There’s a growing number of Republican-run states accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, at least at the gubernatorial level, but South Carolina isn’t one of them. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) ruled out the possibility months ago, despite the pleas of South Carolina hospital administrators and public-health officials.
In fact, physicians in South Carolina are still hoping to change the state’s policy against Medicaid expansion, lobbying legislators this week on a White Coat Day organized by the South Carolina Hospital Association. Will it succeed? Consider the take of one insider.
Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.
“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.
As it turns out, “the politics” were so successful in “overwhelming the policy” that Crawford himself voted against the policy he said he supports.
Kris Crawford, a Florence emergency room doctor, says he thinks South Carolina should accept billions of federal dollars to help pay the health care costs for poor people — also known as Obamacare.
There are only two problems: Crawford is a Republican, and he is a member of the state House of Representatives. So on Tuesday, when it was time to vote on whether to accept the money, Crawford voted not to accept it.
For what it’s worth, Crawford still supports Medicaid expansion as part of “Obamacare,” and regrets the way his party is concerned more about the “political argument” than the “policy discussion.”
So why did he vote with his party? Crawford cited procedural concerns, and wants the issue to be considered outside the state budget process. He intends to propose separate legislation later this year.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 14, 2013
The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are hardly a liberal lot. They’ve doubled down against abortion and gay marriage (or even acceptance of gays). Church hierarchy has verbally slapped down nuns who have gently challenged the priorities of the church. So it really says something when the GOP last year nominated a white guy named Mitt to run for president, while the cardinals—who could be described as the tea party caucus of the Catholic faith—picked a South American guy named Jorge.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is from Argentina and speaks Spanish. That alone makes him a more 21st century choice for leadership (although he is a staunch social conservative, being vocal in his opposition to gay marriage). And it may well be as much about demographic strategy as it is about merit; the Roman Catholic Church, after all, does a better recruitment job in Latin America than in, say, the U.S. But the very fact that such a conservative group would pick a Latin American to be the public face (not to mention the spiritual leader) of the worldwide faith shows that they are way ahead of the U.S. Republican party.
Bergoglio, notably a Jesuit, took the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his vow of poverty. House Republicans, on the same day Francis became Pope, pushed through a bill to ban the granting of waivers on the work requirement for welfare—in other words, toughening up rules on the poor whom St. Francis wanted to help.
Many Republicans realize they need to do a better job with outreach. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of the young stars of the party, noted humorously in a dinner speech last Saturday night that he was hamstrung by his image. How could a skinny guy with dark skin and a funny name ever dream of becoming president?, Jindal quipped, as President Obama sat nearby. It was meant to be a joke, but the Republican candidate slate last year was, mainly, a slew of white men. The voter outreach and get-out-the-vote strategy was similarly ill-focused. The heavily traditional and old-fashioned church has made a move to join the 21st century. The GOP ought to consider following suit.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, March 14, 2013
“When Common Sense Becomes Impermissible”: Among The First To Suffer The Pain Of Sequestration Will Be Hungry Children
The difference between a natural disaster and a disaster caused by politicians is that the latter will almost always hit the poor and the obscure most heavily, while a hurricane or a flood will at least sometimes spread the suffering more evenly.
As the “sequester” unfolds in Washington, we see this same old pattern holding firm: Republican leaders, now hustling to shirk responsibility for the catastrophe they predicted, insist those automated budget axes won’t do any damage at all.
Has anyone felt any pain yet?
Not during the first few days, of course, but when the cuts begin to bite a month or so from now, the first to feel it will be the unemployed and the destitute, for whom a few dollars of government support mean so much in their daily survival calculation. A decent policy would seek to spare them the brunt of political mistakes made by other, far more comfortable people, but this process permits no such choices – and the most vulnerable will by definition be hurt most.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which began to warn of sequestration’s very real impact weeks ago, the government will have to turn away as many as 775,000 women and children who qualify for WIC, the “highly effective” national nutrition program. Back when there was bipartisan opposition to letting people starve, legislators of both parties worked to ensure that WIC funding was sufficient to enroll every qualified family. Everyone seemed to agree that the program’s cost was trivial compared with the social, moral, and yes, economic benefits of properly feeding all hungry infants and children.
Not under the sequester, when common sense and compassion become impermissible. Not under the sequester, which not only enforces the cruel cuts but allows their perpetrators to deny ownership of the specific consequences.
What makes the automatic cutback in WIC funding even worse is that the amount involved is small in modern terms. The WIC budget will have to be reduced by about $699 million compared with 2012, or the same amount as the projected price of one “Littoral Combat Ship,” the Navy’s latest vessel project.
Evidently a principle is at stake that can be vindicated only by taking food from the mouths of pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants, however. Enforcing this decision – and it is a decision – are men and women who will assure voters of their fervent religious piety as well as their absolute devotion to America’s beleaguered families.
Or some of America’s families.
By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, March 5, 2013
There are a lot of ways to parse a loss like the one the GOP suffered on Tuesday, but what ought to be increasingly clear to smart Republicans is that there’s something fundamentally problematic in how they’ve gone about assembling their electoral coalitions. Conservatives are complaining a lot in the last couple of days that Obama ran a “divisive” campaign, I guess because he once called rich people “fat cats” or something, but the truth is that Republicans have been experts at division for a long time. Much of their appeal, at one level or another, has been “We don’t like those kind of people.” Sometimes it’s welfare recipients, sometimes it’s undocumented immigrants, sometimes it’s people who come from big cities or have too much education or enjoy a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. They’ve been very good for a very long time at telling voters, “We’re just like you, because we both hate those people over there.”
As a political strategy, this can be very effective, so long as the “them” at whom you’re directing your contempt isn’t too large a group. But once “them” grows too big, you’ve dug yourself an electoral hole. That’s the problem they now have with Latinos. Their anti-immigrant rhetoric sent two simultaneous messages, one about policy and one about identity. The first message was that we don’t support policies you do support, like the DREAM Act. The second message, which Latinos heard loud and clear, was this: We don’t like people like you.
The problem can be seen in other areas too. As Sommer Mathis and Charles Mahtesian point out, the GOP is getting crushed among urban dwellers, who are growing as a proportion of the population. Just like with Latinos, this happens because of both policy and identity. The GOP is opposed to policies that are supported by people in cities, like support for mass transit. But they also continuously tell them that they don’t like them. Every time they wax rhapsodic about the superior morality of those who live in small towns (what Sarah Palin memorably called “the pro-America areas of this great nation”), where people supposedly have “values,” while people who live in cities just have opinions, they are telling voters in cities, “We don’t like people like you.” So it’s no surprise that those voters respond, “You know what? We don’t like you either.”
If Republicans are going to solve this problem—with Latinos, with city dwellers, and with everybody else they’ve alienated—they’re going to have to it with both policy and identity. It won’t be enough to sign on to a comprehensive immigration reform. You have to convince the people at whom you’ve been sneering (or trying to stop from voting) that you don’t hate them. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, November 9, 2012