Wednesday, April 20, 2016
► In the Boston Globe — Special interest groups want to privatize the VA and nobody is paying attention (by Paul Glastris) — Should America’s veterans receive health care at hospitals and clinics run by the federal government, as they have for more than a century? Or should they be treated by private doctors and hospitals, with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) picking up the tab? This enormously important question will be discussed, and perhaps decided, at this week’s meetings of the Commission on Care, a federally chartered group that is writing binding recommendations on the future of the VA. If you’ve never heard of the Commission on Care, you’re not alone. Virtually none of the mainstream news outlets have covered its public hearings, which have been going on since the fall. The reason Washington is even considering such a radical restructuring of the VA has to do with widely publicized reports in 2014 that 40 veterans in Phoenix died waiting for first-time appointments with VA doctors. But those reports turn out to have been baseless allegations cooked up by a Koch brothers-funded group, Concerned Veterans for America, and key Republicans lawmakers who ideologically favor the outsourcing of VA health care.
► From Daily Kos — Inside the Koch Brothers’ plot to sell out veterans’ health care (by AFGE President J. David Cox) — Of the 15 Commission on Care appointees, four are high-level private hospital executives that stand to profit from privatization. One is openly on the payroll of the Koch-funded Concerned Veterans for America. Even worse, not a single mainstream Veterans Service Organization like the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans have a seat at the table. Plain and simple, the Commission has been rigged against veterans from the start, and the results could be devastating for millions of veterans and their families.
TAKE A STAND! — Call your lawmakers at 202-224-3121 and tell them: do not privatize veterans’ health care by selling out veterans to the lowest bidder. It’s time to properly fund and staff the VA.
► In today’s News Tribune — Inslee vetoes major parts of bill to improve Western State Hospital — The governor vetoed several sections of SB 6656, including a portion that would have allowed psychiatric nurses with advanced degrees to fill vacant psychiatrist positions at the hospital. He also vetoed a section that would have used financial incentives to try to reduce the use of state-run psychiatric facilities. The governor said he wants an outside consultant to review the hospitals’ structure and financing before making a decision on those matters.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Appointed to County Council, Dunshee resigns from state House — Snohomish County Councilman Hans Dunshee has resigned from the state House of Representatives and the process to fill his seat has started… An appointee would serve until November, when voters will elect someone to serve the full two-year House term. Former Snohomish County executive John Lovick, who announced his candidacy for the seat in February, said Tuesday he’ll seek the appointment.
► In today’s NY Times — States lead the way on paid family leave (editorial) — Credit is due to both California and New York, as well as a handful of other states, for advancing the cause of paid family leave. But some approaches are better than others. A crucial measure of success is the actual use of paid leave by those at the bottom and middle of the income ladder, where the need for financial support and job security during leave is most acute.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle City Council showdown ahead over vacating street for Sodo arena — The Seattle City Council will vote May 2 on whether to give up Occidental Avenue South so Chris Hansen can build his proposed Sodo arena after a transportation subcommittee voted to forward the issue.
► In the News Tribune — Tacoma methanol project canceled — Amid widespread public criticism of the project and several port commissioners’ signals it had lost their support, the China-backed company behind the $3.6 billion project on the former Kaiser smelter site said it had canceled the proposal.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Electroimpact president to apologize for anti-Mosque efforts — Peter Zieve, president of the aerospace firm Electroimpact Inc., who has been criticized for mailing an anonymous citywide postcard as part of campaign to oppose plans for a local mosque, now says he plans to apologize for his actions.
► From AFL-CIO Now — New video warns that TPP would double down on NAFTA’s economic devastation — When global companies move jobs offshore to take advantage of trade deals, they not only destroy jobs, they suppress wages, deprive local governments of needed resources and leave working families behind.
► From PubliCola — Jayapal, Walkinshaw in fundraising dead heat in race for Congress — The candidates in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) have reported their latest fundraising results. State Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D-37th) and state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D-43rd) are basically in a dead heat.
► From AP — Trump, Clinton win on home turf in New York primary — Front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton swept to victory with ease in Tuesday’s New York primary, with Trump bouncing back from a difficult stretch in the Republican contest and Clinton pushing closer to locking up the Democratic nomination.
► In today’s NY Times — Sanders, Kasich should ignore any pressure to quit (editorial) — New York’s primary results will bring new calls for both parties’ underdogs to drop out. They shouldn’t…. Sanders’s presence has made this an immeasurably more substantive race, in which both candidates’ policies have been better vetted, and as a result, better delineated. That’s the best preparation for the general election. Yes, Hillary Clinton’s lead is nearly insurmountable, but it should be voters who erase the “nearly.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Democrats are winning the Supreme Court fight over Merrick Garland. Big time. (by Chris Cillizza) — Initially, public opinion was deeply divided — largely along partisan lines, with Democrats on the side of a confirmation vote held before the end of the year and Republicans content with leaving the seat open until a new president took office. In March, opinion was moving toward the “vote this year” option. In the poll released Monday night, a majority now believe the Senate should hold a confirmation vote on Garland this year.
► BREAKING from AP — Supreme Court upholds Arizona redistricting plan — A unanimous Supreme Court says an Arizona commission did not violate the principle of one-person, one-vote when it redrew the state’s legislative districts in a way that created some with more residents than others.
► From the American Prospect — From Verizon to McDonald’s, the worker strikes back — The two strikes are very different: One is the traditional type of work stoppage that once built working-class power and income, but has faltered as the share of union membership in key industries has been gutted over the decades; the other is a more limited alternative that has become a favorite tactic for non-union workers to achieve workplace gains through legislation. But the tale of the two strikes embodies the central challenge of the labor movement. In order to survive, labor must balance the interests of its existing membership in established (and sometimes shrunken) sectors with those of new organizing ventures in sectors previously thought impossible to organize.
► From CBS News — Workers’ next big fight: Fairer scheduling — Americans at the lowest rung of the wage ladder are looking forward to hourly pay hikes in cities and states including New York and California [and Washington]. Yet there’s a troubling and escalating trend of underemployment and scheduling hurdles that make it next to impossible for many workers to get ahead, worker advocates say.
► In today’s Washington Post — One of the nation’s largest pension funds could soon cut benefits for retirees — More than a quarter of a million truckers, retirees and their families could soon see their pension benefits severely cut — even though their pension fund is still years away from running out of money. Within the next few weeks, the Treasury Department is expected to announce a crucial decision on whether it will approve reductions to the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund, one of the country’s largest multi-employer pension plans.
► From KUOW — A union firebrand speaks out on politics, testing, and more — As president of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen Garcia represents 3 million classroom teachers, plus support staff like school bus drivers, classroom aides and substitutes. The NEA has 200,000 members who work on university campuses as well, for an overall membership that makes it the largest single organization in the shrinking category of organized labor.
► From Think Progress — New York City’s ambitious ban-the-box law is already transforming lives — New York City’s new law bans employers from asking job applicants about their criminal histories in all initial applications, including job ads and application forms. But it also keeps employers from doing a background check until they make any conditional job offers so that applicants are evaluated on their merits.
► From Huffington Post — Raising the minimum wage could give Democrats the economic edge (by Richard Kirsch) — Despite decades of better economic performance under Democratic administrations, the public continues to give Republicans an edge on which political party is better for the economy. One reason is that Republicans have a consistent theory and narrative of how to grow the economy: businesses are the job creators and government should not get in the way of markets. Democrats, by contrast, talk about economic fairness — and the public overwhelmingly sees Democrats as standing on the side of the middle class — but talk much less about how to grow the economy. When they do, it is often backing policies like tax breaks and subsidies for business, reinforcing the Republican narrative. Now some Democrats, backed by economic research, are making the case that raising the minimum wage boosts jobs and economic growth by adding consumer purchasing power to the economy. They understand that if Democrats can be the party of fairness and growth, it will take away a key Republican strength with voters.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.