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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 September 19, 2014 17:24 GMT

ALIBABA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alibaba's stock is surging as the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse begins its first day trading as a public company.

The stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, up 36 percent from the initial $68 per share price set Thursday evening.

At that price the company would be worth $228.5 billion, more than companies such as Amazon, Ebay and even Facebook.

On Thursday, Alibaba and the investment bankers arranging the IPO settled on a price of $68 per share. The company and its early investors raised $21.8 billion in the offering, which valued Alibaba at $168 billion in one of the world's biggest ever initial public offerings.

But after a two-hour trading delay due to strong demand, it opened much higher than that price. If the stock closes at $92.70, the IPO will have raised close to $30 billion.

LEADING INDICATORS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health rose in August but at a much slower pace than in July.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in August, the seventh straight increase. But that was much slower than the revised 1.1 percent gain in July.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says even with the slowdown in August, the index shows the economy is still gaining traction.

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.

The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

Georgia reported the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 8.1 percent, followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended.

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- Businesses and investors have reacted with relief to Scotland's decision to reject independence from the United Kingdom.

The No campaign won 55 percent of the votes cast in Thursday's referendum. The 10-point victory margin was wider than expected -- most opinion polls on the eve of the vote showed a narrower 4-point victory.

British stocks responded positively to the news Friday, with the FTSE 100 index up 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland shares were up, and the bank, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, said it was "business as usual" for its customers.

Some had warned that if Scotland left, uncertainty over the future value of the British pound and government debt would have rattled the U.K economy.

In the currency markets, the pound was solid too, rising to a two-year high against the euro.

EXXON-RUSSIA DRILLING

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Exxon Mobil says it will stop drilling an exploratory well in Russia's Kara Sea in compliance with U.S. sanctions against Russia over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine.

Exxon planned to drill the well between August and October. The latest round of sanctions called for the removal of U.S. workers on projects in the Russian Arctic by Sept. 26.

Exxon says it has received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to wind down operations, but it is unclear whether the license will allow Exxon to stop drilling on the schedule it had already laid out. Exxon could not be immediately reached for comment.

PABST BREWING-SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

In addition to its namesake beer, Pabst Brewing Co. makes Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz. Pabst was acquired in 2010 by C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., which is known for investing in food brands.

Pabst Brewing, now based in Los Angeles, traces its roots back to 1844 in Milwaukee. Since purchasing it in 2010, Metropoulos has enlisted comedian Will Ferrell to market the company's beers. Pabst Blue Ribbon has also grown in popularity in part for its blue-collar appeal and cheap price.

Oasis is buying Pabst with TSG, an investment firm known for its work with consumer products companies. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

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