Monthly Archives: March 2013
Governor Bobby Jindal’s office announced today that Bruce Greenstein has resigned as secretary of the Dept. of Health and Hospitals during federal and state investigations of a controversial Medicaid contract.
The Jindal administration canceled the nearly $200 million Medicaid contract with CNSI after word of a federal grand jury probe came out.
Greenstein used to work for the Maryland-based company. Greenstein denied having anything to do with CNSI’s choice when they were selected two years ago. He did acknowledge that a change he pushed in the bid solicitation made CNSI eligible.
File this one under “OMG WTF LOL”.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, or LABI, is one of the gret stet’s most power lobbies. From the tactical end, they control 4 major PAC’s (Ingeniously named NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and…you guessed it, WEST) that allow them to direct at least $20k of contributions to any single candidate in any race. But more importantly, their political weight works behind the scenes to secure some of the most favorable anti-environmental, economically-regressive policies you can buy. This isn’t business. It’s crony capitalism. But we digress.
Anyway, LABI has been a big Jindal ally on some of his biggest gambits, including education “reform”, retirement reform, and health care privatization. On the Sales tax tip, however, they’re OUT like the slow kid in dodge ball:
Quite a few eyebrows raised in the business community recently when Governor Jindal’s Executive Counsel, Tim Barfield, responded to a question about winners and losers under the governor’s tax swap plan. Barfield, one of the managers of the issue for the governor, said that individuals would pay less and businesses would pay more.
By the time Mr. Barfield testified before the Ways and Means Committee on March 26, he estimated the impact at $500 million. That number is probably higher today than in 2011 and undoubtedly will go up significantly in the future.
A tax increase approaching a half-billion dollars levied on the business community at large definitely flies in the face of that principal goal of the organization for 2013.
LABI’s policy is clear: If the tax swap proposal is introduced as a net increase in business taxes or is amended during the legislative process to take that form, LABI will oppose it.
Swell. Bobby certainly should give these guys, his own teammates here on team “fuck the poor” a little deference, right? Nope:
The governor said the only people who like the current tax system are “lawyers, lobbyists and the people who benefit from loopholes.” He pointed to a study released Tuesday by two think tanks — the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and the Beacon Hill Institute — that concluded the tax proposal would generate an average of $910 in extra cash for the state’s households and create nearly 12,000 new jobs within four years.
“This is good for Louisiana families and Louisiana businesses,” Jindal said.
Yessir, that’s what they call in baseball a “brush-back” pitch from the Governor.
Oh, and as usual, the oil boys got what they want and they’re cool. Preserve their egregious exemptions and they’re back to crushing Louisiana’s coast.
The Jindal administration also distributed a news release from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association regarding an agreement on severance tax incentives and sales tax incentives affecting the oil and gas industry.
LOGA’s president, Don Briggs, said the administration pledged to keep the oil and gas natural gas service sector exempt from a state sales tax on services.
Putting the puzzle pieces together on #EdReform
Originally posted on Crazy Crawfish:
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by all the rapid changes happening in the education sphere. I’m positive I’m not alone in feeling this way – based on the feedback, articles and correspondence I’ve been receiving from local and national groups and individuals. As I struggled to zero in on a topic where I could help or enlighten the most, something else even more screwed up would be sent to me. I’ve started and stopped work on several pieces, which may make their appearances later, but I feel the need to get my bearings again. All this crazy “stuff” (not my first word choice) needs to be sorted out and organized before I can make any more forward progress. I think the mistake I was making, and many others are probably making, is not connecting all the dots and figuring out what kind of picture they…
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BoJind has made a terrible set of mistakes. Unconstitutional legislation. Federal investigations. Sinkholes. Higher education
chaos. These ships have all sailed. He probably do much to change these disasters. But there is one thing he can do to transform Louisiana for the better.
Dont’ take our word for it.
Expanding health services to Louisiana’s working poor is not a gift, as the state eventually would have to put up some money to match federal Medicaid grants. But it’s a deal worth taking, and we urge Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature to take up the offer. Ultimately, the state has no other solution in view for the problems of the uninsured who are working in low-wage jobs.
With the high rates of diabetes and other chronic but treatable conditions in Louisiana, the broader access to basic health care could save lives. That alone is reason to participate.
The expansion makes sense fiscally as well. For the first three years of the program, 2014 through 2016, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of covering people whose income is 133 percent of the poverty level. After that, Louisiana would have to pay a small percentage — which at most would be 10 percent in 2020 and beyond. Kaiser estimates that the cost for Louisiana would be about $1 billion over 10 years.
The Jindal administration has argued that even 10 percent is too much of a burden. That is absurd, particularly given how many people could be helped with that small investment by the state.
Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures will eventually decide to expand Medicaid in their states because the financial benefits are too big to ignore, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with USA Today. “It not only would bring more people into the health care system, but it would dramatically reduce unpaid medical costs,” Sebelius said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview on the third anniversary of the 2010 health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says Louisiana is not going to accept the federal dollars available in the expanded Medicaid program because health insurance is better handled by private business. The question is: Better for whom? The governor is obviously not talking about 400,000 Louisiana residents who are unable to afford private health insurance but would be able to get health insurance through the expansion. He cannot be referring to Louisiana taxpayers. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation makes the point that Louisiana is turning down $15.8 billion in federal funding in order to save $1.2 billion over 10 years. And we Louisiana taxpayers are going to have to pay for the federal Medicaid expansion whether our state participates or not. Our share of the money that pays for this program will be used to support the Medicaid expansion in other states and, meanwhile, our low-income residents will continue to lack access to care. So who is he talking about?
We urge the Legislature to address this issue as they take up budget matters this spring. Meanwhile, we join the grassroots groups, the statesmen and civic leaders around the state who are raising the cry to Jindal to take the Medicaid expansion money.
But if Louisiana follows through on the governor’s threat to reject the Medicaid expansion, the need for uncompensated care will continue to rise, increasing the financial strains on the system and raising the cost of private coverage as hospitals and doctors try to recover their costs. Meanwhile, the injection of billions in new federal dollars will be a boost to Louisiana’s economy, in much the same way that federal dollars helped the state’s economy recover from Hurricane Katrina. The money will help both directly – by creating jobs in the health care sector – and indirectly, by supporting jobs that provide goods and services to the health-care industry.
David Hood was secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals under Republican former Gov. Mike Foster. Fred Cerise was DHH secretary under Democratic former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The two men were featured in a newspaper ad published in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate newspaper calling the Medicaid expansion a good deal for Louisiana. “Medicaid expansion offers a path to regular access to healthcare for working adults,” the ad says. Hood and Cerise said the inclusion of up to 400,000 uninsured people in the government-run insurance program would improve people’s health, be a good financial deal for the state and help Louisiana’s healthcare delivery system.
This notion of high costs is illogical, as the federal government will be picking up the full tab for the first three years. And even after that, the cost is negligible, with each state paying just 10 percent of the cost. And as an added slap in the face, if Louisiana does not participate, the portion of the federal money that pays for the program will be used to support the Medicaid expansion in other states. What I don’t get, however, is why Jindal would want to burden Louisiana employers, especially given our tepid economic conditions. Instead of accepting the expansion program, Jindal is opting for a program that gives residents between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty line access to healthcare through the state’s new insurance exchanges. This is where the huge cost from employers comes into play. Individuals would now qualify for premium assistance tax credits. As a result, employers with more than 50 workers would be assessed fees for each employee in that group who received these credits.
We would encourage Gov. Jindal to keep an open mind and to examine his fellow governors’ motivations for their 180-degree turns. The federal government would fund 100 percent of the expanded program for the first three years. After that, the amount would decrease incrementally for 10 years. And that would mean between $15 billion and $25 billion flowing into Louisiana for health care, depending on whose numbers you use.
From the multitude of Louisiana non-profits and advocacy groups (you can sign here too), LaMediciadExpansion.org:
The organizations and individuals listed below believe that Medicaid expansion is the right choice for Louisiana and urge you to reconsider your decision to reject this unprecedented opportunity to improve public health and grow the state’s economy. Medicaid expansion could provide health coverage to 400,000 Louisianans, most of whom are currently uninsured, and bring in billions of new federal dollars. It will benefit Louisiana’s families, businesses, health care providers and the economy—all at little cost to the state budget.
BoJind, there’s only one way to salvation. No amount of exorcisms will be able to expel the demons from your legacy if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to save lives and improve our future.
Federal Grand Jury investigation prompts Jindal to cancel controversial CNSI contract: but now who will be thrown under the bus?
BUT WHO IS DRIVING THE BUS!
Originally posted on Louisiana Voice:
At the risk of sounding a bit smug, regular readers may remember that we had serious misgivings about that $194 million CNSI contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) from the outset.
And so, it turns out, does the FBI.
And Gov. Bobby Jindal, much like another governor of some 2,000 years ago, thinks by washing his hands, he can absolve himself of any blame in the entire matter.
In early June of 2011, DHH Secretary-designate Bruce Greenstein appeared before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee for his confirmation hearing and things quickly went south as Greenstein and Undersecretary Jerry Phillips became involved in the old irresistible force-immovable object standoff over the identity of the winning contractor to replace a 23-year-old computer system that adjudicated health care claims and case providers.
The contract is scheduled to go into effect in 2014 but that could change now.
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As a former head of the University of Louisiana system, Bobby Jindal must know a thing or two about the way public higher education is run in the gret stet.
Unfortunately, this familiarity has not resulted in an increased respect or concern for the state of higher education. Each successive year, Jindal’s budgets have smashed higher education in the mouth, cutting what The Atlantic and the Center for Budget Policy Priorities say is over 42% from the State higher ed budget over the past 5 years. Louisiana has cut the 4th most, by percentage, of any state in the union.
The budget cuts would be bad enough, but Jindal has repeatedly acted as if this isn’t a problem, because (wouldn’t you know it) he can just tax the families and students that attend our public schools. And since many get Federal loans to do so, Jindal is, in essence, bleeding the Federal taxpayers for EVEN MORE MONEY.
But this is typically Jindal. He does the same with health care, transportation and other quiet Federal transfers and entitlements. Jindal would never accept Federal funds publicly. But he will work the system, like a devious drug-addict, to squeeze more Federal dollars into his unbalanced budget.
In the case of (Jindal’s appointed) Louisiana’s higher ed leaders, they might have enough:
For the sixth year in a row, Louisiana’s public colleges and universities are girding for a state budget that once again takes an ax to their funding. Regents say they must brace for $209 million in cuts that are included in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal for the coming year and both higher education officials and legislators say they are equally concerned about the governor’s desire to use one-time money to prop up the state’s outlay.
Overall, about two-thirds of the $773.5 million the state has budgeted for higher education will come from nonrecurring revenue, such as proceeds from the future sales of public property. Some of that money has yet to materialize and perhaps never will, angering conservative lawmakers who oppose the use of such fiscal maneuvers and worrying university administrators who are trying to put together reliable spending plans for their campuses.
Meanwhile, the Jindal administration is suggesting that universities raise tuition, and that doing so would mean funding would remain the same as it was after mid-year cuts enacted in December.
According to Jindal’s $24.7 billion budget proposal, the state outlay for higher education in the fiscal year starting July 1 would draw $284.5 million from the state’s general fund, plus $489 million from sources that will be available only once, or expected collections that may not be as much as predicted.
And the kicker:
“All units (of higher education) will be at risk for reduction should any of these funds not materialize,” according to a report from the state Board of Regents, which coordinates all public higher education in Louisiana.
This crisis in higher ed is getting worse. And it isn’t just about the money. Jindal’s running LSU, our flagship university, into the ground. Bob Mann explains why here. LSU’s new president (after Jindal fired the old one, and many others, for complaining about budget cuts) was just foisted upon the school without any public consideration. The LSU Faculty Senate declared that they have no confidence in the Board of Supervisors. Lovely.
The sounds of thousands of razors scraping bumper stickers off of bumpers should be heard all over Louisiana.
Mitt Romney’s pollster, Public Opinion Strategies, has a new Louisiana Senate poll out.
Those words alone should make you suspicious, considering the utter incompetence of the Romney polling apparatus in 2012.
Let’s not digress, however, and get straight to it!
Mary Landrieu is well-positioned against ANY GOP candidate, EVEN when respondents are subjected to one-sided, push polling in favor of the Republican. Top-lines, in a 4-way jungle primary:
- Mary Landrieu – 47%
- John Fleming – 15%
- Bill Cassidy – 14%
- Chas Roemer – 6%
Run-off, between Sen. Mary Landrieu and Cong. John Fleming:
- Landrieu – 49%
- Fleming – 45%
And then the push polling began:
After testing opposition research points on each candidate, Fleming pulls further ahead of Cassidy on the informed ballot, and Landrieu drops some more. We tested eight opposition research points on Landrieu (focused on her spending and health care record), five opposition research points on Fleming, and just three on Cassidy.
The post-oppo informed ballot was 38% Landrieu, 32% Fleming, and 20% Cassidy.
Without a concluding, post-opposition research, run-off, we can’t really know for sure. But certainly, after pummeling Mary (and in a vacuum against a static, defense-less caricature of the candidates, especially Mary), it can’t be very encouraging that the GOP candidate isn’t even able to pull even with Landrieu.
Oh, and the Fleming/Cassidy match-up (in a mythical, straight for the beltway RSCC conversation of a partisan primary), Fleming pulls ahead after ANOTHER push element.
- Fleming – 51%
- Cassidy – 32%
Wow, lots of scurrilous push polling going on here. No wonder Romney didn’t know where the fuck he was.
Here’s the actual poll memo (paid for by Fleming).
The Louisiana Budget Project breaks down the meat of the Governor’s Sales Tax Swap proposal:
By David Gray
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate Louisiana’s corporate and personal income taxes relies on a fundamentally flawed economic analysis and is likely to hurt the state’s economy, not boost it as supporters claim. Proponents of the governor’s proposal are relying on a report called “Rich States, Poor States” to sell their plan to the public. But the report contains numerous distortions and omissions:
- While it claims that 62 percent of net U.S. job growth between 2002 and 2012 occurred in nine states with no income taxes, it fails to note that just one of those states, Texas, accounted for most of that job growth. The remaining eight states did not significantly differ from the rest of the country in job creation.
- The report fails to mention that Texas’ performance is largely due to factors unrelated to taxes, like its abundance of natural resources and geographic location along the trade-rich Mexican border.
- States with income taxes that are higher than Louisiana’s perform better on several important economic and quality-of-life indicators than their no-income-tax counterparts. For example, those states have greater median household incomes, higher household disposable incomes and more widespread health insurance coverage –none of which should be true if taxes were a primary factor in economic activity and well-being.
- State income taxes play a negligible role in business location and hiring decisions. Doing away with them will simply drain more resources from schools, health care, public safety and the other foundations of a strong economy, which are much more important to businesses looking to expand or relocate. The vast majority of the governor’s tax plan would benefit less than 2 percent of Louisiana’s companies, according to an analysis of tax information published by the Louisiana Department of Revenue. The overwhelming majority of small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs are unlikely to experience any tax savings. The windfall for those that do see savings is likely to be too small to allow more hiring or investments. In any case, there is no evidence that businesses add jobs because of income tax cuts. Furthermore, substantially increased sales taxes – which the governor would use to recoup revenue losses under his plan – are likely to reduce demand for goods, which would reduce production. Instead of eliminating income taxes and levying the highest sales taxes in the nation, the task for Louisiana’s elected officials is to seek ways to raise revenues beyond current levels and invest in public services like education, health care, transportation and public safety. These investments have a far greater potential to build the state’s economy and improve prosperity and well-being than the proposed income tax breaks.
We’ve grown accustom to Bobby Jindal’s wingnut conservatism, what with the vouchers, and the exorcisms, and the creationism, and supply-side orthodoxy, and the regressive tax policies. Yes, we get it Bobby. In the great pissing match that is the rightwing nutosphere, you are yearning to be their darling.
And darling is a good place to start, because former wingnut darling, queen of the hack-eyed one-liner, the you-betcha from Alaska, Sarah Palin tied Bobby Jindal at this week’s CPAC straw-poll.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal badly trailed the top two finishers in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Straw Poll. Jindal finished tied for 8th place, with 3 percent of the votes cast by 2,930 conference delegates who were asked who they’d prefer as the 2016 GOP presidential candidate.
Also getting 3 percent of the tallies was former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. Palin was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008. The poll results were announced Saturday, the final day of the three-day conference, featuring marathon speeches by conservative politicians.
Who said running for president didn’t have its ignominies! Bobby Mann gives T-Bob a little bad news, “Dude, you’re not going to be president”
It’s not as if you didn’t try to win over the CPAC voters. You were one of their main speakers on Friday. You gave it to them straight, didn’t you?
“Today’s conservatism is in love with zeroes . . . we have an obsession with bookkeeping,” you said. “This obsession with zeros has everyone in our party focused on what – government. By obsessing with zeros on the budget spreadsheet, we send a not-so-subtle signal that the focus of our country is on the phony economy of Washington, D.C. instead of the real economy out in Billings or Baton Rouge.”
It was all fairly well received, except that the speech and the jokes were ones that you’ve given before. As The Atlantic reported, some attendees were quick to notice that you were feeding them stale lines and re-tread jokes.
In a Politico story, writer James Hohmann listed you as one of the “losers” of the conference.
Isn’t it embarrassing that Hohmann noted how you mindlessly read a speech that was so clearly a rehash of your recent Gridiron Speech that you accidentally left in a reference to Attorney General Eric Holder, who had been at the Gridiron Show, but was clearly not in attendance at CPAC?
Jindal also recycled the same jokes he delivered at last weekend’s Gridiron Dinner in Washington.
“I see Eric Holder is with us,” he said at one point, setting up a jest at the attorney general.
Holder, obviously, was not at CPAC.
You also apparently pulled your punches before this very conservative crowed, declining to repeat some of the more quotable passages from a speech you gave in late January to the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee. For instance, gone was your widely quoted line, “We must stop being the stupid party.”
Why did you lose your nerve? Were you afraid of being booed?
So, your CPAC speech didn’t win you many votes, which must be troubling to you and your brain trust. They know that every time you wind up in the low single digits in a poll like this, you lose a little more luster.
Is there any buzz at all about you coming out of CPAC this year?
Here’s your answer: None whatsoever, except that Politico called you a “loser.” That’s a serious problem for you.
Don’t let your tears fill that bayou corne sinkhole yet! This CPAC result isn’t even an improvement over your 2011-2 “run” for vice-president:
Gov. Bobby Jindal has effectively removed himself from consideration as a vice presidential candidate, saying he will serve a full second term after his seemingly inevitable re-election this year. But he finished seventh in the straw poll balloting for vice president at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, tied with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
Of course, old Willard never even thought about choosing you. We remember when your star was on the rise! Those were the heady days. We’ll meet you up in Winn at the political hall of fame dinner one day, and reminisce about days gone by.
Oh, it won’t be for your induction or anything, but probably just another courtesy invites, the kind they give to former governor, guys who used to mean something around here.