Daily Archives: March 26, 2015

.House Health Care gets the brown plate special

Recently, the House Health Care Committee passed a health care bill that raised $52 million in new revenue to pay for an array of reforms, including better Medicaid reimbursement for providers and more premium support for the working poor. It proposed raising the revenue through a payroll tax and a sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

Then it went to the Ways and Means Committee, which couldn’t agree on either tax. Technically they have yet to agree, but they did send guidance to the Health Care Committee that it should craft a plan requiring no more than $20 million a year. Ways and Means is reportedly moving toward a smaller version of the beverage tax to raise that money, although nothing is final.

Well, as one of my childhood heroes, Detroit Lions great Joe Schmidt, says, “Life is a shit sandwich, and every day you take another bite.” When the Health Care Committee reconvened this morning with that guidance in mind, they looked like they’d been served the Brown Plate Special. Glum faces all around. As committee chair BIll Lippert said, tongue slightly in cheek, “We can’t do all that we have to do.”

Committee members had no clear idea how to proceed. There were widely varying ideas. Anytime a specific cut of any size was suggested, sound and reasonable objections were voiced.

When they looked at the overall picture, some members wanted to make big cuts here and hold harmless there; but they all had different heres and theres.

At the end of a necessarily brief discussion (before the House convened for the day), Lippert thanked everyone for their input and said he would try to put together a proposal for futther discussion. And he noted that the committee would need to adopt some kind of bill by the end of the day tomorrow. He didn’t sound very happy.

Whatever Health Care comes up with, it’s likely to face the ax down the road. It’s still unclear whether Ways and Means can pass the reduced beverage tax, to say nothing of its fate in the full House and Senate. If I were a betting man, I’d say any new health care initiatives are going to be whittled down to nothing, or nearly so.

Our Leaders will plead fiscal responsibility in tough times, and perhaps start looking for a bone to throw to disaffected liberals.

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The punishment fit the crime

Here’s something that’s by-the-books, letter of the law… but makes absolutely not a bit of sense.

Our dogged hero of law enforcement, Eternal General BIll Sorrell, is in hot pursuit of the scoundrel Dean Corren for a campaign violation. Seems the Democratic Party sent an email blast supporting Corren’s candidacy for Lieutenant Governor, and Sorrell deems this a violation of the public financing law.

Estimated value of the blast: $255.

The penalty Sorrell seeks: $72,000.

Sorrell says, and I understand, that he is simply following the law. which requires repayment of public funds still in Corren’s kitty at the time of the violation, plus a $10,000 fine for each of two violations (accepting the email, and failing to report it).

But holy Hell, I don’t care what the law says. $72,000 for a $255 violation is like a ten-year sentence for a speeding ticket. Does Sorrell have no flexibility whatsoever, or is he choosing to be a right bastard about this?

Also, this: I know for a fact that there was an ongoing, vigorous discussion within Democratic Party circles and the Corren campaign over what the party could do and couldn’t do on his behalf. The Democrats were very careful about it — so much so, that some liberals (including yours truly) wondered if they really wanted him to succeed. It’s hard for me to imagine that the Dems suddenly abandoned their caution in a spasm of Corren-love and sent out that email in a moment of blind passion, followed by headaches and regret the next morning.

Maybe so, because the Dems have responded to Sorrell’s onslaught like an abashed libertine trying to reform:

“To avoid the cost of litigation and move forward, both for the benefit of the Party and the State, the VDP decided to settle with the Attorney General’s Office,” the statement said.

As part of the settlement, VDP will agree to cooperate with Sorrell’s office in its investigation and litigation against Corren.

That’s nice. I’m sure it only appears that the Dems are throwing Corren under the bus.

Given the party’s SOP in dealing with Corren, I’m sure the email blast had to have been vetted by its legal staff. But that won’t do Corren any good now; he’s facing Mr. Prosecutor all by his lonesome.