Archive for the ‘GOP Watch’ Category

FACT CHECK: Class Size Matters

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

HASLAM RHETORIC: Class Size Doesn’t Matter

Gov. Bill Haslam says class size doesn’t matter. “Most studies have shown that class size is not as direct a relationship to achievement as people have thought in the past, that having a great teacher with 25 students is better than having a mediocre teacher with 18 students.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/1/11]

»   Is the hunt for “great teachers” an implication that the majority of Tennessee teachers are not great — regardless of classroom size?

 

REALITY: Class Size Matters

A Study of 900,000 Students Over 70 Years. The seminal study on the effect of class size in education is Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size Achievementpublished in 1978 by the Laboratory of Educational Research at University of Colorado. The study is based on “data from a total of 900,000 pupils spanning 70 years research in more than a dozen countries.” [“Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement,” pg. 31, Laboratory of Educational Research at the University of Colorado, 9/1978, accessed 6/1/11]

SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS

»   Reduced class-size can be expected to produce increased academic achievement. [“Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement,” pg. 8, accessed 6/1/11]

»   The major benefits from reduced class-size are obtained when class size is reduced below 20 pupils. [“Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement,” pg. 9, accessed 6/1/11]

 

Tennessee was the starting point for modern push for smaller classrooms. It began with Gov. Lamar Alexander and the Tennessee’s Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio). The Brookings Institute called Tennessee’s Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, or STAR, “the most influential and credible study of CRS (class room size).” Conducted in Tennessee during the late 1980s, in this study, students and teachers were randomly assigned to a small class, with an average of 15 students, or a regular class, with an average of 22 students. [Brookings Institute, 5/11/11

SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS

»   Smaller Class Sizes Improved Achievement by 32%. This large reduction in class size (7 students, or 32 percent) was found to increase student achievement by an amount equivalent to about 3 additional months of schooling four years later. [Quarterly Journal of Economics, 6/1997]

»   Minority Students Doubled Achievement. Smaller class sizes produced “substantial improvement in early learning and cognitive studies and that the effect of small class size on the achievement of minority children was initially about double that observed for majority children. [“The Tennessee Study of Class Size in the Early Grades,” 1995, accessed 6/1/11]

»   Small Class Sizes Produce Lasting Effects.Children who were originally enrolled in smaller classes continued to perform better than their grade-mates (whose school experience had begun in larger classes) when they were returned to regular-sized classes in later grades.” [“The Tennessee Study of Class Size in the Early Grades,” 1995, accessed 6/1/11]

»   In Tennessee, Smaller Class Sizes Have Paid For Themselves. Education cost-benefit analysis expert Alan B. Krueger estimated that the return on the investment in smaller class sizes in Tennessee was slightly bigger (6 percent) than the costs of implementing the program. [Quarterly Journal of Economics, 6/1997]

 

The Jackson Sun: Voters will reject GOP over needless Medicare cutbacks

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

The Jackson Sun opinion editor Tom Bohs recently took Republicans to task for their vote to radically change Medicare into a vulture voucher system. The Paul Ryan, budget wonks say, would increase the out-of-pocket cost of health care for seniors by more than $6,500 a year.

Sens. Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander voted for it. As did Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlias, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher.

From The Jackson Sun:

Republicans shot themselves in the foot by proposing to end traditional Medicare and replace it with vouchers for private insurance. If they don’t drop this scheme, it will cost them dearly in the 2012 election cycle.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary. Seniors already have private insurance options under Medicare through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The only thing the voucher system would take away is the government option for Part A (hospital) and Part B (doctor services) that seniors know and largely love — talk about biting the hand that votes for you.

Under the voucher plan proposed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, seniors would be allotted money they could spend on health insurance purchased through private insurance companies. The advantage, according to Ryan and other Republicans, is that people would be able to choose the health insurance that best suits their needs.

That is the biggest false hope I have ever heard perpetrated on old people. What is the best health insurance policy for anyone? The best policy is the one that pays the bills when you get sick without splitting hairs over whether a particular illness, procedure, service, doctor or medication is excluded in the fine print of the insurance contract.

It is a fallacy that different people have different health insurance needs. What health problem don’t you want coverage for? The idea that some people are in better health than others and don’t need as much health insurance is nonsense. No one can predict life’s illnesses and health mishaps, let alone those of old age. It would be like buying car insurance that only covered you on some days of the week.

The other reason Ryan’s approach to privatizing Medicare to save money surprises me is that it is unnecessary. The system is solvent for many years to come. Shortfalls after that easily can be addressed long before they materialize. Ryan is solving a problem that doesn’t exist, and making seniors and other voters angry in the process. He should focus on problems that are real and on the table right now such as the national debt, high unemployment, mortgage defaults and a host of social, military and international affairs challenges we face.

But the thing I find most disturbing about privatizing Medicare is that it complicates the last bastion of senior citizen comfort. People who are old, sick or near the end of life don’t want to be burdened with complicated insurance decisions. Can Republicans not let old people just finish out their years with peace of mind without a lot of rah-rah, take responsibility, every man for himself flag waving? All that’s fine when you’re young or 40 or 50 and still building your lifestyle and personal security. But when you are 70 or 80 or older, the last thing you need is a bunch of insurance companies trying to get their hands in your pocket.

The final problem with Ryan’s Medicare voucher scheme is that it might not – and I would hazard an educated guess it would not – be sufficient to purchase health insurance that would provide anywhere near the coverage afforded by Medicare. What would people do when their benefits ran out? Ryan doesn’t address that. Again, it would be every man for himself. Of course, there might still be Medicaid available to those brought to penury by uncovered medical expenses. But that only puts the burden on others, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological blow it would inflict on seniors.

Good grief. Medicare works. Leave it alone and find something to tinker with that really needs fixing. [Jackson Sun, 5/28/11]

FACTS & BACKGROUND:

 

REALITY: TENNESSEE’S ENTIRE REPUBLICAN U.S. HOUSE & SENATE DELEGATION VOTED FOR THE PAUL RYAN BUDGET

Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted for Paul Ryan’s budget to privatize Medicare. [Senate.gov Roll Call Vote, 5/25/11]

Tennessee’s entire Republican delegation (Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlais, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Stephen Fincher) voted to turn Medicare into a voucher system. [U.S. House Clerk, April 15, 2011]

More than 1 million Tennesseans are enrolled in Medicare. [statehealthfacts.org, accessed April 15, 2011]


REALITY: REP. RYAN’S VOUCHER SYSTEM WOULD COST SENIORS THOUSANDS IN OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES

The Economist: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Plan Shifts The Burden Of Risk Onto Seniors By Only Delivering A Voucher For An Amount Ryan Thinks Ought To Be Enough For Health Care, Not Guaranteeing All Care. [Economist, 4/5/11]

Politifact: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan Would Force The Average Senior Receiving Medicare To Pay $6,350 More Out-Of-Pocket For Health Care. [Politifact, 5/6/11]

Center for Economic Policy Research: A Person Born In 1957 At Age 65 Will Require An Additional $182,000 In Retirement Savings In Order To Purchase Private Insurance Rather Than Accept Coverage Through Medicare. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Letter to Rep. George Miller”]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET ENDS MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT

Wall Street Journal: “The [GOP Budget] Plan Would Essentially End Medicare.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Los Angeles Times: “Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan Increases Costs, Budget Office Says.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/8/11]

CBO: The Ryan Budget Plan Would Increase Debt In The First Ten Years. [TPM, 4/5/11]

The Fiscal Times: “The Big Winners” In The Republican Budget Would Be “High Income Earners And Corporations, Who Top Tax Rate Would Be Reduced From 35 To 25 Percent.” [Fiscal Times, 4/5/11]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET RELIES ON “QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTIONS” AND “FISHY FIGURES”

Washington Post: “The Ryan Budget Plan Relies On Dubious Assertions, Questionable Assumptions And Fishy Figures.” [Washington Post, 4/9/11]

National Journal: “Ryan Plan Pushes Optimism To The Outer Limits.” [National Journal, 4/5/11]

Democratic Party Chairman Urges Governor to ‘Act Responsibly’

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2011

$60M in Federal Jobless Benefits for 28,000 Tennesseans Lost if Republicans Fail to Act

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued the following statement urging Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislators to pass law to reinstate jobless benefits for 28,000 Tennesseans:

Partisan politics shouldn’t threaten the economic future of 28,000 Tennesseans who can’t find work due to a recession that was no fault of their own.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislators haven’t lived up to their promise to create jobs, and now their negligence is jeopardizing critical financial support that is keeping children fed, bills paid and families out of foreclosure.

We’ve seen harmful bills that rob citizens and teachers of their rights get all the attention this session. Now Republicans have a chance to make an actual difference by fixing their screw up.

Mr. Haslam needs to prove he’s serious about governing – not scoring political points. The livelihood of nearly 30,000 citizens is on the line. Republicans owe it to these hurting families to act responsibly.

FACTS:

US Department of Labor estimates unemployment benefits give taxpayers a 2-to-1 return on investment. For the modest expenditure of less than $2 million, Tennessee would receive $60 million, which translates to $120 million of economic activity, according to a study commissioned by the labor department. The study suggests these dollars are injected quickly into the local economy and could potentially add more than $5 million directly to state sales tax collections. [US Department of Labor, 11/10]

Democrats scramble on to revive jobless benefits that Republicans failed to prioritize. Republicans, who control the General Assembly and set the legislative schedule, failed to pass a law to extend unemployment benefits for 28,000 jobless Tennesseans. Now legislative Democrats are pushing to reinstate the benefits, with House and Senate committees scheduled to meet Monday to consider last-minute bills to resurrect the program. Success would bring nearly $60 million in federal funds to pay up to 20 more weeks of benefits for Tennesseans unable to find jobs in a still-fragile economy. But it’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the Republican-controlled General Assembly will go along. [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/15/11]

GOP Sen. Mark Norris says Haslam administration signaled they wouldn’t pursue bill to extend jobless benefits. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said today that state Employment Security Administrator Don Ingram last week “made it very clear that the administration’s position at least had been that they didn’t intend to pursue it.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/16/11]

 

Winning?

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Only one word can describe the latest move by the Tennessee GOP: Arrogance.

tngop-sheen

On Thursday, the Tennessee GOP announced it would be running a statewide radio ad called “Winning.” The spot featured the irrational and senseless Charlie Sheen, who lost his kids because he abused drugs and alcohol and mistreated women.

Is that what the GOP calls winning?

Tennessee Republicans voted to end Medicare for seniors and are passing laws that send Tennessee schools back to the Stone Age — broken promises to people who have worked their whole lives and an increasingly uneven playing field for rural families and working people.

Is that what the GOP calls winning?

Those aren’t Tennessee values. Show Tennessee Republicans we won’t let them get away with this.

Can you give $5, $10 or more today to help us fight back?

While they’re taking direction and handouts from big corporations, we rely on grassroots Democrats like you to show our strength and to be a true force for progress. Every gift – no matter how small – helps us put Republican seats in play.

And we’re going to go after them for this. They’re playing games with people’s livelihoods. We have got to stand up to their ideologically driven nonsense.

Tenn. Republicans Vote to End Medicare, Abandon 1 Million Tennesseans

Friday, April 15th, 2011

NASHVILLE – Chip Forrester, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, issued the following statement in response to the House of Representative’s vote today to end Medicare as a part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget:

“There are more than 1 million Tennesseans on Medicare, and 80 percent of them are over age 65. This budget shreds the contract that this country has with Tennessee seniors after a lifetime of work. We promised seniors that the cost of health care and long-term care would not bankrupt them and their families in their retirement. By ending Medicare, this plan will force seniors to pay more out of pocket and negotiate with private drug and insurance companies. By slashing Medicaid it takes away the last protection for seniors late in life.”

Tennessee’s Republican Congressional delegation voted unanimously in favor of passing the bill.

Facts

“House of Representatives Votes To End Medicare!” | Forbes.com | April 15, 2011

Tennessee’s Republican delegation votes to end Medicare | U.S. House Clerk | accessed April 15, 2011

Tennessee: Medicare Population Demographics | statehealthfacts.org | accessed April 15, 2011