Tag Archives: election

Why Planned Parenthood funding is more important than you think

1 in 5 women has visited Planned Parenthood at least once in her life.

1 in 5 women has visited Planned Parenthood at least once in her life.

Donations to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas tripled after Election Day. Many donors fear that a Trump presidency will strip Planned Parenthood of funding and limit the provision of reproductive health services to women. People are quick to equate Planned Parenthood with abortion, but the conversation should be much broader. Family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood provide affordable services for women that improve a wide-range of maternal health outcomes.

Maternal mortality – defined as the death of a women while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy – is an important indicator of women’s health outcomes in a country. The US is one of the few countries worldwide that experienced an increase in maternal mortality between 2000 and 2015. Because family planning clinics provide prenatal services to women that reduce the risks of pregnancy, they are important combatants of these negative trends. Continue reading

Did you know there’s an election Tuesday?

Many of us might be unaware of Tuesday’s election. The voter turnout for last month’s primary was only six percent.

“How could this institution of local representative democracy have escaped my attention?” you probably said out loud.

Worry not; you can reestablish your standing in the Civic Engagement Club. Take five minutes and read below. You’ll have a more informed opinion and democracy will work like intended. Then on Tuesday, vote vote vote!

But only vote once. That was just for inspiration.

This Tuesday, November 5th, Durham will elect a Mayor and three city council members. The deadline to register to vote was October 11th. Everyone in the city can vote for all the city council candidates, but candidates must reside within the ward in which they run. Check out this map to determine your ward.

Read an overview of the election and candidates, or let this voter guide help you.

Mayoral Candidates

William “Bill” Bell, a Democrat, is the current mayor and has been since 2001. He will face challenger Sylvester Williams, an Independent, for the second time in two elections. Last election Bell won with 82 percent of the vote to Williams’ 18 percent.

You can find full answers to candidate questions here for Bell and Williams (Williams’ responses are from the election two years ago). Briefly:

Williams is currently a pastor at The Assembly at Durham Christian Center and worked as an investment analyst for 25 years. He would like to use public funds to create jobs in Durham, and increase salaries for police officers and hire more. He opposed past city council rulings to allow Mexican migrants to use Mexican issued IDs, and support same-sex marriage.  

Bell is a former Durham County Commissioner. He is a Democrat and describes himself as socially progressive and fiscally conservative. He wants to reduce crime, and increase affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization. As a commissioner Bell supported the merge between the city and Durham County Public Schools, and also supports domestic partnership rights for city employees. He recently butted heads with the city council over utility extensions to the 751 South development.

City Council Candidates

Ward 2: Howard Clement is vacating this council seat after 30 years of service. Eddie Davis is running against Omar Beasley.

Ward 3: Pam Karriker is running against incumbent Don Moffit.

Ward 1: Cora Cole-Mcfadden is running un-opposed.





Keeping An Eye On Medicaid

By: Melissa Medeiros


While Medicare and “Obamacare” have received a lot of airtime this election season, less attention has been paid to Medicaid, in particular Romney’s plan to overhaul the system.  Under the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid system would be expanded, covering an additional 15.9 million people nationwide by 2019. However, the Romney camp, if elected, will look to reverse health care reform and reduce federal spending on Medicaid by shifting more control over to states under a block grant system.

Currently the federal government and states share the cost of Medicaid through a matching formula based on a state’s average per capita income, with the federal government paying no less than 50 percent. So for example, Maryland picks up 50 percent of its state’s Medicaid tab, while Mississippi pays about 26 percent. Under a block grant system, the federal government would give states a lump sum of money, equivalent to what they received now and adjusted for inflation annually.

The block grant proposal has circulated in the Republican camp as far back as the Reagan administration. However, it has received greater attention in recent years as concerns over the federal deficit and government spending continue to top the agenda. Proponents of a Medicaid block grant claim that it will give states more freedom for innovation and will ultimately reduce costs and improve health care.

However, critics point out that block grants do not necessarily reduce program costs, but just shift the cost burden to states. The plan is estimated to reduce federal Medicaid (and Children Health Insurance Program) spending by $1.5 trillion to $1.9 trillion over the next ten years. As an entitlement program, states are required to meet the needs of those who are eligible – no matter if they have already blown through their budgets.  As a result, the Congressional Budget Office reports that states would likely need to pay more, decrease payments to Medicaid providers, cut benefits, or reduce eligibility requirements. Additionally, states that have already found innovative, cost-cutting practices will not be rewarded under this system and may actually see their share of the bill rise if their Medicaid caseloads increase.

But who will these cuts impact? Most people think that Medicaid is just a funding program for low-income children and families. However, most Medicaid spending actually goes to the disabled and elderly, who account for nearly two-thirds of Medicaid spending. Medicaid funds more than 40 percent of long-term care costs for the elderly. With limited funds, states may change eligibility rules or impose waitlists for nursing homes. While Medicaid may not be at the forefront of most voters mind this fall, they may find it harder to get care for aging family members or even themselves if Romney is elected and his plan goes through.

What’s the Matter with Kansas Again?

By: Dr. Nick Carnes

Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University
Co-Director of the Research Triangle chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network

By now, you’ve probably already heard about the leaked hidden-camera video of Mitt Romney at a closed-door fundraiser in Boca Raton last May. In the video, Romney makes some telling remarks about a trip to a factory in China and some off-color remarks about his (lack of a) Latino background. The comments that pundits have seized on most aggressively, however, are Romney’s remarks about Obama supporters and government spending. In the video, Romney says:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what . . . There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it.

The New York Times website declared the comments “a Distraction as [Romney] Tries to Hit ‘Restart’” on his campaign. A CNN editorial pondered “What’s behind Mitt’s meltdown.”  On Monday night, Romney held a hasty press briefing to clarify his remarks at the fundraiser, which he described as “not elegantly stated” and “off the cuff” but nonetheless indicative of “a message which I am going to carry and continue to carry.”

One of the most interesting debates that has emerged in the 24 hours since the video went public has centered on the question of whose remark was worse, Romney’s 47% comment or Obama’s infamous ‘cling to guns and religion’ remark in 2008. Everyone agrees on the obvious similarities: both comments were made in front of wealthy donors, when the candidate thought the cameras were off, and when the candidate was probably exhausted from spending weeks and months on a grueling campaign. What people disagree about is whether Romney showed more contempt for ordinary Americans than Obama did. Romney concluded that his ‘job is not to worry about those people.’ Obama said that ‘our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives.’

Regardless of what you think of the two candidates’ contempt or empathy, it’s important to recognize that they both conjured up a negative stereotype about lower-income and working-class voters—and helped to perpetuate it. To Obama, the working class in Pennsylvania was hooked on guns and religion. To Romney, the working-class across the country was hooked on government handouts. Both statements cast the working class in a very unflattering light. And although both are flat wrong—neither one stands up when we look at objective data—both narratives are still a part of the vocabulary of U.S. politics, and both resonate with at least some Americans. On both sides of the aisle, it’s fashionable in some circles to disparage the political intelligence of lower-income and working-class people. Books posing as legitimate research (like the discredited What’s the Matter with Kansas) don’t help the situation. But negative stereotypes about rural, low-income, and working-class Americans really get a boost when people hear them coming out of the mouths of high-profile politicians.

Republicans and Democrats alike are guilty of blaming the success of their opponents on the supposed shortcomings of working-class Americans. That’s a kind of prejudice that we have to start dealing with as a country. If we’re ever going to do that, our public officials—on the Right and the Left—are going to have to stop clinging to the myth that there’s something the matter with Kansas.