Tag Archive: Medicaid


Minnesota State Capitol (rbw)

Good news and bad news: Bad news first

As part of the nationwide Republican efforts to undermine public education, Minnesota House Member Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who is Chair of the House Education Committee, plans to eliminate state funding for programs that promote racial integration in Minnesota schools. The programs, which in Minneapolis provide some $480 per year per student, are intended to close the achievement gap between racial minorities in the classroom. Worse, Garofalo’s plan would re-work the formulae used to determine funding levels in state schools. The results could end up taking money from under-funded schools and give that money to schools that are already well-funded.

MinnPost reports:

Speaker Kurt Zellers said House Republicans are working “hand in glove” on both the state’s $5 billion budget deficit and on a “fundamental change in how we deliver government.”

Republicans highlighted efforts to streamline state agencies, improve the use of technology and consolidate operations, but the only specific figure was a $172 million savings from a proposed 15 percent state workforce reduction.

Indeed. The Republicans in Minnesota, just as in many other states are seeking to end government’s ability to deliver services.

In fact, the Minnesota State Government has published its bi-annual Tax Incidence Report. It reports a heavily regressive tax burden within the state, even when compared with historical averages. According to the report, the effective state tax rate for a member of the top 1% of income earners within Minnesota was 9.7% in 2008. Meanwhile, the effective tax rate for the poor is 32.5%. Hence, the wealthy are not paying their fair share in taxes.

Yet, the Republicans are also looking to slash funding for the state Medicaid programs, especially programs geared toward the poor and the infirm.

But that is not all. The Republicans are waging all-out war on the poor. Representatitve Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) has introduced a bill that would prevent those who use government assistance EBT cards from withdrawing cash on the cards at ATMs above – get this – $20 per month. The bill, H.F. 171, would also create problems because one of the reasons that people are now able to use the cards to withdraw cash is that many stores are not connected to the state EBT system.

$20 is not even enough to purchase a Minnesota Drivers license (current price – $43). And there are already Republican proposals to require a photo-ID in voting.

In addition, the bill appears to make it illegal for people under the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) to carry cash at all! Nor could they put any money into a checking or savings account.

Crooks and Liars relates testimony of Angel Buechner, from the Welfare Rights Committee, referring to the efforts of the Republicans on the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee:

“We’ll leave you with this. It is not right to punish a whole group because of the supposed actions of a few. You in this room could have a pretty rough time if that was the case. It is not right to stigmatize and dehumanize women living the hard life of trying to raise children while living 60% below the poverty level. It is not right to use racist, bumper-sticker hate to inflict human misery for political gain.”

Where would the sort of thinking that would make it illegal for poor people to carry cash come from? Well, let’s take a look at a Republican strategy meeting that too place at the conservative Hudson Institute to find out. There, National Review editor Kate O’Beirne suggested that the parents of children on school lunch programs were “child abusers”, because they can not afford a meal. “What poor excuse for a parent can not put together a bowl of cereal and a banana?” as she puts it. She argues that despite the fact that more and more families across the nation are finding it difficult to make ends meet (due to conservative economic policies), that there is no national solution to the problem because it is not “in Washington’s interests” to solve the crisis of child poverty. Perhaps that is because for her, national interests are solely geared toward tax cuts for the wealthy and wars abroad to fight over resources.

Republicans discuss public education and decry school lunch programs (Crooks and Liars)

Another panelist at this hearing said that safety in schools could not be guaranteed because, despite the national scope of the problem, it should not fall under the purview of the federal government. Yes, he essentially makes those two very statements one right after the other. That is the sort of callous bastard that is driving the economic and educational policy of the Republican Party right now.

Some good news…

Luckily, the press is beginning to ask some pointed questions, because Republican Party policies are currently being driven by their corporate benefactors who believe that the sole reason for the existence of the government is to load their own coffers. That is precisely why Republicans would begrudge the poor of any money to spend and why they believe that school lunch programs as a waste of money, despite the fact that they have been shown to improve student performance and help to increase upward mobility in society. There is a way to prevent corporations from holding such a grip on the political process that the process would realign itself to work against the interests of citizens.

Minnesota Democrats have introduced bills in the House and the Senate to rectify the problem. The bills, S.F. 683 and H.F. 914 would amend the Minnesota Constitution to define “person” to mean a “natural person”.

The distinction between “person” and “natural person” is vitally important. British common law has always made a distinction between “natural persons” (meaning people) and “artificial persons” (meaning organizations like churchs, businesses, etc.). Well, the Citizens United decision effectively eliminated the many of those distinctions by allowing corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money on elections. And they did. Now we can see how that has effected the political process. We now have people cutting back on schools so that big companies – already earning record profits – can earn more in tax breaks.

Minnesota is no different in this regard than other parts of the country. A recent article by the Star Tribune highlights the largest lobbying efforts in Saint Paul for 2010. More than $3 million in big business lobbying expenses arose that year and $1.8 million (60%) was due to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce alone. Big business is trying to buy the political process.

Author Thom Hartmann discusses corporate personhood (The Daily Take, RT)

So be sure to contact your Minnesota State Senators and House Representatives to give support to S.F. 683 and H.F. 914 in order to help the constitutional amendments to come to fruition. You had better believe that they will meet with strong resistance from the Republicans who currently hold majorities in the House and Senate.

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This is true only because Fox profits from human misery (via Slinking Toward Retirement)

Protests continue in the Midwest, amidst growing fortune

As the protests against Governor Walker’s Medieval and corrupt budget proposal continue in Wisconsin into their ninth day, cracks continue to form in the self-assured façade of the Governor. After being punked by a blogger from Buffalo in a phone call with a person he believed to be David Koch, Walker exuded corruption and cronyism. Though in a tense press conference after the new of the prank call came out, Governor Walker glossed over the overt signs of influence peddling and argued that this “distraction” will not prevent his budget bill from going through. Meanwhile, as the 14 Wisconsin Democratic Senators continue their exile in Illinois, new details of Walker’s plans come out:

1. He considered sending in thugs to create violence in the protests.
2. He plans to sell state assets to private interests in no-bid sales, even as his benefactors, the Koch brothers set up a lobbying office one block from the state capitol.
3. The “Budget Repair Bill” would give the Governor unilateral control over the state’s Medicaid program and could lead to a drastic reduction in coverage as well as the closure of 400 nursing homes in the state.
4. Details are emerging in which the governor would separate the flagship University of Wisconsin-Madison from the rest of the UW system. The school would have a new board of trustees, possibly stacked with corporatists who would like to privatize the campus.
5. In the phone call, there are numerous hints at ethics violations, possible trojan horses for Democratic Senators…
6. …and threats. Walker is threatening to lay off 1500 employees if his bill is not enacted, punishing the defenseless for his failure to pass a bill.
7. He is likely guilty of a number of ethics violations in relation to Koch Industries. This should be investigated in detail.

Meanwhile, the Indiana state Senate leader indicates that the draconian anti-union legislation making its rounds there are dead, killed by the flight of Democratic state Senators to Illinois à la Wisconsin. This signals the first major victory in Democratic opposition to the Byzantine anti-labor bills that have been promulgated by the Tea Party and the GOP. And another victory occurred in Ohion, where after a day of huge protests, the Ohio Senate has voted to allow collective bargaining for state employees, further isolating Wisconsin’s Walker who is in close contact with Ohio Governor Kasich (based on his own words). And the Governor of Florida backs away from anti-union legislation in a state that is ripe for major protests.

More protests around the country

More rallies took place around the country in solidarity with Wisconsin workers. Events were held in Washington D.C., Hartford,Nashville, Scranton, and thousands showed up to support Wisconsin workers in Atlanta despite a call for armed Tea Party counter-protesters. More protests are scheduled throughout the state of Wisconsin, as well as the rest of the country through the weekend. See bottom for a list of dates and locations.

DOMA

Congratulations, GLBT Community! The federal government no longer sees you as second-class citizens as President Obama announces that the Executive branch, on the advisement of the Justice Department, will no longer enforce defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)!

Upcoming rallies

Thursday, 24 February
Orlando, FL
Peoria, IL
Duluth, MN
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA

Friday, 25 February

Tucson, AZ
Morristown, NJ
Trenton, NJ
Portland, OR
Corpus Christi, TX
Spokane, WA

Saturday, 26 February

San Diego, CA
Dallas, TX
As well as 63 other gatherings in Madison and around the country!

Sunday, 27 February

West Bend, WI