April 16, 2015

A little good news from Congress (no, really)

It doesn't happen very often but the US Congress recently acted in a bipartisan way and did something that made sense. The US Senate overwhelming passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which among other things extends funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program through 2017. There were concerns that this program would have withered away.

CHIP was first enacted in the wake of welfare reform in the 90s to make sure that kids of working families didn't lose coverage if their parents moved from welfare to work. It has proved to be hugely popular and successful. In fact, West Virginia is one of the major CHIP success stories. The program here covers children in families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

The bill also authorized funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which is also a big deal and a very good thing. A similar bill passed the House by a huge margin earlier. I'm pleased-and a little surprised-that all of WV's congressional delegation, which ain't what it used to be, voted for the measure.

So, yeah, it's not all bad.

April 14, 2015

150 years ago today

On this day 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln was shot. He lingered one more day. How different things might have been...

Anyhow, here's Walt Whitman:

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
    But O heart! heart! heart!        
      O the bleeding drops of red,
        Where on the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;  
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
    Here Captain! dear father!
      This arm beneath your head;
        It is some dream that on the deck,  
          You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;  
    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
      But I, with mournful tread,
        Walk the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.

April 13, 2015

A graph that says it all

Tax reform is once again on the agenda in WV. As a union friend of mine recently said, "When they talk about reforming your taxes, watch out. You're about to get..."

We don't know the details, but it looks like WV Republicans want to pass still more business tax cuts, on the tired old theory that tax cuts for business creates jobs. Guess what: they don't. The chart above, put together by friends at the WV Center on Budget and Policy, shows it all.

In case you have trouble seeing it, here's the main deal: the blue line represents business taxes. It's gone down. The red line means jobs. They've gone down too.

Case closed. Next?