Back to Work
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.