State Governments InterruptedPosted: December 11, 2012
I’ve spent the last few years watching Republican Governor Bobby Jindal enact the ALEC agenda down here and gut our state’s public education and health system to the point where it’s marginally functional. All the while, he’s been taking state assets and selling them to the lowest bidders–who also represent his donor class–in the name of expensive privatization. Any one with one of these Republican governors in office right now are watching many legislative agendas rammed through that have nothing to do with what the voting populace wants or needs. Florida, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and now Michigan are being plundered by today’s Privateers.
None of this privatization drive has anything to do with quality of service or cost savings. Its purely away to transfer public wealth and the rights of people to corporations. Cuts to medicare and destruction of the social security program will not improve market outcomes, do not control costs, and do not benefit the stakeholders. Facts and other practical decision variables are not at the root at these moves. They are naked, political plays by plutocratic power brokers who are trying to recoup their losses in investments like Mittens who didn’t pay. They’ve turned their sights to vulnerable states and populations. Private insurance is expensive and cost-inducing.
According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance , medical administrative costs as a percentage of claims are about three times higher for private insurance than for Medicare. The U.S. Institute of Medicine reports that the for-profit system wastes $750 billion a year on waste, fraud, and inefficiency. As a percent of GDP, we spend $1.2 trillion more than the OECD average .
That’s an amount equal to the entire deficit wasted on private medical care companies. One out of every six dollars we earn goes to doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies.
Ending social security for its less effective and more expensive private counterparts benefits no one but Wall Street.
It would be difficult to find, or even imagine, any short-term-profit-based private insurer that is fully funded for the next 25 years .
At the state level, we have wars on unions, women, and public servants. No where has the naked political aggression against working people and voters been more obvious this month than Michigan. The Lame Duck House Legislature is shoving through a “Right to Work” Law that is pure union busting. It will not increase jobs. It will not provide better outcomes for work or state budgets. What it will do is decrease the political clout of unions in key states that Republicans cannot win.
The Michigan House has approved one out of two right-to-work bills Tuesday. According to the AP, “The Republican-dominated chamber passed a measure dealing with public-sector workers 58-51 as protesters shouted ‘shame on you’ from the gallery and huge crowds of union backers massed in the state Capitol halls and on the grounds.”
A vote is still to come today on a second bill focusing on private sector workers.
Moreover the symbolism of Michigan’s pending right-to-work legislation cannot be overlooked. Michigan is the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers union–the state is practically synonymous with auto workers and other union jobs. Furthermore, Snyder’s support for the bill represents a shift in views for the Republican governor in his first term. Since he took office in January, 2011, Snyder has maintained that a right-to-work bill is not part of his agenda, and if he signs the legislation today, as is expected, he will likely face a harsh political backlash.
While Democrats lost their battle in Wisconsin, Democrats argued that the battle helped to energize the base for what turned out to be a decisive win for President Obama in the state.
And in Ohio, despite the recovering economy, Gov. John Kasich, who had his own losing battle with labor earlier this year, has approval ratings much lower than President Obama in Ohio. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Kasich with 42 percent job approval rating–his highest of his tenure, but is still 12 points below that of President Obama’s 54 percent rating.
With all three Governors up in 2014, the success for labor will ultimately be judged by whether or not these three are re-elected.
Fox News host Gregg Jarrett on Monday advised a woman who thought Michigan’s so-called “right to work” law was unfair because it allowed some workers to benefit from unions without paying dues to just “go get a job elsewhere.”
Speaking to Fox News host Martha MacCallum, Michigan state Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R) defended the legislation by saying that workers “will be able to choose how they spend their money.”
After her interview with Meekhof, MacCallum noted that Fox News had featured a woman who was angry that the anti-union law would allow workers who didn’t pay union dues to unfairly receive benefits.
“One woman, in a soundbite we had earlier, said ‘I don’t want to work somebody who doesn’t have to pay what I have to pay.’ That is part of the outrage there,” MacCallum explained to Jarrett.
“I mean, if she doesn’t like that, she can go get a job elsewhere, I suppose,” Jarrett opined in reply. “But the point here is, it seems anathema to democracy to force somebody to join a union, to force somebody as a condition of having a job to join a union.”
People that benefit from the services provided by a Union should pay for them. Most people will free ride on union benefits. The true benefit to Republicans is that Union Dues will not fill Democratic political coffers while Billionaires will continue their Citizens United Funding Fest.
As usual, the name “right to work” itself is a term meant to mislead the public. The Fox reporter played into that completely. It’s really about open and closed shops.
Law enforcement officials said they wouldn’t let Michigan become another Wisconsin, where demonstrators occupied the state Capitol around the clock for nearly three weeks last year to protest similar legislation.
Armed with tear gas canisters, pepper spray and batons, State Police officers guarded the Capitol as protesters shouted “No justice, no peace!” and “Shut it down!” NBC station WILX of Lansing reported. State Police confirmed that one of their troopers used pepper spray on one protester. No details were immediately available; the agency said it was still gathering information.
On the lawn, four large inflatable rats were set up to mock Snyder, House Speaker Jase Bolger, Senate Republican leader Randy Richardville, and Dick DeVos, a prominent conservative businessman who union leaders say is behind the bills.
This is just so obviously the work of wealthy corporate donors who are insisting their agendas be passed despite public outcry and votes. The Republican led legislature is also attack women’s rights in a last minute attempt to shove right wing legislature through after losing at the polls.
Republican Senator Mark Jansen was the main sponsor of S.B. 613. This bill passed the state Senate and has been referred to the House Insurance committee. It prohibits abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered by the state insurance exchange in accordance with the Affordable Care Act unless a rider is purchased. So unless a female pays extra, she has no coverage in the case of an emergency. That would include an abortion needed to protect her life. How on earth is any woman supposed to look into the future and see if she would need to purchase such a rider? And one would wonder at the cost of such coverage.
Mr. Jansen didn’t stop there, though. He also sponsored S.B. 614 which requires any woman purchasing any insurance in Michigan to purchase a rider for abortion coverage. It’s sneaky about it, though. It prohibits any licensee, health care agency or facility from accepting reimbursement from any health plan for elective abortion services unless it’s from one of the aforementioned riders. Additionally, insurance providers won’t be required to even offer these riders. Again, women are expected to be able to predict the future and buy one of them. If they can even find an insurance company that offers one. And be able to afford it.
The Michigan House jumped right on board with these policies, passing H.B. 1293 and H.B. 1294, both sponsored by Rep. Joseph Hune and containing the same provisions. These were given “immediate effect.” These bills essentially ban any health care policy issued in Michigan from providing abortion coverage, making it almost impossible to obtain a medically necessary procedure.
This should show every one exactly how extreme and right wing Republican politicians have become recently and how detached they are from the will of their voters. This should be an outrage and a warning to every concerned voter in the country. This amounts to trying to overturn election results. The governor of Michigan has caved to plutocratic privateers and should be removed from office. The legislature was tied to a spending bill so it cannot be removed by voters like a similar bill was treated in Ohio.
Michigan can’t go the way of Ohio, where a referendum last year reversed legislation that would have restricted collective bargaining. Michigan’s right-to-work legislation is attached to an appropriations bill, meaning it can’t be reversed by referendum. Also, it may be too risky to wait and go the way of Wisconsin, where litigation continues after a judge struck down parts of a collective bargaining law.
However, in Michigan, there is an option of a “statutory initiative,” which would be permitted if opponents of the bills can collect enough signatures to equal 8% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, union leaders say. A so-called veto referendum could be triggered by collecting signatures equal to 5% of the votes cast.
A statutory initiative would allow voters to cast a ballot on right-to-work legisation in November 2014, when Gov. Rick Snyder, who has said he would support the legislation, will be up for reelection.
“There are multiple options for a referendum,” a senior labor leader said Tuesday. “All options are on the table. This fight is far from over.”
It’s unclear whether unions are promoting a referendum now to warn Snyder of the repercussions that signing the legislation would have.
Democrats including Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. John Dingell met with Snyder on Monday to urge him to veto the legislation. The governor promised to “seriously” consider their concerns, but Democrats remained worried that he would sign the bills.
“The governor has a choice: He can put this on the ballot, and let the voters make the determination, or he can jam it through a lame-duck session,” Dingell said Monday.