Wednesday, March 30, 2005

One detail that stood out during the Congressional debate over the Shiavo bill was an almost complete inability to pronounce Shiavo's last name correctly. Most of the Congressmen pronounced her name She-i-vo, while the correct pronunciation is Shai-vo. This doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it does lead one to wonder about the Congressmen who were taking such constitutionally questionable steps for a person whose name they couldn't even pronounce.

By the time of Congress's involvement, Shiavo's name was nearly a household name. There had been a series of cases involving the family that had gained national attention over the years, yet there were Congressmen giving speeches asserting positive diagnosis of Shiavo's condition (and were near to giving odds on her readiness to spring from the bed) who were unable to pronounce her name.

You would assume that a Congressman would take the time to evaluate a case to have a full understand of the situation, especially in the case of legislation that may raise serious constitutional questions. It would also be fair to assume that through said study (in this case, dozens of court cases, the 14 years of medical records and the numerous journalistic investigations) one would have come across the proper pronunciation of the name of the subject.

While that is not a damning evaluation of individual legislators' understanding, it does raise questions as to the forethought given to such a radical piece of legislation. If the Congress is going to craft legislation that raises so many questions regarding federalism, religion, privacy, custody and proper medial treatment, you would hope that your legislator would take the time to adequately familiarize himself with the relevant information.

That said, when such questionable legislation is created in the name of one individual, you should have the assurance that your Congressman knows the name the person for whom they are working.

- Murphy

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Post-Dispatch ran a hard-hitting editorial this past Sunday. Titled, The Shameless 20, the piece takes the Republican Senators who voted to cut Medicaid to task.

The article hit on all the salient facts surrounding the Medicaid issue. They address the fact that Medicaid makes health care more efficient by providing help earlier, rather than waiting for someone to show up in an emergency room. Preventative care saves everyone money by keeping costs down.

It also address the ignorant assumption that Medicaid only serves those who are too lazy to help themselves. In an age when more and more people find themselves working low-wage jobs with no benefits who can't afford the hundreds of dollars a month that insurance can cost, using the government's resources to help offset some of those costs is the ethical thing to do. Medicaid also helps those who are retired or disabled and are unable to go out and find other means to cover expenses whose growth consumes more and more of their fixed income.

They also pointed out the irony that 17 of the 20 Senators who voted for the cuts receive benefits paid for by the taxpayers.
Politicians have come under fire in the past for receiving medical benefits and they have argued, correctly, that their government responsibilities may not always allow them to earn much when the legislature is not in session and since they make so little, they need the benefits they might not otherwise be able to afford. But how can they also argue that it is wrong to use the government's resources to help the other Missourians who can't cover the rising cost of health care?

One final point they make, which is somewhat overlooked, is that the state investment in Medicaid is reinforced by federal funds. These funds not only represent heath care services, but it is also money going into Missouri's economy. The hospitals, clinics, doctors and nurses who provide heath care, as well as all the suppliers who support them benefit, and as a result Missouri's economy benefits. They all pay taxes and spend their money in their community. Cutting $250 million in state funds results in an overall loss of $737.4 million in investment. That is even before the investment multiplier kicks in. There is also an economic impact due to lack of insurance. It means more work hours lost as well as higher treatment costs that may eventually be passed onto the consumers (the people of Missouri). Lost productivity and higher costs will stifle business growth faster than any lawsuit.

Certainly there are ways to try and reduce the costs of heath care, but those require time and effort. Knee-jerk cuts to Medicare are bad for Missouri, no matter how you look at it.

- Murphy

The owner of that sweet St. Louis landmark, Crown Candy Kitchen died this past Sunday of complications due to Parkinson's disease. The Post-Dispatch has a good story on the history of that timeless shop and the family that owned it.

I remember many a night trekking up to Crown Candy from South City. My father or one of the other parents form the neighborhood would drive us up after school functions. It didn't matter if it was a game or one of the mandatory school band concerts. I think my father really enjoyed going and he used us as an excuse. Now that I think of it, he was always the one to suggest Crown Candy as a post-event stop.

I even know a few people who still make it there about once a week for a sundae or a split.

- Murphy

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Post-Dispatch endorsed Democrat Rick Johnson in the race for the 22nd District Senate Seat.

This race has generated a lot of interest. Both the state and national parties are watching to see how this race plays out. The 22nd District isn't an essential seat, in that it won't change the Republican control of the state government. However, the 22nd is a Democratic stronghold and the Republicans are going to see if their success in other parts of the state will help them break loose a just enough voters in the 22nd.

Johnson is the presumed winner in this race, but the interesting aspect is what effect Republican Bill Alter's campaign will have. Unless the Republicans make a good showing in this race, it may represent a breakwater for the Republicans in Missouri. They may have scooped up all the territory they can reach.

If the Republicans do come out strong, it may lead to more high-finance campaigns targeting any and every Democrat in the state. It is unusual to see State Senate candidates use television, like Alter has done, but the Republicans obviously feel that it can make the difference.

Yet their focus on high-profile, high-expense advertising may be undercut by Johnson's focus on door knocking and hand-shaking. Johnson has a large number of volunteers out canvassing the county and he has focused on personal contact.

Reports from the field have indicated that, due to the fact that both candidates use their naval service in their bio, some voters think Johnson has his own t.v. ads out there, even though he doesn't. This doesn't bode well for Alter, but the confusion may worry both candidates in that the voters aren't all that aware that there is an election coming up.

Johnson may be hurt less by this confusion thanks to his focus on traditional door-to-door politic, but no politician likes to hear that the voters don't realize an election is around the corner.

This race has been described by some as a referendum on Gov. Blunt's policies, and it may well be. Alter has aligned himself in terms of policy with Blunt. Yet it may also play a larger part. as a thermometer for Republican v. Democrat policies in out-state areas. We will have to watch the final days and look at the returns before the tea leaves really begin to speak.

- Murphy

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Republican Party in Missouri has for decades touted itself as the party of fiscal responsibility. This has been a constant rhetoric in party-line arguments. You often hear it from those who support the Republican party as well.

The refrain is that the Republicans will let you keep your money and give you a smaller government. It makes for a good soundbite but, as is the case with most slogans, it doesn't exactly jive with reality. While most sales pitches include some fine print, these claims never do.

What the Republicans fail to explain is that there is an essential and intimate feedback loop between all sectors of the economy. It's a simple matter of supply and demand, and this is especially the case with government services. Often these are essential services provided to people of lesser means but can also include financial help to businesses. The basic idea behind both is that small investments now can lead to greater returns down the road. Often when it comes to social services, people factor in a moral or ethical obligation, which I agree with, but isn't essentially the best argument.

The Republicans in Missouri, however, have proven that short-sited political gain is more important than responsible fiscal governance. Their number one pledge is, "no new taxes," regardless of the nature of the situation. The Republican Majority leader in the U.S. House, Tom DeLay, once said there is no more important goal for a nation at war than to cut taxes. While no one wants to be taxed unnecessarily, revenue has to be collected in some form or another.

Instead Missouri Republican's first order of business has been to eliminate spending in areas they philosophically despise, despite reasonable and practical arguments for their continued existence. The most glaring example would be the recent vote in the Senate to cut medicare to almost 100,000 people in Missouri, mostly women and children with little in the way of financial resources. In other cuts the Republicans clearly demonstrated little care for the effect their actions would have. Governor Matt Blunt said that he was just trying to make changes to the program when he reduced First Steps funding to $0. He barely took the effort to create believable political cover. Blunt has since spent the past months trying to backpedal away from that decision.

The Senate President Pro Tem, Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood), acknowledged tonight on the Jaco Report that the individuals cut off form Medicare assistance in Missouri will most likely end up using emergency room services to meet their medical care needs. Gibbons argued that the cuts were not done out of malice towards the poor (which I can believe) but necessary in order to get Missouri's budget under control (which I don't believe). Gibbons said that raising taxes wasn't enough because the costs are increasing at an enormous rate; 1 billion every five years according to Gibbons.

Yet while on it surface that may sound like a reasonable argument it ignores the reality that people will have to get services somewhere and the most likely place will be local emergency rooms. All this does is move the burden of the costs from the state to private interests. In addition, cutting medicare will decrease the chance that people will receive preventative care, which means when they do arrive in already strapped emergency rooms they will be more expensive to treat. These cuts even affect areas like providing crutches and wheelchairs.

The medicare cuts will have an even greater impact because of the resulting loss in federal funds. Any cuts Missouri makes to medicare result in parallel cuts in federal aid. Thus hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cuts to the medicare program as a whole.

One of the driving forces behind the increased cost of medicare is not population growth, but rising health care costs. It costs more money to receive medical care than it did 10 years ago. Asking health care providers to take on the additional burden of tens of thousands of individuals who cannot pay for the services results in increased costs to the providers who must then pass on their increased costs to their paying customers, which includes the government of Missouri as well as its citizens.

As a result, instead of working with medical providers to find effective ways of reducing costs, they simply exacerbate the problem while claiming to be working for fiscal responsibility.

In order to achieve a few narrow-minded philosophical goals, no taxes and no social services, they have increased the price we will all be paying. There is no form of responsibility in modern Republicanism besides these two goals and the citizens of Missouri will bear the brunt of their hostility.

- Murphy

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Representative Kenny Hulshoff (R-Columbia) has left open the possibility that he may co-sponsor a bill that would reverse House ethics rules changes made earlier this year. From The Hill's Tipsheet:
Republican rules
Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.), the two Republican members removed by the GOP leadership from the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee along with former chairman Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), are declining to join Hefley in co-sponsoring a bill to repeal changes made earlier this year to House ethics rules. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) and would reverse changes to ethics procedure that GOP leaders implemented in the rules package for the 109th Congress. LaTourette dismissed out of hand the possibility of co-sponsoring Mollohan's bill. But Hulshof said he would not sign onto the bill at this time, leaving open the possibility of future support. So far Hefley and Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) are the only Republican cosponsors. Rep. Rob Simmons, a fellow Republican centrist from Connecticut, said he will not sign on as a cosponsor, indicating that Mollohan has a way to go before attracting significant Republican support for his bill.
Hulshoff and LaTourette were removed from the House ethics committee because they stood up to Republican Majority Leader, Tom Delay (R-Texas). The ethics committee reprimanded DeLay three times last year for ethics violations. The move was seen by most as a blatant attempt to wrangle in the ethics committee and punish Republican members who would seek to question DeLays numerous questionable tactics.

It was announced a few days ago that DeLay is yet again being investigated for possible ethics violations involving overseas junkets to South Korea.

- Murphy

Can't get anough of bracket spots and arguing over who is the valid number one seed? Well, these St. Charles Republicans are running their own March Madness contest, but instead of trying to figure out who is going to upset Illinois, they are trying to see who thinks McCain is going to make it into the Republican Final Four.

Via: Arch City Chronicle.

- Murphy

Today legislators in the Missouri Senate are voting on the future of Medicaid. It's quite likely that the Republican controlled Senate will vote to cut Medicaid, ending the program by 2008. Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, had this to say: "This system (Medicaid) is on the way out and a brighter day is coming."

For all those who want to thank the Senators for providing them with a bright future, I think I'll post the role call on the vote later today.

The Post-Dispatch reported in an editorial today that two Republicans have already decided to vote against cutting Medicaid, Sens. Kevin Engler of Farmington and Robert Mayer of Dexter. Perhaps by the end of the day we'll see some more of this.

Update: I can't pull up a list of who voted which way, but I encourage anyone who is interested to look up there Senator and ask them how they voted.

This vote will illustrate much more clearly a legislator's take on moral positions than any public statements of religiously inspired guidance.

- Murphy

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Senator Jim Talent (R-MO) condoned torture in the pursuit of information.
But a Republican panel member, Senator Jim Talent of Missouri, signaled that, as far as he is concerned, little if any blame rests on American shoulders. "If our guys want to poke somebody in the chest to get the name of a bomb maker so they can save the lives of Americans, I'm for it," Mr. Talent said. "If the Department of Defense wants to investigate me for that, and have 15 investigations and call me inhumane, fine."
The Senator from Missouri seems not to understand the nature and purpose not only of the Geneva Conventions on torture, but also the necessity of investigating violations of the conventions.

As many in the military have already said, the conventions work both ways. Not only does it enforce humane treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, but it also helps protect any U.S. soldiers who happen to become prisoners of war. Now, just because an enemy such as Saddam may not follow such rules (the tapes of American POW's in the first Gulf War show clear evidence of abuse, as do those who fall into the grasp of the guerilla fighters currently in Iraq) that does not give the U.S.the right to also abandon any such standards of decency. It should be pretty obvious that arguing the contrary may lead to equating the moral standing of the Iraqi terrorists and the U.S. military, obviously a bad position, as well as an incorrect position, to hold.

The law branch of the military, the Judge Advocate General (JAG) corps, has loudly criticized not only the use of such practices, but also denouced the administration's efforts to loosen the regulations regarding the use of torture for interrogation. The most famous of these were findings written by Alberto Gozales when he served as Counsel for President George W. Bush. Gozalez now serves as the Attorney General of the United States.

In addition, the purpose of vigorously investigating and prosecuting violations of the convention has a great deal to do with the public perception of the United States. Despite attempts by some to ignore the moral position of the U.S. in the world, the U.S. must maintain strict standards on itself if it expects other nations to follow suit. The President can not determine that the use of torture is allowable and then denounce other nations for their use of similar techniques. Much of the argument against this criticism is that we do not use the same methods as those we condemn. This is of course the quintessential slippery slope. Once you start down the road, you have to admit you are using torture, you can't hide behind terminology.

The prosecution has to be vigorous because as a nation of laws, not of men, the U.S. must constantly demonstrate that no one is above the rule of the law. This is perhaps best codified in the right to impeach a sitting President.

If we are to hold ourselves up, rightly I believe, as a model for other nations we have to stick to the highest ethical, moral and legal standards. Holding ourselves above the rules for short-term political convenience will have disastrous long-term consequences.

Perhaps Sen. Talent and the President's staff will reconsider their position on the rule of law before our own citizens or soldiers have to face the consequences.

- Murphy

Monday, March 14, 2005

If Archbishop Burke's purpose was to weigh into politics by using the weight of the Archdiocese, he has certainly achieved his goal. From today's Post-Dispatch:
250 attend Mass backing Burke in St. Stanislaus Kostka fight
By Aisha Sultan
Of the Post-Dispatch
Both sides deadlocked in the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church dispute seem to be engaged in a back-and-forth volley of Masses, marches and support rallies.

About 250 worshippers attended a "solidarity" Mass Sunday at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Church downtown to show support for Archbishop Raymond Burke and his efforts to wrest control of the church's governance from a lay board of directors.

The previous Sunday, those supporting the board of directors' efforts to keep the church independent held a prayer vigil and march from the Cathedral Basilica to the Archdiocese chancery. Richard Bach, a spokesman for parishioners opposed to Burke's claims, said about 300 people participated.
While it may be that Burke is simply trying to reestablish the primacy of the Church in Catholic's lives, he may have simply sparked greater local solidarity and outspokenness among those Catholics who believe in Catholicism, but may have not been as active in the Church. There have been many more lapsed Catholics coming out to show their support for those they believe are getting the short end of the scepter.

This goes beyond the St. Stanislaus issue into the role of the Catholic Church in governance (Burke's statement that Pro-Choice Catholic politicians should be denied communion) and the recent decision to close several parishes in the city.

Burke may have purposely sparked a resurgence of activity in the Catholic community of St. Louis, but they may not be heading in the more conservative direction he would seem to prefer.

- Murphy

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Government Accounting office released a report yesterday that asks a lot of hard questions about how to balance fiscal reality with policy wishes. It cites as its most basic concern the fact that:
The Government Accountability Office has long had a statutory responsibility for monitoring the condition of the nation’s finances. Recently, in our role as the auditor of the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements, we included an emphasis paragraph in our audit report for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004 expressing our concerns that the fiscal policies in place today will—absent unprecedented changes in tax and/or spending policies—result in large, escalating, and persistent deficits that are economically unsustainable over the long term. This conclusion is based on the results of GAO’s long-term budget model, which the agency has used since 1992.
The GAO believes that there has to be a reevaluation of government programs and the underlying assumptions and budgetary decision-making process. The fiscal reality is that if the budget and the appropriations process stay the same, there is disaster down the road. If budget growth keeps pace with inflation, given the current budget, and the tax cuts are made permanent, in 40 years the government will only have the discretionary spending to cover the interest on the federal debt. Even with the end of tax cuts, the current budget is unsustainable.

A few other interesting quotes:
"Many current federal programs and policies, in fact, were designed decades ago to respond to trends and challenges that existed at the time of their creation. Given our recent entry into a new century, we have been reminded of how much has changed in the past several decades—whether it be rapid shifts in the security threats facing the nation, the aging of our population, the globalization of economic transactions, escalating health care costs, increased environmental concerns, or the significant advances in technologies and transportation systems. Moreover, given the fiscal constraints we are likely to face for many years to come, such a reexamination may very well be essential to address newly emergent needs without unduly and unfairly burdening future generations of taxpayers."

"…the magnitude of funding and potential for current investments and operations to turn into long-term financial commitments are prompting real questions about the affordability and sustainability of the rate of growth in defense spending."

"Higher education is increasingly global in nature as students study outside their country of origin with greater frequency and universities have become multinational institutions. While the United States has long been the global leader in higher education—and the most desired destination of foreign students seeking higher education—recent graduate enrollments have fallen, and institutions in other countries have captured an increasing share of the international student population."

- Murphy

Monday, March 07, 2005

Senator Jean Carnahan and long-time politico Roy Temple have joined forces and started a new blog/community web site, Fired Up Missouri.

Temple has moved his inimitable blog, The Temple Report, to the Fired Up Missouri website. While there is also a website called Blunt Watch that has been keeping track of the new Governors moves, there are few sources on Missouri politics as valuable as Temple's website. He is keeping a close eye on the policy and budget moves of the Republican-controlled state government.

Fired Up Missouri is intended to provide a resource and an outlet for Democrats in Missouri. Individuals can establish an account, make comments on the information posted and ever run their own blog.

- Murphy

If we are truly interested in preserving the social security system, then it should remain in its current form and appropriate adjustments should be made over time to ensure it continues to work. As it stands today Social Security will start dipping into its invested funds starting in 2019 or so to cover its outlays, which is exactly what it was supposed to do after the bipartisan restructuring done under Reagan. It will be running a maintainable debt from then on. Running a program on pre-assigned savings is not the same as being "bankrupt" to use the President's phrase. The U.S. runs a multi-trillion dollar debt, $1.6 trillion or so of which came from the social security program. If the rosy forecasts the Bush administration has laid out for the next few decades are accurate, a robust and growing GDP will provide enough income into the program to keep it solvent out past 80 years from now. Social Security will only be bankrupt when the Treasury Bonds it invested in are all cashed in. If there is enough income, they could be stretched out indefinitely.

Also, with all this talk of investing the social security funds, it should be pointed out that they are already currently invested, in Treasury Bonds in the bond market. Millions of people and dozens of countries invest in Treasury Bonds because they are better than gold; they are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

President Bush himself apparently has a significant chunk of his own personal wealth invested in bonds. If the President says he doesn't expect to have his bonds paid back when they mature, what should that signal to the bond market? When Bush implies that the money SS invested in bonds isn't there, he makes every single investment banker in the world wince. If we talk about our own investments in such a cavalier and inaccurate way, what should the rest of the world think? If we say that the money isn't really there, how can we convince Asia (which owns a major portion of our debt in the form of bonds) to purchase more bonds so the Bush administration can borrow the trillions it needs to keep its budget funded.

Josh Marshall explains his reasoning for maintaining the current system. I think he is correct and he gets right to the meat of the matter.:
"The other exchange came earlier in the roundtable when Klein let us know that he is still every bit a private accounts man. (One would imagine the only Woody Guthrie biographer to embrace such an unfortunate stance..) But I was struck by his rationale ...
Well, it's kind of amazing and somewhat amusing to see the Republicans so much on the defensive on this issue right now. It's an unusual circumstance. I agree with Paul in that private accounts have nothing to do with solvency and solvency is the issue. I disagree with Paul because I think private accounts a terrific policy and that in the information age, you're going to need different kinds of structures in the entitlement area than you had in the industrial age. But it is very hard to do that kind of change under these political circumstances where you have the parties at such loggerheads.

This has always struck me as the weakest of arguments for privatization and frankly it seems beneath someone like Klein.

I would like to ask Klein what it is exactly about Social Security that makes it appropriate to the industrial age but not the information age. If it is phased out in the next few years that would be one objective sign that it couldn't withstand the politics of this new economic era. But that would be a circular argument.

If anything I would think there's a much stronger argument that Social Security with its guaranteed benefits is more suited to this age than the last one, given how the increasingly transitory nature of work and the pressures of globalization are undermining the basis of defined benefit private sector pensions.

The real point, though, is that when you set aside all the practical matters of debt and transition costs, this is an ideological debate -- or to put it less antiseptically, a debate over different sets of values.

The idea behind private accounts is that people should rely on themselves alone and bear the consequences of their successes and their failures and random chance on their own shoulders. If things don't pan out for you in retirement, that's something to take up with your children.

The concept behind Social Security is fundamentally different. The first premise is that if you put in a lifetime's work there is simply a level of destitution below which society will not let you fall. Maybe you made so little during your working years that there wasn't enough to save. Or maybe you just didn't plan ahead well enough. Or maybe you suffered some misfortune. Whatever. If you worked you won't be destitute when you retire. People who made big bucks through their lives don't get a particularly good 'deal' from Social Security, if you insist on seeing it in investment terms. But that's a distorting prism, sort of like thinking you got a rotten deal on your medical insurance if you never have a catastrophic illness.

I like to think of this as the moral equality of work. In our society, we allow the market to assign all manner of different cash values to different sorts of work or even the same sorts of work under different circumstances. And by and large, within some very small limitations like the minimum wage or certain non-discrimination laws, most of us think this is how it should be. I certainly do. (In this sense, I think collective bargaining amounts to another competitive arrangement within a market economy -- though doctrinaire free market folks have always seen it in contrary terms.)

But the cash value of work isn't the same as its moral value. And if you look at the values imbedded in all those Social Security actuarial tables, you see this principle: whether you were a janitor or a fast-food worker or a doctor or a tycoon, if you worked during your working years you shouldn't be left destitute when your working years are over (retirement) or when, through no fault of your own, you can't work anymore (disability). No matter what. The common denominator is a life of work -- skilled or unskilled, impressive or unimpressive, remembered or forgotten. It doesn't matter.

In any case, that's only one way to look at it. More prosaically, you might just say that there are certain risks we choose to share across society. And this is one of them.

These are basic disagreements about how much we owe each other, how interconnected we are. And they're real disagreements with smart folks on either side. They existed in the 1930s; they exist today; and they'll exist in 2030s. The Internet and floating currencies and total quality management -- none of them settle the question. Klein should have the courage of his values and not pass this off on gizmos and gadgets.
-- Josh Marshall "

- Murphy

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Over at The Temple Report, Roy has a the rundown on Democrats' demands for an investigation of Governor Matt Blunt.
Today, the Missouri Democratic Party called on the DOJ to investigate the $2 million+ contract that Governor Blunt just gave the prosecutor who is responsible for investigating corruption involving him, his administration, his father, and his brother.

- Murphy

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Recent events raise some concerns regarding the decision-making process in the Governor's office. From Monday's Post-Dispatch:
Governor Matt Blunt is giving the former lawmaker another chance. Burcham, who has lost his driving privileges in the past, will run a state Department of Revenue fee office. The offices issue drivers licenses and license plates, process applications for titles and collect sales taxes on new vehicles and boats.
Roy Temple over at The Temple Report also raises questions about the Governor and his staff's governance. Erroneous press releases are not a serious problem, but when it involves making a mistake about who heads a state deparment (similar to a cabinet position at the federal level), it does raise some eyebrows.

The more telling example may be the way in which Gov. Blunt has handled the First Steps program. His attempts to provide cover for his actions again point to either inexperience, a lack of understanding or blatant political cover. A Governor should know that reducing a programs budget to $0 is not changing the program, but eliminating it. If the Governor was attempting to establish some political cover for his cuts and said that it was simply a mistake, that would be understandable. Feeding a line to the press that you were simply trying to make changes is an example of hubris.

On Monday, Governor Blunt unveiled a new funding program for First Steps which would require more private investment to help replace the $23 million the Governor Blunt cut from the progam. It would require insurance companies to cover therapy for children and initiate co-payments for parents using the program. Those additional revenue streams would provide $2 million. Governor Blunt would also channel $14 million from savings created by cutting Medicare benefits. The Governor hopes that an additional undetermined amount in federal funds will help provide additional assistance.

The Governor's actions incline one to think he may believe he governs only those who voted for him. As the demonstrations surrounding his recent budget cuts show, Governor Blunt should remember he is the Governor for the entire state. Governor Blunt's elimination of the Bellfontaine center, cutting the First Steps program and cuts to the Medicare program effect people across the state and across the political spectrum.

Governor Blunt's efforts to manage the fallout from his actions reflect his inexperience and demonstrate a cocksure attitude that seeks to ignore reality while ensuring the triumph of short-sighted policies.

- Murphy