Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thune Opposes FCC Ensuring Net Neutrality And User Privacy On The Internet.

Thune At The American Enterprise Institute
He's With AT&T, Other Big ISPs Against FCC Enforcing Net Neutrality
(photo from www.aei.org)
   When the Federal Communications Commission last Thursday ruled that it could regulate  the internet, our Senator John Thune's reaction was exceptionally defiant and angry.  He called the decision "partisan," a "power grab," "regulatory overreach," adding it inflicted "damage and uncertainty" on the Internet.  Apparently, the notion that "net neutrality," meaning keeping the lines of the internet open and available to all comers on a level playing field by using the FCC's enforcement powers to do so, strikes Thune as an overexcercise of federal power and oversight.
     That's a ludicrous reaction by our Senator Thune, way out of step with the history of federal regulation of commerce and communications in this country, but not particularly surprising, considering where so much of Thune's financial support has been coming from in recent years.  I see from opensecrets.org(which draws its information from Federal Election Commission sources) that between 2009 and 2014, AT&T and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association were two of his 14 top donors.  Joining that stellar group was Koch Industries, the financial force behind Americans For Prosperity.  The three entities were strongly and vocally against the FCC's decision, with AFP declaring that there isn't even a problem that requires a solution.  With some relief, I note that Thune himself last month perceived a problem when he issued a list of "bipartisan rules for the internet age." Thune's broad outline is okay, but it stops short of being a document that is anything more than a set of principles.  The FCC's intent is to act now, before the big ISPs like AT&T and the members of NCTA get a chance to move forward on
methods of providing different levels of internet service based on who can pay for what.
     The FCC's decision, sure to be tested in the courts in coming years, is not only a way of cementing net neutrality into the modern age, but something more far reaching.  And I wonder if this second aspect isn't what the ISPs and their Congressional allies like Senator Thune aren't really
The FCC Can Keep Some Of This Stuff In Check
Why Are Thune And Others Opposed?
(photo from www.occupy.com)
up in arms against. Section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934, which will be the controlling authority for the FCC's powers of enforcement, forbids internet servers from obtaining information about its users and selling it.  The L.A. Times looked at this yesterday and called it a possible "game changer for Internet privacy." In the language of Section 222, internet service providers will have "the duty to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information of . . . customers . . . and shall not use such information for its own marketing efforts." I know from my own internet marketing efforts, meager as they are, that customer information is the substance of the business.  It is an extraordinarily valuable commodity.  

    The FCC's own fact sheet on this notes that Section 222 would be enforced.  The fact sheet dedicates a separate line to that notation.  My question to Senator Thune is why on earth is he fighting so hard keep an agency from protecting the privacy of us South Dakotans who use the internet?  

*Top Thune contributors ('09-'14), from opensecrets.org:
1American Bankers Assn$30,000$0$30,000
1AT&T Inc$30,000$0$30,000
1BNSF Railway$30,000$0$30,000
1California Dairies Inc$30,000$0$30,000
1FedEx Express$30,000$0$30,000
1Home Depot$30,000$0$30,000
1Koch Industries$30,000$0$30,000
1United Parcel Service$30,000$0$30,000
9National Amusements Inc$29,750$10,250$19,500
10Indep Insurance Agents & Brokers/America$28,000$0$28,000
11Lockheed Martin$27,500$0$27,500
11Wal-Mart Stores$27,500$0$27,500
13General Electric$27,000$0$27,000
14National Cable & Telecommunications Assn$25,750$250$25,500


"This table lists the top donors to this candidate in 2009-2014. The organizations themselves did not donaterather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates."   From opensecrets.org      

Friday, February 27, 2015

Think Hard, Fellow Pubs, Before You Pass The "Youth Minimum Wage" Bill. You'll Be Unleashing A Torrent Of Ill Will.

Who Do You Suppose Works Here?
An Aberdeen Amusement Park, Open Seasonally
(photo from youtube.com)
     My good friend Cory Heidelberger just came up with a brainstorm over at his excellent
blog The Madville Times.  Like me, Cory has been exceptionally frustrated by the continuingly good prospects for the passage of South Dakota Senate Bill 177, which will effectively amend--by legislative fiat--the minimum wage law passed by South Dakota voters last November.  That law established an $8.50/hr minimum wage (with automatic cost-of-living adjustments) in South Dakota, across the board.  What the supporters of SB 177 (including main sponsor Republican State Senator David Novstrup, who operates an amusement park in Aberdeen) want to do is reduce the minimum wage to $7.50 for workers under the age of 18 and take away the automatic COLA adjustment.  I stand with Cory when I say "phooey."  That "phooey principle" was well-articulated this morning in the Capitol by Republican Rep Lance Russell when he said, while speaking to another issue, "to disregard the will of the people is not something we should take lightly here today."  I'll be waiting to see how Russell votes on SB 177.
     I also stand with Cory when I say that SB 177, should it become law, will have great referendum potential.  Why should the Republicans--who've pushed this thing forcefully through the legislature so far--care?  Because people don't like it when their duly passed initiatives get amended by a handful of partisan politicos in the state capitol. I think, as Cory's piece suggests, that the public backlash will be fierce, especially as there's a built-in cadre of thousands of South Dakota families whose youngsters get part-time summer jobs at minimum wage. This is taking money right
Summer Biz, Operated By SD Sen. Novstrup.
He Hires 25 Young People Here Each Season.  He Sponsors SB 177.
(photo from facebook.com)
out of their pockets.  

     If Cory is right, and I think he is, legions of those families will form enough of an alliance, probably spurred on, if not altogether organized, by the state's Democratic Party into a voting
bloc that will vigorously challenge the new law once it's passed.  This spells double-trouble for Republicans.  First, they'll look mighty arrogant with their cavalier disregard for what the voters passed in the first place, which should generate some energy among us ordinary folks, regardless of party.  Second, it will give Democrats a great launching pad for a desperately needed consolidation of their forces ahead of the '16 elections by using this potential referendum as a focal point.  
     We Pubs need to ask ourselves if passing SB 177 is worth the risk of being on the wrong side of an argument over how much our young South Dakotans should earn.    

Thursday, February 26, 2015

From The "I Thought They Only Reported And We Got To Decide" File: Here's Fox News Badmouthing The Badlands And Wind Cave.

     Fox News, the media outlet that touts itself as a purveyor of news that sticks to reporting
Badlands National Park
Fox News Calls It A "Dusty Divot"
(photo from imgar.com)
and lets its 
audience decide just belied its self-sanctification with a hit piece on two of South Dakota's treasured natural marvels, the Badlands and Wind Cave.  It "decided" for its followers that Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park are two of the five worst national parks in the United States. Yes, this media beacon for the conservative class, Fox News, calls the Badlands some "washed out hills of 50,000 year old mud," and Wind Cave a "long tour . . . not worth the time or money."  
     Of  the natural setting that surrounds and permeates the Badlands, Fox News "reports" the following:  "the mixed grass prarie that surrounds this dusty divot is just another way of saying sad shrubbery as far as the horizon." The Badlands are a "dusty divot?"  As to Wind Cave, Fox describes the many prairie dogs there as "fat dirt squirrels."   Yes, dirt squirrels.  Oh, those Fox News commentators.  From the outlandishly exaggerated exploits of
Wind Cave Prairie Dogs
Fox News Calls Them "Fat Dirt Squirrels"
(photo from galleryhip.com)
Bill "Rambo" O'Reilly to the jaded mockery of its travel correspondents,

the station may be trying a new tack toward sensationalism as a way to right its precipitous fall in viewership. Though still Numero Uno in the cable news race, its total viewers through Q2, 2014 were down by 20% compared to the previous year. In terms of demographic analysis, Fox just had the worst quarterly performance since 2001, when it was still in fledgling status.
    These are actually awful declines.  I don't watch much cable news, mainly because I can't stand the obvious political slant on any of those channels, but understand that there has been a continuing decline in viewership on all of them. Given this gratuitous hatchet job on two of the world's natural wonders, both fortuitously located in our state, where we understand their aesthetic and economic value, I doubt that Fox News will see much of a bump in its following in these parts.  Regardless of what Fox News pretends to report, millions of visitors a year have already made their decisions on the Badlands and Wind Cave.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Might I Add "Self-Aggrandizing" and "Delusional," Lieutenant Governor Michels?

     South Dakota Republican Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels just came up with a doozy.
SD Lt. Gov. Michels.  "We're Collectively Brilliant"
Might I Add  "Self-Aggrandizing" And "Delusional?"
(photo from http://sd.gov/governor/aboutmatt.aspx)
Talking to WNAX Radio this morning he said of himself, his boss Governor Dennis Daugaard, and the administration's propensity to replace action with study groups ("workforce summits," "blue ribbon" education panels, among others), "we might be smart individually but collectively we're brilliant." Michels went on to talk glowingly about the "data driven" prospects for Daugaard's  latest effort at understanding the obvious, which in this case is the simple fact that we're either at or close to the bottom in virtually every element of spending and performance in our public schools.  The "data driven" part really rankles, because last year's report on Daugaard's "workforce summit" initiative failed to address the most obvious piece of data relevant to our state's chronic labor shortage: the gap between wages in South Dakota and wages in our surrounding states.  This comes across more as "data indifferent" than "data driven."  

     If Michels characterizes this omission as "collective" brilliance, what do you suppose he thinks of the administration's overall performance these days?  Remember, this is the same Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels who yesterday dished out the disturbing news that South Dakota's economy is "somewhat soft" and that "we've had to revise down where we're at."  Michels was standing in for Governor Daugaard at the governor's weekly legislative news conference.  Why Daugaard missed this weekly gathering is unknown, but I'm sure it would have been a rather squirmy confrontation, considering how a year ago his outlook for the state's economy was bullishly optimistic and how badly South Dakota's actual numbers have missed the mark, creating a shortfall in tax receipts that Michels had to acknowledge at yesterday's conference.   More difficult for these "collectively" brilliant folks to deal with is the fact that South Dakota lags behind state revenue performance and projections around the country, per the
Our State Pastry, Kuchen
Looks Like We'll Have To Settle For The Smaller Pie This Year
(photo from library.ndsu.edu)
National Association of State Budget Officers. NASBO projects state general fund revenues, nationally, to "increase by 3.1% in fiscal 2015."  So far South Dakota's numbers have been up an anemic 1.1% and will very likely fall far short of the state's hopes for a 2.8% gain as fiscal '15 winds down. 

      Considering that the overall U.S. inflation rate during the past few years has been hovering between 1.5% and 2%, the numbers for South Dakota look even worse.  Not being able to keep up with inflation means that real revenues are actually down.  So where's the "collective" brilliance in all this, Lieutenant Governor Michels?  My comments section is yours to access.  
     
     

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thune Should Back Off And Let The FCC Move Forward With Its "Net Neutrality" Plan.

     I like Netflix Streaming and don't care for the prospect of my internet service provider
Seems Like A Reasonable Idea
The FCC Approach Guarantees It.  Thune's Approach?  Not So Sure.
(photo from act.watchdog.net)
being able to charge Netflix more money for faster delivery of its content to me.
Eventually that extra cost will be passed on to me, the Netflix customer.  But even more galling? Some of the other content I get will be slower than my Netflix Streaming.  That stinks.  This is what the "net neutrality" imbroglio is all about and it doesn't bother me that the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., is about to implement a set of rules keeping the status quo intact.  Our Senator John Thune doesn't like the idea. I can understand his reasoning.  Playing the "over-reaching regulatory approach" card, he has been doing all he can to block the FCC from putting its proposals into place and has an alternate set of mandates that he would like to apply as a substitute for what the FCC has in mind.

     What the FCC has in mind is impossible to know at this point.  That kind of bugs me, but apparently it's standard procedure for the Commission to implement a plan before telling the public about its details.  As the Commission's vote on this is scheduled to take place later this week, we'll soon know its details.  The conventional thinking seems to be that the FCC will vote for the plan, given that the Commission has a Democratic majority and that the plan has President Obama's backing.  
     Because Thune's 11-point proposal, linked above, seems to cover all the territory needed to assure net neutrality, you wonder what all the brouhaha is about.  Looks to me like the point of contention is in how the respective standards are to be applied.  The FCC wants its plan to be a new section of the Communications Act of 1934, which would guarantee net neutrality, per FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.  Thune's proposals would be put into place independently of the Communications Act, probably requiring enforcement mechanisms that may or may not be as stringent and easily applied as those proposed by the FCC.  The complexity of all this can perhaps be simplified if you know that the large service providers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile among them)
No Kidding
I Think The FCC Will Know How To Deal With This
(photo from www.dailytech.com)
oppose the FCC plan
 
and that its supporters are generally consumer groups and internet application companies like Yahoo and Google. Oh, and you can add Netflix to that group of supporters of strong FCC oversight of net neutrality.

     My take?  Go with the surest method of making net neutrality the law of the land. That means the FCC's approach, which seems clear and unequivocal, is the best way to do this.  I just don't want an internet where some content comes to me at higher speed than other content. Thune's argument that the FCC's proposal will stifle innovation doesn't stand the test of history, as a free and wide-open internet with equal access to everyone has probably been the most innovative medium of our lifetimes. I see from Thune's list a set of bullet points that sound good, but don't see him attaching a mechanism that ensures compliance. Cumbersome, intrusive and overreaching as the FCC plan may well turn out to be, it ensures net neutrality. Thune's counter-proposal comes with no such guarantee.  
     The FCC, which over the decades has regulated common communications in a reasonably efficient and satisfactory manner, makes its decision at the end of this week (2/26). The standards it seeks to apply in pursuit of net neutrality are likely to work out just fine.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Courage" As Defined By The SD Senate: Let's Reduce The Wages Of People Too Young To Vote. Good grief. Do These Politicos Want A Medal Or A Chest To Pin It On?

      On a party line vote yesterday, 26 South Dakota Senate Republicans overwhelmed 7
SD GOP Senator Tim Rave
Such A Profile In Courage.  What A Hero.
Office Phone # 605-773-3821
Click HERE To E-mail
(photo from legis.sd.com)
Democrats and decreed that young people under the age of 18 have to accept a minimum wage that's a dollar-an-hour less than that earned by their adult peers.  
The GOP majority leader Tim Rave even used the word "courage" to describe this debasing of the value of South Dakota's young people via SB 177.  Wooo.  What a heroic act of statesmanship.
     You'll have to excuse me for not standing by admiringly and cheering on these legislative gladiators who've festooned themselves with glory, but in my book what they did was an act of cowardice. First off, they've skirted the clear will of a majority of voters who passed the minimum wage law last November, who voted for it with no strings attached.  Passing SB 177  is an act of gall, not a testament to courage.  Second, the very class of workers affected by this distortion of the voters' will isn't able to exercise its disapproval at the polls, meaning no danger of pushback.  Third, the Senate's fealty to the South Dakota Retailers Association, which fought the minimum wage initiative initially and has been sponsoring efforts in this legislative session to tinker with it, has been exposed. SDRA couldn't get the legislature to gut the COLA built into the intiative because it would affect South Dakotans who are old enough to vote.  So it looks like they'll settle for a victory over young people, who are powerless to do anything about it. 
     Meanwhile, as my good friend Cory Heidelberger reports in the Madville Times, the Senate apparently credits itself with "clairvoyance" in addition to courage.  Heidelberger notes that  "Senator Gary Cammack (R-29/Union Center) said SB 177 doesn't violate the people's will; it just adds a provision that should have been in the initiative in the first place."  See what I mean by clairvoyance?  Cammack claims to know what the intitiative sponsors apparently overlooked when
Which One For Your Courageous Vote, Sen. Rave?
Taking Money Away From Kids.  Such A Hero
(photo from anitawirawan.com)

they put the measure together.  
     Such courage, such clairvoyance, such chicken manure.  All these guys are doing is trying to save some of their patrons in the business community a few bucks by legitimizing lower wages for the young people they hire. And then congratulating themselves for being a bunch of heroes while doing so.  What a great message they're sending to our state's young people.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is Brendan Johnson Fading Into Obscurity Or Just Biding His Time? I Think The Former Will Suit Him Well.

     Johnson is the South Dakota U.S. Attorney whose pending announcement of his departure
Brendon Johnson
He'll Do Well In Private Practice
(photo from www.justice.gov)
from that post in order to work in Sioux Falls for a Minneapolis-based law firm has been widely reported during the past few hours.  
His father is recently retired U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), one of the most venerable politicians this country has ever produced, serving in the U.S. Congress as both Rep and Senator for nearly 4 decades, continuously. Given the bloodline and the high profile position as U.S. Attorney, Democrats in South Dakota have speculated, for the most part hopefully, that Brendan would soon enter politics and bring some powerful "name i.d." into the '16 races, challenging either Kristi Noem for the House seat or John Thune for the Senate.  

     My take is that Brendan Johnson has neither the stomach nor the money to make himself much of a candidate.  His reluctance to speak out on the EB-5 "cash for green cards" scandal was a pretty clear signal that Johnson wasn't about to position himself as a crusading federal official involving an imbroglio that appears to have cost South Dakota more than $100 million. Johnson's refusal to testify to a South Dakota legislative committee investigating the matter turned into a significant Republican talking point because Johnson insisted that "guidelines" prevented him from commenting on whether or not there was an ongoing federal investigation into the matter.  Pubs immediately pounced on Johnson's inconsistency by calling attention to an earlier case when Johnson told media that there was indeed a federal investigation into a matter then pending.  Pubs then piled on by noting that a New Jersey U.S. Attorney had no reservationas about announcing a federal investigation into a matter in that state. The "guidelines" dodge may have some merit in writing, but in practice it has been ignored.  Pubs capitalized big on Johnson's silence, claiming that it showed the federal investigation was over and done with and that there was nothing new to report. The conclusion? That Johnson's recalcitrance only fed into Democratic conspiracy theories.  There was no pushback forthcoming from Johnson's office.
     Brendan Johnson's wussiness about coming out and saying something, anything, was probably the pin that deflated the ballooning of a matter that could have had serious political
Is Brendan Johnson Familiar With Faulkner?
How About A Statement On EB-5, U.S. Attorney Johnson?
(photo from Emily'sQuotes.com)
consequences.  
For being so short of guts, my reaction to Johnson's departure is "good riddance."

     A shortness of guts will only be compounded by a shortness of cash if Johnson chooses to run in '16.  Kristi Noem comes out of the last election with $800 thousand cash on hand. Considering that Noem was able to raise $2.4 million and that her status as a multi-term incumbent will only make fundraising easier, Johnson will have to scramble hard to come up with the dough it will take to match up.  Given his commitment to private practice well out of public sight, I doubt that he can come up with the money to run for the House, and if he does, I have no doubt that the coffers of the national GOP establishment will gush with whatever money it takes for Noem to hold on to her seat. As to the Senate, ay yi yi!  John Thune has $10 million on hand.  If Thune decides to run for re-election, which he probably will, considering that his political value to a spot on the national ticket is minimal, Johnson doesn't have a chance.  The private sector, where Johnson won't be compelled to put anything on the line, publicly, is probably the best place for this young man. 
     
     
     

Monday, February 16, 2015

Another Letter To The British Columbia Securities Commission Calling Out Azarga Uranium For Misstatements About The Status Of Its Proposed Uranium Mine In The Black Hills

This came to me this morning, relating to a video that was posted on January 22, 2015. HERE'S the Youtube Video. I invite a response from Azarga:

BCSC Inquiries
British Columbia Securities Commission
P.O. Box 10142, Pacific Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia
V7Y 1L2

Subject: File #20150123-13143/ Azarga Uranium Corp. AZZ.TO

Dear Sir/Madam:

I would like to submit the following complaint regarding issuer Azarga Uranium Corp. (“Azarga”), ticker AZZ.TO.  An Azarga official has made a misleading public statement regarding the permitting status of the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium project located in Fall River and Custer Counties, South Dakota, USA.  In addition, Azarga recently issued a news release in which an erroneous assertion is made that a new Preliminary Economic Assessment for the project has been issued. 

In a video posted on youtube.com on January 22, 2015, Azarga Chairman Alex Molyneux made the following statement, referring to the Dewey-Burdock project:

“In 2014, we completed permitting for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the U.S.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxtO8FXurHw

This statement is false.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) staff issued Source Material License No. SUA-1600 to Powertech (USA) Inc. (“Powertech”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Azarga, on April 8, 2014.  However, Azarga has not commenced construction of the project due to the ongoing hearing process before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (“ASLB”), as well as the fact that multiple additional federal and state permits have not yet been obtained.  The ASLB hearing process began on April 6, 2010 with the filing by the Oglala Sioux Tribe (“the Tribe”) of a request for a hearing and petition to intervene in the proceeding regarding Powertech’s application for a uranium recovery license for the Dewey-Burdock project.  The ASLB eventually admitted seven contentions raised by the Tribe and a group of petitioners referred to as the Consolidated Intervenors.

The ASLB closed the record on the admitted contentions on December 10, 2014.  Parties submitted Initial Briefs with Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on January 9, 2015.  Post-hearing reply briefs were filed on January 29, 2015.  The Tribe has requested that the ASLB remand the Final Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (“FSEIS”) back to NRC staff to conduct the necessary analyses and reviews that the Tribe asserts were not completed.

The ASLB will issue an initial decision by March 10, 2015.  The ASLB will individually rule on the seven contentions, and can rule in favor of Powertech, can modify or invalidate the license, or can order the NRC staff to conduct additional analyses and revise the FSEIS and license.  The ASLB’s initial decision will likely be appealed to the NRC’s Commission by the filing of a petition for review in accordance with U.S. 10 C.F.R. section 2.341(b)(4).  Commission review can take several months, and the Commission’s decision can be appealed in federal court.  Given the contentious nature of this matter, it has a high probability of landing in federal court.

The fact is that although the “final” NRC license has been issued, the NRC permitting process is far from over.  Any reasonable observer would conclude that a final disposition of the NRC license will not occur until sometime in 2016 at the earliest.   

On January 29, 2015, Azarga issued a news release titled “Azarga Issues Upgraded Resource and Preliminary Economic Assessment for Dewey Burdock”.  This statement is also false.  While the news release begins with several selective and favorable conclusions drawn from a PEA said to be prepared by consultant TREC, Inc., only well into the release does Azarga disclose that the PEA has not been filed on SEDAR, and that such filing will occur “within 45 days of the issuance of this news release.”

Section 4.2(5)(a)(iii) of National Instrument 43-101 appears to allow an issuer to make a written disclosure of “a change in mineral resources, mineral reserves or the results of a preliminary economic assessment from the most recently filed technical report if the change constitutes a material change in relation to the issuer” up to 45 days prior to filing a technical report supporting such disclosure.  However, Azarga went beyond simply disclosing the results of a PEA that would be filed later.  The title of the news release contains the assertion that the company actually “issued” the PEA.  But investors have no way to access and review the PEA since it has not been filed on SEDAR.  As a result, investors are unable to fully understand the assumptions, and drill down into the modeling, that form the basis for the conclusions stated in the news release. 

Azarga should be required to immediately disclose to investors that prior statements regarding the NRC permitting process and the new PEA are not accurate, and should be required to fully disclose the status of both.  Furthermore, Azarga should be required to timely disclose when the PEA is filed on SEDAR.           

Sincerely,

James B. Woodward
P.O. Box 599
Wellington, Colorado 80549
USA

Some Baby Steps Toward Medicaid Expansion In South Dakota? Governor Daugaard's Talk With WNAX Is Intriguing.

     Now that the evidence about the positive economic and healthcare effects of expanding Medicaid are starting to mount up, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard seems to taking some baby rhetorical steps in the direction of considering it for our state.  Daugaard's cautious nature explains the carefully worded phrases he used during yesterday's interview on the subject with WNAX radio. That it's a politically-sensitive Obamacare-driven initiative in the first place also mandates the Governor's circumspection.  But politically discreet rhetoric or not, it seems clear that Daugaard is opening his mind to the prospects of bringing more Medicaid money into South Dakota. 
Daugaard: "No" To Medicaid Expansion 
That Was Last Month In Sioux Falls. Last Weekend?  A Slight Tone Change
(photo from Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

    This is about as refreshing a deviation of attitude as I've seen in Daugaard, but he must realize that given the financial opportunities at stake, Medicaid expansion makes enough financial sense to be able to sway the attitudes of even his most fervently Republican, anti-Obamacare allies. There's just too much money available to ignore, especially for a state that needs hundreds of millions of dollars to repair its roads and find some money (to the tune of $90 million/year) to pay its chronically-underpaid teachers a competitive salary.  The hundreds of millions of dollars to be gained directly by expanding Medicare will, thanks to the multiplier effect, be a nice boost for South Dakota's economy, broadening the tax base considerably. I stress the economic gains for their political value, but the bottom line, of course, is that up to 50,000 South Dakotans, most of them the "working poor," will get access to healthcare that they need but can't afford.  Kentucky (perenially red when it
Medicaid Expansion Works In Red State Kentucky
Check This* Out, South Dakotans
(graphic from wikipedia.org)
 comes to voting for Presidents) just released a report on the excellent results*(40,000 jobs and $30 billion economic impact) that accrued  from its decision to expand Medicaid. I've seen similar results from other states, but find Kentucky, with its rural nature and sporadic urban areas to be a good model for South Dakota decision-makers to observe.  

     Our state's reflexively Republican rejection of Medicaid expansion (Mike Rounds made the destruction of the program--all of Obamacare, actually--a foundation stone of his successful U.S. Senate campaign last year) has been a victory for political stubborness over common sense. The Kentucky paradigm should be a useful guide for our elected officials to use  Though Daugaard himself has been adamantly opposed to expansion, there comes a point where facts and experience have to be acknowledged.  Incrementally or in one fell swoop, Daugaard's willingness to open his mind on this is encouraging.   

*Scroll down the "Activity Stream" to the Feb 12, 2015 bracket and you'll find the complete report.