Americans for Prosperity: Congress and the President are shortening the fuse

By Christine Harbin Hanson and Tom Jenney

Imagine paying an extra $15,000 a year in taxes. For 50 working years.

That is the burden Washington is placing on our children and grandchildren.

America’s unfunded government liabilities over the next 75 years are between $100 trillion and $200 trillion, depending on how you crunch the numbers. Those are the spending promises our politicians have made through Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and other federal programs, including “Obamacare.”

According to realistic estimates by the Congressional Budget ­Office, the unfunded liabilities in Medicare alone are $89 trillion.

Let’s take a midway total liability estimate of $150 trillion. If we divide by the 90 million children in this country who are under the age of 18 (and who did not vote for the politicians who made the spending promises), it comes to more than $1.5 million per child over their lifetimes — above and beyond what they are currently scheduled to pay in taxes.

Over a 50-year working lifetime, that’s $30,000 a year. Lucky for them, financial markets will put some of that burden on those of us who are currently working adults. But if they absorb half of the burden, that would be an average of $15,000 a year in extra taxes per child or grandchild.

Of course, any attempt to actually collect that much extra revenue from American workers or their employers would create massive, long-term structural unemployment and destroy economic growth by causing even more capital and jobs to move overseas.

Unfortunately, Congress and the president are doing nothing to defuse America’s gigantic bankruptcy bomb; instead, they are shortening the fuse.

These past few months were a critical time for conservative members of Congress to stand firm behind their promises to get runaway government spending under control. Congress considered two of the biggest spending bills of the year, the Ryan-Murray budget deal and the farm bill ­conference report.

The first disappointing vote was on the budget resolution in October. Crafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, the deal boosted discretionary spending to a whopping $1 trillion a year for each of the next two years. Worse, the plan shattered previously agreed-upon spending caps for fiscal year 2014 by $45 billion — an alarming increase and a broken promise.

The deal also further nickel-and-dimed American families by hiking airline ticket taxes and making changes to military pensions.

Most alarming is the fact that the Ryan-Murray deal traded higher spending now in exchange for the promise of $28 billion in cuts in 2022 and 2023. American taxpayers deserve spending cuts now, not promises to cut spending in the future.

The second vote was the farm bill conference report in February. This legislation authorized $1 trillion in spending over the next decade. Passed under the false guise of helping small farmers, the bill expanded a number of corporate welfare programs such as crop insurance, massive taxpayer subsidies and revenue guarantees for politically connected farmers.

It also neglected to make any meaningful reforms to ballooning food-stamp spending, which has more than doubled since President Obama took office and is rife with abuse.

Americans for Prosperity urged legislators to vote against both bills, and we will include these votes in our next congressional scorecard.

We are grateful to report that a number of Arizona’s legislators stood up for American taxpayers and voted against both of these bloated bills. House members who voted the right way included Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon and David Schweikert.

On the Senate side, Jeff Flake also voted correctly. AFP applauds these members for standing up against more government handouts and higher spending.

A number of Democratic legislators voted against the bills, but for much different reasons. Some Democrats overwhelmingly felt that the budget resolution and the farm bill conference report didn’t spend enough.

Worse, a disappointing number of Republican legislators cast a “yes” vote for both the Ryan-Murray budget deal and the farm bill conference report, signaling their support of higher federal spending. Remember: This is the party that claims to support controlling spending and limiting the size of government.

Meanwhile, the fuse continues to burn on America’s bankruptcy bomb.

Americans for Prosperity is committed to defusing that bomb and securing a bright fiscal future for our children and grandchildren.

Tom Jenney is director of Americans for Prosperity’s Arizona chapter. Christine Harbin Hanson is federal issues campaign manager for Americans for Prosperity. More information: www.americansforprosperity.org.

Ally Miller: Pima County Board of Supervisors Vote to Issue MORE DEBT

I have continued my pledge to eliminate nonessential spending and the resulting burden on the taxpayers with my most recent suggestion at the December 3, 2013, Board of Supervisors meeting.

Agenda Item 15, Resolution 2013-109 authorized the issuance of $58 million in Certificates of Participation debt (COPs) to fund additional construction on the Public Service Center (previously known as the Pima County Justice Court/City of Tucson Municipal Court Complex).  Certificates of Participation debt may be issued with only a Board of Supervisors majority vote - voter approval is not required.

In the 2004 bond election, voters approved $76 million for the “so called” Pima County Justice Court/City of Tucson Municipal Court Complex.  Since this election, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has stated the $76 million would only cover the shell construction of this courthouse.  Voters weren’t aware they would eventually have to pony up more cash to pay for interior finishes.

The City of Tucson had agreed to contribute $18 million to the construction; however, without a signed Intergovernmental Agreement, the Tucson City Council chose to withdraw from the project in November 2012 – eight years after the bond election.  This left Pima County to make a choice:Cancel the project or go it alone.  The Board chose to move forward with the project despite the added burden of bearing all construction costs.  I presented my argument to my fellow board members suggesting the County should lease the additional space to an outside party versus investing more taxpayer dollars in the courthouse.

My argument to the Board was it would be wiser to lease the remaining area to an outside entity to provide their own improvements which could be a winning scenario for the taxpayers.  This option would have allowed for the interior improvements to be completed at the cost of the tenant and at the same time Pima County would have increased revenue by leasing the excess space at the current market rate.

Despite my argument, the Board majority voted to use the building as collateral for an anticipated amount of $58 million in COPs.  In effect, the Board authorized borrowing an additional $58 million on top of the $22 million previously invested from the General Fund in 2011 thereby overrunning the original bond amount presented to voters by $80 million.

This is more than a 100% overrun of the original bonded amount voters approved for this court complex.

Pima County will now repurpose the space to house the Pima County Assessor, Treasurer, Recorder, and Constables. The issuance of these additional COPs will fund all interior tenant improvements for the remainder of the courthouse along with parking facilities.

I voted against this Resolution to issue more debt.  My argument is the movement of County offices to this facility is not necessary or prudent at this time and any additional space improved should be leased at market rate.

Pima County currently has more than 3.5 times the debt of all other counties in the State of Arizona combined as of November 21, 2013.

Source: Huckelberry, C.H. Memo to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, Resolutions Relating to Debt Issues, 3 December 2013.

Supervisor Ally Miller represents District 1 on the Pima County Board of Supervisors.  Supervisor Miller began her term on January 1, 2013.

Rep Matt Salmon Votes to Fund the Government & Protect American People From Obamacare

Washington—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) released the following statement regarding his vote on H.J. Res. 59, the Continuing Resolution for FY2014:

“For the third time, House Republicans passed a bipartisan bill to fund the government and protect Americans from the ever-mounting and damaging effects of Obamacare. Once again, our bill keeps the government open, protects Americans from being forced into Obamacare and puts Members of Congress and the President into the healthcare exchanges they created.

“It seems that each day we hear about another delay or new exemption by the Obama Administration. This is not only unfair to the American taxpayer, but demonstrates this harmful law remains not ready for primetime.

“Senate Democrats continue to offer no solutions to this problem and choose to be the Party of NO. Make no mistake, Senate Democrats are threating to shut down the government by failing to compromise with House Republicans. The moment of truth is upon them, and I call on Harry Reid to be responsible and immediately act to prevent a government shutdown.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He is also a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
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UPDATE: Hospitals Paying Traitors for Their Yes Votes on OBrewercare

Monday’s, September 23′s, Yellow Sheet Report reported that the Friday, September 20 fundraiser thrown by the health care-industrial complex for their bought-and-paid-for legislators (Sens. McComish [LD 18], Pierce [LD1], Driggs [LD 28], and Worsley [LD 25], and Reps. Shope [LD 8], McGee [LD28], Carter [LD 15], Coleman [LD 16], Dial [LD 18], Goodale [LD 5], Orr [LD 9], Pratt [LD 8], and Robson [LD 18]) who voted to expand Medicaid rolls under Obamacare is expected to raise $350,000 meaning that the 13 Republican traitors for whom the event was thrown will receive almost $27,000 for their campaign warchests in exchange for their votes assuming the cash is split evenly.  The article states that the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association is holding another fundraiser for these traitors in roughly a month on October 23.  Assuming that this upcoming fundraiser collects as much as the one on September 20, the hospital-industrial complex will be halfway to fulfilling their promise to give turncoat legislators $100,000 for their campaign warchests.

To additionally show that this is a quid pro quo, note that the recipients of this campaign cash DIRECTLY matches the traitorous Republicans that voted to expand Arizona’s medicaid program under Obamacare’s provisions (HB 2010 in the First Special Session of the 51st Legislature).  Also, the Yellow Sheet reports that a lobbyist at the event stated that the fundraiser was to support those Republicans that voted for OBrewercare who would likely face primary opposition .  The unnamed lobbyist indicated that the hospital-industrial complex crony corporatists wanted to do “everything we can to assist them.”  In other words, the traitors lined the hospitals’ pockets, now, it’s time for the health care industry pay these corrupt politicans back by giving them the resources necessary to be nigh undefeatable in an election.

Keep an eye out, voters.  We could be seeing two additional fundraisers for these criminals and it will give them almost insurmountable cash to ensure that they are re-elected.  Not only did these people take money out of your pocket to line their own, but they are also trying to subvert your choice in who represents you.  You should be very angry.  Again, follow the money.  When their campaign finance reports come out, read them.  Learn exactly who is pulling their strings.  FINANCIALLY support their primary opponents!  Tell everyone you can about what you know about these criminals that are fleecing you.  Remember what you’ve learned when you go to the polls and urge your friends to do the same.

Ron Barber’s Blank Check To Obama

Pelosi And Barber Want to Give President Obama Unrestrained Power to Waste Money and Borrow from China

WASHINGTON – Over the weekend, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi proudly proclaimed the cupboard was bare and there were “no more cuts to make” to wasteful government spending. Pelosi and Ron Barber are just completely out-of-touch when it comes to bringing fiscal sanity to Washington. They want to raise the debt limit without any meaningful reforms, increase spending, and fund wasteful government programs such as robotic squirrels and climate change musicals.

“Ron Barber and Nancy Pelosi may think there’s nothing left to cut out of the federal budget, but the American people aren’t stupid,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “Instead of giving President Obama a blank check, Democrats should be working with Republicans to lower our debt and rein in wasteful spending.”

BarberCheck  

Nancy Pelosi Said There Are “No More Spending Cuts To Make.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that while deficit reduction is a laudable goal, there are precious few spending cuts left to negotiate in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. ‘The cupboard is bare,’ the California Democrat said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘There’s no more cuts to make.’ (Elizabeth Titus, “Pelosi Says ‘The Cupboard Is Bare’,” Politico, 9/22/13)

Democrats Have Vowed Not To Negotiate Over The Debt Ceiling. “House Democrats are pressing for a so-called “clean” extension of the debt limit in a letter to President Barack Obama – laying down their marker in what is likely to be a nasty battle over fiscal policy in the coming weeks. In the letter being circulated by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a slew of House Democrats – including all five members of its leadership – warn of the dangers of defaulting on the nation’s debt and urge Obama to stand firm on his pledge to not negotiate on raising the debt limit.” (Seung Min Kim, “Dems Pledge Support For ‘Clean’ Debt Limit Bill,” Politico, 9/17/13)

Pelosi Has Called For Increased Spending. “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants more spending than House Republicans have put in their stopgap spending bill in return for Democratic votes. Pelosi on Thursday came closer to suggesting that Democrats would withhold votes from a ‘clean’ continuing resolution that continued the sequester at $986 billion.” (Emma Dumain, “Pelosi Wants More Spending In Return For Democratic Votes,” Roll Call, 9/19/13)

The Federal Government Spent $325,000 To Develop A Robotic Squirrel. (2012 Waste Book, Office Of Senator Tom Coburn, Accessed On 2/27/13)

$697,177 Was Used To Develop A Musical On Climate Change And Biodiversity. (2012 Waste Book, Office Of Senator Tom Coburn, Accessed On 2/27/13)

OBrewercare Traitors Get Paid for Their Votes

Tonight, those traitorous Republicans in the Arizona state legislature who voted for Medicaid expansion are getting paid for their yes votes on OBrewercare by the hospital-industrial complex. The Governor is hosting a fundraiser for Sens. Steve Pierce, John McComishAdam Driggs, and  Bob Worsley, and Reps. Heather Carter, Kate McGee, Doug Coleman, Jeff Dial, Doris Goodale, Ethan Orr, Frank Pratt, Bob Robson, and T.J. Shope at the home of hospital CEO Reg Ballantyne. This is, quite clearly, a quid pro quo: they’re getting paid off for their yes votes to swell the rolls of Medicaid recipients at the cost of not only sick people (via a bed tax), but the American taxpayer as well (via increased Medicaid payments from the feds to Arizona, then to the hospitals). There is no other way to characterize this as anything but legal corruption.  The Governor, the legislators, consultants Chuck Coughlin and Peter Burns, and the hospital-industiral complex donors should all be going to prison for a very long time for corruption.

To fully illustrate that this is a quid pro quo, harken back to Loren Heal’s article on the subject on FreedomWorks.org‘s website on June 13 of this year. In that article, Heal stated that in August of 2012, a “consortium of the state’s hospitals, insurers, and left-wing groups” hired consultant Chuck Coughlin of High Ground and socialized medicine proponent and leftist Peter Burns to ensure that Medicaid expansion, a part of Obamacare, was passed in Arizona. Coughlin, who is the Governor’s puppeteer, told Brewer to push for expansion. As if Brewer were a ventriloquist’s dummy sitting on Coughlin’s lap, she parroted what Coughlin told her to say in her State of the State address in January 2013: expand Medicaid as Obamacare directs. According to beforeitsnews.com, Rep. Warren Petersen stated that Coughlin held a fundraiser to show legislators that if they voted for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, the hospital-industrial complex could help raise money to give them immense campaign warchests for their re-election efforts. Well, enough traitorous Republicans took the bait, voted for OBrewercare, and tonight, they’re getting their payoff. While the invite, sent out by Rep. Heather Carter, suggests a $500 donation for each legislator, rumor has it that the hospital-industrial complex donors have to have $6,500 to get in the door ($500 for EACH)! That’s how they plan on rewarding each one of these traitors with at least $100K for their 2014 campaigns.

Follow the money, people. This is corporate cronyism at its worst. Hospitals have used the power of government to take money right out of your pocket to line their own pockets. The perpetrators should be punished severely, but they likely will not be. If the failure to put Obamacare on the ballot is any indication, you are not mad enough at these criminals and they will have the warchests necessary to keep their seats and the low-information masses will re-elect them. Until you get angry enough to change things, expect more of this in the future. Call these legislators. Shame them (granted, they are shameless since their actions are so brazen)…but you’ve GOT to do more than shame them: you’ve GOT to collect signatures for their opponents, DONATE to their opponents, talk to your neighbors about how corrupt these corporate cronies are, and VOTE against them AND get your NEIGHBORS to vote against them too. If you’re NOT THAT angry, you’re not paying attention.

Tempe: Your Money to Burn

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Tempe leads the East Valley in crime, taxes and city costs, except for Mesa’s water and solid waste disposal charges.  In those two cases Tempe places second in costs behind Mesa.  Tempe  has a serious crime rate that is considerably higher than the rest of the East Valley.

Tempe officials continually blame Arizona State University for city woes, but I find it hard to believe the 35,000 or so students that attend classes at the Tempe campus are the culprits for all of Tempe’s fiscal and crime problems.

In the May, 2011 East Valley Tribune column, Tempe should spend less, cut more before raising taxes, it said “If Tempe spent per resident what Mesa spends on policing, they’d save taxpayers over $14 million a year.”  Those savings would pay for the new dam in two and a half years.  Even with reduced spending, Mesa continues to have a significantly lower crime rate than Tempe.

Average Amount a Residential Household Pays in Sales Tax
Chandler $481
Gilbert $423
Mesa $417
Tempe $555
City Property Taxes
Chandler $174
Gilbert $165
Mesa $51
Tempe $267
Water and Wastewater
Chandler $555
Gilbert $574
Mesa $820
Tempe $622
2013 Annual Rate for Solid Waste Pick-up Costs
Chandler $181
Gilbert $208
Mesa $287
Tempe $240
Source: City of Tempe
 2011 FBI Crime Rate per 100,000 Residents
             Violent Crime Property Crime
Chandler 284.4 3,096.90
Gilbert 84.2 1,823
Mesa 412.8 3,395.10
Tempe 479.9 5,446.70
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports
http://www.bjs.gov/ucrdata/Search/Crime/Local/OneYearofData.cfm
Policing Costs per Resident
Chandler $350
Gilbert $176
Mesa $321
Tempe $410
City Employees per 1,000 Residents
Chandler 6.6
Gilbert 5.7
Mesa 8.2
Tempe 9.9
Source: East Valley Tribune, May 25, 2011
http://eastvalleytribune.com/opinion/columnists/article_

Until the residents step up and demand accountability and transparency the Tempe leadership will continue to act like it has money to burn, your money to burn that is.

Matthew Papke is graduate of Corona del Sol and a Marine. He is running for Tempe city Council in 2014 on a platform of fiscal responsibility and civic duty. Matthew’s website is freetempe.com

Maricopa GOP Chair Rallies LD Censures

To all Arizona County and LD Republican Committee Chairmen -
Below is the front page article of the July 15 Arizona Capitol Times. I want to express my appreciation to those courageous and principled County and LD Republican Committees who have already conducted votes of “censure” and/or “no confidence.”
Jan Brewer, the legislators and their crony capitalist friends that support ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion have betrayed Americans, Arizona Republicans and the Republican Party Platform.  Their lack of ethics, integrity and egregious acts are motivated by only two things – greed and the lust for power – at the expense of hard working tax paying Americans.
The law was expected to cost $898 billion over the first decade when the bill was first passed, but this year the Congressional Budget Office revised that estimate to $1.85 trillion.  Money that will have to be borrowed from the Chinese or printed in the backroom of the Federal Reserve.  Latest polls indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in opposition.
During the past six months, we did everything we could to make a solid argument against ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion, we tried to reason with these people and even tried to make them see the light.  Unfortunately, our lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and without success.
During one of Ronald Reagan’s difficult political battles he said,
               ”When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
I’m asking all the County and LD Republican Committees to make these people feel the heat by passing public censures for their actions.  They are elitists who think what they have done should be forgiven. They are mistaken.  We are not going to be able to defeat all of them, but we can defeat a majority of them in the 2014 Primary Election.
You can go to “MCRC Briefs” and get examples of public censures that have already been passed.  http://briefs.maricopagop.org/  Just type “censure” in the search field on the left.
Warmest regards,
 A. J. LaFaro
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
P.S.  Please encourage all of your PCs to keep up their daily efforts in getting petition signatures for www.urapc.org  Getting ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot will be historic for Arizona’s grassroots conservatives.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin to Attend, Speak Out Against Glendale – Phoenix Coyotes Deal

Civil Rights Activist, Rev . Jarrett Maupin will attend tonight’s Glendale City Council meeting and speak against keeping the Phoenix Coyotes NHL Team in the city. “We must stop the abuse of Glendale’s hard working tax payers, people of color, the jobless. We must work to find a solution, without the NHL, that helps the city and relieves some of the financial burdens her citizens are carrying,” Maupin says. 

Glendale, AZ – Arizona Civil Rights activist, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin says he will be present at tonight’s Glendale City Council meeting to protest the city keeping the Phoenix Coyotes Hockey team and “bending to the will of NHL leaders and Investors with no love or loyalty” to the city and it’s residents.

Maupin labels the deals that prospective ownership and investors have pitched as unfair, “Glendale is not the NHL’s sugar-mama, poor folk in this city are not interested in being possibly paid back in the hereafter,” he says. With 11.9% of Glendale families living under the federal poverty level, the Preacher says city leaders must do what’s in the best interests of their poorest constituents. He hopes Glendale Councilman Sammy Chavira stands up for black, latino, and poor families with nothing to gain from making a deal. “As a firefighter he should understand that cutting city services puts people’s lives in danger, cutting city jobs takes bread off people’s tables, draining the city’s accounts harms the quality of life of poor and underserved residents the city should be serving first and who needs the help the most,” Maupin says.

Maupin will speak at tonight’s meeting to ask city leaders to move forward with a plan to solicit bids for an Arena Management contract. The Activist feels multiple events and varied use is the key to Glendale’s success: “Concerts, expos, sports events, fairs, and other entertainment events need venues. Multiple-uses mean thousands of revolving jobs. The potential for putting people to work, particularly the low-skilled, increases explosively.”

“This is about jobs and fixing a municipal budget weakened by exploitation,” Maupin says, “The NHL and investors will just keep on using Glendale, until they use it up. This cannot be, it is not fair.”

Rep. Paul Boyer: Budget Process Was Not “Democracy In Action”

As a legislative liaison for an agency of the executive branch, I witnessed numerous budgets from their initial framework through the finished product, including negotiations and committee hearings. I was also a House majority staffer, where I helped outline and communicate several state budgets. It was shocking and frustrating to have my first budget as a state legislator be the least transparent in recent memory.

It is unprecedented for the Legislature to pass a budget without an Appropriations Committee hearing and public input. That happened here. It is also unprecedented for a sponsor to refuse to answer a single question on budget bills in his or her name. That happened here.

Further, our Committee of the Whole, which includes all members, gathers to debate and shape bills. That did not happen here. In our case, the only debate that mattered convened behind closed doors with the governor and a handful of lawmakers who made a deal to pass the governor’s Medicaid expansion.

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The Gov. Jan Brewer’s legislative cadre consists of 24 Democrats and nine Republicans in the House. They passed what is arguably the largest federal takeover of Arizona’s economy in state history with her Medicaid-expansion plan. They accomplished this through suspending House rules, refusing to answer questions and prohibiting public testimony.

We repeatedly asked the budget sponsor, Rep. Frank Pratt, R-Casa Grande, to answer questions on the 654 pages of budget bills and amendments in his name. He refused to answer a single question, later saying he wanted to keep the budget process as short as possible.

The governor’s spokesman had the audacity to call these actions “democracy in action.” It’s unnerving to suggest suspending the rules, refusing public input, pushing a budget through without an Appropriations Committee hearing, passing amendments with no time to read them and refusing to answer questions, democracy in action.

Supporters argue this violation of the process was acceptable because they believe the Medicaid expansion is good policy. Regardless, we should always respect the process. We have three branches of government, not two.

While the legislative and executive branches may not always agree, it is critical we have mutual respect and honor the integrity of the process. That did not happen here.

The public still needs to know what impact this budget and massive government expansion will have on our economy.

Does this budget spend more than we bring in? For example, the governor said her budget spends $15 million less over three years than the conservative House budget. However, she does not include her hospital bed tax in this equation and actually counts that against new spending, which is actually $286 million higher than our budget.

If the state Capitol is truly the people’s house, then the people have a right to know what the Legislature is proposing before we pass it.

Arizonans sent us here to discuss and debate what we pass publicly so all Arizonans know how the Legislature is spending their tax dollars.

And that wasn’t all of it. The Governor’s legislative caucus was ready to push out her Medicaid expansion and her budget in one day until the Rules attorney told them couldn’t without 2/3rds (40 Members), an Arizona Constitutional requirement and they only had 33 votes.

They were also prepared to remove the Speaker and the President if Leadership didn’t do what they wanted. One freshman legislator was quoted as saying they would remove Speaker Tobin if “he didn’t play nice,” when the entire time we all knew they had a vehicle to get Medicaid expansion up to the Governor (SB 1057) and we just put our conservative House budget on the Appropriations agenda for that Thursday. Given they had 33 votes, they could’ve easily added whatever they wanted to what we passed out of Appropriations, i.e. none of this was necessary. They still could have pushed for everything they wanted without violating the process and giving Arizonans a chance to weigh in and know exactly what they were passing. Most of the Governor’s legislative caucus didn’t even know what they voted for.

Not to mention President Andy Biggs found out about the Special Session from a reporter as he was driving home. I was with House Leadership when we found out about the Special Session that began at 5pm on Tuesday after it had already begun.

Representative Justin Olson from his floor testimony was correct. The Governor and her legislative cadre have promised entitlements we will never be able to pay for. And the core, necessary services government is obligated to provide will suffer as a result, along with every other legislative priority.

~~~

Republican State Representative Paul Boyer, represents Legislative District 20, which covers parts of Phoenix and Glendale. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

AFP-Arizona Action Alert – Bring Your Sleeping Bag?

Americans for Prosperity - Arizona

ACTION ALERT – Thursday, May 23, 2013

To all Arizona Taxpayers and Health Care Freedom Fighters:

You can put away your sleeping bag, for now.

But be sure to pull out your cell phone… 

Earlier this week, as I planned this action alert, I was going to suggest to diehard grassroots activists that you bring your sleeping bags and camp out at the Arizona Legislature tonight for what I thought would be the last night of the 2013 legislative session. Bad things often happen to good bills in the middle of the night, and bad bills you thought were dead often come back to life on the last night of session. And sometimes, a handful of vigilant activists and a handful of pro-taxpayer Legislators can successfully sound the alarm against shenanigans in the wee hours.

After last Thursday’s disastrous floor session in the Senate, it looked as if Governor Brewer’sproposed expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare was destined to pass in some form this week.

But after conversations yesterday with several House members, we believe that no action on the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion is likely until next week. Good news: Thanks in large part to grassroots pressure from taxpayer activists, resistance to the expansion is still very strong in the Republican majority.

KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

The next big battle will be in the House Appropriations Committee, probably next week. Please contact your Legislators (especially House members), and urge them to vote NO — early and often — on the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion. You can email them by using our ACTION LINK. Phone numbers for House members are available here (don’t waste your time calling the ones with “D” in the third column).

Handy URL for our email action page: http://tinyurl.com/nomedicaidexp

For Liberty, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
www.aztaxpayers.org

The Arizona Senate & Medicaid Expansion: A Lesson in Making a Bad Bill Worse

By Christina Corieri

Last week, the Arizona Senate passed Medicaid expansion. Sadly, the proponents were not satisfied with merely passing a program expansion we can’t afford; they actively worked together to kill a series of common sense amendments that would have prevented extra expense and abuse.

One amendment would have activated the circuit breaker if the federal government ever dropped its share of the cost below the promised 90 percent, but every senate Democrat and five Republicans voted the amendment down, signaling that the Feds should feel free to increase Arizona’s costs.

Another amendment would have required an independent audit to ensure hospitals don’t pass the provider tax on to patients. Expansion proponents voted the amendment down, making it easier for hospitals to illegally pass the cost along without fear of being caught.

An amendment was offered to require an annual report on the quality of care provided by AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program. Although taxpayers have a right to know whether their money is being put to good use, these same senators voted the amendment down. Without this transparency, proponents can continue to assert how well the program works without risking evidence to the contrary.

This coalition also voted down amendments designed to curtail non-emergency use of emergency rooms and ambulances, which result in high, unnecessary costs to the state. Likewise, they voted down amendments to require health professionals and pharmacists to check the prescription monitoring database before authorizing or filling a member’s prescription for a controlled substance such as Oxycodone, Percocet, or Vicodin. These amendments would have saved taxpayers from paying for and enabling addictions to these medications.

While the Medicaid expansion is a costly and misguided policy, these amendments were not poison pills but sensible ways to mitigate some of the costs and prevent abuse. The proponents, however, made a bad bill much worse by rejecting these amendments. Thankfully, the Senate does not have the last word. While we hope the House declines the Medicaid expansion, at a minimum, we hope it supports some common sense amendments that will help protect taxpayers.

Christina Corieri is a health care policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute.

 

Friday Poll: Do You Support/Oppose Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion in Arizona?

In case you missed it, the Arizona Executive and Legislative branches are embroiled in a battle over expanding Obamacare’s Medicaid program in Arizona. Here is the latest Friday poll gauging our reader’s position on this issue. Votes are scheduled in the Arizona House next week.

NFIB Poll: Small Business Strongly Opposes Expanding Medicaid

NFIBforwebSurvey reveals Arizona entrepreneurs’ deep skepticism of federal funding promises

PHOENIX, Ariz., May 14, 2013 — In a poll released today by their leading association, small-business owners overwhelmingly oppose the high-stakes effort at the Arizona State Capitol to expand Medicaid coverage to all Arizonans at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level as envisioned by the federal healthcare law.

The recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB/Arizona) found 79 percent of Arizona small-business owners opposed to the proposed eligibility expansion for the state’s Medicaid program, also known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System or AHCCCS.

Eighteen percent support the Medicaid expansion proposal with less than 3 percent saying they are undecided.

NFIB Medicaid Poll ResultsThe controversial Medicaid proposal, a centerpiece of Gov. Jan Brewer’s legislative agenda, is principally backed by hospital systems and opposed by key legislative leaders like Senate President Andy Biggs and conservative activists.

The political impasse over Medicaid expansion has stalled the Legislature’s work on the state budget for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2013.

“Small businesses in Arizona clearly feel they are under siege by the Obamacare law, with its harsh employer mandates, new taxes and pervasive uncertainty,” said Farrell Quinlan, the Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “Our survey found that Arizona’s small-business owners continue to strongly oppose expanding AHCCCS eligibility, because they have no faith in the federal government’s promises to pay for adding hundreds-of-thousands of Arizonans to our Medicaid rolls. Our small-business owners know Washington is more than $16 trillion in debt and Congress will be under increasing pressure to cut the biggest drivers of federal spending – entitlements like Medicaid.”

NFIB/Arizona’s May survey on Medicaid expansion reaffirms small business’ sentiments against expanding Medicaid found in a prior survey conducted before Governor Brewer announced her support for the policy change during her State of the State Address in January.

NFIB Medicaid Poll Results 1/13 and 5/13

In that poll, 77 percent opposed the expansion with 13 percent favoring it and 10 undecided.

“It’s instructive that after months of intense promotion and expensive radio and television advertising campaigns, pro-expansion forces have utterly failed to move the support needle with Arizona small business owners,” said Quinlan. “The public’s attitudes have clearly hardened on Obamacare and the fundamental transformation of health care occurring in the United States.”

Respondents to NFIB/Arizona’s survey were also given the opportunity to provide an open-ended answer on the Medicaid expansion issue and implementation of Obamacare in general. The majority viewpoint is best summarized by one respondent’s declaration: “Arizona won’t be able to afford AHCCCS expansion when Washington realizes America can’t afford Obamacare.” Another opponent expressed his profound ambivalence over the decision before Arizona lawmakers: “Either choice is going to be tough and expensive, but to trust the federal government is a mistake. I do not feel that they will make good on their promise to cover the expenses.”

A Medicaid-expansion supporter wrote: “As I understand it, the expansion goes away if/when the federal money goes away. That is the only reason I am supporting it now. When Obama doesn’t want to pay for it anymore, neither should Arizonans.” Another supporter exclaimed: “Believe we are trapped. If O C [Obamacare] stays this seems like the only way to go. But we must have the 90 percent funding from the Feds.”

The latest poll was conducted May 6 to May 13, 2013, as an online and fax-returned survey with 375 Arizona small-business owners responding. The prior poll mentioned above was conducted November 9, 2012 to January 4, 2013 consisting of 449 Arizona small business owners responding. Both polls tested the same question though the set-up explanations of what proponents and opponents say about the policy proposal were updated and expanded in the latest survey. The online version of the May survey can be viewed here.

NFIB routinely surveys its members to determine the organization’s public policy position on issues at the federal and state levels. Due to the overwhelming and consistent results of the two surveys, the upcoming votes by the Arizona Senate and Arizona House of Representatives on Medicaid expansion have been identified as ‘key votes’ eligible to be used on NFIB/Arizona’s legislative score card for the 2013 session.

Commemorating its 70th anniversary, the National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small-business association with 350,000 members nationwide and 7,500 in Arizona. NFIB has offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends its views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

MIHS Meets in Closed Door Session to Discuss Controversial State Contract


The Maricopa County Integrated Health Systems Board of Directors
is currently meeting in closed-door Executive Session to discuss the current legal challenge and protest filed by Magellan and United RHBA against MMIC (Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care), MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless, and Maricopa County Special Health Care District.  The current agenda shows a 30-minute spot dedicated to discussion of this subject, all of which will be exempt from records requests and exempt from public inspection.

It is not surprising that the MIHS Board is keeping a low profile and is remaining tight-lipped about this controversial contract after being awarded a possibly illegal $2 billion to $3 billion dollar contract from the State of Arizona.  This came on the heels of a controversial pay raise for MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless that raised her taxpayer salary to $500,000.

Accountability and SunshineThe board will apparently receive legal advice on the protest to the bid and discuss options moving forward.  An administrative law judge is likely to uphold the Department’s awarding of the contract, leaving a lawsuit targeting the state as a possible option.  Magellan has already filed a civil suit seeking financial damages in Maricopa County Superior Court against MIHS and MIHS’ CEO Betsey Bayless.  Magellan alleges MIHS was awarded the contract improperly and used proprietary information from Magellan to win the bid.

The new contract was set to begin on October 1, 2013, but the protest and lawsuit are likely to delay implementation.  Previously MIHS responded to the formal protest with the following statement:

“We are studying those protests and will respond in the appropriate venues,” the statement said. “We are confident in the strength of our bid, and we are proud to offer a unique, collaborative approach to meet Maricopa County Medicaid recipients’ behavioral-health needs and to integrate the behavioral- health and medical services for those with serious mental illness.”

If you recall, the lawsuit also alleges “serious conflicts of interest” by MIHS because Mercy Maricopa both manages the system and provide services, which is “prohibited by the contract and by state law.” Magellan also alleges that the bidding process contained “serious irregularities,” such as the state’s bidding process being amended twice to unfairly benefit MIHS over their private competitors.  Additional claims include conflicts of interest, improper scoring, licensing problems, and disclosure of proprietary information to competitors. Magellan originally serviced the state contract since 2007.

The serious allegations require attention and deserve public scrutiny.  MIHS should be holding discussions on the contract and the protest, but they should be doing this in the face of the public.  Not behind closed doors immune from public records requests. MIHS is a government entity that collects nearly $60 million dollars in property taxes every year and is run by a publicly elected Board of Directors.  When the state awards a contract that could be worth up to $3 billion dollars, possible bias in favor of a taxpayer funded MIHS over private competitors deserves more sunshine and certainly more accountability.

If you’d like to contact the MIHS Board of Directors and demand more transparency for taxpayers, they can be reached via email as follows:

 

Gary Nelson: Right On Crime, Right On Justice

A CALL FOR A TRULY CONSERVATIVE APPROACH TO JUSTICE

By Gary Nelson

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

I once heard a story about a couple who bought a large, aggressive dog with the intent of protecting their family from criminals. Tragically, however, the dog attacked one of their young children and nearly killed her, scarring her for life. Ironically, the very thing they hoped would protect them proved to be the source of violence far worse than they were ever likely to suffer at the hands of a criminal. The protector became the perpetrator, and their worst fears became reality.

The United States finds itself in a similar predicament today. Our vicious dog is a justice system which has become the most punitive in the free world. The “tough on crime” paradigm that has dominated our justice system for the past three decades has brought about the criminalization and incarceration of a radically disproportionate number of our citizens. We created it to ensure our safety, yet it now threatens greater societal harm than we ever imagined.

The perceived need to “crack down” on crime has resulted in severe punishments for crimes involving everything from assaults with firearms to personal use of drugs. Mandatory minimum sentences and “three-strikes” laws have drastically restricted judicial discretion, denying judges the ability to custom-fit sentences according to the circumstances of the offense or the needs of the community.

As a result, the United States of America imprisons a larger proportion of its population than any other civilized nation, including Cuba, China, & Iran. The number of Americans incarcerated has increased 400% since 1980, and it is estimated that over 30% of young adults now have criminal records.

The “Land of the Free” was rapidly becoming the “land of the imprisoned.” Recently, however, many have begun to understand that this trend has to change.

The implications for our nation’s future are profound. People with criminal records, including those only charged with misdemeanors, have an extremely difficult time finding work. The vast majority of employers will flatly refuse to hire anyone with a record. It is becoming increasingly clear that our over-dependence on punitive justice is creating a vast army of unemployable citizens destined to be dependent on government, or more crime, for their livelihoods.

As a veteran law enforcement officer and lifelong political conservative, I have come to believe that we conservatives have made a serious mistake in supporting the expansion of governmental power that is the inevitable consequence of “tough on crime” policies. We have embraced an approach to justice that has resulted in exponential increases in spending on corrections, courts, and police, as well as the criminalization and vocational incapacitation of 1 in 33 Americans. We have acquiesced to the erosion of individual liberty and the expansion of government power through over-regulation of nearly every aspect of our lives.

It is time for a return to a truly conservative, and American, model of justice. We must break our addiction to “crack-downs” and “get-tough” legislation, and move towards a restorative model of justice that provides real opportunities for the offender to return to productive citizenship.

It is for this reason I am pleased to be affiliated with Right On Crime, a campaign dedicated to “fighting crime, restoring victims, and protecting the taxpayer.” Endorsed by prominent conservatives like Grover Norquist, Marc Levin, and William Bennett, as well as eminent criminologists John DiIulio and George Kelling, Right On Crime is leading the way in returning our system of justice to a cost-effective,    restorative direction. If you are concerned about the future of our nation and want to see “justice” once again be the focus of our legal system, I encourage you to visit RightOnCrime.org and get involved.

The Actual Costs of Expanding Medicaid in Arizona – What Really Happened

The main argument being made to expand Medicaid dependency in Arizona is “to do the math.” Well the Texas Public Policy Foundation did the  math for what really happened in Arizona the last time Medicaid was expanded and here is the graph depicting the cost to Arizona. These numbers cover a six-year period beginning in 2002 and ending in 2008.

Medicaid Expansion

The actual cost of expanding Medicaid in Arizona

Here is the article posted on the Texas Public Policy Foundation website:

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on 3/21/2013. 

If state lawmakers really want a clear picture of what Medicaid expansion under Obamacare will look like, they should start with Arizona, where expansion was tried more than a decade ago — with disastrous results.

In 2000, Arizona received a federal waiver to extend Medicaid to all childless adults and parents earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. This is nearly the same group that would be eligible for Medicaid under the federal health care law, except that Obamacare would include those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a slightly larger group.

At the time, Arizona lawmakers and expansion advocates promised that expanding Medicaid would lower the uninsured rate, reduce uncompensated care costs, decrease the “hidden tax” on private insurance for uncompensated care, and save about $30 million a year in state funds.

These same promises — lower uninsured rate and reduced uncompensated care costs — are being made by those calling for Medicaid expansion in other states.

None of the promises came true. In fact, the opposite happened. Enrollment of parents was more than triple what was forecast, while enrollment of childless adults was more than double.

As a result, costs skyrocketed. Spending per enrollee was much higher than anticipated, especially among childless adults, who proved to be twice as expensive to cover as parents. By 2008, Arizona had spent $8.4 billion on Medicaid expansion — more than four times what had been forecast.

What about the promise that expansion would lower the uninsured rate? In 2002, about 18.7 percent of Arizona’s non-elderly population was uninsured. By 2011, that group had actually increased to 19.4 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of Arizonans with private insurance dropped from 61.8 percent to 55.5 percent, while Medicaid enrollment grew far beyond what had been predicted.

When the recession hit in 2008, Arizona faced a budget shortfall and scaled back Medicaid benefits for childless adults, including organ transplantation. It later froze enrollment for that group, which dropped from 227,000 to 86,000.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s January announcement that she will support the Obamacare Medicaid expansion should not have come as a surprise. Arizona’s waiver expires in 2013, and the state had no choice but to go along with expansion. If it did not, the feds would likely not renew the state’s waiver, which would force some 86,000 people out of the Medicaid program and into the ranks of the uninsured.

The Arizona experience is not unique. In 2002, Maine implemented an almost identical Medicaid expansion — with almost identical results. Within two years, enrollment was more than double what had been forecast, with childless adults costing more than four times as much as parents. Between 2002 and 2011, the uninsured rate remained the same, while the share of those with private insurance shrank, from 66 percent to 59 percent.

Proponents of Medicaid expansion claim it will reduce the uninsured rate and therefore reduce uncompensated care costs. The hope and expectation is that federal expansion dollars will free up state funds and relieve taxpayers, much like advocates of expansion hoped for Arizona and Maine.

Earlier this month, Methodist Health Care Ministries and Texas Impact published an estimate of Medicaid expansion savings. At first glance the figures are impressive; some $900 million in state funds could be freed up for the upcoming biennium, according to the report. The groups’ earlier study claimed counties and local taxpayers could expect relief from having to pay for uncompensated care costs, which the report said would decrease dramatically with Medicaid expansion.

But these projections are in fact nothing more than thin hopes. In Arizona, uncompensated care costs increased by an average of nine percent each year after expansion, and in Maine charity care rose from $40 million in 2000 to $215 million 2011.

Other states that have toyed with expansion — Delaware, Oregon, Michigan, Utah — have all had similar experiences: costs and enrollment exceeded expectations, uninsured rates stayed the same or increased, and the number of people on private insurance shrank.

If states are the incubators and laboratories of public policy, then the results of decade-long experiments with Medicaid expansion are in. In Arizona, Maine, and everywhere expansion was tried, none of the promised benefits materialized.

If lawmakers in other states choose to go down the road of expansion, they now know what to expect: skyrocketing costs, huge enrollment growth, a static uninsured rate, and more — not fewer — uncompensated care costs. Just ask Arizona.