Author Archives: Billy Jobs

Obamacare Could Have Turned Millions of Uninsured Americans Into Voters

Mother Jones

Since the 2010 midterm elections, Republican-controlled legislatures in 21 states have made it harder to vote, enacting restrictions on early voting, ending same-day registration, and requiring government-issued ID at the polls. Many of these measures have been found to reduce turnout among poorer and minority voters.

Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act provided President Barack Obama with a tool that could have helped counter the effect of the new laws restricting voting and made it easier for non-white voters to get to the polls. But he decided not to use it.

The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, also known as the Motor Voter law, requires that departments of motor vehicles and other public assistance agencies provide voter registration services. According to HHS, the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act count as public assistance agencies under the statute. That means that the assistants who walk uninsured Americans through the exchange’s insurance sign-up process should also have to offer to guide applicants through the voter registration process. While HHS can’t directly control compliance at the state-run health exchanges, the agency can ensure that assistants who help the uninsured sign up for coverage on the federal exchange—called navigators—provide voters with step-by-step guidance on registering to vote. But that hasn’t been happening.

Voting rights advocates have been pressuring HHS for more than a year to reverse course and make sure navigators fully comply with the Motor Voter law. But since a backlash last year by Republicans, the administration has demurred. So the more than 5.4 million uninsured Americans who have signed up for insurance at since October 1, 2013 have not received extra assistance in registering to vote. Thirty-seven percent of the enrollees who chose to report their ethnicity were minorities.

Lawrence Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota and author of Health Care Reform and American Politics, told me earlier this year that the administration is “running from a political fight”:

GOP opposition to signing up new voters through the health insurance exchanges has been fierce. Right-wing talk show yeller Rush Limbaugh said in June that it shows “the purpose of Obamacare… It’s about building a permanent, undefeatable, always-funded Democrat majority.” In March, Republicans on the House Ways and Means committee worried about how Obama-friendly “associations like the now-defunct ACORN”—such as FamiliesUSA and AARP that the administration will fund to help sign up the uninsured—would use applicants’ voting information. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) wrote a letter to HHS this past spring, charging that the health care law “does not give your Department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote,” and asking HHS to provide justification for including voter registration questions in health insurance applications.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which Obama created last year to assess voting problems around the country, released a study in January calling for better enforcement of government agencies’ compliance with the Motor Voter law, noting that it was “the election statute most often ignored.”

While the federal exchange website provides a link to the federal voter registration website as part of the health insurance application process, advocates say the department has failed to ensure that navigators automatically offer people who need help with their insurance application aid with voter registration applications as well. “It’s likely that many thousands of citizens would have applied to register to vote if the administration had complied,” says Lisa Danetz, the legal director at the think-tank Demos. “And we know that once registered, people turn out to vote at a relatively good rate.”

It’s not too late for the administration to use Obamacare to help Americans register to vote. Another 10 million uninsured Americans are expected to obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act in 2015, and more than 24 million a year are expected to sign up 2015 and 2016.

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Obamacare Could Have Turned Millions of Uninsured Americans Into Voters

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If Hillary Runs, What Exactly Will She Run On?

Mother Jones

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Hillary Clinton may be the 800-pound gorilla among Democratic presidential candidates for 2016, but Andrew Sullivan thinks she has two big weaknesses:

What are her defining issues? Will she run on Obamacare — ensuring its success? Will she run on climate change? Or protection of entitlements? How would her foreign policy differ from Obama’s? Until we get a sense of where she is headed as far as policy is concerned, she runs the risk of appearing as some kind of large juggernaut that simply has to be elected, well, just because. Maybe being the first woman president would render all these other issues moot. But at some point, she will have to enter the fray. I’m not sure she’s actually fully prepped for that. Her campaigning and speaking skills are not as impressive as Obama’s.

But more importantly for me is the inability of her supporters to answer a simple question. I was having dinner with a real Clinton fan the other night, and I actually stumped him (and he’s not easily stumped). What have been Hillary Clinton’s major, signature accomplishments in her long career in public life? What did she achieve in her eight years as First Lady exactly? What stamp did she put on national policy in her time as Senator from New York? What were her defining and singular achievements as secretary-of-state?

I count myself as an admirer of Hillary Clinton, but I agree about this. As First Lady, she was the driving force behind health care reform, but that failed miserably. And now that Obamacare has been passed, it’s not an issue big enough to base a campaign on. As senator, she was known for working well across the aisle and being an effective representative for New York, but there are no big legislative victories to her name. And as secretary of state, she once again gained a reputation as diligent and effective, but not as a game changer. John Kerry may or may not end up accomplishing any more than Hillary did, but at least he’s showing some ambition.

And Hillary has another problem too: by 2016 she will have been in the public eye for 24 years. That’s unprecedented. In the modern era, Richard Nixon holds the record for longest time in the public eye—about 20 years—before being elected president.1 The sweet spot is a little less than a decade. Longer than that and people just get tired of you. They want a fresh face. That’s largely what happened to Hillary in 2008, and it could happen again in 2016.

But hey: records are made to be broken, and presidential candidates don’t always have a big signature issue to run on. Most of them don’t, in fact. For now, Hillary is still the clear front runner. Until she isn’t, anyway.

1In the political arena, that is. Ronald Reagan was famous for 40 years before he was elected president, but he only became prominent as a national political figure in the early 60s.

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If Hillary Runs, What Exactly Will She Run On?

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How Keeping Abortions Underground Makes Health Care Worse for Everyone

Mother Jones

Like many African nations, Kenya’s health care system faces many challenges, including severe rates of malaria and HIV/AIDS. But according to a new report published by the Kenyan Ministry of Health, one change could go a long way toward reducing stress on a hugely overburdened system: allowing more women to have an abortion.

Though Kenyans reconsidered an existing abortion ban when writing their 2010 constitution, the nation’s top legal document still virtually forbids the procedure. Exceptions are only allowed during health emergencies, as determined by a trained health professional (although at least one US congressman was outraged that even these exceptions made it into the final constitution). Yet outlawing abortion has done little, if anything, to reduce the number of procedures. In 2012, the period of the study’s analysis, researchers estimated that Kenyan women underwent nearly 465,000 induced abortions—about 48 for every 1,000 women of reproductive age, well above the estimated rates for both Africa (29 per 1,000) and the world (28 per 1,000).

But keeping abortions underground has led to an incredible rate of complications, putting a strain on an already overburdened health care system. In 2012, almost 120,000 Kenyan women, or more than a third of all women who underwent the procedure, experienced complications. The vast majority of these complications, the researchers found, followed “unsafe abortions” carried out by untrained people or “in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards.”

Most of these unintended side effects were quite serious: 77 percent of these 120,000 women suffered complications that were “moderately severe” or “severe,” according to the study. Out of 100,000 unsafe abortions in Kenya today, the researchers estimated, 266 women die. That rate is lower than the World Health Organization’s estimate for all of sub-Saharan Africa (520 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions), but far higher than in developed regions, where the rate is estimated to be 30 per 100,000.

Loosening the virtual abortion ban may not end Kenya’s flood of post-abortion complications overnight, but it could save innumerable lives. Kenya’s northern neighbor shows why: In 2004, following an outcry over abortion-related deaths, the Ethiopian legislature decriminalized abortion under certain conditions, such as rape, incest, or when the mother is a minor or has a physical or mental disability. About 27 percent of abortions in Ethiopia are now performed in clinical conditions, and despite lower life expectancy and a lower doctor-patient ratio than Kenya (both measures of overall health care quality), as of 2008, the rate of abortion-related complications in Ethiopia was only 20 percent—still high, but far lower than in Kenya.

But the real takeaway from this study, and why US states pondering their own supercharged abortion restrictions should pay attention, is how unsafe abortions harm more than just the women on whom they are performed. The researchers estimated that in 2012, more than 119,000 women in Kenya were treated for abortion-related complications. “The treatment of abortion complications uses a large amount of scarce health systems resources,” they write. In other words, unsafe abortions reduce everyone’s access to health care.

“Improved access to high-quality comprehensive abortion care,” the researchers state, “will not only save lives, but also reduce costs to the health system.”

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How Keeping Abortions Underground Makes Health Care Worse for Everyone

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House responds to Obama’s climate plan with an offshore drilling plan

House responds to Obama’s climate plan with an offshore drilling plan

Republicans in the House want to see a lot more of this.

Not pleased with the modest climate and energy reforms Obama unveiled Tuesday, the House sought to drown out the president’s call to “invest, divest” with a reprise of its favorite “drill, baby, drill” chorus.

In a 235-to-186 vote Friday, House lawmakers passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, which Climate Progress said “reads like Big Oil’s Christmas list”:

It would open virtually all of the U.S. Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast off Southern California, and much of Alaska’s offshore space to new drilling; require the Obama administration to create a new Five-Year Plan for offshore operations; and generally perpetuate an energy agenda driven by climate deniers.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), criticized the offshore plan Obama had put forward, saying it “includes no new drilling, which results in no new American jobs,” The Hill reports. Apparently it’s not a real job unless it’s an oil-industry job.

But actually lots of people in coastal communities make their livings in ways that have nothing to do with oil drilling, and can in fact be hurt by it. From Climate Progress again:

According to the National Ocean Economics Program, in 2011 the ocean economy accounted for 2.7 million jobs and contributed more than $250 billion to our GDP.

Nearly 2 million of those jobs occur in fisheries, tourism, and recreation — all industries that would be put at tremendous risk by expanded offshore drilling activity.

Meanwhile, offshore minerals production supported 143,000 workers. In other words, jobs that depend on healthy, unpolluted, undeveloped ocean space outnumber oil and gas jobs 15 to 1.

Obama has said he would veto the bill.

But now that the president has publicly committed to using his executive power to fight climate change, expect GOP lawmakers to try to fight back in any way they can.

Claire Thompson is an editorial assistant at Grist.

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House responds to Obama’s climate plan with an offshore drilling plan

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Supreme Court: Arizona Law Requiring Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote Is Unconstitutional

Mother Jones

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The US Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that required people to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The case, Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, concerned Arizona’s Proposition 200, which was passed by voters in 2004 during the fight over President George W. Bush’s immigration reform proposal. The now-defunct law required new voters to prove that they’re citizens during the voter registration process. That proof could be in the form of a driver’s license number, a copy of a birth certificate, a copy of a passport, copies of naturalization documents, a Bureau of Indian Affairs card number, a tribal treaty card number, or a tribal enrollment number.

Unfortunately, millions of US citizens—mostly poor and elderly people—lack documentary evidence of their citizenship. Because of that, thousands of US citizens who should otherwise have been able to vote—31,000, according to the American Civil Liberties Union—were denied access to the ballot box under Proposition 200.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires only that potential voters check a box on a form attesting that they are citizens and eligible to vote. During oral arguments before the high court in March, the groups challenging Proposition 200 said that the federal voter registration law and the stricter Arizona law were incompatible, and the federal statute should take precedence. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, defending Proposition 200, said the federal requirement was “essentially an honor system” and that the two laws should be allowed to coexist. The Supreme Court decided the anti-Proposition 200 forces were right, and the federal law trumped Arizona’s.

But voting rights advocates aren’t out of the woods yet. At SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston notes that although the justices ruled that the state’s requirements were out of line with federal election law, states that want to require potential voters to provide proof of citizenship may still be able to convince the Election Assistance Commission or Congress to implement such a requirement. The court also said that states could claim they had a constitutional right to require proof of citizenship for voter registration—an argument Arizona did not make in this particular case. In other words, there’s a strong chance that Arizona or any other state that wants to could eventually get strict proof-of-citizenship requirements into law.

“The opinion seemed to leave little doubt that, if Arizona or another state went to court to try to establish such a constitutional power, it might well get a very sympathetic hearing, because that part of Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion laid a very heavy stress on the power of states under the Constitution to decide who gets to vote,” Denniston wrote.

Arizona voting rights advocates will also have to deal with a batch of election-reform bills sitting on Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk right now that could derail mail-ballot collection drives and purge the state’s permanent early voting list.


Supreme Court: Arizona Law Requiring Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote Is Unconstitutional

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Spy Kids: The NSA Is Looking for the Next Generation of Sneaky Geeks

Mother Jones

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Although the National Security Agency is incredibly secretive and could probably care less what you think, it does have an interest in helping our kids become great mathematicians. The NSA is the largest employer of mathematicians in the country, so, the agency explains, it is “critically dependent on the continuing development of first-class American mathematicians.”

Enter the CryptoKids, the NSA’s band of codemaking and codebreaking cartoon characters. There’s Cyndi, one half of the CyberTwins, a cat with braces, two-tone hair, and what may be Google Glass. Her advice for online-savvy kids: “Mom says that once something is out on the Internet, it will be there forever, and ‘might come back to haunt us one day.'” Her brother Cy, a malware victim, also values his digital privacy and security: “The stuff on my computer is really important to me, and I don’t want anyone getting in and messing it up again!”

The CryptoKids. NSA

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Spy Kids: The NSA Is Looking for the Next Generation of Sneaky Geeks

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How To Find A Solar Panel Contractor Who Could Really Get You Out Of Trouble

Your current renovation projects could really use a reliable contract worker. Keep in mind that, among the many options, not all are good. Don’t lose hope, however, because the process should not be as arduous and uncertain as it sounds–especially if you check out the following considerations.

Make sure that your solar panel installation contractor is not charging any charge for giving you an estimate amount for your project. It is the sign of good contractors that they know the estimate price of materials and labor. But you need to make sure that there can be unexpected increase in the final amount by the end of the project and you should be prepared for that.

Do not select a solar panel installation contractor based solely on a good advertisement or large billboard. Make sure to research a potential contractor thoroughly before you consider hiring them. Their advertisement claims may or may not be legitimate.

You should only accept referrals for potential solar panel installation contractors based on work similar to that which you need performed. Never listen to an opinion about a contractor in a job completely different from your own. While problems in one job may indicate the potential for problems in another, you also need to check for the ability to complete the job you have in mind.

Spell out all requirements and expectations in the contract that you sign with your solar panel installation contractor. Just because a contractor usually takes responsibility for certain tasks, does not mean your contractor will and without these stipulations in the contract, you will not be able to hold them to these responsibilities.

When you’re hiring a solar panel installation contractor, you’re going to have a lot of information in front of you – your research on that contractor, as well as whatever they are telling you. Ask the contractor to be specific with you and only give you the information you need to know – after all, if you needed to know all the details, you wouldn’t have had to hire anyone!

After several meetings with different solar panel installation contractors, be patient and see who will contact you. It will be a symbol of great professionalism for anyone to contact you. This is a good method of narrowing your list. This can really help to narrow down your choices between a few that were hard to pick from.

Based on the fact that the solar panel installation contractor has to deliver quality without overcharging, you will have to find out what has to be done and the contractor will have to sign a contract regarding that. Confirm with the contractor his/her priorities and ensure that they satisfy you. Remember to always inspect the work site to check for professionalism.

By making your solar panel installation contractor sign a lien release, you are helping to protect yourself and your business. This lien will hold the contractor responsible for making all payments for materials during your project.

Did these ideas spark an interest about perth solar power? Why not go to Google and start entering solar panels perth wa? We promise you might learn fantastic answers.

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