Obamacare Headline in Rural Arkansas

Sourrced from DailyKos.com


WED APR 09, 2014 AT 07:03 AM PDT

In a real life example of how Obamacare is changing everything, our local newspaper ran an article about the closing of the 9th Street Ministry Medical Clinic.

“It was announced last week that 9th Street Ministries will be concluding their medical clinic mission, which had been ongoing monthly to offer free medical services to those in need since first starting in 1998. The final day for the medical clinic will be Thursday, April 24, and that will conclude the mission that has been in place for almost 16 years.”

The article tells how the ministry has been operating once a month for years to give people healthcare on a first come, first served basis.  This care was provided by volunteers. My mother actually volunteered at the clinic and they would see as many as 300 a day.  Many of these people would wait all day for the chance to see a doctor.  Most of the patients were people who could not afford to see a doctor, but were not eligible for medicaid or medicare.  Why would they close this clinic down?

“We’ve gone from seeing around 300 people a month on a regular basis, but as people were enrolling in Obamacare, the numbers we were seeing have dropped. We were down to 80 people that came through the medical clinic in February, all the way down to three people at the medical clinic in March. Our services won’t be needed anymore, and this will conclude our mission.”

We live in one of the most conservative places in Arkansas.  The Repub’s want to tell those people that once a month waiting all day for a chance to see a doctor was good enough.  Thankfully, President Obama did not think so.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.menastar.com/

8:26 AM PT: In addition to the normal newspaper, a weekly paper that is mostly far right wing articles ran this article:





  1. Health Care
  2. Recommended

Why We Need A 10.4 Million Jobs Plan

Sourced from:OurFuture.com

By Dave Johnson

APRIL 4, 2014

It doesn’t matter what Friday’s report of the March job numbers shows. If you listed our national problems in order of priority and immediacy, jobs has to be at or near the top.

While America’s political, media and business elites are all doing fine in their personal situations, much of the rest of the country is not. Here are some things that would add at least 10.8 million jobs to our economy right now.

With more jobs available several things happen:

  1. Every job creates jobs, because people are again participating in the economy. Local stores, restaurants, and other businesses are hiring to keep up. People can buy houses, cars, and other goods.
  2. When more people are working, wages rise because employers are competing to find people to work for them.
  3. Government “safety net” costs go way down because people can afford food, and other necessities.
  4. Tax revenue increases because more people are getting wages and other taxable income.
  5. People’s lives are generally better.

So yes, jobs solve a lot of problems. The thing is, it really isn’t hard to do what it takes to create millions and millions of jobs. The problem is that these things are being obstructed by a Republican Party that plans to campaign this fall on complaints that there aren’t enough jobs. For example, they are telling people that Democrats can’t deliver on their “empty promises” – even though the reason they can’t deliver is Republican filibusters in the Senate and Republican leadership in the House refusing to bring bills to the floor for votes.

How To Create Millions Of Jobs

First, there is a budget in front of the Congress right now that creates 4.6 million jobs and boosts gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.8 percent within its first year of implementation. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ (CPC) 2015 budget proposal, called the “Better Off Budget,” creates jobs in building and construction industries to repair and modernize our ailing roads, bridges and water infrastructure and provides assistance to states to allow them to hire and rehire public employees such as police, firefighters and health care workers.

It does this right away and “pays for” it with a financial transaction tax that reduces dangerous Wall Street speculation, a higher top tax rate on the wealthiest, closing loopholes that allow the giant multinational corporations pay little or no taxes, and other measures that are very popular with the public.

Every Democrat should vote for this budget when it comes before the House next week.

Another proposal for creating jobs is a national energy-retrofit project that would hire people to go to government and commercial buildings and to residences and simply seal up drafts and paint roofs white. A broader program could install double-paned windows, apply insulation and fix up broken, inefficient heaters and air conditioners (using American-made parts and supplies). This would pay for itself both through the benefits of full employment and the later savings from reduced energy use.

5.8 Million More Jobs

One more simple proposal is to confront countries that manipulate their currencies. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), titled “Stop Currency Manipulation and Create Millions of Jobs,” the United States could create up to 5.8 million new jobs, reduce our trade deficits by up to $500 billion per year by 2015 and increase U.S. gross domestic product by up to $720 billion per year if we act to end global currency manipulation.

So that’s 4.6 million jobs in one year just from passing the CPC “Better Off Budget” and another 5.8 million from confronting currency manipulation. How many more jobs would come from an energy-retrofit program? As many as we need after those two proposals put 10.4 million people to work.

This just shows how simple it would be to create full employment right now, and how it would pay for itself. That is what public investment does. But proposals like these being obstructed by Republicans.

sourced from: OurFuture.com

APRIL 4, 2014



wpid-2702649_75x75-2014-04-5-13-33.jpg Bill Moyers on the McCutcheon Decision
from BillMoyers.com

Fortunately for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman [co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has helped organize fast-food-worker protests for higher wages] and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster.

And so we are, because the fight to save our democracy from the clutches of plutocrats just got harder.

Here in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo, of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and legislators from both parties killed a commission investigating political corruption. They also killed a promising plan for a more level playing field in state elections. And they did so while handing wealthy individuals in wealthy communities – those are the biggest contributors to elections – some very big tax breaks.

And in Washington, as you’ve heard by now, in the McCutcheon case, the Supreme Court five, the pro-corporate bloc, struck down limits on how much money can be given to candidates, parties and political action committees.

One prominent right-winger says the justices merely “reinstated the First Amendment for all Americans.” Sure. By doubling down on their earlier ruling in the infamous Citizens United case equating money with speech, the justices have actually decreed that you’re entitled to all the free speech you can buy. You’ll be on equal footing with the Koch brothers if you have their money.

The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, more cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure, but they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court just laid that myth to rest, and the new Gilded Age roars in triumph.

But we, the people, shouldn’t cower or give in to despair. Those restaurant workers — they’re not quitting. And they’ve summoned a spirit from deep within our past, when those early insurgents stood against imperial authority, convinced that when injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty.


Sourced from DailyKos.com


“Staunch” Republican: ObamaCare Works!

by Joan Mar

Mar 28, 2014 

This is precisely what Ted Cruz feared; this is what he warned about: Once people knew what it meant to have health insurance, and what ObamaCare can do for them, they will not allow the GOP to take it from them. A Fox-loving, “staunch” Republican gives his testimony below:

Good afternoon,

I am a staunch Republican, a self-proclaimed Fox News addict, and I didn’t vote for the President. And I’m here to tell you that Obamacare works. I’m living proof.

I’m a chemotherapy patient, and was previously paying $428 a month for my health coverage. I was not thrilled when it was cancelled.

Then I submitted an application at HealthCare.gov. I looked at my options. And I signed up for a plan for $62 a month.

It’s the best health care I have ever had.

So right now, here’s what I want to tell anyone who still needs health insurance, or knows someone who does:

Sign up. Follow the instructions on the website. Apply, and look at your options. You still have time, and take it from me: This is something you want to do.

I wrote a letter to President Obama this past February to tell him about my experience with the Health Insurance Marketplace. I hoped he’d read it, and he did.

I may not be a supporter of the President. But now, I get mad when I see Obamacare dragged through the mud on television.

And even though I regularly tune in to conservative pundits, I’d like to tell them they’re getting it wrong. Obamacare works.

So one more time: If you still need health insurance, you have just three days to get it. Do what I did. Go to HealthCare.gov, submit an application, and pick a plan that works for you.

It just might change your life.

Mark D. Bearden, Ph.D.

Monroe, North Carolina


Visit WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Let’s help to spread the word. Six million and counting, baby!

Leo Hindery on Minimum Wage: “I’d Be Embarrassed” To Be McDonald’s CEO

sourced from ourfuture.org


March 27, 2014 3

Leo Hindery, who runs the private equity firm Intermedia Partners, is blunt in his criticism of two corporations – McDonald’s and Walmart – that are leading the effort to block an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

It is these two firms, he said, that represent the two industries – fast-food restaurant chains and low-cost retailers – that have been among the main obstacles to getting minimum-wage-increase legislation through Congress. Both Walmart and McDonald’s have maximized their profits by keeping salaries of their rank-and-file workers at or close to the minimum wage.

“If I were the CEO of McDonald’s I would be embarrassed,” he said today while sitting in a restaurant at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. “I would be so embarrassed I would try to rectify this inequity.”

Hindery was on Capitol Hill today with more than 20 other business leaders who call themselves Smart Capitalists to lobby for legislation that would increase the minimum wage. Their pitch to lawmakers was that a higher minimum wage would help boost the overall economy. A Senate vote on a minimum wage increase could come as early as next week.

Hindery says in the interview that with income inequality at levels not seen since the late 1920s, raising the minimum wage is “an ethical issue” and a way to begin to address that imbalance.

“A number of us who are in business are here today trying to convince Congress that the very best thing for the United States is a vibrant middle class that grows from the bottom up. And I emphasize the phrase ‘from the bottom up,’” Hindery explains. Otherwise, “we will never ever, ever have a balanced economy in the United States.”

He says that it is “criminal” that there is such a wide gap between the $7.25 to $9 an hour Walmart and (corporate sibling Sam’s Club) pays its associates, depending on location, and the starting salary associates earn at Costco, which is $12 an hour.

As for McDonald’s, Hindery points out that many of its workers end up on varying forms of public assistance because of its low salaries. “McDonald’s is a billion-and-a-half dollars more profitable because it lives off the back of its low-wage workers and lives off the subsidies that come to it indirectly from the states,” he says.

“No company should be profitable based on the inequitable treatment of its employees – no company. So if I were that CEO I would take my embarrassment and I would either fix McDonald’s right away or I would stop being its CEO, because I couldn’t possibly live in that environment any longer.”

Companies like McDonald’s would not be harmed, Hindery says, if they raised their wages. “I am still going to buy that burger at McDonald’s if that’s what I’ve been doing,” he says. “I will just pay an honest price for it as a consumer. But I will know when I go to bed at night that the young woman or young man who served it to me, or the older man or older woman who sold it to me, might have a more comfortable, more appropriate lifestyle.”

The current minimum wage “is so far below what a woman or man needs to survive in this economy that anybody who pays their workers that level and sticks with it should truly be embarrassed.”

Members of the Smart Capitalists for American Prosperity include former publisher of The American Conservative Republican Ron Unz; investor and former White House Chief of Staff Democrat Erskine Bowles; venture capitalist and Managing Director of Greycroft LLC Alan Patricof; real estate mogul Jeff Gural; venture capitalist and co-founder of Alta Partners Garrett Gruener; co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield; investor Peter Stamos; TV Host Rick Steves; former investment banker and Harvard Business School professor Rob Kaplan, and Wall Street investors Daniel Berger and Lawrence Benenson.

Also involved in the lobbying effort is Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a national network of business owners and executives that includes Costco, Eileen Fisher, Ben & Jerry’s, Dansko footwear, New Belguim Brewing, Seventh Generation, Parnassus Investments, Organic Valley, Zingerman’s, American Sustainable Business Council, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Alliance, ABC Home, National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, Uncommon Goods, Equal Exchange and American Income Life.

We need more than 24,000 signatures to meet our goal on our petition calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage. To show your support for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, sign the petition.

NAFTA At 20: “A Vehicle To Increase Profits At The Expense Of Democracy”

Sourced from OurFuture.com

March 27, 2014

Thursday the AFL-CIO released a new report,NAFTA at 20. The report makes the point that, “On the whole, NAFTA-style agreements have proved to be primarily a vehicle to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers, consumers, farmers, communities, the environment and even democracy itself.”

In a press release accompanying the report AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that working people and democratic governance on all sides of NAFTA’s borders are now worse off, and Congress should recognize this before approving any more “NAFTA-style” trade agreements.

“There is no success story for workers to be found in North America 20 years after NAFTA,” said Trumka. “The NAFTA model focuses on lifting corporations out of reach of democratic governance, rather than solely reducing tariffs. This report should serve as a cautionary tale to the Obama Administration and Congress as they consider negotiating and implementing new trade deals.”

Trade Agreements Should Stop Following The NAFTA Model

Preceding the report, Trumka gave a major speech on trade at the Center for American Progress. He talked about the history of “a disastrous, outdated, failed model of global economic policies.” He said that trade agreements should abandon the NAFTA model and instead offer a “global new deal … to bring the basic infrastructure of modern society—electricity, water, schools, roads, internet access—to everyone on Earth.”

The Report

A summary of the report contains these points about NAFTA:

        •        It’s a flawed model that promotes the economic interests of a very few and at the expense of workers, consumers, farmers, communities, the environment and even democracy itself.

        •        While the overall volume of trade within North America due to NAFTA has increased and corporate profits have skyrocketed, wages have remained stagnant in all three countries.

        •        Productivity has increased, but workers’ share of these gains has decreased steadily, along with unionization rates.

        •        NAFTA pushed small Mexican farmers off their lands, increasing the flow of desperate undocumented migrants.

        •        It exacerbated inequality in all three countries.

        •        And the NAFTA labor side agreement has failed to accomplish its most basic mandate: to ensure compliance with fundamental labor rights and enforcement of national labor laws.


The NAFTA architecture of deregulation coupled with investor protections allowed companies to move labor intensive components of their operations to locations with weak laws and lax enforcement. This incentivized local, state and federal authorities to artificially maintain low labor costs by ignoring–or in some cases actively interfering with–such fundamental rights as the rights to organize, strike and be free from discrimination. This dynamic undermined organizing and bargaining efforts even in areas with relatively robust labor laws. Today, it is commonplace for employers to threaten to move south—whether to South Carolina or Tijuana—if workers do not agree to cuts in wages and benefits.

See the report at NAFTA at 20.

The Speech

In his speech Trumka began by outlining how NAFTA failed regular people by killing jobs and keeping wages down, which enriching an already-wealthy few – setting the stage for the 2008 financial collapse.


Excerpts of the speech follow, but please try to see or read the whole thing:

“Back then, nobody really knew what the results of NAFTA would be. Today we do. They’re bad.”

“You see, NAFTA put corporations in charge of America’s economic strategy — with the goal of shipping jobs off-shore to lower labor costs. The big trade deals since then used NAFTA as a starting blueprint—from the World Trade Organization to our bilateral relationship with China to the recent agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama.”

The big problem: “NAFTA put corporations in charge of America’s economic strategy — with the goal of shipping jobs off-shore to lower labor costs.”

“Over all – this model is simply not working, not here in the United States, not in most of our trading partners.”

The Damage

“No other country pursues trade deals like we do. Nobody else — not India or Germany, Sweden or China — uses these deals to get rid of good jobs. We have lost more than 60,000 factories in the last dozen years, as major companies created more jobs offshore than at home, and imports outstripped exports year after year. Our current account deficit in 1993 was 1 percent of GDP. In 2012 it was almost three times that. We run our biggest trade deficit with China—the bulk of those imports is electronics. Many of our top 10 exports to China are basically trash – things like scrap metal and waste paper.”

This Damage Was Done On Purpose

“We pursued the strategy that led to structural trade deficits on purpose, because it pitted the workers of our trading partners against our own, and against each other. For their part, our trading partners short-changed their domestic markets in favor of supplying America, so they, too, pushed weak unions, low wages, artificially cheap currency and subsidies for foreign investment like tax-free export zones.”

The Damage Helped Cause The 2008 Collapse

“This trade-fueled imbalance fed a glut of global savings. That savings glut in turn funded a bloated global financial system, which gave us the global economic crisis of 2008 and today continues to fuel rising inequality around the world.”

“For business, NAFTA – and the tax, deregulation, and austerity policies that went with it — seemed great. But 2008 revealed how destructive these economic policies truly are. The model chronically starves the productive sector and working families, while it fuels financial bubbles and busts, after which working people everywhere struggle to provide for ourselves and our families. Economists call it a crisis in global demand.”

Global New Deal

“We need a global New Deal, a worldwide program to bring the basic infrastructure of modern society—electricity, water, schools, roads, internet access—to everyone on Earth. It’s the right thing to do, and it would build our economies by giving us more customers.”

“We know what we’re looking for in these agreements. We want trade agreements to contribute to democratic global economic governance and to promote good jobs, full employment and rising wages.

A key element, of course, is strong labor rights protections so that every worker in every country can exercise fundamental human rights on the job – without fear.”

“We live in a globalized economic environment, and one where the need for rules that protect people and the planet is growing. We simply cannot afford trade rules that push in the other direction, that make the global economy a free fire zone for corporate power, or make it impossible to act effectively to address profound challenges like climate change.

All of these ideas together would put our democratic rights at the center of our economic policies and our trade agreements. Otherwise, we have the NAFTA model thinly disguised tools to increase corporate profits by poisoning workers, polluting the environment and hiding information from consumers.”

“If there is one thing we have learned in the 20 years since NAFTA and the original Fast Track, it’s that to achieve any of these measures, trade agreements must be negotiated in an open, democratic and accountable manner.

Trade deals that affect jobs and wages, health care and food security and electricity rates affect us all, and we need to be able to engage citizens to promote, amend or defeat them.”

“But we need a complete change in approach to trade deals, globalization, and our own domestic policies to achieve that. Trade deals should not be used to make offshoring investments less risky and more profitable, or to gut consumer and environmental protections — any more than our tax code should be used to reward moving jobs overseas.
Instead, we need to put good jobs at the center of our trade policy – in terms of currency, procurement, and rules of origin — just as we recommit to invest in the infrastructure and the skills of the future.

We are ready to stand with President Obama in realizing the vision of global economic growth and equity. But first he has to decide if that is the vision that will animate his trade policies.’


This Statistic Should Shut Down Any Talk Of Cutting Social Security

Sourced from OurFuture.com



When this story broke earlier this week, it did not get nearly the attention it deserved, so it bears repeating now: 36 percent of workers, according to one poll, have less than $1,000 saved for their retirement.

That comes from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which does an annual retirement confidence survey. That has jumped up from 28 percent who reported having less than $1,000 stashed away for retirement last year.

That is one of the statistics that should shut down any conversation about pushing back the retirement age for Social Security or reducing the cost-of-living adjustment for benefits. The idea, often put forward on the right, that people will be able to compensate for benefit cuts with their own savings is not panning out in the real world – and won’t as long as we’re in a slow-growth economy with high unemployment and stagnant wages.

“Cost of living and day-to-day expenses head the list of reasons why workers do not save (or save more) for retirement, with 53 percent of workers citing this factor,” the executive summary of the survey says. And no wonder, given the stagnant wages of the working class the past two decades, which result in 40 percent of the nation’s households today earning less than $39,000 a year.

While many of the people in this group are younger couples who presumably have time to build their savings, only about 11 percent of those surveyed have savings and investments in excess of $250,000. Further, only 17 percent of those who are already retired have more than $250,000 in savings and investments they can tap. Nearly 60 percent have less than $25,000 put away for retirement; almost one in three have less than $1,000.

Much of the reaction to this survey this week has centered on how to improve participation in employer 401(k) plans and other savings vehicles, such as President Obama’s proposal for a “MyRA” plan, an individual savings plan targeted toward lower-income workers that would invest in government bonds.

But these measures will be relatively ineffective unless we have an economy with rising wages and lower unemployment. Nor will these measures eliminate the need to bolster Social Security benefits for those who will be beginning to claim benefits over the next three decades.

It is cruel to suggest pushing the retirement age to 67 or later at the same time the government estimates that more than 40 percent of the long-term unemployed are over the age of 50. It is also wrong to suggest that Social Security benefits should be subject to the “chained CPI,” which would guarantee that the purchasing power of Social Security benefits would erode over time. These workers have had to use their retirement savings to survive in the here and now, and we should be focused on what these workers need to live in dignity – for some, an opportunity to work at a job that will enable them to rebuild their nest egg, for others, access to benefits that will enable them to retire without being in poverty.

What we ought to do instead is move quickly to improve Social Security benefits, and build political momentum for the most important policy change that would make that passible: Lifting the cap on payroll taxes so that wealthy individuals would pay into the Social Security system the same share of their income as working class people.


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