State Senate hypocrisy

Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013
State Senate hypocrisy story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It took a full year for the State Senate to finally eke out a contentious victory for Medicaid expansion late Tuesday night.

It was good news for nearly a half-million working poor people.

But the good news was tarnished by what the Republican-dominated Senate failed to do only moments later.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says West Michigan Senators should be ashamed of themselves.

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Before we get to the newest definition of hypocrisy, lets do a minute of history.

A year ago the state Republican party leader, Gov. Rick Snyder, began urging the House and the Senate to extend Medicaid coverage to nearly a half-million, mostly working Michigan residents who, through no fault of their own, have no health insurance—the ones who live just above the poverty line and end up using costly emergency rooms as doctors offices.

Taxpayers and those who have insurance—in one way or another—have long been picking up the tab.

Medicaid expansion is a part of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—which was passed four years ago by the U.S. Congress and made the law of the land a year ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But it left Medicaid extension up to the states themselves.

The House almost immediately voted yes. But, when the matter came up for a vote in the Senate three months ago, rather than actually vote, the Senate spewed lots of  rhetoric about health care for the poor being too expensive, stuck its  collective head in the sand, and took a vacation instead.

On Tuesday, with so many people watching, and no way to kick the can down the road again, they did take a vote. Not without more warnings about the perils of another dreaded entitlement cost, and more denunciations of Obamacare, but they took a vote.

And rather than see it end in a tie—19 to 19—with Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley casting the deciding vote, as it needed 20 votes for passage, a tea party senator from the east side of state abstained. There, no tie. No Calley vote. And the bill failed.

Then a motion to reconsider. High drama. Hours of back room arguing and arm-twisting. The governor accusing his party of dragging its feet. Then another vote. A Republican senator from the U.P. changed his mind.

A coalition of all 12 democrats and eight of 26 republicans carried the day.

One last thing remained. To make it effective immediately—effective January 1st—when enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins, or let it slide until April.

The Republicans, apparently hoping in the meantime for the  impossible repeal of Obamacare, let it slide.

They let it slide at a cost to the state of $7 million a day in lost federal money.

A total of $600 million over 90 days. More than a half-billion dollars lost in the bizarre, tea-party-world name of frugality.

In the name of protecting our children from another entitlement cost.

All  this  from the same bunch who two years ago voted themselves life-long health care at state expense after just years on the job. Lifetime medical benefits. If that doesn't raise hypocrisy to a new level, I don't know what does.

With pressure from you, the Senate can revisit this. They can take another vote and correct their mind-numbing infatuation with themselves. But they've got to do it soon.

If you live in West Michigan, your senator is a Republican. Their names are Jones, Kowall, Proos, Meekhof, Nofs, Schuitmaker, Hildenbrand, Booher, and Jansen. Call them. Write them, text them. Tell them you think wasting seven million dollars a day is unacceptable.

Let them know that this level of hypocrisy is beyond your level of tolerance.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on July 30, 2015 17:30 GMT

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the increase was from a very low level and the figures still point to a healthy job market.

The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 3,750 to 274,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and two weeks ago they plummeted to the lowest level in almost 42 years. That suggests that Americans are enjoying a nearly unprecedented level of job security.

The number of people receiving benefits rose 46,000 to 2.26 million. That figure has fallen 11.2 percent in the past year as employers have stepped up hiring, though some of that decline reflects those who have exhausted all the benefits available to them.

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a harsh winter, the U.S. economy posted a solid rebound in the April-June quarter, led by a surge in consumer spending and a recovery in foreign trade.

The Commerce Department says the gross domestic product, the economy's total output of goods and services, expanded at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter, up from a 0.6 percent first quarter increase. The first quarter figure was revised from a previous estimate of a 0.2 percent decline.

The healthy spring rebound reflected a big jump in consumer spending and a swing in trade from a significant drag to a small positive for growth.

Economists are looking for growth to strengthen more in the second half of this year, as consumer spending is bolstered by sizable employment gains.

ECONOMY-GDP-REVISIONS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy grew more slowly over the past three years than the government had previously estimated, held back by more frugal consumers and steeper spending cuts by state and local governments.

The Commerce Department says the economy expanded at just a 2 percent annual rate from 2012 through 2014, down from a previous estimate of 2.3 percent. Nearly all the weaker-than-expected growth occurred in 2013, when the government now says the economy expanded just 1.5 percent, much less than its previous 2.2 percent estimate.

The revisions show that the economy's already-modest growth since 2011 was even weaker than thought. The recovery since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009 has been the slowest of any since World War II.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell for a second straight week, with the key 30-year rate slipping below 4 percent.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.98 percent this week from 4.04 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages eased to 3.17 percent from 3.21 percent.

As in recent weeks, mortgage rates followed the yield on the key 10-year Treasury note, which fell. Bond yields for Treasurys were pushed lower by a rise in bond prices, as investors sought safety in U.S. Treasury bonds amid steep declines in global stock markets. The yield on the 10-year note declined to 2.29 percent Wednesday from 2.33 percent a week earlier. It held steady in trading Thursday morning at 2.29 percent.

GREECE-IMF

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An International Monetary Fund official says the IMF cannot participate in another Greek bailout until Greece and its creditors make difficult decisions on economic reforms and debt relief.

Briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, the official says Greece needs to commit to reforms and creditors must provide debt relief -- extending loan terms or reducing the debt outright -- that will allow Greece to pay its bills over time. "It's always been clear the IMF will only come in once these conditions are in place," he said, suggesting that point is months away.

Still, the fund is participating in ongoing debt talks.

The IMF has said Greece's debts are likely to rise to 200 percent of its economic output in the next two years, a burden the fund calls unsustainable.

RUSSIA-OPEC

MOSCOW (AP) -- OPEC and Russia say they expect the global oil market to become more balanced and stable next year after the recent sharp drops.

OPEC'S secretary general, Abdullah al-Badri, said after talks Thursday with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak that he didn't anticipate a further drop in prices.

OPEC decided in June not to cut production, in a bid to retain its share of the global market in the face of a boom in shale oil production in the U.S. Russia, which is not part of OPEC but is the world's top crude producer and depends heavily on energy exports, hasn't made any cuts either.

Novak said that he and al-Badri didn't discuss any production cuts.

CONGRESS RDP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has passed a long-term transportation bill, but lawmakers still plan to consider a 3-month patch to keep highway and transit aid flowing to states, since the House has left for the August recess.

The $350 billion long-term bill was approved on a vote of 65 to 34. It would make changes to highway, transit, railroad and auto safety programs. But its sponsors were only able to find enough money to pay for the first three years of the six-year bill.

The Senate turned after the vote to a House bill that extends the government's authority to process aid payments through Oct. 29. Without action, that authority expires at midnight Friday. House Republican leaders opted for the patch to give themselves more time to work on a long-term bill.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-STRUGGLING CO-OPS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats fed up with the health insurance industry used President Barack Obama's overhaul to create nonprofit co-ops that would compete against entrenched corporations. Taxpayers put up $2.4 billion in loans to get the co-ops going.

But a government audit out Thursday finds that co-ops are awash in red ink and many have fallen short of sign-up goals.

The inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department finds that only one out of 23 co-ops -- the one in Maine -- made money last year.

The IG also says that more than half the co-ops -- 13 out of 23 -- lag far behind their 2014 enrollment projections. A copy of the audit was provided to The Associated Press.

The IG is concerned that federal loans may not be repaid.

SUPREME COURT-INSIDER TRADING-HEDGE FUNDS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration wants the Supreme Court to reinstate securities fraud convictions against two hedge fund portfolio managers. The administration says an appeals court ruling in their favor makes it harder to prosecute insider trading.

The Justice Department says that the justices should reverse the December ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and reinstate the convictions of Anthony Chiasson of New York and Todd Newman of Massachusetts.

The appellate judges said the defendants were too far removed from inside information to be prosecuted and more generally criticized criminal cases that resulted in over 80 insider trading convictions since 2008.

But the government says that the appellate ruling conflicted with a 1983 Supreme Court decision and the rulings of other federal courts of appeals.

EARNS-FIAT CHRYSLER

MILAN (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles raised its revenue forecast after strong sales in North America and recovery in the European market boosted second-quarter profits by 70 percent.

Fiat said Thursday that net profit was 333 million euros ($364 million), compared with 197 million euros in the same period last year. The carmaker said it was raising its revenue forecast to 110 billion euros from 108 billion euros, on worldwide shipments of 4.8 million units.

The rosy results come as the carmaker must face a costly deal with U.S. safety regulators to settle legal problems in about two-dozen recalls.

North American sales volumes were up 8 percent, pushing net revenues in the region up by 40 percent, while European volumes were up by 12 percent boosting revenues 19 percent.

SUV TIRE RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- An Ohio company is recalling about 90,000 SUV tires because the tread can separate, causing a loss of air and increasing the risk of a crash.

The recall covers certain 15- and 16-inch Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. All Trac A/T tires made from June of 2008 to May of 2010.

The Findlay, Ohio, company says in documents filed with U.S. safety regulators that dealers will replace the tires with a newer version that has a full nylon cap. The recalled tires have a partial nylon cap.

The recall was to start this month. It came after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It was unclear if there have been any crashes or injuries. A message was left Thursday seeking comment from the company.

DRY ERASE BOARD-RECALL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Acco Brands Corp. is recalling about 3.3 million wall-mounted dry erase boards after customers said they cut their hands, fingers and feet while removing the board from a wall.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says metal can be exposed when the board is taken down from a wall. Seven people reported injuries and four of them required stitches.

The boards were sold under the Quartet brand at Ace Hardware, Office Depot and other stores between 2005 and 2013. They come in several colors and sizes and cost between $5 and $10.

Acco, an office supplies manufacturer in Lake Zurich, Illinois, says customers should wear heavy gloves when removing the boards. Customers can contact the company for a caution label on how to safely remove the board.

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