Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
Akron Beacon Journal, May 13
When Republican state lawmakers put together the state budget a year ago, they included language to alter the Medicaid expansion. They required Gov. John Kasich to seek a waiver from the federal government in operating the program. They call for the use of premiums and other incentives to promote preventive care and other cost savings. Of late, proponents and critics have been participating in a comment period that ends Monday. Critics have advanced the more persuasive arguments.
Recall that many Statehouse Republicans opposed the Medicaid expansion, the governor deftly dodging resistance to gain approval. So they come to this discussion with history. While their talk of incentives carries appeal, it is important to look carefully at what they advocate …
The purpose of the federal waiver program is to get states to find new ways to achieve the goal of Medicaid — to expand and improve health coverage for the poor. It is hard to see how what Republicans call “Healthy Ohio” would do so with its new barriers to eligibility and added administrative complexity. If anything, the effort pays little heed to what the governor and his team have been doing well, bringing coverage to more Ohioans and keeping costs in check. The hope still is that federal officials will see the achievement and the risk of harm in the waiver state lawmakers seek.
The Blade, May 14
What is Bob McDonnell doing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court?
As governor of Virginia, McDonnell did some things that could be called corrupt. They were certainly ugly. But he was governor of Virginia. The corruption, if it was corruption, of the governor of Virginia is a matter for the people and government of Virginia …
The case is now in front of the Supreme Court. The government argues that arranging those meetings qualified as “official acts” that, under federal law, a state official may not agree to perform in exchange for a gift. McDonnell’s lawyers argue that “official acts” are more narrowly defined, and that the “honest services” law under which he was charged (which also applies to business executives) is unconstitutionally vague.
But whether the court throws out that law or not, Congress should take a look at the issue …
Congress should make clear that the only people federal law prohibits from accepting bribes, and the only people federal law prohibits bribing, are federal officials. It should get out of regulating the ethics of state officials and leave that to the states …
People in state government should be able to guide their actions by state ethics rules, which can be made as broad or specific as each state sees fit.
The Canton Repository, May 13
Imagine the predicament in which thousands of retired workers found themselves in recent years. They worked decades, some nearly their entire adult lives, paid into a pension fund and finally got a chance to retire and collect the fruits of their labor — only to be told that the safety net they helped build and which they counted on would be cut and cut significantly …
Traditionally, a retiree’s pension benefits have been off limits in the United States. In 2014, though, a significant change to the law began to unravel that covenant. The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 allows multiemployer pension plans — those that cover workers of multiple companies in the same industry — to address projected shortfalls by not only cutting the future benefits of active workers but also those of current retirees …
This, in a microcosm, is why many people on both sides of the political aisle feel so disenchanted with Congress. It should have brought the people who matter the most to the table and debated alternative solutions to the problem, such as providing more funding to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency responsible for guaranteeing private pensions.
Now members of Congress likely will be forced to do the work they should have done in the first place.
The Columbus Dispatch, May 14
Boycotts have long been recognized as a legitimate means to pursue political change. Participation is entirely voluntary and peaceful, often based on deep convictions held by those taking part.
So why are some Ohio lawmakers seeking to punish Ohio residents and others who take part in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, that seeks to change Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories it occupies?
House Bill 476, which enjoys bipartisan support, would bar state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that boycott or disinvest in Israel …
Much of the argument over H.B. 476 has revolved around the question of whether the BDS movement is anti-Semitic. As the passionate debate on Tuesday showed, some believe it is, and some believe it isn’t. It is possible that some supporters of the movement are bigots, but many people — including many Jews — who object to Israeli policy are not anti-Semites …
It is profoundly un-American for state government to punish Americans for their political beliefs, which is precisely what this bill would do. It is disappointing to see how many Ohio lawmakers, including some from each party, stand ready to do this.