In the past few days, the prospect of a default by the U.S. has gotten tangled up with the prospect of a downgrade of America's credit rating. It's worth pulling these two possibilities apart.
It's widely agreed that a default would be a very big deal and could cause huge economic problems. There also still seems to be pretty broad agreement — even at this late date (which may not be quite as late as we thought) — that a default is unlikely.
House Deputy Whip Tom Cole (R-OK) told NPR's Steve Inskeep today on Morning Edition why he's supporting the now-delayed Republican debt limit plan, championed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Cole needs to help find 218 votes to pass the plan in the chamber and he admits while there are some "challenges" facing him, he believes the vast majority of the Republican conference is behind Boehner's plan. He seems confident that he probably won't need Democratic votes to pass it.
Researchers who analyzed Medicare claims before and after the addition of prescription drug coverage in 2006 found the benefit trimmed about $1,200 a year that would have been spent on care in nursing home and hospitals.
The savings on medical care was calculated by comparing people who had little or no drug coverage before Medicare Part D was offered with those who had pretty good benefits all along.