by Cascade Policy Institute Monday, March 30. 2015
By Steve Buckstein and Patrick M. Gleason
If Congress doesn’t act by the end of this month, when payment cuts to Medicare providers are scheduled to hit, there will be a major health care crisis. Topping the to-do list is addressing urgent problems with Medicare, the most costly federal program and the largest driver of national debt. Failure to act would have harsh ramifications for seniors and caregivers in Oregon.
The first step is to address accounting gimmicks that hide Medicare’s true cost and its effect on federal debt in the years ahead. The program operates under a phony spending baseline that conceals its true cost.
How did this come about? In 1997, Congress instituted a new spending formula, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). It would institute physician reimbursement rate cuts in order to ensure that Medicare spending did not exceed the rate of economic growth. Noble goal, except that’s not what happened. Continue reading →
Will Minimum Wage, corporate tax be on 2016 ballot?
By Taxpayer Association of Oregon OregonWatchdog.com
One of the Capitol rumors among State Lawmakers in Salem is that the highly controversial $15 minimum wage bill (HB 2500) may be referred out to the voters for the 2016 election. In addition to a minimum wage increase there could also be a corporate tax increase. Putting such measures on the ballot is not uncommon. Already a $15 minimum wage ballot measure has been drafted for the 2016 ballot. The measure is sponsored by Local 503 SEIU. Also several business tax measures have been submitted for the 2016 ballot including a measure to increase the corporate minimum tax and another to increase income taxes on higher wage earners (over $125,000).
The strategy may be to deflect the pain of voting on such anti-business measures from the lawmakers to the voters as well as putting something on the ballot to increase voter turn-out in a key Presidential election and unusual governor election. Referring the measures to voters would save government unions from having to spend any money or time getting the measures to the ballot. Continue reading →
“Today I think of our children, I think of the future of this great state. $7.255 billion is not enough. I believe this is not adequate and that we can, and should, do better for our children.” - Senator Jackie Winters (R-Salem)
“We had the chance to really make this a game-changer for our kids and schools. Instead, the party in power played the same game we’ve always seen.” - Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River)
“This budget is not adequate. We are dead last in graduation rate. Dead last. We can do better.” - Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton)Continue reading →
Every Session we deal with a few issues that seem to be designed to make some people feel good, but actually accomplish nothing. We had a hearing on just such a bill this week; it was Senate Bill 913 which would ban the sale of ivory (among other things) in Oregon. I am bringing this up now because I have received several hundred emails on the subject. Specifically the bill bans the sale of ivory in any form from elephants, hippopotamuses, mammoths, narwhals, walruses, and whales. It also bans the sale of products from rhinoceros horns. The first thing that strikes me is the fact mammoths are extinct, but we will let that go for now. Continue reading →
State Representative Bill Post has sponsored House Bill 3101 that protects accident injury victims from collection agencies while they are awaiting a legal action for the payments of their bills. The bill originated from a constituent horror story involving a family whose daughter was struck by a driver and hospitalized. As with most accident the family faced medical bills that were staggering. She took her case to court to recover medical expenses from the driver. Unfortunately, collection agencies were demanding immediate payments while the daughter was still going through the gradual process of the Justice system. Favorable judgments and settlements are common in accident cases but they can come far too late for many financially strapped citizens who cannot afford to wait. Continue reading →
by Cascade Policy Institute Thursday, March 26. 2015
By Steve Buckstein
This Saturday you’ll have the opportunity to vote with your light switches. Either turn your lights off from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time to “show your commitment to climate change action now” or turn your lights on to celebrate “human progress and our advancements in various fields of industry, including technology, medical, energy, and more.”