Back to Work

by lizard

It’s time to get back to work. For Missoula County’s newly sworn-in Sheriff, T.J. McDermott, his first day on the job has got to rank as one of the worst first days ever. In less than 24 hours a Missoula Police officer and a Sheriff’s Deputy were involved in shooting suspects, both allegedly involved in domestic violence disputes. One suspect was killed, the other sent to the hospital.

For Montana legislators, their work will begin next week in Helena. On the Republican side their main job will be to keep any federal help from reaching Montanans in the form of Medicaid dollars. They are still obsessed with the notion that helping poor people equates to helping elect Democrats, at least that’s my takeaway from this Billings Gazette piece describing the idiotic Republican plan to expand Medicaid without using federal dollars to help insure 70,000 Montanans without insurance:

Republicans released a framework of their plan Wednesday but have yet to draft specific bills that will be introduced at the 2015 Legislature, which convenes Monday.

Their plan includes expanding Medicaid eligibility for an additional 15,000 to 18,000 people earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, some Medicaid health-practice reforms that Thomas said would save the state money and “tort reform,” which means limiting liability for medical practitioners.

The state of Montana will inevitably have to pick up more of the costs under the Republican plan, which makes absolutely no sense, not when millions of dollars that taxpayers HAVE PAID INTO THE SYSTEM are available. But allowing those federal dollars into the state, according to the warped Republican mindset, translates into more welfare-dependent individuals voting for Democrats. Here’s more from the link:

Republicans also don’t want to increase the federal debt to pay for what they see as a new welfare program for able-bodied adults, he added.

“I think it’s fair to say that the intent of (President Obama and Democrats in Congress) was, in essence, sign people up for a welfare program,” Thomas said. “It has nothing to do with health care. I think there is a direct linkage to the more people who are on public assistance, the more Democrats think they will vote for them.”

No, wrong. The intent of the ACA legislation was to further entrench the for-profit health insurance industry in our lives. That was the intent when it was Romneycare and that is the intent of Obamacare. The welfare canard is just red meat for low-information Republican voters who regularly vote against their own economic interests.

Speaking of economic interests and federal welfare, a few years ago, when Republicans were saying the same tired crap about poor people and the programs intended to assist them, a report exposed the deep hypocrisy of Republicans who decry the evils of federal assistance while pocketing, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies. Here’s a list (2011) of legislators and the money they get from the evil federal government:

Rep. Janna Taylor, R-Dayton, $1,017,491

Rep. Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, $705,941

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, $643,063

Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, $637,547

Sen. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, $609,508

Rep. Lee Randall, R-Broadus, $507,674

Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, $497,291

Sen. Taylor Brown, R-Huntley, $473,563

Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, $380,160

Sen. Donald Steinbeisser, R-Sidney, $241,761

Rep. Daniel Salomon, R-Ronan, $223,865

Sen. Ron Arthun, R-Wilsall, $213,800

Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, $188,427

Rep. Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, $141,770

Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, $123,378

Rep. Christy Clark, R-Choteau, $122,287

Sen. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, $89,847

Rep. Roy Hollandsworth, R-Brady, $80,675

Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, $73,309

Rep. Lila Evans, R-Browning, $35,879

Sen. Eric Moore, R-Miles City, $20,781

Rep. Sterling Small, R-Busby, $7,677

Sen. Bradley Hamlett, D-Cascade, $5,458

Rep. Walter McNutt, R-Sidney, $4,121

Rep. Tom Berry, R-Roundup, $2,819

Rep. Joe Read, R-Ronan, $2,233

Rep. Randy Brodehl, R-Kalispell, $1,863

Rep. Matthew Rosendale, R-Glendive, $1,083

Rep. Jeffrey Welborn, R-Dillon, $972

Sen. Cliff Larsen, D-Missoula, $732

Rep. Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend, $324

Rep. Don Roberts, R-Billings, $271

Sen. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, $47

Those are all living people, as far as I know. I mention that fact because another report from the GAO indicates dead farmers have also received millions in farming welfare:

The Agriculture Department might be sending millions of dollars in subsidies to dead farmers, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Monday.

The agency looked at crop insurance data from 2008 to 2012 and “found that $22 million in subsidies and allowances may have been provided on behalf of an estimated 3,434 program policyholders two or more years after death.”

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), which subsidizes crop insurance, appears to have the biggest problem with making payments to people who are deceased, according to investigators.

The GAO found that the RMA “cannot be certain” the subsidies it distributes are proper because it does not compare policies to death records.

The data also suggests that environmental payments are going to the dead. Between 2008 and 2012, the GAO estimates $10.6 million went to 1,103 dead farmers. The National Resource Conservation Service is not reviewing its subsidies to check, the agency said.

The revelations come as Congress is struggling to pass a trillion-dollar farm bill to reauthorize farm subsidies, crop insurance and food stamps.

That report was from July, 2013, when Republicans were trying to cut food assistance from the farm bill.

The Republicans in Montana don’t have a coherent argument for denying Medicaid dollars, especially when their western counterparts in other states, like Wyoming, are slowly realizing expanding Medicaid makes sense. From the link:

With a plan released Wednesday by the administration of Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, Wyoming has become the latest state seeking to expand Medicaid.

The plan would provide Medicaid coverage to an additional 18,000 low-income people, according to the state’s health department. If it wins federal and state legislative approval, Wyoming will join 27 states that have expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act, including nine with Republican leadership.

Montana Republicans, though, are more interested in purging moderates from their ranks to create an ideologically pure distillation of conservatism than they are in actually doing the job they were elected to do to govern this fine state. Hopefully there is spine enough from the few remaining sane Republicans in Montana to repeat what states like Wyoming have done.

It’s time to get back to work. I hope the bartenders in Helena are ready for this year’s session.

  1. evdebs

    Thanks for “doing the numbers.”

  2. steve kelly

    This source puts Montana at #6 state most dependent on federal dollars.

    Return on Taxpayer Investment: $1.55
    Funding as Percentage of Revenue: 38.5 percent
    Federal Employees Per Capita: 13.53

    Ag, timber, oil and gas subsidies represent classic welfare for those who need it least. Or one could consider it a government reinvestment in itself and in pro-government legislators — kind of like the way K Street controls pro-corporate campaigns of both major parties. The result is ultra-corrupt, big government/big business collusion with enough pr $$$ set aside to confuse a majority of those who still believe in democratic elections.

  3. Turner

    I’d like to see a more recent tally of farm subsidy dollars. I wonder where it can be found.

  4. JC

    They released the name of the kid the policeman shot and more details: Kaileb Williams. May you RIP…

    He was supposedly high on spice, and had his girl friend in a headlock. If the initial reports are accurate, then this is a real (most likely justified) horrible incident/police shooting. I met Kaileb 6 weeks or so ago, and he was just the sweetest kid who wouldn’t have harmed anybody. That he relapsed on spice is just a tragedy.

    So yeah, we have a scourge on the loose in Missoula. I hope the investigation discovers what form of “spice” he had, and where it came from.

    Potentially, there are forms of spice out there that can induce psychotic behavior. I’d hate to think that there is a bunch more of that drug available on the streets, or at convenience stores. We don’t need any more crises like this.

    • Craig Moore

      I am quite sorry to learn about this boys tragic end. Prayers for his family for this horrible loss. As to “Spice” fighting it looks like a losing battle. Users and potential uses need eyes-wide-open education. Pictures and all. IMHO purchasing street drugs by those that feed the food chain of illegal commerce that also brings in the truly nasties should make smarter decisions while admitting to themselves their culpability in supporting recreational experimentation.

      Is it possible that this blog will take a stand similar stand to “Hands up, Don’t shoot” against this tragedy or is outrage only selective?

      • lizard19

        what does Hands Up Don’t Shoot have to do with this incident? if there was Spice in this kids system, then it’s availability is where the sensible outrage should be placed. Spice has been a contributing factor to other tragedies. Nathan Calvert had been smoking it for weeks before randomly entering a home in Dixon and stabbing a man and his wife. I don’t understand why you’re trying to conflate this with the racially charged environment of Ferguson.

  5. Eric

    Numbers ? There are 50 States – and only 16 States have fallen for expanding Medicaid (AKA Obamacare).

    Why? Because the federal government is broke, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, and the Govt’s promises of funding cannot be kept.

    You can have your own opinions about Obamacare, but not your own math Liz !

    • evdebs

      This is bunk, Eric.

      The reason that states have refused the money is entirely ideological, not fiscal. The Kochs wanted to the ACA to fail and the Tea Party bozo governors have complied. That won their minons many seats in Congress as they rattled uniformed voters.

      Those states refused to set up exchanges which would have greatly expanded ease of signing up and expansion of coverage to a very needy sector of the population and ultimately reduced costs.

      Eight or nine states even want to set up their redundant Medicare system with federal dough. Kansas, which has been driven to immense deficits thanks to the Koch’s stooge governor, can’t do anything right, but wants to create an entire new bureaucracy to handle it.

      • Eric

        It’s a great bill, but due to hatred of Obama most State’s haven’t implemented it? That argument doesn’t work. Didn’t The Great Leader get re-elected in many of those States?

        • lizard19

          no one’s arguing that it’s a great bill. that’s your delusions replacing reality.

        • evdebs

          I hate to tell you, Eric, but you’re clueless. Many of those states refusing Medicaid expansion had Republican governors and legislatures. The Tea Party Governors of some that Obama won weren’t on the ballot in 2012 or 2008.

          A couple who resisted expansion were defeated this past election, including Parnell in Alaska, whose resistance probably contributed to his narrow defeat, though others survived (thanks to an enormous flood of Kochbucks), such as Walker in Wisconsin.

          Corbett in Pennsylvania got the boot, but he had capitulated last year and finally accepted expansion. LePage in Maine survived reelection, thanks to a third party candidacy. In Iowa, the governor for life had no difficulty getting reelected,

          The bulwark of the resistance came from Tea Party types in the Old Confederacy, though Rick Scott, the HCA bandit, accepted it in Florida, and from the new one: Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

          North Carolina was able to disenfranchise enough voters to keep it in the “R” column after Obama won it in 2008, helping that with a disgraceful gerrymandering in 2012.

          Virginia has had a Democratic governor for a year, but both houses of the legislature are Republican. Obama won it in 2012 with only 51% of the vote. Like N.C., Republicans gerrymandered it.

          Despite their polarization, Utah and Wyoming are considering expanding Medicaid. Even Indiana and Tennessee may join the parade.

          Like Liz, I’m a proponent of single payer and was very unhappy that Obama and Baucus made sure it wasn’t a possibility. They threw away a Democratic majority with a lame bill that the Kochboys were able to attack..

          If you don’t want to be mistaken for a liar or an idiot, you should check your facts first, Eric.

    • JC

      If the federal government is broke paying for healthcare, maybe it should quit giving tax breaks for health insurance policies that employers buy for their employees. Why should the working poor pay for those tax breaks when the middle class shmucks like you just give them the “I got mine, you just f*ck off” finger?

      Actually, if you would have paid attention to the ACA run up, you would have remembered that it was classified as “deficit neutral”, unlike your boy GWB’s foolish wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      You know, if you keep pissin’ on the serfs, they’re going to revolt sooner or later.

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