Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:
...Red States adopting the total GOP assault on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) refused to accept federal funds for expanding Medicaid eligibility, leaving many of their citizens without coverage that they could receive under the act. But the Republican politics of damning anything associated with the ACA as the work of the devil has left many white and minority Americans in healthcare Hell.
Ironically, CNN notes that "most of the people who fall into the coverage gap live in the Bible Belt, a 14-state region in the South stretching from North Carolina to Texas and Florida." Yet, and this is why this GOP political act of condemning individuals, families and children to death or bankruptcy becomes relevant to religion. [...]
CNN did find a pastor or two who would go on record:
The Rev. Phil Wages, senior pastor Winterville First Baptist Church in Georgia and a blogger, was one of the few Bible Belt ministers willing to speak on the subject. [...]
“I have an issue with the government coming in to get money through me - through taxes - to take care of people, when my argument is that I should be free to give to charities or to my church in order to take care of the sick and destitute,” he says.
The most fundamental rebuttal to the argument of Rev. Wages is then why are so many millions of Americans without healthcare insurance if the churches are taking care of them?
After all, a lot of these people are low-paid working people who don't receive health insurance as part of their jobs [...]
Indeed, CNN includes a counter-argument to Rev. Wages:
Wages’ position is impractical and unbiblical, says Ronald Sider, a longtime advocate for the poor and author of “The Scandal of Evangelical Politics."
Churches and charities don’t have enough resources to take care of an estimated 48 million Americans who don’t have health care. The Bible is filled with examples of God's fury over economic oppression of the poor, which Christians should regard as scandalous, he says.
“If you are not sharing God’s concern for the poor, it raises huge questions about whether you are a Christian at all,” he says about pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor.
Anyone can deem themselves a good person by claiming to be "saved" by Jesus, but Jesus preached saving others from injustice, poverty and hunger.
You can't be "saved," until you understand that Jesus rebelled against those who sought financial gain at the expense of others. Jesus was an advocate of God's compassion toward all, particularly those scorned and left behind.
Meanwhile, millions in the Evangelical and Baptist South will continue to be the victims of a trumped up theology, rigged for those who find comfort in the words of pastors who sell the snake oil of "salvation."
Please read the entire post here.
Hey Gov. Walker, it was your choice to to have the federal government run Wisconsin's health care exchange.
Speaking of which, how nice that you allow yourself the freedom of choice, but you refuse to make that option available to women who seek health care services, including abortion. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says, ""We have a pro-life majority in the state Senate right now, and because of that there's always a willingness to work on" anti-abortion legislation, which caused one Wisconsin state Dem senator to expect "all out hell."
But I digress.
So Scotty, explain to all those families exactly what contingency plans you have if Obamacare enrollment is still glitchy, or if the federal government makes your plan impossible to implement. 77,000-plus inquiring minds want to know.
Because, see, there's a time gap that will affect people who will lose their BadgerCare (Medicaid) eligibility but would then have to meet the deadline to enroll in the Affordable Care Act via the marketplace.
How's that GOP outreach thing workin' for ya, Scotty?
Wisconsin health care advocates want Gov. Scott Walker to say what will happen with 77,000 adults being shifted off Medicaid in January if they are not able to get coverage through the new health insurance exchange in time. [...]
In late September, the state notified 77,000 people, most of them parents, that they might be affected. But letters letting people know for sure won’t be sent until Nov. 23, when the state expects to be ready to use new federal criteria to determine eligibility. [...]
In late September, the state notified 77,000 people, most of them parents, that they might be affected. But letters letting people know for sure won’t be sent until Nov. 23, when the state expects to be ready to use new federal criteria to determine eligibility.
Just in time for the holidays! Which party is waging a "War on Christmas" again?
What oh what would we Progressives do without Bernie Sanders? In today's Los Angeles Times, he wrote an op-ed laying out in very clear detail how to make wise choices about how to fix the economy.
Sanders, thankfully, is a member of a budget panel composed of Democratic, Republican and independent Senate and House members doing what they can, supposedly, to avoid another GOP government shutdown.
Senator Sanders explains how to move forward (as opposed to the same old backward, destructive GOP ideas), and how we managed to go from healthy surpluses to (unnecessary) deficits.
He reminds us that by the end of President Clinton's presidency, we had a a $236-billion surplus, and that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted a 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion, meaning we could have erased the national debt by 2011.
Too bad Republicans screwed that up.
And of course, they're blaming President Obama for the horrible outcomes of their horrible policies and horrible obstruction. Here's how it really went down:
Interestingly, today's "deficit hawks" in Congress — Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and other conservative Republicans — voted for those measures that drove up deficits. Now that they're worried about deficits again, they want to dismantle virtually every social program designed to protect working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor.
In other words, it's OK to spend trillions on a war we should never have waged in Iraq and to provide huge tax breaks for billionaires and multinational corporations.
Sanders goes on to say that austerity doesn't work, because it clearly hurts those who are already suffering.
At a time when we now spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we can make judicious cuts in our armed forces without compromising our military capability.
He also thinks it would be a swell idea if Congress members started, you know, listening to the American people, especially because so many polls show that we don't want cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In fact, according to a recent National Journal poll, 81% do not want to cut Medicare at all, 76% do not want to cut Social Security at all, and 60% do not want to cut Medicaid at all. Other polls make it clear that Americans believe that the wealthiest among us and large corporations must pay their fair share in taxes.
So, Republicans (and even some Dems), how about paying more attention to us, the voters, instead of trying to grab it all for yourselves? It's not about you. It's about all of us. It's about We the People.
There's something about the congenial way newsman and journalist Bill Moyers captures the essence of what's going on around him -- soft spoken, folksy and stingingly right on. He's blessed with acute observational skills, an even-keeled disposition and a soothing sanity. As they said about Orson Welles, "he could read you the phone book and make it sound interesting."
Maybe it's his years of experience, his dulcet tones or that his guiding light is his moral compass, but when you want to know how things are in America, there's no greater source or voice of sanity that Moyers. He's not afraid to call out any inconsistency with human nature, no matter what political side your political beliefs. He doesn't really take sides. He observes and he comments. During the government shutdown he made an amazingly astute video.
Moyers not only pointed out the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act, but also reminded us of the days before this lunacy, when law was law, and lawmakers worked to change laws they didn't agree with, rather than deliberately sabotage the economy, stability, and reputation of the nation in childish protest:
“When the president refused to buckle to their extortion, they threw their tantrum. Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the Union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn the place down, sink the ship of state, and sow economic chaos to get their way. This says it all, they even shuttered the Statue of Liberty.”
If it were my choice, I'd make it mandatory viewing for any incoming or incumbent congress person or senator.
See if you don't agree.
Damon A. Silvers is the director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO. Here he is on CNBC, and he killed it:
Right now 55% of Americans fear they're going to be economically insecure in their retirement. That's up from 33% 24 years ago. That's about the last thing we should do for our country is cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
Nobody's saying that there's not a good rationale for having these programs in place. Of course they're popular, of course people want to make sure that our citizens are taken care of. But that's almost not the point, because what you've said is that you simply won't negotiate, and you're holding the threat of withholding your support for any Democrats who would even go forward and compromise at all around these measures for decades in the future.
We're being really clear. We're not going to give cover to Democrats who think it's a good idea to take away economic security from our most vulnerable citizens. We're extremely clear about that and we are not embarrassed about it whatsoever. We want a really clear message out there: If you cut Social Security benefits or Medicare benefits to our seniors, to our most vulnerable people in our country, you are going to get no cover from the American labor movement. We're happy to say that all day long. We think the reality is that it is by only treating our most vulnerable people fairly that there's going be any chance of progress on public policy issues facing our country going forward. That's the reality.
Are you as clear on the reality that if you have don't cut entitlement benefits this country may well go bankrupt?
That's frankly not true. That is a lie put forward by billionaires who don't want to pay higher taxes. Social Security is the best funded aspect of our retirement system today, and Medicare's long-term issues are integrated with the long-term issues of our health care system. Neither program is overgenerous. In fact both programs are undergenerous.
The only people who believe what you said are people who are not counting on those programs and who are worried their very large incomes will be taxed. Most people strongly oppose cuts to benefits in Social Security and Medicare. It's simply that most rich people don't. It's very simple.
I'm talking about the people who understand the figures...
You're talking about people who themselves are more afraid of paying higher taxes than they are afraid of being poor in retirement. You're talking about essentially rich people. If you want to have a democracy of rich people, I suppose you're statement is true.
During the Democratic convention, former President Clinton talked about Medicaid in his speech. He said, "You won't be laughing when I finish telling you this... [The GOP wants to] "block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years. Of course, that's going to really hurt a lot of poor kids."
L.A. Times's Michael Hiltzik went even further in one of his columns, reminding us that Medicaid "serves the poorest and sickest Americans, those with the fewest healthcare options.... In many cases their financial health depends on Medicaid." But because of the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, the governors of six Southern states say they are rejecting expansion of Medicaid, a controversial part of that law.
We should not leave Medicaid, or medical care in any way, vulnerable to "State's Rights." Like Medicare, Medicaid should be federally controlled and dispersed.
Sadly, race is a factor, as it so often is in the South. This obviously has national implications, especially considering the recurring congressional GOP hostage-taking and out of control GOP governors and state legislatures.
The letter below is a strong argument, one we should embrace. It was written by Michael Petit, Founding President of Every Child Matters Education Fund. Previously, he served as Commissioner of Maine’s Human Services Department and was Deputy Director of the Child Welfare League of America. He was a delegate to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Helsinki, Finland.
So today's letter to the editor comes from the New York Times, because as always, our voices matter:
“Millions of Poor Are Left Uncovered by Health Law” (front page, Oct. 3) reminded me of my discovery 35 years ago — shortly after being appointed commissioner of Maine’s Health and Human Services Department — that states had wide latitude in shaping their Medicaid programs. Income eligibility, scope of services and reimbursement rates were largely left to the states to determine. Generally, the Northern-tier states opted for more generous benefits and the Southern states for fewer. Just like today.
Geography matters, with access to medical care profoundly influenced by where you live. Are citizens of Mississippi citizens of Mississippi first — or citizens of America first? Would the states even need to be involved if an efficient way could be found to treat all citizens equally from coast to coast, allowing them the same medical benefits wherever they live? Actually, for those over 65, it’s been done already and is called Medicare.
President, Every Child Matters
Washington, Oct. 3, 2013
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