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Posts published in “Day: May 3, 2015”

Deep spending cuts


House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal on a budget resolution. That agreement then would go to each House for a vote. (An outcome that is not certain.) But, if it passes, it would be the first budget enacted by Congress in six years.

Let’s be clear about this plan: It would require deep spending cuts in federal Indian programs.

While the budget itself is not law, it sets limits for each of the appropriations committees to follow. According to a report from The Associated Press the draft document adds some $40 billion to military spending and calls for deep cuts to all domestic programs, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

“The plan sets broad budget goals but by itself has little teeth; instead, painful follow-up legislation would be required to actually balance the budget,” the AP said. “It also permits the GOP majority to suspend the Senate’s filibuster rule and deliver a special measure known as a reconciliation bill to Obama without the threat of Democratic opposition. Republicans plan to use the special filibuster-proof bill to wage an assault on Obama’s Affordable Care Act rather than try to impose a variety of painful cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, and other so-called mandatory programs over Obama’s opposition.”

The House budget is blunt about the next steps required to balance the budget within a decade, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “None of the reforms proposed in this budget will be able to solve the underlying challenges in our health care system so long as Obamacare remains on the books. Our budget fully repeals Obamacare,” according to the budget plan.

This very notion sets up an debate. President Barrack Obama would need to sign any appropriation into law — so a veto threat has merit. But the Congress still must pass a bill to appropriate money that would defy their own budget rules on programs such as the Indian Health Service (because some of that agency’s authorizing legislation is the Affordable Care Act. Remember: The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a chapter of the ACA.)

This debate is going to be difficult to resolve.

At the same moment that the Congress is pursuing its latest “repeal” of the Affordable Care Act more states, even states controlled by Republicans, are moving forward with an expansion of Medicaid. This may be the most important part of the Affordable Care Act, especially for Indian Country because it’s adding new dollars to the underfunded health care system. Montana is the latest state to expand Medicaid. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing papers released from St. Luke's lawsuit (Boise Statesman)
Aftermath of $61m mess in school broadband (Boise Statesman)
Higher costs and delays at IF waste treatment (IF Post Register)
Debate arises over Caldwell ethanol plant (Nampa Press Tribune)
School admins working through career ladder (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU plans to build new basketball stadium (Pocatello Journal)
E Idaho law enforcement reviews gang threat (Pocatello Journal)
INL waste treatment center pircy, still not working (TF Times News)

Lane Co vehicle fee will go on ballot (Eugene Register Guard)
Legislators consider policy on cop cams (Eugene Register Guard)
Large solar power effort planned for bypass (KF Herald & News)
PERS ruling creates hard budget choices (Medford Tribune)
Rents rising fast around Medford area (Medford Tribune)
The USDA and salmonella chicken cases (Portland Oregonian)

Snohomish PUD contract examined (Everett Herald)
Pasco School Board accused of meeting closures (Kennewich Herad)
Major jellyfish bloom in Puget Sound (Seattle Times)
Sheriff and union disagree over Pierce jail (Tacoma News Tribune)