Monday, February 06, 2006

DeVos Considers Killing Medicaid

This is so wrong, mean-spirited and un-Christian-like. Dick DeVos, billionaire Republican nominee for governor, said he would consider killing certain aspects of Medicaid, much as the governor of Missouri did according to an article by Chris Christoff, columnist for the Detroit Free Press.
And what Missouri did was eliminate Medicaid for as many as 100,000 people, about 10% of its caseload, to save an estimated $310 million this fiscal year.

It stopped paying for so-called optional items like feeding tubes, walkers, crutches, prosthetics and physical therapy. It raised health care premiums for low-income families. It cut off Medicaid for disabled people who work part-time...

Well, besides cost savings, the Missouri plan produced media reports of hardship, like the disabled woman who wound up in a nursing home with body sores from a wheelchair because Medicaid stopped paying for her body braces.

Or the man who lost fingers to amputation, and blamed it on Medicaid cuts. Or a man who killed himself after Medicaid cut off his medication.

Granted, Medicaid costs Michigan $7.5 billion in state and federal funds, but the majority of that money covers health care for children, elderly and disabled people. As Mikevotes points out, "Why is it when the matter of social programs are brought up, Republicans talk about not wanting to just "throw money at the problem," and yet when the issue is defense or terrorism, that is all they want to do?"

Mike also points out that the Pentagon lost track of assets worth 1.3 TRILLION dollars.

Call it class warfare if you want, but I think there is something morally wrong with a person - and a country - that would consider taking health care away from its most vulnerable citizens.


Anonymous said...

It would be enlightening for you to actually watch and listen to the "Off the Record" from which this "article" is taken. DeVos never said he would consider killing aspects of Medicaid in Michigan--repeat, he never said it. The phrase around which Christoff extrapolates and spins his entire article was DeVos talking about leadership, and Granholm's lack thereof, using Blunt in Missouri as an example. You could try to argue that it's a poor example, because it's pretty evident that even as a tangential illustration the thought is too difficult or too painful for you to even begin to think about (which is certainly helpful in intellectual inquiry, argument, and democracy in general). You can try and twist it, turn it, and use it as a cheap catch-phrase to score political points, but it's clearly not DeVos' intention to announce his desire to "consider cutting Medicaid."

abi said...

anonymous, here is what DeVos said:

What would you prefer to do (to make up the $2B in loss revenue for eliminating the SBT)?

“What we wanna do, as an example, do what Matt Blunt….

Let's look at what Matt Blunt, who's the governor of Missouri, did in a totally different issue with regard to Medicare [sic]... and that was he simply said, ‘We're going to end the program’ and therefore we promoted then the discussion of how are we going to solve this. But he sent a very clear signal.”

How is the Christoff piece a distortion of this? What do you think he meant? (And please just make your argument without the attitude.)

Anonymous said...

Here's a larger clipping, capitalized emphasis mine.


DeVos: (in reference to eliminating the Single Business Tax) "BUT WE HAVE GOT TO SEND A CLEAR SIGNAL TO GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. The budget problem, we can deal with that, but let's get Michigan back to work.
That's the biggest issue.

Skubick: Let's be clear here, it's a 2 Billion dollar bill, and you're sitting here today telling us that you don't know how you would fill in that hole...

DeVos: I didn't say that Tim...

Skubick: Well I didn't hear an answer in there...

DeVos: What I said was, that we...that there are a multitude of ways that we can resolve the issue. What we want to do...lets, as an example, what ah, do what Matt Blunt, let's look at Matt Blunt, who's the governor of Missouri did, ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT ISSUE WITH REGARD TO MEDICARE. And that was, he simply said, 'We're going to end the program,' and therefore we promoted then the discussion of how are we going to solve this. BUT HE SENT A VERY CLEAR SIGNAL.
THIS GOVERNOR, THREE YEARS AGO, AS A CANDIDATE, SAID 'WE'RE GOING TO ELIMINATE THE SINGLE BUSINESS TAX. We are now three years later, and this Governor has said that 'we want to be careful we don't eliminate the single business tax,' in recent discussions with the legislature.
Where are we at on this? This single business tax is unique to Michigan..."


And on and on. As you can clearly see from a larger clipping, this is a reference to Blunt taking a stand on an issue and following through.

Now, you might disagree with Blunt on whether this was the right thing to do or not, but it's pretty clear to anyone who has eyes or ears that DeVos isn't laying out a case to cut 100,000 people off of Medicare and take away their feeding tubes and prosthetics, as Christoff says in the article. DeVos is talking about taking a stand on an issue, in this case the Single Business tax and his desire to eliminate it, and following through with it (unlike Granholm).

Again, you can try and argue that it is a bad example and so on, but this doesn't change the fact that DeVos simply isn't advocating cutting Medicare as Christoff claims. Christoff is blatantly manipulating this exchange and weaves an entire tear-jerking article around a lie.

Reposting and claiming this as truth does no-one good.

Kathy said...

Ah, anonymous, welcome back. I did watch and listen to the "Off the Record" program. Here is the link in case you care to watch and learn. The part in question starts about 15 minutes into the segment and DeVos did say exactly what abi quoted above.

There is another point worth bringing up from that program. DeVos wants to end the SBT because he feels the tax environment is too high in Michigan, yet it was pointed out that the Electrolux plant in Greenville was offered zero taxes to keep jobs here but it still wasn't good enough. High wages were the problem - not simply reducing business taxes - and lower wages came about by moving the jobs out of the country completely.

Michigan's employment problems are not going to be answered by simply reducing business taxes. Our work force is competing globally with India, China, etc., where wages are considerably lower. Michigan and our GOP controlled legislature reduced taxes 51 times since Granholm took office, but its been no magic bullet.

DeVos has to do better than simply saying he will eliminate the SBT without a real plan to replace the revenue - and cutting services to vulnerable citizens is no plan.

Anonymous said...

Actually, DeVos said exactly what I quoted above (more than abi's selectively edited quote), and it is not what Christoff, or you, or abi are saying. DeVos did not say that he wants to, is suggesting, or even thinking about cutting Medicaid. Changing the topic does not change this fact, so (again) please spare the moral self-righteousness.

DeVos does want to eliminate the SBT. The SBT is a particularly onerous tax, and as he explains, unique to Michigan. Now it's interesting that you then point out that "High wages were the problem" with the Electrolux closing. It sounds suspiciously to me like you're saying that Michigan workers are paid too much. It's funny that you can say the exact same thing that you accused DeVos of saying, and somehow it's magically alright and a strong argument in service of your viewpoint. It's even more funny and interesting because he never said it, and in fact his wife never said in the form you claimed in an earlier post. As far as the Electrolux problem in general? It was about a combination of factors--tax, regulation, wages, and on and on. The no-tax offer obviously didn't address all of those. DeVos isn't promoting elimination of the SBT as a "magic bullet" but rather a first step and clear signal as part of a comprehensive reform of state taxation and regulation, in order to make Michigan more attractive to employers and entrepreneurs.

As for the 51 tax cuts that Granholm likes to take credit for, they are due solely to the legislature. Granholm is not a tax cutter, and is so beholden to her myriad special-interest constituencies that her hands are tied when even approaching comprehensive reform of the business climate. A quick look at the people and organizations that give to her campaign reveals this. They are all highly invested in the bureaucratic, regulation, and taxation status-quo.

Yes, DeVos needs to and will put forward a plan for eliminating the SBT and replacing the revenue, as well as other measures to improve the business climate. And constant carping about his "lack of a plan" is pretty disingenuous, as Granholm wasn't anywhere close to having a plan in this stage in her campaign three years ago. Watch the latest "Off the Record," and hear Skubick talk about Granholm saying three years ago this time that "her handlers won't let her" speak about the specifics of her plan. At least DeVos is making his own decisions and isn't beholden to his "handlers."

So to come back around, saying that "DeVos Considers Killing Medicaid" or that he's considering "cutting services to vulnerable citizens" is false. Putting words like "mean-spirited," and "un-Christian-like," around it, and then changing the subject when the basic premise is questioned, is manipulative hyperventilation. I think you can do better.

abi said...

Anonymous, you're leaving out a big part of the equation. Skubick asked how DeVos plans to fill the large hole left by eliminating the tax, and the first thing out of DeVos' mouth is the Missouri example.

You're also not distinguishing between cutting spending from the budget (the Missouri Medicaid cuts) and cutting a source of revenue (eliminating the tax).

At the very least, DeVos evaded Skubick's critical question, as Kathy indicates. But it's very telling that DeVos associates the elimination of the tax with Missouri's Medicaid cuts. It's reasonable to conclude what Christoff wrote.

Kathy said...

Anonymous, let me highlight the telling portion of DeVos's conversation:

DeVos: What I said was, that we...that there are a multitude of ways that we can resolve the issue. WHAT WE WANT TO DO...

DeVos backpedals after that and tries to cover himself because he realized what he said. Listen to the conversation versus the written words. He got flustered and tried to regain his composure.

The bottom line is that DeVos is aligned with the GOP - the same party that recently voted to pass the Budget Reconciliation bill that cuts $50 billion from programs to aid America’s most vulnerable. DeVos associates himself with a party that likes to gut social safety nets and hand tax cuts to the rich. He is guilty by association and that is a reasonable conclusion.

I'm curious as to why you take such an interest in this election. I noted before that your IP address is in Illinois, and I also noted that Quixtar/Amway had at one time hired "geeks" to bomb Google and influence the search engine results. Are you a hired geek? Are you an Amway IBO? What level of the pyramid have you reached?

Anonymous said...

If you want to cut the entire exchange into specific soundbites and divine intentions from them, please go ahead. I think it's a pretty pointless and cynical process, but I guess mind-reading is in pretty high demand these days. Re-read and watch the entire exchange and actually understand it outside of your knee-jerk partisan filter. DeVos is talking about "What we want to do" as "sending a clear signal." Did he directly answer how he would replace the revenue from the SBT? No. Will he be doing so in the future? Undoubtedly, yes. If you wish to categorize his response as "telling," "flustered," and "backpedaling," you are entitled to your opinion, as it is based solely on your subjective reading of his demeanor.

Other people would argue that he was trying to stay on his point and message--the point about leadership and sending a clear signal--while Skubick was trying to back him into a corner. Regardless of either, the facts--what he actually said in totality, as recorded--tell a completely different story than the one you're spinning.

As for "the first thing out of his mouth" being the Missouri example, I've already stated that you can call that a bad example, it's your prerogative. But to extrapolate an example of "sending a clear signal" into a full-scale proposal (or "consideration") to eliminate an element of Medicade (as Christoff and both of you have done) is simply a lie--a cynical, manipulative, nasty lie. There are no other words for it, no matter how you slice and dice it.

So, by all means, continue to make blustering statements about DeVos being "aligned with the GOP" that "cut $50 billion from programs to aid America's most vulnerable" and wants to "gut social safety nets," making DeVos "guilty by association." It's abundantly clear that these statements and opinions come out of a combination of your particular worldview and MDP press releases. They actually serve to prove your irrelevance through your substitution of charged political rhetoric for any serious thought about governance. There's little I (or anyone else for that matter) could say to change any of your opinions.

As for my interest in this election, I would reply that IP addresses don't tell a whole story. I live in Michigan, and am interested in truth, not just partisan hackery and the amplification of Mark Brewer's latest talking points (as again, it's abundantly clear you are). But would you love it if I was in Chicago? Would that make every argument made null and void simply due to geography? Are you that parochial? Also, I am not a "geek," hired or otherwise, nor an Amway IBO.

But really, stop slurring the over-45 year old Amway Corporation as a pyramid scheme. It's pretty amazing the mental gymnastics required for you to simultaneously criticize DeVos for "not investing in Michigan" and call the business that you claim he "didn't invest in" a pyramid scheme. Last time I checked, actual pyramid schemes don't operate for nearly half a century and employ thousands of people, exporting billions of dollars of products to countries all over the world. Simply repeating the word "pyramid" does not form an argument. Try actually understanding how the business works and how thousands of people have built their own small businesses using the Amway system. And maybe take a look at and think about Michigan's export numbers to Japan that Granholm likes to trot out:
Michigan exports about $1 Billion worth of goods to Japan, of that $173.5 came from Alticor in Michigan. Oh, and China? $68.2 million from Alticor in Michigan.

But really, how important is 3,927 direct jobs in Michigan anyway? 3, 927 people with families and needs of their own? Or maybe the millions of Amway distributors worldwide who have built successful small businesses selling Amway products? After all, "Amway is not one of the largest businesses and employers in the State of Michigan," so what does it matter? I guess the answer is that none of these people matter much when your interest is in scoring a quick political point and trying to make a candidate look bad by constantly bad-mouthing his family's business.


abi said...

Anonymous, all your huffing and puffing doesn't change what DeVos said.

Bad example — is that your best defense? If DeVos doesn't know the difference between a spending cut and a tax cut, he shouldn't be running for any office.

Nice arguing with you.

Anonymous said...

I guess totally demolishing your lie that "DeVos considers killing Medicaid" is the best I can do and the best defense I can provide. It's becoming teeth-grindingly irritating to consistently explain this: It's called context. Following the context in which DeVos was speaking, he was talking about sending a clear signal. He was talking about leadership. He wasn't--I don't know how many times I can say this--talking about cutting programs, Medicaid or otherwise. Clearly you choose to consistently ignore this in the service of political expediency.

You can say that "DeVos said x, y, and z" and make him say whatever you want when you completely strip his and other peoples'words of context--even more so in spoken conversation. In fact abi, it almost seems from your response here that perhaps you don't even understand what this is about. Saying that DeVos might not know the difference between a spending cut and a tax cut? This statement has absolutely nothing to do with this argument whatsoever. It simply aims for a cheap political dig.

The bottom line is this--is Christoff right? Does DeVos want to eliminate an element of Medicaid? Maybe you should check DeVos' website, look for policy papers, and listen for other times in speeches and interviews that he's mentioned cutting Medicaid rather than play games stringing together phrases in an interview intentionally stripped of context. My bet is that you won't find anything, because DeVos hasn't made any sort of statement whatsoever that he's thinking or even dreaming about proposing to cut Medicaid. Christoff's article is nothing but a fabrication spun from manipulation or misunderstanding --your choice.

Now if I've learned anything in this exchange it's that all of this will change nothing in your minds. Whether or not DeVos actually wants to or will cut Medicaid, you will forever be convinced that deep down, no matter what he says or does, that's what he truly wants to do. I wish this was otherwise but I am not encouraged by this exchange.

Regardless, thanks for letting me stop by. I don't really think of my comments as "rude," but rather as "informed," as "thought through," and as "challenging to your knee-jerk assumptions." I apologize if my rhetoric has flown too high -- I only seek to respond to the high degree of aggrieved moral self-righteousness found within this and other posts.

Have a wonderful day.

Kathy said...

Anonymous, DeVos has not actually come out and said he would NOT cut Medicaid either. This is the closest I've come to reading anything from DeVos about how he plans to make up the lost revenue: MIRS reported that the DeVos campaign wrote in a “clarification” that to make up for the $2 billion in lost revenue DeVos would resort to “a partial shift to other sources.”

That clarification only mentioned other sources. I am not going to apoligize for sounding morally self-righteous. You don't know me, but I have voted left, right and independent over the years because I try to choose candidates that will serve all people - not just special interests or rich people. My faith guides me in my choices.

The Republican party put religion into mainstream discourse, and they used religion as a prism to judge other candidates. I don't see that as bad thing since I'm a Christian, but I don't like false witnesses either.

I know DeVos is an evangelical, but his actions lead me to believe he serves capitalism more than God. I'd like to think that if I were a billionaire I would have moved heaven and earth to keep jobs here in Ada instead of outsourcing them to Asia.

DeVos, Bush, DeLay and other Republicans talk about being Christians, but I see them acting in ways opposite to biblical teachings.

If I heard DeVos say in public - and on the record - that he would not cut Medcaid or any programs that benefit the poor, then I may feel encouraged. Unfortunately, Republican pledges haven't meant a whole lot lately. The party as a whole needs to give the public a reason to start believing what they say again.

You're welcome to stop by again. Maybe next time you could comment on another issue or Republican!