Medicaid expansion improve’s economy

Medicaid extension beneficiaries aren’t slackers, in fact, you probably meet these people every day when you dine out, pick up some milk at the grocery, get your car repaired, visit a friend who has home care or just go shopping.

These people work at jobs, but they may be forced to work part time or for a low wage. Their dilemma is that they are exempt or make too much money to be covered by the Medicaid program and they make below the Federal Poverty Level so they are ineligible to shop for insurance on

Not extending Medicaid coverage means that they will probably not be covered by an insurance plan at all. They may get ill and need to see a doctor. Without insurance, they will probably go to the emergency room and receive indigent care, which costs the hospital thousands of dollars. Like all of us, they need healthcare, but their employment situation prevents them for taking advantage of the coverage and tax credit that is being offered under the Affordable Care Act.

The Medicaid Extension that is being offered to the states by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act is a good deal. It pays 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years and no less than 90 percent of the costs after that until 2022. It will be a financial asset for Virginia’s budget.

The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and will not be repealed. People in all 50 states are now getting coverage through the or state exchanges. This cannot and will not be rolled back.

Virginia is turning away five million dollars a day by rejecting the Medicaid expansion. Our tax dollars are being sent to Kentucky and Maryland and 23 other states for Medicaid expansion. If coverage was expanded, it is projected that 30,000 new health care jobs would be created in Virginia. Why shouldn’t Virginia benefit from this federal money? After all, 20 percent of our state economy comes from federal jobs and military programs. These too are federal dollars.

Many state representatives object to expansion because they think it will cost the state more money, but clearly it will save the state money (five million dollars a day.)

Another objection is that there aren’t that many Virginians who need this coverage. In fact, there are 12,600 people eligible for expansion in the 22nd Senatorial District (Bryce Reeves) and 14,400 in the 17th Senatorial District (Tom Garrett)and 18,970 in the 56th House District (Del Peter Farrell) All of these districts include some parts of Louisa County. Clearly, we need this kind of coverage for many citizens in Louisa.

It is important for all of us to think about this issue that affects our neighbors and the working people who live in our community. Please reach out to your state senator and state delegate and encourage them to vote to expand this coverage when they come back in session on March 24.

Your representatives can be reached by phone or email. Delegate Peter Farrell (56th) 804-644-0264804-644-0264 ( Senator Tom Garrett (22nd) 434-944-7770434-944-7770 ( ). Bryce Reeves (17th) 540-645-8440540-645-8440 (  )

As Christians and good citizens, we are our brother’s keepers. This expansion will not cost Virginians or Louisans a penny, but will grow local economies by adding health care jobs and by bringing federal tax monies back to Virginia.

Joanna Hickman

Peonage in Louisa County

Letter to Rusty McGuire on his Community Service Proposal

First of all, the decline in crime rates in Louisa County, VA (or in most other cities and towns in America) is NOT THE RESULT OF THE EFFORTS OF TOWN, SHERIFF OR STATE POLICE AGENCIES, but a combination of other factors that are totally unrelated to the presence and arrests of police personnel, because the removal of offenders from communities by police is not a deterrent to others committing crimes, according to the current research.   If police personnel in Virginia were so successful in deterring criminal activity, we would not have larger prison populations and longer prison sentences (not to mention Virginia’s horrendous record on failing to parole its offenders).  Police can be accredited with the significantly large number of minority arrests and prosecutors with the world’s largest prison population.  But if crime is down so much, why isn’t there a proportionate decrease in budgets of the jails, town, sheriff or state police in Louisa County?

How misguided is the Commonwealth Attorney’s office decision in implementing a new policy for any person who enters a plea agreement in circuit court on a felony, regardless of the amount of time to which the offender is sentenced that requires the offender to find FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT within 30 days of their release or to begin serving 20 hours of community service (i.e., free, unpaid work in their community) EVERY WEEK they remain UNEMPLOYED.  Since the 30 day requirement for finding work is already a requirement of their probation, this is no change in the existing policy and is a completely unrealistic requirement for any offender, when there are simply no jobs for those with no criminal record, let alone a felony.

There are no jobs for many college grads, very experienced and seasoned employees in various occupations with no criminal backgrounds, so there is very little hope that any of these offenders will find decent employment, paying them a living wage in this state or anywhere else, UNLESS they have family, friends or someone willing to give them a decent job.

I am a mature, African American woman with no criminal background, extensive experience in several areas, and masters and doctoral level degrees, but have had very little success in obtaining and/or maintaining substantive, full-time employment throughout the entire twelve years that I have lived in this area.

So, the likelihood of these offenders finding gainful employment within 30 days of their release or any other reasonable amount of time in this depression era employment environment is simply not fathomable or realistic.  Hence, you can expect that most of these offenders will be forced into this utterly ridiculous free labor pool (akin to slavery and peonage of yesteryear) to be made available to local businesses.

And of course offenders will say they cannot find work because there aren’t any jobs or jobs that they can even get to because there is no source of transportation in this county and they have no money to pay for transportation to and from work if they could find a job anywhere in the area or neighboring cities/counties.

I have no idea where McGuire got the idea that keeping people busy when the research have already proven that people remain productive citizens in their communities when they are able to find sufficient community support upon release to assist them in re-entering their communities, have meaningful work at living wages enabling them to manage their basic living expenses and provide a stable lifestyle for themselves and their families – none of which can be met by being forced to become a free source of labor to local business owners and nonprofits.

People were always quite busy in slavery and peonage, neither of which was beneficial to their wellbeing or to their families.

Offenders don’t have a problem getting back to work OR WANTING TO WORK.  They have a MAJOR PROBLEM getting someone to give them a chance to work (MAKING A LIVING WAGE) and a chance to regain the rights and privileges of a normal citizen.  This is INHERENTLY more difficult for members of any minority group because the majority of employers are Caucasian.

Indeed, it is totally unlikely that forcing offenders into free labor under the guise of community service will, in itself, prevent recidivism, especially with no firm agreement or commitment from any of these employers to hire any of these free laborers.  It is nonsense to say that they are not being forced to participate because they will face parole or probation violations if they do not.

This policy will, however, signal Louisa County, Virginia’s return to the horrific servitude encountered under the old peonage system of labor exploitation and slavery and will serve to further disillusion offenders trying to make a living. This is the 2013 version of filling the void for free labor that slavery left and that we watch on TV as we staunchly condemn labor exploitation in places like Bangladesh and China.

Gloria Pope

Behind the Legislative Shutdown

The Republicans dominated House of Delegates shows absolutely no signs of budging from their standoff over expanding Medicaid, having adjourned without approving a budget, bringing us closer to a government shutdown. Virginia has already forfeited $360 million in federal funds, monies paid by the states taxpayers. With each passing day, the Commonwealth walks away from another $5 million, and ~ $ 110,000 in tax revenues generated by 20,000 to 30,000 additional health-care jobs.

Republicans do not offer any alternative to business groups like the Chamber of Commerce who say accepting these federal funds will help Virginia’s economy, or dispute the figures of the non-profit Commonwealth Institute that 1,600 more people in Louisa County would now have coverage.

Sen. Stosch (R-Henrico), claims “Medicaid expansion is based upon too many uncertainties in the ACA … we reject it in favor of a Virginia solution — private insurance know as Marketplace Virginia,” a solution similar to Arkansas’s. This could pass the Senate, where every Democrat and some Republicans have expressed support. Others like Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin) falsely claim “You can put all the lipstick you want on this pig and call it by another name; it’s still Medicaid expansion.

The House of Delegates budget did not include health care coverage by that name or any other. Peter Farrell, Louisa’s delegate, says we should discuss Medicaid expansion only after they have passed their budget. While the Washington Post claims House Speaker Howell is leading the Republican’s effort to punish their own constituents to score political points.

The got the punishment part right, and missed who would be on the receiving end. According to the Commonwealth Institute it won’t be the rural districts which comprise most of the House Republicans base. It will be the heavily populated Northern Virginia and the Tidewater regions.  While each district has roughly 16,000 people who are eligible for Medicaid expansion, 21 of the 35 districts above this average are Democratic ones.

Beyond that, most of these districts have another 10 to 30,000 additional Medicaid expansion eligible residents. House Republicans have no problem railing against accepting federal funding when it suits them, Even though most of the funding they accept has far less than the  100% and later 90% “guaranteed” level of funding offered by Medicaid expansion. In fact, much of their current FY 2015-2016  budget is built around changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act.

Coming to $195 million this year and $51 million over the next two years, by the very law they seek to boycott — when it’s politically convenient. Their willingness to negotiate Medicaid expansion after the fact is the moral and financial equivalent of rolling a patient out of surgery while leaving organs on the operating table.

The General Assembly faces major decisions in this coming special session whether to proceed with Marketplace Virginia or some other plan. A decision which ultimately comes down to money and those matters including Medicaid expansion should by definition be part of the budget negotiations.

As the House of Delegates who roared into March like a pride of angry lions continues to drag out their ideological battles they are endanger our financial rating, making it clear that their objections to Medicaid expansion were never about principles, but rather a determination to make lambs of us all.

Jon Taylor

FOX Derangement Syndrome & Medicaid Expansion

Most of the Republican distortions and lies seen in our local paper, The Central Virginian appear to originate from a peculiar cultural delusion commonly known to the rest of the world as FOX derangement syndrome. A unique form of cognitive disorder cheer lead by a cadre of blond talking heads, who’s only qualifications apparently consist of being blonde, and not particularly swift ones at that.

Foxes Dumb Blondes

Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, understanding how this virus affects us all is the first step in making informed decisions.

No one should ever believe everything they read and hear, especially those of us who are old enough to have witnessed the past four decades of cultural, social and political changes. Particularly the rise of Reagan Republicans, economic greed, the Christian right, and a news media which over the past few decades has consistently failed to inform us.

Many simply accept whatever information they hear on the news media, and especially Fox News  as the gospel truth, particularly viewers who are 65 years and older.

Since it’s inception, Fox News has been a corrosive influence on viewers of all ages ability to understand the world around them. Their style of dismissing all other sources of information has been slavishly copied by many other mainstream media outlets, and has lead to the creation of  a self reinforcing feedback loop where viewers are only exposed to the things they already believe.

thank you fox news

Information which confirms opinions you already have isn’t news — it’s Fox News.

This brand of “fair and balanced” cultural indoctrination has lead the way in accelerating the nation’s polarization, and is one of the primary reasons why our families and the nation continue to be divided by their viewing habits. . Fox’s aging audience remains the countries largest reservoir of class and racial privilege,  a damaged legacy hopelessly addicted to tribal thinking.

A way of looking at the world characterized by an intense dislike of “outside” groups. Which is important, because Fox’s brand of dog whistling is not about bigotry as such. It’s about the manipulation of bigotry, and the manipulation of those stereotypes against “outsiders“.

A cultural phenomenon mirrored by the rise of the Christian right within the Republican Party. Religious zealots who have moved from the parties’ fringes to becoming their primary voting constituency. A dangerous confluence of  bitter old men and religious ideologues whose worldview drives virtually all of the Republican parties agenda; from care of the poor, the sick and elderly, women’s rights, human rights, and voting rights.

Fox viewers and the Christian right have become partners, joined at the hip, consistently on the wrong side of morality and social progress, united in their determination to remain relics of the past. Who would be lost in their own angst and anger without constant reassurances from FOX and Friends that their voices are the only ones which really matter in our society.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has been implementing Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” for over 40 years; stoking up so much anger, class and racial resentment that this country has become divided along ideological lines that have not been seen in this country since just before the Civil War.

It has been noted in several studies that Fox News not only consistently misinforms their viewers.

Fox_50 percent lies

And the misleading nature of their messaging, makes them essentially  the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.

Thanks to the Supreme Courts, Citizens v. United ruling in 2010, and their recent decision to do away with any meaningful limitations on political funding,  the Republican Party has a virtually inexhaustible supply of money to spread their manipulative messages.

Allowing them to use compliant media outlets like Fox to further their  biased messaging , while continuing to fund to their candidates in Congress all the way down to the state and county level.

Especially since 2010, Republicans have demonstrated their determination to abuse their bought and paid for political power by manipulating laws at the State and Federal level, changing whatever they don’t agree with, further isolating themselves and their supporters from the mainstream of society in the process.

In practical terms, the function purpose of Fox News is to indoctrinate what Joseph Stalin’s called societies “useful idiots.” Their sole purpose is to stir up fear, constantly reminding tribal members of the conservative tribe that they must all band together lest they be swept away by the tides of change, and the deviancy of “outsiders”.

Here in Virginia, look no further than the arrogance displayed by the Republican dominated House of Delegates during their special legislative session. Where they openly displayed their contempt for the legislative process with fraternity house antics, as they clapped and laughed their way over to the closed Senate Chambers to deliver their latest “budget bill”.

Their complete avoidance of any discussion about the budget shows the depths of their deception and fear about what will happen once the public begins to understand the positive impact that Medicaid expansion will have on the states economy.  Then like petulant children, they posted “Gone Home” signs on the Senate doors and adjourned their special session.

gone home

Recently, Speaker of the House Bill Howell addressed the Stafford County Board of Supervisors requesting they approve a resolution supporting withdrawal of the Virginia Medicaid expansion budget from Gov. McAuliffe’s latest state budget. Claiming that if this was not done, House Republicans would not approve the budget and state government would shut down on July 1, 2014, and local jurisdictions like Stafford would not receive state funding for education, social services, transportation, etc.

Essentially telling them, “Nice place you have here, shame if something were to happen to it.

According to Howell, the reason for the Republican majority’s position are concerns that in the future, the federal government will not be able to pay its share of the states Medicaid funding.  Considering that Virginia derives ~25 percent of its budget from government funding, and that for decades, the Commonwealth has had one of the highest levels of per-capita federal funds received of any state his pious concerns about the sustainability of federal support for Medicaid expansion funding in the Commonwealth are disingenuous distractions.

At the end of his term in office, President Eisenhower warned us about the influence that the Military-Industrial Complex has over our government.  Today, along with Wall Street financiers, and unlimited political funding of ideologue’s  like Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell  they are affecting our lives in a manner which makes his words seem like a serious understatement.

Politicians like Speaker Howell are able to continue stacking the deck in their favor because he and his party have convinced the most unhinged elements of our society to come out in droves and support them at the polls. In the meantime, over these next few elections we must choose between two radically different visions.

On one hand a fearful tribal mindset scarcely removed from the Dark Ages. On the other; a fact based recognition of how the world operates, a starting point to where we can begin demanding that both parties’ start representing our interests and address our many social and economic problems.

Anything else is simply empty words — just like Fox News.

Jon Taylor

Strange Austerian Fears

Every once in a while you come across some feature articles and letters to the editor in the Central Virginian which come from so far out in left field, disconnected from any contextual references or for that matter reality- that they leave you thinking “huh.”

The first was the unattributed “Dough not Rising” article of 1-30-14 which was buried on the very last page which talked about a business owner’s perspective on why his business went under.

While I found many of Mr. Alessi’s statements in that article not particularly accurate; he did identify one issue which affects us all, the lack of support for local businesses at the county and town level. Pointing out that in absence of such support that many new and existing businesses will have little choice but to concentrate their efforts high income parts of the county, like Lake Anna to the detriment of the towns of Louisa and Mineral.

The second was a lengthy letter responding to that article by Fred Byrd (2-6-14) titled “It’s not the lack of economic stimulus; it’s the customer’s choice.” His letter to the editor was unique in several respects, starting with being several hundred words over the Central Virginian’s 500 word limit.  In that regard, the CV’s application of their stated guidelines leaves something to be desired, and is as they say – another story.

I found Mr. Byrd’s comments to be typical of most local conservatives within the business community; overly fond of pulling hard on the Horatio Alger boot strap, claiming that when left alone…”businesses create their own economy,” and that “…nothing beats a positive attitude.”

If I didn’t know better I could have sworn I had been transported into a time warp into the last decade and administration and just heard someone from the Bushwacked era, claiming “we create our own reality.”

Those comments might have been accurate for his tractor businesses considering they enjoyed decades of virtual monopoly status being one of the few dealer/service providers in the region. But that same logic for success doesn’t hold true for most other businesses operating in this county.

His implication that if Mr. Alessi had simply tried harder and had a more positive outlook, things would have been different is magical thinking, reflecting a fundamental lack of understanding of economics and particularly the dynamics behind long term recessions. Failing to grasp the primary reason that Maria’s New York Deli and Pizzeria went out of business was because people don’t have any money to spend, not because they chose to go elsewhere.

Such misconceptions about how the free market works are not uncommon amongst local conservatives. The all too obvious fact that people around the country and here in Louisa County simply don’t have enough money to spend and how it affects businesses and the economy is just beginning  to be covered by the main stream media.

Like in the following article from the New York Times : Another related topic which is also starting to make the rounds in the media are the devastating effects that every growing social inequality has on our economy and particularly on small businesses.

One of the most noticeable aspects of this rising inequality has been the marked increase in long-term unemployment which is now at record levels. Historically, the long-term unemployed — defined as those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more — has been between 10 and 20 percent of the total number of unemployment. Today the number is nearly 36 percent.

Now if you’re thinking the typical long-term unemployed person in American is one of “those people” — nonwhite, poorly educated, etc. — you would be wrong. According to research by the Urban Institute’s Josh Mitchell, half of the long-term unemployed are white. While college graduates are less likely to lose their jobs than workers with less education, once they do they are much more likely to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. And workers over 45 are especially likely to spend a long time unemployed.

In a weak job market long-term unemployment tends to be self-perpetuating, because employers in effect discriminate against the jobless. Many people have long suspected that this was the case, and last year Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University provided a dramatic confirmation. He sent out thousands of fictitious résumés in response to job ads, and found that potential employers were drastically less likely to respond if the fictitious applicant had been out of work more than six months, even if he or she was better qualified than other applicants.

This suggests is that the long-term unemployed are mainly victims of circumstances — ordinary American workers who had the bad luck to lose their jobs at a time of extraordinary labor market weakness. Once that happened, their very unemployment makes it that much hard to find a new job when there are three times as many people seeking jobs as there are job.

Republicans justify refusal to help the unemployed by asserting that we have so much long-term unemployment because people aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs, and that extended benefits are the reason for that lack of effort.

People like, Senator Rand Paul — like us to believe that they’re being tough-minded and realistic.  When in fact, they’re peddling a fantasy at odds with all the evidence. For example: if unemployment is high because people are unwilling to work, this would reduce the supply of labor — so why aren’t wages going up?

The more their economic doctrine fails — remember how the Fed’s actions were supposed to produce runaway inflation? The more fiercely conservatives continue to cling to that doctrine. More than five years after a financial crisis plunged the Western world into a quasi-permanent slump, making nonsense of free-market orthodoxy, it’s hard to find a leading Republican who has changed his or her mind on — well, anything.

In their world view being unemployed is a choice, something that only happens to losers who don’t really want to work. One often gets the sense that contempt for the unemployed comes first, that the justifications for their tough policies are after-the-fact rationalizations.

The result is that millions of Americans have been written off — rejected by potential employers, abandoned by politicians whose fuzzy-mindedness is matched only by the hardness of their hearts

American’s collective economic confusion comes from rejecting the ideas of the economist, John Maynard Keynes which encouraged government intervention and provided the intellectual ballast for the New Deal. Instead, they are hell bent on following the principles of the anti-government economics of Austrians Friedrich A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

Hayek and Mises perceived little difference between democratic governments which used their power to plan against recessions and dictatorships that did the same thing. In their view, the policies of Franklin Roosevelt would lead down to what Hayek called the “Road to Serfdom” and were little removed from the policies and actions of Hitler or Stalin.

One of the clearest indications how pervasive this mindset is and how widely accepted it is amongst Conservatives in this country came during the 2012 Republican presidential debates when Rand’s father, Ron Paul, triumphantly announced: “We’re all Austrians now!

At the time I sure many Americans were probably scratching their heads and wondering: Why do we want to be Austrians? They live in a nice country with stunning mountains and all, but aren’t we perfectly happy to be Americans?

To put Mr. Paul’s comments in context, he was trying to put a conservative Hayek-ing spin  on a line famously attributed to President Richard Nixon that “we’re all Keynesian’s now,”  which one of his supporters thought would be a good sound byte. He went on to comment that back in the days of Nixon , even Republicans “accepted liberal economics.” Those days are long gone.

His words are worth remembering because he has a point. To a remarkable degree, our politics are haunted by the principles of Austrian economics and their sweeping hostility to any actions by government that would keep downturns from becoming even greater catastrophes or to promote economic fairness.

This is an enormous  intellectual, political and financial policy change. When Nixon declared his allegiance to Keynesianism, he was reflecting an insight embraced across partisan lines that Government’s exertions, both during the New Deal and throughout World War II, helped rescue the U.S. economy from the Great Depression.

Postwar Keynesian approaches, including the Marshall Plan, unleashed an economic juggernaut across the Western world, allowing secular and Christian parties of the moderate right and social democratic parties on the moderate left to create free societies and regulated market economies which delivered the goods — literally as well as figuratively — to tens of millions throughout Europe and the rest of the free world.

Those who follow the philosophies of Hayek and Mises would have us forget this history or rewrite it beyond comprehension. They would also have us overlook that Hayek’s “own historical justification for apolitical market economics was entirely wrong,” Hayek believed, that “if you begin with welfare policies of any sort — directing individuals, taxing for social ends, engineering the outcomes of market relationships — you will end up with Hitler.

A early precursor to Goodwin’s law if you will, an Internet adage which states the longer an an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.

But to the contrary, postwar initiatives along Keynesian lines are precisely what prevented both the resurgence of fascism and the collapse of Western Europe into communist hands. Keynesian steps also kept the whole world from going into a much deeper and more disastrous slide after the financial crisis of 2008.

Yet today’s conservatives and much of the American public are in thrall to Austrian thinking, and this helps to explain much of what is going on in Washington. Broadly popular measures such as raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance — normal, bipartisan legislation during the Keynesian heyday — are blocked on the assumption that people are better off if the government simply keeps its mitts off the market.

It is now difficult for Congress to pass even the kind of spending that all sides once saw as necessary public investment in transportation, infrastructure, research and education. Anything government does beyond enforcing contracts and stopping violence is reflexively denounced as the first step toward dictatorship.

While Ron Paul’s comments are typical of today’s pseudo-intellectual libertarian’s, he does deserve credit for unmasking the true source of gridlock in Washington: too many conservatives operate on economic theories which history and practice have discredited. And what passes for liberal Democrats have been more than reluctant to call the ideological right out on this.

I suspect because they never fully got over the shell shock of their losses Reagan and Bush II years and have developed a strange aversion to arguing about or standing for anything. When it comes to government policy, the Austrian economists have paved the road to paralysis.

Speaking of gridlocked ideas; Mr. Byrd’s lengthy commentary offers one last twist of the conservative knife, saying that if Mr. Alessi doesn’t like how things are done here in Virginia he’s free to take his New York “our pizza is the best in the world” attitude back to New York State and suck off of their socialistic teat.

Such a compulsion to resort to mean spirited knee jerk reaction is the strongest indicator that something is seriously wrong with his argument. Exactly what that might be,  I leave to the imagination of our readers.

Jon Taylor

Farrell promotes ALEC’s agenda

Below is a section taken directly from the latest “legislative update” email from our 56th District Delegate Peter Farrell. This update was sent exclusively to Republicans on is mailing list – not to the remainder of his constituents.

Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid expansion was a pressing issue last year and it’s an even more consequential issue this year. My office has received several inquiries from constituents on the status of Medicaid expansion in Virginia and where I stand on the issue. I believe there are multiple reasons why expanding Medicaid this session may not be the best choice for Virginia.

Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Medicaid could be expanded to cover an additional 400,000 new recipients in the Commonwealth. The Federal Government has promised to cover 100% of expansion costs for the first 3 years, and 90% after that.

In 2013, the General Assembly established the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to review, recommend and approve innovation and reform proposals affecting Virginia’s Medicaid system. This Commission provided for legislative oversight in the process.

MIRC has held eight public meetings and worked over the last year to compile information on the current program’s operations and costs. In the latest MIRC meeting, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel reported 30% of all healthcare spending in Virginia is waste. Waste is primarily considered to be unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, inefficient delivery services, and fraud. It’s sobering to think that 30 cents of every taxpayer dollar spent on healthcare is wasted.

Attorney General Cuccinelli recovered $200 million in Medicaid fraud settlements in 2013 alone. This highlights the potential level of loss to Virginia every year.

The House Republican Caucus believes expanding a broken Medicaid system is unwise.   Currently, Medicaid costs the Commonwealth almost $9 billion a year and consumes about 22% of our general fund budget. It is the fastest growing part of our budget, growing at an average of 8 percent annually. Expansion could potentially cost an additional $1 billion a year if the federal government doesn’t live up to their promise to pay 90 percent of the cost.

Historically, we have seen the actual costs far outpace the original projections for nearly every major entitlement program in the last 50 years. When Medicare was originally created in the 1960s, it was projected to cost $12 billion annually by 1990. In 1990, Medicare actually cost $110 billion. Today it’s over $500 billion.

What happens when Medicaid is no longer 22% of our budget, but instead 26% or 27%? Medicaid expansion without reforms would require drastic cuts to other core functions of government such as education, transportation, and public safety, or increased taxes on hard-working Virginians.

In addition, nearly 1/3 of all doctors presently will not see Medicaid patients. Medicaid expansion would result in decreased access to general practitioners for low-income Virginian families. Ultimately they’ll be forced into emergency room care. This means more expensive healthcare bills and decreased individualized, personal care.

Fundamentally, that’s why the decision to expand Medicaid requires serious reflection from the House of Delegates. We legislators have a fiduciary duty to you, the people of Virginia, to balance our budget every year. I cannot support expanding Medicaid before we have ensured that it will not grow unsustainably, decrease access to and quality of care, and be plagued with widespread waste and fraud.

House Republicans have called for a comprehensive financial and operational audit of Medicaid by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), the oversight agency for the Virginia General Assembly.  JLARC was established to evaluate the operations and performance of state agencies and programs. We believe a JLARC audit will provide insight on several intricacies of the program, including the “Fee for service” system that covers our high volume/high-cost Medicaid services and the long-term care program for the elderly and disabled.

Ultimately we want to assess the challenges and make recommendations on how to make Virginia’s Medicaid system more beneficial for everyone in the Commonwealth. Citizens of the Commonwealth deserve a more efficient, effective, and accessible Medicaid system.

Such blatant misrepresentations and outright lies deserve the strongest response. It should be noted that Delegate Farrell’s survey was highly misleading, biased, and uninformative. Its statistical validity suspect considering the leading nature of the questions, and that it was comprised exclusively of conservatives already on his mailing list.

However, the extent of misrepresentations and lies which followed in his next email message took the survey’s misdirections to an entirely new level.  Some excerpts include: ….Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel reports that 30% of all healthcare spending in Virginia is waste … and the House Republican Caucus believes expanding a broken Medicaid system is unwise.

Coupled with this outright lie; Medicaid expansion would result in decreased access to general practitioners for low-income Virginian families, along with….more expensive healthcare bills and decreased individualized, personal care. The only accurate statement was “…the House Republican Caucus believes…”

Somehow Delegate Farrell, transformed this disingenuous statement “….30 % of all healthcare spending in Virginia is waste” into implying it accurately reflects the level of Medicaid waste, when if fact,  Medicaid waste is somewhere in the low single digits.

However, that figure would be in the right ballpark figure if one were describing the amount of waste in  private health care in general, particularly when it comes to the administrative over head that existed in pre-ACA health insurance costs.

Delegate Farrell is using a rhetorical technique better known to the general public as comparing apples to oranges, trying to deceive his constituents, thinking they won’t know the difference between the two.

Finally we come to what will be the first of many outright lies about Medicaid expansion in Virginia. Your claim that it will cause “…low income Virginians to loose access to health care…”, albeit carefully qualified to read “reduce access to general practitioners” is not supported by any factual data I’m aware of.

Such a lie is far more likely to have come from the directives of Speaker Howell and his ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) based legislative agenda than any research you or your staff might have conducted.

A more accurate assessment of the situation here in the Commonwealth and around the country would be that not expanding medicaid will cause thousand of unnecessary deaths each year.

Delegate Farrell’s duty to the Commonwealth includes; ensuring that all citizens have adequate access to affordable health care so that they may live healthy and productive lives, contributing to the general welfare and ensuring the continued prosperity of future generations.

He and his party are attempting to hide behind the fictitious fig leaf of fiduciary responsibility is nothing more than rank hypocrisy and moral cowardice in the face of clear and present harm to the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Jon Taylor

Remove Eric Cantor Now

Readers of the Central Virginian were treated to two conservative letters on 1/23/14 supporting their respective candidates. The only redeeming quality  of either was their complete lack of substance. Such deceptions will continue to be a feature of conservative letters to the editor in the CV, reflecting their parties poorly thought out and hypocritical policies.

Bob Arment, Chair of Louisa Republican committee tells local conservatives that the proper thing to do is to embrace Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment and speak no ill of fellow Republicans claiming that “It’s unfortunate that some Republicans spend their time attacking our own instead of focusing on the real fight’, which in his world view consists of exclusively of repealing Obamacare and somehow creating jobs.

This is nothing more than simplistic magical thinking believing this will happen when conservatives take control of Senate and re-elect Eric Cantor, stating that Republicans, “…must stand together if we are going to be successful.” Exactly how they will stand together, what they will stand for, or how they will even define success remains unclear.

In another letter, Tea Party leader Fred Gruber points out how after Eric Cantor’s office learned he had a Republican party challenger, their first reaction was to attempt to smear and discredit him, flinging wild accusations, hoping something would stick, not unlike angry monkeys flinging their poo at the zoo.

Accusing Mr. Brat of being a Liberal on his website “pretending to be a conservative” and that “he once served as Governor Tim Kaine’s hand-picked economic adviser”. Claiming he is no friend of conservatives because “We don’t need a protégé of Senator Tim Kaine representing us in Washington, “when in fact, he was a member of a council of 20 some economic advisers.

Mr. Gruber returns the Cantor camps tar and feathering, claiming that Mr. Brat is a strict adherent of the Republican Party of Virginian’s Republican Creed, and  how“…fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government”.

In his reality, Eric Cantor somehow “violates” that creed. Exactly how someone with a 100 % conservative rating   manages such a feat is unclear. Perhaps he will be using one of Commonwealth’s 10” ultrasound wands to violate their creed?

While Mr. Brat’s experience in academia gives the illusion that he is more qualified to speak on economic issues than Eric, the truth is  their shared ideology makes it highly unlikely that either will or is capable of exercising sound fiscal judgment.

Eric Cantor’s twelve year record as a legislator is clear, while at this stage of the game, Dave Brat has yet to move beyond campaign smoke and mirrors. The fact that Republican’s policies seldom accomplish anything is something that few of their constituents notice, and is seldom reported by a compliant media.

What’s important is that Republicans can continue to claim to be the party of responsibility, honesty and integrity. This is the bedrock upon which their entire ideology rests.

Meanwhile the media and the voters continue to overlook Republicans’ and Eric Cantor’s lengthy history of knee jerk legislative proposals, allowing them to further obscure the fact that their actions are actively sabotaging the ability of the government to function.

This recent article in the New York Times  about a letter Eric and other Congressional leaders sent to the President shortly after his State of the Union speech regarding areas that they would be willing to work with him points out their hypocrisy.

No matter what your political preferences are, or how you stretch your imagination, it’s obvious that Republicans, especially Eric Cantor have absolutely no intention of negotiating with anyone in good faith. The GOP’s and Eric’s dis-ingenuousness have become the guiding & unifying principle behind their ongoing legislative obstructionism.

Their strategy is simple: if Obama (or any other Democrat) wants it, they are against it. What is more revealing are their unscripted comments which lack the premeditated guile of this NYT’s letter. Whether it’s Huckabee’s remarks about women or the fact-free rants about Executive Orders and presidential overreach (which FYI are the fewest of ANY president in modern American history) or “birtherism” etc., these are the actions of party with no rudder and only an anchor.

When those extreme comments fail to gain any traction, Eric and his party can be counted on to say whatever disingenuous and outrageous comment they can get away with, knowing their sole purpose is to stir up his base over the latest outrage of the day, today its abortion – tomorrow its Benghazi. While avoiding any legislative or personal responsibility.

Congressional Republicans will be attending another retreat over this Super Bowl weekend presumably to get their stories straight and to polish up their lies.

Regardless of ones political affiliation, removing the reprehensible Eric Cantor from office this November should be the priority of every resident of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Jon Taylor

Using Surveys and Messaging to Lie

Recently, many of us received a survey in the mail from our 56th District Delegate, Peter Farrell asking for our thoughts on several legislative issues. Taking this survey is your opportunity to let him know what you think.

The online version :

Presumably, this survey was intended to get his constituents viewpoints, and wasn’t deliberately designed to reinforce certain attitudes. Beyond the questions being misleading and biased, their biggest failing was not providing enough information to form an opinion.

It was a perfect survey; if you  happen to already agree with his no worries,m small government, low taxes philosophy and didn’t mind his overly pious claims to “care” about your children’s education and your future.

Lately, the appearance of caring has been infecting Republicans around the country. Congressmen in DC are determined to show us just how empathetic they are, and State Party Chair Pat Mullins has been busy promoting this “winning” strategy with other delegates.

Perhaps it’s time to face facts and reality. Without a significant and sustained increase in the number and quality of jobs the Commonwealth’s economy has little chance of turning around. It should be quite clear that Delegate Farrell does not understand the magnitude of lack of economic opportunity which exists within the 56th district.

Which brings us to this simple truth; Republicans don’t particularly care if their ideas work, only that they can sell them.

How long will his rhetoric about job creators and tax cuts work before it fades into echoes of irrelevancy?  The question I have for Delegate Farrell: Are you going to vote for jobs and improving the Commonwealth’s economy, or will you follow your parties lead in their quest to kill “Obamacare” and Medicaid expansion?

Doing so would be bad economics and bad public policy, costing the Commonwealth tens of thousands of jobs. Billions in federal monies will leave never to return and it will severely affect the states two largest medical teaching universities.

We’ll forgo new jobs and revenues and remain burdened by increasingly costly emergency room costs. We’ll continue to ignore basic health care for low-income hard working Virginians, resulting in hundreds of preventable deaths each year. This is not an unintended consequence.

Delegate Farrell knows what will happen if he votes to kill Medicaid expansion. Will he compound that mistake by supporting the reddest legislation coming out of the General Assembly?

The politest thing one can say about the Virginia House and the Senate actions these past few weeks is that their ideology is not influenced by reality. That their proposals won’t accomplish anything is unimportant. What’s important is they can continue to claim to be the party of responsibility, family values, honesty and integrity.

Their ongoing propaganda campaign is designed to influence our opinions, and while they may occasionally dress it up as “informational” content, their efforts rarely clarify issues, rather they cloud them.

Muddying the waters with such hypocrisy is the name of their game ; disinformation intended to reinforce their messages to the base, and casting doubt and fear on the opposition’s messages wherever possible.

Such deception is a permanent feature of Republicans policies and remains the biggest unspoken issue of 2014. It is in fact the proverbial 500 pound gorilla in the middle of the room.

Look no further than the House of Delegates, where they recently passed a bill 65-32 along party lines giving members of the General Assembly legal authority to represent the Commonwealth should the Governor and Attorney General choose not to defend a law.

This is the Republicans response to this administrations position that, “I don’t think the Attorney General should be defending laws that are patently unconstitutional or where the process by which they were adopted violated the law”,  It is a modern version of an outdated and unconstitutional concept – legislative nullification, something which was practiced by many Southern states in the decades prior to the civil war, and like a zombie refuses to die.

Not to be outdone, some Republicans are also drafting a resolution to impeach Attorney General Herring

Perhaps if the Commonwealth’s Republicans put as much energy into solving the states problems as they are into resurrecting the legislative dead we might have a productive legislative session.  Keep in mind that these knee jerk reactions are intended to obscure their true aim, to sabotage the ability of government to function, while stirring up their base over the latest outrage, today its abortion – tomorrow its freeloaders.

In spirit, if not fact they are part  of a concerted effort by the Koch-backed wing of the GOP and their allies that targets 13 states, including Virginia during the 2014 election to regain control of the Senate, and solidify their hold on the House and State legislatures .

While this project supposedly revolves around the enhanced use of social media, particularly with younger voters, many other arms of the Koch-to-pus media campaign are spreading their lies. Here in Virginia, as the Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell has the power to control what legislature comes to the floor, and over the past few years he has made it clear that he’s a company man.

You may be unfamiliar with his involvement with ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization founded by the Koch brother, and funded by exclusively by big business, dedicated to promoting “model legislation” aka … pro business legislation at the state  and federal levels.

He is  the leader of  a project involving Republican  state legislators  working on ALEC’s  “Prodigal Son Project,  a concerted effort to win back the many “lapsed corporate members” who have ditched ALEC since 2012. When their support for ALEC was first exposed and they found themselves under the  scrutiny of the public and the media, slinking into the shadows away from such negative publicity.

Over the past 2 years, ALEC has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership roles, and more than 60 corporations which form the bulk of its funding, loosing more than a third of its annual budget. So naturally they are anxious to see the cash flowing again.

This document from an ALEC’s board of directors meeting lays out the responsibilities of the group’s state chairs, who are selected from loyal Republican legislators. The agreement contains the following pledge for all state chairs, including their leader Speaker Howell:

I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.

According to this document elected officials like Speaker Howell are to put the interests of ALEC first, not their obligations to the voters who put them in office. When it comes to conflicts of interest, registered ALEC member Bill Howell seems to have cornered the market.

Considering how closely that Delegate Farrell is following the American Legislative Exchange Council’s … I mean Speaker Howells legislative agenda, he might want to consider practicing in front of a mirror if he doesn’t want his lies and misrepresentations to become too obvious.

Jon Taylor

CV & local officials misleading you

Regular readers of our local Louisa County paper, The Central Virginian may have noticed some changes in the papers content over the past year, amongst them; ultra conservative commentaries and op-ed’s, a decidedly stenographic approach to reporting local news and events, particularly when covering public officials.

In a September 2013 letter, R. T. Williams III ridiculed the idea that the CV is actively promoting such viewpoints, citing the recent publication of several progressive letters in recent issues as “proof”, while managing to overlook nearly a years worth of propaganda from organizations on the farthest right like The Family Research Council, and The National Review.

With so much of the remaining editorial page taken up with political cartoons, statistically challenged Facebook surveys results, and multiple public notices of how well this local paper was informing the community; re-printing these rehashed pieces comes at the direct expense of any local opinions and commentary.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I read a local paper, I expect to be reading unique time sensitive comments and opinions from my neighbors, not rehashed second hand content.

It’s been said that one of the best ways to hold readers attention is to offer them high quality content. Or you could take the FOX News route and go with the lowest common denominator of fake controversy.

In that regard, the CV has clearly opted for quantity over quality. It’s no secret their low cost content like their political cartoon and syndicated Op-Eds come directly from King Feature’s Syndicate, allowing them to re-post this content almost verbatim.  When they reprinted Glenn Mollette’s “Jobs Crisis” (9/26), they set a new low in cut-rate journalism.

For those of you who don’t know about him; Dr.  Mollette is a Sirius radio host and slick preacher of conserva-nomics, who follows the Rush Limbaugh business model, giving his content away. Take a look at the letterhead from one of his online publications. — (This opinion/article is offered for free, if you need to edit to fit your publication you are welcome.)

These are the word of a self serving charlatan who has satisfied their appetite for low cost cut and paste content demonstrating how easily local papers like The Central Virginian  can be used … or is colludes in a fair and balanced manner by promoting these extreme viewpoints?

Not to be outdone they reprinted another one of his pieces, Keep Free Speech in America this January about the exaggerated A & E and Duck Dynasty freedom of speech controversy.  Overblown because he completely misses the point that as a public media figure Phil Robertson’s comments and opinions are in fact held to higher degree of scrutiny than some random person.

That being said, I find myself in agreement with the comic, Jon Stewart’s take on the matter, “Being a dick in public shouldn’t necessarily exclude one from that medium.”

On the other hand, in his op-ed, Dr. Mollette repeats the common claim of conservatives, particularly religious one’s that any knowledge or opinions that we might have about someone’s personal opinions are beyond  judgment or reproach.

Because such expression of ones “faith” automatically excuses you from any criticism or even being  a dick in public. Because no one has the right to question your faith, or by implication Gods will.

The CV’s promotion of this unquestioning and incurious approach to  journalism comes with a steep price. Their no cost, no discussion style of reporting leads to grossly uniformed readers — who in many ways are not unlike frogs in slowly boiling water a bit slow to come around to timely conclusions because they have been insulated from the necessary relevant information and facts.

Even worse is their promotion of demonstrably misleading comments by local official, slanted local coverage which makes their reporting seem stranger than any fiction. Stories like; Crime Rate Down (9/5/13) and Working their Way Back In (9/26/13) where they gave readers the skimpiest of details about the counties two latest public policy initiatives.

For starters, the Louisa Commonwealth Attorneys Office plans to implement indicted Governor “SpongeBob” McDonnell’s initiative requiring ex-convicts returning into society to work 20 hrs a week for local business, (assuming they haven’t found other work within one month) giving a new definition to the term “community service.”

When even Wall Street won’t tackle the subject of unpaid interns, one has to ask what’s behind this sudden move to 19th century peonage — I mean forced labor?

Perhaps Supervisor Willie Gentry would care to explain to the people of Louisa County exactly what these two programs cost, and who economically benefits from them before proclaiming this arrangement to be a “win-win” for the county.

This is nothing more than an effort to rehabilitate former Governor McDonnell’s tarnished image while saddling local jurisdictions around the Commonwealth with additional obligations and unfunded liabilities on the backs of local community and parolees.

The leaders of this effort are the county attorney’s throughout the Commonwealth.  Here in Louisa, McDonnell’s trusty acolyte Rusty McGuire has been hard at work, carefully disguising this radical plan of involuntary servitude behind a litany of smooth platitudes, calling them a benefit to the public.

It’s no secret that he worked for Ultrasound Bob when he was the Commonwealth Attorney (not Ken Cuccinelli as previously misprinted by the CV), or that he shares his values.  Speaking of which; the Central Virginian also reported that this program is tied to the Louisa County Reentry Program, a two step Christian based mentoring program.

Considering the “training” of these mentors was to come directly from the Governor’s office, by one of his more ideologically reliable holdovers, I would strongly question most if not all of their assumptions about what kind of training a mentor should receive or what constitutes an effective mentor.

No disrespect to the local Christians in our community who are  giving their time to run this program, but how does having a strong devout background qualify them to run a social program, and are those indeed the only set of desirable qualifications?  It seems to me when it comes to mentoring ex-offenders that someone more experienced with the rules of “the game” such as older parolees might be equally effective.

Rusty and other local supporters of these programs are trying to shove them down our collective throats as quickly with as little discussion as possible because they know it can’t stand being examined in the light of day. Their cloaking these programs in a mantle of Christian belief shows depths of their bad faith and betrayal of our community.

It is bad faith because it is coded shorthand for the supremacy of faith over science and sound public policy; a misguided premise that belief, religion, and theology should rein supreme over empiricism and rationality. Particularly when it comes to what direction our society is headed.

Strange, I always thought that as modern society evolved that rationality was supposed to serve as a brake if not a guide to the unbridled passions of faith. This link should serve as a cautionary tale.

Furthermore, these programs are bad policy because they deliberately overlook the poor track record that other faith based approaches around the country have had with social problems particularly with education.

The abject failure of abstinence only sex education in state after state along with the misinformation propagated by the  Commonwealth’s pregnancy crisis centers speak for themselves.

The moment the local community accepts and defers to this blind faith ideology, the betrayal begins. In their arrogance, Rusty and his followers think no one sees thorough their “wrapped in the flag, and carrying the cross” smokescreen. Making their ongoing betrayal of the community even more insidious, while they continue to operate in the shadows, using any means necessary, and remaining above any accountability.

In an era of ideologically lead government shutdowns, sequesters and harsh budget cuts, who could have imagined that the most dangerous extremists are not just in DC, but that some are here right under our very noses.

Jon Taylor

Return of the Austerians

Now that the 2013 election recount and all is behind us, Virginia’s disproportionately Republican House of Delegates is determined to emulate their counterparts in DC, a body of NO dedicated to hamstringing anything Democrats or the Governor proposes.

When even this elections biggest loser, Mark Obenshain stressed the need for “bi-partisanship” in his concession speech, one has to ask; why are they being so inflexible? Perhaps it’s because they’re not interested in being legislators representing your interests; their actions are consistent with a single minded devotion to securing power.

Such focus comes with a high price for the Commonwealth; ideologically based legislation which benefits few. Their no worries problem free philosophy quickly ensures that the only real “power” remaining to them is legislative obstruction.

In many ways, their tactics are reminiscent of a line from the movie “The Wild One” where Marlon Brando was asked “What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?” to which he replies “Whaddya got? “

While some may find this brand of NO the closest thing to carrying the cross while wrapped in the flag, that doesn’t make it any less reprehensible. So long as such folklore continues to trump reality, there remains a strong headwind against change.  For many, those beliefs are being challenged like never before.

For some, their trials come when their unemployment expires because the House refused to put it in the budget. These cuts will take hundreds of millions a week from the national economy and ~ $ 3 million a week from the Commonwealth. Others will be tested as they loose assistance for food and shelter as the sequester quietly unfolds.

For the poor, disabled and seniors it will happen when the General Assembly rejects Medicaid expansion, costing the Commonwealth thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.  All these actions are based on two false premises; first, the only way to keep the poor from becoming an unmanageable drain on society is to completely cut then off from any assistance.

You may recall, the English nobility tried this during the great Irish potato famine, and histories judgments on how well that worked out is clear. Their second related bogus claim is that we can cut our way to prosperity.

These Austerians have hitched their social Darwinism survival of the fittest approach to snake oil economics. Ignoring the fact that starving an economy out of a recession has never worked, turning economist John Keynes observation about the “paradox of thrift” completely upside down.

While it’s prudent for heavily indebted families and individuals to cut down on spending, it’s extremely dangerous for entire economies. Economic growth is based on consumption and spending, with one person’s spending becoming another person’s income. If everyone cuts spending at once, our economy slows down leading to; fewer jobs, lower tax revenues, and increased debt.

The only alternative is to stimulate or spend our way out. The debt is not a problem. Inflation is not a problem. Austerity is the problem. For local businesses, nothing else matters when there aren’t enough customers coming in. The usual prescription of lowering their taxes doesn’t help when their customers don’t have any money to spend.

Most people don’t care whose fault it is because it’s irrelevant to their lives, because they are far too busy making ends meet to notice any disconnect between their being able to reap the benefits of Social Security and Medicaid, and consistently voting against their economic interests.

Such public complicity allows conservative myths like ones moral character and hard work are how the ultra rich got there  along with the presumption that “Republicans seem to do more for people” to circulate unchallenged.

When enough Americans and people in Louisa start questioning these assumptions, things will get very interesting.

Jon Taylor