State Governments Interrupted

I’ve spent the last few years watching Republican Governor Bobby Jindal enact the ALEC agenda 121211-michigan-2-8a.photoblog600down 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.

Various reports have concluded that administrative costs for 401(k) plans are much higher than those for Social Security — up to twenty times more.

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.

The state’s governor has declared war on Michigan’s unions with the usual exception of police and firefighter unions.

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.

The Fox News Propaganda Network is on full steam ahead mode.

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. 

Protests continue.

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 reportedState 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.


27 Comments on “State Governments Interrupted”

  1. dakinikat says:

    emptywheel ‏@emptywheel

    And, within minutes of KochBots rolling out false narrative abt violence, it’s on Drudge. http://bit.ly/SOJnn7

  2. dakinikat says:

    The governor is expected to sign this bill into law as early as tomorrow. Michigan’s Chamber of Commerce is thrilled.

  3. Beata says:

    Thanks for this excellent post, Dak. I can’t believe what is happening in the Midwest these days. The situation in Indiana is likely to get worse when Mike Pence takes over as Governor. Several top Indiana GOP state lawmakers have already said even they are opposed to some of Pence’s extremist plans.

    I have a terrible headache today so I will leave analysis of the news to the sharper minds here. Have a good evening, Sky Dancers!

    • dakinikat says:

      I can’t believe how they are just obviously ramrodding special interest legislation through over the protests of the voters. It’s naked usurpation of democracy.

  4. prolixous says:

    Dak, thanks so much for your wonderful insight and expertise to help us understand these issues. I truly appreciate what you do and if no one tells you this today, “you did it perfectly!”

  5. RalphB says:

    Anyone who believes the 1% and the Republicans are going to change anything just because they lost another election isn’t paying attention. They may downplay some rhetoric inside the beltway but their actions will be the same as always. The only solution would seem to be their utter destruction.

  6. RalphB says:

    Krugman on an ultra-delusional piece in Tiger Beat on the Potomac. Charles Pierce’s post is pure platinum quality.

    Paul Krugman: Delusions of Wisdom

    Both Jonathan Chait and Charles Pierce have a field day with a Politico piece titled, without a hint of irony, Crafting a boom economy. In said piece they talk to various Very Serious People, and divine the insider consensus on What Must Be Done — which mainly seems to involve, naturally, cutting Social Security and Medicare while reducing corporate tax rates.
    […]
    That great economist Jeb Bush — yes, Jeb Bush — is quoted as declaring that ending structural deficits would boost the growth rate hugely; this would come as news to any economist I know. And, um, aren’t our structural deficits largely the result of his brother’s policies?
    […]
    The whole theme of the Politico piece is that great things would happen if only the insiders could override all this messy democracy stuff. But the real lesson is that those insiders are not only self-dealing, but profoundly ignorant and wrong-headed. It’s too bad that so many journalists still can’t see that.

    • dakinikat says:

      Would these people have their appendix moved by a shoe salesman? I fear so!!!

    • dakinikat says:

      Last paragraph is the ding ding ding moment

      But the real lesson is that those insiders are not only self-dealing, but profoundly ignorant and wrong-headed. It’s too bad that so many journalists still can’t see that.

    • RalphB says:

      Joe Weisenthal on Tiger Beat’s ridiculous crapola.

      Business Insider: POLITICO’S Hilarious Article On What It Will Take To Make The Economy ‘Boom’

      Really, where on earth are the bold ideas here that can only be discussed in private? Tax reform, entitlement cuts, oil & gas spending, and more high-skilled immigration are the most publicly talked about ideas from CEOs, Squawk-Box guests, and Simpson & Bowles-types. They’re always presented as being “bi-partisan.”

      There are actually some ideas that could help the economy that don’t get talked about. Bailing out underwater homeowners is an idea that a lot of economists favor, but which Obama won’t touch. Actually, pretty much all stimulus is considered “unserious” if proposed. But we don’t get any of that here. Just cliche ideas repackaged as a-political wisdom.

  7. Fredster says:

    kat: You know how I feel about lil Booby, he should have been brought up on charges of malfeaseance a loooong time ago. Of course the perfect irony to me was when his voucher plan started taking away $$s from St. Tammany. Those folks got all up in arms and then equally so again when the state proposed to shut down SELA state hospital. The St. Tammanians got just exactly what they voted for, but they didn’t think he’d do it to them. Sweet justice!

    • dakinikat says:

      yup … he was at the Brookings Institute talking about educational reform today. Sort’ve like sending satan in to talk about redemption …

      Jindal only is out for Jindal and he’s all about whatever his next step is …

      I hope they have a huge supply of KY up there

      • Fredster says:

        LOL! And so true. Lil Booby hasn’t yet realized that his days on the national circuit are numbered. If the Repubs want a “new face” it isn’t going to be his. Rubio or Ryan probably, but not Booby.

    • RalphB says:

      Fredster, that brings up a good question. Why do people who vote for these cretins always seem to think the bad policiies won’t affect them? Downright magical thinking.

      • Fredster says:

        @ralphb: well they think any actions those jerks will take will only be directed toward “those” people. They found out quickly that they are “those” people too!

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Michigan is really the worst of the states that are doing these things, because they have a law that allows the governor to step in and throw out the elected officials in a city and install a city manager. It’s completely undemocratic and probably unconstitutional. I don’t understand how they have gotten away with it.

  9. RalphB says:

    From Krugman’s blog:

    A Brief Note on Mary Matalin

    The briefer the better, I’d say. But anyway, yesterday on “This Week” she attacked me for being a “polemicist”; what’s interesting is the context. I was trying to correct a claim she was making that was factually wrong. She threw out a number — $1.7 trillion from capping deductions — as evidence that the G.O.P. claim that it can raise lots of revenue from high-income Americans without raising tax rates is true.

    But I know that number, which is discussed here. It’s what you get from capping itemized deductions at $17,000 — which has two problems. First, a significant part of the burden would fall on families well below the 98th percentile, so it would not be equivalent to raising the top rate. Second, it would devastate charitable giving. If you try to fix these things, you get a much smaller number; the White House says around $450 billion.

    So Matalin yelled “polemicist” precisely when I was trying to ensure that we had the facts straight. Are you surprised?