The big news today is the sequester. Everybody knows my view on this by now.......Third Way wanted this as much as Republicans .....it was planned for goodness sake!!!
What you will see is austerity like that in Europe. They have already gutted Medicaid and now Medicare so most won't access health care, they will be busting public sector unions further with layoffs and then spend the same money on contractors, wage reductions after ever more....making the formerly middle-class poor. The only good from this is that the average democrat now sees how their incumbents sold them down the river and that will mean RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE. We can turn this around quickly and clean house of these corrupted pols.
If you listen to NPR home of all things Third Way you hear their next strategy......recruiting disgruntled Republicans who are just as conservative fiscally as Third Way while sending labor and justice packing. You already see Fox news with lots of minority news and progressive commentators. The voters Third Way want are not interested in what the lower end makes, not interested in social safety nets, public education, low taxes and corporate free market/free trade. That fits perfectly with Republicans who are not so interested in the Republican social issues like abortion, creationism......THESE ARE THE VOTERS THIRD WAY ARE TARGETING BECAUSE......THEY ARE REAGAN LIBERALS!!!! We do not have to worry because labor and justice is much of the democratic party.
This sequester pretty much ended health care entitlements as cuts upon cuts now have starved these programs. These will pay for the corporate tax cuts that are coming next. All the poverty programs will be cut so all of what Obama promised in Head Start and children's health will not happen and with education cuts there will be no teacher bonuses for performance, no school resources.....all supposedly a part of this education reform. WE KNEW IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE PRIVATIZING AND GENTRIFYING ANYWAY DIDN'T WE?
The Justice Department will be cut.....they were barely funded as is and now will have more of an excuse to drop white collar crime for Homeland Security cases. What is important is that this will make trials more difficult to obtain giving reasons for more simply plea agreements and arbitration further deconstructing the Justice and Judicial System.
THIS WAS ALL THE AGENDA FOR THIRD WAY AND WERE WELL ON THE WAY AS IT WAS.
It will take a decade for major damage so we still have time to reverse all of this and it starts with the next elections.
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE AND VOTE ALL THESE THIRD WAY INCUMBENTS OUT OF OFFICE!!!
The most driving policy in expanding violence against women is policy that leads to poverty. Women overwhelmingly are victims when they fall into poverty. Clinton and the Third Way caucus have led the way in removing all of the social safety nets that protected especially women and children from being victimized in poverty. Whether ending Welfare and creating the deepest level of third world poverty in American history or allowing this wealth inequity caused by predatory corporations too large to hold accountable.....and now, sequestration, all in the name of ending New Deal and War on Poverty programs.....AND DO NOT BE FOOLED, THIS HAS BEEN A THIRD WAY OBJECTIVE.....this has placed millions of women young and old in the path of victimization never seen before in the US. These policy votes are just smoke screens and people know it!!!
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE NEXT ELECTIONS!!!
BREAKING: Congress Finally Reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act
By Annie-Rose Strasser, Adam Peck and Josh Israel on Feb 28, 2013 at 11:57 am
After nearly a year of partisan infighting on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives and the Senate have finally agreed to send a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to President Obama’s desk.
On Thursday, by a vote of 286 to 138, the House passed the bipartisan Senate-approved version of the bill — one that includes added protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims of domestic violence. All 138 votes against the bill were Republicans.
A watered down Republican version of the bill, which was offered as a substitute amendment, failed to garner enough votes to slow the process. It was struck down by a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans voted against their own party’s replacement measure.
Twenty-seven members of Congress, all Republicans, voted against both versions:
During the last session of Congress, the GOP-led House approved their watered-down VAWA, while the Senate included expanded provisions in the version it passed. The two were never reconciled, and Congress failed to renew the 18-year-old domestic violence law by the time it disbanded at the end of 2012.
People are now seeing that the Affordable Care Act was not about access and quality care, it was about making global health systems that operate like Wall Street banks in being unaccountable and profit-driven. So, there is no way these profit-driven health industries will care for the old, poor, or chronically ill. That is why Third Way corporate democrats have worked so hard in crafting not only this consolidation policy with insurance mandates but have defunded Medicaid and Medicare to the point people cannot access care because of co-pays and deductibles....same with private plans. Johns Hopkins led the way in these health policies rather than allowing Maryland to go public with universal care. Already health businesses are more profitable than ever says Hopkins as more and more people are denied care.
Anyone watching the kabuki drama presented by Third Way corporate democrats over the paying of national debt saw the manipulation of crises to cover what was their goal from the start..austerity having the people pay the debt created by massive corporate fraud and lost corporate tax revenue. Same as is happening in Europe..our US finance and government officials crafted European austerity and we see it here.
The point is these Third Way knew health funding would be cut and crafted legislation protecting health profits by access loss. They plan for loss of life as well.
We also want to remember that health care fraud of entitlements has been an epidemic and since Baltimore handles a lot of this business we have billions of health fraud in Maryland alone waiting to be recovered through the Attorney General's office, both Eric Holder at the national level and Doug Gansler at the State level.
I have let Dr. Scharfstein of Maryland Health and Mental Hygiene and Dr. Barbot of Baltimore City Health Department that retrieving past health fraud and stopping future health fraud should be the first step towards fixing the health budget but both simply want to say 'there is no fraud'.
The Democratic base makes up 80% of the democratic party and as such simply needs to run and vote for labor and justice candidates to reverse these policies.....we can easily do it before it has the huge impact on the hundreds of millions of Americans victim of these massive corporate frauds.
Sequestration will hit health care in Maryland Hospitals, doctors, health department bracing for cuts
The chief financial officer at Anne Arundel Medical Center is watching the fight over federal spending closely.
If the federal government goes through with sequestration cuts beginning today, Maryland stands to lose millions of dollars in health-related funding that could leave hospitals such as Anne Arundel Medical Center looking for ways to make up lost revenue without weakening medical care.
"We're here for the community and, like all hospitals, we are here 24/7 and will not jeopardize the care of patients," said Bob Reilly, the Annapolis hospital's finance director. "We'll have to look elsewhere — back office or other support functions — and not impact patient care."
The cuts in Maryland could have widespread implications, compromising treatment of the state's youngest residents and pinching some of the area's largest employers.
In addition to health cuts, the state's medical systems and schools also face severe reductions in research dollars. At the National Institutes of Health, which is responsible for more than 80 percent of federal biomedical research funding, sequestration would slash $1.5 billion from the agency's $31 billion budget.
Hospitals, doctors and state health officials are bracing for the possible loss of federal dollars, delaying spending decisions and examining ways to make up the difference.
President Barack Obama said he will meet with congressional leaders to look for a resolution today, even as the cuts begin. Maryland and Virginia could be hit particularly hard because of their proximity to Washington. Federal spending represents 20 percent of Maryland's economy, according to a report by the Pew Center on the States.
"There is no question this will be felt in a lot of different ways," Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein said. "It will degrade our ability to protect and serve the public."
Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and doctors would be slashed 2 percent under current plans. But federal health officials have given little indication how they plan to implement further cuts. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to cut $15.5 billion, with two-thirds coming from Medicare.
That makes it hard to know what to plan for, Sharfstein said, "because it is not clear how much each grant will be affected."
The lack of detail has put hospitals, health departments and doctors in limbo. Many are holding back on making major decisions and fretting over what might happen.
"It leaves hospitals in a very uncertain position," said Carmela Coyle, executive director of the Maryland Hospital Association, which represents 46 hospitals. "It is difficult to understand what level of hiring to do or what level of investment they will be able to afford to make."
Coyle said the cuts come as Maryland hospitals face financial pressure due to rising costs and several years of rate increases below the rate of inflation. The state approved a slight 0.3 percent rate increase for Maryland hospitals last summer.
Medicare makes up a hefty part of a hospital's business — an average of 41 percent of hospital revenue, according to the American Hospital Association. Coyle and other medical groups have warned Medicare cuts could lead to job losses.
"Some people may say 2 percent doesn't sound too significant," Coyle said. "But for Maryland hospitals, that is on top of three years of historically low rate increases."
In recent months, Anne Arundel Medical Center has implemented a plan to reduce costs and operate more efficiently, Reilly said. For instance, it negotiated better contracts for supplies and devised ways to more efficiently sterilize medical instruments. The hospital, where 40 percent of patients are on Medicare, hopes it is better prepared for the impending cuts, he said.
But there is a lot of uncertainty.
The Health Care Cost Services Review Commission, which sets hospital rates in Maryland, will discuss how Medicare cuts would be implemented at a meeting next week.
"The Commission has not made a decision on how the sequester effects will be handled for Maryland hospitals at this stage," Patrick Redmon, the commission's executive director, said in an email.
The White House has said that, under sequester cuts, Maryland would lose about $140,000 for children's vaccinations and about $551,000 for public health issues. Seniors wouldn't get needed meals because $877,000 would get cut from programs that provide nutrition assistance. An additional $1.6 million in grants for substance abuse services also would get wiped out.
Doctors are considering whether they will have to reduce the number of Medicare patients they treat, said Gene Ransom, executive director of the Maryland State Medical Society, or MedChi. They say the cutbacks come as they are spending more money to adopt electronic medical records and implement other facets of health care reform.
Ransom said doctors also worry that patients' pocketbooks may get dinged by cuts and that they will spend less on elective care and other procedures. The Obama administration has said that the cuts will threaten hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs.
"Doctors are very nervous about this," Ransom said. "It's not like the cost of business has gone down."
Baltimore City has the most crony and captured government in the US and Governor Martin O'Malley worked hard to place policy to make it that way. The Mayor has all of the power of budget and development and city council/Board of Estimates is simply a puppet chamber that we elect and then watch as they say they have no power to stop the outrageous policy the 1% are pushing through the mayor's office. Many of these same council people voted to give the mayor that power decades ago....yes, we have pols for life in Maryland so they are feigning protest. Jack Young, the President of the City Council and Board of Estimates has to recuse himself from most of the business before the board because of conflict of interest. Now, the reason there is so much conflict is that when you are in office for decades you have personal connections to most government agencies. So, the problem is RETROACTIVE TERM LIMITS not changes in ETHICS CODE.
In Baltimore we will be organizing a RetroactiveTerm Limit/Recall referenda along with changes to the City Charter that will lessen the powers of the mayors office.
WE KNOW YOU ARE HAVING THE SAME PROBLEMS IN YOUR NECK OF THE WOODS.....PLEASE ORGANIZE FOR THESE CHANGES. RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE NEXT ELECTIONS!!!
Mayor will neither sign nor veto ethics bill Council president Young seeking to vote on more contracts
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 8:48 p.m. EST, February 28, 2013
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she will neither sign nor veto legislation to loosen conflict-of-interest restrictions that have sometimes prevented City Council members from voting on bills.
The legislation — sought by Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young — has been approved by the council, and it is expected to become law without the mayor's signature.
The bill, sponsored by Young, would lift some ethics restrictions to allow him to vote on matters involving city agencies where his family members work. The bill is vehemently opposed by the city's ethics board, which calls it "dangerous" and asked Rawlings-Blake to veto it.
The legislation leaves an "overbroad, even dangerous, exception to an essential, decades-old requirement of the Ethics Code," ethics board chairwoman Linda B. "Lu" Pierson wrote in a letter objecting to the bill.
Young's staff says he abstains from about 20 percent of votes before the Board of Estimates, the city's spending panel, because he has four family members who work in city government. Current ethics law prohibits him from voting on any matter involving their agencies.
According to his most recent disclosure form, Young has a daughter who is a teacher in the city's Head Start program; a brother who is a laborer working for the Department of Public Works; a sister who works as a customer service representative in the Mayor's Office of Information Technology; and a brother who works in human resources in the city housing department.
Lester Davis, Young's spokesman, said the council president has been concerned for years that the ethics law is too restrictive. He said the issue became a particular concern last year when the Board of Estimates voted to approve a 9 percent increase in water and sewage bills. Young wanted to vote against the measure, but was prevented from doing so because of his brother's low-ranking position.
"There's no ethical reason he should not be able to vote on those matters," Davis said. "You have a situation where an individual is handicapped from fully representing his constituents."
City politicians are prevented from voting on matters involving "business entities," including city agencies, in which family members hold positions. Young's legislation in effect says that city agencies should not be considered "business entities."
But the ethics board says the language is too broad. Pierson said the bill draws no distinction between situations like Young's, where his family members are relatively low-level employees, and situations "where the potential conflict or appearance of conflict is quite real."
The City Council unanimously passed the bill without discussion in February. Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector said she initially had objections to the bill, but agreed to vote for it.
"I questioned the law department," Spector said. "I was told it was legal but not ethical."
Councilman James B. Kraft, whose committee heard testimony on the bill, said he was offended by the ethics board's letter.
"They weren't even present at the hearing on the bill," he said. "The letter was so insulting. They've taken this self-righteous stance and they didn't even bother to testify or come to the hearing."
The mayor said the legislation makes the city's law the same as the state's law. "While I understand the intent of the legislation, I also have to balance the concerns of the ethics board," Rawlings-Blake said.
Ian Brennan, her spokesman, said the mayor is hopeful the board and the council can resolve their differences. He said the board backed an earlier version of the bill, but it and Rawlings-Blake feel the measure was amended to be too broad.
Davis said Young respects the board's opinion, but disagrees. "There are already rules that exist against nepotism," he said. "This is a case of honest minds differing."
First, we really need to distinguish these days between the Democratic Party and its base and the Third Way (TW) corporate pols that have temporary lead in the party now, because none of the behavior being taken by these TW corporate pols have anything to do with the Dem Platform. You can't pass a few feel good bills on the one hand/kill democracy with the other and be a democrat for goodness sake.
TW corporate democrats are indeed trying to kill politics as they capture and create the most crony political system in the nation. Incumbents for life as 20+ year Assembly leaders are called, media blackout of issues and primary challengers, closed policy-making as bills become public just as they go to vote. Quasi-governmental agencies filled with appointees doing most of the policy writing/decisions..none of this has anything to do with democracy and especially the dem party. Add to that the push to make it harder for citizens to petition to referendum, the most democratic policy we have and you see we have a crisis in government.
What should make MD citizens RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES NEXT ELECTION is the legislation just passed setting online voting as a way to manipulate elections on par with any developing nations ballot box stuffing ritual. This screams hacking/voter fraud and it is O'Malley leading the way.
Democrats' hypocrisy on voter access Marta Mossburg says O'Malley and others show their double standard by trying to put up barriers to referendums
Many Maryland politicians spritz on Eau de Hypocrisy at least occasionally. But Gov. Martin O'Malley and fellow Democrats bathed in it with their support for the inaccurately labeled Referendum Integrity Act, an effort to make it harder for citizens to petition a law to referendum.
House Bill 493 (SB 673), sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke, a Democrat from Montgomery County, should be called the "Voter Suppression Act," as that is its clear intent.
•It requires that each petition page contain language saying that the information is subject to public disclosure and requires each signer to include a birth date.
•It requires the sponsor of a petition to form a campaign finance committee for each law that is petitioned.
•It requires petition circulators to take a training course and prohibits circulators from being paid per signature.
Petitioning a state law to ballot is already an extremely difficult and expensive process. The three that made it last year were the first in 20 years. The added hurdles contained in the bill ensure that challenging a law is even more costly, time consuming and complex. For example, with identity fraud rampant, who wants to put their birth date on anything? And after gay rights activists publicized the names of those who signed a petition to bring the gay marriage law to a vote of the people, the declaration serves as a warning to any who would dare challenge a law crafted by the Democratic majority. Gallaudet University administrator Angela McCaskill, for example, nearly lost her job for signing the petition. The school suspended her but thankfully reinstated her in January.
The bill also discourages those who circulate petitions from maximizing signatures collected, and it does this for no legitimate purpose. Since signatures go through a rigorous analysis before they are certified, prohibiting petition groups from paying by the signature will only drive up costs by requiring groups to hire more people to get the job done.
What makes this piece of legislation particularly appalling is the fact that Gov. O'Malley and his party have made increasing voter access one of their key missions. In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said, "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote." And as Governor O'Malley wrote recently, "We need to do everything we can to improve access to voting and encourage Marylanders to exercise their most fundamental right."
To that end, Governor O'Malley has pushed legislation (HB224/SB279) to allow voters to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day and expand early voting and the number of early voting centers. The bill would also extend access to absentee ballots online. But after the election, he said the current referendum process is "a little too easy." He added, "There was a requirement that required 50,000 actual physical signatures. Because of the Internet, that has been so easy to do electronically that the legislature probably needs to revisit that."
Why is the Internet good for his legislation but bad for those who seek to challenge Democratic hegemony?
It's simple. He wants to limit competition, even in this one-party state. But he and the bill's sponsor, Delegate Luedtke, won't admit that. According to a report in Maryland Reporter, Delegate Luedtke said, "The goal of the bill is to make the process fair, accountable and free of fraud."
The problem with that argument is that Democrats don't believe in voter fraud. They have long championed access over the integrity of the vote. President Bill Clinton signed 1993 legislation, known as the Motor Voter law, that allows people to register to vote when they get a driver's license or apply for social services. Not everyone who gets a driver's license or welfare is a citizen or someone who is allowed to live here, but that has never concerned them because those "new Americans" tend to like Democrats. They vehemently deny fraud exists unless it slaps them in the face, as in the case of Wendy Rosen. She ran against Republican Andy Harris in Maryland's First Congressional District race last year but withdrew when outed as having voted illegally in Florida.
If increased voter access is the goal, then it should be granted for all, not just for those most likely to increase the power of those who rule. Any other position just highlights the contempt the majority party has for those who dare to challenge the status quo.
Ending loopholes and subsidies while lowering corporate tax rate....which is what both Republicans and Third Way plan to do would have yielded no gain. The middle-class is indeed the target of this sequester as it will cause many middle-class employees working with the Federal government to lose jobs or cut wages ever further.
THE LOOPHOLE AND SUBSIDY DEAL WAS JUST A PLOY.....OBAMA HAS ALREADY COMMITTED TO THAT DEAL THAT LOWERS THE CORPORATE TAX RATE AS WELL.....REVENUE NEUTRAL.
As Sequester Looms, U.S. Set To Repeat Europe's Austerity Mistake
Posted: 28/02/2013 19:35 GMT | Updated: 28/02/2013 20:34 GMT
“Insanity,” as Albert Einstein is said to have once remarked, “is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
The results of Europe’s experiment in fiscal shock therapy are in: austerity has failed, and failed miserably. The eurozone club of 17 countries is now plagued by mass unemployment –- 26 percent and rising in Spain and Greece –- and a prolonged drought in demand. Recession-hit Italy is in the grips of a political crisis; neo-Nazis have been elected to parliament in depression-hit Greece.
Outside the eurozone, the UK economy last week lost its prized triple-A credit rating, having been battered and humiliated by a double-dip recession.
Why then is the United States Congress committed to repeating Europe’s economic mistakes? Some people on this side of the Atlantic are in disbelief as our American cousins seemingly undermine themselves with a succession of politically-inspired yet macroeconomically-illiterate stunts -- from the "supercommittee," to the "fiscal cliff," to the latest legislative Americanism, the "sequester."
The latter is a series of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, scheduled to kick in on Friday, totalling $85 billion (£56 billion) this year and $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The timing of the sequester is odd: just as Europeans have begun to turn their backs on collective, frontloaded austerity measures -- both the European Commission and the OECD have softened their stance on growth-choking spending cuts across southern Europe in recent months -- the Americans seem to have embraced them.
The repercussions of an austerity-induced double-dip recession in the U.S. –- still the world’s biggest and most important economy, by some distance –- could be global. “We were just beginning to feel that the Americans were pulling Europe out of austerity and now they’re going to plunge us all back in it,” says a gloomy Ann Pettifor, director of PRIME Economics and one of the few British economists to have predicted the 2008 financial crash. “The fact is that further [U.S.] contraction is going to crash the global economy.”
Not everyone, however, is as pessimistic as Pettifor. “My sense is that the direct impact of the sequester has been somewhat exaggerated,” argues Jonathan Portes, director of the UK’s National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR). “I’d be surprised if it immediately kicks the U.S. back into recession –- it won’t be the end of the world for them, let alone for us.”
However, Portes, a former chief economist at the UK government’s Cabinet Office and one of this country’s leading critics of austerity, adds: “Obviously, anything that chokes off the U.S. recovery is bad news for us Europeans –- both in the UK and in the eurozone.”
It isn’t just the economic theory coming out of Capitol Hill that bewilders so many European policy-makers; it’s the politics. The sequester “confirms the view that the U.S. is incapable of dealing with [this problem], that the U.S. government is paralysed,” Portes tells The Huffington Post UK. From a European perspective, he says, the U.S. Republican Party “is no longer a responsible party of government in a basic, public finance sense, in terms of making things add up.”
It is also far to the right of its European sister parties. Republicans may say they want austerity but they loathe and recoil from any and all tax rises as a means of bringing down deficits. It is a position that has raised eyebrows in conservative circles across the EU. The center-right prime minister of Spain, Mariana Rajoy, announced a €65bn (£51bn) austerity package in the summer of 2012 that included a 3 percent rise in the sales tax. In October 2012, the centre-right PSD government in Portugal introduced an austerity budget that included a new tax on financial transactions and big increases in property and income taxes.
Here in the UK, the Conservative-led coalition has opted for a deficit reduction plan based on a 4:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax rises. In its very first “emergency budget," in June 2010, value-added tax (VAT) was raised to 20 percent and capital gains tax on high earners was upped from 18 percent to 28 percent.
Europe, suffice to say, lacks a Grover Norquist.
But the most important lesson for the U.S. Republican right and its Tea Party outriders is that austerity is self-defeating – even from a deficit-hawk perspective.
Consider the empirical evidence out of the eurozone. “[T]he sharp austerity measures that were imposed by market and [European] policymakers’ panic not only produced deep recessions in the countries that were exposed to the medicine, but also that up to now this medicine did not work,” wrote academic economists Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji, on Feb. 21 on the Vox website. “In fact it led to even higher debt-to-GDP ratios, and undermined the capacity of these countries to continue to service the debt.” (De Grauwe, incidentally, is not just a professor of economics at the LSE but also a former adviser to EU Commission president Manuel Barroso.)
“When America sneezes,” goes one of the oldest clichés in global politics, “the world catches a cold.” So what happens to the rest of the world –- and, in particular, Europe –- if and when the American economy goes into cardiac arrest? Will eurozone countries such as Spain and Italy be dragged down deeper into depression? Will the UK –- “umbilically linked to the U.S. through our financial systems,” in the words of one leading British economic commentator -- be pushed into an unprecedented triple-dip recession?
The sequester, however, isn’t set in stone; the cuts to government spending are reversible –- even after they’ve been triggered on March 1. There is still time for U.S. political and financial elites to learn the lessons of Europe’s “controlled experiment” in austerity. Or, says Ann Pettifor, they could look at their own not-too-distant past for some guidance.
“I would remind Americans what happened in 1937, when [Franklin] Roosevelt made exactly the same mistake,” she tells HuffPost UK. “The US economy started to recover so he decided to cut spending -- and suddenly everything plunged backwards and he had to reverse course.”
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), over to you.