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Gov. Chris Christie: Earn $6,000 A Year? No Medicaid For You!

If you live in the state of New Jersey and are earning $118 a week, congratulations!

According to Gov. Chris Christie, you have escaped the bonds of poverty and no longer are in need of the state’s Medicaid program.

Never mind that $118 a week is but a fraction of the poverty line as defined by the United States of America. Pay no attention to the fact that New Jersey battles California for the mantle of having the highest cost of living of any state in the nation.

Chris Christie, everyone’s favorite no-nonsense, “tell it like it is” governor, has decided that you can manage quite nicely on this paltry sum while remaining fully capable of paying for your own medical care.

Sound like a joke?

It’s not. And it is difficult to imagine anything less humorous. Under the Christie plan, adults with a family of four who earn more than $6,000 a year would no longer qualify for the state’s Medicaid program. Currently, the cut-off to qualify is $30,000.

Think about that for a moment.

A single mother raising three kids on a weekly salary of $118 will no longer be eligible to take advantage of the medical social safety net should she fall ill.

I can hear my conservative friends rising in chorus – mom should have thought about that before having all those kids she couldn’t afford! Maybe she should have. If only there were some place these women could turn to for family planning advice so that they might avoid this problem.

But wait – there is such a program in New Jersey. Or, to be more precise, there was such a program in New Jersey. It turns out that women’s clinics are disappearing from the New Jersey landscape as Governor Christie uses the budget pen to wipe out women’s health programs that might also provide abortion services as a small part of what they make available to women so badly in need of their health care and counseling services. This, despite the fact that no state or federal taxpayer money went towards paying for any such abortion services long before Christie began his assault on women’s health.

In his last budget, Christy sliced $7.5 million from family planning clinics – a cut his new budget proudly continues. As a result, health and planning services so vital to low income women are becoming very hard to find in New Jersey- not to mention the many other states where Governors are using the budget to enact their social, anti-abortion agenda’s.

What do we call powerful people when they pick on the weakest among us?

We call them bullies. And Governor Chris Christie exemplifies the modern-day bully. Is it any wonder, then, that the GOP sees Christie as the man they would so gladly follow into the 2012 election battle?

Christie’s proposal to cut over $500 million from the state’s Medicaid program would not only affect parents earning far too little to support their families. Some of the deepest cuts would leave seniors, who require full-time, in-facility nursing home care, literally out in the cold as the funding that supports their ability to get the medical attention they need disappears.

I suppose these elderly can move back into the homes of their children – many of whom are the ones earning over $6,000 a year, but well below the national poverty line, who will no longer be able to care for their own health needs let another find a way to pay for the care of their sick parents.

There is some good news in this otherwise bleak story.

Come 2014, when the federal government steps in to play a larger role in financing the state Medicaid programs (they already pay for about half of the costs), it will be illegal for these people to be denied care. Accordingly, all these folks need do is see to it they do not get sick between now and 2014.

How hard can this be?

As New Jersey U.S. Senator Robert Menendez put it, “The state is effectively telling these families to wait until 2014 to get coverage again. Unfortunately, there is no
such thing as a waiver for getting cancer.” Certainly, some deal can be cut between man, woman and God resulting in that cancer scheduled to show up next year holding off until 2014 when care will be available.

And how much damage can uncontrolled diabetes really do when untreated for a three year period? So, maybe you lose a couple of toes as the diabetes ravages your body.

As Chris Christie would no doubt remind you, forfeiting a few digits for the common good of wealthy millionaires for whom Christie continues to cut taxes, is a small price to pay.

After all, those tax cuts might just result in your getting a better job in the future – assuming you’re still alive.

And if you aren’t, at least you will die in the knowledge that you will have given your life to improve Chris Christie’s chances of becoming President of these United States some day.

So, at least you’ve got that going for you.

By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, Forbes, June 12, 2011

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Consumers, Elections, Equal Rights, GOP, Gov Chris Christie, Government, Health Care, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Medicaid, Middle Class, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, States, Taxes, Under Insured, Unemployed, Uninsured, Wealthy, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The “Have-Nots” Sink While The “Haves” Smirk

The “race to the bottom” used to refer to the competition with low-cost foreign labor that threatened to undermine the wages of U.S. workers struggling in the same industries.

Now it refers to the competition between private- and public-sector workers to see who can become poorer faster.

In essence, that’s what the fight in Wisconsin is about. It’s also what last weekend’s Niagara Square rally with 250 union supporters was about.

But who’s going to foot the bill for the standard of living they want to protect? Middle-class taxpayers are tapped out. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made that point, as did Gov. Andrew Cuomo when calling New York “functionally bankrupt.”

In other words, the money is gone.

But as private-sector workers turn on public employees, and non-union workers castigate their unionized brethren, the internecine warfare distracts from a more fundamental question: Where did the money go?

In a nutshell, it went up. Not in smoke, though it could have, as far as the middle class is concerned. Rather, it went to the top of the economic pyramid.

A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities review last year found that the gap between the top 1 percent and those in the middle and at the bottom “more than tripled between 1979 and 2007.” (If the wealthy lost any relative ground during the Great Recession, they’ve more than made up for it during the recovery.)

Similarly, the Economic Policy Institute — in its State of Working America report last month — found that average annual income growth from 2000 to 2007 went entirely to those in the top 10 percent, while “income for the bottom 90 percent actually declined.”

And what of those government workers lavishly compensated with our tax dollars?

A review by the center last week found that, when controlling for education, job tenure and other variables, “public workers are paid 4 to 11 percent less than private-sector workers.” A separate study by the institute found that state and local government workers make $2,001 less on average, even when benefits are included.

Yet the fight rages on among those in the middle of the pyramid.

Meanwhile, in its annual Executive Excess report, the Institute for Policy Studies calculated that CEOs of major firms made 263 times the average compensation of American workers in 2009.

SEIU Local 1199 Vice President Todd Hobler, who was at the Niagara Square rally, says such inequity gets accepted because the media suggest “that the goal of all people is to become rich, and that those who have fortunes deserve it and have earned it.”

But are corporate bosses 263 times smarter than you are? Do they work 263 times harder?

Yet despite the reams of data, the issue of inequity gets little traction in this country. Republicans philosophically don’t believe in greater income equality unless it occurs by accident, while Democrats have no beliefs at all that they’re willing to fight for.

The result is that anyone who mentions the income gap is accused of “class warfare,” which brings to mind a quote by billionaire Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns The Buffalo News, that “my class is winning.”

But apparently working-class Americans are OK with that. We’ll dump teachers, close libraries and let parks go to seed because we can’t afford to pay more. Yet we’ll never ask, “Who can?” That’s not what we do.

Washington extended the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent; New York will let its surtax on millionaires expire. Both capitals are responding to working-class voters who apparently don’t want to “redistribute” wealth and are satisfied fighting one another for the scraps.

After all, we’re not Tunisians. We’re not Egyptians.

We’re Americans.

By:  Rod Watson, News, March 3, 2011

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Income Gap, Middle Class | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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