Archive for October, 2009

by Pete Talbot

High Country News has a chart in its October 26 issue highlighting the wealthiest Western Congressfolk. There’s only one Montanan on the list of the 50 richest: Rep. Denny Rehberg.

Out of 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, Rehberg ranks 27th. And as the News reports, these are lowball figures because members of Congress report in ranges ($1 million to $5 million, for example).

Now, I don’t particularly have a problem with Denny’s wealth; heck, we should all be so lucky. But Denny has the best health care your and my money can buy. He obviously doesn’t need a public option. So, when he holds an “emergency” town hall meeting to spout right-wing misinformation like a “new board of federal bureaucrats to dictate the health plans that all individuals must buy” … well, how disingenuous.

It isn’t just Denny’s wealth that separates him from your average Montanan, however. It’s his health insurance. You see, Denny gets his insurance from the same pool as all federal employees — about eight million of them — making it one of the most flexible, affordable and transportable plans in the nation. Sort of like what a public option would offer the rest of us not on the public payroll.

I’m sure Denny likes his plan. He just doesn’t want you to have one like it.

And check out more of Denny’s misrepresentations covered by Pogie in two recent posts over at Intelligent Discontent.

(Sorry I couldn’t link to the High Country News chart. Couldn’t find it on their site. Here‘s the Roll Call report where the News got its information.)

by Jamee Greer

This is cross-posted on Left in the West.

In what seems like history on fast-forward in the movement for LGBTI equality, today marked another milestone—equally important to the fight against the HIV virus—and in its support of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Today President Obama announced the signing of the Ryan White Treatment Extension Act of 2009, freeing up government funds to help hundreds of thousands of mostly lower income Americans living with HIV/AIDS get the important lifesaving treatments they so need.

There has been a ban on individuals with HIV from entering America for 22 years, an archaic and discriminatory law that comes from a place of misunderstanding, from attitudes heavily rooted in fear at the epidemic’s beginning—attitudes that still exist today.

This ban ends at the beginning of the new year.

Today’s speech by President Obama’s can be read in its entirety at the White House website, but here is an excerpt:

But it will also take an effort to end the stigma that has stopped people from getting tested; that has stopped people from facing their own illness; and that has sped the spread of this disease for far too long. A couple of years ago Michelle and I were in Africa and we tried to combat the stigma when we were in Kenya by taking a public HIV/AIDS test. And I’m proud to announce today we’re about to take another step towards ending that stigma.

Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease — yet we’ve treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic — yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country.

If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that’s why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It’s a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it’s a step that will keep families together, and it’s a step that will save lives.

Despite the sense of optimism you hopefully feel by today’s announcement, the fight is far from over. Real health care reform that is inclusive of everyone, affordable for all and respectful and responsive to the privacy of those who live with HIV/AIDS, while working to lift the stigma surrounding the virus, is critical.

Missoula AIDS Council works to prevent the transmission of HIV, while advocating for and supporting individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Montana. Please consider donating today and visit http://www.missoulaaidscouncil.org/for more information.

Video from the President’s speech:

by jhwygirl

I expect negative stuff from this crew during an election, but John Hendrickson has sunk to new lows with a radio spot done in such a way that most listeners would be left to believe Mayor John Engen has endorsed the guy. The Missoula Independent’s Skylar Browning was first on the story, in its must-read-daily blog.

Hendrickson has been so ineffective in his last 4 years on council that he can not find anyone or anything to say something positive about himself that he had to plagiarize Mayor John Engen’s endorsement of his opponent Roy Houseman?

How amazing low is that? Really?

And you know he was thinking he was being oh-so-smart…

As for trying to claim Engen’s endorsement? Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Roy Houseman 2009

See that paragraph up there on the top of the page? Now listen to that radio spot again. Unbelievable.

Ineffective has been my favorite word for both Hendrickson and Haines lately. Both of these guys are campaigning, essentially, on the same issues they campaigned on 4 years ago. Haines on his $50,000,000 bridge over the Bitterroot and Hendrickson with his not-quite-as-costly (unless you consider the rise in pedestrian and biker related deaths) recall of the W. Broadway diet.

I mean – even if you are on board with both or either of these issues, Hendrickson and Haines clearly aren’t your guys. Think about that. Not if you want to get something done.

Both of these guys claim to be fiscally conservative, yet both of their pet issues are costly costly changes to and issues that have been decided because of other factors beyond their control. Hell-be-damned, they want what they want regardless of what it’s going to cost – and in the meantime, neither one of them will work towards other solutions in the interim.

I can give Haines credit for at least admitting his involvement in suing the City – Hendrickson, on the other hand, didn’t have the guts to admit his involvement, even after Haines had ‘let ‘er slip.’

Haines compounds on his false claims to fiscal conservatism by deceptively suggesting that “(O’Herron) has said city council members should not sue their employers. Will he go along to get along?

First off – Haines has been chasing O’Herron since the start of this election on this “suing his employer” statement of O’Herron’s. I find that funny.

Secondly – and you gotta love darthvadardemocrat* Lee Clemenson’s word choice – “Will he go along to get along?” ??? What? Will O’Herron work together to make sure something gets done? Will O’Herron (the horror) cooperate? Is that a bad thing?

On the other end of that ridiculous (think Jaws music in the background) suggestion that O’Herron will “go along to get along” as if it is something absolutely sinister, Haines did go along to get along on the vote to fund the separate analysis of the MDOT draft EIS for Russell Street. That cost the city some $85,000 I believe – feel free, anyone to correct me – and Haines went along and provided a crucial vote to move that alternative study forward all because he eventually wanted the same votes in return when and if his bridge-over-the-Bitterroot ever surfaced again.

So when, exactly, Ms. Clemenson, Mr. Haines, is it OK to go along to get along? Apparently it’s OK some of the time.

Ahh…the drama that is these Haines and Hendrickson. Vote the bums out. Houseman and O’Herron will get things done.

For his part, Engen has now recorded his own radio spot endorsing Houseman. Funny. It uses the same words.

Missoula County Democrats have filed a complaint against Hendrickson with the Office of Political Practices. As Keila points out – don’t hold your breath, anyone….the players in this could be long on social security before OPP ever gets to it. Ward 6 Councilperson Ed Childers is still waiting out on his complaint against Lewie Schneller from the 2007 elections.

Which is another problem all unto itself now, isn’t it?

*With a wink to klemz on that one…

by Pete Talbot

Buried in an AP story on climate change was Sen. Max Baucus saying he had “serious reservations” with a modest effort to cut carbon emissions over the next decade.

What a tool.

The bill being considered by a Senate environmental panel calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. The bill might stave off catastrophic global warming … or at least it’s a start.

Here are some more choice quotes from our senior Senator:

“We cannot afford a first step that takes us further away from an achievable consensus on commonsense climate change legislation.”

There’s Max, trying to build that “achievable consensus” again. He sure did a fine job on health care. And Max, please explain “commonsense climate change legislation” to me. Would that be no legislation?

“Montana can’t afford the unmitigated impacts of climate change, but we also cannot afford the unmitigated effects of climate change legislation,” Baucus added.

Christ, I’m so sick of Max’s double talk I could puke slugs.

Compare Max’s quotes to those of the bill’s author, Sen. John Kerry. From the AP story:

… Kerry acknowledged that the bill would raise energy prices, but said the savings from reducing energy and the money to be made in new technologies were far greater.

“Are there some costs? Yes, sir, there are some costs,” he said and added that while an array of studies show restricting greenhouse gases will lead to higher energy prices, “none of them factor in the cost of doing nothing.”

Well said, John.

I’m surprised that Max stuck his neck out so far on this one. After all, his campaign contributions from the energy industry pale in comparison to the dollars he gets from the health care/insurance industry. Still, there are few Democrats out there who are as capable as Max of doing the wrong thing.

by jhwygirl

Montana Agriculture Department has issued the state’s first industrial hemp production license – the first since approving it into law in 2001.

Federal Law requires a special permit to grow hemp.

Laura Murphy, who works for a Bozeman medical marijuana business, plans to lease some land near Ennis and grow the crop. She has no intent of obtaining the federal permit.

Interestingly, last week the Obama administration announced a new no-prosecute policy towards medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana has been made legal.

Clearly there are some significant distinctions between hemp and medical marijuana. Hemp has thousands of beneficial uses – medical marijuana, on the other hand, is a waste if you don’t put it up in smoke, so to speak.

It’s an interesting case on state’s rights, though – Montana even reaffirmed its committment towards industrialized hemp this past legislative session when it passed a joint resolution urging congress to legalized the production of hemp.

Both of those bills, btw – the 2001 law and the 2009 resolution – had overwhelming support in both the house and the senate.

Will the Obama administration take the same hand with hemp as it plans with medical marijuana?

I also ponder the parallels of this issue another 2009 legislative session law, Rep. Joel Boniek’s HB246, a bill to exempt Montana-made firearms and ammunition from commerce clause.

Disclosure: I am not fan of Rep. Joel Boniek.

Now – aside from the sheer lunacy of a state writing into law (or a legislator voting for, or a governor signing into law) a bill that is simply titled “AN ACT EXEMPTING FROM FEDERAL REGULATION UNDER THE COMMERCE CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES A FIREARM, A FIREARM ACCESSORY, OR AMMUNITION MANUFACTURED AND RETAINED IN MONTANA; AND PROVIDING AN APPLICABILITY DATE,” the bill was intended to directly challenge state’s rights via the every powerful-and-easy-to-scare-up-tons-of-both-press-and-cash on media magnet: Guns.

Exempting from federal regulation? Under the Constitution of the United States? Really? How do you take an oath of office to uphold the laws of Montana and the United States….oh, never mind.

2001’s hemp law, on the other hand, took the approach of not only legislating an affirmative defense for anyone who obtains the state’s hemp-growing license, it requires the state to petition the federal government for a change or waiver.

As the Missoulian article points out, the state did apply in 2002 to the feds for recognition of the (then new) state law. Montana was denied. The Ag Department is currently considering whether to reapply now that they have issued a license – but points out it will administer the law.

Maybe our delegation should step in here and ask for a statement from the Administration regarding hemp production? Given it not only had overwhelming support, that support in Montana has been long and was just recently reaffirmed.

by jhwygirl

Ward 5 candidate Mike O’Herron scored a major endorsement with former Republican county commissioner Barbara Evans and community activist and past president of the Upper Linda Vista Homeowners Association Charlie Brown telling voters to vote O’Herron:

As Miller Creek residents, we need a representative from Ward 5 who has common sense, works with others in a collaborative manner, calmly listens to our concerns, and who can provide a realistic perspective to our problems and our future. For that reason, we ask for your support for Mike O’Herron for City Council, Ward 5.

Oh no they didn’t!

Did Queen Missoula Republican just say that Dick Haines was obstructive and unrealistic? The duly-signed letter details a short history of “the bridge” that Dick Haines has dithered about for nearly 5 years now, and the support it now has (or doesn’t) despite the rhetoric being put out by Dick Haines as of late.

In other words – misrepresenting an issue and the support it has isn’t really a nice thing to do.

Haines’ pet project has been that bridge. He ran on the issue back in 2005. He claims to be a fiscally responsible guy yet he continues to advocate for a bridge that would cost upward of $30 million dollars. The double-talk is worthy to point out.

What Evans and Brown were really saying – or asking – was this: Do you want solutions, or do you want someone who is going to continue to make unrealistic promises?

Here’s a link to Mike O’Herron for Ward 5 website. The main thing I see in O’Herron is that he shows a strong desire to move forward – to find solutions. Inaction does not appear to be an option for him. That is a good thing.

Voters in Ward 5 should take note of that endorsement. Barbara has been long active in local Republican politics, and Charlie has a long history of supporting Democratic party causes, while working bipartisan-style on many issues with Barbara Evans….endorsing O’Herron should give even the most diehard Republicans good reason to cast that vote for Mike O’Herron.

Charlie Brown is Mike O’Herron’s treasurer.

by jhwygirl

A trigger option hands the insurance industry 12% of your total income. 12% of this nation’s income.

Under the trigger option, a public option will kick in some time in the future should the insurance companies fail to meet some certain thresholds like failing to provide a basic health insurance product at a cost that is no more than 12% of an individuals income. Currently, chances are here in Montana you aren’t paying 12% of your income – but your health costs are rising. A trigger option tells the industry to ‘have at it’ but don’t cross that 12% line.

Not only is government codifying the requirement to purchase insurance in the private sector, and tying that requirement to a tax penalty – of which failure to pay results in jail – it is handing the industry millions more customers and telling them that they can charge even more for their crappy product.

Congress writes laws every day that lack any real penalties – but not with insurance reform – they’ve basically said that they are going to tax you $750/person if you don’t purchase insurance from the private sector (keep in mind, here in Montana, 2 insurers hold 85% of the market – Blue Cross holding 75% in and by itself!).

Imagine the sanity of tax penalizing someone for something they already can’t afford? 12% of someone’s income in Montana means something significantly more for most than, say, 12% of someone’s income in techy and home-of-Boeing Seattle.

A Trigger does not a Public Option make. I don’t care what Obama or Olympia Snowe tries to say, they’re handing this country over to corporations.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian continues its coverage of Griz Coach Bobby Hauck’s asshole-ish behavior, with a report on UM’s crisis management of the situation, along with a synopsis of the nationwide attention being thrust upon the Griz football program – virtually all of it critical.

Hauck continues berating Kaimin reporters?! You have got to be kidding me?

Chelsi Moy’s story had some interesting WTH? tidbits, I thought – one of them being the reason offered up for UM President (King) George Dennison along with Vice-President Jim Foley’s excuse for being “unable to weigh in,” on the matter:

UM President George Dennison has been in Europe for the past two weeks working to expand student exchange programs in Italy and Ireland, and is attending the International Student Exchange Program’s annual convention in France, and therefore has been unable to weigh in on the issue.

Executive Vice President Jim Foley was traveling this week, attending a Big Sky Conference meeting in Salt Lake City and a meeting with the Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta. On Friday, he was in Sacramento, Calif., with the Grizzly football team.

Really? A two-week trip touring Italy, Ireland and France? How much is that costing? While UM has a $3.6 million budget shortfall?

Beyond that – the Hauck “situation” began publicly back on September 18th, when the Kaimin reported it. Now, of course it may be possible that Dennison and Foley were in South America or Australia or something. But at that point, King George and VP Jim Foley knew (at least) that Hauck was shutting out Kaimin reporters. They had an obligation then to step in. Hauck should be a role model, as should UM and any and all of its programs – and allowing that behavior to occur, yet alone to continue is disgraceful.

Sport’s Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman sums it up well:

Generally speaking, pinning behavioral stupidity on your players is an even worse move than, say, locking out the student newspaper in a town where – on a good day – you’re covered by three media outposts. And even if your athletes did decide to protest, it’s your job – as a presumed educator – to do the opposite; to pull the student writers aside, explain your gripe and try to work it out in a mature manner.

We also know now that the administration was complicit in silencing the Griz players physical attack on a UM student, as VP Jim Foley acknowledged to the Kaimin last month.

Honestly folks – It’s appalling that this criminal behavior is condoned at the highest levels of administration in the University.

Another thing that struck me was this statement, from UM athletic director Jim O’Day:

“I would prefer (Hauck) did talk, but I respect the decisions he’s made…..I’m against forcing someone to do something against their wishes and would prefer an amicable solution.”

Hauck’s behavior has brought unwelcome attention on the entire university. As an administrator, balancing an employee’s right not to talk to the media with protecting the university’s image is a tricky situation, O’Day admits(my emphasis added).

O’Day would prefer that he talks? “I’m against forcing someone to do something against their wishes?” – but then going on referring to “balancing the employee’s right not to talk to the media?

You have got to be kidding me, right?

Because UM tells all its other employees- and reminds them regularly – that they are to avoid talking to the press and they should refer all questions to the administration, blah, blah, blah…..so talking about an “employee’s right not to talk to the media” and “forcing someone to do something against their wishes,” are not really making sense when you put it in the context of their very own public information policy for employees.

That is, unless UM has changed its policy? Because it’s sounding like they prefer that their employee’s speak to the press when asked. I mean, I bet a whole lot of University employees might have a whole lot to say about the Griz football Bobby Hauck situation – and perhaps event the administration’s complicity in facilitating the behavior.

That 2-week trip to France and Italy and Ireland, too, I’m sure doesn’t pull a lot of sympathy either.

Lastly, Coach Hauck puts out a damned lame excuse (and I’m sure he thought he was oh-so-smart when he said it) for why he couldn’t answer questions from UM Kaimin reporters:

“My players have asked me not to participate in this. I had two seniors in my office this morning, and I apologize, but I’m not going to participate.”

So it’s the seniors on the Griz team are calling the shots? It’s not Hauck – it’s not King George Dennison, and it’s not VP Jim Foley – it’s the seniors on the Griz football team.

Shameless.

by jhwygirl

Following up on Monday’s news that ABC/Time polling showed 57% support a public option in health insurance reform changes being hammered out in congress, today brings us news that affirms that trend.

CNN polling tells us 61% favor a public option for inclusion in any health insurance reform bill. That number is up 5% since late August.

~~~~~
A few short weeks ago – just before the Senate Finance Committee’s bill was freed – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered a CBO markup of the cost of including a public option. She wanted an analysis of 3 different versions. Guess what? The CBO found that including a Medicare-for-all option, along with a 5% increase in doctor payments, would actually lower the deficit. The cost? $871 billion over 10 years – and it would insure everyone.

The Senate Finance Committee’s bill leaves 25,000,000 American uninsured.

House Democratic leaders wisely quick to jump on this – and even Harry up there in the Senate is is hinting that he’s got the 60 votes necessary to pass a bill that includes a public option.

Keep the calls and email folks. I’m told I put up Tester’s fax number for the Missoula office last time – and Pete was kind enough to fix it…this time, I’m a cuttin’ and pastin’ out of that post, that way I know the numbers are correct. With apologies to all….

Keep calling. Keep emailing.

Sen. Max Baucus – 329-3123 in Missoula – others here
Sen. Jon Tester – 728-3003 here in Missoula – 1-866-554-4403 statewide.

Don’t forget Denny:
Rep. Denny Rehberg – 543-0663 here in Missoula, or 1-888-232-2626 statewide.

by jhwygirl

NW Montana – Columbia Falls, to be specific – is taking another significant living-wage job loss hit, this time in the form of the closure of the Columbia Falls Aluminum (CFA) plant. The Missoulian’s Michael Jamison has a meaty story up on the closure and how the plant got to that point.

Cheap subsidized electricity, or rising electricity costs, depending on how you look at it.

Jamison details the court challenges that brought the cost of power for the plant to where it is today. A few things strike me, first being the tenacity of both BPA (a quasi-governmental outfit that moves power around the Pacific Northwest) and CFA: BPA was sued for providing at-cost power. BPA lost. BPA and CFA immediately put together a “bridge” agreement to continue more of the same. BPA is sued again. BPA loses again.

Screw the courts, they were determined to do what they wanted to do.

Secondly, I wonder about that relationship between BPA and CFA. And who else is getting that kind of deal? BPA is a quasi-government entity. They operate with a pretty swift hand when the see fit, under the umbrella of eminent domain and all other sorts of perks afforded to it where they operate. But they were also created out of an act in Congress, for the sole purpose of moving power from the NW’s dams to other areas in the West for no cost. That is (ah-hem) non-profit.

So when BPA was providing so-called “no cost” power CPA – and keeping in mind, BPA is a non-profit, so they’re not actually cutting their losses by cutting someone a deal – consumers were paying whatever it is we were paying.

Someone was paying for CPA’s power, and it wasn’t some for-profit corporate executives salary (it rarely is) – it was the taxpayer. You and me. Anyone using electricity here in Montana – anywhere here in the West or the region BPA serves – Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

Many people wonder where the power produced here in Montana goes. So do I. Montana can champion all those windmill sites (some going back to having been approved by Martz) – but if the power’s going to California, big friggin’ deal. If the consumer here in Montana is paying for the infrastructure that moves Montana-made power down to California, well – now that there would be pretty screwed up now, wouldn’t it?

Montana can run around championing a 210 megawatt plan near Glacier but if the power is bound for California, its Montana championing green energy for California while creating just a dozen full time jobs here in Montana and a whole bunch of powerlines running across our landscape.

Montana’s not gonna get green browning up our landscape with powerlines for California. That’s all I’m sayin’.

And as for the free market? Seems everyone loves it until they actually have to live with it.

by jhwygirl

Have you filled out your ballot yet? Get ‘er done. Why wait until tomorrow? Or next week.

The Missoula Independent has its endorsements out today – and (as usual) I am in full agreement.

Dave Strohmaier for Ward 1
Roy Houseman for Ward 2
Bob Jaffe for Ward 3
Jon Wilkins for Ward 4
Mike O’Herron for Ward 5
Marilyn Marler for Ward 6
John Engen for Mayor

Both John Engen and Jon Wilkins are unchallenged. Far as I can tell, Wilkins doesn’t have a website.

If you haven’t gotten your ballot yet (this is a mail-in only election), you might want to contact the County Elections Office at 258-4751 to verify your address. If you are at a different address from your registration or if you haven’t registered to vote yet, you’ll have to be heading to the fairgrounds to vote.

That’s why it’s important to vote early and get it done. If you wait until election day and can’t find your ballot or you find out your not registered, you’ll be having to venture down to the fairgrounds.

meh.

Anyone not able to get what I’m trying to convey about the voting-at-the-fairgrounds thing?

by jhwygirl

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released today shows that 57% of Americans support a public option.

Limit it to only those that can’t afford market insurance? Support soars to 76%.

And what if the GOP refuses to participate? Still a majority of Americans want reform.

What should those concerned about electing and re-electing either Democrats or Republicans think of those numbers? Well, howz about these numbers for those watching the election factor of health insurance reform.

Keep on keeping on, people

Sen. Max Baucus – 329-3123 in Missoula – others here
Sen. Jon Tester – 728-3003 here in Missoula – 1-866-554-4403 statewide.

Don’t forget Denny:
Rep. Denny Rehberg – 543-0663 here in Missoula, or 1-888-232-2626 statewide.

by jhwygirl

With seemingly little backlash from the tailgating Griz fans. Lauded at homecoming..and still packing them in.

Hauck doesn’t have to care. Clearly, Hauck can do whatever he wants, with little backlash from the University administration, from the fans, or from the Board of Regents.

At least some responsible journalists are stepping up to the plate. Indy editor and primary blog poster Skylar Browning hit Hauck on the eve of homecoming, reporting that the Kaimin had notified its readers that it no longer could effectively provide sports coverage for the Griz football team.

So 3 weeks after the Kaimin does some unflattering – but factually accurate – reporting on Hauck’s handling of an umpteenth violent criminal act involving the Griz team, Coach Hauck is still taking out hissy-fits on the University reporters who cover the team?

As Browing gets at the highlight of inadequacies surrounding Hauck:

Hauck’s killing himself here. Assuming he still aspires to coach at a FBS school, what’s a potential employer going to think of a coach who gets rattled by student reporters in Missoula? That’s not to mention his shady three-year-running record of having players caught in high-profile assault charges. If Hauck quit holding a grudge, held his players more accountable and faced the issue head-on, he could actually focus on what he sometimes appears to enjoy: coaching football.

Where’s the Missoulian? A full week after the Kaimin reporting that it could no longer effectively cover the Griz – after having its sports writer witness Hauck’s asshole-ish behavior (having repeated the question to Hauck that Hauck berated the Kaimin reporter for) – the Missoulian finally brings the story to the notice of Missoulian readers everywhere.

Other than that, the only noise emanating from the Missoulian concerning Hauck’s irresponsible and border-line criminal behavior has been a lone LTE, by Missoulian Donna Hall.

But check the comments on the Missoulian’s late-is-better-than-never article. Seems the public isn’t all slap-happy let’s-win-at-any-cost Hauck-is-a-Superstar happy with the the handling of the Griz football program issues.

Maybe they realize now how absolutely accurate Browing is? That if Hauck’s gonna get rattled by some student reporters (and that statement should not serve to reflect on the skills of the Kaimin’s reporters), how is he going to hit big time?

Yesterday, sports blog Deadspin got at the Hauck story, and it seems they’re looking at it the same way: If Hauck can’t handle the heat of a university paper, he might want to rethink his game plan. (That, too, came to 4&20 via the Indy’s blog.)

And now, college sports writer for the New York Times, Pete Thamel is taking notice of Hauck’s childish irresponsible behavior.

All of this, for me, comes down to what it is UM symbolizes, and what makes UM valuable. Is it the Griz? Or is it education and ethics and social responsibility?

Hauck is stomping on the latter – he may be the coach of the Griz, but he is also a leader both at UM, in Missoula, in Montana – and yep, to Griz fans all over. When he recruites poorly and then covers up the crimes of his proteges, he’s facilitating their behavior.

problembear is wondering the same.

I’ve asked, and I don’t remember if it was on these pages our in conversation, but what is it that Missoulians and the University and the Board of Regent’s needs? A shoot-out on the streets? Will it mean more or less if its downtown as opposed to the University District? Or maybe if it happens in the Rattlesnake it really isn’t OK?

I mean – the charges that came out 2 years ago were kidnapping, assault and weapons charges. That’s a home invasion, folks. Missoula Montana?! Then there was a murder arrest wrapped up there somewhere – but it was Hauck’s protege’s buddy up visiting from southern California, and he was extradited, so I guess that makes it OK?

Or maybe it’s the boys-will-be-boys mentality? Kind of a more sanguine version of the everybody-drinks-and-drives-here-in-Montana defense thrown up by Sen. Greg Barkus and Rep. Denny Rehberg fans?

Whatever it is, it needs to stop. The fans, the university administration and the Board of Regents need to take a hardline with Hauck – assist him in recruiting, because obviously he’s learned few lessons in those regards – and set some standards for grades and academic achievement and responsibility. Perhaps the team should be required to be involved in extra-curricular activities that are community-based?

Failure to expect better will continue to result in more of the same.

Other than that, I’m thinking some anger-management classes are in order for Senator Hauck, himself.

by jhwygirl

Really should be giving credit to supermissoulian Ellie Hill who tweeted on a NYT article, “The Public Plan, Continued“.

It’s a good article that lays out – very plainly – what a public option means; some of the various options of public option health insurance; and a nice overview of the process now that all health reform bills are out of the various committees and heading to merging committees and floor votes.

I like the read, for the fact that not enough main media sources are stepping up and explaining the meaning of the words swirling the artificially inflated controversy over single payer or public option. It also touches on one of the things that I’ve been waiting for – which is the legislative debate. Up until know, much emphasis was placed on one person as if what the committee he heads up puts out is what we are stuck with. We could end up with something very different than that which has been the central focus of all public option single payer advocates – and now is when it will happen.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she and the majority she claims in the house won’t approve anything without a meaningful and real public option. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, is taking a more milder position (he doesn’t seem to want to fight for anything, IMHO) – that a public option isn’t passable. To say that they are at odds, is clearly putting it mildly.

Anyone catch video of Nancy’s cold shoulder to Harry’s shoulder hug this week?

My bet is on the Lady of the House.

~~~~~
There are many who have been working on insurance reform since just as the presidential election finished up. Health insurance reform is the biggest domestic policy attempt in U.S. Congress in generations. We’re only half-way there. Those truly working on meaningful reform been able to focus on the meat-and-potatoes of the issue and not all of the extraneous personality-based coverage that is purposefully the focus of our corporate media. I admire that – because even when I ask them (as I’ve been drawn into it myself) “what in the hell is Max thinking,” they skillfully brush it off and guide the discussion back to the facts and figures and the heart of the issue.

Who benefits from shifting the discussion away from the topic at hand and instead focusing on all the “superstars”? Olympia Snowe, Up and Coming? What sells now that America is numb? Policy or personality? Last week it was Sen. Harry Reid – this week it’ll be Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Maybe we should be talking about the fiscal irresponsibility to the taxpayers and the added cost to health care should there be no real public option instead of Harry v. Nancy, Baucus v Dodd/Kennedy, Republicans v Democrats.

Maybe we should be taking about the 50 million uninsured in America and the effect that has on the cost of health care.

Maybe we should talk about what what the cost is to America if we don’t act.

Because that’s the real news.

by jhwygirl

The Missoula League of Women Voters is sponsoring, for this months luncheon presentation, a health care forum, with the topic of discussion being “Long-term Care in Missoula”.

The events are held in room 302 in the MCAT building at the corner of Spruce and N. Higgins. The forum starts Monday at 11:45. You can bring your own lunch, or the MLWV has a $5 option waiting for you.

Mary Dalton, Respite Coordinator for Missoula Aging Services will be speaking.

by jhwygirl

First the Ward 3’s Vote for Bob Jaffe video, which comes to 4&20, not by Bob Jaffee, but via Skylar Browning’s Indy Blog post:

Browning’s brief remarks are funny, and I agree. I also think that Badenoch was funny, saying “I think Bob Jaffe represents a lot of things I support. He’s progressive…but at the same time (my emphasis), he’s reasonable. I can tell that thinks about issues very seriously. He’s not a knee-jerk kind of guy. He’s thoughtful and I appreciate that.”

Council goddess Rye is hilarious, and so is Bob Clark, Missoula citizen.

Oh – and credit definitely has to go to “Bob Jaffe fan” Paul Wheaton – at minimum, he has a future in campaign election videos, for sure.

On the other topic…

Some HOW TO VOTE information…

Deadline is past for voter’s (pre)registration. If you want to vote now and haven’t registered, you have to head down to the fairgrounds, where the County Election’s Office has set up (due to high turnout in previous elections, and limited facilities/crowded halls).

This move has few, happy (maybe the county elections staff). Even Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller lamented the move in a tweet.

Even the results. {sigh}

Can we maintain no tradition?

City elections are mail-in only. No polling stations will be open.

Mail-in ballots are coming out in a few days. There’s Mayor (unchallenged), the Municipal Judge (unchallenged), then your councilperson vote (of which Ward 4 is unchallenged too). It looks like if you live in Seeley Lake, there’s an election there, and another in the Evaro/Finley/O’Keefe area to form a community council – at least what I can see of the sample ballot.

So when you get that ballot, fill it in ENGEN LOUDEN and, depending on which ward, STROHMAEIR or HOUSEMAN or JAFFE or WILKINS or O’HERRON or MARLER and get it back in the mail.

Voting early helps all the candidates, no matter who they are. Their effort will be to get you to vote – if you get it done early, you allow your candidate the potential to round themselves up even more votes.

by Pete Talbot

Every so often, our daily newspaper gives us competing versions of an important story. Today was such a day.

There’s this guest column and this news interview. Both are on the subject of health care. The guest column was penned by Greg Roberts, a former health care executive.  The interview of President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Jim Messina, was conducted by Charles Johnson.

Guess which person was advocating a single-payer system, or at the very least, a strong public option? Hint: it isn’t the guy who used to be Sen. Baucus’ Chief of Staff before moving up the ladder.

I saw Messina this past Homecoming Weekend in the Missoula Club, schmoozing with our mayor and other Democratic Party notables. I didn’t get the chance, as jhwygirl suggested, to button hole Messina on the public option but I wouldn’t have done nearly as good a job as Roberts did in his column. For starters:

Sen. Max Baucus, representative government is a cornerstone of our democracy. We elect individuals to serve society’s best interests. Yet “government of, by and for the people” seems a concept as foreign to you as you to it.

For 12 months, our Senate Finance Committee has engaged in what has amounted to a charade on this matter. From the start, advocates for true reform were excluded from your hearings, a prologue to what followed.

Compare that with Messina’s take on Baucus health care efforts:

“The fact is Max wrote a very good bill that can bring people together, and you’re seeing that,” Messina said. “And on Tuesday, he’s going to pass it (in committee).”

Asked about the lack of a public option in the Baucus bill, Messina said it has one in the form of co-ops.

“Look, the president supports public option, but has said over and over again there are different ways to do it,” Messina said. “He’d be open to those ways. We’re in consultations with the House and Senate about that.”

Asked about the criticism Baucus is facing over the lack of a public option in his bill, Messina said: “This is probably the most important piece of legislation that he will work on, and people feel strongly about what should or should not be in it. Typical of Max, he’s spent a whole bunch of time doing his homework and is working hard to produce the best bill that he can produce.”

I’ve got to go with Roberts over Messina on this, ” … a very good bill that can bring people together … ” Yeah, right. People are lining up to sing the praises of the Baucus bill. As to the lack of a public option, ” … it has one in the form of co-ops.” A co-op is not a public option and even the CBO is skeptical.

From an Alex Koppleman piece in Salon:

(The co-ops) didn’t impress CBO. “The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments,” the analysis said. Translated out of wonk-speak, that’s pretty harsh; it basically says they won’t work.

Then there’s ” … he’s spent a whole bunch of time doing his homework and is working hard to produce the best bill that he can produce.” If that’s the best bill he can produce, maybe somebody else should take a crack at it.

Let’s face it, the private insurers are already squawking about the minor reforms being proposed by Congress and threatening even more rate increases. Max has given the insurance industry just about everything it could have wished for and it’s still whining. This from Digby, via Jay, over at Left in the West:

There has never been a better argument for the public plan than the one the insurance company just handed the Democrats in congress. They have produced a shoddy, self-serving report as a blatant threat to raise premiums higher than they already plan to raise them. If there has ever been a more obvious case of bad faith than this, I haven’t seen it. The only thing that will keep these corporate criminals in line is either price controls or stiff competition and if they can’t keep their companies solvent without giving their executives outrageous pay packages, charging ridiculous prices while denying care to sick people, then maybe their financial model just doesn’t work.

Finally, there’s this from Roberts:

The health insurance industry contributes upwards of 25 percent to the annual cost of U.S. health care and medical value. Viewed in the light of other nations who provide (based on factual data) higher quality, less expensive, universal coverage to their citizens, it is not difficult to understand the economics of the matter. In you (Baucus), Chuck Grassley and others, the U.S. health insurance industry has the best representation money can buy – and our society has a government of, by and for corporate interest.

What I know about Messina is this: he’s extremely loyal. One would assume he’s working in the President’s best interests, not his old boss’. But right now, to be honest, I’d prefer that Greg Roberts, not Jim Messina, has the President’s ear.

Inquiring minds want to know…

by JC
grumble

Update: The Button Valley Bugle beat me to ‘tubes on this theme, with a post from friday

From Venom is not a strategy:

“Republicans celebrate every time America fails and cheer and applaud for more failures in the future. Republicans have moved well beyond political opposition into a state of actual abhorrence for our country. I can only imagine the abject joy that will be felt and demonstrated by Republicans should another real tragedy strike America. They not only agree with the Taliban, they have become the Taliban.”

Update, 10-13-09: 289-34. That’s how many thousands of hits asking the question “Why do Republicans Hate America” vs. “Why do Democrats Hate America” gets at Google today. Not exactly scientific, but a telling number, nonetheless. And a lot of fodder for thought.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread

7 Montana businesses were amongst 140 that went to Washington to lobby Senators Baucus and Tester to pass “strong” climate and energy policies that would cut carbon pollution and create over 1.7 million jobs.

The two mentioned in that link from Bozeman.

Our Sen. Jon Tester is filing an amicus brief, along with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Rep. Mark Souder, to the U.S. Supreme Court which sides with the National Rifle Association in challenging Chicago’s handgun registration laws. Great Falls Tribune has a local perspective, as does KFFB in Great Falls.

Ellie Hill, Director of Missoula’s Poverello complex of facilities is celebrating her 4th year anniversary at the job. She’s still a lawyer, she says, and says the Pov’s biggest perk for her is being a celebrity in dark alleys. Ms. Hill contributes immensely to Missoula, so next time you see her on the street (or in an alley), say “Thank You, Ellie Hill,” because without her a whole hell of a lot would not be happening.

This past Thursday, Rehberg voted in support of a bill that included the expansion of the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

The newest self-promoting, fund-us-with-a-new-tax boondoggle pitching to Missoula is the Tourism Business Improvement District . Bunk in the West has the story.

The Button Valley Bugle always has something interesting to say. Daily must read. One of the latest best is this one which thanks tourism for pumping $168,000,000 into Montana’s economy. That generated 45,000 jobs. People who stayed the longest? People who were here to fish. Here to use our waterbodies; Our streams and lakes and rivers. Beautiful in its simplicity, isn’t it?

Goes to show, you don’t always know that good old clean streams is all it takes to get people out here to spend some cash. TBID’s? Fuggedaboutit!

Montana should sit back and take a serious look at that: Montana’s open space and mountains and streams and rivers are what people come here to see. Taking care of ensuring that there’s water – clean water at that – in our streams and rivers, and taking steps to maintain our agrarian roots will help keep people wanting to come here and spend their cash for far longer than some new tourism bureau designed to merely add to tourism magazines and play 2nd fiddle the local chamber of commerce.

OK. That was a bit preachy for a Saturday. My apologies.

Wanna smile? Check out this post from Chris LaTray, who is naked-in-your-face open about his love for the rock band KISS.

Some newer blogs? Montana Wildlife Gardner, Duganz, A Heretic’s Life, and A Drunk Goes Jogging, the latter being painful at times…but you can’t help but root for him.

Got any other blogs you wanna share?

by jhwygirl

Just read it, here.

by jhwygirl

…because “he’s funny as hell and the bomb.com,” according to his Wikipedia page.

Getting to the point…Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama is in town to enjoy this weekends festivities, I’m sure. Jim Messina who used to live here in Missoula. Jim Messina who graduated University of Montana. He will be out and about, and you just might run into him.
jim messina

See what a great nice looking guy he looks like. Very approachable…extremely pleasant. Look – I don’t want anyone to miss the possibility of, say, passing a note to Mr. Messina and telling him that you support a public option and a single payer system. You can add some of the other stuff that’s been written around here too, but really, you can keep it short and sweet and I’m sure he’d probably appreciate a certain economy to your words. I do believe he deserves some time off from the pressures of D.C., and in that respect, I’ll personally pledge to ignore his next two stops here after health insurance reform is passed.

But for now? Pass him a note if you get the chance.

by jhwygirl

I’ve found this, from the Huffington Post….Last Friday, Schweitzer is quoted with a pretty darn clear statement in support of a single-payer system of health care:

“I ask [Canadian officials] a lot about their system,” he said. “And they ask a lot about our system. And I read a lot of Canadian press. And one thing I noticed about Canada is that they are flummoxed about this debate we have down here from time to time when someone lobs an insult to the Canadian health care system. I’ll tell you folks there is a better chance of someone getting struck by lightening in Canada then there is for a Canadian to come to the United States to get their health care. And yet, we are disparaging a system that has been working in Saskatchewan, my neighbor, since 1946.”

Still more, from The Atlantic:

On health care, Schweitzer and other governors have expressed concern that health care reform will amount to an unfunded mandate to force states to cover more people. After a few jokes about Washington, Schweitzer admitted that he wouldn’t support reform “if the end result of this bill is to shift the cost of this bill to the states that have to balance budgets. Forty eight states are in budget deficit.” Montana’s cash reserves, he noted, are at historic highs.

What about the public option? Schweitzer, in an amusing and winding story, noted that the most respected person in Canadian history isn’t their founder, it’s the man who instituted universal single-payer health care.

“So you like the public option?” Weisberg asked bluntly.

Schweitzer summed up. “I like the public option.”

That’s pretty crystal, no?

by jhwygirl

I was watching Keith My Hero Olbermann tonight – as was 4&20’s Chuck – when Olbermann offered up $50,000 towards helping sponsor the National Association of Free Clinics here in Butte Montana.

The idea is to sponsor Free Clinics in each of the states where their senators (in our case, Sen. Max Baucus) are standing in the way of meaningful health insurance reform.

Butte Montana America USA? A town steeped deep in labor history, unions and corporate irresponsibility run amuck? A struggling town, fighting to come back?

Butte Civic Center, anyone?

I think Montana’s Democratic Party should sponsor the rental of that facility. Stand behind its talk of support for public option and health reform. County Democratic Parties around the state should join together and help make this happen.

I can’t seem to figure out how to embed MSNBC videos. That is annoying to no end, especially since Olbermann is what I usually want to embed, and Olbermann is so easy on the eyes, and Olbermann is so wonderful…but I digress. If you want to watch Keith offer up the cash to Butte, check this out.

Count me in as being one who will do whatever is needed to help make this happen. Chuck too. And I’m betting a whole bunch of you readers out there, also.

Update: JC figures out MSNBC embeds!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "msnbc.com Video Player", posted with vodpod

(j – Isn’t he just the best looking sight on television? Thanks JC!)

by jhwygirl

Say what?!?

That’s what I thought when I heard Representative Chris Murphy (D-Conn) on some radio talk show this morning say that the public option would save $110 billion. Frankly, I didn’t believe it when I heard it, mostly because I was hearing it the first time.

What did I find? I found where adding a public option would save somewhere in the $100 billion range, give or take, depending on how it was implemented. Earlier, $150 billion figure was also being used. The National Journal even has the story.

Jiminy gosh darn dang…why haven’t we heard of that? Seriously.

I seriously think I’m saying seriously too much.

It’s all about money, isn’t it? And yet even that statement isn’t clear enough. It’s all about the money of corporations, isn’t it? Because if it were simply about money, the U.S. would cut $100 billion from the proposed bill and call it good. And it’s certainly not about “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” either, since if it were, government would say that cutting $100 billion from the budget and providing every single American with an affordable health care option while still preserving your right to purchase on the market was a good thing to do.

Nope, it’s about preserving the money of corporate interests, isn’t it? It’s unbelievably frustrating to see elected officials ignore the facts that are in front of them in favor of preserving what they thing will be their next re-election.

Will I knock doors and dial phones and donate money (what little cash I am able to spare these days) for an incumbent that doesn’t support what is one of the basic tenants of the Democratic party? Don’t bet on it. I can be quitr forgiving – I don’t think I can expect my elected official to agree with me 100% of the time – but there are some things that make a big impact on how I would consider support for any candidate any further. And health insurance reform is one of them.

Montanans need health care. The median income in this state is always in the bottom 10, if not 5. Two health care insurers dominate 80% of the state’s market, while 22% of adults in Montana are uninsured.

With Montanans ranking with close to the lowest median wages in the United States, where do you think uninsured – those in the gap – are going to be when they are facing tax penalties for not being able to afford health care on the public option free market? Just what is going to be the per-capita number of people here in Montana that fall into that gap? Or what about the ones that get tax forgiveness, but are still left without health care? I can only conjecture that given our ranking of median income, that more than the average will fall into that gap.

I look forward to the merging of this bill. Of the debate and amendments. Looks like those days are becoming nearer – the Senate Finance Committee is set vote on its bill this coming Monday.

Senator Tester? The time is coming when you are going to have to let us all know where it is you stand.

In the meantime, people – do not assume. Contact Sen. Tester and tell him to support a single payer public option reform. Tell him that a public option would save $100 billion dollars, which is about $1,100 out of your pocket.

Lest you think that isn’t needed, and if yesterday’s post wasn’t enough to piss you off, consider that all the teabaggers are also, too, calling Tester telling him to vote no to any reform.

(866) 554-4403

Then again – there’s always email.

by jhwygirl

Kalispell’s Mike Jopek reminds taxpayers – most who are getting an average increase of 15%, but many out here on the western side of the state are getting hit much higher – who to thank when that bill comes in the mail.

All but one Senate Republican.
90% of House Republicans.
25% of House Democrats
50% of Senate Democrats.

House Republicans mangled his bill, so much so that even Jopek couldn’t vote for his own bill, in the end. “They ignored the fiscal note that said the bill would increase taxes dramatically for many,” Jopek said. The final days, in the Free Conference frenzy that is the last of the session, finals cuts and amendments were made that impacted many:

The Republican Senate hijacked the House version of the final mitigation bill and exempted only 85 percent of the effect of growth. The Senate amended the House bill, which mitigated 100 percent of reappraisal, and forced homeowners and downtown businesses to pay $6 million more in taxes over the biennium and another $6 million over the cycle.

Senate Republicans removed all the assistance to the elderly, disable, and poor homeowners and renters. Then Senate Republicans added a new tax on homes worth more that $1.5 million.

Take that new tax Republican’s added – Just where are all those $1.5 million homes? Oddly – Barkus voted for this bill, while Zinke, the lone Republican Senator, voted No.

Where else? Ravalli County – where both Sens. Liable and Shockley voted YES to the bill which added that special new tax.

In Bozeman? Only Sen. Bob Hawks held out, voting no.

$1.5 might sound like a lot – but in these places, it doesn’t take a lot to meet that threshold – especially if you are an older resident who bought your hope decades. In other words – maybe that threshold should have been a bit higher? So as not to capture up a bunch of lifelong residents, and instead maybe focused its grab on 2nd and 3rd home owners?

Jopek saves some love for realtors, too:

Over the years, the Montana Association of Realtors adamantly opposed our attempts to cap homeowner’s taxes to inflationary growth, to reappraise only upon the sale of a home, and to abate a portion of property taxes for homeowners whom file income taxes. Seems like lobbyists believe that if we stay put in our homes, it’s bad for their industry.

“Sen. Max Baucus… is, not surprisingly, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this one-two punch from the lobbyists and their clients”

by JC

Nothing like spending $829 billion dollars and still having 25 million people, all legal citizens under the age of 65, left out of the health care insurance system under Baucus’ current reform “efforts.” You can read all the gory details at the CBO, if you have stomach for such things.

So Baucus has written a bill that increases the inequity in America, more sharply defining the edges between the haves and the have nots. And for the have nots, he has devised a system of penalties, excise tax fines, and possible IRS criminal prosecutions ending with jail time.

Yes, Max will threaten you with jail, if you don’t hand over your own money, along with your government subsidy (if you’re one of those who get to must participate in the $829 billion dollar insurance corporation bailout) to the private health insurance corporation of your choice (that is if there is more than one or two insurance corporations operating in your state).

And to go with this nice bit of news, I’d like to show you a new video from our friends at the Sunlight Foundation talking about the role corporate and lobbyist bundling dollars play in our Senator’s business. This is another piece of their ongoing collaboration with OpenSecrets about the role of bundling lobbyist dollars in buying our politicians loyalty.

They were even kind enough to use our own Senator Baucus as their first case study. Enjoy!

From the Sunlight Foundation:

The deal is that decision makers (i.e. senators) in the health care debate are not only receiving big bucks from members of the health and insurance industries – but also from the numerous individual lobbyists that represent the industries. All of that money “clustered” or “bundled” together is much more influential than any contribution by itself. So, when one of the lobbyists in a cluster walks into a meeting with a representative, it stands to reason that representative listens to them …how do we say… with a more fully tuned ear.

As citizens holding government accountable, another way to think about this new information is that while yesterday you may have looked up a lobbyist online and seen only that the individual had contributed a couple hundred dollars to a senator, you can now see the entire ‘bundle’ of contributions around that lobbyist or company which can total in the tens of thousands. MUCH more ‘influence’ than what was previously reflected.

Larry Makinson, one of Sunlight’s senior fellows that led our investigation probably said it best: “When we saw a dozen, two dozen, even three dozen lobbyists for a single company giving to the same members as their clients, we were frankly stunned.”

…Standing out, as usual, in our first examination is Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and author of the main health care reform bill now being debated in the Senate. He is, not surprisingly, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this one-two punch from the lobbyists and their clients. From January 2007 through June 2009, Baucus collected contributions from 37 outside lobbyists representing PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s chief trade association, and 36 lobbyists who listed drug maker Amgen Inc. as their client.

In all, 11 major health and insurance firms had their contributions to Baucus boosted through extra donations from 10 or more of their outside lobbyists…

Oh. And those $829,000,000,000 (that’s 829 BILLION dollars)? Without a public option, that money mostly will go to health insurers.

Payola 21st century-style. Corruption at its worst. And it is coming from our very own Montana Senator.

I think it is time to put our Senator out to pasture at the family sheep ranch. Baaaaa.

by jhwygirl

Roll Call (hate that firewall…) reports that Sen. Tester is “withholding a direct appeal to Baucus to strike the proposal pending the outcome of the forthcoming merger of Baucus’ Finance bill and legislation previously approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. But Tester is prepared to press his case to Baucus and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) if the Medicaid expansion survives.”

Schweitzer and Tester both take issue with having states absorb some of the costs of expanding Medicaid. Schweitzer “couldn’t be reached for comment,” (How whack is that? Seriously?) but Tester articulated his feelings regarding the possibility that states would have to absorb some of those costs:

“Well, they’re concerned about it, same as I am. Gov. Schweitzer’s concerned about the impacts on the budget. Our budget’s in pretty good shape in Montana right now, and if those costs have to be reimbursed, it could break the bank in Montana. I just want to make sure all states are held as harmless as they possibly can.”

Getting back to the ‘How whack is that?’ part….

According to Sen. Baucus, he said Schweitzer has yet to come to him with any complaints: “I’m not concerned. [Gov.] Schweitzer and I talk about this stuff. We’re on board. Last time we talked about it, he said: ‘Fine. Great,’” Baucus said. “We spent a lot of time talking to governors about that. And some governors are OK, and some are not OK.”

Whaa?

Before you shake your head and go blaming all that crazy miscommunication stuff on Baucus, Roll Call point out this tidbit:

In fact, Schweitzer, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, was one of 22 Democratic governors who recently signed a letter expressing support generally for the Finance Committee’s health care reform bill, which included a statement about the need for states to contribute to health care reform.
“We recognize that health reform is a shared responsibility and everyone, including state governments, needs to partner to reform our broken health care system,” the Oct. 1 letter reads.

Under the Senate Finance proposal, states would pick up 11% of the cost of expanding Medicaid eligibility up to 133% of poverty.

Up to 133% of poverty? Seems like there’s gonna be a big gap there….

Currently, most states currently cover parents with children earning around 100 percent of poverty, with the federal government picking up around 57 percent of the tab and the states 43 percent.

So who else is lining up to oppose healthcare under the heinous requirement of this 11% unfunded mandate? Senate Republicans.

All this has me wondering: Where does a health insurance reform wanting Montanan have to go for some support?

Damn.




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