Archive for October 8th, 2009

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 " 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.

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