Murphy Makes The Bed
by Thomas MacMillan | Jul 17, 2012 4:40 pm
Posted to: Health, Campaign 2012
The first stop on the campaign trail for U.S. Senate candidate Chris Murphy Tuesday brought him to New Haven’s Hubinger Street, where he helped hoist a paralyzed man out of bed. To make a point about jobs.
It was the latest event in Murphy’s “Getting To Work Tour,” a series of campaign stops Murphy (at left in photo) has made recently with a focus on jobs. He spent part of the morning learning from Joanne Little (center), a home health care worker who cares for 64-year-old Caldwell Johnson (right) each day.
Like most “listening tours” candidates conduct these days, the stop involved asking on-message questions from everyday people in front of the media. Murphy took the shtick one step further, actually doing a little bit of the work. With mixed results.
Murphy, currently the Connecticut’s 5th District U.S. Congressman, is running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. He’s well ahead of fellow Democrat and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz in the race for the Democratic nomination. After the primary, he’s expected to face Republican Linda McMahon, the former WWE CEO who ran for U.S. Senate two years ago.
Murphy’s launched his “Getting To Work Tour” to obtain a ground-level perspective on what’s happening in Connecticut’s job market, according to his campaign. So far he’s spent some time at a Ward Leonard factory in Thomaston and swept the floor of a barbershop in Stamford, said spokesman Ben Marter.
Tuesday’s visit gave Murphy a chance to take a close look at one of the fastest growing job positions in the state: home health care workers.
Murphy arrived at 10:30 a.m. to find Johnson in a special adjustable bed in the front room of his sister Annie Johnson’s house on Hubinger Street in the Edgewood neighborhood. Caldwell moved there four years ago from New Jersey after he was injured in a tree-trimming accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Little now helps him for two hours every morning and night, getting him up out of bed and into a wheelchair. Using a device called a Hoyer lift, Little hoisted Johnson up and lowered him into his chair.
Murphy offered to help. Little waved him off: “I’ll make it look easy.”
After Johnson was settled in his wheelchair, she assigned Murphy the task of straightening his white Adidas warm-up pants, which had gotten bunched up in the move.
As she worked, Little filled Murphy in on the life of a personal care assistant (PCA) doing home health care. PCAs work as independent contractors to the state Department of Social Services, earning between $9 and $12 per hour. They often don’t receive health care benefits or workman’s compensation.
Little, who’s 49, said she’s gotten around some of these problems by starting her own agency, J and J Family Home Health Care. She provides her 15 employees with workmen’s compensation. She is putting together an employee health insurance plan, she said.
The state requires only an hour of continuing training per month, which is not enough, Little said. She pointed out that she’s the first home health care worker to do range of motion exercises with Johnson, out of the eight he’s had.
Getting proper training for these workers is going to be increasingly important as people age and fewer go into nursing homes, Murphy said.
“People want to be cared for at home,” Little agreed.
“As we grow in volume, we’ve got to grow in quality,” Murphy said.
After asking what else he could do, Murphy set about making Johnson’s bed, only to have Little tell him he was doing it wrong. She remade it herself.
Outside on the sidewalk, after Murphy said his goodbyes to Little and the Johnsons, Murphy said home health care workers should be paid more. “It’s not that right that they make so little,” with no health care or benefits, he said. If the state is going to pay for “thousands” of these workers in the years to come, they should be paid adequately, he said.
Asked how the government can afford, Murphy said the state will pay less for nursing home care as people move towards home health care, which is less costly.
Also, the country needs to decide if it’s worth spending $2 billion a week for the war in Afghanistan, or if that money might better be spent at home so that PCA’s can “put food on the table,” Murphy said.
McMahon Weighs In
Murphy’s visit came just an hour after the McMahon campaign put out a press release criticizing Murphy for not having a fully developed jobs plan.
“Connecticut residents need more than photo ops and empty rhetoric if we are going to pull our economy out of this ditch that career politicians like Chris Murphy have driven us into,” said Corry Bliss, McMahon’s campaign manager, in a release.
Murphy responded Tuesday that his jobs plan is being developed through conversations with workers and employers in Connecticut, not written by high-priced consultants, as he claimed McMahon’s is. “Mine comes from living rooms in New Haven.”
He said McMahon’s economic plans would not address defense spending. They would lead to a ballooning of the deficit, he argued. He also said that any plan has to call on the wealthy to pay more taxes than others.
Murphy also addressed the news that some of his supporters have formed a SuperPAC to help propel him to Washington. McMahon criticized him for benefitting from an unregulated SuperPAC (which draws unlimited donations from ultra-wealthy donors) after he criticized Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that enabled such groups to form. Murphy said he’s opposed to SuperPACs and would work to outlaw them if elected, but that he can’t control what people do in the meantime.
“I play by existing campaign finance rules and advocate strongly for those rules to change,” he said.
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Calculate your tax savings once Linda goes to DC!
Isn’t it great that Linda wants to lower everyone’s tax rate to the same 15% that she enjoys! (Yes, instead of salaries, the McMahons take all their money out of WWE as dividend income, taxed at only 15%) It’s almost as if she believes in the Buffet Rule.
Of course the feasibility of her plan is a complete joke, as it would balloon the federal deficit to even greater heights, but to a woman who has made hundreds of millions off of fake wrestling, what does the truth matter?
BTW, Obamacare is not only the largest tax increase in the history of the planet, it will intrude in ways that we still cannot even imagine. 16,0000 pages of new regulations have already been written and experts on the legislation say that they have only scratched the surface. Hundreds of new boards and commissions will be created, and that’s just to get Obamacare off the ground. Like all huge federal entitlement programs, once fully enacted, it will spawn dozens of new laws and regulations that haven’t even been considered yet.
Remember Pelosi’s shrewish admonition: “We have to pass the bill in order to know what’s in it.”? Well, we’re now finding out “what’s in it” and anywhere from 58% to 64% of Americans don’t like it and want it repealed.
“You can keep your doctor!” [Obama in 2009.] Oh really? Not after a few years of the health exchanges. Doctors are already opting out of Medicare and Medicaid and the problem will acclerate dramatically after 2014 when Obamacare kicks into high gear. Just ask virtually any doctor. Quality of care won’t improve. Access won’t be increased except for a tiny minority of people - mainly illegal immigrants. Costs won’t go down, since competition will be diminsished. In sum, virtually everyting that Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Sibelius have promised will be proven to be a lie - as we already knew.
Can we really afford Chris “I’m Pelosi’s Lapdog” Murphy in Washington defending Obamacare and the rest of his Socialist programs - making an already bad situation worse?
I don’t think so.
Choose wisely, Connecticut.