Monday, May 23, 2011

Walker's Planned Parenthood Misstep, Freeloading GOP takes Unemployment Handouts, Austerity Reduces Consumer Confidence

From my Ezra Klein morning email, some very hot issues, to numerous to post individually.

Planning Parenthood Defunded? Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature are proposing making almost impossible to fund Planned Parenthood. Well, the federal government might have something to say about a perfectly legal and highly regulated health care service for the poor.

The administration is fighting Indiana on funding for family planning clinics, reports Robert Pear: "The Obama administration is raising serious objections to a new Indiana law that cuts off state and federal money for Planned Parenthood clinics providing health care to low-income women on Medicaid. The objections set the stage for a clash between the White House and Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican. The changes in Indiana are subject to federal review and approval, and administration officials have made it clear they will not approve the changes in the form adopted by the state. Federal officials have 90 days to act but may feel pressure to act sooner because Indiana is already enforcing its law, which took effect on May 10, and because legislators in other states are working on similar measures."

Freeloading Republicans, Again: We should have known! Why else would Republican controlled states go after the unemployed by stripping the number of weeks they received benefits? They want a hand out by big government, while looking fiscally responsible to state voters. Crooks!

States are cutting unemployment benefits, hoping the Feds will make up the difference, reports Keith Freking: "Some of the states that have drained their unemployment insurance funds are cutting the number of weeks that a laid-off worker can count on those benefits. Legislators are trying to limit tax increases for businesses to replenish the pool and are hoping the federal government keeps stepping in when the economy slumps. Michigan, Missouri and Arkansas recently reduced the maximum number of weeks that the jobless can get state benefits. Florida is on the verge of doing so...In times of high unemployment, states have come to count on extra help from the federal government. Some say that reliance is playing a role in the bills to cap benefits."

Austerity Builds Confidence? If as a government you reduced wages, benefits, unemployment insurance, food stamps, health care accessibility, education funding and complained the government was going broke, would citizens feel more or less optimistic? Less is the answer, and a big problem for recovering nations.

Austerity has failed in Europe, writes Paul Krugman: "Nobody bought into the doctrine of expansionary austerity more thoroughly than Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, or E.C.B. Under his leadership the bank began preaching austerity as a universal economic elixir that should be imposed immediately everywhere, including in countries like Britain and the United States that still have high unemployment and aren’t facing any pressure from the financial markets. But as I said, the confidence fairy hasn’t shown up. Europe’s troubled debtor nations are, as we should have expected, suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs, and confidence is plunging instead of rising."

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