Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Fighting healthcare reform by arresting your customers????


703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903-5208
(434) 984-4655 • (434) 984-2803 fax

Dear Friends,

Have you ever had really bad customer service? Then you will love this story…

I asked to speak to a representative of VOP’s health insurance company in person Friday and I got arrested for trespassing!

Last Friday, the last thing I expected was to get arrested. But there I was, a little after noon, getting my mug shot taken and being fingerprinted in the Henrico County Jail.

So what was my crime?

It all started last month when Anthem raised our health insurance premiums 14.1 percent — with no additional risks and no new health care services to justify the increase — and we also discovered that Anthem was spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress against health care reform.

We wanted to find out how much of our premiums were being used for lobbying, and ask for that money back.

So on Friday, I accompanied three VOP State Governing Board members in an attempt to meet with Anthem officials. But as we approached the building a little after 11 a.m., they locked the front door and would not let us in.

VOP Chairperson Jay Johnson called through the locked door, “We want to meet with someone about our rate increase.”

“We are your customers. Can someone meet with us?” I added. “We want to know why our rates were increased 14.1 percent.”

The two men inside told us to call our customer service representative. They were not going to let us in. They gave us the number and I took out my cell phone and called it. I told the woman who answered that we were an Anthem customer and we wanted to know why they increased our premiums 14.1 percent last month. She asked me to hold on, she needed to check. After about four or five minutes on hold, she came back and said she wanted to connect me to a Scott Holden, who we later found out is their public relations representative.

“OK, thank you,” I said.

Before we knew it, at least six police officers arrived. One of them got off his motorcycle and the two Anthem employees let him in the front door. Then they locked the door again.

Soon, the police officer came out and said we had to leave.

“But they told us to call the customer service representative and I am on hold,” I said.

“You have to leave or you will be arrested,” said another police officer.

Within minutes, my hands were handcuffed behind my back, and I was sitting in the front seat of a police cruiser, with the doors locked and the windows closed. Two police officers took a statement from an Anthem official as I waited. Boy, was it hot!

After my mug shot and fingerprinting, a magistrate eventually let me go, as long as I promised to show up on Monday morning for my arraignment.

On Monday, the judge set my trial date for September 22 at 11 a.m. I am charged with trespassing, which is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a possible jail sentence of 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

“As we reach out in support of health care reform, our own insurance company uses their increased premiums to lobby against it,” Jay Johnson said. “We pay over $25,000 in premiums every month to Anthem. We expect that our money will go to pay for health care and not for corporate lobbying.”

Not only is Anthem spending our premiums to directly lobby Congress, but they are trying to get their customers to do so as well. VOP recently received an e-mail asking us, as customers, to call our members of Congress to oppose a public health insurance option.

Getting locked out of the Anthem headquarters is an excellent example of the relationship the health insurance industry has with its customers. They don’t feel that they have to explain or account for anything. Anthem has little competition and they know their customers have few choices. Anthem and other health insurance corporations are spending $1.4 million per day lobbying Congress to make sure that Americans don’t have any other choice.

That is why we need a public health insurance option that forces the private health insurance industry to compete. The private health insurance industry has given us a greedy health insurance system where customers have to deal with skyrocketing premiums, denied claims, and even trespassing charges for asking to speak to a representative in person. We all deserve better than this.

The Virginia Organizing Project has been working hard to push for a public option. We have canvassed more than 140,000 doors all across the state, and four of five people tell us they agree that there is a real need for health care reform. We have held more than two dozen community meetings asking people to share their experiences with the current broken health care system. The horror stories keep coming.

So what can we do about it? There are two things you can do to help:

First, please call Senator Mark Warner and your member of Congress with this toll-free number:


Ask them to support a public health insurance option that will provide quality, affordable health care for everyone.

Second, please donate to the Virginia Organizing Project so that we can expand our field staff and get more people active in the fight for health care reform. You can donate by going to:

or by sending your donation to:

Virginia Organizing Project
703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-5208

Thanks for all your help.

Take care,

Joe Szakos

Executive Director

Virginia Organizing Project

434.984.4655 x222

P.S. You can see some videos of the events last Friday at Anthem headquarters by going to:

Why All Progressives, Democrats, Unionists and Reformers Should Join ACORN


Why All Progressives, Democrats, Unionists and Reformers Should Join ACORN

We are all familiar with the highly partisan and blatantly dishonest attacks on the low and moderate income advocacy group ACORN that dominated Fox News election coverage last Fall. Republican Right Wing partisans have remained loyal to their absurd talking points after the November election and continue to intentionally spread lies about the ACORN organization that all progressives, Democrats, labor activists and reformers should actively refute. These politically-motivated attacks on ACORN are based on two ridiculous ideas.

The first ridiculous idea is that this relatively small group of relatively poor individuals somehow is responsible for the mortgage crisis and the collapse of the economy. After decades of Reagan-Bush Republican mismanagement, Wall Street greed, assaults on unionized labor, unsound tax policies, unfair trade policies, disastrous healthcare policies, runaway corporate corruption, huge sweetheart government contracts going to Republican connected corporations and absurd financial deregulation, we need to understand that the structure of our economy needs serious fundamental reform. Reagan-Bush Republicanism ruled the market economically and politically to create the economic crisis.

The economic collapse has many more serious fundamental causes than just the collapse of the mortgage market. Income inequality, speculation, ending anti-usury laws, not enforcing anti-monopoly laws and excessive credit card debt can be added to the previous list of root causes underlining the current economic crisis. The Republican Right bears most of the responsibility for this situation. ACORN bears none!

First of all, sub-prime mortgages did not create the mortgage crisis. The notable economist Paul Krugman has debunked this Republican myth very effectively. The mortgage crisis has been spread across all income levels. Foreclosures are not limited just too poor people.

ACORN has never issued any mortgages nor has it pressured lenders to issue high-rate, unaffordable loans to poor and middle class Americans. Instead, for over a decade, ACORN has been the national leader in the fight against predatory lending.

The roots of the mortgage foreclosure problem are in the deregulation of the financial sector of our economy. Readers can find an excellent article outlining this situation, The Conservative Origins of the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis by John Atlas and Peter Dreier The article effectively refutes most of the Republican talking points on the root causes of the mortgage meltdown.

Secondly, ACORN has never been involved in election fraud. ACORN never tried to rig any election. The accusations are both false and politically-motivated in the extreme. The FBI investigation of ACORN for voter fraud so widely publicized during the election does not appear to exist. Every state and local investigation has proven ACORN to be innocent of any wrong-doing!

Every informed political person knows that voter registration forms once signed cannot be legally discarded even if the organization collecting them suspects fraud. It is a crime to discard those registration forms. ACORN has a policy of trying to verify the validity of voter registration forms and bundling suspect forms together before turning them in to election offices. ACORN is not required by law to do this extra step but voluntarily does so to help local election offices prevent voter registration fraud.

The real reason that the Republican Right has smeared ACORN on the voter registration issue is that ACORN helped register upward of 1.3 million new voters during the 2008 election cycle. The majority of these voters were low and moderate income Americans. Since they are low and moderate income voters, they tend to support Democrats more than Republicans. Everyone knows that the Republican Party supports the economic interests of the Super Wealthy and international corporations over those of poor and moderate income Americans.

Voter suppression targeting low and moderate income Americans by Republican operatives have been documented in almost every state in the nation in recent elections. The attacks on ACORN were designed to support legal action attempting to keep low and moderate income citizens from voting. Republican lawyers filed lawsuits in dozens of states as part of this effort during the 2008 elections with a special emphasis being placed on swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. The lawsuits failed basically everywhere because they lacked any merit or validity.

However, the illegitimate Republican lawsuits attacking ACORN were effective propaganda tools in keeping the hardcore Republican partisans fired-up and motivated during the election. These false attacks are still being used to keep the ever-shrinking Republican base motivated to fight the Obama economic recovery agenda. ACORN has lobbied hard in favor of much of this legislative agenda. It is easy to understand the Republican attacks if you read ACORN: The Bogeyman in the GOP Closet .

When the attacks on ACORN began, I joined ACORN and became strongly involved in their political action, lobbying and community organizing activities. While ACORN consists of mainly poor and moderate income people, they accept anyone regardless of income who cares about the issues that impact poor and moderate income Americans.

ACORN is an important ally of progressives, Democrats, labor unions and reformers everywhere. ACORN is a strong supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act. They are fighting foreclosures and predatory lending. ACORN fights hard for equality before the law. ACORN helps bring millions of new voters into the political process. They fight to make our economy work for all Americans and not just the economic elite. ACORN is good for American Democracy.

Every progressive, Democrat, union activist and reformer in America should seriously consider showing their support by joining ACORN and becoming actively engaged in their efforts. You can join ACORN by contacting your local ACORN office or signing up via their website at

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host, Democratic Talk Radio and Editor, Mid-Atlantic Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish or re-print without prior approval as a Democratic Voices column, OpEd, Letter to the Editor, guest editorial or as a flyer.

The Baucus Bill’s Bad Math


The Baucus Bill’s Bad Math
by Nate Silver

The Associated Press has some speculative details of the “compromise” health care bill that looks ready, at long last, to emerge from Max Baucus’s Senate Finance Committee:

[Any] legislation that emerges from the talks is expected to provide for a non-profit cooperative to sell insurance in competition with private industry, rather than giving the federal government a role in the marketplace. The White House and numerous Democrats in Congress have called for a government option to provide competition to private companies and hold down costs.

Officials also said a bipartisan compromise would not subject companies to a penalty if they declined to offer coverage to their workers. These businesses would be required to reimburse the government for part or all of any federal subsidies designed to help lower-income employees obtain insurance on their own.

Democratic-drafted legislation in the House includes both a penalty and a requirement for companies to share in the cost of covering employees.

So there’s not a public option in the Finance Committee’s bill ## which should come as no great surprise to anyone who’s been following this debate. Instead, there’s Kent Conrad’s plan for regional, non-profit cooperatives. The real fight over the public option will take place when the HELP Committee’s bill, which does include a public option, is reconciled with the Finance Committee’s version, and/or when the Senate’s version is ultimately reconciled with the House version.

The bigger news, rather, is that Baucus’s bill will not contain an employer mandate ## a requirement that employers provide health insurance to their employees ## even though it does contain an individual mandate.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

## No employer mandate
## No public option
## But yes, an individual mandate

It should ## because this particular permutation on health care reform looks an awful lot like the incomplete draft of the HELP Committee’s bill that the CBO scored last month, which also lacked an employer mandate and a public option but contained an individual mandate. That bill, the CBO estimated, would cost about $1.0 trillion ## but would only cover a net of about 16 million people. In contrast, the revised version of the HELP Committee’s bill, which did include both a public option and an employer mandate, would cost about the same amount but cover a net of 37 million people.

It’s not quite right to say that the public option and the employer mandate would allow us to cover an additional 21 million people for “free”. That’s because the employer mandate represents a burden on businesses, and could in turn result in some additional costs in the form of lower wages and/or reduced employment. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that in the state of Hawaii, which does have an employer mandate, wages dropped but by a “statistically insignificant” amount. It also found that there was an increase in the reliance on sub-part-time workers (people working fewer than 20 hours a week are not subject to Hawaii’s requirement) but no overall drop in “employment probabilities”. The upside, however, is significant: Hawaii has both the broadest coverage among adults aged 18-64 (only 11 percent are uninsured) and (!) the cheapest premiums. Although some of this has to do with Hawaii’s climate, ethnic makeup, and diet, that seems like a pretty good trade-off.

Baucus’s bill makes a different trade-off. In order to placate business interests on the employer mandate, and what are frankly ideological interests on the public option, it sacrifices coverage. If I’m reading this right, in fact, 16 million might be on the high end in terms of the net gain in coverage. That’s because whereas the HELP Committee’s unfinished draft subsidized insurance at up to 500 percent of the poverty line (meaning $54,150 for an individual or $110,250 for a family of four), the assistance in Baucus’s draft would end for people making more than 300 percent of poverty ($32,490 for an individual or $66,150 for a four-person family).

The AP may be right that Baucus’s bill will cost less than $1 trillion, but it accomplishes that by shifting the burden to middle-income families, some of whom have poor balance sheets and will face a really tough choice between paying for health insurance they can’t quite afford and facing some kind of penalty. Odds are that many of them will take the penalty, which is why coverage probably won’t expand very much. Or, the enforcement mechanisms could be more stringent, in which case they’ll have to buy health care, at the cost of reducing their spending in other areas ## and in probably being very teed off at the Democrats who passed the bill**.

This is a pretty poor combination of attributes for a health care reform bill to have. If Baucus & Co. wanted to get the cost below $1 trillion, they could have chopped the subsidies down to, say, 350 percent of poverty, while keeping the employer mandate and the public option. As a very rough guess, a bill like that might insure another 30-35 million people at a gross cost of about $850-$900 billion. The actual Baucus bill is going to cost about the same but will be lucky to insure half as many.

The good news is that the math on this bill is so bad that I doubt it will survive intact. Personally, I think the public option is probably a goner, but that the employer mandate will probably be restored ## especially if Baucus dares to put his bill before the CBO and see what they think of it.

** Just to underscore this point: when it scored a similar bill, the CBO estimated that 15 million people would lose their employer-provided coverage. Most of these people are likely to be lower-to-middle income persons with somewhat tenuous employment situations, a group that tends classically to be swing voters.

Now, how are those 15 million people going to feel about health care reform when they find out that:

a) Although the bill was supposed to guarantee access to health insurance, they’ve in fact lost theirs;
b) They’re required to buy an expensive, private plan on their own, or to pay a fine;
c) They’re probably not getting any government assistance;
d) They certainly don’t have any Medicare-like alternative to fall back upon;
e) All of this cost the country about $1 trillion dollars.

You think those 15 million people are going to vote for the Democrats again, like, ever?

EDIT: The Politico article on the subject implies a little bit more of a compromise approach toward the employer mandate.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) confirmed that the three Republicans and three Democrats negotiating the Senate Finance bill are moving away from a broad-based mandate that would force employers to offer insurance. The senators instead are leaning toward a “free rider” provision that requires employers to pay for employees who receive coverage through Medicaid or who receive new government subsidies to purchase insurance through an exchange.

This is better ## maybe a lot better ## than having nothing at all, although it potentially leads to some distortions in the market. Say that you’re picking between a job candidate who has a family of five, and a job candidate who is single. The job pays $40,000 per year, but for whatever reason, you’ve decided that it’s not cost-effective to provide your employees with health insurance. The former candidate, the one with the family of five, will be eligible for the government subsidy, which you will ultimately have to foot the bill for. The single guy will not be. Who are you going to hire?

Pa. Unemployment Benefits Could Get Relief


Pa. Unemployment Benefits Could Get Relief Unemployment-Benefits-Could-Get-Relief/4888051

by KYW’s Tony Romeo

It appears that legislation to provide another seven weeks of unemployment benefits to Pennsylvanians whose benefits have expired is headed for approval in the state Senate.

The first big wave of Pennsylvanians to lose their benefits – about 18,000 – saw their jobless payments expire earlier this month.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, says a bill to extend benefits for another seven weeks should get a floor this week. He says the bill was amended by a Senate committee to make sure the additional benefits are retroactive:

“There were some question as our attorneys looked at the bill, and later confirmed with some informal communication we had from the Rendell administration, that they agreed that it was best as a matter of state law to make it clear that these [benefits] would be retroactive.”

If the bill passes the Senate, it will have to go back to the House because of the amendment. While the federal government picks up the tab for costs to businesses, Republicans were concerned about the potential cost to state and local governments that have laid off workers.

From the White House: CEA Releases Report on the Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees



Office of the Press Secretary

July 24, 2009

CEA Releases Report on the Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees

WASHINGTON, DC – The Council of Economic Advisers released a report today that examines the challenges currently faced by smaller firms in the health insurance market and the likely impacts of health care reform on small businesses and the workers they employ.

During the weekly address, the President will ask for feedback from the small business community both through and, in an innovative outreach effort, through LinkedIn, a social networking community for professionals that counts twelve million small business owners and employees as members.

CEA Chair Christina Romer will answer some of those questions during a live online video chat on Wednesday.

The report is live at .

Key findings of the report include the following:

Small businesses are crucial to the economy

Small businesses are an important source of job growth in the United States. Firms with fewer than 20 employees accounted for approximately 18 percent of private sector jobs in 2006, but nearly 25 percent of net employment growth from 1992 to 2005.

Small businesses account for a large majority of jobs in start-ups, a key source of innovation and economic growth.

The current health care system is not working well for small businesses and their workers

The U.S. health care system imposes a heavy “tax” on small businesses and their employees. Due to high broker fees, fixed administrative costs, and adverse selection, small businesses pay up to 18 percent more per worker than large firms for the same health insurance policy. Some of these higher costs are passed on to small firm employees in the form of lower wages, and some eat into the profits of small businesses that could otherwise be used for research and development and for much-needed investments. This implicit tax disadvantages small firms in both the market for the best workers and the market for their products.

Because of their higher health care costs, small businesses are far less likely to provide health insurance for their workers than larger businesses. Only 49 percent of firms with 3 to 9 workers and 78 percent of firms with 10 to 24 workers offered any type of health insurance to their employees in 2008. In contrast, 99 percent of firms with more than 200 workers offered health insurance. Workers in small firms that do offer health insurance also tend to have less generous plans than their counterparts at large firms.

The fraction of small firms offering health insurance has been declining in recent years. From 2002 to 2008, the fraction of firms with 3 to 9 employees offering health insurance to their workers declined from 58 to 49 percent.
Health care reform as envisioned in the current draft legislation would reduce the current burdens on small firms and their workers

Small businesses that meet certain criteria would be able to purchase health insurance through an “insurance exchange” – allowing them to choose among a multitude of plans that would provide better coverage at lower costs than they could find in the current small group market.

Many small businesses that provide health insurance for their employees would receive a small business tax credit to alleviate their disproportionately higher costs and encourage coverage. The tax credit would be targeted to those firms with employees whose average wages fall below a certain threshold.

The current reform options provide financial incentives for medium- and large-sized firms to provide health insurance coverage through so-called “pay-or-play” provisions. Firms with payrolls or employment levels below a certain threshold, which would include the vast majority of small businesses, would be exempt from the pay-or-play provisions.

The creation of an insurance exchange would also provide better and lower-cost options for workers in small businesses that do not offer health insurance. Low-income individuals and families would receive sliding scale subsidies to help them purchase insurance. Additionally, health insurers would not be allowed to screen potential enrollees for pre-existing conditions.

The proposed reforms could help spur entrepreneurial activity by increasing the incentives for talented Americans to launch their own companies, and could increase the pool of workers willing to work for small firms.

Further, successful reform would reduce the phenomenon of “job lock,” in which workers are reluctant to leave a job with employer-sponsored health insurance out of fear that they will not be able to find affordable coverage. Small firms that are unable to provide health insurance for their employees bear the greatest cost of this phenomenon

Reductions in absenteeism and improvements in worker productivity resulting from better health outcomes because of expanded coverage would particularly benefit small businesses.

Pennsylvania ALF-CIO President William George to be honored by community group


Pennsylvania ALF-CIO President William George to be honored by community group


BETHLEHEM, July 16th- William George, President of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation, will be honored by the “Home of the Saints” community group.

According to Steve Curto, a retired business representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, who is a advisory board member of the organization, Mr. George will be honored at the 14th annual community dinner event held at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel in Bethlehem on November 8th.

Mr. Curto stated William George will be the first labor leader to be honored by the organization. He said 275 people attended last years event. Proceeds from the event benefit the Easton Area Community Center, Washington Street in Easton.

The cost of the event, which includes dinner, is $60.00.

Legendary local sports announcer of Lafayette College and the Phillipsburg and Easton High Schools, Dick Hammer will also be honored by the organization on November 8th.

For more information or to purchase tickets contact Mr. Curto at (610) 252-2933.

Three nominated by Obama Administration to serve on NLRB


Three nominated by Obama Administration to serve on NLRB


REGION, July 14th- The Obama Administration announced on July 9th that it had sent to the United States Senate the nominiations of Craig Becker, Mark Gaston Pearce, and Brian Hayes to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the Senate, the NLRB would have a full complement of five members for the first time since December 7th, 2007. The sitting members are Chairman Wilma Liebman and Member Peter Schaumber.

On April 24th, President Obama announced his intention to nominate labor law attorney’s Craig Becker and Mark Gaston Pearce for the two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB. The intent to nominate Mr. Hayes to fill the vacant Republican seat was announced shortly before the nominations were sent to the Senate.

Mr. Hayes currently serves as the Republican Labor Policy Director for the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Mr. Hayes’s term would expire on December 16th, 2012. Mr. Pearce, in private practice with a Buffalo, New York law firm, would have a term ending August 27th, 2013. Mr. Becker, Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), would have a term ending December 16th, 2014.

Chairman Liebman’s term expires on August 27th, 2011, and member Schaumber’s term ends August 27th, 2010. By tradition, three of the five NLRB seats are filled by individuals of the same political party of the President in office.

According to the NLRB, Mr. Hayes was in private practice for more than twenty-five years. His practice was devoted exclusively to representing management clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. He has represented employers in scores of cases before the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and various state fair employment practice agencies. He has served as chief trial counsel in the full range of employment claims in both state and Federal courts.

Mr. Hayes also has extensive experience in negotiating labor contracts on behalf of management clients, as well as representing clients in arbitrations, mediations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Before entering private practice, Mr. Hayes clerked for the Chief Judge of the National Labor Relations Board and thereafter served as Counsel to the Chairman of the NLRB.

Jobs report signals more job loss to come in Pennsylvania


Jobs report signals more job loss to come in Pennsylvania


REGION, July 5th- The Keystone Research Center (KRC), a Harrisburg based nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research organization, analysis of the Pennsylvania economy suggest the Commonwealth must maintain spending to forestall additional job loss.

The Keystone Research Center said the carnage in the national job market continued unrelenting in June, with the United States shedding 467,000 jobs and the national underemployment rate reaching 16.5 percent, roughly one in every six Americans in the labor force.

KRC believes the decline in the United States jobs report signals more job loses are to come for Pennsylvania.

The KRC stated the June national job report number place the debate about Pennsylvania’s state budget in a new context. It is well known to economists that the best way for state government to limit job loss in an economic recession is to maintain spending levels.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and others have shown that direct spending reductions may generate more adverse economic consequences than tax increases, particularly tax increases on higher-income households. That means tax increases can be the least damaging way to close state fiscal deficits in the short run and provide for long-term economic growth.

Basic economics underscores that Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell’s proposal to balance the state’s budget in part through an increase in the state’s personal income tax is on target and that alternative course of draconian cuts in state spending would reduce job creation and increases unemployment. So far Pennsylvania unemployment remains about a percentage point lower than the national rate, an advantage that translates into 60,000 jobs. The wrong budget agreement would jeopardize that Pennsylvania advantage, the KRC wrote.

The Keystone Research Center analysis states the basic economic reasons that maintaining state spending ideally through revenue increases that fall on higher earners are straight forward:

• Government injects every dollars it raises into the economy.
• Taxpayers, by contrast, save some of their income and those savings do not stimulate the economy in the short run. The income of higher earners is most likely to be saved rather than used for consumption or investent in a deeply depressed economy.
• State spending financed through bonds, in effect, through future state revenues, can be especially stimulating to the state economy in the short run, one reason that bond-financed water and sewer infrastructure and the state’s $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund are so well timed.

The organization states from the point of view of maximizing short-term creation, an even better alternative to the Governor’s current proposal would be to collect needed state revenues more substantially from higher earners, through a differentially higher tax on investment income. It can be done in Pennsylvania without a constitutional change.

While Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is lower than the national one, it continues to move higher as the United States labor market weakens further. Moreover, initial claims for unemployment benefits were above 40,000 in Pennsylvania this past week, for the third week in a row.

According to the Department of Labor and Industry, the unemployment rate is higher in every part of Pennsylvania from twelve months ago.