The critical importance of voting

The critical importance of voting

Voting by mail is already underway in the Nov. 3 elections, and early in-person voting begins next week. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who was born in Baker and served as a U.S. ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, reflects in a guest column for | The Advocate about the critical importance of exercising this hard-won franchise:

This unique right, as we know well, has historically and categorically presented barriers to entry for African Americans across Louisiana and the rest of the country. During my 30 years spent across the continent of Africa, I witnessed the commitment of South Africans voting in the first free election in 1994 that put Nelson Mandela into office, and the long voting lines in Liberia that elected the first woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Africans truly voted as if the outcome of their lives depended on it, and it very much did. Louisianans, the same is at stake for you. 


Without more aid, a double-dip recession
About 840,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, providing the latest signal that America’s economy continues to struggle as talks between the White House and Congress on a new relief package ground to a standstill. More than 11 million people are collecting weekly benefits, which were reduced by $600 per person starting in late July when Congress failed to renew funding made available through the CARES Act. The AP’s Christopher Rubager reports

A failure to enact another round of government aid would crimp household income and spending, and some economists say it would raise the risk of a double-dip recession. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped 1 million to 11 million. The decline suggests that many of the unemployed are being recalled to their old jobs. But it also reflects the fact that some have used up the 26 weeks of their regular state benefits and have transitioned to extended benefit programs that last an additional three months.



Rich patient, poor patient
When the president of the United States gets infected with the novel coronavirus, the treatment he receives is state-of-the-art – and free of charge. That isn’t the case for many of the millions of Americans who have tested positive for Covid-19, and face unpredictable and potentially bankrupting bills after they seek care. The New York Times’ Sarah Kliff contrasts the president’s experience with the financial peril that many have faced: 

For someone who isn’t president, that would cost more than $100,000 in the American health system. Patients could face significant surprise bills and medical debt even after health insurance paid its share. The biggest financial risks would come not from the hospital stay but from the services provided elsewhere, including helicopter transit and repeated coronavirus testing. … Across the country, patients have struggled with both the long-term health and financial effects of contracting coronavirus. Nearly half a million have been hospitalized. Routine tests can result in thousands of dollars in uncovered charges; hospitalized patients have received bills upward of $400,000.


Tax giveaways during a budget crisis
The Louisiana Legislature is in a month-long session, and tax cuts for business are again on the table. Supporters of these tax cuts say they will save jobs, but a severance tax giveaway passed by the house for newly drilled or enhanced wells would not require any job creation while also costing the state $157 million. Wesley Muller of the Louisiana Illuminator has more

Unlike other tax breaks such as those under the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, DeVillier’s proposed tax suspension carries no job-creation or residency requirements or investment thresholds in order for a company to qualify. Companies can also claim it in addition to other breaks such as those under ITEP as well as a separate tax credit being proposed in House Bill 78, which would allow local governing bodies such as school boards and sheriffs to accept a lump sum of no more than two years of property taxes from a company and exempt them from taxes for the next nine years. That bill is slated to be considered before the full House on Oct. 12.


Number of the Day
40% The percentage of adults struggling to pay usual household expenses such as food, rent, medical expenses, or student loans this September. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)