Thursday, June 13, 2013

They Touch Our Food

The end of the legislative session is fast approaching. The new budget for the state is supposed to be in place by July 1. The budget passed by the House was dismantled by the pouty Senate, and now goes to a Committee of Conference, where the two branches must come together and hammer out some sort of compromise.

The Senate is crawling with ambitious folk, using this budget as a springboard to higher office. One of them is former Congressman turned State Senator Jeb Bradley. He is desperate for higher office. Rumors abound that he’s going to run for governor or possibly even the US Senate. Others include Andy Sanborn and Chuck Morse. Their actions and their votes are all about that ambition, and not at all reflecting concern for their constituents or their state. Of course, that’s been the hallmark of this Senate. Obstructionism passing as “work.”

It was illustrated perfectly by Bradley, during a recent debate on a minimum wage bill. The bill didn’t ad a penny to the minimum wage, merely put back into statute the ability for NH to set it’s own min. wage. During the debate, Bradley referred (numerous times) to the sponsors of the bill as “people of good intentions”, even as he argued against a bill that was going to have zero fiscal impact. If their intentions were good, what does that say about Bradley’s?

Fortunately Bradley has not been appointed to the Committee of Conference that will be working out a budget compromise. It seems our NH GOP Senators are so miffed about the fate of their poorly written gambling bill that they’re refusing to raise any revenue.

That’s it in a nutshell. The ideologues of the far right don’t want to raise any revenue. They don’t care if all of our bridges fall down. They don’t care if any NH child gets an education. They don’t care if our state runs smoothly. In fact, that’s the last thing they want. They want to make sure that our state runs poorly, so they can point to it as gummint failure. That they are the architects of that failure is nothing that they ever have to answer for.

Sooner or later the lack of spending on infrastructure and education are going to become a big enough problem that even they can’t ignore it. When businesses refuse to come to NH because of it, the far right anti-government crowd won’t be able to ignore it any longer. NH is already recovering from the economic collapse of 2008 more slowly than any of the states around us. Massachusetts, despite their taxin’ and regulatin’ is doing pretty well. NH is not a poor state. NH is a cheap state.

Speaking of cheap, the NH Senate is opposed to the Medicaid expansion being embraced by most of the other states in the nation. Well known liberal moon-bat Jan Brewer of Arizona decided it would be a good thing for Arizona. Legendary pinko, Rick Scott of Florida has embraced the idea, even if his legislature has not.  Expanded Medicaid would give 58,000 low wage workers in NH some health insurance. The federal government is fully funding the expansion for 3 years. In NH that means $2.5 billion over the next 7 years. It would cost the state $85 million. Obviously the state is making out on the deal.  But let’s be clear, this isn’t “free.” These are our tax dollars, coming home to our state. NH is a donor state. We get back about $0.67 for every tax dollar we send to Washington. That means we’re funding states like New Mexico, where they get back $2.63 on the dollar. Or Alaska, where they get $1.93 for every dollar – and they have oil. Not taking this money isn’t going to save NH a dime. We’ll just continue to be a donor state.

The free marketeers love to tell us that what we need to “fix” health care in NH is “competition.” If only we’d allow it, the free market will just move right into NH and give us all kinds of insurance company options to choose from. Insurance too cheap to meter! Except that it won’t. The top two insurance conglomerates control about 60% of the US market. One of them controls NH – WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross. The entire population of NH is less than the population of any major metropolitan area in the nation. There is no incentive for any insurance company to come here.

The state can withdraw from the expanded Medicaid program at any time. The state could write a provision spelling that out quite clearly (as the Maine legislature did) so that there’s no doubt. Not taking a big wad of our own cash back is just the kind of thinking we can expect from the folks who pride themselves on their Judeo-Christian family values. They’d rather see that wad o’cash go to Arizona or New Mexico. Or even…Massachusetts.

Low wage workers are the folks who wait on you in coffee shops, restaurants and convenience stores. They touch your food. Low wage workers are also at your mum’s house, wiping her bum and preparing her food. These are not people who have insurance, or paid sick days. All of us should want these people to have access to health insurance. It’s the right thing to do.

“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.”  Confucius

© 2013 sbruce  Published as a regular bi-weekly column in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bradley remains one of the most "ugh" candidates around. He's never done anything positive or come up with an idea even borderline creative. Since he's the privileged 1% and pulled himself up from his bootstraps under the family money tree he doesn't understand what it's like to be like us. Individuals serving him his food may also not see him through kind eyes. In my day (a hundred years ago) we'd have "specials" for those we served who treated us with grave disdain. As my Steakhouse owner boss would tell me " you gotta grow a spine. When someone treats you bad, it's 'cause they hate your existence. Give it back to 'em". Legislators should be especially cognizant of the fact that they should be taking good care of those who will in time be feeding, serving and cleaning them and their families. Medicaid could a long way toward good will. Oh, and by the way, if those good GOP folk get off easy on our bridges, I suggest they try the Tappanzee which is about to come down at any minute.