4.683 Million Unanswered Questions in Halbig

Appeals will continue, but let’s take the Halbig decision at face value. How much will this decision cost the working poor? The amount varies with income and other variables, but for a 40 year old individual making $30,000 a year, the tax credit was estimated at $1345 (KFF estimate here). Retroactive tax bills under Halbig will be significant and everyone impacted will have trouble paying for health insurance going forward (about 57% of exchange participants were previously uninsured, according to a KFF survey).

How many people will be hurt?

Read more here at “The Incidental Economist” ….

Advertisements

State-by-State Reports: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

— by Megan Slack, August 01, 2013

America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. But our nation’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the U.S. economy or American  families.

Commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs. Independent studies affirm that commonsense immigration reform will increase economic growth by adding more high-demand workers to the labor force, increasing capital investment and overall productivity, and leading to greater numbers of entrepreneurs starting companies in the U.S.

Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree –  and it’s why a bipartisan, diverse coalition of stakeholders have come together to urge Congress to act now to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from unauthorized workers and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. The Senate recently passed a bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform bill would do just that – and it’s time for the House of Representations to join them in taking action to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.

In addition to giving a significant boost to our national economy, commonsense immigration reform will also generate important economic benefits in each state, from increasing workers’ wages and generating new tax revenue to strengthening the local industries that are the backbone of states’ economies. The new state by state reports below detail how just how immigration reform would strengthen the economy and create jobs all regions of our country.

We must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive way. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.

STATE REPORTS

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Hawaii  
Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming  

Reprinted from The White House Blog.  For more information:

Fracking Free Speech

The gagged townspeople of Sanford, New York are suing their town board over the infringement of their First Amendment rights.

— by Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

It’s one thing for Big Oil to bust into our communities, groundwater, and economic well-being with the hydraulic fracturing natural gas boom. Now, in addition to poisoning the environment, this fracking fad is busting the free speech rights of locals who dare to speak out against it.

Welcome to Sanford, New York. It’s a pleasant place of 2,800 citizens on the New York-Pennsylvania border. Unfortunately, the pleasantness has been interrupted by a major squabble over whether or not to allow big companies to extract natural gas by fracturing the huge Marcellus Shale formation that underlies the region.

Fracking is already rampant in Pennsylvania, but New York imposed a moratorium on the dangerous practice to assess the health and safety issues involved.

hightower-fracking-CREDO.fracking

However, as OnEarth magazine reports, Sanford’s town board is eager to allow oil and gas outfits to frack away. The board even leased land to one corporation that wants to drill inside the town. Last fall, Sanford officials went further, imperiously imposing a gag order on their own citizens. It seems that opponents of the profiteering frack rush were using the board’s public comment session to…well, to comment publicly.

Irritated, the board decreed that any topic could be discussed at its meetings — except fracking.

The town leveled this autocratic restriction on people’s democratic rights by saying that the ongoing discussion on fracking got in the way of other board business. But, gosh, that’s the way it is in a democracy. The people themselves can dare to set the agenda by insisting that our local leaders discuss the big issues that matter most to our families and communities.

The gagged townspeople have now sued the Sanford board for fracking their free speech rights and making a mockery of democracy. For more information, contact Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy: www.catskillcitizens.org.


OtherWords
columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.  OtherWords.org

GOP Scheming to Rig Future Elections

Every-Vote-CountsWe haven’t even inaugurated President Obama for his second term and the GOP is already concocting schemes to rig the next Presidential election.

Imagine that when President Obama won Ohio in 2012, instead of getting all the state’s electoral votes, he only got six of them, while Mitt Romney, who lost, got 12 … that each candidate was awarded electoral votes based on how many congressional districts they won in the state. Now, imagine this didn’t happen just in Ohio, but also in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and other “blue states” that right now happen to have state governments completely controlled by Republicans.

This isn’t just some thought experiment. Just like their push in 2010 (ahead of the Census and the subsequent redistricting), it’s the latest Republican scheme to rig America’s elections in their favor, and it could work … unless we can create a public backlash against it.

We need to begin speaking out now to tell Republicans that basing the election for President on legislative districts in which GOP candidates are overwhelmingly favored and creating a proportional system based on the results by congressional district would be fundamentally unfair.  We simply cannot sit back and do nothing especially since these tactics would create a a system specifically designed to help one political party achieve a total take-over of ‘our’ country. It’s fundamentally unacceptable.

We need to take actions via petitions, protests, emails, tweets and other social media posts to let the GOP know that we will not tolerate their electioneering efforts to take over America.  Already, such a bill has been introduced in Pennsylvania and most likely will also be introduced in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan where Republican leaders have already begun discussing such actions.

People for the American Way has a petition up that you can sign on to.  They plan to use the petition to lobby lawmakers in the states and make sure the media is giving attention to how unpopular this vote rigging scheme is.

Sign-the-Petition-blu.fw

If the scheme is enacted, the will of the people would mean nothing in those states. And, nationally, the playing field would be dramatically shifted towards Republican presidential candidates. That’s because one of the results of the Tea Party wave election of 2010 was that right-wing Republicans controlled the redistricting process in these states, and congressional districts there were gerrymandered within an inch of their lives, ensuring more “safe” Republican districts. It’s the same reason that Republicans maintained a healthy majority in the House of Representatives in 2012 despite losing the congressional popular vote nationally to Democrats by 1.4 million votes — more than a whole percentage point.

In states like Ohio, where Republicans have a super majority in the legislature, they have the power to move this affront to democracy through unilaterally, bulldozing any opposition!

Proposals for proportional apportionment of electoral votes based on percentage of the vote are also severely problematic, even a secondary idea being floated by Republicans in these states. That proposal would apportion electoral votes based on percentage of vote, instead of by congressional district.  This could theoretically be a fair system, but only if EVERY state did it. With only blue, Democratic-leaning states splitting their electoral votes and definitively red, Republican states remaining winner-take-all, the national field would still shift dramatically to the Republicans favor — and AWAY from the will of the people. To put it bluntly: election rigged Candidates who clearly amassed a significantly lower  percentage of the popular vote nationwide would be elected in the Electoral College as our next President.

THAT is not what the framers of our U.S. Constitution intended.  Clearly, it’s time we looked at taking redistricting away from partisans as well as whether we need to continue the practice of using an “Electoral College” to select our next President.  Technology has come a long way and usually within hours after the polls close (with the exception of maybe Florida) within days) it’s clear which candidate has won the popular vote.  Maybe it’s time to finally push for a National Popular Vote Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and eliminate the Electoral College middlemen.

Related articles

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s Coverup of Fracking Water Contamination

Here’s the latest shocking evidence that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is more concerned with promoting fracking than protecting Pennsylvanians.

The DEP intentionally withheld evidence of fracking-related water contamination from three Pennsylvania families.1

According to sworn court testimony from DEP officials, the DEP sent only partial lab test results to the families,2 leaving them in the dark about the fracking-related contaminants in their water, even as they suffered from a slew of health problems.3

The DEP’s actions are reprehensible. At best, they are dangerous. At worst, as State Representative Jesse White has suggested, they are potentially criminal. And they call into question the DEP’s independence from the fracking industry. The people of Pennsylvania deserve a thorough investigation by independent federal authorities to determine the full extent of the DEP’s coverup of fracking water contamination and whether it broke the law.

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination.

In court, DEP officials revealed that it is standard procedure at the agency to release only partial lab results to families who complain that their water has been contaminated by fracking. But instead of acknowledging the seriousness of these accusations, the DEP denied that hiding evidence of water contamination is wrong and even brazenly denounced Representative White as ideologically motivated when he called for an investigation.

The DEP claims that the contaminants it found were in concentrations below safe limits. But any evidence of fracking-related contamination is a cause for concern. In Pennsylvania, fracking companies are allowed to keep secret the chemicals they use, which means that any evidence of fracking-related water contamination raises the possibility that there are dangerous chemicals in the water that aren’t even being tested for.5

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination.

Pennsylvania’s fracking boom is a national disgrace. While Pennsylvania’s government bends over backward for the gas industry, communities in the state’s gasland have experienced severe problems: explosions, flammable tap water, huge ponds filled with radioactive wastewater, and massive chemical spills. Some residents have even found fracking chemicals and heavy metals in their blood.5

Accusations that Pennsylvania officials intentionally withheld evidence of water contamination from families impacted by fracking are the last straw.We don’t know if the DEP broke the law, but we do know that it failed to notify three families that their water had been contaminated by fracking. Pennsylvanians deserve a transparent investigation into the DEP’s water-testing procedures and a full explanation of why the DEP covered up evidence of fracking water contamination from impacted families.

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination.

1. Don Hopey, “Lawmaker challenges Pennsylvania DEP’s reporting of gas well water safety,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 2012
2. Jon Hurdle, “Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site,”New York Times, November 2, 2012
3. Don Hopey, “Washington County families sue over fracking, water testing,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 26, 2012
4. Rachel Morgan, “Heavy metals: Study links water contamination to fracking,” Times Online, November 3, 2012
5. Mike Soraghan, “Two-thirds of frack disclosures omit ‘secrets,'” EnergyWire, September 26, 2012
6. Eliza Griswold, “The Fracturing of Pennsylvania,” New York Times, November 2011