The Rockin Johnny B

Friday, July 29, 2011

Deficit/taxes, etc.

Deficit, deficit, deficit.  OMG, how are we ever gonna get rid of this terrible deficit?

Here's an idea.  Let's invest in this nation's infrastructure.  God knows we need an updated infrastructure.  God knows most of our bridges are dangerous and could come down at any time.  God knows we better fix our roads or Americans can and will DIE.

Let's invest 200 billion dollars per year in fixin up this country.  Wha'd'ya say?  Let's take part of the money from the Fed, some from the Sate and some from Counties and Cities.  What would happen?  Well, for one thing, people would go back to work building.  Manufacturing would get a boost.  Finally, we would be Americans investing in America.  In a decade, we could pay off the deficit and probably be forced to deal with a 'surplus.'

So, Wha'd'ya say?
All you folks who went to the Stampede this year, you might have seen Dan Mink and his horse.  He was also seen on America's Got Talent and made it to the top 10 contestants.  Good on ya, Dan.  Ya bring notice to Idaho and your home town, Jerome.

Don’t raise taxes on poorest in country
   Boehner’s talk about not raising taxes implies we are stupid.
   Social Security and Medicare have been and are mandatory imposed taxes. Anyone on Medicare pays a $115 monthly premium (tax) for minimal coverage and another $135 for the Advantage plan. I know because my Mom does.
   By raising premiums and co-pay on Medicare while cutting back on services available, Boehner would in fact be raising the taxes on the elderly.
   He likes to refer to this as cutting spending. Get real, Boehner, we are not as stupid as you think.
   When he says he is doing what’s best for the people, he really means his people.
   President Obama is willing to forfeit the tax cuts. Why aren’t Boehner and his crones?
   You and I are the people in “of the people, by the people and for the people.” It’s time we stood up for ourselves. Let him know at SpeakerBoehner@mailhouse  . gov that raising taxes on the elderly is not acceptable.
   He would like us to believe removing certain tax cuts for the extremely wealthy would be an unjust tax increase, when it would instead put things back in perspective. Are we to believe that raising taxes on the poorest in the country is just?
   Greed begets greed. It is not money that’s the root of evil, it is the love of it.
   I keep hearing “big corporations,” as if these were inanimate objects. They are not. They are compiled of filthy rich people — individuals who benefit from all of the extra tax breaks. The larger their profits, the bigger their bonuses.
   Take all of the cuts Idaho state officials made, then rewarded themselves with hefty bonuses. This is what the individuals at the top of big corporations do — take advantage of the poor and reward themselves.
   n Grace Williamson, Caldwell

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Deficit/taxes, etc.

Tax breaks haven’t created jobs in U.S.
   The years between 2000 and 2010 were a terrible time for most Americans. Congress gave big tax breaks while we still had a national debt.
   We had a surplus, but that didn’t justify cutting revenue so much. It was “temporary,” they said. It is still with us.
   The tax breaks came in June 2001. On Sept. 11, 2001, the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists. We were stunned with grief at the loss of life and shocked that we were so vulnerable to terrorist attack.
   Our government needed money to cover huge financial losses and to strengthen our 
   The stated purpose of the tax breaks was to “create jobs.” Instead, we lost 800,000 jobs over that 10 years.
   The breaks were continued in 2004, thus giving big corporations more money with which to create jobs in India, Pakistan and other countries not in the U.S. India’s economy grew by roughly the same amount that ours shrank. East Indians paid taxes to their government for doing our jobs while our government suffered the loss of that tax revenue.
   In 2006, our economy crashed. In 2008, President George Bush sent us checks to try to stimulate our failing economy. It was not enough, so he, with the help of Congress, prepared and passed a huge bill to bail out failing banks and businesses.
   Should we continue tax breaks to corporations that continue to ship our jobs overseas, or for bankers who took our bailout money and used it to give $30 million bonuses? Would not that money have supported, for one year, 600 families earning $50,000 a year? Get out your calculators.
   Republicans in Congress are playing fast and loose with the good of the American people by refusing any additional tax revenue. Is that what we want?
   Write, telephone or email your representatives in Congress. They need your guidance.
   n Dora Payne, Nampa


Dem-led Congress shares jobless blame
   In response to Betty Williamson (July 22), she is correct that the highest unemployment level since 1948 was under Reagan. But until Obama, it has not been this high for this long, with no end in sight. It is record unemployment.
   I hope the same thing doesn’t come true for gas prices. That is yet to be seen, but Obama and the Democrats have not made me optimistic.
   In response to Chuck Whitten (July 20), there are some glaring omissions from your history lesson on unemployment and tax rates. Betty might pay notice, also.
   Unemployment was on a downward trend for six months prior to Clinton’s inauguration. Therefore, his tax increases did not cause that. But he did, later, lower capital gains taxes by more than 28 percent. You know — “taxes on the rich.” Yes, Bush also lowered them another 25 percent.
   Finally, you omitted Congress’ role in all this. Democrats controlled Congress during both record unemployment periods mentioned above.
   During the Republicans’ reign for 12 years straight, under Clinton and Bush both, unemployment never broke 6.3 percent. It was 4.5 percent when the Democrats, including one Senator B. H. Obama, took over Congress in January 2007.
   A third of the current national debt has accrued since the Democrats, including one Sen. B. H. Obama, took over Congress in January 2007.
   Citizens, please, the president is one man heading one branch of government. Please look at which party has been in control of Congress during the most troubling times in the last 60 years.
   Betty knows where to find the data.
   n Ron Hitt, Nampa


Social Security threat isn’t legitimate
   I have tried to wait and see how the current U.S. government debt squabble worked out before commenting, but I can wait no longer.
   The leader of the present administration threatens that there can be no checks for Social Security recipients if the debt ceiling is not raised. This can only happen if he orders the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration to not issue those checks.
   Social Security payments are debt-neutral until such a time that there are no Social Security Trust Fund bonds left. Presently there are $2.4 trillion of them in the kitty. When $1 of those bonds is requested from Treasury to pay a recipient, $1 is reduced from the government debt that all the hassle is about — Thomas Saving, Wall Street Journal. (What I just quoted is only true to a few. 
Many say the $2.4 trillion has been spent, and therefore the adjusted U.S. debt is already $16.8 Trillion.)
   It is apparent to me that the leader of the present administration does not want the debt limit to be raised. That is why he is doing nothing to resolve the issue. He can blame the opposition party for the financial chaos that he will direct and control.
   Case in point: he has the legal authority to sell the $400 billion of government-held gold. He can benefit from this sale by letting his puppeteer, George Soros, know when that sale will take place.
   George has a longtime expertise in inside information utilization. He would short gold and make billions. He would then illegally transfer a few percentages of that to someone’s 2012 campaign.
   It has been proven, if you have enough campaign money, anyone can be elected to the presidency.
   But take heart and read the last Chapter of the Holy Bible and understand that Jesus is going to win!
   n Glen Benedict, Nampa


  1. Let's look at Ms. Payne's statement that tax breaks have not created jobs.  She is right, and she is wrong.  Tax breaks to businesses have created jobs.  Let's take a look in my own state, Idaho.  In Fruitland, Coca Cola got a 2 year tax break to move one of their bottling plants to move into Fruitland.  They in turn hired 75 employees.  The tax break definitely make a difference.  However, huge tax breaks to the richy-rich don't seem to create anything.  In general, the rich simply invest the break money either in already-in-production businesses or to start up businesses in places like Mexico and Malaysia.  Rich people are rich because they save and invest and they don't spend if it does not put profits back into their pockets.
  2. Next, we have Mr. Hitt.  He throws out a bunch of stats.  Good for him.  At least he seems to do some research.  Unlike the person I heard on MSNBC who said 60% of Americans pay no taxes.  [That stat is so skewed it's actually silly.  People do pay taxes, they simply get a refund at the end of the year or their tax burden at the end of the year is -0-.  They still pay taxes all year long.]  Actually, Mr. Hitt makes a good argument until he blames the Dems for the problem.  Reps are the most fiscally irresponsible people ever.  They actually believe if you cut taxes unemployment will go down.  And, if you give the rich big loopholes in the tax code, they will see that the money helps their fellowman.  Ridiculous.
  3. Then there is Mr. Benedict.  Jesus will take care of the whole darned thing!  Come on Mr. B., you gotta be kiddin.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Social Security

Now not time to cut Social Security
   One again they’re thinking of cutting Social Security. Before they do, they should check its history!
   President Roosevelt started it for a good reason — not just to give the elderly a retirement, but to make room in the workforce for young people. They paid into the system to cover the cost.
   He also started the Civilian Conservation Corps for young men to get them off the streets and out of trouble by putting them in camps making fire breaks and fighting fires. They got three meals and a small wage.
   He also started the Works Progress Administration, which gave the unemployed a job for a minimal wage. They worked in city parks, streets, etc. Some complained they just dug holes and another group filled them, but they were doing something for the money and retaining their dignity, not getting a free handout. 
He didn’t give away money for nothing like our president does now! It was a waste! It didn’t help! World War II took a lot of men from the workforce, even though it created more jobs. So women stepped forward to fill those jobs. But the war was ending andthousands of men came home to no jobs! Roosevelt deported thousands of illegals working in farm jobs, a drain on the government, and made it possible to stabilize our government and make more jobs available for homecoming servicemen.
   We have men and women coming home from wars. Where are the jobs for them? We have to deport the illegals draining our resources (schools, medical, etc.)! Don’t say we won’t take those jobs — I and others did!
   Now Social Security is going belly up? Why? At one time government was looking where they could get some money they needed, and there was the Social Security fund growing larger, so they stole (I’m sorry — borrowed) the money, but never paid it back! Before they touch it, they better work on their own retirement and benefits!
   n Deo Pooley, Nampa

There's not a politician in the country that would dare do anything with Social Security.  The Gray Panthers would be up in arms.  We -- the Senior Citizens -- of America VOTE in EVERY election.  If pols wanna keep their jobs, and they do, they will never touch our benefits.  We worked long and hard for 'em and you'll be damned if you try to touch 'em.  Deo, I agree with you wholeheartedly!

Balanced Budgets

"American families make budgets and stay within them, so why shouldn't the Federal Government do so too?"

Says the Republicans.

Bullshit!  First off, most Americans who have budgets do not live within them.

Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics


The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.

The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.
Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites.
These findings are based on the Pew Research Center's analysis of data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), an economic questionnaire distributed periodically to tens of thousands of households by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is considered the most comprehensive source of data about household wealth in the United States by race and ethnicity. The two most recent administrations of SIPP that focused on household wealth were in 2005 and 2009. Data from the 2009 survey were only recently made available to researchers.1
Plummeting house values were the principal cause of the recent erosion in household wealth among all groups, with Hispanics hit hardest by the meltdown in the housing market.
From 2005 to 2009, the median level of home equity held by Hispanic homeowners declined by half -- from $99,983 to $49,145 -- while the homeownership rate among Hispanics was also falling, from 51% to 47%. A geographic analysis suggests the reason: A disproportionate share of Hispanics live in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, which were in the vanguard of the housing real estate market bubble of the 1990s and early 2000s but that have since been among the states experiencing the steepest declines in housing values.

White and black homeowners also saw the median value of their home equity decline during this period, but not by as much as Hispanics. Among white homeowners, the decline was from $115,364 in 2005 to $95,000 in 2009. Among black homeowners, it was from $76,910 in 2005 to $59,000 in 2009. There was little or no change during this period in the homeownership rate for whites and blacks; it fell from 47% to 46% among blacks and was unchanged at 74% among whites.2
Household wealth is the accumulated sum of assets (houses, cars, savings and checking accounts, stocks and mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc.) minus the sum of debt (mortgages, auto loans, credit card debt, etc.). It is different from household income, which measures the annual inflow of wages, interest, profits and other sources of earning. Wealth gaps between whites, blacks and Hispanics have always been much greater than income gaps.

The 2005 to 2009 time frame allows for a before-and-after look at the impact of the Great Recession. However, those dates do not align perfectly with the downturn, which ran from December 2007 to June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In 2005, both the stock and housing markets were still rising. Thus, had the base year for these measurements of wealth been closer to the top of these markets in 2006 or 2007, the recorded declines are likely to have been even steeper.

Moreover, since the official end of the recession in mid-2009, the housing market in the U.S. has remained in a slump while the stock market has recaptured much of the value it lost from 2007 to 2009. Given that a much higher share of whites than blacks or Hispanics own stocks -- as well as mutual funds and 401(k) or individual retirement accounts (IRAs) -- the stock market rebound since 2009 is likely to have benefited white households more than minority households.
Read the full report including the report methodology at

1. Data on the wealth of households are also collected in the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID), neither with as large a sample size as SIPP. The SCF was last conducted in 2010 and the PSID last collected wealth data in 2009. However, the final sets of data from those surveys were not available as of the writing of this report.
2. The homeownership rates cited in this report are derived from SIPP data. They differ from homeownership rates published by the Census Bureau from other data sources.

Need I say more?  The Reps are asking you to believe another idiotic idea.  Something that sounds real, but simply is not real.  It's just crap.  How do you balance a budget when you make less than the poverty level?  The mortgage payments alone prevent you from living within your means.  Washington -- especially the Reps -- simply don't know what they're talking about.

Time to get rid of debt ceiling entirely
   There should be no debt ceiling, and Congress should do away with it.
   We should manage our debt by approving or not approving projects and programs, not by manipulating a debt ceiling. Just like families do — before, not after, buying that new SUV or HDTV — those who stay out of bankruptcy, that is.
   I say managing revenue and expenditures is the only direct way to solvency. Trying to manage a debt ceiling as a way to get at expenditures and revenue is circuitous, at best, and so contentious it periodically gridlocks the government, at worst. It just isn’t working.
   Some representative or senator should submit a bill to eliminate the debt ceiling — nothing more; nothing less. Then with the freedup time, Congress could focus on how we are spending our money and raising our revenue. Only that will lead us to solvency.
   n Richard Ryan, Nampa

This guy makes a whole lotta sense.  Drop the pretense of a Debt Ceiling.  There is no such thing in reality.

He was so damned young.

Freestyle Olympic
Speedy Peterson found dead in Utah
   SALT LAKE CITY — Olympic silver medalist Jeret “Speedy” Peterson was found dead in a remote canyon in Utah in what police are calling a suicide.
   Peterson, a freestyle skier who patented the so-called “Hurricane” and took second place at the Vancouver Games with it, called 911 before shooting himself, police said. The 29-year-old had been cited for drunken driving Friday in Hailey and had 
pleaded not guilty.
   Officers found Peterson late Monday night between Salt Lake City and Park City in Lambs Canyon.
   He was one of the most colorful of athletes, and he wore his heart on his sleeve — never more than on Feb. 26, 2010, when he walked off the mountain after taking second place, with tears streaming down his face.
   “I know that a lot of people go through a lot of things in their life, and I just want them to realize they can overcome anything,” Peterson said. “There’s light at the 
end of the tunnel and mine was silver and I love it.” 
   It was a nice closing chapter to a career that, until then, had been filled with success on the smaller stages of his sport but defined by his moment at the Turin Olympics where, after finishing seventh, he was sent home early after a minor scuffle with a buddy in the street.
   Over the next months and years, he began telling his story. In Italy, he was still reeling from the suicide of a friend, who had shot himself in front of Peterson only months before.
   Peterson also had problems with alcohol and depression and admitted he had 
his own thoughts of suicide, all stemming from a childhood in which he was sexually abused and lost his 5-year-old sister to a drunken driver.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


In the ever accelerating cycle of fame, Amy Winehouse flashed from promising talent to celebrity morality play with a despairing speed. In just a few short years, she had become a tabloid-bait train wreck, catnip for tutt-tutting cultural commentators and those who pretend to be appalled by the very things to which they themselves are addicted (gossip and the suffering of others), even as they pass judgment on the havoc addiction wrecks in the lives of the people they disparage.

When word got out Saturday that Winehouse was dead at 27, it was hard not to leap to conclusions and assume this was the outcome of her tawdry recent history. Full details of her cause of death will emerge in the coming days (if not hours) and her final months and days will be picked over for evidence of cause and effect. There can be little doubt that her personal troubles undid the talent and opportunities that came her way. Whether that's occasion to pity or sneer is a personal choice that perhaps says more about the observer than the subject herself.

Winehouse's personal life had, in recent years, largely eclipsed her artistic achievements. When Back To Black came out in 2006, I was so energized by the idiosyncratic nature of Winehouse's voice and the brooding swing of her songs, combined with the authentic R&B/soul stylings of producer Mark Ronson, that I pestered friends endlessly to buy the record. Now how long had it been since I'd bothered to go back and listen to that music? Ever since Winehouse's name had become a punchline, I reckon.

In the context of Winehouse's death, listening to the Back To Black track "He Can Only Hold Her" becomes a grim metaphor for the addiction she struggled with so publicly. "He can only hold her for so long/The lights are on, but no one's home/She's so vacant, her soul is taken." Listening to the record again yesterday and today, it's clear that the thrill of Winehouse's vocal style was in how little control she sometimes seemed to have over it (another metaphor?). She was partial to the contemporary American Idol manner of embellishing with florid riffs and curlicues, but she lacked the plastic precision and hammy flash of, say, Celine Dion or Mariah Carey. Particularly onstage, she would sometimes veer daringly off the melodic line and careen into flatness or sharpness, only to redeem herself moments later with a beautiful, sustained vibrato and smokey decay. It was the quicksilver imperfection of her style, the wildness, the lack of control that made her singing so compelling. Winehouse did not possess polish, but at her best, she radiated authenticity.

The essence of Amy Winehouse's talent is in this acoustic performance of The Zutons' "Valerie." You may find plenty more vocally accomplished performances, but few so un-selfconsiously in the moment and deeply felt.

What a sad end to a woman with a definite talent.  Any time a drug takes a good musician from us I cringe.  We all know drugs kill.  We can only hope Amy's death does not go for naught.  Hopefully, others will see her errors and clean up their acts.  We [recovering addicts/alcoholics] understand how destructive our habits are to ourselves and others.  God bless you Amy and keep you.


Deficit reduction must increase revenue
   In the present political wrangling, people seem to lose sight of the fact that our government is controlled by rich corporations and the financial sector. Struggling working families did not create the current debt crisis, caused in large part by people who created unethical mortgages and financial derivatives.

  The rich increasingly control our government, regardless of who is president or which party controls Congress
   Now that we are in this debt ceiling crisis, Congress wants to cut programs that help low-income families, many of whom lost jobs during the recent financial crisis. Programs which have proven to be effective, such as Head Start and Child Care Development Block Grants (should not be cut. It will cost the taxpayers a lot more if children grow up and go to prison or to the emergency room for the flu. Children need to be educated so they can get living-wage jobs.
   Any deficit reduction agreement must include increased revenue. For example, why should corporations be allowed offshore tax havens and rich citizens get tax deductions for all of their homes?
   I ask our Congressmen Mike Simpson, Raul Labrador, and Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch, to vote for a deficit-reduction plan that includes new revenue and doesn’t cut programs that help low-income Americans. We will build a stronger America as we support people’s efforts to acquire education and jobs.
   Right-vs.-left fighting conceals the problem of top vs. bottom. Let’s create a stronger democracy, not a stronger plutocracy. 
n Kathleen Moyer, Nampa

Hip, Hip, Hooray Kathleen Moyer.  You make sense.  Just making cuts will not do the trick.  We have to go over the taxation codes and remove loopholes for the rich.  They need to pay according to their wealth just like I pay according to my wealth and you do too.  Come on folks let's take back our country and let's stop allowing the rich to take advantage of us. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ahhh, Sanity

Sky may be about to fall ... but then again, maybe not
   Run for the hills, everybody! Armageddon is imminent! The sky is beyond falling; it’s anvil-plummeting! Onto our heads so fast the clouds are whistling the love theme from the movie “2012.” The U.S. economy is about to melt down like a Popsicle left on a Palm Springs picnic table, and it’s only a matter of time before this country liquefies into Greece’s financial twin without the pleasant distraction of all that melodious zither music.
   Seniors and sick people and soldiers are destined to be tossed into the streets to battle mutant rats for food. The three branches of the government will inevitably be deemed too expensive and we’ll be forced to let one go. All hell is about to break loose. Don’t you get it? We’re doomed! Doomed! Then again, maybe not.
   What is clear is, well, nothing. We kind of, almost, pretty much, but might not really know for sure: Unless Congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, America’s authority to borrow money will expire and the government may or may not shut down. What that means, nobody knows. Could be not so good 
or it could be really, really bad or it could be stick your head between your knees and kiss your butt goodbye bad.
   And yes, I can hear you whispering, “Hey, schmucko, shutting down the government doesn’t sound half-bad to me. About time we kicked those freakin’ freeloaders off of the dole.”
   Point well taken. But understand — the responsibility for those big, red “Freeloader” stickers you’re so anxious to plaster on parasitic foreheads will not be given to you. It will be handed from one government 
bureaucrat to another government bureaucrat, which means your forehead could easily end up sporting a big, red sticker. Got to remember — one man’s pork is another man’s hickory-smoked bacon bits.
   Both parties are now striding histrionically across the stage pronouncing in loud mellifluous tones how determined and proud they are to stick to their core principles while demanding that the other side be the first to compromise. The theory being the other side is more likely to abandon their core principles because, let’s be honest, they aren’t really core principles at all, so much as they are re-election talking points. And you know what, they’re right. Who? Yes.
   The Republicans are demanding cuts in entitlement programs, which the president said he’d consider. The Democrats have, in a their own inimitable roundabout way, brought up the possibility of maybe raising taxes on a few rich people, 
which Eric Cantor, the Under Speaker of the House, says he won’t consider.
   And that, my friends, is pretty much where we stand right now. Although the word “stand” might be affording the participants a wee bit too much credit. Squirm. Slink. Skulk. Dodge. Creep. Crouch. Lurk. Loiter. Weasel. Cower. Any of these might be more apropos.
   Unfortunately, this is, was and forever shall be, the way of things in Congress. Much hollow bluster and empty fury in a noisy gamble to appease the base until it becomes crystal clear whom the general populace (Independents) blames for the gridlock, then everyone quickly signs something nobody likes and both parties walk off declaring victory. Think of it as the New Vietnamization of Congressional negotiation. No peace, and very little honor.
 Will Durst is a comedian and author of“The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing.”His website

No We Won't [accept govt. money] says Otter

After the 2011 legislative session, Gov. Butch Otter signed an executive order saying Idaho would neither enforce nor accept federal cash from the health care overhaul the state is suing to overturn. hehehehe...

But the Republican governor has now signed at least 10 waivers to his order, saying some programs made sense, were part of existing state programs or didn’t further the objectionable aspects of the law that he’s trying to block from taking effect.  What Dick ol Buchie is.  Caught his paw in a trap.

“The governor has always been clear. If someone wants to change his mind, he is open to letting them try,” Jon Hanian, Otter’s spokesman, said Tuesday. “But he has also indicated that before they launch into a sales pitch, they better do their homework and be able to back up their reasons. Obviously in the case of these approved waivers, they did.”  Ol' Buchie will change is mind at the drop of a hat with anyone who 'thinks.'  Something ol' Buchie doesn't do too well.

Under the waivers, for instance, the College of Southern Idaho could get $12.5 million for a project to help create education programs at Idaho’s six regional technical colleges. Those would train people who have lost jobs due to foreign competition for new careers in the energy, manufacturing and health care industries.

Idaho State University is due to get $1.2 million to support one of its two physician residency programs to help train family doctors, and another $642,404 for a physician’s assistant program that seeks to meet the medical needs of underserved populations in the state, particularly Spanish speakers.

“The funding does not implement new national health care provisions but is intended to sustain the development of new family doctors in the state,” according to Idaho State University’s waiver request.

The issue of how to handle money linked to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as the insurance overhaul is officially known, vexed the most recent Idaho Legislature.
Case in point: Lawmakers initially objected to the Department of Insurance’s $10 million budget for the fiscal year 2012 until the agency removed plans to accept $2.5 million from the federal government to help develop insurance exchanges that are part of the heath care overhaul.

Among the waivers now granted by Otter, the Department of Health and Welfare received six, including for a smoking cessation campaign, for a plan to create health homes for chronic illness sufferers who are the most expensive Medicaid clients, and $785,000 to boost the public health laboratory’s ability to identify and respond to disease clusters.

Tom Shanahan, an agency spokesman, said Tuesday the waivers allow his agency to continue several programs that had little to do with the federal health care reforms but were included in the funding that passed along with that bill when President Barack Obama signed it in March 2010.

For instance, the public health laboratory had already gotten $304,000 for its effort to tackle disease clusters prior to Otter’s executive order.

And Idaho has been getting federal funding to help health care providers adopt best practices for treating chronic diseases associated with diabetes, obesity, strokes and arthritis since 2008, but the funds were included in the health care reform bill.
Not being able to get the waiver would have left Idaho without the opportunity to receive more than $1.7 million over the next three years, Shanahan said.

“It really would have dramatic impact on many of our programs that really aren’t health care reform-related,” Shanahan said.

Just one request by Shanahan’s agency was denied, so far, for increased federal funding for 
Medicaid that would have allowed Health and Welfare to expand home and community-based services to some low-income residents who don’t qualify for those services now.

Hanian said the governor viewed that program as an expansion of Medicaid.

“That’s not something he supports,” Hanian said.

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