Senate to Choose Between Health Catastrophe or Something Worse

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Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies have one more trick up their sleeves to try to get some health care bill through the Senate. This week they will seek a vote to proceed to debate on the bill passed in the House on the understanding that there will be a process, colloquially known as voterama, in which a series of votes on one or more substitutes to the bill, or amendments, will be introduced. That is, Senators are being asked to proceed to debate without any clear idea what final bill they will eventually vote on.

I will say more about the process in a moment. But first I want to urge you to join the Insure PA / Protect Our Care phone bank to ask people in those states with Senators who are unsure about their position to call those Senators and ask them to vote no. (You can call Senator Toomey, too, but he pretty clearly has decided he cares far more about tax cuts for the rich than health care for Pennsylvanians.)

STATEMENT: On the State of PA Budget Negotiations

Marc Stier, Director of the PA Budget and Policy Center, made the following statement on the current state of PA budget negotiations:
 
"If news reports are accurate, enough members of the House Republican caucus heard the voices of their constituents who contacted them in the last 24 hours to demand new recurring revenues to balance the budget in a responsible way.

Drillers Are Right – PA Needs Tax Rate on Gas Like Other States: It’s Time for a Severance Tax

In its recent letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, the Marcellus Shale Coalition points (in paragraph three) to the effective tax rate (ETR) on production as a key indicator of whether Pennsylvania should enact a severance tax in addition to the per-well impact fee we already have.

OK, let’s look at that ETR using Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) estimates of the ETR for 2011-16 and IFO estimates of prices and production to project the ETR (using IFO’s method) in 2017 and 2018.*

Public Investment and Economic Growth: Even the Commonwealth Foundation Gets It (Sometimes)

A strange post a few days ago by Elizabeth Stelle of The Commonwealth Foundation seeks to undermine the case for a severance tax on natural gas drilling, but inadvertently explains exactly why we need new recurring revenues in the state.

Stelle first repeats once again — without evidence — the same tired argument that natural gas drillers “pay more in taxes and regulatory costs than producers in competing states.” Not once has anyone at the Commonwealth Foundation quantified those regulatory costs or attempted to respond to a series of papers put out by PBPC, including this most recent one, that show that natural gas drillers are not paying much, if anything, in corporate income taxes to Pennsylvania and are paying far less in taxes (and fees) here than in other states.

Statement on CBO Score of BCRA

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Earlier this week we released a blog post and a long paper called, “It Can’t Be Fixed” that explained why the basic structure of all of the Republican “repeal and replace” necessarily leads to a health care system in which large numbers of Americans and Pennsylvanians lose insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluation of the last version of the Senates’ Better Care Reconciliation Act (without the Cruz Amendment) released on Thursday confirms our argument once again. The CBO predicts that 22 million people will lose health insurance in the first decade. Our quick analysis of the impact on Pennsylvania shows that over one million will lose insurance in our commonwealth.

Speaker Turzai: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

The Pennsylvania Budget for Fiscal 2017-2018 is still not finished. Pennsylvanians deserve to know why and who is responsible. The answer is the House Republican Caucus led by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, who refuses to accept any plan for funding the budget already passed by the General Assembly that includes new, recurring revenue — that is revenue that is generated year after year. 

How Would Trump’s Food Stamp Cuts Hurt Americans? Let Us Count the Ways.

This guest post is from Brian Barth, a writer for Modern Farmer. Modern Farmer is a quarterly magazine devoted to the people, policy, issues, animals, plants, and technology of farming and food. The piece ran as a blog post on the blog of the Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians.

President Donald Trump has proposed deep cuts to funding for the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps. The administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget seeks a $193.3 billion decrease in SNAP funding over the next decade, a nearly 30 percent reduction over current levels. Such deep cuts have virtually no chance of gaining congressional approval, but they lay bare the President’s approach to our nation’s security net. Who stands to lose?

It Couldn't Be Fixed: Policy and Politics in the Republican Health Care Bill

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Now that the Senate Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has failed, let’s take a step back and understand why no bill based on the Republican approach to health care could have been fixed enough to reduce the pain to levels acceptable to a majority of Republicans in Congress, let alone to the American people. 

The basic design of the bill was deeply flawed from the perspective of anyone who thinks that America has a responsibility to guarantee quality, affordable health care to all. The design only made sense if one, instead, seeks a politically palatable way to reject that responsibility and reduce federal health care spending in order to cut taxes on large corporations and the rich.

What started as a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became a bill to partly repeal the health insurance regulations and subsidies for insurance purchased in the individual marketplaces, fully repeal the Medicaid Expansion, and radically restructure – and drastically reduce – funding for traditional Medicaid.

Are the Republicans Ready to Gut Higher Education to Avoid a Severance Tax on Natural Gas Drilling?

As we enter the third week of an impasse over funding the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania state budget, an astonishing possibility has come into view: the House Republicans, led by Speaker Mike and Turzai and Majority Leader Dave Reed, appear to be prepared to block funding for the four state-related universities – Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University – rather than agree to the Governor’s demand that they raise $600 to $800 million in new recurring revenues.

Unpacking the Right’s Breathless Embrace of New Seattle Minimum-Wage Study

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A recent column by A. Barton Hinkle in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (and also on the Reason Foundation web page) about minimum wage increases is getting a lot of attention in conservative intellectual circles. In the piece, Hinkle compares climate denial to skepticism expressed about a recent study on the effects of Seattle’s increase in its minimum wage.    

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