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Monday, October 15, 2012

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Oct. 15

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Story of the day: As you've probably heard, Arlen Specter has died after a protracted battle with cancer. And as the Associated Press points out, his death comes as the political principles he espoused -- a sometimes maddening, sometimes inspiring failure to toe the party line -- are themselves on life support. We may not see his like again, at least not in the GOP.

Here's a shocker: The insurance industry has been rewarding politicians who support a Romney/style "voucher plan" for Medicare. "U.S. House Members who voted for Ryan's budget plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program have received nearly twice as much insurance industry campaign cash this cycle as those who voted against the bill," reports a pair of left-leaning healthcare-reform advocates. Among Pennsylvania representatives, the pattern isn't perfect, but even Tim Murphy -- long overlooked by industry execs -- is in the money.

The death of a Philadelphia-area police officer may spawn the revamping of a state law to oppose "straw purchases of firearms." Or not. We're talking gun legislation here, so it's hard to believe anything will happen. In this case, a previous law to punish those who buy guns for convicted criminals was accidentally voided by an unrelated court ruling. You'd think a legislature that passed such a rule once would do so again. But these are Republicans, and this is the NRA.

Once a boon to college students, a state agency may yet be their bane. PHEAA, which for years has provided low-interest loans to aspiring scholars, has been squeezed out of the lending market by federal reforms ... so it's turned to a more lucrative line of work: debt collection. And from the sound of it, the new hardball PHEAA makes student loan giant Sallie Mae sound like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

This sums up the Steelers fortunes: the only defensive lineman to show any real closing speed this season did so trying to evade the police. Rookie Alameda Ta'amu allegedly fled police -- by car and on foot -- who spotted him driving drunk. He now faces multiple counts, including felonies.

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