Metcalfe Wants to Defund Planned Parenthood

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe will introduce legislation tomorrow which would defund Planned Parenthood.  This bill would jeopardize the health care of thousands of Pennsylvanians.  For many women Planned Parenthood is their only source for health care, for cancer screenings, pap smears, mammograms, contraception, std tests, among other treatments and tests.  One in five American women use Planned Parenthood at some time in their lives.  The attempt to eliminate all funding for our services follows last year’s attack on our abortion services.

Extremists want to destroy Planned Parenthood and leave women without access to medical care.  Please contact your State Representative and demand they support Planned Parenthood.

Disclosure:  I am a Board member of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.

Update:  The statement from Planned Parenthood:

Metcalfe Introduces Bill to Eliminate Planned Parenthood Funds for Cancer Screening and Preventive Care  

“Politics has no place interfering with breast cancer screenings,” Planned Parenthood says.

HARRISBURG, PA – At a press conference sponsored by out of state political organizations, Representative Daryl

Metcalfe will introduce a bill intended to disqualify Planned Parenthood from receiving any funds from the

Pennsylvania Department of Health for preventive services including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings,

STD screenings and treatment including for HIV, infertility screenings and treatment, and birth control education and

supplies.  State and federal law prohibit public funds from paying for abortions in Pennsylvania.  

Statement from Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates:

“In these difficult economic times, it’s disappointing some politicians in Harrisburg would rather block women’s

access to cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams than address the real needs of the

Commonwealth.  Women and families need high quality, affordable health care, not more political meddling.  

“Planned Parenthood won’t let politics interfere with the health care that one in five women in America relies on

at some point in her life.  Planned Parenthood health centers are open in Pennsylvania today, and they’ll be open

tomorrow.  Women are counting on us to protect their cancer screenings, birth control and basic, preventive care

– and we will fight for them.”

Statement from Candice, a Planned Parenthood patient from Philadelphia:

“When Daryl Metcalfe talks about defunding Planned Parenthood, he’s talking about denying people like me

healthcare. People who constantly balance health care costs with paying the bills. I use Planned Parenthood for

my annual exam – which includes cancer screenings – because it is the provider I can afford and access and trust.

Without Planned Parenthood, millions of people like me would have nowhere else to turn.”  

Background Facts:

FACT:  In 2011, Planned Parenthood provided over 44,000 breast wellness exams, 200,000 STD tests, and 40,000

cervical cancer screenings – detecting over 5,000 abnormal pap tests which if untreated can lead to cancer.  

FACT:  The “Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act” is expected to eliminate Planned Parenthood from

funding to provide affordable birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment for lowincome patients through Department of Health programs.  

FACT:  Each year, Planned Parenthood’s 42 nonprofit health centers in Pennsylvania care for more than 120,000 men

and women.  

FACT:  There is overwhelming public support for state funding for Planned Parenthood.  A February Susquehanna

Polling and Research survey shows that 65 percent of Pennsylvania voters and a majority from every region of the

state and of every political party support state funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive services.

News & Notes May 22, 2012

Today is Harvey Milk Day.  The City of San Francisco Councilman was assassinated while serving as an openly gay man, the first such in the nation.  I’ll be at the Obama campaign office today for their celebration.

As we remember Milk I’m reminded also of an old video of two men who adopted a lion then set it free in Africa.  This tale reminds us that love and friendship are enduring:

Part 2 of Walter Brasch’s Memorial Day anti-war series is from the legendary Pete Seeger.  Harry Chapin wrote a song about him titled “Old Folkie.”

As a young man growing up n the age of Vietnam I grew up with folk songs protesting war.  Unfortunately we never learned the gruesome lessons of unnecessary wars.  Iraq and Afghanistan are only the latest incarnations of American exceptionalism when it comes to destroying and killing other peoples.  It began with the genocide of Native Americans and now is leading us into Iran.  Are we still on the Eve of Destruction?

Pete Seeger wrote “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”  Will yet another generation of young Americans be sent off to war so our defense industry can continue making gargantuan profits?

A North Carolina pastor who gained infamy this week by saying all gays should be airlifted into electrified pens where we’d be left to die had his website yanked by its host company.  Once upon a time reactionaries and bigots spoke in code so the rest of the country wouldn’t understand exactly what they meant.  They’re now unafraid to say exactly what and how they feel about women and minorities.  This is scary and very Nazi-ish.

One of the frequent claims made during the GOP debates was the desire to eliminate the Department of Energy (among others).  The DOE, among other things, runs our national laboratories where nuclear bombs were developed and cutting edge technology is done.  Places like Los Alamos National Lab and Sandia National Labs in New Mexico do much of this research.  DOE is also responsible for the safety of our nuclear arsenal.  As we evolve into this new century is paramount that we develop new sources of clean energy before we find ourselves extinct from elevated carbon dioxide levels.  Eliminating the DOE would be like putting a gun to our heads as a species and pulling the trigger.  Natural gas is not the answer as it is a carbon based fuel.  With fossil fuels getting six times more government subsidies as clean, renewable energy sources it is time we shifted our priorities.  We cannot wait for morons denying climate change to awaken and realize they can no longer breathe.  We must save them from their own stupidity much as we might hate to do it.

Joan Orie Melvin claims (as her sister did) that a political vendetta is behind her indictment.  Actually I doubt the members of the grand jury each had a personal vendetta against the Orie family.  If you read the presentment the evidence is overwhelming including extensive computer documentation.  If the Ories worried about such political persecution they were awfully stupid to openly run the Melvin Supreme Court campaign from state offices and extensive use of the court’s computer systems for their campaign files.  Anyone that stupid deserves what they get.  Of course Jane Orie is now headed to prison so a jury of her peers thought the evidence wasn’t politically motivated.  Melvin should begin shopping for jumpsuits in her best colors.

300 protesters greeted Gov. gasbag in Reading yesterday as he addressed the Berks County Chamber of Commerce.  The misinformed idiot claimed he must cut government to “grow” the economy.  First of all, one doesn’t “grow” an economy, you expand it.  Cutting government has, thus far, damaged our economy.  For every dollar spent by government there is $1.42 in ripple effect economic activity.  Therefore for every billion he cuts in education funding, for example, we lose $1.42 billion in economic activity.  Unemployed teachers don’t buy things, pay income and sales taxes, and collect unemployment and food stamps instead.  Would you rather have them educating your children so they can have a bright future or collecting?  They’re your taxes by the way.  Our Governor is an idiot.

Murder at Rockview

Questions continue following the murder of inmate John Carter at Rockview State Prison.  The Human Rights Coalition of PA released a detailed account of the cell extraction which killed the man held in solitary confinement.  Why was the crime scene cleansed?  The state cover-up of criminal conduct by guards is a stain on Gov. Corbett’s reputation.

Human Rights Coalition has received a detailed report outlining the events leading up to the cell extraction, the extraction itself, and the aftermath of Carter’s murder. The report reiterates the fact that the cell extraction and subsequent murder were in retaliation towards Carter protesting his denial of a dinner tray. The denial of his dinner is the reason Carter had covered his cell door window. Contrary to the DOC’s statement that he “refused numerous orders”, Carter was never ordered beforehand to remove the door covering. Instead, a forcible cell extraction was ordered.

Earlier on the day of Carter’s murder, prison guard Sherman told another prisoner in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), “Your buddy is going down tonight.” Immediately before the cell extraction took place, Sutton turned on an “extremely loud” fan, intended to be used after cell extractions to suck the OC gas (pepper spray) out of the atmosphere. “The fan served only to make noise, knowing that all RHU prisoners’ witness accounts in such situations are based on what we can hear,” writes a prisoner in the RHU.

After spraying an excessive amount of OC gas into Carter’s cell (more than the DOC’s own policy allows), prison guards tried to enter his cell, but realized the door was jammed. After repeated attempts to open the door, more OC gas was sprayed into the cell. In total, it is reported that the guards sprayed gas into Carter’s cell at least ten times. The DOC nurses present in the RHU at the time never attempted to intervene or caution the guards about the excessive amounts of OC gas being used.

Finally, Carter’s door was taken down and 6 guards in riot gear and gas masks rushed in, pinned Carter to the ground, and reportedly electro-shocked him “at least seven times.” This is also in direct contrast to the DOC’s press release that stated Carter was “found” unresponsive in his cell. It is apparent, however, that Carter left his cell unresponsive. Writes a witness: “Carter was then dragged out of the cell by his knees with his head dragging along the floor, out into the hallway.” The witness also reports that prison guard Sutton ordered that the camera which had been filming the extraction be cut off at this time.

Immediately after Carter’s body was taken to the hospital, Sutton and other prison guards ordered the cleaning of Carter’s cell. OC soaked items were removed, and the cell was watered down and mopped. This tampering of the crime scene left no evidence for further investigation surrounding the events that took place.

The following is a statement by a prisoner in the RHU: “The murder of John Carter on April 26, 2012 is deeper than ‘a cell extraction occurred in the RHU and a man died.’ His death exemplifies what Carter himself and many others have endeavored to expose for years: that solitary confinement is a dark hole where anything goes. There is no accountability for rogue prison guards and top officials turn a blind eye to the abuse, dismissing abuse claims in rote fashion. This only encourages the perpetrators to continue breaking the law…Prison guards are part of a system that endeavored to uphold an image of professionalism. They will cover-up and protect that image no matter what.”

Many in Rockview’s RHU are afraid that they are next to die, as many prison guards have added to the already hostile environment by making light of Carter’s death. Racially charged verbal and physical abuse continues to be the norm.

The Governor must demand a full investigation into this killing and cover-up and prosecute those responsible.

News & Notes May 21, 2012

Jane Orie is no longer a State Senator.  Convicted of public corruption she resigned today in a letter dated Friday.  That same day her sister Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was arrested on similar charges.  It’s a good day for Pennsylvania.

The Lockerbie bomber finally died.  It should have happened in misery in a Scottish prison.  I recall that awful Christmas when Pan Am 103 was blown up in the sky over Britain.  I was living in Delaware and a local college guy was on the plane.  He is buried in the same cemetery as my grandparents and I recall the grief his family went through every time I’m there visiting.

The Obama-Biden campaign has yet another attack on Romney and Bain Capital.  Mitt brags about all the money he earned turning businesses and middle class workers into disasters.  That makes it fair game.  Voters need to pay attention to how he made his millions and who paid the real cost.

Some questions are being raised by Mother Jones about OSHA and their dedication to worker’s health, safety and lives:

DEP is also not doing its job as a public watchdog.

Think Progress has some alarming statistics on student loan debt:

1. The number of students who have to go into debt to get a bachelor’s degree has risen from 45% in 1993 to 94% today.

2. There is now more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the United States.

3. Over the last 10 years, tuition and fees at state schools have increased 72%.

4. During the late 1970s, Ohio spent 17% of their budget on higher education and 4% of prisions. Today, Ohio spends 11% on higher ed and 8% of prisons.

5. This year, national, state and local spending on higher education reached a 25-year low.

Florida is purging its voter rolls again.  You’ll recall that back in 2000 they eliminated tens of thousands of African-American voters because they shared the same name with some convicted felons.  This is real election fraud.  Now they’re at it again.

NATO protests in Chicago have caused yet more paramilitary police responses.  Citizens upset with the cost of hosting the meeting ($50 million) when services for the poor and disabled are being cut marched on Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s house.  George W. Bush spent billions equipping and training these police forces to stifle and crush peaceful dissent as part of his post 9/11 panic policies.  The quality of this video isn’t the best but it shows the level of violence being used by police:

Contributor Walter Brasch is focusing on the injustice of war as we go into another Memorial Day weekend.  Today’s is Bobby Darin:

We also pause to remember Robin Gibb this morning:

This video combines both a tribute to Gibb and a message about our fighting forces in danger:

Tort Reform: How These Dirty Words Are Bleaching Your Rights

Currently, the law in Pennsylvania limits how much money personal injury victims can recover when suing those responsible for their injuries. Insurance companies love this rule because it allows them to cap how much money they’re paying out for negligence and other bad behavior. As much as insurance companies enjoy all the money caps on damages save them, they’d like to keep more. Under the banner of “tort reform” industry giants wage battles to manipulate public perception, guide friendly politicians into office and write legislation that eliminates the rights of people to access the civil justice system. Lawyers utilize personal injury resources in Pennsylvania and other states across the country to inform everyday citizens of just how bad these moves can be for them.

Same Tune, Different Town

Insurance companies and doctors say tort reform is a mandatory component of fixing the broken medical malpractice system in Pennsylvania. They argue that tort reform will eliminate frivolous lawsuits, lower healthcare costs and lead to lower insurance premiums. This tune isn’t new – they’ve played it in other states before, including Texas. In 2003, lawmakers squeaked legislation onto the books that capped damages in lawsuits against doctors to $250,000 and lawsuits against hospitals at $750,000. Then Governor Rick Perry lauded the new regulations, claiming they’d reform healthcare in Texas.

Healthcare across the Nation

By 2010, the average coverage premium for family health insurance in Texas was $14,526 – $655 higher than the national average. Doctors and insurance companies didn’t pass those promised savings onto consumers. Surprised?

In fact, while insurance companies and doctors were rallying against medical malpractice lawsuits, payments from malpractice suits fell 11.9 percent. That’s right, according to Public Citizen, medical malpractice payments dropped 11.9 percent between 2000 and 2010. Meanwhile, healthcare spending increased by 90 percent over the same time period across the nation. Liability insurance premiums – those costs doctors and hospitals contend are crippling their ability to practice medicine – fell in 2009 to a scant 0.40 of 1 percent of total healthcare costs, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank. These figures include all profits and administrative costs as well as fees for litigation.  

All this data points to a simple fact: doctors and insurance companies simply can’t draw a connection between medical malpractice suits and rising healthcare costs. Preventing patients from holding physicians accountable for negligence doesn’t make costs cheaper. In fact, whenever states choose to cap damages, they only increase insurance company profits.  

Pennsylvania bad faith insurance lawyers realize the importance of preserving the rights of people to access the civil justice system. If lawmakers allow the type of civil rights removal masked as reform that happened in Texas to occur in Pennsylvania, dark clouds may be on the horizon. Without the threat of litigation, insurance companies and doctors have no incentive to deal with people honorably and preserve standards of care.  

Links within in content

Pennsylvania bad faith insurance lawyers  

Personal injury resources in Pennsylvania  

Uncompensated Care Costs Rise at PA Hospitals

By Chris Lilienthal, Third and State

More than a year ago, the Corbett administration decided to end the state’s adultBasic program, which provided affordable health insurance to about 40,000 low-income Pennsylvanians who were unable to obtain coverage from an employer or through other programs.

We worried at the time that many of those newly uninsured would delay treatments until a health condition snowballed into a more serious and costly problem, sending more people to the emergency rooms of our community hospitals.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council released a report this week showing that uncompensated care costs at hospitals did in fact rise in the 2010-11 fiscal year, when adultBasic ended. Uncompensated care totaled $990 million – an 11% increase over the prior year.

Dave Wenner at the Harrisburg Patriot-News has more:    

[Hospitals’] average operating margin was 5.58 percent, up from 4.37 percent the previous year. That means the average hospital had a profit of $5.58 for every $100 in revenue… 

“We see the number of hospitals that lost money dropping,” said Joe Martin, the executive director of the cost containment council. “We see the margins rising to a healthy level. That’s all good news. 

“The news that’s a little concerning is the spike in the uncompensated care. And there are still a lot of hospitals, particularly the small- to medium-sized hospitals, that are struggling financially. So there is really two sides to the story.”

But the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania painted a much darker picture, saying the recent numbers “mask” a bleak long-term reality of hospitals struggling against state and federal budget cuts, while straining to provide a safety net for uninsured and under-insured patients. 

Local hospitals told the Patriot that the loss of jobs and health insurance in the tough economy, as well as high deductibles and other tactics to shift more health care costs onto patients, played a role in rising uncompensated care costs.

And so did adultBasic’s end, as Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center noted in the story:

The loss of coverage, Ward said, forces people to wait until they are sick, when they need a maximum level of care and obtain it in the most expensive setting. Then their costs get shifted to people with insurance and government programs, said Ward, who is an advocate for government programs to provide insurance for people who can’t afford coverage. 

News & Notes May 19, 2012

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally suspended Justice Melvin after she turned herself in on nine criminal charges Friday.  She will continue getting her $195,000 salary plus benefits.  Included in the counts is one for official oppression, perhaps the most serious charge a Judge can face.  It means she abused her position of power against another person.  Staffers testified about being fired or shunned after refusing to do political work on state time.

Justice Melvin cleverly wore a flag pin and cross for her day in court.  Never trust anyone who feels they must display their faith or their patriotism.

Former State House Speaker Bill DeWeese was released from prison pending his appeal.  He was convicted of using state resources for political work, a practice which was all to common and has sent many politicians to jail.  Joan Orie Melvin and her sisters ignored all the high profile prosecutions for this while they assumed they were above the law.  How the mighty fall who are filled with arrogance and hubris.

Another example is that of former presidential candidate John Edwards.  His case went to the jury this week.  I doubt he’ll be convicted:  not enough evidence was provided that money to pay off his pregnant mistress actually went through his campaign finance accounts.  That would have to be proven for charges to stand.  Still, the man did some despicable deeds.  His campaign message of Two Americas and his focus on the plight of poverty in this nation were commendable and preceded the Occupy movement.

Facebook stock went on sale yesterday.  I have to admit I’m a facebook addict.  I get much of the material for these columns via social media.  Those standing to become very, very rich from the IPO took measures to insure they didn’t pay their fair share of taxes and that got the attention of Sen. Bob Casey Jr.  He and Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced legislation to prohibit people like Eduardo Saverin, who renounced his citizenship to avoid paying those taxes, the right to re-enter the country.  It’s all about rights and responsibilities…

Another Birther Congressman claims, after being caught, he simply “misspoke.”  Maybe he should have “thought” first.  The problem is that requires an ability to think critically and requires some degree of intelligence.

Birthers got up in a huff this week after Breitbart.com (of course no one can trust anything posted their for factual value) published a memo from an Obama publisher.  The memo said he had been born in Kenya.  A bit of fact checking would have found this:

“This was nothing more than a fact-checking error by me — an agency assistant at the time,” Miriam Goderich, who worked for the literary agency Acton & Dystel, told Yahoo News. “There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.”

 

On the bright side if all these conspiracy theorists keep spending their time trying to prove the unprovable they aren’t trying to convince us to invade more countries based on lies.

Here’s the danger for conservatives who try and drag Rev. Wright into the presidential campaign again:  it makes Romney’s Mormonism fair game as John Aravosis did yesterday.

The OAG hasn’t had much scrutiny despite some missteps, especially in the Sandusky case.  The Pennsylvania ACLU is taking Attorney general Linda Kelly (she replaced Gov. Gasbag) to task for not investigating the NYPD for civil rights violations against PA Muslims.

The AP reported that the NYPD had monitored about 250 mosques, universities and businesses, without any evidence of wrongdoing.  In February 2012, the AP reported that the NYPD was monitoring Muslim college students at over a dozen universities far beyond the New York city and state limits, including at the University of Pennsylvania.  In light of these disturbing reports, the ACLU-PA, in coalition with 20 civil rights, student, faith-based, and civic groups, sent a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly requesting that her office undertake an immediate investigation of the NYPD’s surveillance of law-abiding Muslim communities in Pennsylvania.

The Attorney General refused our request.

Here’s a refreshing look at equality:

Congressional Republicans broke their budget agreement with the White House by passing an alarming defense bill.  Why we’re spending gargantuan amounts on the Pentagon while cutting programs for the poor is defenseless (pun intended).  Breaking an agreement they required after holding the country’s debt hostage shows they cannot be trusted.

A bit of reality talk about the economy and “job creators:”

No consumers (meaning people with good jobs and discretionary income)=no jobs.

More on the economy:

Why Does Rep. Jim Cox Hate Puppies?

Rep. Jim Cox was one of only 17 State Representatives who voted against the regulation of Pennsylvania’s infamous puppy mills.  Then he voted against allowing a $300 tax credit for people adopting shelter animals.  Why does Cox hate puppies?  This is one of the questions I put to Erik Saar who running for Cox’s House seat in Berks County.  I sat down with the 129th House District candidate this morning in Reading’s Goggle Works for a conversation about his qualifications (he’s a national security consultant for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon), his family, the issues and puppies.  Much of the conversation centered around HB 1776, Cox’s latest version of Sam Rohrer’s regressive Commonwealth Caucus tax plan.  

Jim Cox graduated from an unaccredited college then attended Pat Robertson’s Regent University law school.  From there he worked for The Rutherford Institute which represents the far right religious agenda.  He was Rep. Rohrer’s Chief of Staff where he penned the infamous driver’s license letter to a Chester County Judge wherein he argued the Commonwealth cannot insist on people having drivers licenses.  He does, however, insist you have one to vote.

Here is Erik Saar:

Thanks to the Berks County Humane Society for the use of its office for this interview.

Justice Orie Melvin Steps Down, Facing Criminal Charges

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin suspended herself from all official duties today because she is to surrender on nine criminal counts this afternoon.  She is the third Orie sister to face indictment in a wide ranging corruption investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney.  Interestingly Gov. Tom Corbett overlooked all of this while supposedly investigating the Republican Senate caucus.  State Sen. Jane Orie faces sentencing next month for her role in using taxpayer funded resources for political purposes.  Janine Orie is set to face trial for running Melvin’s two Court races from the Senator’s offices using state staff and offices.

The dark cloud hanging over Justice Melvin as those cases unraveled was dire and today she faces the consequences.  At 2 PM she will surrender on charges handed down by a grand jury.  Her court race in 2009 involved sister Janine running her campaign from sister Jane’s State Senate offices using that taxpayer paid staff.  Those staffers handled all facets of the campaign including speech writing, fundraising, driving the candidate and even working at the polls.  Part of the Senator’s charges included obstruction of justice for trying to eliminate campaign materials from her state office before search warrants could be exercised, an obvious cover-up which was caught on surveillance.

As I sit back and reflect on all that I heard about that corrupt campaign at the time I can’t but contemplate “we could have had a Judge Panella!”

PA Job Numbers Out, The War On Unemployment Insurance, and Inequality

By Mark Price, Third and State

Happy Sunny Friday, people! Now for the not so good news. The job numbers for Pennsylvania came out Thursday, and the overall picture was somewhat disappointing. The unemployment rate edged down slightly to 7.4% and nonfarm payrolls declined by 600 jobs. Focusing on the jobs data, the biggest loser in April was construction, which shed an eye-popping 5,400 jobs. That is a big swing at a time of year when construction projects should be ramping up. Odds are that loss is driven by sampling error rather than real trends in construction activity. Another troubling stat was the loss of 1,700 jobs in the public sector.

Because monthly data are somewhat erratic, you shouldn’t make too much out of any one-month change in employment overall or within a sector. Looking at nonfarm payrolls since October, the jobs picture is somewhat brighter with Pennsylvania adding, on average, 3,900 jobs a month. So Pennsylvania’s labor market, like the national labor market, is continuing to recover.

Now for the bad news: if you were hoping the Pennsylvania economy would finally return to full employment by 2015 (remember, the recession started in December 2007), nonfarm payrolls need to grow by about 10,000 jobs a month. So by that metric, we are a long way from fully recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

It is important to remember that people continue to lose jobs each month, even though the economy is recovering. And because employment hasn’t fully recovered, those people who do lose their jobs face a long line of other people looking for work.

Fortunately for them and for the economy as a whole, workers today who lose a job for reasons beyond their control can rely on the unemployment insurance system to provide them with a modest lifeline to meet their very basic needs, like buying food and paying the rent or the mortgage bill. Unfortunately, the economic crisis has created an opportunity for the business lobby to push for changes in the state’s unemployment insurance system that will make the system less effective when the next recession hits. As Rick Bloomingdale of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO explains, Governor Corbett and a lot of Pennsylvania lawmakers are supporting these very shortsighted reforms.

Since when did members of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly become so shortsighted that they think it’s good to pass legislation that harms the most vulnerable people? This would be the consequences of proposals to restore the solvency of our state’s unemployment compensation fund on the backs of unemployed persons.

These are the persons who have most suffered from the recent recession and for whom this unemployment insurance was established. Our national history reflects a legacy of helping those who need help, instead of saying, “sorry for your luck,” or “gee, too bad, if only you worked a few more weeks.” We must get back to the ideal that helping those who need help is the right thing.

The governor has already signed into law a bill that cut UI eligibility and reduced UI benefits for thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians. Yet less than a year later, the administration urges more cuts that likely would deprive an additional 50,000 individuals of the unemployment insurance lifeline. When did we get so selfish and shortsighted?

It is easy to assume that trends in income inequality reflect rising top incomes on Wall Street alone, but as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports this morning, outrageously high salaries are not limited to the masters of the universe who live in Manhattan. The reality is that those high Wall Street salaries end up creating room for compensation committees in other parts of the economy to reward executives and managers with higher and higher salaries. In this way, the growth in top incomes are more about keeping up with the Joneses than about merit.

The West Penn Allegheny Health System, which lost $75 million over the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, paid out $17.35 million two years ago to 12 administrators who have left the organization, including nearly $9 million in retirement and other deferred compensation, according to its recent tax filing….

Most prominent among the departed leaders is former WPAHS president and CEO Christopher Olivia, whose total reported compensation for 2010 amounted to $7.39 million, or nearly $1.5 million more than Jeffrey Romoff, president and CEO of the much larger UPMC. Of that $7.39 million, about $5.4 million was for retirement or deferred compensation.

Finally this morning, Catherine Rampell of The New York Times explores new data on mobility released by the Pew Center on the States.

While Rampell’s exploration is interesting, Travis Waldron at Think Progress does a better job illustrating the key findings and their implications.