Archive for June, 2012

Debating a five-year farm bill

Moderated by Rick Badie

The U.S. Senate has begun work on a new five-year farm bill that would spend $970 billion on federal agriculture and cut expenditures by $23.6 billion during the next decade. Safety nets for Southern growers remain a concern. Georgia peanut farmers, for example, want direct payments to continue while Midwestern corn and soybean producers favor crop insurance. Submit your comments below.

Ga. peanut farmers deserve a fair shake

By Armond Morris

The U.S. Senate is debating the 2012 farm bill, and peanut farmers are concerned about the proposals being bandied about in Washington.

Nothing in the proposed Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 that passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is on the floor of the Senate provides any safety net for peanut farmers. I hope we can continue to work with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and other senators to find common ground.

What a farm bill does is provide a …

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TSPLOST projects

Local projects good or just a carrot stick?

There’s been much debate over the major projects that get most of the money if the regional transportation sales tax passes July 31. Less is known about the discretionary local fixes to be financed by 15 percent of the funds. Today, an Atlanta adviser and Georgia Tea Party board member address the smaller backyard works that stand to receive about $1.1 billion regionally.

Today’s moderator is Tom Sabulis. Commenting is open below Tom Maloy’s column.

By Tom Weyandt

On July 31, voters in metro Atlanta will decide whether to support a penny sales tax to fund $6.14 billion in critical road and transit projects.

After a year of collaboration, elected officials on the regional roundtable unanimously approved a list of projects that addresses capacity and maintenance needs across metro Atlanta and includes funds for transit expansion and capital improvements in Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton and DeKalb counties plus assistance to major road …

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Goal: Coverage that won’t soak taxpayers

Medicaid reform is necessary. People must be persuaded to better manage their own health so the state, in return, can offer viable options for the needy. Read opinions by the AJC Editorial Board; Joseph A Parker, president of the Georgia Hospital Association; and others. Then tell us what you think.

By the AJC Editorial Board

“I don’t want to see services that have been put into place deteriorated in any kind of way.”

— Blake Fulenwider, deputy commissioner, Georgia Department of Community Health.

Georgia has the right goals for Medicaid reform. Now it’s up to state officials to do the right things.

That’s a non-negotiable necessity when it comes to revamping the program that handles health services for 1.7 million Georgians, more than a third of whom are children or aged, blind or disabled.

It’s not hyperbole to characterize this group as a vulnerable population. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this month, Medicaid’s ranks include far more than …

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Reforming or ruining health care law?

With the Supreme Court decision looming, we offer two views on health care reform: A Morehouse School of Medicine doctor charges that Georgia congressmen who are also physicians fail their professional oaths by fighting to eliminate provisions from President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act that protect the less fortunate and those with pre-existing conditions. In a response piece, one of those congressmen doctors, Tom Price, says the law increases costs and reduces accessibility to care.

Tom Sabulis is today’s moderator. Commenting is open below Rep. Tom Price’s column.

By Harry J. Heiman

The health care landscape in our country remains both challenging and confusing. Political rhetoric and the pending Supreme Court decision on health reform legislation add to the confusion.

While there are strong feelings about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on both sides, there is relative consensus about the value and importance of certain key provisions of reform, especially …

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Is there a ‘war on women’?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Is there a “war on women” or a mere focus on women’s issues going on these days? Women on both sides of the political aisle are revved up this campaign season. The state director of Maggie’s List writes that Republicans are leading the charge against government overreach, while an official for the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women pledges that voters will remember politicians who supported legislation that harmed women and families.

GOP propels women’s values

By Suzi Voyles

The real reason Democrats manufactured “Julia” and the “war on women” is because women don’t support their policies. It’s Republican women leading the charge against the overreach of government into our lives. In 2010, Republicans won the women’s vote for the first time since Ronald Reagan.

We fired the first woman speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, because we didn’t like the direction the Democrats were taking our country on the economy, health …

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Region ripe for wind power?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Last week, the world’s largest convention for the industry of wind-generated electricity was held in Atlanta. Why Georgia? Because the wind power industry is a perfect fit for the Peach State, writes Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, the convention sponsor. Meanwhile, wind energy critic Eric Rosenbloom calls the industry a waste of money and a poor job creator. He argues that the wind’s actual record has not lived up to its promises.

By Denise Bode

The South is America’s new manufacturing heartland. It’s a region of innovation and tremendous growth and one of the best places in the country to see how America can still produce great products and create great jobs in the process.

That is why American wind power is such a perfect fit for this region.

Our industry has grown so much recently that it’s almost unrecognizable from just five years ago. We’ve installed 35 percent of all new American electric generating capacity …

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DOT’s non-highway programs

The Intermodal Division of the Georgia Department of Transportation oversees all things nonhighway: transit, rail, aviation and waterways. Compared to highways, however, Intermodal gets little money to work with. That hasn’t stopped it from moving forward with studies on new high-speed rail corridors. In our other column, a state senator writes how highways are being hurt by the dwindling fuel tax and why multiple transportation options are important.

Commenting is open below, following the two columns.

By Tom Sabulis

The highway side of the Georgia Department of Transportation, says Carol Comer, “is what everyone sees.”

She should know. As director of DOT’s Intermodal Division, Comer manages the unseeable part.

She supervises nonhighway programs: mass transit, rail, aviation and waterways — programs that take a back seat to highways when it comes to state funding.

“We do support rail and transit and aviation systems,” Comer says of the DOT. But we do not have a …

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The Georgia workforce: Readiness is Job One

By the AJC Editorial Board

Among the soundest economic investments Georgia can make is to refine how children and even adults are schooled for the ever-changing world of work. (Hint: Think outside the college box.)

When it comes to better preparing Georgia’s workers and students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, we’ve put a number of capable oars into the water in recent years.

To achieve sustainable, noticeable results though, we need to keep rowing — hard — and in the same direction.

The case has never been stronger for the benefits to be gained by refining how we school youngsters and even adults for the ever-changing world of work. That entails everything from stressing competency in applied math to honing the “soft” skill of working well as part of a team. Doing this is really a matter of dollars and cents to households, this region, state and nation.

At a forum last month on “preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce,” Georgia Partnership for …

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Our attitude toward the environment

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Alternating views today. One says that Georgia’s dismissive attitude toward the environment harms more than fish and birds — it hurts our economic competitiveness. An environmentalist writes that thriving economies tend to have the strongest environmental safeguards. But a public policy expert says alarmists often highlight isolated events, such as the Ogeechee River fish-kill, to fabricate a pattern of abuse. There’s no conspiracy here, folks, but a lack of education and personal responsibility.

Bad choices hurt potential

By David Kyler

Contrary to what our leaders would have tax-paying citizens believe, Georgia’s competitive economic standing is declining, not benefiting, from dominant state policies and priorities. Consider an assessment by the business magazine Forbes which, in a 2009 story, ranked Atlanta as the nation’s most toxic metro area.

One lesson is that being dismissive about the environment — as Georgia’s state government …

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Should schools select valedictorians?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Who’s at the top of the Class of 2012? At some private and public schools, no one knows. More schools are refusing to rank seniors and choose valedictorians. Today, Paideia headmaster Paul Bianchi writes that schools should focus on learning, not rivalry and competition. The AJC’s Shane Blatt, a 1992 Key West (Fla.) High class valedictorian, says such titles are crowning achievements that reward four years of hard work and prepare students for real life after high school.

Competition is the best teacher

By Shane Blatt

“The cream always rises to the top.”

My mother was fond of uttering that expression while I was in high school studying into the wee hours of the morning. Whether I was tackling physics formulas or calculus equations, poring over British literature or world history, I was diligent about putting my studies before sports and other extracurricular activities.

So it was no surprise to many that I graduated from Key West (Fla.) High …

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