Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Bart Stupak‘s risky...
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Bart Stupak‘s risky strategy

Anne Stanton - November 16th, 2009
Stupak’s Risky strategy
Will his anti-abortion amendment save health care reform, or wreck it?
By Anne Stanton
U.S. Representative Bart Stupak is in the hot seat. Forty-one Democrats have signed a letter saying they won’t approve a final bill for affordable health care reform if it contains his abortion amendment.
Yet it was Rep. Stupak’s amendment that allowed the health reform bill to squeak through the house with a 215-210 vote on November 7. If the amendment is taken out of the final compromise bill, 64 Democrats say they won’t vote for it.
Could abortion be the issue that kills affordable health care reform?
Stupak, who represents the 1st Congressional District, including Petoskey, the Straits and the Upper Peninsula, said in an interview last week that people need to read his amendment, which he co-authored with Joe Pitts (R-PA), before they believe what’s being claimed. It makes no changes to current law, he said.
Like the historic 1976 Hyde Amendment, Stupak’s legislation would ban federal .dollars from being used to pay for abortions (except in the case of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother). Because of the Hyde Amendment, federal workers, including those in the military, women on disability, those receiving care from Indian Health Insurance, and poor women on Medicaid, are barred from receiving federal assistance or insurance coverage for abortions. Most states also ban Medicaid coverage for abortions, effectively leaving the legal option of abortion out of reach for many poor women, who can’t pay the $300 to $700 fee.

Planned Parenthood says Stupak’s amendment goes even beyond the Hyde amendment because it will indirectly affect people who aren’t receiving any federal subsidies.
This is the way it works. Under the health reform plan, a family of four earning up to $88,000, certain small businesses, and the self-employed can buy their insurance policies through an “exchange.” This virtual marketplace of insurance policies is intended for people having difficulty getting insurance; the exchange provides either a private insurance policy or a public government plan for those who qualify.
Stupak’s amendment says participating insurance companies cannot include abortion coverage in their policies to anyone receiving a federal subsidy, unless the pregnancy was the result of incest or rape, or if the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life. (Exceptions do not include a fetus with severe or fatal birth defects, or if the pregnancy will severely damage a woman’s health.)
Planned Parenthood claims the policy could effectively ban abortion coverage for anyone taking part on the exchange, not just the lower middle class who receive federal subsidies. That’s because the vast majority of people in the exchange will receive a subsidy to help pay for the premiums. Insurance companies will likely take the path of least resistance and offer just one plan, said Tait Sye, spokesman for Planned Parenthood.

“Let’s say I’m subsidized, and you’re not. The insurance company wants as many enrollees as possible. So they’ll open it up to people with subsidies, and that requires their policy provide no abortion coverage. A second plan—with abortion coverage—would be less appealing, overall, because a much smaller fraction of people won’t have subsidies.
“The way insurance works, it would be hard to imagine that you will offer a plan for three people without subsidies, as opposed to a plan for 100 people with subsidies. What’s clear, is that those people receiving subsidies will impact those who don’t,” she said.
In terms of the amendment providing all people in the Exchange the option to buy an abortion rider with their own money. Not likely, because no one plans an unexpected pregnancy, and there will be few takers.
Planned Parenthood says that 87 percent of all health care plans cover abortion. But if 18 million people join the exchange, as expected, the insurance companies may drop abortion from policies, perhaps even outside the exchange, simply because it’s cheaper and easier to offer a standardized policy.

Stupak said in a cell phone interview with Express that Planned Parenthood’s objections are not valid. “Once the exchange goes into business, once this bill passes, every insurance policy in the U.S. will be eligible for the exchange if they meet a minimum benefit package.”
And there are currently more than 200 policies available, such as those offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna and Aetna, he said.
“The exchange is really just a database, which will allow comparative shopping,” Stupak said. “So the fact that no insurance company will offer two versions of a plan, that’s not right.”
What does PolitiFact say about this specific point? “There’s plenty of room for debate.”
Here’s the rest of the interview with Rep. Bart Stupak:

Express: More than 18,000 Americans die every year for the sole fact they can’t afford to pay for private health care insurance, according to a study entitled “Care without coverage: Too little, too late.” If abortion is the key issue stopping health reform, will you feel you have traded off the lives of the unborn for the lives of the born?
Stupak: My amendment assured it would pass! It would never have passed, the health care bill never would have made it through the House, even with the Capps Amendment (an earlier amendment that banned federally funded abortions, but which Stupak said didn’t go far enough). Even with the Capps Amendment, it would have been soundly rejected.
Sixteen thousand people die a year because they don’t have health insurance. Is there an ethical imperative to pass health care reform? Absolutely. As elected officials we have to make those decisions. Let me reiterate. If the Stupak Amendment was not in the bill, health care would not have passed in the House. Go to PolitiFact.com. It states that Bart Stupak might have just saved health care reform. Anyone who knows what went on, knows that without right-to-life Democrats, they wouldn’t have passed health care.

Express: But now 41 representatives signed a letter saying they won’t vote on it with your amendment.
Stupak: First of all, members write these letters all the time. Secondly, let’s see what the conference committee wording is before we make these wild claims (the role of the conference committee is to devise a final bill acceptable to both the House and Senate. The Senate has not passed its version; the public option, not abortion, is the sticking point for senators).
They are talking about whether my language is in there, but we don’t even have a bill. They are talking about a bill that doesn’t exist. That’s not a very credible argument.
Everyone says they’re going to do this, going to do that. We all need to take a deep breath. What did the president say? Keep current law. We should keep current law. The Stupak language is no more than current law. No public funding for abortions, no public funding for insurance policies that cover abortions. But if you want abortion coverage, you can get it even if you get public funding for insurance. You can buy a supplemental abortion policy with your own money.

Express: Mennonites, Amish and conscientious objectors oppose war of any kind because it involves killing people, the same objections you hold toward abortion. But their tax money must still go toward war. Are your religious convictions more important than theirs?
Stupak: There’s a law—the Hyde Amendment—that federal spending should not pay for abortion. There is not a law that exempts people from paying for war. There isn’t a law like that. When I send in my taxes, and you pay your taxes, you don’t get to tell the government you don’t believe in the war. I didn’t believe in the Iraq war, but I couldn’t tell people not to pay their taxes.
Under federal benefits, until two years ago, we never paid for mental health services. We didn’t always pay for glasses. There are certain benefits that, as the employer, we are willing to pay for. It’s not discriminatory. It’s that people don’t think abortions should be covered. It’s not just Catholics, not just Republicans. There are Episcopalians, Methodists, Protestants, a wide range of people who believe that life is sacred, and federal funding shouldn’t be used to pay for abortions.

Express: Do you feel the facts of your amendment are being misrepresented?
Stupak: By some groups yes.

Express: Does that make you angry?
Stupak: No because I look at PolitiFact, I listen to NPR public radio, and they say those people are wrong. I’m happy to show anyone this amendment. All we’re doing is current law. And if you say you want abortion funding for anyone who wants it, we’re not going there. Every life has value.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment

Questions about the Stupak-Pitts amendment? Here’s what it says:
(a) IN GENERAL - No funds authorized or appropriated by the Act (or amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(b) OPTION TO PURCHASE SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity (including an individual or a State or local government) from purchasing separate or supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as-
(1) Such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and
(2) Such coverage or plan is not purchased using-
(a) individual premium payments required for an Exchange-participating health benefits pan towards which an affordability credit is applied; or
(b) other nonfederal funds required to receive a federal payment, including State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

Notwithstanding section 303(b), nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as-
(1) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;
(2) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and
(3) any nonfederal QHBP offering entity that offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section also offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section.

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