Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Greenwood Commonwealth on the lack of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi:
In his 2,200-word State of the State address Tuesday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves did not make a single mention of Medicaid or Medicaid expansion.
Other than saying that “Mississippians don’t want welfare,” there’s not even a reading between the lines to indicate that the subject is on his mind.
Such negligence has established Reeves as the leading obstacle to doing what 38 other states and the District of Columbia have done — accepting the federal government’s generous offer to cover 90% of the cost of providing health insurance to the working poor.
As a result, the state is losing out on about $1 billion a year in federal money, is missing out on the thousands of jobs Medicaid expansion would create, is putting rural hospitals in danger of financial collapse, and is leaving 170,000 to 300,000 Mississippians without the health insurance they could otherwise have.
Reeves and like-minded Republicans in the Legislature have long argued — even as Medicaid expansion money has been flowing to other states — that Mississippi simply can’t afford to come up with its 10% share of the cost, or roughly $75 to $100 million a year.
There may, however, not be a cost at all.
The Mississippi Hospital Association, for instance, has offered a plan that would pass on the state’s share to the hospitals and the individual beneficiaries. Why would Mississippi’s hospitals volunteer to pay more in taxes? Because they would get many times more in return by reducing the number of patients they treat who can’t pay for their care.
Even better, the experience in other states that have expanded Medicaid, including Mississippi’s neighbors in Arkansas and Louisiana, suggests there may be no need for the hospitals or the newly insured to pony up. That’s because the economic activity from the extra $1 billion a year from Washington would produce more than enough in new tax revenue to cover Mississippi’s 10% match. In other words, Medicaid expansion — when all the savings and economic spinoffs are factored in — produces a net plus to the state’s balance sheet.
It is glaringly ironic that while Reeves has no interest in a Medicaid expansion that would probably pay for itself, he is keen on a tax cut that almost certainly would not. He used Tuesday’s platform to again push for eliminating the state’s tax on personal income, even before the state knows the full effect of a reduction in that same tax that’s in the midst of being implemented.
The income tax covers about a third of the state’s $6 billion general fund budget. There is no way the state can eliminate that much revenue without raising taxes elsewhere — such as hiking Mississippi’s already high sales tax or establishing a state tax on property — or cutting allocations for schools, public safety and the other necessary services that the income tax funds.
Reeves pretends that eliminating the income tax would generate such an explosion in economic growth that it would offset the $2 billion a year in lost revenue to the state with other taxable sources. No serious economist believes that. Unlike Medicaid expansion, which would bring in loads of new money and thus truly stimulate the economy, ending the income tax would mostly shift already existing money from one pocket to another. Whatever jobs were created in the private sector as a result of eliminating the income tax would be offset by jobs lost in the public one.
For the moment, the ramifications of Mississippi’s failure to expand Medicaid are being softened by the pandemic stimulus packages. But that money is going to dry up, probably within the next year. When it does, the cost of Reeves’ stubbornness will be plain and potentially irreversible.
The Vicksburg Post on practicing coronavirus safety measures in Mississippi's Warren County:
Tell us. Tell us what needs to be said and done for everyone to realize just how deadly this virus remains? Tell us and we will write it, it really big letters.
On Jan. 29, Warren County will mark the 10-month anniversary of when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed here. As of Thursday, 3,619 cases have been confirmed.
But what is more tragic, is that as of Thursday, 101 Warren County residents — our friends, our family members, those we sit in church with — have died.
They are gone, taken by a virus that is not imaginary or fake. They have been killed by a ruthless virus that is both widespread and controllable.
What will it take for us as a community to realize that we can no longer afford to ignore steps taken by community leaders — steps based in science in data — to not just protect others from contracting the virus but to prevent more loss of life?
Do you think those 100 families who have now lost someone care if you find wearing a mask intrusive? Do you think they care what you think about measures to keep people physically distanced?
No, they don’t. They want their loved ones back. They want their wives, their husbands, their grandparents, their children to be safe, sound and alive.
“It’s unfortunate there are people who think this is made up, but it’s real,” Vicksburg physician Dr. Carlos Latorre said in an interview with The Post. “What I tell people is take the precautions to the best of their ability. Some people take precautions and others choose not to do anything. I think if somebody is ill (with the virus) and has a rough time with it or lost loved ones, that will make a believer out of anyone. It’s sad it has to be that way.”
When local, state and federal health officials urged — rather outright begged — people to avoid large family gatherings during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, some followed their advice, while far too many ignored it.
Today, weeks later, we are continuing to pay for their poor choices both in the high number of cases and days of deaths.
“Christmas was a disaster,” Vicksburg physician Dr. Dan Edney said in a recent interview. “We had way too many older folks gathering with their families and had a lot of family transmissions. A lot of older folks got sick and a few have died. We’re starting to calm down from that Christmas wave but the numbers are still, statewide, atrocious. Not as bad as they were but still too high. The death rate is still too high.”
To see the impact of this virus — and our resistance to fully abiding by COVID-19 measures — all you have to do is look in the obituaries published in the newspaper, and pass any community funeral home. You can see it for yourself in the names published in print and those etched in granite in our cemeteries.
This virus is real and it has killed far more than it ever should have. We can do better. We must do better. Far too many lives depend on it.
The Dispatch on report released by former President Donald Trump's administration aiming to promote “patriotic education” in schools:
In the natural world, Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
But in the political world, which has become increasingly unnatural, the law seems to have become “for every action, there is an unequal and opposite overreaction.”
On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order disbanding the 1776 Commission, which President Trump had created by executive order in September to support what he called “patriotic education.”
The 45-page report, released in the final days of Trump’s presidency, is a rebuke of decades of historical scholarship on the legacy of American slavery, but primarily was created as a response to the New York Times’ Pulitzer prize-winning 1619 Project, a deep unpacking of the origins and legacy of institutional racism in American history.
The reaction by historians was swift and brutal. Historians noted the report lacked citations and, in many instances, a rehash of conservative opinion pieces dating as far back as 2008.
As an example, in its opening paragraphs, the report sets off two passages in quotation marks but does not provide any attribution for the quotes.
Courtney Thompson, an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, ran the 1776 report through TurnItIn, a plagiarism detection service used primarily by universities and colleges, and claimed 26 percent of the content had been lifted in various ways from other sources without citation.
The report, then, is largely a work of opinion based not only historical facts, but on previous opinion pieces. Its speculation built on top of speculation, a shoddy, rushed work of supposition.
In its discussion of slavery, the report rationalizes the suffering of millions of African slaves by pointing out that slavery existed throughout the world at the time on the nation’s founding. It also characterizes the Civil Rights movement as having lost its way after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, evolving into a movement focused on equality to preferential treatment of Blacks through affirmative action and social welfare programs.
In a section called “Challenges to America’s Principles,” it addresses not only slavery, but progressivism, fascism, communism and racism/identity politics.
Clearly, the 1776 Project Report is a political document, not a scholarly work of history.
Even so, there is some real threat that the report may be used in classrooms. Gov. Tate Reeves, in his budget proposal, recommended $3 million to fund “Patriotic Education” in the state’s public schools, clearly with an eye of adopting the 1776 Commission Report, whose commission included former Governor Phil Bryant.
Meanwhile, the Legislature is considering a bill that would strip funds from schools who adopt the 1619 Project as part of its curriculum.
We do not believe that either of these is suitable for K-12 curriculums. The 1619 Project’s goals are worthwhile in telling the story of Black America that has largely been ignored.
But the 1619 project has issues of its own among historians.
The difference between the two retellings of our history is that the 1619 Project sought to right a wrong while the 1776 Report clings to a history that can be loosely described as history of white Americans, by white Americans and for white Americans.
As a curriculum, the 1619 Project is flawed. The 1776 Report is both flawed and sinister.