- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The (Albany) Times Union on the effect immigration policy has on agriculture

Oct. 2

The debate over illegal immigration is not a concern only for states on the Southern U.S. border; it’s as relevant in Albany, New York, as it is in Albany, Texas. Or Saratoga Springs, Altamont or any number of upstate New York communities.

We already heard this summer the concerns of restaurateurs for whom the Saratoga Race Course meet can be a make-or-break time of year. Intensified efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had workers and employers alike worried about their livelihoods and futures.

As we move into autumn harvest season, the spotlight and fear shift to orchards which, like many farms, rely heavily on migrant labor, legal or otherwise.

It’s not just a seasonal concern, though; as the Times Union’s Madison Iszler reported this week, most farmworkers are immigrants, and about half of them are said to be living in the country illegally. That has implications across the agricultural and food industry - and for household grocery budgets.

To say that this country needs a sensible, comprehensive immigration policy seems both obvious and futile. Congress and presidents have known this for years. Back in 2013, in a rare moment of compromise, a bipartisan group of senators dubbed the Gang of Eight came up with a package that included the stronger border security that conservatives wanted and the path to legal status and citizenship for otherwise law-abiding immigrants that liberals and many businesses wanted. It also required the use of E-Verify, a program that allows employers to check whether a potential employee is here legally.

The compromise collapsed under criticism that E-Verify was imperfect, and under the weight of partisan politics, particularly among Republicans - those with presidential aspirations, those worried about a far-right base made more influential by gerrymandering, and those who simply won’t compromise.

Congress‘ dereliction leaves immigration policy in the hands of President Donald Trump, who vilified Mexicans and other immigrants in his campaign and whose idea of comprehensive policy is the roundup that’s underway, along with the fantasy of an extravagant, ineffective wall.

We might not be in this costly escalation of enforcement today if the government had, at least, focused on fine-tuning E-Verify into a reliable, cost-effective program with modest user fees for employers and stiff penalties if they violated the law.

Of course, that comes with political risks of its own. An agricultural industry that has long thrived on paying low wages to laborers who live in the shadows would suddenly have to compete in a real job market. That could drive food prices up, too.

We would bet, though, that Americans would be willing to pay a fairer price for their food if it means fewer workers are exploited and far less government energy has to be devoted to rounding up human beings who are, after all, only trying to survive. Who knows? We might even stop talking about Mr. Trump’s ridiculous wall.

Online: https://bit.ly/2xSxAB6


The (Auburn) Citizen on Washington shortchanging New York taxpayers

Oct. 4

New York taxpayers generate a lot more revenue for the federal government than Washington spends on the state. It’s an unfair equation that our federal representatives need to get to work on fixing.

We realize that every penny in federal spending can’t be allocated evenly across the country, but New Yorkers can’t be expected to subsidize other states, either - and the numbers reveal that that’s exactly what’s happening. And the gap is growing.

A report from the office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows that while the average return for every tax dollar sent by states to the federal government last year was $1.18, New York got back just 84 cents.

DiNapoli’s figures show that New York generated nearly $20 billion more in federal taxes than it received in federal spending in 2013. That disparity more than doubled in 2016, when New Yorkers paid $40 billion more in taxes than was received in return. That $40 billion could go a long way in providing needed services right here in the Empire State, so the formula allowing this to happen needs to be corrected.

We urge U.S. Rep. John Katko and Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to get to work on fixing this inequity. Perhaps having a New Yorker in the White House will help the state’s message be heard. In any case, the debate over the next federal budget needs to include the inequity in federal spending that leaves New York far short of its fair share.

Online: https://bit.ly/2wxh6KR


The New York Daily News on deporting Nazi death camp guard Jakiw Palij

Oct. 4

An accessory to mass murder is in our midst, escaping justice with every breath. Nazi death camp guard Jakiw Palij, who aided in the killing of thousands of Polish Jews, snuck into this country 68 years ago by lying about his crimes against humanity.

Discovered by the Justice Department, Palij was stripped of his ill-gotten U.S. citizenship and ordered deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine. That was 13 years ago. The State Department never followed through.

Now 94, Palij continues to reside comfortably in Jackson Heights.

When the crime is complicity in genocide, there is no statute of limitations. Which is why every member of New York’s House delegation - far-left liberals and Trump-loving conservatives alike - and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have written Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding his personal involvement to quickly get Palij on a plane back to Europe.

State Department bureaucrats mumble about making inquiries. Not good enough. The feds routinely find countries to accept Gitmo detainees, but never manage to land spots for old Nazi war criminals. Eight such Nazis have died here since 2009.

If Jakiw Palij dies free in the country he lied to, justice will have failed. Deport him now.

Online: https://nydn.us/2fQCUy0


The (Gloversville) Leader-Herald on voting ins and outs

Oct. 2

Oct. 13, less than two weeks from today - that’s the deadline to change the party affiliation on your voter registration in time to vote in next year’s primary elections.

We repeat: Next year’s primary election - not this year’s. Crazy, right? Not only do we have to endure the modern-day mantra of politics ‘round the clock, ‘round the calendar, seeping into every aspect of society; we also have this super-premature deadline to worry about, thanks to stodgy old New York. Actually, “stodgy” is almost too fond a word. “Arcane” or “cryptic” would be more accurate.

Nevertheless, you can’t vote if you aren’t registered, so the purpose of this editorial is to inform and prepare you.

In New York, only registered members of a party can vote in that party’s primary. Therefore, if you’re registered as a non-party voter but want a say in determining which candidate represents any party next year, you’d better get your paperwork in quickly.

Primaries are almost certain next year to decide who represents the North Country in the U.S. House of Representatives. Incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik already has a Republican opponent, Russell Finley, and the Democratic side is super-crowded - now up to seven announced candidates: Donald Boyajian, Tedra Cobb, Ronald Kim, Steve Krieg, Emily Martz, Patrick Nelson and Katie Wilson. Christopher Schmidt is also running as a Libertarian. More candidates may well emerge before the primaries, which haven’t been scheduled yet - talk tends to lean toward June.

Our state makes registering to vote harder than necessary - Exhibit A being the extreme advance deadline to change party enrollment before a primary. It must be 25 days before the last general election, which works out to Oct. 13 this year.

That’s firm, and there’s no separate postmark deadline. If your county board of elections staff doesn’t receive your change-of-enrollment paperwork, either by mail or in person, before they go home on that Friday - and by the way, the Fulton County Board of Elections office closes at 5 p.m., Montgomery County at 4 p.m. - then for all of next year you’re stuck with whatever party (or none) you had before.

It’s very different if you need to change your address or file a new voter registration. For that, you can do it now in time for this coming general election, Nov. 7. Nevertheless, the deadlines are strangely staggered:

- New registration forms must be postmarked by Oct. 13 and received by the 18th, or completed in person at the county Board of Elections office by Oct. 13.

- Change-of-address forms must be postmarked by Oct. 13 and received by the 18th, or completed in person at the county Board of Elections office by Oct. 18.

Again, those are for this year’s election. To change party enrollment, you have to make the change now for next year. Why? Who knows? Our best guess is that election officials can’t be bothered to deal with it more than once a year.

None of these deadlines are obvious. How would you know about them if your newspaper didn’t tell you? Good question. County board of elections staff will tell you if you call or stop by, but don’t expect them to reach out. They don’t advertise or promote these deadlines in any way. It’s hard to find them on the counties’ websites. You have to go out of way to ask - and who would think to do so eight months before a primary except a longtime local or someone with an inside track on information? Yet there are many other citizens out there who would like to vote, and this deadline deters them from participating in the democratic process.

This became a major controversy in April 2016, when New York held hot presidential primaries in both major parties. Massive numbers of voters were shut out because they hadn’t thought to switch their party registration six months prior. No one had told them.

This unnecessary, unreasonable and unjust system needs to change, but in the meantime, we need to let you know the deadlines. Otherwise, who would?

Online: https://bit.ly/2xZa3xn


Newsday on how the cost of insulin illustrates health care woes

Oct. 1

In 1923, the three inventors of insulin sold the patent to the University of Toronto for $1 each. They wanted everyone to have access to the drug. Today, Americans with diabetes are being devastated by prices that have more than tripled since 2002. And understanding how the insurance system, drug pricing and government policy create a nightmare for them offers a window into the health care quandary.

Six million people in the United States require insulin regularly, a number that’s growing. The cost of the drug needed by so many people to stay alive can now exceed $1,000 a month.

For people who have generous health care plans with small deductibles and copays, insulin prices aren’t a problem. And for people poor enough to be on Medicaid in New York, insulin prices are not a big issue because they have no deductibles or copays. But a 50-year-old patient with a bronze-level family plan from an Affordable Care Act exchange would have to meet an average annual deductible of $8,000 before insurance starts paying for his or her insulin. That’s on top of policy premiums averaging $1,100 a month.

Workers with employer coverage also pay until they hit their deductibles, which can be high. And patients on Medicare end up in the “doughnut hole,” paying as much as $5,000 before hitting the limit that allows them cheap insulin.

Some skip the medicine, opting to pay rent instead. Some halve their doses. And some end up in the emergency room, losing vision or a leg, and needing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in care.

The pricing practices of insulin makers have long been questionable. In May, the cost of the Eli Lilly insulin Humalog rose by 7.8 percent to $274 for a 10 mm vial, and the price for Novolin, a similar drug made by Novo Nordisk, increased by 7.9 percent to $275.58. Both companies, along with drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, face class-action lawsuits in Massachusetts and New Jersey that claim price collusion. Eli Lilly first pleaded “no contest” to that charge in 1941.

U.S. insurers that cover these medicines get huge “rebates” from manufacturers. Another way of saying this is that the uninsured pay fictitiously inflated prices because they get no such rebates. Medicare and its recipients pay too much because it’s against the law for that program to negotiate with drug companies, as insurers and other nations do.

This is the situation under the Affordable Care Act. It would get dramatically worse if a repeal of the ACA knocked tens of millions of people off Medicaid and the insurance exchanges, or, as is more likely now, President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress end subsidies that make insurance affordable for low-income Americans. It would get dramatically better with fairer pricing rules, more affordable health care plans, a market that encouraged the sale of affordable insulin and legalized bargaining on drug prices by Medicare.

Beyond the slogans of both political parties on health care are people, including those with diabetes, whose lives are devastated by poor policies and improved by good ones. They are the reason the nation needs to get past the partisan bickering and shore up the system.

Online: https://nwsdy.li/2hNHz4a

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