Luke Messer Also Guilty of ‘Bold Misrepresentations’

MUNCIE, Indiana – In a recent press release by Congressman Luke Messer (R) of Indiana, its politics as usual. For this Tea Party operative, it’s nothing new for him to continue fighting the Koch brothers battle with President Barack Obama over his signature piece of law – the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Luke Messer has joined the republican led Congress in unsuccessfully repealing the ACA over 50 times costing taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees. He even supported shutting down the government in 2013 to stop ACA, as did Governor Mike Pence, which cost the United States, $24 billion.

Is it any wonder Gallup shows Congress’s approval rate now at a record low 14%.

Our “fiscal conservatives” are wasting billions of dollars fighting a political battle and their backward socially conservative beliefs, while taxpayers get to foot the bill. Both in Indiana and Washington, it’s almost a daily occurrence when our conservative caucus takes up another crusade to oppose genuine progress instead of working to help the people they were sworn to serve.

As we recently pointed out in Muncie Voice, Hoosiers may still get to vote for these politicians, but once they win the election, they begin working for the ‘Economic Elite’ who fund their campaigns. Payback comes from state and federal contracts, legal fees, cronyism – yes, they are sellouts to the almighty dollar.

Congressman Luke Messer is no different, and on Thursday, he is bringing his congressional sideshow to Greenfield, Indiana.

The 2015 open enrollment period for ACA is just months away and both Governor Mike Pence and Congressman Messer are playing politics with people’s health. Erika Smith with the IndyStar was allowed to ink this about Indiana’s favorite lap-dog of the Koch brothers:

Instead, Governor Pence and crew have doubled down on plans that make it even more difficult for the most vulnerable people among us to get health care for themselves and their families at a decent price.

His administration is suing the federal government to block subsidies that are available on the exchange to help the poorest of the state’s residents buy private health insurance. The goal is to prevent business owners from being fined for failing to provide affordable coverage for their employees.

Not only did Pence instruct former Governor Mitch Daniels to kill Indiana’s Health Care Exchange, for which Mitch received $1.2 million in federal grant monies to set up, he’s now instructing Attorney General Zoeller to sue the federal government. The lawsuit seeks to prevent Hoosiers from receiving tax subsidies to help pay insurance premiums recently purchased from the federal exchange.

While Pence is using taxpayer dollars on lawsuits which hurt Hoosiers, our Congressman is sharing quips of misinformation to garner interest in his dog and pony show:

Health insurance premiums in Indiana will go up an average of 13% in 2015 according to a study conducted by the Health Research Institute. That means individual Hoosiers can expect to pay about $497 per month for insurance without government subsidies. That’s not affordable, despite the law’s title.

Luke Messer isn’t using real numbers – he never does. It’s all political gamesmanship. It’s a strategy concocted by ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce while penned by the shills working for State Policy Networks in all 50 states – it’s the Koch brothers assault against the government. Free market Austrian economics peddled by FreedomWorks to millions of rabid “Patriots” across America.

For instance, look at the $497 monthly health insurance premium Messer uses as an example. His article discusses cafeteria workers and school bus drivers who work part-time at local school corporations.There isn’t a single bus driver or cafeteria worker who will pay $497 for health insurance – in fact many of them would probably qualify for Medicaid, if it were expanded in Indiana. Based on the sliding scale with ACA Health Care Exchanges, they will pay a much smaller premium.

Congressman Messer should be attacking Mike Pence if he wants to be the champion for the common worker. Also, if Messer was truly “concerned about the workers”, why not ask the school corporations why they were using to cover them as full-time workers?

Messer actually wants us to believe he’s interested in helping bus drivers. If so, why not urge Governor Pence to release tax dollars to the public schools as promised?

Let’s be honest,  Luke isn’t interested in cafeteria workers or school bus drivers. President Obama asked congress to uphold a living wage for all Americans, but they’d rather hold phony congressional hearings to gather prepared speeches by friendly constituents who are prepped to make the congressmen and women look good for TV. Luke and his colleagues think $7.25 is a living wage.

Don’t forget Hoosiers, Luke Messer is a proud member of the Tea Party Brigade, and that means anti-government and anti-Hoosier. Like Governor Pence, Luke supports reducing corporate taxes and shifting the cost of government services to people and small businesses. As we discussed here in Muncie Voice, Governor Pence has resurrected the late Arthur Laffer from the laughed at ‘school of supply side economics’. These disproved theories of the Reagan years brought us the worse economic inequality this country has ever experienced.

Most small businessmen I know have moved from commercial health insurance to the federally offered ACA health exchange plans and saved hundreds of dollars per month. Many have saved as much as $500 a month in health insurance premiums for their families. The republican duo of Pence and Messer are wanting to cut health care for Hoosiers under ACA and go back to being uninsured or praying for good health or risk financial bankruptcy.

As Erika writes:

Meanwhile, Hoosiers who desperately need health coverage are left vulnerable and hurting. At some point, our leaders must get past the politics of providing health insurance and remember the lives they are playing politics with.

Congressman Messer claims to care about Hoosiers, yet writes this nonsense in his press release:

Business owners and cash-strapped school corporations are grappling with how to deal with a provision of the law that requires them to provide costly health insurance that many of their employees neither want nor need. These schools and businesses are facing big fines if they don’t. That’s bad for business and terrible for students…To help deal with the increased strain on already cash-strapped budgets, bus drivers, teachers’ aides, and other support staff have already had their hours reduced.

Luke wants his Tea Party Patriots to think the “evil government” is forcing its will upon businesses and schools to buy health insurance and/or cut hours because  there is a provision in the ACA stating that part-time work ends at 30 hours – if an employee is working more than 30 hours, he is considered a full-time employee. These employees must receive health insurance or the company will be forced to pay a fine.

Do you honestly think that large corporate interests weren’t playing with the hours a part-time employee worked prior to President Obama’s ACA?

Have you ever talked with a cashier at Marsh Supermarket who works 37 hours a week so the company can avoid paying healthcare benefits?

Let’s be honest, last month, Gallup released its August Workplace Poll showing the average part-time worker has worked under 30 hours since 2002-03, or post the 1990’s U.S. economic growth spurt.

If most companies are using part-time staff for under 30 hours for the last decade, why are companies working employees more than 30, but less than 40 hours?

Why hasn’t Luke Messer and his congressional colleagues been holding hearings to discuss why corporations were taking advantage of workers since 2002?

The real problem is working families have struggled since the late 70’s and even after the economic boom in the late 90’s, working families weren’t getting ahead – they were slipping behind. Wives and mothers had to join the work force just so the family could meet its obligations.

Guess who’s working in the cafeterias and driving school buses?

What happened to our republican party? They used to work with our private sector to make sure the Middle Class was moving ahead with everybody else. If the private sector was doing well, then the working class should take part in those gains.

Not the new republican party for which Luke Messer belongs. He uses the following fear mongering tactics to promote his anti-government agenda:

The largest school district in Indiana, Fort Wayne Community Schools, has calculated that it would either face $10 million of added compliance costs or be forced to pay $8 million in fines to the IRS to comply with the mandate. The district has been forced to cut the hours of more than 600 part-time cafeteria workers and teacher aides as a result.

What a load of manure.

Indiana has cut taxes on the wealthiest Hoosiers and offering million dollar incentives to businesses for decades now. They’ve said that if the private sector benefits, we all benefit. So, while they’ve handed out economic candy to both in-state and out-of-state businesses, they’ve cut over $330 million from public schools – coincidentally, the same amount “lost by former Treasurer Richard Mourdock”.

Not only has the super majority of republicans in our statehouse cut funding to public education, they’ve pushed through policies like vouchers and increase the number of charter schools. If Congressman Messer wants to use Ft. Wayne schools as an example, he might want to take his congressional sideshow to Ft. Wayne so he can gather some legitimate feedback from the folks in Ft. Wayne.

I doubt he does, since Karen Francisco with the Journal Gazette has done an excellent job educating the public in Ft. Wayne. Also, Mark GiaQuinta, president of the Fort Wayne Community Schools board, might ask Luke Messer about Indiana’s strategy of draining tax dollars from the public school system.

We are sure Luke’s staffer’s have created a safe environment for his committee in Hancock County. We’ll find out as we head over to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. According to Messer’s press release, “It’s a chance for Hoosier school and business leaders to express their concerns to Congress and draw attention to the harm the President’s health care law is having on students and workers.”

Hoosiers should be offended by his political propaganda because we have suffered greatly from the anti-worker, anti-government legislation imposed on us by republican super majorities.

As proof, we offer the United Way of Indiana’s ALICE statistics for Indiana released yesterday. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The Report includes findings on households that earn below the ALICE Threshold, a level based on the real cost of basic household necessities in each county in Indiana. It outlines the role of ALICE households in the state economy, the public resources spent on households in crisis, and the implications of struggling households for the wider community. According to their findings:

These numbers are staggering: in total, 922,342 households in Indiana – fully 37 percent and more than double the number previously thought – are struggling to support themselves. ALICE households are working households and pay taxes; they hold jobs and provide services that are vital to the Indiana economy in a variety of positions such as retail salespeople, laborers and movers, team assemblers, and nursing assistants. The core issue is that these jobs do not pay enough to afford the basics of housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation. Moreover, the growth of low-skilled jobs is projected to outpace that of medium- and high-skilled jobs into the next decade. At the same time, the cost of basic household necessities continues to rise.

According to one of the most well-respected organizations in Indiana, the United Way, nearly 40% of all working Hoosier families cannot generate enough income to cover their basic necessities like housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. Nearly 800,000 Hoosier families were without health insurance prior to last years federal expansion of the ACA. Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors made their first trip to the doctor this year because they could finally afford a check-up. Hospitals are losing $1 billion in revenues because Governor Pence refused to expand Medicaid. Since Indiana refused to expand Medicaid, we are losing out on 15,000 new jobs.

Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society, was asked about the politics being played by officials in states refusing to expand Medicaid. His response is a fitting close to our article:

The intransigence of elected officials in these states is jeopardizing the health and well-being of people whose employers don’t offer health coverage, who lost their jobs in the struggling economy or who have been diagnosed with a serious illness that prevents them from working full-time.

The debate over whether to increase access to health care through Medicaid isn’t about politics, it’s about people’s lives. States should accept available federal funds to increase access to affordable, quality health coverage for their most vulnerable people. It’s the moral thing to do.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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