Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Last Call For Unkindest Cut

Add Texas now to the growing list of Republican-controlled states using the Planned Parenthood gotcha videos as a flimsy pretense for cutting health care to millions of women.

Texas health officials have decided to cut Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program entirely because of issues revealed in an undercover video, the Houston Chronicle has learned. 
In a letter to be sent to state Planned Parenthood affiliates on Monday, officials say they made their decision because a video released earlier this summer showed that the women's health organization alters its abortion process to preserve fetal organs and allows private citizens into its lab wearing only gloves. 
The private citizens allowed into the lab were the secret videographers, who were actors posing as people trying to buy fetal tissue for medical research. 
"The State has determined that you and your Planned Parenthood affiliates are no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner," writes Stuart Bowen, the inspector general of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. 
The video was part of a series released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress which have caused a nationwide firestorm and incited at least four separate investigations in Texas. The health commission inquiry was ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood clinics three years ago, but kicking the organization off Medicaid will mean millions of women will no longer receive women's health services at all and since this is federal money for a federal program, Texas may not actually be able to do this.

We'll see, but I'm wondering how long moderate red state voters are going to put up with this when it starts affecting them personally.

The answer of course is "as long as you keep voting in Republicans."

If You Don't Vote, You Can't Win

Dear Millenials: If you are somehow still wondering why your local government politicians are invariably the kind of folks elected by old cranky conservatives, it's because you do not give enough of a damn to vote in local elections.

Researchers at Oregon's Portland State University released a report this summer outlining patterns among voters in local elections utilizing voting data from four cities: Charlotte, Detroit, Portland and Saint Paul. Unsurprisingly, they found that most people are not voting in local elections. Only about 30 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for mayor in the course of the study. 
The most striking conclusions from the report, however, highlight the huge gap in voter-participation rates between younger and older voters. The odds of a voter aged 65 or older casting a ballot in a mayoral election compared to a voter aged 18-34 were as high as 19 to 1 in the primary and 13.8 to 1 in the general election. Even more distressing is that these voting-odds ratios were commonly as high as 20 to 50 to 1 in some of the four cities' census tracts.

So yeah, you think your Mayor, city council members, county commissioners, and school board members are all douchebags?  Cool.

Did you actually vote in your city's local election?  Answer is no.  You're being outvoted as much as 50 to one by aging Boomers, so guess what?  They get what they want, and they make you pay for it all.

Until people under 35, or even people under 50, start giving a damn about more than just presidential races, the old folks who vote GOP will control your town, your county, and much of your state.

Are there any local races where you live coming up here in two weeks?  Election Day is right around the corner.  For Kentucky it's the Governor's race but other races will be decided like Attorney General and Agriculture Commissioner.  Is there a race for Mayor where you live?  School board? County Commission?

You don't know?

Better find out.  Better yet, go vote in two weeks.

Better yet, bring your friends.

Unless you like getting outvoted 50 to 1.

Any Juice Left In This Orange?

There's only a couple of weeks before the US government hits the debt ceiling and while a lot of digital ink has been spilled on John Boehner's replacement, it's safe to say that he'll still be Speaker of the House when the bill comes due in early November. The GOP-controlled Congress still has to raise the debt ceiling or risk a catastrophic debt default, and that means the worst Speaker in recent history has to get the GOP to actually govern.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has his work cut out for him in passing a bill to raise the $18.1 trillion debt ceiling. 
The lame-duck Speaker needs to win 30 Republican votes to lift the government’s borrowing limit, even if the entire House Democratic Caucus votes with him.

Boehner was only able to pull 28 votes the last time the House approved a clean debt-ceiling increase — and one-third of those lawmakers have since left Congress. 
Now Boehner is even weaker politically, and he has little time to act. 
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has urged Congress to raise the debt limit before Nov. 3, when his team will have exhausted its powers to remain under the cap. 
After that date, the government would be left with just cash on hand to pay its bills, which analysts believe could run dry as soon as Nov. 10. 
The White House has refused to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, and talks on funding the government appear to be on a separate track — giving Boehner little leverage. 
Most observers see a clean hike by the House as the only way out, and they think Boehner’s decision to resign as Speaker was a sign of his intentions. 
“Boehner took the bullet for the good of the party,” said Steve Bell, senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Senate GOP staffer. 
Bell also thinks Boehner could win more votes to raise the debt ceiling than the 18 members who stuck with him in 2014. 
“I think he’s got at least 50 to 70 members who will really go with him,” Bell said.

If Bell is correct, then a clean debt ceiling hike will pass easily.  The question is how much of a hike, and whether or not the four Senate Republicans all floundering in the 2016 GOP nomination polls are going to try to blow up our economy in order to make political points with the base.

But if Bell is wrong, and a clean debt ceiling hike can't pass at all, then the country will suffer greatly, and so help me the fact that I'm not sure if it will pass truly scares me.  The combination of toxic Tea Party politics heading into 2016 plus Boehner's massive weakness makes me really wonder if we'll get through this without tremendous damage.

After all, the pundits have spent that last several months being completely wrong about the GOP.


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