Expand and loot

Good news (via Politico) for Pennsylvania:

Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is planning a Monday press conference to throw his support behind a version of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, industry and legislative sources tell POLITICO.

Corbett’s eyeing versions of expansion that rely on private-sector health plans rather than adding to the public Medicaid rolls, similar to approaches being considered in Iowa and Arkansas, according to the sources. The approach would bring in billions of Obamacare dollars marked for states that back expansion and use them to buy private insurance for the state’s poorest residents.

Medicaid expansion is a good thing for the working poor in Pennsylvania.  The Oregon study strongly indicated that Medicaid significantly improves health and quality of life for its recipients.  Pennsylvania is one of the last Obama voting states that had been holding out  and it is a large hold-out.

The bad news on this probable announcment is that the expansion is being done in a cockamanie manner designed to prove that government can’t work.  Simply expanding state Medicaid elibigibility rules would be faster and cheaper (as Medicaid pays a low reimbursement rate) than sending people to exchanges for products that have yet to be designed.  Two steps forwards, one step back and then a piroutte towards social justice…..

Focus group

We’re getting set to try to pass a local tax levy to build a new public school. As you know, I am a public school enthusiast but I also have a child in the local school system and we need a new school.

Because this is a majority Republican county and city I will be working with mostly Republicans to pass a tax levy. Obviously, these aren’t the Tea Party “base” of the GOP. These Republicans support “government schools” and also are mindful of the fact that tangible things like “schools” and “parks” and “libraries” don’t just form like Fruit On the Tree of Liberty and then drop to the ground to be gathered, but have to be paid for with taxes and then built. I think you would all call the levy people Chamber of Commerce Republicans, and that would be exactly what they are except they’re all in Rotary here, not the Chamber.

I have worked with some of them once before on a library levy, in 2006. In that campaign, we did what is called a “stealth levy.” A stealth levy is where one puts the tax increase on the ballot in a low-turnout election cycle and then targets supporters rather than do a big general push because the theory is a big general push only fires up the anti-tax people. The stealth levy worked, BTW, so don’t come crying to me with your “ethical” concerns on stealth. We won’t be using that this time out because there’s already been public meetings and such on finalizing the building proposal and now funding for that specific building plan will go on the ballot.

I’ll do GOTV which I like to think I am quite good at and don’t need any help with but I also will have to make some sort of “pitch” for the tax to local Democrats and, also, people who generally don’t vote. I know what I’ll say to (current) school parents, but what’s the best selling point for people who 1. no longer have children in the system, and 2. never had or never will have children in the system?

A practical hard-nosed explanation of why we need a new school? Property values? For The Children? Civic duty?

The tax isn’t that much so quit being such Dickensian misers? I voted for the senior center levy and I’m not a senior?

The general lay of the land is the public school is a big part of the town. Sporting events, music, social lives of parents, etc. It’s a rural school in a solidly working class/middle class area, so it’s not ultra-fabulous or state of the art or anything, but the (probably dicey and perhaps completely invalid) “grade” of the school is “excellent.” Also, all the employees live here and teachers (although they are union thugs) are not reviled and loathed. All three local judges are married to teachers and the mayor was a teacher before he was a mayor. Political environment would thus be: generally favorable toward public school system BUT read my lips no new taxes (knee-jerk default position).

Saving us all from the threat of health insurance

Good for her for keeping Medicaid expansion in the news:

Democratic Sen. Capri Cafaro unveiled during a Tuesday news conference the latest legislative measure aimed at reforming and expanding Medicaid in Ohio. And while Cafaro’s proposal included some new policy, the senator focused mostly on trying to dispel a central Republican complaint — Medicaid expansion would siphon money from state coffers. Cafaro argues that expanding Medicaid would save Ohio billions.
The Northeast Ohio senator provided an analysis of Medicaid spending by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio and Ohio State University that showed that the state’s Medicaid spending would reach $17.4 billion in 2025 if no expansion is agreed to. Ohio could save up to $3.2 billion during that period if lawmakers pass an expansion, according to the analysis.
The GOP-controlled legislature jettisoned the expansion, and a handful of bills circulating the Statehouse seek to reform or expand the federal program.

Cafaro’s legislation is supported by Senate Democrats. No Republicans have endorsed the measure.
“Given what we have laid out, why would somebody not support this?” Cafaro said. “We’ve taken the cost considerations off the table. We are promoting efficiency, we are promoting shared responsibility by both individuals and providers…and we are covering more people. I’d like to know why somebody would say no.”

We already know why Republicans say no, because the Ohio Tea Party has one issue and that issue is opposition to Obamacare. Without that opposition, the Ohio Tea Party has absolutely nothing to offer or talk about and they go back to being what they were prior to Obamacare – the same old cranky and disgruntled GOP base:

The most outspoken House Republican supporter of Medicaid expansion (not much competition for that distinction) has attracted attention from the Toledo Tea Party, which is actively seeking a candidate to challenge her in the 2014 primary.
Rep. Barbara Sears of Sylvania, a member of the House GOP leadership team and considered one of the most knowledgeable members on Medicaid and health care, has backed Gov. John Kasich’s effort to expand Medicaid to Ohioans making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The expansion is possible under Obamacare – an association that prompted Tea Party groups in Ohio earlier this year to threaten GOP lawmakers with primary challenges if they support it.
The Toledo Tea Party quotes Linda Bowyer, spokeswoman for Conservative Coalition: “NWOCC supporters are very upset with Rep Sears and her continuing efforts to implement Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.” She added: “We’ve been interviewing candidates throughout northwest Ohio. Our supporters have made it clear to us that we need to support candidates who will actively work to oppose Obamacare, and oppose any candidate that is working to implement Obamacare.”
Sears said she is confident she will prevail in next year’s election. Asked if she knows of any colleagues yet who are facing tea party primary challenges over Medicaid expansion, Sears said there is a reason her name is the only one on the expansion bill.

This probably doesn’t help her any:

considered one of the most knowledgeable members on Medicaid and health care

Oh, definitely get rid of her, then. Cull the knowledgeable members – immediately.

If It Quacks Like a Quack

The party of fiscal responsibility is hard at work policing uteri in North Dakota:

North Dakota already has spent more than $52,000 defending the 2011 state law, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Records show that Dr. Donna Harrison, the president the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has billed the state more than $49,000 to act as an expert witness.

In his ruling Monday, Corwin was highly critical of Harrison, saying her “opinions lack scientific support , tend to be based on unsubstantiated concerns and are generally at odds with solid medical evidence.”

The AAPLOG is all for trans-vaginal ultrasound, against insurance paying for contraception, and against Plan B. They think abortions cause breast cancer, cerebral palsy and a host of other ills, and they think the jury is out on whether having an IUD or taking the pill is committing abortion. I’d suggest checking their find a physician page to make sure your or your family member’s OB/GYN isn’t a cult member.

By the way, if anyone can track down the full text of Judge Wickham Corwin’s opinion in the East Central Judicial District of North Dakota, can you please send it to me or post in the comments? It sounds like a great read.

Senator Patrick Leahy Does Not Love The Smell Of Bacon In The Morning

The Vermonter doesn’t miss much (via TPM):

Senators have been negotiating for days and late into the night trying to gain more Republican support for this important immigration reform legislation.  Senators Hoeven and Corker have put together an aggressive package that will add new Republican support to our bipartisan effort and for that progress, I am grateful.

However, it is an understatement to say that this is not the amendment I would have drafted.  It is a disappointment to me and to many.  The modification to my amendment reads like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.  I am sure there are federal contracting firms high-fiving at the prospect of all of the spending demanded by Senate Republicans in this amendment.  The litany of expensive services, technology, and hardware mandated by this package is combined with an inexplicable waiver of many normal contracting rules.  This is a potential recipe for waste, fraud and abuse.

Just in case anyone had forgotten how the “party of fiscal responsibility” handles the cookie jar whenever it gets its grasping, grubby paws on it, Sen. Leahy is here to remind us:

It is astounding to me how far in the past the hard lessons we learned in Iraq appear to be.  All of us should remember the disgraceful conduct demonstrated by some private companies in Iraq which was uncovered by the work of the Special Inspector General for Iraq.

Oh, and about that compassionate conservatism thing (or whatever they’re rebranding it as now)?  Senator Leahy has been around that block once or twice before, and along with the pork, he smells the horseshit:

It is a cruel irony that when my friends on the other side of the aisle talk about border security, the high cost of implementing their favorite projects are absent from their discussion.  Yet, when we are talking about programs that help children who live near the poverty line, then suddenly, fiscal concerns are paramount.

Yup. That’s your modern Republican Party in a nutshell.  Millions for the defense of the comfortable.  Not one penny that could be seen as honoring the legacy of the man who talked of camels and needles’ eyes.


Leahy’s still voting in favor, because he’s a Democrat, which means he’s actually got an interest in governing, and serving the interests of this country.  He concludes his statement thusly:

One of the reasons I decided to continue chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee is because of this once-in-a-generation chance for us to truly reform our broken immigration system.  It is a tragic problem that calls out for a comprehensive solution.  There are too many families kept apart because of our broken immigration system, and there are too many people living in the shadows who should be allowed to earn their citizenship for us to fail them now.  We owe it to them, to people like Jose and Gaby and so many others, to get legislation passed.  So while I do not agree with the Republicans’ border demands, I will support this modification of my amendment because it is one of many tough choices necessary to continue making progress toward passage of this crucial bill.

That’s a good man, and a realistic one.  Be nice to have a few of those on the far side of the aisle.

Image:  Jacob Jordaens, Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, 1647