Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) A Proud Member of The Anti-Life Conservative Governor's Club
Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and the GOP-controlled state House have turned a blind eye to the plight of 98 Arizona patients in desperate need of organ transplants. Since Brewer enacted painful cuts to the state’s Medicaid program in October, two Arizonans unable to pay for the transplants they needed passed away. After months of appeals and protests, it appears Brewer has finally agreed to set aside a $151 million “uncompensated-care pool to pay health-care providers for ‘life-saving’ procedures, including transplants.”
However, state House Republicans remain vigilant in their anti-human life campaign. They are refusing to let measures to restore funding for organ transplants advance because, as the state House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jon Kavanagh (R) explained, “not enough lives would be saved to warrant restoring millions in budget cuts” for the transplants.
But as Brewer and the GOP-led legislature waffle over the value of human lives, two more people — including 23-year-old leukemia patient Courtney Parham — join the 98 others standing before the Brewer death panel. Because the state has so far refused to pay for her transplant, Courtney’s family “must raise somewhere between $400-$800 thousand dollars for a transplant, or their daughter will die.” KGUN 9 in Tucson reports:
But, one thing that didn’t come back was the insurance. The company dropped Courtney because she was too sick to be a full-time student, which forced her on to the Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS. And, then Governor Brewer dropped more bad news; no more transplants for patients like Courtney, all to help balance the budget. The Straw-Parham family told KGUN9 they must raise somewhere between $400-$800 thousand dollars for a transplant, or their daughter will die.
“Would she [Gov. Brewer] put her own children’s lives up to balance her budget? I don’t think so!” said Straw angrily.
“My mother isn’t looking at me like a dollar sign. But, in this situation, she sort of has to look at me like a dollar sign,” said Courtney.
Like all states, Arizona is facing hard financial times, but this is a question of priorities. While Courtney’s life is on the line, Brewer eagerly signed tax cuts for businesses into law last week — cuts that will cost Arizona $538 million by 2018. Yet the governor has dragged her feet in offering the mere $1.36 million needed to save Courtney and her cohort’s lives, and she has consistently ignored 26 possible funding solutions from a member of her own party.
For Brewer, the fact that Courtney’s plight is forced to take a backseat to business tax cuts is “sad but necessary.”
Brewer's anti-family and anti-life ideology puts her in the same league as Ohio's Republican governor John Kasich, New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin's Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature. The Republican Strategy
The Assault on Public Employees
The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn't cause these budget crises -- state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession -- but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.
Wisconsin's Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio's Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, "I'm attacking the leadership of the union because they're greedy, and they're selfish and they're self-interested."
The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they've caused these budget crises, but it's also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don't, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education -- even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don't have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.
Bargaining rights for public employees haven't caused state deficits to explode. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights, such as Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, are running big deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many states that give employees bargaining rights -- Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana -- have small deficits of less than 10 percent.
Republicans would rather go after teachers and other public employees than have us look at the pay of Wall Street traders, private-equity managers, and heads of hedge funds -- many of whom wouldn't have their jobs today were it not for the giant taxpayer-supported bailout, and most of whose lending and investing practices were the proximate cause of the Great Depression to begin with.
Last year, America's top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains -- at 15 percent -- due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.
If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society -- thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let's make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?
The Distortion of the Constitution
The third part of the Republican strategy is being played out in the Supreme Court. It has politicized the Court more than at any time in recent memory.
Last year a majority of the justices determined that corporations have a right under the First Amendment to provide unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission is among the most patently political and legally grotesque decisions of our highest court -- ranking right up there with Bush vs. Gore and Dred Scott.
Among those who voted in the affirmative were Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Both have become active strategists in the Republican party.
A month ago, for example, Antonin Scalia met in a closed-door session with Michele Bachmann's Tea Party caucus -- something no justice concerned about maintaining the appearance of impartiality would ever have done.
Both Thomas and Scalia have participated in political retreats organized and hosted by multi-billionaire financier Charles Koch, a major contributor to the Tea Party and other conservative organizations, and a crusader for ending all limits on money in politics. (Not incidentally, Thomas's wife is the founder of Liberty Central, a Tea Party organization that has been receiving unlimited corporate contributions due to the Citizens United decision. On his obligatory financial disclosure filings, Thomas has repeatedly failed to list her sources of income over the last twenty years, nor even to include his own four-day retreats courtesy of Charles Koch.)
Some time this year or next, the Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the nation's new health care law is constitutional. Watch your wallets.
Freedom of speech, freedom to petition and freedom to protest are all guaranteed rights in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Rights these governors have decided to treat with contempt. How very American of them.