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By Claire McClinton
FLINT, MI—Some recent meetings held in each of Flint's nine Council Wards, along with a recent City Council meeting, have turned into clashes with the newly appointed Emergency Manager, Mike Brown. Brown came in December, 2011. He suspended City Council meetings and decision-making power, while assuming the authority of both the Council and the Mayor. Soon, he closed the Ombudsman office, a watchdog agency popular to Flint citizens and a part of the City charter he chose to disband.
In an attempt to report to the community and solicit input and answer questions, the Emergency Manager found himself confronted by enraged citizens questioning his right to be in charge. Flint is a city with a long history of unionism and a reputation for leading the causes of social justice. A hired gun to rule over the people is not a good fit.
The people challenged his authority as an assault on both the US as well as the state constitution. Taxation without representation, they charged. More than one likened his presence as a throwback to Hitler’s Germany. Some questions were not answered. What happens if we the citizens disagree with your decisions? With the Mayor and Council clearly out of power, why are they getting paid at all? Will the Emergency Manager lower his own salary? Will you bust unions in order to save money? Will our Water Treatment (a source of city revenue) be privatized? Neither the Emergency Manager, nor the governor for that matter, will explain to us how trashing our democracy, selling off public assets, and dismantling union contracts can put our financial house in order. High unemployment, rising poverty, foreclosures, crime, and despair are relegated to the “to do” list.
As Flint's Emergency Manager finishes his citywide input meetings, over 200,000 signatures are being delivered to the state capitol in Lansing, MI to be put on the ballot for the citizens of Michigan to overturn this law—Public Act 4. This law is not just a bad idea but a declaration of class war. It signals that our ability to 'share the wealth' is not up for negotiation or for election. The economic and political future of the people is up for grabs. The people of Flint are showing that they are up for the challenge.
Detroit demonstration for healthcare and welfare.
By Al Gladyck
In United Auto Workers 2011 Special Convention On Collective Bargaining, we sank deeper into the quicksand called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The convention health care resolution contained two contradictory statements (page 29):
On the one hand we want to “Restrict the new law, and will push employers to join us in our fight for universal coverage.”
And on the other hand we want to “Work to defend the improvements brought about by the ACA, and enshrine these provisions in our contracts. We will challenge any employers who are supporting efforts to repeal or restrict the new law.”
To understand what is going to happen when PPACA is implemented in 2014, we must understand that this new law is based on the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act of 2006 (Chapter 58) and we must look at Chapter 58’s outcome.
Chapter 58 has its origins in the Bush Administration. In 2006, the federal government refused to release $385 million in Medicaid funds to the state, unless public healthcare programs were drastically cut or eliminated. In other words, the aim of Chapter 58 was to eliminate public healthcare for people who did not qualify for Medicaid and didn’t have medical insurance by mandating that they buy it.
The failure of Chapter 58 is the fact that the cost of healthcare insurance keeps rising in the state and access to healthcare has actually declined. Legal residents will be unable to afford even subsidized healthcare insurance. So-called “illegal” residents are faced with less and less access to public healthcare programs because that money is now used to subsidize medical insurance companies.
The failure of PPACA is that it does not control the cost of medical insurance and more and more legal residents of the country will be unable to afford even subsidized medical insurance. And so-called “illegal” residents will be faced with less and less access to public healthcare programs because that money is “earmarked” to subsidize medical insurance companies.
We cannot continue to believe that PPACA would be for everyone except us. The companies know that PPACA is for everyone, especially us. And they have the government on their side.
Regardless of the propaganda campaign that the Democrats are on the side of PPACA and the Republicans are against PPACA, it is a “bipartisan” law that is “subsidized” by tax money that was used to fund public healthcare programs. And that bipartisanship is the political face of the class of billionaires and millionaires and the corporations they own.
Medicare For All (HR 676) will provide truly universal health care:
EVERYBODY IN NOBODY OUT—Gives every resident of the united states and the U.S. territories access to all medically necessary health services including vision and dental with no co-pays or deductibles regardless of employment, income or health status.
NON-PROFIT HEALTH CARE—Converts all health care providers to a not-for-profit service where illness is no longer a source of wealth for a few.
SINGLE PAYER—Pays for that expanded coverage by maintaining the present level of federal and state funding for health care, as well as turning the premiums now paid to private medical insurance companies into medicare premiums that are shared by every employee and employer.
It is time for us to go back on the offense. It is time for us to support Medicare For All (HR 676) again and reject PPACA for the pool of quicksand it is.