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“Obamacare Breaks Through In Louisiana”: How Do You Calculate The Value Of That?

If David Vitter had been elected the governor of Louisiana, I know that this would not be happening:

Department of Health and Hospitals [DHH] will begin the massive task Wednesday (June 1) of enrolling 375,000 people into the state’s expanded Medicaid program. The department’s goal is to get Medicaid insurance cards into the hands of more than half of the people eligible for the program by July 1.

Here’s what happened after Democrat John Bel Edwards won a surprise upset victory and became the Bayou State’s governor, replacing the disastrous Bobby Jindal:

…the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced [yesterday] it had approved the state’s plan to use food stamp income eligibility to determine whether people qualify for Medicaid. Louisiana is the first state to receive such an approval through what’s known as a state plan amendment; six other states use a similar method but received approval through a different process that takes much longer to approve.

The approval is “a big deal,” [DHH official, Ruth] Kennedy said, because it will allow Louisiana to speed its enrollment of Medicaid recipients using income data it already has, rather than having to collect new income data from recipients. The food stamp numbers can also be used on an annual basis to reaffirm eligibility, Kennedy said, meaning “we won’t have a large number of people falling off the books.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said that enrollment is “another step in our country’s march toward a health care system that works better for everyone.”

So, because a Democrat was elected governor in Louisiana, an estimated 375,000 people in that state will soon have access to health care that they did not have before and would not have otherwise.

How do you calculate the value of that?

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 1, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, John Bel Edwards, Medicaid Expansion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republicans Are Plotting Economic Disaster For 2016: The American People Will Be The Collateral Damage

Since George W. Bush’s presidency, Republican economic ideas have become drastically more conservative. Instead of massive tax cuts for the rich coupled with a general tolerance of the rest of government (or even new welfare programs), the party is now committed to much larger tax cuts coupled with eye-watering cuts to government.

Every Republican presidential candidate proposes staggering tax cuts heavily weighted toward the rich. Donald Trump would give the top one-thousandth of taxpayers $1.3 million apiece per year, while Ted Cruz would give them an even $2 million. Trump does favor preserving the welfare state, but he is a marked outsider in this respect. The entire rest of the party is committed to gigantic cuts to welfare, as shown by the budget formulated by House Republicans. Their most recent plan would slash $5.3 trillion in spending over a decade, 69 percent of which would come from programs for the needy.

The party’s intellectual apparatus (distinct from the Trumpist insurgency) has more-or-less fully regressed to an economic libertarianism straight out of the 1920s. They view basically all government programs outside of the military and the courts as illegitimate, to be slashed or eliminated wherever possible. The only problem with this is that when you try it, the results are immediate disaster.

Republicans haven’t been able to fully implement their plan of tax and service cuts on the federal level, but they have tried it in a few places on the state level. Louisiana under Gov. Bobby Jindal has had it the worst. Jindal’s massive cuts to education and services were not nearly enough to cover his gigantic tax cuts, and draining every rainy day fund in the state only delayed the day of reckoning. Eventually the results were so disastrous that the unthinkable happened — a Democrat replaced Jindal. Now Gov. John Bel Edwards is scrambling to deal with the most extreme budgetary emergency of any state government in decades, working feverishly just to keep the state from literal financial collapse.

Kansas is also suffering from Republican quack economics. Gov. Sam Brownback (who barely scraped through re-election in 2014 and now sits at a 21-percent approval rating) tried the same tricks as Jindal, though to a somewhat lesser degree, and the results were similar: a huge budget deficit with none of the promised explosive growth or job gains. Now Kansas conservatives are running into problems with the state’s Supreme Court, which found legal problems with the distribution of education cuts. Their solution: Attack the justices politically, by drawing up a new impeachment law and trying to get them thrown out in an upcoming confirmation election.

It’s the same story in Wisconsin with both deficits and lousy economic performance. Gov. Scott Walker’s major innovation has been an effort to basically destroy the Wisconsin state university system with drastic cuts and the abolishment of tenure, which is already leading to serious problems at the flagship school in Madison.

However, it could have been worse for all these states. The federal government, with its grants, its spending on social programs, and its employment of in-state government workers and contractors, provides a buffer of spending state governments cannot cut. For example, Louisiana gets over 40 percent of its state budget from the feds, as well as $5,917 per person in social spending, $3.5 billion in federal contracts, and $5.3 billion in compensation paid to almost 68,000 federal workers (as of the most recent data). That’s $48 billion in income against $39 billion paid in federal taxes (other states don’t make out so well).

This means that the results would be far more disastrous should Republicans get to implement their ideas on a federal level. Great chunks of the federal programs — food stamps, federal health programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and so on — that have provided inadequate but vital economic stabilization would be cut or eliminated altogether.

The results would be just as what happened on the state level, only worse.

It took many years for Republicans to talk themselves out of the fact that Herbert Hoover’s presidency was a disastrous failure, but with the exception of Trump, Hooverism is where they stand. It’s an ideology that can gain wide popularity only insofar as it is not actually tried on a wide scale. It turns out that a vision of government that was already outdated a century ago (when farmers were over a quarter of the workforce) is not very well-suited to a modern economy. It’s just too bad the American people might have to be the collateral damage in re-learning that lesson.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, April 4, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Economic Policy, Republicans, Spending Cuts, Tax Cuts | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Oh Boy, God Is Shooting A Shot Across The Bow”: Pastor Who Hosted GOP; Paris Victims Were ‘Devil-Worshippers’

A Christian pastor who hosted Republican presidential candidates a week before the Paris terrorist attack says its victims received divine retribution for worshipping Satan.

Kevin Swanson of Generations Ministries said last Thursday that the 89 people massacred inside the Bataclan theater were “devil-worshippers.” Two weeks earlier, Swanson headlined his own “Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference” featuring Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal.

Swanson believes God will annihilate America for tolerating homosexuality and seemed to say God already made an example out of the Bataclan.

“There’s certainly a providential irony here,” Swanson said of the fact that California rock band Eagles of Death Metal reportedly played “Kiss the Devil” as terrorists began firing AK-47s into the crowd. “They went from singing about the devil to meeting the devil face-to-face.”

“When you get a wake-up call like what happened at France’s 9/11 last Friday night at the concert,” he said, “I think we all need to pay attention to what’s happening: This is a message from God. God is shooting a shot across the bow and we better be paying attention to this.”

Swanson had a message for those who weren’t killed, too.

“I think we need to ask the concertgoers, at least those who survived, did you love the devil? Did you love the devil’s works as your friends were being shot up in the massacre?”

Swanson then claimed he wasn’t taking sides between peaceful victims and Islamic terrorists, though.

“These ISIS devil-worshippers have pitted themselves against humanist devil-worshippers. I’m not on either side here. I’m not taking the side of the devil-worshippers performing the concert; I’m not on the side of ISIS who are slaughtering the devil-worshippers inside the concert. I’m not on neither side.”

Cruz and Huckabee’s presidential campaigns did not respond to a request for comment about Swanson.

Previously, Swanson has said that gays should face the death penalty; that the movie Frozen turns little girls into lesbians; that natural disasters are the fault of godless fornicators.

 

By: Andrew Kirell, The Daily Beast, November 23, 2015

November 24, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Paris Attacks, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Hillary Clinton Living Inside The Republican Brain”: Republicans Are Sure Hillary Is Bad, But They Aren’t Sure Why

Imagine a police sketch artist drawing a picture of Hillary Clinton based only on descriptions from the Republicans at the Fox Business Network debates on Tuesday night. The sketch would be unappealing, obviously, but also weird and contradictory. According to the collective wisdom of the GOP crowd, Clinton is a power-mad monster who is nearly unstoppable, but she’s also weak. She is afraid of debating Republicans, but Republican debates are making her stronger. She is a hard leftist who hasn’t been shaken from her mission to drive America into socialism, but also a flip-flopper who only recently began capitulating to the left. At one point in the undercard debate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal summed up the theme: “Look, we all agree Hillary Clinton is bad.” But how is she bad? Let us analyze.

The Republicans who talked about Hillary Clinton the most last night were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, two more moderate guys who haven’t fared well in the primary. Perhaps they wanted to let more conservative voters know that they know who the real enemy is. But their sketch of the enemy is confounding. Republicans are sure Hillary is bad, but they aren’t sure why.

An easily beatable candidate who’s also a nearly-unbeatable juggernaut: “Hillary Clinton is gift-wrapping this election to us,” Jindal said. “Hillary Clinton is running so far to the left … to catch up to her socialist opponent, Bernie Sanders, it’s hard to even see her anymore,” Christie said. And she’s afraid of the looming fight, he added: “Hillary Clinton doesn’t want one minute on that stage with me next September when I’m debating her, and prosecuting her for her vision for America.” And yet despite cluelessly adopting positions that would turn off most of the electorate, she is a powerful electoral force. “I had Bill and Hillary in my state—James Carville managed the race against me—a state with a million more Democrats than Republicans,” said former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennslyvania. (Yet he had triumphed! Until 2006, when he lost.) To beat her, Ohio Governor John Kasich said, Republicans need “a CEO mentality,” and “our ideas have to add up. They have to be solid.” Bush chimed in with a similar warning when Trump’s idea of deporting millions of immigrants arose: “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this.” Or maybe she’s laughing because of Bush’s immigration plan (Cruz: “The Democrats are laughing—because if Republicans join Democrats as the party of amnesty, we will lose”). Whichever one she finds hilarious, the threat of a Clinton victory is real, and dangerous: “We cannot lose this election,” Trump said.

A woman with no ideas except for bad ones: Clinton has no ideas (Rubio: “The political left has no ideas about the future”). Except for one: single-payer health care (Christie: “She will completely nationalize the federal health care system”).

A criminal-ish politician: Christie, in particular, painted Clinton with a tint of criminality. Christie said being governor of a blue state made him better equipped to win nationally, but he seemed to think his time as a U.S. attorney was more appealing; four times, he said some version of the idea that he would be best at “prosecuting” her.

A foreign-policy failure who agrees with Republicans on foreign policy: Clinton is trembling and weak on foreign policy. (Bush: “This president, and Hillary Clinton both, do not believe the United States has a leadership role to play.” Rubio: “Around the world, every day brings news of a new humiliation for America—many the … direct consequence of decisions made when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.” Christie: “Remember why we’re in the position we’re in with China, because of an absolutely weak and feckless foreign policy that was engineered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.”) At the same time, she agrees with many Republicans about what to do with the gravest international crisis, in Syria (Paul: “The idea of a no-fly zone, realize that this is also something that Hillary Clinton agrees with several on our side with…”).

A big spender who is also stingy: She wants to tax Americans to death (Christie: “Hillary Clinton’s coming for your wallet”). But she won’t spend the cash to build up some of the biggest government expenses (Fiorina: “Imagine a Clinton presidency. Our military will continue to deteriorate. Our veterans will not be cared for”).

A socialist who loves Wall Street: Clinton is a socialist (Christie: “What Hillary Clinton is talking about doing, if she’s president of the United States, is to make sure that the government gets even more involved in the economy, even more involved in making choices for everybody”) who is screwing up the financial sector by backing Dodd-Frank, which is unpopular on Wall Street (Bush: “This vast overreach has created a huge problem for our country, and Hillary Clinton wants to double down on that”). But she’s also in the pocket of Wall Street (Cruz: “Hillary Clinton embodies the cronyism of Washington.” By contrast, Cruz said he would go after the Wall Street criminals of the financial crisis.).

It gets worse. Clinton wants to regulate the economy to death (Carson: “Even for the average person, every single regulation costs money. … Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton won’t tell you that that’s the thing that’s really hurting middle class in the core. They’ll say it’s the rich, take their money, but that won’t help”). But she has not backed the right regulations (Bush: “What we ought to do is raise the capital requirements so banks aren’t too big to fail”).

Their bizarrely contradictory portrait of Clinton points to what’s confusing in the Republicans’ own message. They know Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are on the other team; what they don’t know is why the GOP team is better or more noble, or what exactly binds it together. They can’t agree on what parts of the old GOP platform should be thrown out—Santorum says Republicans should pander less to business owners than to the people who work for them, Paul suggests ditching some social conservatism and hawkish foreign policy, Bush says lose the hostility to immigrants, and Trump says cut entitlements. But they do agree on what to keep: being against whatever Clinton is for. And whoever she is.

 

By: Elspeth Reeve, Senior Editor at The New Republic; November 12, 2015

November 12, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primary Debates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“So Many GOP Options”: Anybody Can Grow Up To Be Speaker Of The House!

I suppose it’s as good a time as any to recall that under the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Speaker does not have to be a Member. And so, you get this entirely non-humorous tweet from a Washington Examiner reporter:

He wouldn’t need any OJT, and all the rumors about his infidelities have long been confirmed, right?

But if you’re going to think “outside the box” for a House Speaker, there are other options, too:

Soeaker Carly Fiorina. would finally have that missing item on her resume–you know, remotely relevant qualifications for the presidency–and could symbolize the fact that just because the House GOP is trying to shut down Planned Parenthood and opposes pay equity is no reason to assume there’s any “war on women” going on.

Speaker Bobby Jindal could draw on his past House experience, and he’d have an excuse to leave Louisiana for good!

Speaker Sean Hannity could cut out the middle-men in Fox News/GOP message communications.

Speaker David Koch could cut out the middle-men, period.

So many options! Who else can you think of, dear readers?

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 8, 2015

October 9, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, Newt Gingrich, Speaker of The House | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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