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 August 29, 2014 17:14 GMT

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in July, with a drop in auto purchases accounting for most of the weakness. Income growth also slowed in July.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending edged down 0.1 percent last month after a 0.4 percent increase in June. It was the first decline in spending since January. Income growth slowed to a 0.2 percent rise in July, the weakest showing in seven months.

The fall in spending came primarily from a decline in auto sales, which took a breather in July after posting big gains in recent months, although spending in other areas was also weak.

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, so it needs to recover for the economy to keep its momentum in the second half of the year.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer sentiment ticked up in August, driven by greater optimism about jobs, rising incomes, and increasing wealth. The increase largely occurred among higher-income groups.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 from 81.8 in July. Still, it has barely risen in the past year.

Consumers have sent mixed signals in recent months. The Michigan index has fluctuated between 80 and 82.5 since December. A measure of consumer confidence by the Conference Board rose this month to nearly a seven-year high. And yet Americans cut back their spending in July.

Nearly 60 percent of households in the top third of income earners say they are financially better off this month, the Michigan survey found, compared with only 36 percent in the bottom two-thirds.

US-FIAT-CHRYSLER

DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. investors should soon be able to buy stock in Chrysler for the first time in seven years.

Italy's Fiat and Chrysler are merging to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat says Friday that an ongoing tally of investors suggests there is not enough opposition to derail the deal.

Earlier this month, Fiat shareholders approved combining the companies. But Italian law gives dissenters the right to cash out. Fiat has said that if investors offered more than 500 million euros ($650 million) in shares, the merger would be off.

Fiat SpA will announce the final tally by Sept. 4. So far the maximum number of shares to be cashed is below the cap.

Shares of Chrysler haven't been publicly traded since 2007 when it was still combined with German automaker Daimler.

REYNOLDS AMERICAN-LORILLARD

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Federal regulators are putting Reynolds American Inc.'s planned $25 billion takeover of rival cigarette maker Lorillard Inc. under the microscope.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company said Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has asked for additional information as part of an antitrust review of the deal.

In July, Reynolds announced the deal to combine two of the nation's oldest and biggest tobacco companies, creating a formidable No. 2 to rival Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA.

Reynolds markets Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Lorillard sells Newport, Maverick and Kent cigarettes.

The companies plan to sell the Kool, Salem, Winston, Maverick and blu eCig brands to Imperial Tobacco Group for $7.1 billion to ease regulatory concerns about competition.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-TAX FORMS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal agency that brought you the glitchy HealthCare.gov website has a massive new project.

If the Health and Human Services department has trouble this time, that could delay tax refunds for many people.

Complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes will start to surface in 2015.

HHS has to send millions of people who got health insurance tax credits this year a new tax form that's like a W-2 for health care. It's called a 1095-A.

If they're delayed beyond Jan. 31, people who got coverage through the new insurance exchanges may have to wait to file their taxes -- and collect their refunds.

Some tax preparation companies are worried.

The Obama administration says it's on task, but won't provide much detail.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Inflation has fallen to an annual 0.3 percent in August for the 18 countries that use the euro, underlining the shakiness of the continent's economic recovery.

Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, says the figure is down from 0.4 percent in July, as expected by market analysts.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, sent a modestly brighter signal as it rose to 0.9 percent from 0.8 percent.

The eurozone economy showed no growth in the second quarter as fears about the Ukrainian crisis weighed on consumers and investment decisions.

The European Central Bank has warned that inflation expectations are worsening and says it will add more stimulus if needed. Many analysts are predicting the bank will launch large-scale purchases of financial assets to pump more money into the economy.

BRAZIL-ECONOMY

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's government says the country's gross domestic product contracted 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, sending the country's economy into a recession.

The government's IBGE statistics bureau said Friday it was the second consecutive quarterly contraction of the economy.

In the first quarter of the year, GDP was reported as having grown 0.2 percent. But that figure was revised downward to minus 0.2 percent.

The IBGE says the country's GDP stands at 1.27 trillion reals ($567 billion).

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