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Mike Johanns Was Against the Medicare Cuts Before He Was for the Medicare Cuts

He was for seniors then but against them now.

Senator Mike Johanns makes our head spin—like riding a Tilt-a-Whirl ride at the fair.

But he can’t have it both ways: he opposed Health Care Reform decrying $500 billion cuts to Medicare as bad for seniors when it wasn’t true. Now he votes for the Ryan Budget with the same cuts—except in the Ryan plan they really will harm seniors’ health care. That’s what happens people make stuff up purely to play partisan political games.

Let’s go to the record:

First, Johanns decrying Medicare cuts:

Column: “The worst plan to protect Medicare beneficiaries is the existing law of the land. It cuts $500 billion from Medicare and uses that money to pay for new entitlement programs.”
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55672.html

Press release: “I am disappointed the House voted to pass the Senate health care legislation. I have numerous concerns with this bill, both on its substance and the process being used to pass it. A bill that raises taxes by more than $500 billion, cuts Medicare by more than $500 billion…”

http://johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=98d9e...

Second, Johanns voting for the Ryan budget complaining about the $500 billion in Medicare cuts in health reform:

Omaha World-Herald: Senators vote down GOP’s budget
http://www.omaha.com/article/20110526/AP/705269919
Tribune Washington Bureau
Published Thursday May 26,2011

“Johanns has defended the Ryan plan as at least an attempt to address the federal budget crisis. He pointed out that Medicare is a program already in deep financial trouble and highlighted part of the new health care law that cuts $500 billion in Medicare reimbursements to health care providers over ten years. Johanns said those cuts will harm senior citizens’ access to care.”

But Johanns voted for the Ryan plan containing those Medicare cuts, and more:

The Ryan plan repeals the health reform law entirely, except it keeps those $500 billion in cuts.

It eliminates the parts of health reform that help hospitals and drug companies absorb those cuts by bringing more people into coverage and reducing their uncompensated care.

But it keeps the payment reductions to hospitals and others.

The impact is deep cuts to reimbursements to hospitals and reduced access to health care for seniors.

Here’s a column from Ezra Klein from the Washington Post on the issue: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/does-ryan-now-believ...

Also, from CBO on Ryan: CBO report, page 10: “(After listing the portions of the Affordable Care Act that would be repealed,) Most of the other changes that PPACA and the Reconciliation Act made to the Medicare program would be retained.” http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/121xx/doc12128/04-05-Ryan_Letter.pdf

The Federation of American Hospitals says Ryan plan “will severely impact access to essential medical care for seniors.” http://www.fah.org/fahCMS/Documents/Press%20Releases/2011/House_budget_r...

“Repealing coverage expansions, while retaining Medicare and Medicaid that went along with those expansions is of Repeal of the coverage expansions, is of particular concern. Sustaining these cuts will severely impact access to essential medical care for seniors, as well as the lowest income Americans. The combined effect of dropping the new coverage and maintaining the cuts threatens the care that communities depend on, and will place harsh limits on the very health care providers who are frequently the most significant job creators in their local communities.”

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Do Jon Bruning's Principles Really Matter?

Tomorrow Jon Bruning launches his "Principles Matter Tour" as he campaigns for his next day job.

Always the political opportunist, Bruning doesn't bother to complete the task at hand. Nebraska may be in a situation where we owe $5.2 billion to tobacco companies due to litigation by Bruning. Bruning, however, isn't even in his office to deal with the situation.

Meanwhile U.S. Senator Ben Nelson is hard at work in Washington fighting for Nebraska.

It's only been 161 days since Bruning was elected to Attorney General and he's already out on the campaign trail looking for another job.

Do his principles really matter?

So feel free to attend one of Bruning's appearances across our fair state and ask him why he's not back in Lincoln working for your tax dollars.

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State Democrats congregate in Broken Bow

Democrats from all over the state came to Broken Bow County Club last Saturday, thanks to the efforts of the Custer County Democratic Party. They hosted the state’s 2nd quarterly meeting of the Nebraska Democratic Party’s State Central Committee.

Saturday April 14, 2012 was selected as the date for the 2012 Presidential Caucus and the Delegate Selection Plan for the 2012 National Convention in Charlotte, NC was approved at this meeting.

Before getting down to business, they were welcomed by 3rd District Associate Chair Deena Province with a speech that drew frequent applause and laughter.

Delegates spent the morning in caucus meetings representing 13 interest groups. Most of the topics there dealt with delegate selection, logistics, procedures, finances, and organizational issues. Discussions included 2011 redistricting and upcoming congressional elections.

Vic Covalt, State Democratic Chair, kicked off the main session speaking eloquently about the need to defeat current attacks upon collective bargaining. “The great Democracy in Greece fell to tyranny. Democracy in Rome fell to tyranny. And now in America, those very people who were made rich by Democracy want to shut the door behind them and deny the rest of us the same opportunity. That’s the first move toward tyranny.”

State Senator Norman Wallman of Beatrice addressed the group on a variety of legislative issues including compromise legislation to improve the Commission of Industrial Relations.

But throughout the day, the major question was, “What will the 2012 Democratic Presidential Caucuses look like across Nebraska?” There will be a concentrated effort to coordinate the caucuses in Nebraska with those nationwide and especially with neighboring states. If Nebraska holds their caucus on the same day as a group of other states, Nebraskans will have more delegates and more influence on the national process in 2012 and looking forward to the 2016 presidential elections.

After vigorous debate, the delegates set April 14 as the date all Nebraska precincts and counties will hold their 2012 Presidential Caucuses. The body also adopted a plan for selection of delegates to the National Democratic Convention.

—Article written by Don Davis and Deena Province.

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2012 Presidential Caucus date set for April 14th, 2012

The NDP's State Central Committee has voted to hold 2012 Presidential Caucus on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

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Practice what you preach, Deficit Dave

Dave Heineman sure likes to talk a big game.

Back in January 2009, Heineman told the Fremont Tribune "We're just going to have to sit down and tighten our belts in state government just like every family and every business is doing in the state."

So why is Heineman resistant to cutting the pay of Health and Human Services management; specifically that of Division of Children and Family Services?

Much of the responsibilities of the Division of Children and Family Services are now contracted out to two private companies. The management of Division of Children and Family Services isn't doing what they were hired to do.

Shouldn't less work equal less pay?

Yet Heineman refuses to tighten his belt and cut pay in HHS. Is this because Todd Reckling, Director of Children and Family Services at HHS, is one of his appointees? Why won't Heineman make the needed cuts to solve his $1.4 billion budget deficit?

Governor Heineman, don't you think it's time to practice what you preach? We are all in this together.

Fremont Tribune: Heineman Discusses State Issues

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The NDP is now accepting nominations for awards at the 2011 Morrison-Exon Dinner

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Spotlight on Nebraska Legislature: Keeping patients safe

Doctors are meant to help you get well, but with prescription drug abuse up 500 percent in the past two decades, you may well leave sicker than when you made an appointment.

That's why Senator Gwen Howard came up with LB 237. In 2009, her own daughter died from a prescription drug overdose, and she said writing the bill was something she had to do.

The bills main purpose is to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs by "allowing doctors and pharmacists to monitor the care and treatment of patients for whom a prescription drug is prescribed." The goal is to keep the drugs off the streets and to prevent patients from getting the same prescription from more than one doctor.

If passed, Nebraska would join 43 other states with prescription drug monitoring networks.

Thank you Senator Howard for this important piece of legislation.

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Spotlight on Nebraska Legislature: The fight against cyber bullying

The new wave of crimes that are possible on the internet have a lot of people nervous -- the internet and especially social media sites have been blamed for everything from facilitating bullying to anorexia. While some of these claims may be dubious, the truth is that the internet is just a new forum for all the crimes and social ills we already have in real life. Impersonation is one such problem that Sens. McGill and Nordquist are attempting to criminalize in the online domain.

Impersonating someone over the internet has been in the public's awareness ever since 2006. That's when one adult woman impersonated a teen boy on Myspace in order to bully a 13-year-old girl. The girl was weeks away from her fourteenth birthday when she committed suicide.

The soon-to-be crime of online impersonation hit Sen. McGill close to home when she discovered someone had been impersonating her through messages and blogs.

The bill, LB 552, would make it a crime to harm, impersonate, threaten or defraud another by what is now called "e-personation". The fine for said crime would be up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Thank you to Senators McGill and Nordquist for their important work on this issue.

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Slather on the tanning lotion, we've got a flip-flopper

Is Mike Johanns headed for the beach because he's turning out to be a consummate flip-flopper?

U.S. Senators Ben Nelson and Chuck Schumer introduced a sensible piece of legislation to modernize the FAA and make it a misdemeanor to photograph, record, or distribute images from the body scanner images from any U.S. airport or federal building. The idea originated from constituent concerns about the misuse of images and the possibility that the images could be distributed online.

Prior to the vote in the Senate, Mike Johanns knocked the timely piece of legislation by stating he thought a felony charge to be "a life-altering situation." Johanns also seemed to shrug at the potential invasion of privacy, "If somebody wants to look at the image of Mike Johanns, you know, whatever."

Even though he took the public swipe at the legislation and garnered press for himself in a partisan fashion, Johanns quietly voted in favor of making it a misdemeanor to save or distribute the body scanner images from any U.S. airport or federal building. The vote in the U.S. Senate was 98-0 in favor of the legislation.

So Mike Johanns was against this before he was for it? Better break out those sandals, Mike. Looks like it's flip-flop time.

OWH: Nelson takes aim at misuse of scanner images

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DNC Chairman Tim Kaine’s Statement on President Obama’s 2012 Budget

Washington, DC -- Today, President Obama unveiled his 2012 budget proposal. Following the budget's release, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement:

"In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to join him in two major efforts designed to help America win the future: making the tough choices and budget cuts required to reduce America's deficit and restore fiscal stability while also making bold investments in education, innovation, infrastructure and other areas critical to economic growth. President Obama's 2012 budget proposal is a blueprint for success in both those efforts.

"The President's budget does not shy away from the reality of America's difficult fiscal situation. In fact, he offers more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction that puts America back on the path toward fiscal sustainability. Two-thirds of that deficit reduction is achieved through spending cuts -- but the President has made it clear that he will not skimp on programs, incentives, or initiatives that will help to make America more competitive in the global economy. In fact, the President's budget directs more money toward research and development in a variety of fields, supports the goal of making America more energy independent, expands tax incentives to spur investment and hiring, expands the successful Race to the Top program to increase educational excellence, establishes a National Infrastructure Bank to support critical infrastructure projects, and funds a National Wireless Initiative that will make American businesses more competitive by expanding high-speed internet access to nearly all Americans.

"It bears repeating that President Obama has offered a budget that makes those critical investments and still manages to reduce America's deficit and stabilize America's fiscal footing. That stands in stark contrast to Republican proposals that would cut spending by starving American entrepreneurs, businesses, and students of the resources they need to grow. Following the Republicans' plan would be like asking a carpenter to sell his tools to pay off his debts -- that might stop the creditors from calling, but it would hobble his efforts to work in the future. That's why it's so important that we follow the President's budget model. We have to do more than just reduce the deficit in order to win the future--we have to set America up to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate our competitors around the globe."

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