Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kasich, House Republicans Want to "Recharge Ohio" by Cutting Taxes on Rich People

Here is an interesting quote from a Cleveland Plain Dealer article:

Proposals to offer cuts to the state's estate tax as well as capital gains tax are being hashed out behind the scenes by Republican state lawmakers, House Minority Leader Bill Batchelder, a Medina Republican, acknowledged this week. 

Ohio is now in a situation where there is a huge shortfall in the state's revenues at a time when ordinary Ohioans are needing more and more government assistance. A large reason for the state's budgetary problems was the reckless tax cuts that the Republicans passed in 2005. Those tax cuts were targeted toward the rich. Now, with Ohio facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall, Republicans want even more tax cuts for the wealthy. 

The Republican rationale for the tax cuts is that supposedly rich people are fleeing the state. Well here are some questions for the House Republicans:

1. How many rich people are fleeing the state because of the state's estate and capital gains taxes as opposed to fleeing the state for other reasons? 

2. How many of those that are "fleeing the state" will stay if these tax cuts are passed" 

3. What is the effect on the state's revenues if this proposal passes? 

4. How will the Republicans make up any revenue loss? 

How much do you want to bet that the House Republicans won't be able to provide answers to those questions?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Medina County Vote Total Up in 2008 from 2004

The official count of the ballots cast in Medina County for the 2008 general election shows that 90,652 voters voted, which represented a turnout of 70.76%. In 2004, the number of voters in the general election in Medina County was 86,016, which represented 72.73% of registered voters.

In the 2004 general election, Bush received 48,196 votes and Kerry received 36,272 votes. In the 2008 general election, McCain received 48,189 and Obama received 40,924. Those figures would seem to indicate that nearly all of Medina County's growth in voters were Obama supporters.

Sutton Votes to Send Ledbetter Bill to President Obama

WASHINGTON , D.C. – On January 27, 2009, Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-OH) voted in favor of S. 181 the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This legislation reverses the May 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which made it substantially more difficult for Americans to pursue pay discrimination claims. Congresswoman Sutton was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 11, the underlying House legislation. With Congresswoman Sutton’s strong support, S.181 passed the House by a margin of 250 to 177. The bill now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will sign it into law. Congresswoman Sutton released the following statement:


 “Today is a wonderful day for women and all workers across America . But while we celebrate the passage of this critical legislation, it is disheartening that in this day and age, workers still face pay discrimination. It has been nearly 45 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and yet pay discrimination still exists. By passing this legislation we are ensuring that workers will be able to take action against companies that discriminate against them.


While this legislation is in honor of Lilly Ledbetter and her brave fight for equal pay, it is also dedicated to all the workers across our country who have been the victims of pay discrimination. With every discriminatory paycheck, workers receive less than they deserve, hurting their families and robbing their pensions.


When the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is signed into law, it will overturn the unjust Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. The Court held that Lilly Ledbetter would have had to have filed a complaint within 180 days of when her employer began years of discrimination against her - even though there was no way that she could have known that she was being discriminated against.  This decision placed an unfair burden on workers, essentially protecting companies that discriminated against them.


With this law, a statute of limitations will no longer prevent workers from taking action against discriminatory employers. I am proud to support this important legislation for our country and I look forward to our President, Barack Obama, signing it into law.”


Click here to watch Congresswoman Sutton’s floor statement from when this legislation originally passed the House


Background Information:


Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She sued the company after learning that she was paid less then her male counterparts at the facility, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex.
However, the 
Supreme Court ruled that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination.  
While Ledbetter filed her charge within 180 days of receiving discriminatory pay, the court ruled that since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer’s 
decision to discriminate against her, she could not receive any relief.  Under this Supreme Court decision, employees in Ledbetter’s position would be forced to live with discriminatory paychecks for the rest of their careers.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarifies that every paycheck or other compensation resulting from an earlier discriminatory pay decision constitutes a violation of the 
Civil Rights Act. As long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely. This was the law prior to the Supreme Court’s May 2007 decision.


Medina City has Millions in Bank, Why Isn't It Building New Courthouse?

Here's an interesting story that appeared in the Medina County Gazette. According to this story, the City of Medina is carrying a balance of 34.1 million dollars, while the county is apparently losing revenue and threatening layoffs. So, given the fact that the City has a lot of money, and given the fact that the City insisted that the County build a new courthouse in downtown Medina, why isn't the City ponying up more money? 

When the County Commissioners were considering moving the Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts away from the square, there was an anguished outcry from downtown business interests. "You can't do that", they cried. "That will hurt our square." (For those of you who don't know downtown Medina it does have a very nice central park surrounded by a business district dominated by buildings done in an 1890s style. It is quite charming.)

So, the Board of County Commissioners re-examined their plans and decided to expand the present county courthouse. Of course, this meant that the already cramped parking situation had also to be addressed. The solution to the parking problem was to build a new parking garage. So, instead of building a new courthouse at a location where there would be enough room for parking, or instead of buying an existing structure on the square, (and there were such structures available), the County Commissioners are planning on building a new addition to the present courthouse, building a new parking deck, all at considerable expense and all while they are talking about laying off county employees. 

Now, to be fair, the City of Medina, as well as the County Library, agreed to help pay for the cost of the parking deck, but, given the fact that it was downtown merchants who wanted the county courts to stay downtown, and given the fact that the City of Medina is apparently flush with cash, shouldn't the City had been asked to do more? 

Maybe one reason why the City wasn't asked to do more is that both the City Mayor and  the City Council President, as well as all three the County Commissioners are Republicans. So maybe the Commissioners weren't in the mood to do some tough negotiating with the City. Negotiating by telling the City to either pony up more money for the courthouse expansion, or the County was going to build a new courthouse at a location outside of Medina City limits. A location in the surrounding townships, and not only would there be a possibility of a loss of business revenue, but the City would also lose income tax revenue. 

None of that was done, however, and while the City brags about its 34.1 million dollar balance, county employees worry about losing their jobs.

Republican Tax Cuts Force Strickland Administration to Seek Concessions from State Workers

On January 17, 2009, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an article about the Strickland Administration seeking concessions from state workers that are represented by unions. The article detailed that the Administration was seeking a 5% pay cut, a 35 hour work week, and non-paid holidays. The article points out that the unions want to see what happens with the Federal stimulus package before committing to this proposal. What is significant, though, is that they aren't rejecting it out of hand.

We have two thoughts about this proposal, which, for the record, we don't like, but understand that it may need to be done. The first thought is that only an Administration with ties to labor unions could make this proposal and have any chance of it being accepted by state employee unions.

The reason why is that a Republican administration, say like the Bob Taft Administration, would have no credibility with state workers. It would be seen by the unions as an attempt to use the state's budget problems as a way to hurt unions. Since the Strickland Administration has credibility with unions as being supportive of their aims, this idea won't be seen as having a hidden agenda.

Our second thought is that this is another example of Republican tax breaks helping the rich while screwing workers. Time and time again Republicans pass tax breaks because they will supposedly help grow the economy. Jonathon Chiat
refers to this as "The Big Con" in one of his books. Why is it a big con? Because there is no evidence that cutting taxes grows the economy. There is, however, plenty of evidence that cutting taxes leads to government deficits and cutting government programs.

So, in Ohio, in 2005, the Republican General Assembly and Governor Bob "I don't have a clue" Taft team up to pass a 20% tax cut spread over several years. This leads to huge shortfalls in the state's revenues, just in time for the Bush Depression, or, to be fair, perhaps, the Bush Great Recession, when demand for government programs increases substantially.

The bottom line: Like the state unions we see the necessity for what the Strickland Administration is doing, but we don't have to like it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Medina County's Republican Commissioners Talk Layoffs, Raise Sewer Rates, and Want to Build a New Courthouse

In the last few weeks, the Medina County Board of Commissioners, which has three Republicans and no Democrats, has announced that it is considering laying off county workers, raised sewer rates for Medina County residents using the county-run sewer system, and still wants to build a new courthouse. All four judges in the present county courthouse, who presumably would benefit by building this new courthouse, signed a letter urging the Commissioners to delay the construction because of the bad economy. Yet, the County Commissioners persist in going ahead with the construction.

Now, to be fair, one of the County Commissioners, Pat Geissman, has come out against building the new courthouse, at least at this time. She had a very good column in the Medina County Gazette spelling out her position. Interestingly, the other two Republican Commissioners, Steve Hambley and Sharon Ray, personally paid for an ad that told Gazette readers that they supported the new courthouse construction, but, unlike Geissman's column, didn't really give any reasons for their position other than to make statements with no analysis of why the statements were factually accurate.

Complicating the situation for the Commissioners is that a Republican Judge, John Lohn, has ordered the Board to fund his court at a certain level. If Lohn is successful in this effort, it could lead to other county officials seeking court orders to fund mandated services. All in all, it is a very interesting time in Medina County.

Monday, January 26, 2009

PD's Choice of NCB Economist to be on Panel seems Strange

Is it just us, or does seem strange to other people? The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a panel of economists from the area who it uses to forecast how things are going to go economically in the region. The PD ran an article on Sunday using this panel. One of the panel members is the chief economist from National City Bank, you know, the bank that just got sold to a Pittsburgh bank because it lost millions of dollars on bad loans. The bank that couldn't get Federal TARP funds. The bank whose demise may cost literally thousands of Ohioans their jobs. 

Now this guy may be a very good economist, and may make good predictions, but using someone from a bank that just had to be sold because of bad decisions strikes us as strange. Of course, this is nothing new for the media. 

You can look at any Sunday talking-heads show and see people who were wrong about the Iraq War, wrong about the effects of Bush's reckless tax cuts regarding federal deficits, and wrong about the economy chatting it up like nothing ever happen. Meanwhile, people who were right about these issues aren't represented on such shows nearly as often. 

The media has developed cozy relationships with so-called "experts" and uses them regardless of whether they are right or wrong. While such a practice is great for the "experts", and probably produces great friendships between the media representatives and the "experts", it doesn't do a thing for the media's credibility. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barack Obama Lays It on the Line for the GOP

According to this article that appeared in the New York Post, when President Barack Obama met with Republicans, he was very candid with them. Among the highlights: He told them that they can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh if they want to work with the Democrats in Congress and the new Administration; he reminded them that he won'; and he told them that he would "trump" them with his victory if they opposed his policies.

Here are some quotes from the article linked to above:

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: "I won," according to aides briefed on the meeting.
"I will trump you on that."

Not that Obama was gloating. He was just explaining that he aims to get his way on stimulus package and all other legislation, sources said, noting his unrivaled one-party control of both congressional chambers.

Here's a difference between Obama and Bush. At heart, Bush was inherently not self-confident, so he had to bluster and bully to make up for his lack of self-confidence. At heart, Barack Obama is extremely self-confident, so he doesn't feel any need to bluster and bully. Therefore, he can deliver messages such as those quoted above without coming off as being mean or rude. It is, all in all, a very important character trait.

Examples of Republican Incompetence at Three Levels of Government

Examples of Republican incompetence at the national level: the Iraq War based on false premises, response to Hurricane Katrina, federal deficits, and lack of oversight of the banking industry.

Example of Republican incompetence at the state level: cutting income tax rates by 21% over four years jeopardizing the state's finances.

Examples of Republican incompetence at the local level in Medina County : building a new courthouse while threatening the laying off county employees resulting in a Republican judge issuing a court order against an all Republican Board of County Commissioners.

Bushies Not Coping Well With GOP Defeat

From complaining about the tone of Obama's inaugural address to complaining about the stimulus bill not including their ideas, Bushies seem to be having trouble with one overriding fact: The Republicans lost and Democrats won. Get ready for Republicans' attempts to discredit Obama's win and insist that their policies haven't been repudiated by the American people. 

Here's how one Republican put it during the early part of this decade, before Bubble-Boy had screwed up the Iraq War, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the American economy: "Elections have consequences." Well, he was right and one of those consequences is that the winners get to set the agenda for their term. 

Having lost control of two of the three branches of government, the Republicans are in for a rough ride. Probably the best thing they can hope for is that the economy doesn't improve and Democrats suffer electoral defeats in the 2010 and 2012 elections. If the economy does improve, however, they are in for a long period in the wilderness. 

Of course, their own incompetence brought this on their fate. Americans want government to be competent and Republicans have always insisted that they are much more competent than Democrats. Well, that myth, like so many others, was destroyed by Bush and his merry wrecking crew. 

Maybe if they had put some distance between themselves and BB during BB's tenure in office, they wouldn't have been routed in two consecutive national elections. But they didn't and they were. As mentioned above, in America, elections do have consequences.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce Sponsors Candidate Training

This appears on the website of the Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce:


The Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce will host an Information Session for anyone in the County who would like more information about running for public office, whether as a candidate or to support or work on an election campaign. The one-hour meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 28, starting at 8:00 a.m. at the Medina Community Recreation Center.

In announcing the program, Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce President Debra Lynn-Schmitz pointed out that this is a non-partisan program. “Attendees do not have identify themselves or what position they are considering,” said Lynn-Schmitz. “We simply want to provide an opportunity to learn more for anyone who might be interested in public service, regardless of their political affiliation or the office in which they are interested.”

Medina County Commissioner Sharon Ray will be on hand for a brief presentation explaining what a potential candidate should consider. Ray will also be available for a Question and Answer session at the end of the meeting.

Editor's Note: Even though the listed speakers are Republicans, we think that local Dems running for office in 2009 should attend this event. You can register online by going here.)

Brown Calls for Stimulus Funds to be Allocated by Unemployment & Foreclosure Rates

January 16, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called on his colleagues to allocate economic recovery funds to states based on unemployment and foreclosure rates. In a letter to Senate leadership, Brown called for relief funds to be targeted to states like Ohio that have been disproportionately suffering from the economic downturn.

“Just as the recession has disproportionately affected certain industries, so too have certain states felt this downturn more acutely than others,” wrote Brown in a letter to Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “In Ohio, this is evidenced by above-average unemployment and home foreclosure rates, swelling jobless rolls, increased reliance on the food stamp program, and a number of other economic indicators.  Unfortunately, these problems are not limited to our state.”  

Ohio is among the states hardest hit by the current recession. Since 2000, the state has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs. The state’s unemployment rate of 7.3 percent is the tenth highest in the nation. Ohio’s foreclosure rate is the tenth highest in the nation, and significant water and sewer infrastructure needs—including $11.6 billion in documented clean water needs and $6.3 billion in unmet sewage upgrade costs.

In December, Brown sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama advocating for specific priorities to be included in the final bill. The letter also was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In the letter today, Brown outlined how stimulus funds could be most effectively allocated to alleviate the economic downturn.  The letter was also signed by Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH).

“Factors like unemployment and foreclosure rates should be given great weight as stimulus funding is determined,” the letter continued. “The effects of the economic crisis have been uneven across the country.  To be effective, our nation’s economic stimulus strategy should reflect this reality.”

New Republican Group Formed in Medina County

There is a new Republican group active in Medina County.  It is called Recharge Medina County. Its website can be viewed here. There are two things that are interesting about this group. 

The first is that it doesn't use the word "Republican" in its title. We wonder if that is because the word Republican has become toxic, even here in reliably red Medina County. 

The second is that since the Republicans have all three county commissioner seats, control the mayor's office of all three cities in Medina County, and have a majority of elected officials at the local and county level, what exactly are they recharging? Their own party? Medina County? 

To recharge something implies that it is dead, like recharging a battery. If there is no life in Medina County government, then maybe the solution isn't to re-elect more Republican, maybe the solution is to elect a real difference, IE, Democrats. Just a thought. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reader Submission: Shakira, Stevie Wonder, & Usher at Obama Concert

One of our readers sent us the link to this video from the Obama Pre-Inauguration Concert held this last weekend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Free at Last, Free at Last, God Almighty We are Free at Last"

After eight long years the national nightmare that was the George W. Bush Administration ends today. Eight years of trashing this nation's values, its government, its reputation, its financial future, and its legacy. Eight years of policies deliberately designed to divide Americans in the pursuit of political power. Eight years of turning our government over to the moneychangers who invaded the people's temple. 

The damage done by Bubble-Boy and his minions will take years to undo, but the process starts today. We have freed ourselves from the pettiness, the nastiness, the meanness, the vindictiveness of a self-indulged, vain man who has gone through life having the way cleared for him. 

Further, the election of Barack Obama wasn't just about getting rid of Bushism, as worthy a goal as that was, it was about showing the world that the best things about America haven't been lost. Things like our idealism, our commitment to democratic values, and our generosity of spirit. This is indeed the dawning of a new day in America. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reader Submission: Goodbye to Bush

Editor's Note: The following is a submission from one of our readers. 

Good riddance George Bush. Your reign of terror may be ended, but the effect of your evildoing will last as it shapes your legacy into a history lesson that will be incorporated into my grandchildren’s adult lives and into what was supposed to be my retirement. Your legacy will be fear.


The America you are leaving behind contains a terrified shivering mass of people who are now so afraid to spend whatever money they do have that our economy is frozen and teetering on the brink ofGreat Depression 2.0.  


A country filled with citizens so frightened that they have agreed to be publicly searched before they get on an airplane or enter a County Courthouse - a people so terrified that they allowed their Government to order the torture of fellow human beings and so fearful that they allowed fundamental aspects of their judicial system to be violated when there were clear absolute directives preventing that very action by the founding fathers 


A Government so terrified of further job losses that they are throwing bailout money at every company that asks for it when we all know it represents a tax burden that our grandchildren will be paying for long after these specific saved jobs are gone.


George Bush will never feel the intrusive hand of a pre-boarding pat-down security search or a cold chill of fear when he looks at his checkbook or credit card balance, but he may fear a future where there is an unprecedented and very powerful multinational effort to try George Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes.


I hope by then America will have overcome its national petrifaction and has the courage to do the morally right thing when the extradition requests are made.    

John Galish

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sutton Supports Providing Health Coverage for 11 Million American Children

Legislation will cover an additional 20,000 children in the State of Ohio

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Betty Sutton spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 2, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act. This legislation renews and improves SCHIP, providing health care coverage for 11 million children across the Nation. Congresswoman Sutton is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 2 and with her strong support this legislation passed the House by a margin of 289 to139. Congresswoman Sutton released the following statement:

"This legislation is long overdue for our nation's children. And I want to share a story about a girl from my district that puts this issue all into perspective.

I met Rose and her mother at an event one weekend back in my district in Ohio. I will never forget the moment when her mom introduced her to me. She looked up at me full of hope and in a moment, she reached out and she hugged me. After Rose walked away her mom explained to me that her daughter had cancer and was preparing for a bone marrow transplant. Before I could even digest what their family was going through, Dawn, her mother said:

"When are you guys going to pass SCHIP? Because Rose has insurance, but there are a lot of kids in this country who don't. And they deserve the same opportunity for a future.

And Dawn was right. Nearly 9 millions children in this country do not have health insurance. These kids should have the same opportunity to get the healthcare that they need. In the midst of fighting cancer with her daughter, Dawn found the courage and compassion to look beyond her struggle, to stand up for kids across this nation without health insurance.

I share this story because today we have the opportunity to look beyond all differences to finally pass this legislation. The bill before us allows an additional 4 million children across the country - which includes 20,000 children in Ohio - to obtain health insurance.

And the urgency could not be more clear. With an ailing economy, the population of uninsured is growing. And we know that a one percent increase in unemployment is projected to increase the number of uninsured by 1.1 million. In these difficult economic times, the least we can do is make sure that our children have access to the healthcare they deserve.

I am pleased to report that Rose has received her bone marrow transplant, and her eyes and her future are bright. Our children are our future and every child deserves the kind of care that Rose received. This is why I cannot stress enough the importance of passing the State Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this critical and essential legislation."

Click here to view Congresswoman Sutton's floor statement

Background Information:

The State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) was created in 1997 to provide health care coverage for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. It has proven to be a successful and cost-effective program for providing health care to our nation's children.

H.R. 2 renews and improves SCHIP, providing health care coverage for a total of 11 million children. It preserves coverage for the 7 million children currently covered by SCHIP and extends coverage to 4 million uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid. More than 230,000 children in Ohio are currently covered by SCHIP and today's legislation will allow 20,000 more children to obtain coverage.

H.R. 2 reauthorizes SCHIP for four and a half years, through Fiscal Year 2013.

Contact: Erin Donar at 202-225-3401 or

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Senate Supports Cloture in Fair Pay Act

On Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, considered the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. There was a motion to invoke cloture and cut off debate. The vote was 72 to cut off debate and 23 to allow debate to continue. Fourteen Republicans voted for the motion and all the votes not to cut off debate came from Republicans. The question is whether the change in the Presidency led to 14 Rs deciding to vote for cloture on this legislation?

If you look at what states the Senators who voted against cloture came from, a pattern emerges. Only two Senators who voted against cloture came from states carried by Obama. On the other hand, seven Republicans who voted in favor of cloture came from states that Obama carried. Those seven Rs include both Republican Senators from Maine, one from North Carolina, one from Florida and Ohio's own George Voinovich.

Although this vote may not get the attention that the Senate's refusal to block the second part of the bank bailout, it is a good sign that progressive legislation won't always be blocked by Republican filibusters. Republican Senators have seen their ranks decimated in the 2006 and 2007 elections. Not all of them want to join the ranks of their fellow elephants.

Voinovich Only Shows Guts Where Dems Are Involved

We were never wild about the choice of Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary. His background seemed to be that of a person too close to the financial services industry to suit us. One of the big problems in the financial services industries is that the people who run it are too infatuated with their own brilliance to suit us. They also possess an arrogance that only comes from being able to control huge sums of money that others have earned. They seem to think that the rules don't apply to them.

The revelation that Geither didn't pay all his taxes only reinforces our opinion. He comes across as a guy who believes that he the rules don't apply to him. So if his nomination was defeated, we wouldn't be heartbroken.

Having said that, however, we find the attacks on him by Republicans like George Voinovich to be just a tad off putting. When the Bushies were lying about weapons of mass destruction, allowing Americans to die after Hurricane Katrina, passing tax cuts that plunged us into huge deficits, where was Voinovich?

As a member of Bush's own party, his criticisms would have carried some weight. Yet, while he was somewhat critical of Bush's tax cuts, he voted for them. He voted for the war in Iraq and voted against resolutions to end the war. He was a typical Republican "moderate" voicing concerns about Bubble-Boy's policies, but, in the end, enabling him by voting his way in the House or Senate.

Now, though, that's there a Democrat in the White House, Georgie has found his voice. Now, he is unafraid to speak truth to power. Pardon us for not being impressed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Senator Sherrod Brown's Statement on December Unemployment Figures

January 9, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today reported that payroll numbers in December fell by 533,000 – for the twelfth straight month of job loss in the country. The nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent, from 6.8 percent in November.

In response, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement:

“Today marks the twelfth straight month of job loss for our country. In just two months alone, more than one million Americans lost their jobs. We are not only talking about numbers or percentages when it comes to unemployment. We are talking about families with mortgages and health care costs.

Ohioans don’t need statistics to tell them about the state our economy. Just this week, our state’s unemployment system crashed. Thousands of Ohioans are in need of assistance, and we need to act now. I will continue to work to pass an economic recovery plan that creates jobs and invests in the middle class.”

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sen. Sherrod Brown Introduces Legislation to Aid Unemployed Get Health Insurance

January 7, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced legislation to improve health care access for unemployed Americans. The Coverage Continuity Act of 2009 would address gaps in access to health coverage that jeopardize the health and stability of unemployed workers and their families.

“Layoffs don’t just affect a family’s financial well-being—they can also affect a family’s physical well-being,” said Brown. “Now is not the time for more American workers to join the ranks of the uninsured. We need to make sure that families have access to affordable health care during this challenging time.”

Brown’s legislation modernizes and improves the health coverage tax credit (HCTC), which is currently available to workers who have lost manufacturing jobs due to increased international trade and to retirees whose pension plans have been taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The refundable credit, which can be redeemed in advance of tax season, currently covers 65% of the cost of health insurance. Due in part to the low subsidy rate, many potential beneficiaries—more than 320,000 in 2005—do not participate in the program. Brown’s legislation increases the subsidy to 85 percent of the health insurance plan cost.

The legislation also temporarily extends the HCTC to individuals with COBRA coverage. COBRA allows unemployed workers and their families to maintain health insurance through their former employer for up to 18 months, as long as they pay the full cost of the premiums and an administrative fee. Due to the high cost of COBRA coverage, only about 20 percent of those eligible for COBRA make use of it during their period of unemployment. The Coverage Continuity Act of 2009 would provide a 12-month extension of COBRA coverage and the HCTC to prevent additional Americans from being uninsured.

The Coverage Continuity Act of 2009 would:

Increase the Health Coverage Tax credit (HCTC) to 85 percent for all current and future recipients beginning in calendar year 2009: The HCTC is an important mechanism for preventing displaced workers from losing health coverage. However, the low take-up rate for the HCTC can be improved by increasing the subsidy level. Brown’s legislation draws from bipartisan legislation introduced in the last Congress by Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and increases the tax credit from covering 65 percent of the cost of insurance to covering 85 percent of that cost.

Expand HCTC eligibility to individuals currently enrolled in COBRA: Effective January 1, 2009, Brown’s legislation would allow individuals currently enrolled in COBRA to claim the HCTC for 18 months or until the end of their COBRA eligibility, whichever comes first.

Extend COBRA coverage period: Brown’s legislation allows individuals whose COBRA eligibility ends between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009 to be eligible for an additional 12 months of COBRA coverage as long as they remain continuously enrolled. They would be eligible for the HCTC for the duration of their COBRA coverage.

Seen on a Car in Texas

These two stickers were seen on a foreign imported car in Texas. Those of us who are Democrats can only hope that the GOP makes Ken Blackwell its Chair and Sarah Palin its 2012 nominee.

Senatorial Appointee Burris and the Presumption of Innocence

Yesterday, the United States Senate refused to seat Roland Burris, who has been appointed by Governor Rod Blagojevich. I find this troubling since the Governor hasn't been convicted of anything and since there is no indication that Burris has done anything improper.

I can understand why Senate Democratic leaders want to distance themselves from the allegations concerning Blagojevich. They don't want to give Republicans a weapon to use against them in the upcoming months. Still, in the United States there is a presumption of innocence and, despite the willingness of the media to convict someone in the court of public opinion without any kind of hearing, it even applies to politicians.

Here you have a Governor who has been accused but not convicted of anything appointing a man, who hasn't been linked to any wrongdoing by the Governor, to the United States Senate. An appointment that he is allowed to make under the Illinois constitution. It seems to me that the appointment ought to be recognized and accepted by the Democratic leaders in the Senate.

Is there is a political risk in accepting Burris's appointment? Sure, but it is less of a risk than undermining one of America's cherished constitutional protections.

FDR, the New Deal, and Unemployment Rates

There is this conservative writer named Amity Shlaes who authored a book called The Forgotten Man about FDR and the Great Depression. She has become the latest conservative expert on the Great Depression. Her book is an attempt to argue that Roosevelt's policies actually made unemployment worse, not better, and that it was WWII that ended the Great Depression, not governmental action. One of her outlets is the Washington Post, who is publishing her articles apparently as a conservative counter-weight to arguments being made for more aggressive public works spending.
Shlaes by the way, is a Ivy League graduate who majored in English, not economics or history. This is from the Wikipedia entry about her:

Shlaes graduated from Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University magna cum laude[1] with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1982.[2]

As David Sirota points out in an excellent column about Shlaes, the New Deal and unemployment, her analysis of unemployment data has been discredited by a University of California historian. Sirota goes on to point out that under the New Deal, America experienced the second greatest drop in the percentage of unemployed recorded from 1932 through 2008. (Sirota is considering the New Deal as having ended in 1941, the year that WWII started.) The only greater drop occurred during the period of 1940 through 1944.

Why is any of this important? Because right now the Congress is considering how to stimulate the economy. Conservatives and Republicans argue that government projects won't work in reducing unemployment. They will be citing Shlaes's book in support of these arguments. Sirota's column is one small way to argue back.