Republican attack on the poor

A Cooper Veto of the Budget is exciting pundits

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Concurring on the concurrence is the question:

The length of the 2019 legislative session — outside another rash of extra sessions — could come down to whether Gov. Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats are willing to bog down the state budget process for the sake of inserting some form of Medicaid expansion.

Cooper could also choose to veto the Republicans’ compromise budget bill to highlight disagreements over public education and environmental issues as well.

Maybe even more than the Governor, this is a test of the willpower of NC House Republicans. The Senate's Budget is a stinking mess, and unless the House can wrangle some fairly serious changes, Cooper is going to have to Veto the thing. Don't usually lean on Puppet quotes to drive home a point, but Mitch Kokai makes some good ones:

Everything that's wrong with NC Republicans in one picture

Dollars and sense: Medicaid expansion in NC is long overdue

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If saving lives isn't enough for you, how about saving rural hospitals?

The data are overwhelming. In states that have expanded, the move has been a boon, both for the health of patients, the strength of local economies bolstered by thousands of new health care jobs, and increased stability, in particular, for rural hospitals that have been buffeted by changes rocking the health care system.

“There’s more data that’s showing a link to employment, overall better economic conditions,” said Hemi Tewarson, director of the health division at the National Governors Association. “There have been studies done that show rural hospitals have done better in expansion states compared to non-expansion states, primarily because they have another stream of reimbursement that has kept them more stable.”

As long as the bulk of our health care system remains in the private sector, we must enact programs that make rural hospitals and clinics "economically viable." If we don't, rural folks will end up having to travel 75 miles or more to be treated. That's simply too far for "well-care" visits, so most of those trips will be for serious (if not life-threatening) injuries or illnesses. It's those regular visits that can extend lives and improve the quality of those lives:

The legalization of marijuana can no longer be ignored by Democrats

Pay close attention, because the your base surely is:

The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.

Numerous states already have or soon will legalize the use of marijuana in one shape or another, but North Carolina (not to mention the Federal government) is still incarcerating tens of thousands under its misguided "War On Drugs" mentality. You can beat somebody until they're almost lifeless, or defraud them out of their family's meager savings, and get less jail time than having a half-pound of a certain plant, and when that insanely warped system of (in)justice falls heavily on young black males, the motives behind it become crystal clear:

Berger gets fact-checked on his attack of Medicaid expansion

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He's not the sharpest tool in the shed:

In his shot-across-the-bow statement, Berger listed what he called seven fictional claims by Democratic supporters of expansion, along with what he touted as facts refuting the claims. It appears many of Berger’s points come from the right-leaning Foundation for Government Accountability.

Berger said Democratic claims “are simply misleading at best and purposely deceptive in some instances.”

We've had several years of looking on longingly at other states (who aren't plagued by ideologues), and the evidence is overwhelming. Expanding Medicaid is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do, as well. Here are a couple of Berger's misfires:

Washington County Hospital joins ranks of NC's failing rural health care system

Another victim of privatization:

Washington County Hospital CEO Melanie Perry tells WCTI in New Bern that the facility's owner has plans to resolve several problems, including dwindling medical supplies and workers not getting paid for two weeks. Empower HMS promised 50 employees that checks would arrive Monday, but staff members said they never came. There has been no word on when or if the medical supplies will be replenished.

Perry said closing the county's only hospital would be devastating to the town of Plymouth, approximately 125 miles east of Raleigh.

Before we dig deeper into this unfortunate situation, a few words on how this could have been avoided are in order. When a public (municipal) entity provides a service, whether it's health care, transportation, water & sewer, or any other critical infrastructure issue, all considerations about turning a profit (net revenue gain, if you will) or even "breaking even" should be disregarded. Providing services to citizens is what government is for, and that's why we pay taxes. And this goes double in rural areas, where the economy simply cannot support/sustain a perpetually profitable business. Had local elected officials understood that back in 2007, they might not have sold this hospital in the first place. Because once a facility like this enters the private sector, the sharks start circling:

Gene Nichol on poverty: "They are invisible to us."

Should be required reading for all Democratic candidates:

Nichol builds his case by weaving together the ugly data points about income, education, jobs, and health care with personal anecdotes from hundreds of interviews with the people most affected. It adds up to a damning narrative about a large and growing underclass fostered by callous policy-making in Raleigh and Washington.

“Scarcely a word about poverty is uttered in the halls of the General Assembly,” he writes. “Recent North Carolina governors have almost never mentioned it, regardless of political party.”

In defending our small town's public transportation funding, I've spoken several times about our collective responsibility to do what we can to ameliorate some of aspects of poverty. And I get a lot of nods, and polite applause. I have no doubt most of those folks are genuinely concerned, but I also have no doubt most of them don't believe anything will work. They're willing to dedicate a small amount of resources to it, but that's more about "feeling good" than it is about actually bringing about change. The book is available on Amazon and other outlets, and at UNC Press:

Shut down, shut out: Expiring HUD contracts threaten low-income families

As usual, Republican temper tantrums hurt the poor first and hardest:

"Funding these contracts is necessary to keep about 150, 000 deeply poor, mostly seniors and people with disabilities safely and affordably housed," said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Yentel worries that, with President Trump and Congressional Democrats at an impasse over border wall funding, the government will not reopen anytime soon. And that may force property owners to make business decisions that could adversely impact tenants. "Eventually these owners will have to resort to either significant rent hikes or evictions of these lowest-income renters," Yentel said.

Take a closer look at that map. North Carolina is literally blanketed with already expired or soon to be expired HUD contracts. Each dot represents dozens if not hundreds of folks who may be forced out of their homes because the Republican Party can't or won't keep their spoiled rich brat under control. More details:

Latest hog farm lawsuit ends with a sad joke

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At least a slap on the wrist hurts a little bit:

On Wednesday, the end to a month-long trial came after jurors returned verdicts in favor of all eight plaintiffs, who live near a Sampson County hog farm, and imposed compensatory damages of a little more than $100,000 in all. Neighbors said Smithfield Foods hog operations were damaging to their daily life, complaining of powerful odors, clouds of flies, midnight noises and screeching trucks. Plaintiffs argued they could not enjoy their property enough to host a family barbecue, let kids play outside or tend a garden.

This week’s verdict was the fourth loss for the North Carolina hog industry. The jury awarded $100 compensatory damages to four plaintiffs, $1,000 to two plaintiffs, $25,000 to one and $75,000 to another — an elderly woman who lived closest to the hog farm and grew up there.

A hundred dollars in compensation? What is this, 1818? How many days of work did those four people miss in this month-long trial? I have more questions, but it's doubtful I'd get a straight answer from idiots like Jimmy Dixon:

Three Americas? Jobs growth study dispels myths, exposes flaws

A rising tide actually drowns a lot of people:

When such cities as Atlanta and Charlotte enjoyed a job surge in the 20 years that began in 1990, for example, the job gains mostly bypassed residents — often African-American — who had been born into poverty. That is among the findings of a study led by Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist whose newly launched Opportunity Atlas found no association between job growth and economic mobility for poor residents of the affected areas.

“Job growth is not sufficient by itself to create upward mobility,” Chetty said. “It’s almost as though racial disparities have been amplified by job growth.” His finding challenges much of the conventional thinking, of government officials, business executives and economists, that job gains are the surest way to lift up people in impoverished communities.

I think one of the biggest mistakes many government officials make is placing high value on high average salaries, when it comes to recruiting businesses using incentives, anyway. Said company might "create" 300 good jobs, but when 85% of those jobs are taken by people moving to the area for just that reason, what has that accomplished in reducing local unemployment? Not a whole lot. And the more professional skills and certifications those jobs require, the less value to the community that new business represents. I realize many reading this may not agree, but take a quick look at your zip code before attempting to correct me:

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