, the funding mechanism for Obamacare, is unconstitutional. This is the last step before the case goes before the United States Supreme Court. 

The article reports:

The case stems from a challenge by 26 U.S. states which had argued the individual mandate, set to go into effect in 2014, was unconstitutional because Congress could not force Americans to buy health insurance or face the prospect of a penalty.

The question at the bottom of this case is simple, "Can the government force you to buy something you may not want to buy?"  I think that the answer to this question is common sense, but our courts are not always known for common sense.  The individual mandate was going to be the money source for Obamacare--if everyone is forced to buy insurance, the risk pool is larger, and theoretically, the individual cost goes down.  On paper, this means that everyone has a primary care physician and the lines at the emergency rooms are made up of people there only for an emergency, and thus the lines are shorter.  This was part of the plan in Massachusetts, and the lines at the emergency room are still as long as they were before we had Romneycare.  Plus the cost of our health insurance in Massachusetts has risen faster than the rest of the country, and some insurance companies are not providing the coverage they provided before Romneycare.  Our state health insurance has gotten more expensive with less coverage under Romneycare.  I have no reason to believe Obamacare on a national level would be any different.  On a personal note, I just paid over $3,000 out of pocket for cataract surgery and the appropriate lens--and I have good health insurance!

Anyway, stay tuned.  It will be a while before this is decided.  The thing to keep in mind here is that this is a race against the clock.  The mechanisms of Obamacare will begin to kick in in the next two years.  The increased taxes for Obamacare will begin to impact the average American in January 2013--right after the 2012 election.  If Obamacare is not stopped within the next year, stopping it may be moot.  We need to do this as soon as possible.  There are two ways to stop Obamacare--the courts, which are not always dependable, and the 2012 election, which may or not be dependable.  I just hope one of them works in time.

ABC News at WTVD-TV, serving Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, reported yesterday that four Wake County residents have been charged with voter fraud for voting twice in the last presidential election. 

The article reports:

According to arrest warrants, Leache filed a no-excuse absentee application on Oct. 29, 2008, as well as voted at the polling place on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Raleigh on Nov. 4.

Leache later admitted to authorities that she did vote twice in the presidential election.

Hodges and McLean - who also is facing unrelated charges from this past June - both each participated in early voting at Chavis Heights Community Center in Raleigh and later voted on Election Day at their local fire department polling place, according to court documents.

They also admitted to the charges.

The article describes the fourth voter:

A fourth person, 54-year-old Lela Devonetta Murray of Edwards Mill Road in Raleigh, was also charged with voter registration fraud.

Authorities charge that she voted on Election Day 2010 as a transfer voter in one precinct and then voted on Election Day provisionally in another precinct. The reason given for the second vote was "wrong precinct."

This incident underscores the need for better checking of voters during an election.  It also shows the dangers of early voting.  The fraud was discovered because someone investigated, but we should be able to check our voting records a lot sooner than these records were checked.  We need voter identification laws that protect the concept of one man, one vote.  Anything else cancels the votes of those of us who only vote once.

Real Clear Politics reported yesterday that President Obama's Press Secretary, Jay Carney, stated in answer to a question asked by a Wall Street Journal reporter on how extending unemployment benefits creates jobs,  "It is one of the most direct ways to infuse money directly into the economy because people who are unemployed and obviously aren't running a paycheck are going to spend the money that they get. They're not going to save it, they're going to spend it. And with unemployment insurance, that way, the money goes directly back into the economy, dollar for dollar virtually."  Jay Carney further stated, "Every place that, that money is spent has added business and that creates growth and income for businesses that leads them to decisions about jobs, more hiring. So, there are few other ways that can directly put money into the economy than applying unemployment insurance."

President Obama is pushing for further extension of unemployment benefits currently maxing out at 99 weeks--that's almost two years. 

The article further reports:

"Carney estimates that unemployment benefits could create up to one million jobs. However, then he talks about how a possible natural disaster could hurt US economy as well as the global economy."

I don't even know where to start.  I might mention an article at rightwinggranny from May of last year.

I reported:

"Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate, and some of its residents are rejecting job offers in order to continue collecting unemployment.  The landscaping industry is finding that some workers are choosing to stay home and collect unemployment rather than working (and paying the expenses involved in working--travel, gas, meals, etc.). "

I doubt that extending unemployment for more than two years creates jobs--between human nature and the fact that people on unemployment spend their money on necessities--they generally don't have the extra money to stimulate the economy.  We don't need to extend unemployment, we need to get the government off the back of the private sector so that businesses can create jobs.  The idea that the Obama Administration believes that extending unemployment creates jobs is simply amazing.  They don't understand economics and they don't understand human nature.

After years of extensive lobbying for federal dollars, a 1987 public works bill appropriating funding for Boston's Big Dig was passed by U. S. Congress, but it was subsequently vetoed by President Ronald Reagan as being too expensive. When Congress overrode his veto, the project had its green light and ground was first broken in 1991.  The project was declared completed on December 31, 2007, when the partnership between the program manager and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority ended. The Big Dig cost three times what the Panama Canal cost and was paid for by federal dollars--all Americans paid for it.  I apologize on behalf of the people of Massachusetts--not only were we ripped off, we ripped off the rest of America.

Well, the Big Dig has a new problem.  According to the Boston Herald, Massachusetts transportation officials revealed yesterday that a sinkhole 4 feet deep and up to 190 feet long has created a "void" under the Interstate 90 connector tunnel.  The officials insist that there is no risk of collapse of the tunnel.  (I think I would look for alternate routes.) 

The article reports:

"The gap 9 feet under the tunnel's roadway, filled with water and resembling a subterranean pond, was caused by an unexpected degree of settling of the clay soil around the tunnel as a result of a pioneering technique called "ground freezing" while contractors dug under the train tracks serving South Station."  

I would be the first person to say that Boston is cold, but even I am willing to admit that it thaws occasionally. 

The article further reports:

"The state expects to spend at least $15 million to repair the problem by drilling the area and filling it with concrete, once the ground finishes settling by 2014. It already has spent $1.2 million on a new pumping system after a tunnel ramp's sagging, 345-foot drainage pipe was damaged after sinking 8 feet.

"Eight sets of commuter rail and Amtrak tracks also have had to be repeatedly raised with ballast as the ground below has dropped 8 feet -- twice what engineers originally predicted it would sink when they proposed in 2000 to stabilize the ground above the tunnel while they excavated, by freezing it to a depth of 130 feet, DePaola said."

I have no answers for this.  It does seem to me that someone should be held responsible.  My first concern is the safety of the tunnel and of the commuter rail, but my second reaction is anger at a job done so poorly.  The Big Dig was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion.  It was completed nine years later at a cost of $22 billion (this includes the $7 billion in interest payments). 

The Big Dig is one of the best arguments I can think of against government highway projects.  I wonder if private contractors could have worked together to do this project--they probably could have done it less expensively and more safely.  Right now, I am convinced that the Big Dig is a $22 billion unsafe boondoggle.

I grew up in a very different time.  I remember when the first television came into the house.  I didn't find out that Rocky and Bullwinkle were in color until after I got married--when my husband and I bought our first color television set!  My children were raised with Sesame Street in its early days.  I still wonder about whether or not the very short segments contribute to ADD or ADHD, but since only one of my three children has the disorder, I tend to believe it is more genetic than Sesame Street related.  At any rate, I enjoyed Sesame Street and still watch it occasionally with my grandchildren.

On Tuesday the New York Daily News reported that there is an online campaign to have  lovable roommates Bert and Ernie get married. 

The article reports:

"More than 700 people have signed on to the petition, posted at change.org.

""We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful," reads the petition for the muppet merger. "It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different.""

Sesame Street is a show designed for pre-schoolers.  They do not need to know or care about exactly what the relationship between Bert and Ernie is. 

The article reports some of the common sense shown by the creators of Sesame Street:

"But the producers of Sesame Street say Bert and Ernie's relationship is purely platonic.

""Bert and Ernie are best friends," the non-profit Sesame Workshop said in a statement. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.

""Even though the Sesame Street Muppets ... possess many human traits and characteristics, they have no sexual orientation.""

The producers have it right.  I hope they are able to stand their ground.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on homosexual marriage, but small children do not need to be exposed to the controversy--they are children.  I like what the producers said about Bert and Ernie--they are there to teach that it's okay to be friends with people who are different.  That is a really good message that does not need to be complicated with controversy.

There are two sides to every story--in this case one side is told by the Washington Examiner yesterday and one side is told by the New York Times yesterday.   The story itself is the recall elections in Wisconsin.  The New York Times states that the fact that two Republicans were successfully recalled is a warning to 'union busters' that there is a price on their activities.  Well, that is an interesting premise, but the facts don't back it up.

The Washington Examiner takes a look at the two Republicans that lost:

"...the union-backed Democrats picked up only two state Senate seats in Wisconsin last night, at a staggering cost in time, effort, and of course money. One of the seats was solidly Democratic, held by a Republican due to an apparent fluke of nature. The other was held by an alleged adulterer who had moved outside his district to live with his young mistress, and whose wife was supporting his recall."

I don't mean to be cynical here, but I think if your wife leads the recall effort, you might have a problem.  Somehow the New York Times article omitted these facts.

A website called Ohio Commentary reported in July:

"Nancy Pelosi is holding a high-dollar fundraiser in D.C. for her PAC (America Votes Action Fund), with the money going to the Wisconsin recall election campaign.  Just two days ago, the national AFL-CIO and AFSCME both sent money to Wisconsin, over a million dollars, for the purpose of "educating" voters about atrocities committed by the Republican Senators."

I am thrilled to know that the unions could not buy this election. 

The New York Times article concluded:

"It was probably a stretch for union supporters to go after six incumbent senators, rather than concentrate their forces on the most vulnerable. Nonetheless, voters around the country who oppose the widespread efforts to undermine public unions -- largely financed by corporate interests -- should draw strength from Tuesday's success, not discouragement."

I would like to publicly state that I am not a corporate interest.  I am opposed to what unions have done to local governments because I am watching cities and towns struggle to pay their bills due to increasing pressure from unions to raise wages and benefits above those in the private sector.  Central Falls, Rhode Island, has recently gone bankrupt due to unfunded liabilities involving pensions and medical insurance for union members.  No one is trying to break the unions, they are simply trying to bring union demands into line with fiscal responsibility so that both municipal governments and unions can survive.

On Monday the Daily Caller ran an article about the estimate from the Congressional Budget Committee on the cost of Obamacare.  The problem with the Congressional Budget Committee is that their estimates of the cost of a program are based only on the information and figures they are given.  They can only estimate cost on the information they are given.  It has recently come to light that because they were not given complete information, the Congressional Budget Office underestimated the cost of Obamacare as much as $50 billion per year because they were not given an accurate picture of how the program would work.. 

The article reports:

"In May a congressional committee set the accounting rules that determine who will qualify for federal health care subsidies under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. When the committee handed down the rules to the Congressional Budget Office, its formula excluded the health care costs of millions of workers' spouses and children. The result was a final estimate for 2010 that hides those costs."

Since many people have families covered under their healthcare programs, that is an important fact.

The article further reports:

"But companies and their employees share great incentives to rearrange workers' compensation to win more of these federal subsidies, he said.

"For example, he explained, an employee can ask his employer to raise the price of company-provided insurance in exchange for an equal increase in salary. In many cases, that would boost the share of his income spent on health insurance to a percentage above the 9.5 percent threshold.

"Such an arrangement, Burkhauser (Richard Burkhauser an economist who teaches in Cornell University's department of policy analysis and management) added, would make the employee, his spouse, and his children all eligible for federal health care subsidies while enriching both employer and employee -- even after the Treasury Department collects fines from U.S. workers.

"Burkhauser's research found that because of the law's incentives, an extra one-sixth of workers who get their health insurance from employers -- or roughly an additional 12.7 percent of all workers -- would gain by transfering themselves and their families into the federal exchanges."

The problem here is that when you offer some people a free lunch, everyone wants one.  That is human nature, and until the government stops handing out free lunches, government spending will continue to spiral out of control.