Friday, April 8, 2016

Last Call For The "Moderate" John Kasich

You can tell John Kasich's presidential primary bid is on its deathbed as he's now trying to prove just how much he can punish Ohio's poor and sick.

Gov. John Kasich's administration projects tens of thousands of poor Ohioans will lose Medicaid coverage while taxpayers save nearly $1 billion under a plan to charge new fees for the government health coverage and impose penalties on those who miss payments. 
The proposal, subject to federal approval, would require those being treated for breast and cervical cancer, teens coming out of foster care and other working-age, nondisabled adults on Medicaid to make monthly payments into a health-savings account to help cover their expenses beginning Jan. 1, 2018
Nearly 3 million Ohioans are enrolled in Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled. About half would be subject to the new requirements which must be approved by federal regulators. Medicaid officials project an average of 130,000 beneficiaries would lose coverage each year of the five-year pilot. The number is not cumulative over five years because numbers may be duplicative, they say. 
The projections and plan details were included in a six-page summary released Tuesday night by the Ohio Department of Medicaid. A full draft of the state's request will be unveiled April 15, initiating a one-month public comment period which will include two public hearings, April 21 in Columbus and May 3 at a location to be announced. State Medicaid Director John McCarthy intends to submit the request to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in June. 
Advocates for the poor say the plan will cause many to be lose Medicaid. 
John Corlett, president and executive director of the Center for Community Solutions and former state Medicaid director, said he believes the state is underestimating the number of beneficiaries who will lose coverage. 
"It would undo a lot of the progress of Medicaid expansion," he said. 
More than 650,000 adults with annual incomes under 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,394 a year, have signed up for benefits since Jan. 1, 2014, when Ohio expanded Medicaid through Obamacare. 
State Medicaid spokesman Sam Rossi said feedback will be included in the request, but cautioned "we can't change the proposal because the language was prescriptive."

This is where Mike Pence in Indiana has gone with Medicaid expansion there, and where Matt Bevin here in Kentucky eventually wants to go: cough up the cash for "medical savings accounts" which you will lose whether or not you actually use it, or lose your Medicaid coverage.

The problem of course is that Ohio has a much larger population than Indiana, so we're talking about hundreds of thousands losing their Medicaid for not being able to come up with the $99 per year.

When that happens, it'll be the fault of those lazy people for not paying into the system many of them already pay into thanks to sales taxes, payroll taxes, and state income taxes.

But of course kicking half a million plus off Medicaid is the entire point.  Kasich's plan is to do that all over the country and make it tens of millions instead.

Between A Rock And A School Of Hard Knocks

I'm torn over this BuzzFeed News story about a massive class-action lawsuit being leveled against NYC public schools for failing students of color across the board.

A New York City mother knew something was seriously wrong when the school called to say her eight-year old son had stabbed himself in the ear with a pencil. He had been bullied relentlessly for months, she said, and when she came to pick him up that day, he told her he had only wanted to make the insults stop. His leg was marked with visible bruises from a bully’s foot.

New York City public schools are bound by law to protect children from bullying by investigating and remediating acts of violence. But the mother said that never happened for her special-needs son. He lost sleep because of stress and anxiety for a half a year until he was finally moved to another class, away from the bully who had repeatedly hit, harassed, and chased him.

The boy and his mother are part of a new class-action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education, alleging a systemic and unaddressed problem with violence in New York City public schools. Repeatedly, the parents allege, the country’s largest school district has failed to follow its own policies in dealing with an “epidemic” of violence against children. In a violation of state law and its own policies, it has failed to report and investigate incidents, failed to punish teachers who abuse students, and, at times, retaliated against students were themselves bullied.

The suit will be filed late Wednesday night in the Eastern District Court of New York, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said. It is the first time a class-action lawsuit has been filed over school violence in New York.

The suit alleges that New York City students are being deprived of their right to a public education because of the city’s “ineffective and inadequate” response to school violence. Those students are disproportionately black and Latino — meaning, the suit says, the city is violating students’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection.

“I want the DOE to be held accountable for how they handle violence,” the bullied boy’s mother said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “They should have had to report and investigate what happened to my son.”

And yes, unequal resources, unequal schools, de facto segregation and the mass abandonment of public schools is very much a gigantic issue of racial and social justice.

Having said that, here's the part that horrifies me.

Backing the lawsuit is one of the most powerful forces in New York politics: Families for Excellent Schools, an advocacy group that spent $10 million on state lobbying in 2014, more than any other lobby group. Until recently, FES’s efforts have been focused on promoting charter schools, in part by skewering the academic failures of the city’s public schools through biting ad campaigns.

“We think the Department of Education is not following the law, and in doing so, they’re jeopardizing the academic and physical livelihoods of kids across the city,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, the organization’s executive director, in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “Students aren’t being protected, and the DOE isn’t following their obligations under the law to remedy it.”

It's that last sentence that should be ringing alarm bells across the nation.  We know full well what the "remedy" of the multipl billion dollar charter school indistry is: turning America's public education system into for-profit centers where the same students they claim to be protecting are victimized in the name of making money off taxpayers.  We know charter schools have failed in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, California, DC and elsewhere.  Now the largest city in the US is about to fall for a scam as big as they come, and the grifters are using poor black families in terrible schools in order to do it.

And this is again an area where the Obama administration shoulders a lot of the blame.  Arne Duncan was a disaster as an Education Secretary, and his Race to the Top program and Common Core standards turned into just another way to push charter schools and endless testing quotas, micromanagement of teachers, and more racial inequality in education.

As a direct result, the charter school industry is sweeping in to pick up the pieces, and more and more states are willing to give them a foot in the door.  Republicans are gleefully helping them along with massive austerity cuts to schools and universities, leaving districts begging for private money.

I'm afraid this lawsuit, while correct, is going to be what the charter school corporate goons need to break the largest school district in the country.

Yes, racial disparities in public schools must be addressed.  But charter school funded lawsuits may make things worse in the long run.

Big Dog Craps On The Porch Again

Former President Bill Clinton is a great guy, but I still have major issues with his policies from the 90's, including (and especially) the 1994 crime bill that he cooked up along with Joe Biden.  When Black Lives Matter activists showed up to challenge him as a campaign event for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania yesterday, the Big Dog fully went off his chain.

In a prolonged exchange Thursday afternoon, former President Bill Clinton forcefully defended his 1994 crime bill to Black Lives Matter protesters in the crowd at a Hillary Clinton campaign event.

He said the bill lowered the country's crime rate, which benefited African-Americans, achieved bipartisan support, and diversified the police force. He then addressed a protester's sign, saying:

"I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children," Clinton said, addressing a protester who appeared to interrupt him repeatedly. "Maybe you thought they were good citizens .... You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who cause young people to go out and take guns."

The Clintons have faced criticism from BLM activists and younger black voters for months now over that bill, which they say put an unfairly high number of black Americans in prison for nonviolent offenses.

After a protester interrupted him repeatedly, Bill Clinton began to take on that critique directly, making the claim that his crime bill was being given a bad rap.

"Here's what happened," Clinton said. "Let's just tell the whole story."

"I had an assault weapons ban in it [the crime bill]. I had money for inner-city kids, for out of school activities. We had 110,000 police officers so we could keep people on the street, not in these military vehicles, and the police would look like the people they were policing. We did all that. And [Joe] Biden [then senator and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee] said, you can't pass this bill, the Republicans will kill it, if you don't put more sentencing in it."

"I talked to a lot of African-American groups," Clinton continued. "They thought black lives matter. They said take this bill, because our kids are being shot in the street by gangs. We have 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals."

Throughout the spirited defense of his policy, Clinton continued to be interrupted, and he repeatedly seemed to single out one protester.

"She doesn't wanna hear any of that," Clinton said to the protester. "You know what else she doesn't want to hear? Because of that bill, we have a 25-year low in crime, a 33-year low in murder rate. And because of that and the background check law, we had a 46-year low in the deaths of people by gun violence, and who do you think those lives were? That mattered? Whose lives were saved that mattered?" 

Now, I understand that it wasn't Hillary who passed that bill in 1994.  I understand also that black leaders and Democrats were some of the loudest voices in calling for police help for crime problems in the 90's. The crack epidemic in black neighborhoods was very, very real and very, very deadly, and it was only the crime component -- something that could affect white people -- that motivated any action at all.

But this is the worst defense of Bill Clinton's policies I think I've ever seen Bill Clinton give.  He certainly did no favors to Hillary with this performance, he came across as a tone-deaf jackass, and he made it all about himself.  There are very legitimate concerns that the bill went too far, and that what Republicans wanted in the bill was a way to punish black neighborhoods and the people who lived there while Democratic leaders looked the other way.  The bill absolutely created the mass incarceration state we have today, and the sentencing laws that Clinton wants to shove off on the GOP in a bill he signed still ended up in a bill he signed.

So yes, I blame Clinton, and to an extent Joe Biden, for that.  Neither one of them have given a good answer to black communities about this legislation, and whenever Bill Clinton especially is given the chance to respond, he acts like a sullen goddamn teenager caught taking Mom's car keys to go on a joyride.

"Maybe you should be a bit more grateful to me" is 100% the wrong attitude to be packing when it comes to the Big Bog and Black Live Matter, and it's not like this hasn't happened before.  Hillary's best campaign surrogate is also clearly her worst at times, and it's way past time the Big Dog goes in the doghouse for a while and starts thinking about what he needs to say to the rest of us.

People talk about how the Clintons have learned since their defeat in 2008, but this issue existed then as well, and Bill Clinton at least hasn't learned a goddamn thing.


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