“Affordable”? Health Care Plan Could Cost Some Bay Staters as Much as a Third of Their Income
New York, NY ”“ The Massachusetts Health Care Plan, negotiated by former Governor Mitt Romney and the legislature, is proving to be expensive, just as critics warned, with the lowest cost plan costing state residents as much as $9,560 per year in out-of-pocket expenses if they suffer a serious illness.
Legislators in North Dakota are promoting the radical idea that the candidate who wins the most votes for President should actually be President. The legislature introduced a bill last week to award its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally. A national popular vote initiative was passed by both chambers in California last year, only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. For the upcoming legislative sessions, twenty-nine states have also already lined up sponsors to introduce "National Popular Vote" bills.
The past thirty years have seen a marked decline in job quality for a substantial portion of the U.S. workforce: stagnant wages, shrinking health benefits and less job security.
While a number of factors explain this decline, there is little
question that the decline in the strength of labor unions in the US has
played a major role.
Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men,
women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless
women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the
Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic
African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such
horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.
One of the biggest challenges in raising voter turnout is address the
rate of voter registration. The vast majority of states have
registration deadlines weeks before Election Day. The schedule poses
problems for busy Americans who simply forget to register or
re-register and find themselves unable to vote on Election Day. During
the 2000 Presidential election alone, nearly 3 million voters were disenfranchised due to registration problems. Luckily, a simple solution is available: Election Day Registration (EDR).
The Baltimore City Council is considering a bill
that would require developers to include affordable housing units in
all of Baltimore's residential projects. Under the proposal, up to 20
percent of all housing units would be reserved for low to moderate
income people. Baltimore is not the first city in Maryland to consider such a proposal. Montgomery County, MD,
in an effort to combat the loss of affordable housing, requires between
12.5 and 15 percent of the total units in every new subdivision or
high-rise building be sold or rented at specified, affordable prices.
In states across the country, progressive leaders are stepping up to
discuss how to achieve universal coverage for health care. At the same
time, many on the Right are trying to define "health care coverage" to
mean bare-bones care with often unaffordable cost-sharing for
individuals and families.
Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.
It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no
President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot
issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.