All eyes are on Florida recently as it hosts the quadrennial Republican National Convention. When many of us think of Florida we imagine DisneyWorld, South Beach celebs’ homes and romantic strolls on beautiful beaches with tropical cocktails in hand.
But, away from all of that glitz and glitter, Florida has big problems of the poverty sort. 1 in 6 residents are on food stamps, increasingly children. Florida’s problems are not something new, either, that can be chalked up to effects of a nationwide economic downturn. Poverty in the Sunshine State is long-standing and deep-rooted, with low rankings in nearly every indicator of child well-being, including teen pregnancy, low birth weight, high school dropout and child abuse rates.
Unfortunately, the Florida legislature is not all that interested in addressing any of those problems because . . . OBAMACARE!
Part of the Affordable Care Act is a group of programs called Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Programs which are designed to facilitate collaboration and partnership at the Federal, State and community levels to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children. Florida with its miserable statistics for child well-being seemed a natural place for an initial start-up of the program. After a year of careful needs assessments, five local “Healthy Start” organizations were awarded funds beginning last September. The full grants were for a five year program.
The most vulnerable families were registered, professional nurses, social workers, and teachers were hired, and by January 1 the programs were up and running: Pinellas County’s Healthy Start set out to help 100 families with children exposed to substance abuse; Putnam, Bradford, and Alachua focused on school readiness and parenting skills; Duval deployed nurses to nurture healthy pregnancies and economic self-sufficiency; and Escambia expanded its Healthy Families program to prevent child abuse and neglect.
To be perfectly clear, MIECHV is an evidence-based, cost-effective program proven to improve the health and development of at-risk children: the federal government was gifting Florida $31.3 million in total grant funding for 5 years of targeted home visitations, no strings attached and no match required. For every dollar invested in a program like this, up to $5.70 is returned to society in the form of reduced government spending like food stamps. Nevertheless, the conservative Florida legislature rejected the following four years of funding, because the grant was provided under the Affordable Care Act.
The only reason legislators applied for and accepted the first year of funding was because they had to apply for it to apply for funding that was more desirable to them—a slice of the Department of Education’s $100 million Race to the Top competition for early childhood education. It’s pretty clear that the Florida Legislature expected that the Supreme Court would rule “ObamaCare” unconstitutional which meant they’d have the first year “gateway grant” and the following four years would be a non-issue.
Since we are not implementing the Affordable Care Act, we opted not to do that. If they bring it forward [again], we will reject it.
Hudson, the chairman of Florida’s Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, previously told the New York Times he supported Florida’s regular rejection of all things Obamacare: “I am not going to start implementing things that I don’t believe in.”
Rep. Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring) told Highlands Today, in September, that such “government intrusion” causes communities and church groups to “lose our compassion.”
However . . . despite all of the bombastic rhetoric regarding “ObamaCare”, the Florida legislature has accepted a federal grant that restores funding for the State Abstinence Program. Appropriations authorized by the Affordable Care Act give the state $2.6 million per year from fiscal year 2010 through 2014.
So. Floridians—your tax dollars at work—no money for at-risk children living in poverty but plenty for crackpot, proven-to-fail contraceptive training guaranteed to balloon Florida’s statistics for at-risk children.
All this ladyparts discussion has been bumming me out this week, because, no duh, I haz them. Somewhere between the messages “There is no War on Women” and “A person with a uterus has no rights the GOP platform need respect”, I’ve developed the distinct impression that the Republican party would like women to vote for them, please, but they won’t do anything about getting women jobs that pay them enough to live adequately or raise children on, they don’t understand our weird attraction to having health care, and they really think we’re overly possessive of our reproductive organs. I think this could futz up their hope of getting adequate women voters, but there’s always those Phyllis Schaflley/ Ann Coulter types who look at the rest of us ladypart-havers like we’re clearly strumpets if we vote in favor of, you know, our self-interest.
I can’t even bring myself to say “At least that’s an ethos.” Here’s an ethos--full-bore misogyny. Being female is so toxic that a father of females is sort of female, too.
... Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.
Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.
I think the cardigan is a reference to Jimmy Carter, who wore sweaters instead of touching the thermostat. But I will say that I am unfamiliar with the sperm-delivery possibilities of fallopian tubes, Is he saying girl babies only come from girl-parts?
Okay—I can’t even, that is all so dumb—so let’s just get back to the tax stuff.
Did you know that tribal-chieftain Mitt Romney now says he won’t release his taxes because his tithing is between him and his god? No, really. I’m not sure how this didn’t come up as his reasoning back in January when it was part of the primary debates, or how he didn’t use it sooner if this was the real concern, but here you go:
“Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given,” Romney tells Parade magazine in an edition due out Sunday. “This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”
In the faith of my forefolks, we have this thing called “the confessional”. But just because a priest can’t tell on us, doesn’t mean we can’t tell on ourselves. I would go so far as to assume a corollary exists.
But chalking it all up to religion is a neat “out”, isn’t it? It sort of implies that now, when people want to see the tax returns, they’re invading his religious privacy. We’re trampling on his faith, dig? Our prurient interest in his Sch D, E or F, is just straight getting between him and God, m’kay?
Since the GOP platform (see that pic up there with VA Gov. McDonnell? He’s like the poster child of the GOP platform) doesn’t respect the conscience of women to keep their personal business between them and their God over the rights of their bodies, why am I respecting Romney’s religious scruples to seal his….tax returns? From our judgmental eyes?
Why, I’m not! And I’m actually pretty happy that Gawker has done an info-dump of Bain docs. I don’t understand the damn thing, but I’m one of those “information wants to be free” folks, and even a puppet-show story of how Romney got and stays so rich is instructive.
By now, I have to assume that most Americans have heard at least a smidgen about Rep. Todd Akin’s theory that:
. . . women were not likely to get pregnant because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Statements like that have a tendency to make sane people curious so, it’s no surprise that several journalists have uncovered evidence that this bit of anti-abortion pseudo-science has its roots way back in Nazi death camp medical experiments. Because, well, they were real doctors . . .
While U.S. Rep. Todd Akin cited only “doctors” as his source of information about the rarity of pregnancy resulting from rape, it is two pages, from Mecklenburg’s 1972 article, “The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician’s Perspective,” that have influenced two generations of anti-abortion activists hoping to build a medical case to ban all abortions without exception.
In his original article, Mecklenburg stated that, for various reasons, pregnancy resulting from rape “is extremely rare.” One of those reasons was Todd Akin’s now-famous theory that “a woman exposed to the trauma of rape will not ovulate even if she is ‘scheduled’ to.” Mecklenburg’s article was one of 19 in a book called, “Abortion and Social Justice,” published a year before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
In supporting his claim about trauma and ovulation, Mecklenburg cited experiments conducted in Nazi death camps.
The Nazis tested this hypothesis “by selecting women who were about to ovulate and sending them to the gas chambers, only to bring them back after their realistic mock-killing, to see what the effect this had on their ovulatory patterns. An extremely high percentage of these women did not ovulate.”
Mecklenburg’s article, and the statistics cited in it, have been used again and again in the decades since by Right to Life activists.
In 1988, Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephen Freind told a radio interviewer that the odds of a woman becoming pregnant after being raped “are one in millions and millions and millions.” The trauma of the rape, Freind explained, causes a woman to ‘secrete a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm.” Freind’s source—a “Dr. Mecklenburg.”
In 1995, North Carolina state Rep. Henry Aldridge told the state House appropriations committee that when women are “truly raped ... the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.”
Christian websites such as Physicians for Life and Christian Life Resources also have posted a 1999 article by J.C. Willke, a physician who was president of the National Right to Life Committee in the 1980s. “There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape,” Willke wrote. “This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization and implantation.
And what sits in between is the crux of the matter. Yeah, that “health of the mother” thing.
Steve Benen, now well settled into his new digs at The Maddow Blog, expands the bounds of outrageous incivility by comparing Paul Ryan when he was a humble Congressman with Paul Ryan, would-be VP:
Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan sat down this morning with Jon Delano of KDKA in Pittsburgh, offering his first detailed remarks since Todd Akin’s odious comments over the weekend on rape. What was striking about Ryan’s comments was the extent to which they were at odds with his own record.
Ryan said in the interview, “Rape is rape. Period. End of story.” And while that may sound heartening, Ryan, just a year ago, co-sponsored legislation—with Todd Akin—that would have redefined “rape” for the purposes of Medicaid funding. In Ryan’s proposal, victims of “forcible rape” would receive protections, but victims of other, undefined kinds of rape would not.
Asked to defend his own legislation, Ryan refused. “Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story,” he said. When the reporters pressed further, asking, “So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?” The vice presidential hopeful again added, “Rape is rape and there’s no splitting hairs over rape.”
As for Ryan’s stated position that the government should force women to take their pregnancy to term if they are impregnated by a rapist, the Republican congressman seemed to concede that his position has been superseded. “Well, look, I’m proud of my pro-life record. And I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It’s something I’m proud of,” Ryan said. “But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration.”
—What’s that you say? You’re only about as old as Granny Palin? We’re sorry, but we’re all out of the good stuff that little Paul’s Mom got, but please accept this voucher, good for the second-cheapest insurance plan you can wrap your future sixty-seven-year-old head around! Yes, the Ryomney VoucherCare program is so good, there’s an extra two-year wait. And please take note, all you physically-challenged folks out there: Ryomney VoucherCare will make sure you will have even more challenges than you did!
And for you Ryomney VoucherCare fans who just can’t get enough of “what the Doctor (Paul has an honorary doctorate from his Alma Mater, Miami U! In Ohio! And a lot of snappy patter!) ordered,” little Paul and his big head, ol’ what’sis position, will restore 716 billion dollars in inefficiencies and cost overruns that President Oblacula took out~~~because nothing puts the “Ouch” in VoucherCare like a hot,ripped Aynist.**
What’s gotten into Soledad O’Brien? Is it CNN’s death rattles? the phase of the moon? existential angst over the prospect of Private Ryan Saving America?
Whatever . . . Soledad’s turned into a flame-throwing, stand your ground and take no prisoners kind of news anchor who is waging a one woman war on lying Republicans. And fat old white guys with bad combovers, career pols and fact-challenged surrogates had better give her a wide berth for awhile.
O’Brien recently made mincemeat of Team Romney senior advisor, Barbara Comstock, who tried to run the official GOP offense play on entitlements, claiming that Obama has raided the Medicare fund to finance “ObamaCare.” When O’Brien fired off a few facts to refute that claim, Comstock was forced to fall back on “death panels” and came off looking, well . . . lame.
The flying monkeys of the Right Blogosphere came clattering to Comstock’s defense on that one making a mighty screech about the fact that O’Brien was:
. . . caught on screen looking at an article from a known left-wing website to assist her when debating Romney campaign senior adviser Barbara Comstock.
While she does not directly cite the blog, she does a read a quote from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or.) to Comstock that appears verbatim in the piece during the program.
Wow! they actually made Talking Points Memo sound like kiddie porn.
Finally. Someone has said it out loud. Mitt Romney’s big talk about preserving Medicare is hot air. And the “someone” is none other than fiscal conservative deficit hawk David Walker a former US Comptroller General who now heads up the Comeback America Initiative. Here’s what Walker thinks about Romney’s “save Medicare” plan:
If you are going to restore (Obama’s cuts), then what it’s going to do is complicate the financial condition of Medicare. It’s going to affect your long-term plan to reform Medicare and reduce the deficit and mounting debt burdens. If you are going to put that back, then how are you going to pay for it?
One might well ask . . .
Republican conventional wisdom stressed going on the offensive about Medicare and robbing President Obama of “first strike” kudos. Unfortunately, as most of us sporting fans know, “the best offense is a good defense.” And that’s where Team Romney made their big mistake . . .
See, in a nutshell, Romney’s plan to give Obama’s $716 billion in savings “back” to Medicare will actually hasten its demise. Instead of running out of money in 2024, Medicare says its trust fund for inpatient care would go broke in 2016 without Obama’s cuts. Leaving a President Romney with egg on his face and a collossal problem on his hands . . .
Marilyn Moon, a former trustee overseeing Social Security and Medicare finances and currently director of the health program at the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research agrees:
These (Obama cuts) were all on service providers. Romney would have three options: either cut it out of providers in a different way, ask beneficiaries to pay higher premiums in various ways, or raise taxes in order to pay for it.
Hell, even Paul Ryan liked Obama’s cuts and included them in his plan. Seriously.
Not to worry, though, erstwhile Team Romney spokeswoman, Andrea “RomneyCare” Saul has pronounced the whole business “absurd”—take that Mr. Former US Comptroller General!
The idea that restoring funding to Medicare could somehow hasten its bankruptcy is on its face absurd.
Ms. Saul, who seems to have more than a passing relationship with absurdity, went on to explain:
Gov. Romney’s plan is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms that control cost throughout the health care system and extend the solvency of Medicare. He will then implement real entitlement reform that places Medicare on a sustainable long-term footing so that future generations of Americans will not have to worry whether the program will be there for them.
Aaaah, the “devil’s in the details” once again. I guess we, the people, will know more about those at the same time that we get the details on Romney’s tax plan—in the “light of day.” Someday, postelection-ish . . .
From talking points given to reporters after the announcement that Paul Ryan was Romney’s vice presidential pick:
Does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan?
• Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.
• Romney’s administration will go through the budget line by line and ask two questions: Can we afford it? And, if not, should we borrow money from China to pay for it?
• Mitt Romney will start with the easiest cut of all: Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we don’t want and can’t afford.
Good luck with that Willard. Because you have already owned Ryan’s budget, time after time and have not put up anything substantial of your own. Not to mention that the Rethuglicans are going to demand that you continue to own that budget because it makes them see more starbursts than Sarah Palin did. Check out the RedState blog. Nasty, suspicious conservative person, Erick Erickson does not trust you. He is watching you, Willard, to make sure you do just as you are told. Just picking Ryan, he tells you, is not enough.
Today, the Romney camp sent out a talking points sheet claiming that while picking Paul Ryan, Romney had his own budget plans. This is delusional and not credible spin. You pick Paul Ryan, you defend his budget. It is that simple.
Yes, Willard. Simple. Just do as you are told and remember that all they want you to be is a signing pen for Rethuglican granny starving, middle class reaming, poor stomping legislation.
Then the base may really love you as all the dupes at The Corner and other wingnutty sites are pretending to. Too bad you lost the state of Florida and will massively turn off independents and moderates who thought that Medicare was, well, kind of a good thing and that maybe all the poors shouldn’t die of disease and starvation and even that middle class people should, someday, be able to get mortgages again in our vastly damaged economic system.
And they will never be able to say that you lost the election because you weren’t far enough to the right.
*Remarkably accurate Zombie Eyed Granny Starver description of Paul Ryan via Charlie Pierce.
Are all pizza magnates rightwing assholes? Herman Cain (Godfather’s), Tom Monaghan (Domino’s) and now John Schnatter (Papa John’s)—all currently or formerly mass-produce shitty pizza and all are active in wingnut politics.
It’s almost as if defiling a wondrous culinary gift for profit erodes the brain’s empathy receptors or something. Schnatter, a big Romney bundler, is threatening to hike the price on his crappy pies if forced to comply with “Obamacare:”
On a conference call last week, CEO and founder John Schnatter (a Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser) said the health care law’s changes — set to go into effect in 2014 — will result in higher costs for the company — which they vowed to pass onto consumers.
“Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis,” Schnatter said…
“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests,” Schnatter vowed.
Two things: If I were ever desperate enough to order one of Schnatter’s lousy pizza facsimiles, I’d be glad to pay an extra $0.20 if that meant the kid who delivered it and the folks who made it had access to basic healthcare. My guess is that most people who aren’t greedy, self-important pricks would be willing to pony up two additional dimes as well.
Secondly, note Schnatter’s vow to hike the price consumers pay for his crappy pizza so shareholders won’t be inconvenienced by any obligations to their underpaid workforce. I hope that blows up in his face like an expired can of anchovies. These people are both clueless and shameless.
Mitt Romney is on some sort of roll right now. Hotfoot from his stellar performance at the NAACP Convention, which, as intended, is going down a treat in the rightwing media, he headed straight for a fundraiser at the Daly Mansion in Hamilton, Montana. Buzzfeed reports his remarks to the audience of 150 donors:
“I had the privilege of speaking today at the NAACP convention in Houston and I gave them the same speech I am giving you. I don’t give different speeches to different audiences alright,” he said.
Perhaps inevitably, Romney then proceeded to give a different speech to this different audience:
“When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren’t happy, I didn’t get the same response,” Romney added. “That’s ok, I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine.”
“But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy—more free stuff.
From what I’ve seen on the Web so far tonight, plenty of people are doing a whole scad of reminding. For context, Mitt expanded:
But don’t forget nothing is really free. It has to paid for by people in the private sector creating goods and services, and if people want jobs more than they want free stuff from government, then they are going to have to get government to be smaller. And if they don’t want to repeal Obamacare they are going to have to give me some other stuff they are thinking about cutting ...
... but my list takes Obamacare off first and I have a lot of other things I am thinking of cutting.”
Mitt Romney took his customary patrician charm to the NAACP. The results were predictable.
I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African-American families, you would vote for me for president.
Speaking at the NAACP conference in Houston, Texas, Mitt Romney asserted that he would repeal “wasteful” programs that don’t promote job growth. “Including Obamacare,” Romney said, to a resounding chorus of boos from the crowd.
I think the only way it could have gone better is if he’d turned up in blackface and talked about how much he liked chittlins while moonwalking.
The Guardian‘s inimitable Richard Adams has the full grisly blow-by-blow here. His chief takeaway:
What will be overlooked in discussion of the booing of Mitt Romney is what he actually called healthcare reform: a “non-essential programme”.
Either the altitude at the Aspen Ideas Festival has gone to Bobo’s head or he’s making no bones about the fact that he doesn’t read the sources he pulls quotes from. Possibly both?
He starts out by delivering the news that the ACA will actually throw millions of people off of their health insurance policies. Or not?
The law also creates the sort of complex structures that inevitably produce unintended consequences. The most commonly discussed perverse result is that millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance.
A report by the House Ways and Means Committee found that 71 of the Fortune 100 companies have an incentive to drop coverage. But nobody really knows what’s going to happen. A Congressional Budget Office study this year estimated that 20 million could lose coverage under the law or perhaps 3 million could gain employer coverage. Or the number could be inside or outside the range.
Got it. Clear as, uh, mud. And those “Fortune 100 companies” would have one pretty good incentive to not drop coverage - retaining employees. People tend to expect such little bennies from their Fortune 100 companies.
He then goes on to, without citation, predict dire consequences for both Medicare and Medicaid before snapping out that the ACA doesn’t even do anything to fix underlying problems in the current system:
The law threatens to do all this without even fixing the underlying structures that make the American health care system so inefficient. It fails to fix the fee-for-service system that rewards people for the volume of services provided. It fails to fix the employer tax exemption that hides costs and encourages overspending.
All of which is rather masterfully debunked by Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute (via driftglass).
Directly contradicting his senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told CBS that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is “a tax.”
Earlier this week, Fehrnstrom said in a TV appearance that Romney has the same view as the White House on the individual mandate: that it’s a penalty, rather than a tax. Romney instituted a state-level mandate to buy health insurance as governor of Massachusetts.
But Romney shifted gears in a sit-down with Jan Crawford, declaring that President Barack Obama broke his pledge not to raise taxes by imposing the individual mandate.
“While I agreed with the dissent, that’s overtaken by the fact that the majority of the Court said it’s a tax and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There’s no way around that,” Romney said. “The American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made — said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans.”
CBS hasn’t posted the full video of Romney’s interview yet, so it’s not clear if Romney addressed Fehrnstrom’s comments, or whether his remarks on the mandate today mean he also raised taxes in Massachusetts. Republicans have urged Romney to campaign comprehensively against the law known as Obamacare, even if that means talking around his record as governor.
UPDATE II: In longer interview excerpts released by the Romney campaign, the Republican candidate argues that there’s a distinction between a state mandate and a federal mandate when it comes to taxation. The Supreme Court said the federal government can only impose a mandate as a tax, Romney argues, but that doesn’t mean a state mandate has to be defined as a tax.
Talk around this, Mitt:
Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured. The right way to proceed is to reform healthcare. That we can do as we did it in Massachusetts.—Governor Mitt Romney
The Romney camp may roll over and piddle on its belly rather than engage in the healthcare debate, according to the National Journal (via General Stuck in the open thread):
Romney Campaign Declaring Cease Fire on Health Care
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court health care ruling, the early conventional wisdom was that an unfavorable health care ruling at the court would be good for Republicans politically, even as it was a serious policy setback for conservatives. But that’s not shaping up to be the case. Mitt Romney, after giving a brief statement decrying the decision, has been virtually silent on criticizing the health care law. He’s been on vacation and his campaign has been giving off clear signals that it doesn’t want to make health care a major part of the election.
I don’t buy this. Sure, Romney is vulnerable on healthcare since he enacted a virtually identical scheme in Massachusetts and the Republicans have nothing to offer to replace the ADA except “Die at great expense in the emergency room, poors!”
But since when have astounding hypocrisy and cruelty ever interfered with a Republican talking point? Maybe Willard really is too busy concocting schemes to trip a toddler grandchild and take the gold in the Romney Olympics sack race to bother with this shit right now, and his team is regrouping in the Sister Wives cabins to plan the attack.
Cease fire my ass. We haven’t even begun to hear the lies and demagoguery yet, is my guess.