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.

=====================

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 March 27, 2015 17:24 GMT

ECONOMY-GDP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter and economists are looking for an even weaker showing in the first quarter as severe winter weather takes a toll on the economy.

But the slowdown is expected to be short-lived. Stronger growth is expected for the rest of the year as a recovering job market supports healthy gains in consumer spending.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December period, an estimate that was unchanged from a month ago. The economy had surged at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.

The final look at fourth quarter GDP found consumer spending was stronger than previously estimated but business restocking was weaker.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bad weather and rising gasoline prices pushed U.S. consumer sentiment a bit lower in March.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index slipped to 93 this month from 95.4 in February. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, notes that despite the monthly drop, consumer optimism was the highest in a decade for the first three months of 2015.

Sentiment dropped most this month among low-income households, which are especially sensitive to high utility bills in the winter. Confidence rose for mid- and high-income households. Curtin predicted that an improving job market would boost consumer spending the rest of the year.

AIRLINES-COCKPIT RULES

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Europe's aviation safety agency is recommending that airlines across the continent always have two people in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.

European airlines, including the Lufthansa Group that includes Germanwings, have been making commitments to implement the measure after it emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit to crash the plane.

U.S. airlines revamped their policies regarding staffing in the cockpit following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the procedure is not standard in Europe or Canada.

The European Aviation Safety Agency's executive director, Patrick Ky, says "while we are still mourning the victims, all our efforts focus on improving the safety and security of passengers and crews."

The president of the German pilots union Cockpit tells The Associated Press that his organization would support measures requiring two people in the cockpit at all times during flights, but he cautions that such a move wouldn't solve all security problems.

UNITED STATES-ASIAN BANK BLUES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. resistance to a Chinese-led Asian regional bank is leaving it isolated among its Asian and European allies.

That's giving some heft to China's frequent complaints that Washington wants to contain its rise as a world power.

One of America's closest friends in Asia, South Korea, announced Thursday it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The institution is intended to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure.

The U.S. has expressed concern that the new bank will allow looser lending standards, undercutting the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, where the U.S. and Japan have the most clout.

But since Britain broke with Washington two weeks ago, other major European economies have signed up for the Chinese-led bank. Australia also appears poised to join.

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's alternate minister for international economic relations says his government is prepared for a "rupture" with the country's creditors if its current bailout negotiations don't go well.

Euclid Tsakalotos said Friday the government would not be negotiating properly if it didn't envisage a rupture with its partners, although he would not say what exactly a rupture might entail.

Greece's government is in talks with its creditors -- eurozone nations, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to unlock urgently needed funds from the country's bailout. It must present a list of reforms by early next week, which it hopes will lead to the disbursement.

Tsakalotos, speaking on private Star TV, said the government was intentionally creating ambiguity with its partners regarding its intentions as a negotiating tactic.

SILICON VALLEY-SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jurors deciding the outcome of a much-watched gender discrimination lawsuit against a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm are set to enter their third day of deliberations.

The jury of six men and six women are due back in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday in Ellen Pao's lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias.

Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations and says Pao had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

The case has put a spotlight on gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.

ARCTIC OIL DRILLING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. oil storage facilities are filling up and the price of oil has collapsed, but an Energy Department advisory council says the U.S. should push now to exploit the trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil.

The U.S. has drastically cut imports in recent years and transformed itself into the world's biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the National Petroleum Council's study predicts that the shale boom won't last much beyond the next decade.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson chaired the committee that drafted the study. He says oil companies need to start probing the Artic because it takes decades of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market.

Geologists estimate the Arctic holds about a quarter of the world's undiscovered conventional oil and gas deposits. But environmental advocates say the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile to risk a spill.

OBAMA-CHEMICAL BOARD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is operating without a permanent leader. Its chairman has been forced to resign, following accusations of mismanagement.

A White House official says Rafael Moure-Eraso (rah-fah-YEL' moh-RAY' eh-RAH'-soh) stepped down Thursday at the administration's request. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

The National Safety Council says the independent federal agency under Moure-Eraso repeatedly fell under scrutiny for board departures, delayed investigations and other issues. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had accused Moure-Eraso of violating his oath of office and the law. Committee members had requested his resignation.

The board is responsible for investigating chemical accidents. Its members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

President Barack Obama has nominated Vanessa Sutherland to succeed Moure-Eraso.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement