Friday, February 23, 2018

Conservative myths about Medicaid

  Access to health insurance in the United States is one of the most hotly debated issues in the national discourse. Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 44 million Americans lacked health insurance, including many low-income nonelderly adults who did not fall within traditionally covered Medicaid eligibility groups, including pregnant women, disabled adults, and low-income children. Since the ACA went into effect in 2013, 11.9 million newly eligible people have gained coverage through Medicaid in states that chose to expand their programs. In addition to producing better health outcomes, Medicaid expansion has resulted in new enrollees having access to quality care without the threat of financial turmoil.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1602: The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is back in full force!

  The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is back in full force. This is the 25th Jubilee. Twenty-five years is a long time. When this Sketches is published, Jubilee will be about a week away. The Jubilee starts March 1, 2018. But this Jubilee is different in important ways.

  The Jubilee draws tens of thousands each year. One year it drew more than 100,000. It is the largest annual civil rights gathering in the world, and it all happens right here in Selma, Alabama, a city of 20,000. However, people come from across America and faraway places such as Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and other countries in North America.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Short legislative session playing out, but campaigns are taking shape

  The 2018 Alabama Legislative Session will be short and sweet. It is an election year. Historically, during the last year of a quadrennium, the legislature convenes early and passes the budgets, then members go home and campaign for reelection to another term. 

  Our forefathers, who wrote our 1901 Constitution, must have been thinking the same thing because they designed for the fourth year of the quadrennium legislative session to start and end early. It is set by law to begin in early January, whereas it begins in February in most years. This year’s session began January 9 and can run through April 23. The consensus is that they will adjourn sine die earlier than the April deadline. Most observers believe that they will pass the budgets and be out of Montgomery by the end of March and home campaigning by April Fools’ Day.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Five ways the Trump budget undermines gun violence prevention and school safety efforts

  In his address to the nation the day after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and teachers and injured another 14, President Donald Trump vowed to take action, stating that he would soon hold meetings with governors and attorneys general in which “making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority.” He continued, “It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.” However, the president’s actions have already spoken louder than these hollow words. Just two days before the shooting, his administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget, which proposed cutting funding to crucial programs that help prevent gun violence and ensure school safety.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Protect journalists with the same laws that protect all of us

  I understand the motivation behind the proposed Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to attack those involved in reporting the news. The legislation comes at a time of particularly vocal attacks on news operations and individual reporters, many of which stem from the highest office in the land.

  I admire the goal — preventing or penalizing misguided thugs who would censor through violence. And I salute California Rep. Eric Swalwell for introducing it in an era in which support for journalism is at an all-time low.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Trump budget is full of giveaways to coal and oil companies

  This week, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for funding the federal government in 2019. With extensive cuts to health care, schools, scientific research, and nutrition assistance, Americans across the country would suffer under this proposal. However, there are some clear winners who would benefit from the Trump budget, particularly, the fossil fuel industry.

  After receiving billions in tax cuts at the end of last year, oil and gas companies can expect another year of record-breaking profits. While Exxon alone received $5.9 billion in tax breaks, companies that do oil exploration can expect an additional $190 billion in profits. And Wednesday, the second-largest coal company in the country, Arch Coal, announced the new tax plan would lower their tax rate to “effectively zero.” To pay for these giveaways, the Trump budget proposes cutting several programs that enforce pollution laws, fund clean energy innovation, and protect outdoor places. Trump’s cuts effectively subsidize oil, gas, and coal companies, severely hamper renewable energy growth, all while weakening protections for public health and the outdoors.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Why do anti-immigrants favor protectionism?

  Okay, I get it: President Trump and his acolytes favor immigration controls because they don’t want people from s***hole countries coming into the United States. What doesn’t makes any sense is why they also favor tariffs, sanctions, embargoes, and other trade restrictions against those s***h countries. After all, by increasing economic misery in those countries, such measures only encourage more people from those countries to come to the United States, the exact opposite of what anti-immigrants want.

Friday, February 16, 2018

John Norris: A bad budget for America’s place in the world

  As President Donald Trump dreams of a military parade in the streets of the nation’s capital and dishes out enormous tax breaks to billionaires, he continues to hobble American diplomacy and international development to an unprecedented degree.

  The budget released this week, while thin on details, calls for devastating cuts of more than 30 percent to diplomacy and development programs from the levels enacted in 2017. These cuts, if adopted, would leave America less equipped to tackle conflict, pandemic disease, and extremism before they reach the nation’s shores; ill-prepared to champion American exports overseas; and more likely to end up in military conflict. It will also cause untold suffering for millions of people—particularly the most vulnerable women and children across the developing world.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jacob G. Hornberger: Hating the North Korean Reds

  Among the U.S. government’s worst nightmares is the participation of North Korean athletes in the Winter Olympics, which are being held in South Korea. That’s because Americans might get to know some of the North Koreans, who might just come across as regular people, perhaps even likable.

  That’s not a good thing for a regime that has been committed to regime change for almost 80 years. Given the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government enforces against North Korea and given the distinct possibility that U.S. officials could still initiate a surprise military attack on North Korea or provoke an attack, the last thing U.S. officials want is for the American people to personalize any North Korean citizen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Blogging and political persecution

  I have written about the legendary capitol reporters who use to cover Goat Hill.  There was Bob Ingram of the Montgomery Advertiser, Al Fox of the Birmingham News, Hugh Sparrow of the Birmingham News, Rex Thomas of the Associated Press, Don Martin of UPI and Clarke Stallworth of the Birmingham Post Herald. A young cub reporter named Jim Bennett joined the Post Herald in 1961 and later had a distinguished career in public service. None of these legends is any longer with us.

  Today’s capitol press corps also works hard, they stick with “just the facts” through conscientious research of their stories, and leave out the speculations, “what-ifs”, opinion and political slants.