Two years into Maine's DirigoChoice insurance program, designed to
expand access to health insurance to Maine's uninsured individuals and
small businesses, the state is grappling with how to fund the program.
While the program's governing board recently voted to assess a controversial assessment paid by insurers and self-insured companies, a separate Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission has proposed alternative funding
that relieves insurers of their responsibility to help fund the
program. Instead of keeping insurers, hospitals, and large businesses
at the table through "pay or play" or "fair share" initiatives and
enhanced cost containment, the Commission wants to replace the insurer
assessment with general fund revenue raised on the backs of consumers.
Commission members in Wisconsin are floating an idea
that is almost groundbreaking in its simplicity: a free college
education for the state's students in exchange for a commitment to
remain in state for a set period of time. If the student ends up
reneging on the deal, they pay the cost of their education.
Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men,
women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless
women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the
Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic
African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such
horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.
In the groundbreaking film An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore makes an impressive case that it is now essential that the world act to prevent the potentially catastrophic implications of global warming. The film could not come at a more critical time. While the planet warms, Washington dawdles. The nation's political elite remains mired in a debate manipulated by powerful energy interests.
Earlier polling showed bad news for progressives regarding the TABOR spending cap in Maine facing the electorate this November. Those numbers showed over 70% of the state's voters supporting the ballot measure.
New numbers contain significantly better news.
The new poll shows the spending measure with support of 54% of the electorate, opposed by 25%, and 21% undecided. Getting voters to "no" is easier than getting voters to "yes" on ballot initiatives.
After years of stagnating wages for working Americans and inaction by
Congress, legislators and activists across the country are taking the
lead in securing higher minimum wages on a state by state basis. They
are achieving some outstanding results. Here's where the minimum wage
fight stands in a number of states:
A new poll in Mainereveals the uphill
battle progressives face in educating the public about the dangers of
TABOR-style spending caps. The poll reports that nearly three in four
voters say they would vote for TABOR if the option was put in front of
This week, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on
campaign contributions and expenditures by candidates. In a set of
fractured opinions in Randall v. Sorrell,
the Court did not put an end to all campaign finance limits but did put
a roadblock in the way of anything much more restrictive than most
present laws. So if there is going to be more serious reform to lessen
the power of special interest money in politics, the only real
remaining route to reform are systems of public financing of elections like Maine and Arizona.