Hilary Running or Not, Low Income College Students, Tax Numbers, & Sequestered Housing Vouchers

New Orleans   Rain chased us all the way through southern Arkansas and into northern Louisiana until Tallulah, a small town at the gateway to I-20 named after the a girlfriend of a railroad engineer that may not have made it to marriage, but achieved some permanence as a way station along the tracks.  Waking up in New Orleans after two weeks, it was nice to hold papers in my hands for a change and “feel the news,” whether I liked it or not, and still find that there are few surprises.  For example:

  • Hillary Clinton:    I am surprised there is speculation about Hillary’s future?  I’ll help solve the mystery.  Hillary should not run, and she will not win, if she runs because, regardless of the damaged Republican brand, you can not run for the future, if you can not escape the past, and inevitably her campaign would be founded on the past. Nonetheless, she will not be able to resist wanting to run, even at 69 in 2016, simply “because it’s there.”
  • Low Income Students & College:      Even less of a surprise were the figures reported in the Times from respected scholars studying what it takes to get qualified, high performing lower income students to apply to elite colleges and universities, that might even be cheaper.  Turns out that if you contact them, they will apply.  Sending our straightforward, simply explanations to such families and students increased the application rate from the high 30% range to the high 50% range.
  • Republican “New” Math Sinking Sales Tax Substitute:    As part of the Republican governor’s ego surge on the path to the Presidency, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal jumped into the ranks of rightwingers trying to punish anyone but the rich and substitute a state income tax with an onerous sales tax that would jump the existing state slice from 4% to 5.88%.  Whoops, someone checked the math and, sorry about that, it would really be 6.25% for the state to try to balance.  Oh, and the money from the cigarette tax would be maybe $100 million or more short, too, according to researchers.  And, the switchover to private hospital management for the public hospitals, well, math again, the feds aren’t sure that qualifies for the Medicare dollars the governor was going to use to convince the privates to do the deal.  So, once again, not surprisingly, virtually no one wants to make the switch any more, including the business buddies, he was trying to toady to.  The powerful tourism industry knows that a 15+% sales tax could hurt convention business. The even more powerful Louisiana Association of Business & Industry doesn’t like.  All of the rest of us who actually care about the beleaguered low and moderate income families in this brokeass state, don’t think our consumer purchases should pay for his folly.  DOA, is my bet, if it ever comes to a vote.  Much like Jindal’s real chances at the White House.
  • Sequester Hits Housing Vouchers:   As the cuts come home, the poor will feel them painfully as well.  Housing authorities across the nation are going to see budget cutbacks.  In New Orleans the housing authority is projecting that the sequester cuts will slice 15% off of the budget.  In starkly painful terms that means that 800 of New Orleans’ low income citizens just saw their expected section 8 vouchers eliminated meaning that their rent subsidies and hopes for better housing just flew our of reach.

Voter Suppression Conspiracy Hounds Howling at the Moon

Little Rock  Nationally President Obama announced the formation of a panel that would convene for 6-months to look at the voting system in the United States in order to see if lines could be shorted and voting could be made less burdensome.  Meanwhile back at the ranch, a simple majority is enough to overturn a governor’s veto in Arkansas, so the likelihood of the Republican state legislature overturning the Democratic governor’s veto of another draconian voter ID requirement in order to suppress the vote is pretty much guaranteed.

Reading the convoluted arguments over the last week in the Arkansas newspapers has been an experience.  One op-ed was dripping with good intentions and sincerity, as the writer argued that it was ridiculous to think that anyone who was elderly would lack an ID.  Such a statement simply introduces a man who has no experience with the elderly and perhaps anything else walking and talking on two feet.  Over the last year I have hauled and rolled my dear mother, 89 years old, around from pillar to post to try to get her squared away with a valid “legal” ID to handle some legal  requirements she had.  Now, don’t misunderstand me, this is a woman of the world who could produce an aged passport, though expired, and several old driver’s licenses, though expired, and a small ream of other corroborating information, but nothing that would satisfy the governmental or financial establishment of her identity because they were expired.  Several of the writers assumed everyone had a driver’s license which is also patently absurd.   Simple examples of myopic mirror gaze of policy makers not willing to venture past much past the front door, country club, and, unfortunately, halls of government.

Thank god they are ever vigilant in solving a problem of voter fraud that by all evidence virtually does not exist in the United States, which is why all of this is so clearly about suppression of the vote, rather than regulating the voters.

The Texas GOP bulletin offers some clues for their concern.   One wacko speaker was quoted waving the ol’ bloody shirt with ACORN’s flag:

ACORN solidified its power in whatever community it was in by helping people with government assistance applications and voter registration.  After we processed your public assistance application, we knew where you belonged to each government program.  When it came time to fill a bus to the polls, the same person that helped you get food stamps or tax advice could show up and press you to vote.

I’ll be honest.  That was the dream for sure:  seamless organizing and political machine.  The practice, sadly, was millions of miles away from that vision.

The proof is simple to offer.  If we had been that well organized, we would have kicked all of these folks’ asses.  Given that they are still walking around talking  this stuff and passing these crazy laws and ACORN isn’t, then as they say in Latin, QED,  therefore it is proven.