On February 12, John Micek from the Patriot News took Michael Morrill from Keystone Progress to task for blasting out an email that called Tom Corbett a killer for not accepting medicaid expansion. I have my issues with Morrill from previous encounters at conferences over the years and I have issues with how Keystone Progress uses the 400,000 member email list, which isn’t used to promote intra party fighting to make the party more progressive. While I do not agree that Tom Corbett is “a killer,” I do believe that the Republican Party has a “let them die in the streets” mentality when it comes to supporting public institutions or public safety nets.
What are some GOP policies that Tom Corbett used to put the general welfare of Pennsylvanians on the line? In 2011, his changes to the CHIP program dropped 80,000 low-income people from program; a program that I was on for 8 years of life. The Morning Call wrote:
Declining enrollments in the Medicaid program under the Corbett administration has been a complaint of advocacy groups for some time. More than 80,000 kids were dropped from the rolls in 2011 and 2012 as the Department of Public Welfare tried to deal with backlogged cases.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report noted during that time frame most states saw gains in enrollment and Pennsylvania was one of the few states to see such a large drop.
“In fact, from August 2011 through November 2012, 98,149 children lost coverage through the medical assistance program,” the letter stated.
“This dual decline in enrollment indicates tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children who had health insurance months ago now lack any health care coverage. We are concerned that recent administrative changes to the CHIP program and failing to utilize best practices are causing a decline in completed renewal forms and first-time applications,” the letter added.
What about the fledgling Philadelphia School District where most schools don’t have nurses on duty? We saw how that worked out when Governor Corbett was holding $45 million in funding hostage from the PSD, and it was only released to the district days after a student died from an asthma attack suffered in a Philadelphia school that had no nurse present.
What about the Republican Party outside of Pennsylvania?
Well, we can thank North Carolina Governor Rick McCrory for covering up numerous coal ash spills by his former employer Duke Energy in North Carolina. These spills are going to be high in heavy metals and toxins which the true extent of their health effects won’t be noticed for decades to come. What about the 300,000 people in West Virginia who lost their drinking water through the Ayn Randian free market view on deregulating energy markets? Or the hundreds, if not thousands, of Pennsylvanians who cannot go to the Pennsylvania DEP because the Pennsylvania DEP has become an arm of the fossil fuel industry, like in so many other Republican controlled states? How about those in West, Texas when an ammonium nitrate explosion blew half the town off the map, and that plant wasn’t inspected for 20 years because of GOP attacks on OSHA?
How about the billions upon billions of dollars the national GOP cut from safety net programs like food stamps? Food insecurity in some cities are at all time highs. Ned Resnikoff from MSNBC writes:
The new clients are diverse—working people, seniors, single mothers—but many of them share something in common: they represent the millions of Americans who fell victim to food insecurity when the Great Recession hit in 2009, but didn’t benefit from the economic recovery.
And the worst may be yet to come.
Food activists expect a “Hunger Cliff” on November 1, when automatic cuts to food stamp benefits will send a deluge of new hungry people to places like the River Fund Food Pantry, which are already strained.
“I thought we were busy now; I don’t know what it will be like then, because all of those people getting cut will definitely be accessing a pantry,” said Das. “It definitely will be a catastrophe.”
John Micek is right when it is wrong to call a politician like Tom Corbett “a killer,” but make no bones about it. There is a party in our political system that privatizes the profits and socializes the loss of life when it comes to environmental catastrophes, and there is a party that has made kicking the poor a national pastime. And that party is the party the one Tom Corbett belongs to.