In the last few years, conservatives have made significant contributions to political organizations that have pushed the state to the right on core economic issues, and explicitly pushed right to work as a top goal (see the graph above):
• Americans for Prosperity–Michigan, the group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, has a relatively new chapter in Michigan that has produced pamphlets extolling right-to-work reforms. This week, the group set up a heated tent outside the capital to support Snyder’s law and bused activists to Lansing to counter labor protesters.
• The Mackinac Center is a right-wing think tank in Michigan that issues pro-“right to work” reports, sponsors an anti-labor legal foundation and produces an array of other content, from a Pininterest page to short videos explaining why Michigan should adopt right-to-work. The center has gone on a media tour, touting Snyder’s move this week on CNN, Fox Business and much of the Michigan press. Notably, the group recently started two of its own media outlets, Michigan Capitol Confidential and Watchdog Wire Michigan.
These organizations are part of a more aggressive political force that is adept at controlling the twenty-four-hour news cycle and managing coalitions. Unlike ordinary business lobbies that simply support right-to-work, these advocacy groups go out and shape public opinion through broad messaging and content development, which in turn is used for organizing around policies.
Both AFP and the Mackinac Center are backed financially by the billionaire DeVos family, which has sought to control public policy debates through state-level nonprofits. Donors Trust, the nonprofit foundation used by wealthy conservative donors to anonymously finance activism on the right, has heavily funded AFP and Mackinac in the last three years. Doug DeVos chairs a nonprofit that has mobilized influential executives in the state to support right to work in Michigan.
The model isn’t new. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) relied heavily on Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin and a state-based think tank called the MacIver Institute to build political support for his effort to curtail union rights. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) worked closely with another business-backed group, the Buckeye Institute, for his attempt to crush local unions.
On the left, the only comparable group in Michigan is Progress Michigan. Progress Michigan, which is backed by several local unions, brought together a coalition of progressives to oppose right-to-work, and demonstrated at the capital in Lansing this week. Although Progress Michigan has leveraged a sizable local union membership base to make up for its small budget, as the chart I created above shows, it hasn’t been able to compete financially with the right.
Now that the right-to-work fuse has been lit, establishment groups on both sides of the ideological divide have entered the fray, including local chambers of commerce and the Tea Party on the right, and unions on the left. Working America, the AFL-CIO affiliate, has helped mobilize people for protests today. But in terms of shaping the ideological debate—it’s important to realize that the anti-labor forces have worked for years through groups like Mackinac and AFP to set the stage.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) became the public face of vote suppression this year for his overreaching election directives, which restricted early voting hours and forbid election officials from counting legitimate votes. Though President Obama won the state, Husted has not halted his efforts. With two House races heading to a recount, Husted is now facing accusations that he isillegally tossing provisional ballots. These House races will determine whether state Republicans get a super-majority to put constitutional amendments on the ballot without a single Democratic vote.
State representatives Kathleen Clyde (D-OH) and Debbie Phillips (D-OH) threatened to sue Wednesday evening over at least 384 ballots that have been discarded in the two districts in question, Tuscarawaw and Cuyahoga. According to the state reps, some ballots were put in plain manila envelopes instead of provisional ballot envelopes, rendering them invalid. Additionally, they say Husted is rejecting ballots covered under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which allows voters who have moved to a different address within the same congressional district to vote at their former precinct.
Even more ballots are likely to have been wrongly discarded because officials are using a database already proven to be flawed and incomplete to determine the voter’s registration status.
Besides these possible breaches of federal election law, Husted is also tossing innumerable ballots that were thrown into question by poll worker error through no fault of the voter. A federal judge tried to stop him, declaring “I don’t want to see democracy die in the darkness on my watch.” But the conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay that allowed Husted to throw out these votes.
Ohio leads the country in provisional ballots, with 200,000 cast this year. In 2008, the state discarded 1 out of every 5 provisional votes. These ballots are often concentrated in urban, Democratic areas — and huge percentages get discarded every election.
On Nov. 14, House Republicans voted in a lame-duck session to advance House Bill 298, which would likely strip public funding for Planned Parenthood in the state.
The Ohio House Health and Aging Committee voted to approve the bill on a party-line vote. The measure will reprioritize how state and federal family planning funds are administered, bumping Planned Parenthood providers to the bottom rung of eligibility. The bill states that priority for the funds should go to state, county, or local government entities. If “all eligible public entities have been fully funded,” then some of the money can go to private groups, but those are also ranked to put Planned Parenthood providers dead last. This would replace the current competitive grant process.
The committee’s chairman, Lynn Wachtmann, is among the Ohio House’s most anti-abortion lawmakers. He is the sponsor of the state’s “Heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions if a doctor can detect a heartbeat—which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. At the beginning of this term, Wachtmann pledged “push the pro-life agenda as far as we can.”
Wachtmann insists that the bill changing how family funding plans are awarded has nothing to do with abortion—and had some choice words for anyone who accused him of that. “There are Democrats who call us anti-woman—they are abhorrent, crazy people intent on killing every baby they can,” Wachtmann told the Dayton Daily News on Nov. 18.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to the list of Republican governors who are continuing to protest Obamacare by refusing to establish health insurance exchanges, in the process forcing the federal government to step in and create the exchanges itself. Starting in Oct. 2013, the exchanges will be the marketplace for individuals to obtain insurance if they do not have coverage through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid. Beginning Jan. 2014, the new insurance plans will take effect, giving nearly every American citizen health care coverage.
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that these Governors are essentially helping create the “public option” the Republicans in Congress fought so hard against.
BREAKING: The Ohio House Health Committee votes to DEFUND Planned Parenthood, 11-9. #HearUsOH
So many people are gonna suffer because of this.
Conservatives, eat shit and die.
The Ohio State Bar Association has joined the growing call after the defeat of Issue 2 for fresh action on redistricting reform.
But rather than relying strictly on the legislature, the OSBA asked that a recently appointed commission that hasn’t formally met yet address the issue.
The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission was established by the legislature in June 2011 to review the Ohio Constitution and ensure that it’s up to date. OSBA leaders wrote a letter Monday to the co-chairs of the commission, Republican House Speaker William G. Batchelder of Medina County and Democratic Rep. Vernon Sykes of Akron, saying the commission was well-suited to address the topic and asking it to make it a top priority. The president of OSBA is a member of the commission.
Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman living in Ireland, went to the hospital when she first began to miscarry — but thanks to Ireland’s stringent abortion ban, medical professionals denied her repeated requests to quickly terminate the pregnancy because they could still detect a fetal heartbeat. The Irish hospital required her to extend her miscarriage over three days until the fetus’ heartbeat officially stopped, and by that time, Halappanavar had developed serious blood poisoning. She passed away just a few days later.
Halappanavar’s death helps highlight the tragic effect of Ireland’s stringent abortion ban, but the impact of that type of restrictive legislation isn’t just limited to that country. In fact, lawmakers in Ohio are quietly pushing extreme anti-abortion legislation that would subject the women in that state to a situation incredibly similar to the one in Ireland.
During this year’s lame duck session, Ohio legislators are planning to revive HB 125, a so-called “heartbeat” bill that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which can first occur as early as five or six weeks, before many women may even know they’re pregnant. The proposed legislation represents the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States. If HB 125 is passed, it would criminalize all abortions after the emergence of a fetal heartbeat without allowing even the narrowest exceptions in potential cases of rape, incest, or the mental health of the woman.
Even if Ohio’s bill includes some kind of provision that would allow women to seek abortions in life-threatening situations, Halappanavar’s death points to the fact that health risks aren’t always immediately apparent. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling in Ireland amended the country’s abortion ban to include an exception in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, but Irish hospitals don’t always know how far that medical exception can stretch. They are often reluctant to provide women with abortion services unless the situation is very clearly life-threatening — and for women like Halappanavar, that can already be too late.
And in cases where the fetus is not expected to survive — when women like Halappanavar are undergoing a miscarriage, or when doctors discover fatal fetal defects — anti-abortion legislation is often murky, even in this country. In Arizona, where a stringent abortion ban outlaws the procedure after just 20 weeks, women who discover fatal defects that will not allow their fetus to survive are forced to carry the fetus to term anyway.
Tonight, right now, over two thousand infuriated Irishmen and Women have gathered outside the Dáil in protest over the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicaemia in Galway University Hospital after she had a miscarriage. They protest over our governements failure to legislate for the X Case.
This was a protest organised over a matter of hours. The response has been overwhelming.
Ireland needs a change. All these people are there to voice this chance.
This is what Republicans in Ohio want for women as well. We in the U.S. can’t condemn Ireland if we allow the heartbeat bill to pass in Ohio.
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said Ohio plans to let the federal government run the new health insurance exchange required to be up and running in 2014.
Following a speech Tuesday to the Columbus Association of Health Underwriters, Taylor said state officials will send a letter Friday telling the federal government that it can run the exchange, but the state wants to retain its traditional regulatory authority.
For example, the state would still decide who is eligible for Medicaid in Ohio.
Health care markets, called exchanges, would help people and small businesses find affordable health care coverage. The exchanges would be used to help low-income Ohioans enroll in Medicaid as well as set rules for premiums and provide consumer protection guidelines.
Ohio officials would have until mid-February to submit a more detailed outline of what functions they want to retain as the feds step in to run the exchange in 2014, under the Affordable Care Act.
Husted’s solution to this perceived problem of Democrats and the national media picking on him? He says we should make Ohio less important in the election by dividing up our electoral votes by Congressional district.
This is huge and should raise giant red flags. Under the current winner-take-all system, Obama won all 18 of Ohio’s electoral votes. Under Husted’s plan, 12 of those 18 electoral votes would be handed to Mitt Romney, the popular vote loser.
As in Pennsylvania, Republicans gerrymandered Ohio within an inch of its life. Even though Obama won Ohio, Republicans carried 12 of 16 seats in Ohio’s House delegation. This gerrymander would have all but ensured that Romney carried the overwhelming majority of Ohio’s electoral votes, regardless of how he performed in the state overall.
Indeed, if the Corbett/Husted plan to rig the Electoral College had been law in several key Republican-controlled states that President Obama won last Tuesday, America would now be looking at a very different future. Assuming that Mitt Romney won every congressional district that elected a Republican House candidate in these key states, the Corbett/Husted plan would have given Romney 17 electoral votes in Florida, 9 in Michigan, 12 in Ohio, 13 in Pennsylvania, 8 in Virginia, and 5 in Wisconsin — for a total of 64 additional electoral votes.
Add those 64 votes to the 206 votes Romney won legitimately, and it adds up to exactly 270 — the amount he needed to win the White House.
Four Days Later, Florida Declares For Obama
A federal judge on Wednesday angrily demanded that attorneys for Ohio’s elections chief name the author of an election-eve order that placed the responsibility of explaining what kind of identification voters use on provisional ballots on the voters themselves.
U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley’s voice rose nearly to a shout at times as he asked attorneys what research the Ohio Secretary of State’s office had done before issuing Friday’s after-hours order.
“You have a lot of explaining to do,” Marbley told assistant Ohio attorney general Aaron Epstein at a hearing in Columbus the morning after the election. A few minutes later, he demanded that Epstein and other state attorneys explain the rationale behind the order.
“Show me the facts that the secretary used to make the decision to change this directive at 7 o’clock on a Friday night on the eve of an election,” Marbley said. “I want to see it, and I want to see it now.”
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that after Fox News initially made the call that President Obama had won Ohio, Karl Rove — a contributor to the network and the head of a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC — fought against the decision, causing “Fox News’ top producers” to call a meeting with Rove and two of the people in charge of making the Ohio call, Arnon Mishkin and Chris Stirewalt.
Ultimately, Fox decided to have Mishkin and Stirewalt explain their reasoning on-air. But rather than have the duo appear on camera, producers decided to have Fox anchor Megyn Kelly “walk through the office and interview” Mishkin and Stirewalt in a conference room. Sherman reported that an anonymous Fox insider said: “This is Fox News … so anytime there’s a chance to show off Megyn Kelly’s legs they’ll go for it.”
From Sherman’s article:
Shortly after 11 p.m., Bret Baier went on-camera to read a script written by Fox’s Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, based on an analysis by the network’s decision desk, announcing Ohio for Obama. “That’s the presidency, essentially,” Baier said.
Instantly, Fox phones lit up with angry phone calls and e-mails from the Romney campaign, who believed that the call was premature, since tallies in several Republican-leaning Southern counties hadn’t been been fully tabulated. “The Romney people were totally screaming that we’re totally wrong,” one Fox source said. “To various people, they were saying, ‘your decision team is wrong.’” According to a Fox insider, Rove had been in contact with the Romney people all night. After the Ohio call, Rove — whose super-PAC had spent as much as $300 million on the election, to little avail — took their complaints public, conducting an on-air primer on Ohio’s electoral math in disputing the call.
This time, it was the network divided against itself, and Fox News’ top producers held a meeting to adjudicate. The decision desk stood their ground. They knew how momentous the call was. Earlier in the night, according to a source, before making the call, Arnon Mishkin, who heads the decision desk, told Fox brass, “let’s remember this is Fox News calling Ohio. This will say something beyond Ohio going for Obama.” Fox brass told Mishkin to get the numbers right and ignore the politics: “If we think Ohio has gone Obama, we call Ohio,” said a Fox News executive.
With neither side backing down, senior producers had to find a way to split the difference. One idea was for two members of the decision team, Mishkin and Fox’s digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, to go on camera with Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier to squelch the doubts over the call. But then it was decided that Kelly would walk through the office and interview the decision team in the conference room. “This is Fox News,” an insider said, “so anytime there’s a chance to show off Megyn Kelly’s legs they’ll go for it.”