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Stimulus cash helped local economy

November 9, 2010
By Richard Clark

ESCANABA - It is a tribute to our form of government that such a one sided shift in government could take place last week in a peaceful manner. We wish Republicans well, as the welfare of our state depends upon their ability to bring Michigan's economy to life.

To meet its own standard the GOP will need to turn Michigan's economy around in two years. It has called the president's policies failed after only 22 months in office.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, sometimes called stimulus money, supplemented state and local government shortfalls for about 20 months but ends this year.

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Richard Clark

Saying ARRA was a budget buster the GOP used it as punching bag in this election cycle. Becoming fiscally careful came late to the GOP.

It supported President Bush's $700 billion TARP bailout of financial institutions, and his $1 trillion discretionary with Iraq War.

Bush policies took a budget that was in the black at the end of President Clinton's term and and added about $5 trillion to the national debt, more than all of his predecessors combined.

ARRA brought 28 Michigan state troopers back to work this year. ARRA support education in Delta County by providing $2 million to Escanaba Schools, a little over $1 million to Gladstone, over $200,000 to Rapid River and about $500,000 Bark River.

Local companies were awarded contracts, for example shows Basic Marine with a $1.4 million contract as part of the ARRA.

ARRA helped charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Alliance Against Violence and Abuse, Community Action, and the Escanaba Housing Commission.

The newly elected Republicans to Congress have vowed to repeal the new health care reform.

Dr. Benishek said he opposes health care reform because bureaucrats will make medical decisions. The law says no such thing and in many instances prevents insurance company bureaucrats from making profit-based medical decisions.

Health care reform does give Americans a chance to be insured although it does not guarantee as good a plan our new Congressman will have at public expense.

It would be a good start for new members of Congress to visit, the Kaiser Foundation's website. Kaiser is a non-profit that collects and presents information on health care.

When Dr. Benishek reads the health care law he plans to repeal he will be surprised.

The first effect of repeal will be a tax increase. Huh, you may think taxes were an anathema to the new representative?

Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, business with 25 or fewer employees receive tax credits up to 35 percent on premiums they pay for employee health insurance. In 2014 the tax credit increases to 50 percent.

Dr. Benishek's promised action would increase the tax burden for small businesses that provide health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office says the new reform will reduce the federal budget over 10 years.

The health care reform law establishes insurance reform by regulating the way insurance companies can treat their policy holders.

This year the health care reform prohibits health plans from placing lifetime limits on coverage and from denying children coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Excess premiums will be rebated to policy holders.

Insurance companies must provide free preventative care with their policies. It is an extension of the adage that a stitch in time saves nine. So far no bureaucrats make medical decisions.

2011 begins closing the donut hole in Medicare prescription coverage. It requires pharmaceutical companies to give discounts on drugs. It should save seniors travel expenses for trips to Mexico and Canada to obtain their life-saving drugs.

In 2011 the law authorizes $50 million for five-year demonstration grants to states to develop, implement, and evaluate alternatives to medical malpractice suits.

I can't blame the new guys for not reading the bills they didn't pass, but now they can put aside rhetoric, read the law, read the CBO's analysis, perhaps visit and make decisions based on fact.


EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at



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