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What the Candidates Said: Democratic Primary Candidates for U.S. Congressional District IN-9

Wednesday, April 16, the Democrats of Morgan and Johnson counties co-hosted a Democratic Party Candidate Forum in advance of the May 6 Primary election in Indiana. There are four primary candidates vying for the opportunity to run in November's Midterm election for the seat representing Indiana's Ninth U.S. congressional district. Three of these candidates participated in the forum: Bill Bailey, James R. McClure Jr., and J.S. Miller. The fourth candidate, William Joseph (Billy) Thomas had been scheduled to appear but did not make it to the event. All are seeking to compete against the Republican candidate in November, which will be determined by the Republican Primary. Republican candidates for the seat are incumbent, Representative Todd Young, Mark G. Jones, and Kathy Lowe Heil.

This is a lengthy post but I feel it is better to have more information to scan or skim than to try and cull content from a source which is insufficient. Basically, here's a transcript without actually being a transcript. I hope voters in Indiana's Ninth District will find it useful.

Summary of the Candidates' Opening Remarks

Bill Bailey introduced himself as a former high school teacher and coach before becoming a two-term mayor in Seymour, Indiana and a subsequent ten years as a representative in the Indiana General Assembly. Mr. Bailey said during that his time as a representative, he was known for his work on economic development issues. The candidate kept his remarks brief, noting that there were several national issues which had motivated him to return to politics, many of them which had affected him and his family personally. These issues included: attempts by the Congress to raise the Stafford loan interest rates; the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), noting that he has personally experienced periods without health insurance and for some of his family members currently, the access to health insurance due to the ACA is “a lifeline”; the failure of the U.S. House to adequately address the high suicide rate of veterans and the appalling backlog of cases at the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the proposals to reduce COLA (cost of living adjustment) increases to Social Security benefits. The candidate feels the last issue has a negative impact on seniors and contributes even further to the disappearance of the American middle class; just one more struggle for families contending with continued wage and labor issues.

James R. McClure, Jr. opened his speech by saying he is the only choice for the Democratic nomination and the only one who could successfully oppose incumbent Todd Young (R) in the fall [Todd Young will face two challengers in the Republican Primary in May]. Mr. McClure is from New Albany and has served in both the Air Force and Navy. The candidate emphasized that he is a novice to politics and is “just an ordinary guy.” He stated that he believes the country needs House Representatives who hail from a working class background. Mr. McClure stated that he defines himself as a “Jeffersonian Anti-Federalist Democrat,” who is a statesman and not a politician, and one who believes fervently in the “original” Democratic Party values as established by Jefferson and in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. He continued to say that he believes in the founding principles of the country, state sovereignty, and personal responsibility. The candidate likened himself to Lee Hamilton and said that he and not his Primary opponents had a “unique ability to reach across the aisle” because he was highly concerned with the debt and overspending by the U.S. government and because “you are my special interest.”

J.S. Miller is from Brown County and opened his remarks by saying he felt the current time presented unique challenges and opportunities for the nation. Mr. Miller said he was also running in order to return incumbent Todd Young “back to Carmel,” where Representative Young had lived before moving to Bloomington to run for his seat representing Indiana's Ninth. The candidate said he fears the version of the country Todd Young seems to believe in, which does not consider or notice the concerns of “the least of us.” Mr. Miller, alone of the candidates in their opening remarks, explicitly mentioned the working poor and reproductive rights and care for women. The candidate said he earned a Bachelors in Political Science with a specialty in Journalism and a Masters of Arts in International Affairs. His background has been researching policy issues for the past several years, so although he is new to politics, he is no stranger to the issues or the policy choices facing the country.

William Joseph (Billy) Thomas is also running in the Democratic Primary this May for the U.S. House to represent the Ninth District. He was scheduled to appear in the forum but was absent from the event.

Summary of Question/Answer Session: Each candidate was given approximately 3-4 minutes to respond to one question. Answers are provided in the order they were given.

Question: What will be the focus of your campaign in the general election and in what areas is incumbent Republican Todd Young vulnerable in the fall?

Bill Bailey: The focus will be jobs and opportunity and the future of our country and its middle class. He stated that he believed Todd Young was vulnerable because, as “one of the princes of his party,” Mr. Young is out of touch with the concerns of Hoosiers living in the Ninth District and, for example, would not be able to truly understand the mal effects of a decrease in COLA increases to Social Security benefits to seniors living in his district. Mr. Bailey continued by saying that he believes that the race to Todd is not about representation but is instead a springboard to 2016 and 2018. The candidate likened the General Election contest to a David and Goliath experience and believes it is possible to beat Goliath with a grassroots slingshot.

James R. McClure Jr.: Agreed the goal is to beat Todd Young and then said that he, unlike “the candidate last time with her classic Democrats [presumably referring to 2012 candidate Shelli Yoder],” can accomplish it. Mr. McClure said he is “center-right” and that's why he's the “only guy” to beat Todd Young. The candidate expressed disapproval of Young's vote to raise the debt ceiling limit and then mentioned that the NSA is spying on us (which he also is against). The candidate predicted it's “going to be a grim November” for Democrats.

J.S. Miller: The focus of his campaign will be caring and listening to the citizens of the Ninth District. The candidate said that he wanted to defend the classic values and concerns of the Democratic Party (with a look towards McClure). Mr. Miller said that Todd Young is vulnerable in the Republican Primary as there are two primary challengers running to the right of the incumbent. He added that he believed the Democrats had strengths in defending social and safety net programs and that it was important to defend those programs [an implied reference to the Paul Ryan budget and attempts to cut social welfare programs like UI, SNAP, Social Security and Medicare]. He added additional issues affecting citizens of the district which he believed in addressing: jobs, working people and benefits for working people, and the student loan crisis, which is approaching 41 billion dollars.

Question: What is your view of the ACA?

James McClure Jr.: Acknowledged that he was about to express a view that would be unpopular with some but that the ACA is unconstitutional and was passed through “legal trickery.” The candidate said that Indiana has an “outstanding” health system with a high standard and the bad, one-size-fits-all ACA isn't right for anyone in Indiana. He added that government shouldn't be taking money from one person and giving it to others to buy votes. He said it was “just Socialism.” He then brought up taxes, quoted Jefferson, and invoked, for the second time of the evening, Article I, Section 8.

J.S. Miller: Defended the ACA, provided some of the historical background for the act (controlling costs, addressing the lack of universal coverage, and the connections of the ACA to Romneycare in Massachusetts). The candidate said he supports universal access to health insurance and cited how it can help with the “demographic tidal wave” which is headed toward the U.S. in the form of an unbalanced dependency ratio— by 2030, there will be more retirees than young, healthy citizens and health care costs have the potential to grow exponentially. Mr. Miller pointed to the need for some of the reforms the ACA is intended to address: changes to care delivery, changes in pay and payors, and reducing emergency room visits. The candidate said that there is a strong and growing need to meaningfully control health care costs.

Bill Bailey: Reminded the audience that, as he had said in his opening remarks, he is a strong supporter of the ACA for personal and moral reasons. The candidate said he is appalled by the 40-plus attempts by Congress to repeal the act. He pointed out Todd Young's active campaigning against the ACA. Mr. Bailey said that, unlike Mr. Young, he is concerned about “the least, the last, and the lost.” He expressed that he is passionate about the issue, in part because it is personal to himself and his family, but also because he can't help but be miffed at the “rich guys in Congress” who would take away from 7 million citizens what they so easily already have.

Question on Foreign Policy, due to time issues, reduced to “Basically, how are we doin'?”

J.S. Miller: Stated that the U.S. was doing “about as well as can be expected,” considering the number and extent of foreign policy issues and events occurring. The candidate mentioned that hot button issues he expected would be an issue moving forward would be nuclear proliferation and the threat of high tension relationships between countries dependent on the transport of hydrocarbons such as Russia and China and a concern that countries would potentially fight to maintain the rights and access of hydrocarbon transport. Mr. Miller added that of course he believed that the U.S. should always be able to defend itself but it needed to be able to do so without violating international law.

Bill Bailey: Opened with the thought that foreign aid and policy is different from when he was young, mentioning the Cuban Missile Crisis and Berlin Wall, and that now we are dealing with economic sanctions on Putin's Russia. The candidate expressed a desire for fewer boots on the ground while still “standing by our friends.” Mr. Bailey stated that he believed foreign aid and policy would be increasingly driven and decided by economic relationships with other countries, a solution he said he prefers to boots on the ground.

James McClure, Jr.: Reminded the audience that he had served. The candidate said that “Obama has squandered the goodwill the U.S. had around the world.” Mr. McClure said the U.S. had to guard the things that are economically valuable to us and repeated that the world no longer looked to our country for leadership “because we're not leading.” The candidate said this was, in part, because we still had bases in Europe and we should close them since we could be using those resources more efficiently. He then said he wished to return to the topic of the ACA and that it was unconstitutional.

Question: What is making governing in Washington so difficult?

Bill Bailey: “I don't see any governing going on at all.” He cited as one of the problems the cost of campaigning and the amount of time representatives have to spend raising money. He said that campaigns are more about money, TV, and mailings than governing; that too much time is expended spending money instead of in town halls or dealing with writing and understanding legislation. He supports term limits.

James McClure, Jr.: Responded that the reason governing is so difficult is because the federal government has exceeded its constitutional boundaries and “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The candidate said we need to return power to the people, reduce the federal government to a limited government. “To serve you, not to rule over you.”

J.S. Miller: Said the goal of government was to “make policy, and hopefully good policy.” Agreed that the root of the problem here is money and that politicians consider the interests of donors because of the money and it's polarizing the country. He cited Citizens United, the recent decision by the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, and the role of SuperPACs. He said there is a solution and he supports H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act of 2014 (campaign finance reform), and recommended the audience visit ofby.us.

Question: Does the candidate support raising the federal minimum wage?

James McClure, Jr.: Does not support a national minimum wage because it is not constitutional but believes states should pass them for their state, if the people of that state believe it to be appropriate.

J.S. Miller: Unequivocal support followed by statistics explaining why, pointing out that the average minimum wage worker needs to work 2.6 jobs just to afford a two-bedroom apartment. He said raising the wage would not only be good for people, it would be good for local economies and quality of life issues, citing studies showing better quality of life, lower recidivism rates, and lower crime rates in areas where the minimum wage has been lifted.

Bill Bailey: Agrees it must be raised, employing the way it would reduce the need for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the WIC program, which would also reduce the money spent on those programs. The candidate explored this further, explaining he did not think it was right that companies rely on these programs to justify their low wages and expand their profits. Mr. Bailey believes it is critical to raise the minimum wage and then make future increases automatic by chaining increases to the CPI (Consumer Price Index), so “we never have to visit this issue again.”

Question from the audience: Government has exploded in size and what are going to do about it?

J.S. Miller: Rejected the premise of the question, highlighting that government by the numbers is smaller relative to the size of the country than it has been since the 1960's. The candidate said that more money has been spent, of course, but that's because there are simply more people in the country. He said that the “scale of appropriateness” of size is a complicated question but there's no easy answer. He said that, of course, there are some power issues, but that from the local to the federal levels, it's just not true that the government has gotten too big for its duties and population and that it the government is still being scaled back due to pay-go (pay as you go restrictions), sequestration, and the fact that future economic growth is limited due to failures to invest in infrastructure and in people.

Bill Bailey: Government grows as the levels of government small to large pass the buck. He said it will take time to manage the debt and deficit; the debt can't be instantly eliminated. Mr. Bailey stated that simply reducing the size of government would be crippling.

James McClure: Government is too big “because we the people have allowed it to happen.” The candidate blames a corrupt government and corrupt people: “when a politician makes a promise he is just going to take it away from some one else to give it to you.” Mr. McClure again cited Article I Section 8 and said people are afraid they're going to “lose out on some of their goodies.” The candidate then went into debt, deficit, and budget but, frankly, with respect and apologies to the candidate, I was unable to follow his thoughts because he seemed to be conflating the three. He did close by reinforcing the thought that the government had to be limited to its proper constitutional constraints and that he wanted the government to serve the people, not rule over them.

Candidates, press, readers: if anything posted here is incorrect or you feel has been a misrepresentation, please let me know so I can make a correction.


What the Candidates Said: Indiana Democratic Primary Candidates for State-Level Offices Speak in Greenwood

Wednesday, April 16, the Democrats of Morgan and Johnson counties co-hosted a Democratic Party Candidate Forum in advance of the May 6 Primary election in Indiana.

What the Candidates Said: Summaries of the Candidates' Speeches

Andy Talarzyk, candidate for Indiana Senate District 41, is a political novice who said he had been interested in politics for about three years, truly motivated to care more about the future of the state when he became a father. He said he decided to run because he couldn't just “be the loudest voice at the kitchen table anymore.” He noted that Johnson County is sparse on Democratic candidates and wants to prove it's actually achievable to run and to win as a Democrat. His priority is education; Mr. Talarzyk emphasized he's concerned with the increasingly business-minded format of education. A key quote from his brief speech: “Our schools aren't businesses. They're in the business of making better people.” He stated he wants to empower local governments, put money back in the schools, and restore educational decision making to the local level. He's concerned that his children and future adult Hoosiers will not want to live in the state if it's filled with crumbling parks, bad schools, and unemployment. Mr. Talarzyk came across as a young politician who needs a little polish but has an appealing personality and lots of promise. He will need to speak more on a broader array of topics and provide additional clarity to his thoughts on “restoring local control” as the campaign continues.

Andy Talarzyk will be unopposed in the Primary election and will face incumbent Republican Senator Greggory F. Walker in November.

Daymon Brodhacker, candidate for State Representative District 60, said he is a life-long Hoosier who knows Hoosiers are hard-working and practical people who need legislators who match that description. “Your interests aren't being served. I know mine are not.” Mr. Brodhacker has extensive service experience, first as a Navy veteran and then as a state employee with the Department of Corrections for 34 years. He cited his strong educational résumé (Masters level education; certified as educational administration) and practical, managerial, and administrative experience having established a high school in a Bloomington correctional facility for youth and past service on the boards of local utilities. Mr. Brodhacker said he believes “if you're elected to office you serve the needs of all the constituents” (with an emphasis on “all” and an implied nod to officeholders who can appear to serve only those who voted for or financially supported their campaigns). He stated that, if elected, he wants to restore resources to government departments which no longer have the resources and employees they need to perform their duties and wants to stop the privatization of public education, providing a fairly granular explanation of his ideas of how the education system has been harmed and the processes by which the for-profit charter schools work. Notably, he stated that “the public schools have not failed” and to say they have is a “scam, a hoax, and a lie.” Mr. Brodhacker appeared to be a service-oriented, public-spirited, and impassioned candidate. He also seemed a little nervous and, like Mr. Talarzyk, an unpolished campaigner who will improve with experience and time.

Daymon Brodhacker is also unopposed in the May Primary and will be challenging Republican incumbent Peggy Mayfield in November.

Ryan Guillory, candidate for State Representative District 93, previously ran for the office in 2012. Mr. Guillory opened his speech with a review of Indiana government lately: the failure to accept the federal expansion of Medicare (a decision he said is bad for people, for overall health, and for jobs and the economy), the super-majority by Republicans in the General Assembly, continued attacks on labor and labor safety, the state legislature's consequential infringement on local government in its efforts to strip the Marion County City-County council of seats (“this, from the party talking about their small government credentials…”). His speech employed statistics and specific details with a concise declaration of legislative priorities: expanding Medicaid, repealing Right to Work legislation, implementing work-share programs to save more jobs, working toward full marriage equality, making school mandatory before the age of 7, fully funding kindergarten and then funding universal early childhood education. Mr. Guillory supports light rail and high speed transit and would like to put forward a graduated income tax and reduce the tax burden on the poorest Hoosiers. He is a candidate who seems increasingly comfortable as a policy-driven politician, equal adept at both policy-centered discussions and the hard work of retail personal politics.

Ryan Guillory is not opposed in the Primary and will be the candidate opposing incumbent Republican David N. Frizzell in the General Election.

Mike Claytor, State Auditor candidate, began by highlighting the fact that he is the first Certified Public Accountant to run for State Auditor, “something that is really, really funny [for our state] or really, really embarrassing, and I'm leaning toward the embarrassing side of the equation.” (Equation, get it? That's funny.) He reminded the audience about the recent serial appointments and equally serial resignations from the Indiana auditor's office before hammering home his experience: a CPA with experience as an accountant within the state government who converted methods of reporting from an old-fashioned cash-based system to accrual accounting. Mr. Claytor said that he thinks the auditor office is important and relevant and should not just be a way to bring in another vote. He highlighted the loss of revenue to the state resulting from its failures to pay attention to tax forms and failing to permit legally married same sex couples to file as married couples in this state, decisions and lack of attention which have cost the state money. The candidate also reminded the audience of the state's semi-recent elation at finding money the auditor's office hadn't known it had but its lack of embarrassment at “losing it in the first place.” His key quote of the evening: “I own a calculator and I know how to use it.” Mr. Claytor's speech gave the impression that he is an energetic and purposeful numbers guy with a sound dose of humor who is extremely comfortable in the public arena. It's a nice package for a candidate, especially when there have been some suggestions, at least on Indiana Week in Review, that the auditor office should be an appointed and not elected one.

Beth White, candidate for the office of Secretary of State, gave an overall impression of being a seriously polished, seriously devoted, seriously motivated, energized, quick, and extroverted public servant. She provided a rapid run-down of her role as Clerk of Marion County for 13 years and her drive to make voting work for everyone in Marion County and the desire to make voting work for everyone in the state, a subtle jibe at a legislative culture which has been seen by some to be restricting voting rights and access. Ms. White then pointed to her past prosecutorial experience as an attorney and said she has demonstrably been and wants to continue to be an advocate for people who have been wronged. The candidate discussed the Indiana government's focus on “nonsense” while Indiana's household income is lower than that of households in the surrounding states and Hoosier household buying power is at a 20-year low. She then highlighted the importance of voting for Secretary of State in Indiana due to the statutory quirk which gives electoral oversight power in each county to the party who wins the Secretary of State election in that county. (For example: If a Democrat wins Johnson County, even if the Democrat loses the state election, the Democratic party gets to provide the election oversight for that county.) In Indiana, where a Republican majority rules the government, the Republican party has also, county by county, overseen the procedures and processes at each county's polling places. This is an immense amount of power for any one party, regardless which one it is. The point here being: Elections Matter and that's why Ms. White says she's running. Key quote: “I'm fired up.”

Candidates, press, readers: if anything posted here is incorrect or you feel has been a misrepresentation, please let me know so I can make a correction.


Primary Election Candidate Forum Held in Greenwood, 04/16/14

Wednesday, April 16, the Democrats of Morgan and Johnson counties co-hosted a Democratic Party Candidate Forum in advance of the May 6 Primary election in Indiana.

The event was held at the Indiana Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters facility in Greenwood. Appearing at the event were candidates Beth White (Secretary of State), Mike Claytor (State Auditor), Andy Talarzyk (State Senator, District 41), Daymon Brodhacker (State Representative, District 60), and Ryan Guillory (State Representative, District 93). There are four primary candidates vying for the opportunity to run in November's Midterm election for the seat representing Indiana's Ninth U.S. congressional district. Three of these candidates participated in the forum: Bill Bailey, James R. McClure Jr., and J.S. Miller. The fourth candidate, William Joseph (Billy) Thomas had been scheduled to appear but did not make it to the event.

The format of the event provided each candidate with an opportunity to give a short speech introducing themselves and was followed with a Question and Answer session with all of the U.S. congressional candidates. The presentations by the candidates were thoughtful and the Q/A period was a wonderful opportunity to really see the differences between the candidates hoping to compete against the Republican opponent in November. Unfortunately, there weren't many voters there to see it and neither the Indianapolis Star nor the Daily Journal sent reporters to cover the event – a quiet, tiny tragedy in an age when candidate forums like this have the power to overcome election coverage which is dominated by television political ads (sometimes paid for and written by out of state interests and SuperPACS) and too rarely given comprehensive coverage by local newspapers.

What the Candidates Said: Andy Talarzyk, Daymon Brodhacker, Ryan Guillory, Mike Claytor, and Beth White.

What the Candidates Said: IN-9 Democrats Bill Bailey, James R. McClure, Jr., and J.S. Miller.


Note Salad: February 9, 2014

Other People's Words

” A program that does everything that is technically possible has been done. It harms trust. In the end, there will be less, not more, security.” German chancellor Angela Merkel, 01/29/14

“New rule: when you're invited to the president's state of the union address, wear your good bandana.” Bill Maher (re: Duck Dynasty on Capitol Hill)

“These Olympics are geopolitically interesting. Those are not words you want to hear attached to the Olympics.” Ian Bremmer

“…I am a 28-year-old single mother. I have two children. I work two part-time jobs…I make too little money to qualify for any kind of subsidy through the Affordable Care Act and I make too much money to qualify for Medicaid in my state. And unfortunately, because my governor, who's wonderful, decided not to expand the Medicaid in my state, I'm completely, completely at the mercy of any kind of charity…” A caller from Louisiana to WBUR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook, exemplifying the human tragedy that is the coverage gap in states which did not accept the federal Medicaid expansion (Hello, Indiana.)

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they're helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it; let us take that discussion all across America.” Mike Huckabee, thankfully just a tv person and not actually relevant

“'Network' is used so frequently these days that whenever I hear the word, I immediately suspect it might be covering up a poorly-formed concept rather than revealing something original or actually useful.” Joel Rosenthal (substitute any buzzword or label of your choice for 'network')

“For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life…” George Eliot, Middlemarch

By the Numbers

25 Percent of Americans self-identifying as Republicans in 2013. 31 percent identified themselves as Democrats; 42 percent were Independent. In 2005, all three groups were at 33 percent. (Gallup; USAToday)

35 Percent less crashes which occur when traditional crossroads are replaced with traffic circles (roundabouts). There are 90 percent less traffic fatalities at intersections with traffic circles than with conventional intersections. (U.S. Department of Transportation; CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

40 Percent of Americans nearing retirement age who have no savings. (Federal Reserve; USAToday)

59 Percent of Americans who spend their entire paycheck or more each month. (FINRA; USAToday)

59 Percent of Americans who said their U.S. congressional district representatives should be re-elected in 2012. In January of this year, only 46 percent of Americans say their representative should remain in office. (Gallup; USAToday)

Too Simple, Mr. Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer's recent article “Health-care myths that we live by” (Indianapolis Star, 02/08/14) included two myths which I've recently heard bandied about by those who think the Affordable Care Act will bring down the entire country (not the point, actually, of this article by Krauthammer). However, Krauthammer did, like many who use the same talking points (and, what, is there some “fact sheet” circulating on the internet with these over-simplified, short-term arguments? Is that why they're so dead-common?), rely on two short-term health care results to draw two wrong-headed conclusions based on oversimplification. (1) Emergency room use. One of the arguments in favor of the ACA has always been that insuring people will result in less uncompensated emergency room visits. Krauthammer (and friends!) point to a recently very-well publicized study from Oregon which shows that when the uninsured were put on Medicaid, ER visits increased by 40 percent. What Krauthammer (and friends!) misses here is that it takes time to cut down the ER visits. For starters, the newly-covered have health issues they've delayed caring for. For many of them, the Emergency Room is the only doctor they know. So, with their coverage, they head to the only medical option they've ever known they could go to. Voilà, short term increase in (compensated!) ER patronage. But, this is key: as a greater push toward educating the newly insured occurs, people will understand that doctors, clinics, and other providers are out there for them to go to for most of their health needs. It takes time and education to get everyone on the same page with the whole concept of “emergency rooms are for emergencies” thing. Assuming that everyone already knows that is too simple. Assuming that a short-term increase means all over the country, people are going to be exclusively going to ERs for standard and preventative care, and that they always will is too simple. It's almost certainly wrong. (And, anyway, cutting short ERs is not the total point. Paying for care for more people is the point. Bending the cost curve down is the point, but it's secondary to caring for more people.) (2) Medicaid's effect on health. Citing another Oregon study, Krauthammer says Medicaid did not provide any significant improvements in physical health outcomes in the first two years for new Medicaid members. So this had a two-year timeframe. But, like the ER thing, the missing component here is public awareness and education. The study cited shows here a need for information. Health outcomes don't improve magically once people receive insurance of any kind. They do improve (over time) when people use the coverage they have. Listening to the conversations people are having (anecdotally, to be sure) shows that many people are really flummoxed by “premiums” versus “deductibles,” let alone “co-pays” and “networks.” It doesn't take a lot of overheard conversations, let alone studies, to demonstrate that health care is confusing for a lot of Americans. And particularly those who've never had insurance of any kind. It's highly probable that a public information campaign is going to be needed, not just to help people understand the mysterious world of insurance and funding but also the proper care and feeding of their new insurance policies. We need to help people understand that the cards need to be used for check-ups at doctor's offices, for physicals and screenings, and for managing minor but chronic conditions so general health and welfare improves. Of course having a Medicaid card didn't improve health outcomes. Without widespread awareness within the newly insured community about how to use it, where to go, who to see, and what to do, the card's meaningless. And so's any argument based on just having Medicaid or insurance. The study shows the need for education more than it points to lack of efficacy inherent to the health care system.

But, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, “This is not to indict, but simply to advocate for caution grounded in humility.”

Disclaimer and Sources: Use of quotes is not intended and should not be construed to demonstrate endorsement or agreement with persons or ideas quoted. All errors are my own. Please correct me if I've screwed something up. Sources include the Indianapolis Star, Gannett Publications, the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, PBS NewsHour, CNN/Fareed Zakaria GPS, WBUR/On Point with Tom Ashbrook, NPR, HBO/Real Time with Bill Maher.

Groundhog Day (Damn Shadow)

Groundhog Day
This morning, the rodent has seen his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. Had the groundhog peeped his head above ground in Indianapolis this morning, he would not have seen his shadow, yet I think this imaginary Hoosier groundhog would break with tradition and say, shadow or no shadow, more winter this way comes.
Shadows and varmints not withstanding, I'm going to continue scanning the horizon, seeking signs of Spring.
Happy Groundhog Day.
Image: Art gallery postcard found abandoned on a café table in Amsterdam, 2004. Artist unknown (I saved the image, but alas, have lost the postcard).


Note Salad: January 19, 2013


“All sorts of people who should know better believe almost anything for a few hours.” Professor Peter Hennessy

“I just don't see how people that close to [Chris Christie] could have felt comfortable enough to do this if they thought their boss wasn't of this mind-set.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.” Voltaire

…”Republicans have historically liked to talk about growth, Democrats have focused on inequality, but there's an issue that could unite the two political parties, namely, opportunity and mobility. And if we spend the next 12 months or the next three years arguing about the restoration of opportunity and social mobility in this country, we will have spent those three years well.” Bill Galston

“Look, 40 percent of job growth last year happened in sectors that traditionally pay low wages: retail, fast food, healthcare, education, et cetera…It's important to improve skill levels, to increase the share of high to medium skill jobs that pay good wages but, at the end of the day, the people who care for our aging parents, the people who care for our children, the people who clean our offices; those jobs are necessary to our economy and they're here to stay…[We're going to have to] figure out how to improve the quality of those jobs…” Melissa Boteach, who listed raising the minimum wage and providing paid sick and personal leave as two ways to improve job quality.

“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope…Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.” Lyndon B. Johnson, 01/08/1964

“If you haven't thought until your brain hurts then you haven't tried hard enough.” Elon Musk


17 Number, in dollars, of the Return on Investment (ROI) from every $1 invested in pre-K education. (David Williams, citing the 40-year-long Perry Pre-School Study; PBS NewsHour)

27.5 The percentage of the Indianapolis metropolitan population which is black. 13.5% of officers of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) are black. In 1994, that percentage was 18.5%. (Indianapolis Star)

40 The percentage of tree cover recommended by forest experts for energy conservation, the environment, and quality of life. The Indianapolis metropolitan area currently has 23% tree cover. (Indianapolis Monthly)

50 Percent of global spending on healthcare which is spent by the U.S. (World Bank; PBS NewsHour)

242 Dollars. The average weekly benefit amount for unemployment insurance compensation in Indiana. This is the seventh-lowest among the states. (Indianapolis Star; USA Today; the White House)

25,400 Number of Indiana residents who face the loss of federal extended unemployment benefits in the first half of 2014. 19,200 Hoosiers lost those benefits on 12/28/2013. (Indianapolis Star)

70,000 Estimated number of people who become one of the long-term unemployed every week. It is estimated that 4 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. 37% of the unemployed population have been unemployed for six months or longer. (National Employment Law Project; KCRW; NPR)

18 Million Number by which boys under 15 outnumber girls under age 15 in China right now. The gender imbalance is predicted to mean as many as 30 million men of marriageable age in China may be unable to find spouses by 2020. India faces a similar gender imbalance. (Time; CNN)

27 Million Number of pounds of toxic discharges released into the waterways of Indiana in 2012. (Indianapolis Monthly)


Still Watching: Contract, Temporary, and Part-Time Employment Trends

According to the Indianapolis Star and Careerbuilder.com, 42% of employers report they intend to hire temporary or contract workers this coming year (40% in 2013). Only 43% of these employers say they will transition some of these temporary workers into full-time permanent status. 17% of employers report they will be hiring part-time positions in 2014 (14% in 2013). It's worth remembering in the context of discussions of raising the minimum wage that many earning a minimum wage use the number of $15/hour because they are seldom given a 40-hour work week. (I've been watching these issues for awhile: “Underemployment in the New Economy: Full-time Problems, Part-time Work, and No Solutions“)

Potentially Great Policy Idea from Indiana state senator Greg Walker (R-Columbus)

The senator is supporting the creation of a state-run retirement program, managed by the state treasurer's office, similar to a 401(k) for people who don't have access to one through their employer (maybe like contract, temp, and PT workers?), allowing these people also to put aside additional funds for their long-term needs as they age. Although many banks offer retirement plans, a state-run option might enable many more people to save because they wouldn't be priced out of the beginning step (many banks require an initial investment of $500). If Walker's idea allows minimum contributions which are affordable and so long as Walker's state retirement program is used to supplement and not to argue for the supplanting of the federal Social Security program, then this could be a really useful program. It's certainly an idea worth watching. (State Representative Woody Burton, what do you think?)

Sources and Disclaimer: As usual, the use of quotations, numbers, and opinions do not necessarily reflect agreement with or endorsement of ideas or persons cited. All errors, transcription or otherwise, are my own. Please let me know if corrections are needed. Sources for this batch of notes include but are not limited to: The Daily Journal (Johnson County, IN), Indianapolis Star/Gannett, American Public Media, National Public Radio, The Diane Rehm Show (WAMU), On Point with Tom Ashbrook (WBUR), To the Point (KCRW), PBS NewsHour, and CNN/Fareed Zakaria GPS.


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