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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

“Real Incremental Progress Is Happening In Blue States”: State Legislatures,The Primary Vehicles For Real Progressive Action

It’s often easy to become discouraged at the state of national politics. Given Republican control of the House, there’s very little chance of either Clinton’s or Sanders’ policy priorities going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that progress isn’t happening in blue states around the country.

Consider again the example of California, where rules finally went into effect allowing women to get birth control without a prescription:

Women in California of any age can now obtain birth control without a doctor’s prescription from any pharmacy in the state. Under the new rules finally in effect, any woman merely has to fill out a questionnaire at the pharmacy to get access to a variety of contraceptive measures, according to KABC. Though the new rules were technically passed by the state legislature in 2013, the law was tied up in regulatory discussions until Friday. Under the law, any woman can get self-administered hormonal birth control.

California is not the first to put this into place; Washington and Oregon already have similar laws.

This also, of course, comes on the heels of $15 minimum wages being passed in California and New York as well. California alone has a wide bevy of new progressive laws ranging from automatic voter registration to air quality standards, wage theft, sexual consent and much else. Blue states continue to be the successful laboratories of democracy where Republicans in Congress are failing to act, even as the red state economic model is being proven a failure in places like Kansas and Louisiana.

Until the 2020 census makes it easier to change control of Congress, it will remain the case that state legislatures are the primary vehicles for real progressive action. One can only hope that those seeking a political revolution will remain engaged regardless of the result of the Democratic primary, and get involved in making their states as progressive as possible until the demographic tide makes a national change in direction inevitable.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 10, 2016

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Blue States, California, Progressive Action, State Legislatures | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“On Invincible Ignorance”: The G.O.P.’s Intellectual Leader Is Still Making The Same Old Claims

Remember Paul Ryan? The speaker of the House used to be a media darling, lionized as the epitome of the Serious, Honest Conservative — never mind those of us who actually looked at the numbers in his budgets and concluded that he was a con man. These days, of course, he is overshadowed by the looming Trumpocalypse.

But while Donald Trump could win the White House — or lose so badly that even our rotten-borough system of congressional districts, which heavily favors the G.O.P., delivers the House to the Democrats — the odds are that come January, Hillary Clinton will be president, and Mr. Ryan still speaker. So I was interested to read what Mr. Ryan said in a recent interview with John Harwood. What has he learned from recent events?

And the answer is, nothing.

Like just about everyone in the Republican establishment, Mr. Ryan is in denial about the roots of Trumpism, about the extent to which the party deliberately cultivated anger and racial backlash, only to lose control of the monster it created. But what I found especially striking were his comments on tax policy. I know, boring — but indulge me here. There’s a larger moral.

You might think that Republican thought leaders would be engaged in some soul-searching about their party’s obsession with cutting taxes on the wealthy. Why do candidates who inveigh against the evils of budget deficits and federal debt feel obliged to propose huge high-end tax cuts — much bigger than those of George W. Bush — that would eliminate trillions in revenue?

And economics aside, why such a commitment to a policy that has never had much support even from the party’s own base, and appears even more politically suspect in the face of a populist uprising?

But here’s what Mr. Ryan said about all those tax cuts for the top 1 percent: “I do not like the idea of buying into these distributional tables. What you’re talking about is what we call static distribution. It’s a ridiculous notion.”

Aha. The income mobility zombie strikes again.

Ever since income inequality began its sharp rise in the 1980s, one favorite conservative excuse has been that it doesn’t mean anything, because economic positions change all the time. People who are rich this year might not be rich next year, so the gap between the rich and the rest doesn’t matter, right?

Well, it’s true that people move up and down the economic ladder, and apologists for inequality love to cite statistics showing that many people who are in the top 1 percent in any given year are out of that category the next year.

But a closer look at the data shows that there is less to this observation than it seems. These days, it takes an income of around $400,000 a year to put you in the top 1 percent, and most of the fluctuation in incomes we see involves people going from, say, $350,000 to $450,000 or vice versa. As one comprehensive survey put it, “The majority of economic mobility occurs over fairly small spans of the distribution.” Average incomes over multiple years are almost as unequally distributed as incomes in any given year, which means that tax cuts that mainly benefit the rich are indeed targeted at a small group of people, not the public at large.

And here’s the thing: This isn’t a new observation. As it happens, I personally took on the very same argument Mr. Ryan is making — and showed that it was wrong — almost 25 years ago. Yet the man widely considered the G.O.P.’s intellectual leader is still making the same old claims.

O.K., maybe I’m just indulging a pet peeve by focusing on this particular subject. Yet the persistence of the income mobility zombie, like the tax-cuts-mean-growth zombie (which should have been killed, once and for all, by the debacles in Kansas and Louisiana), is part of a pattern.

Appalled Republicans may rail against Donald Trump’s arrogant ignorance. But how different, really, are the party’s mainstream leaders? Their blinkered view of the world has the veneer of respectability, may go along with an appearance of thoughtfulness, but in reality it’s just as impervious to evidence — maybe even more so, because it has the power of groupthink behind it.

This is why you shouldn’t grieve over Marco Rubio’s epic political failure. Had Mr. Rubio succeeded, he would simply have encouraged his party to believe that all it needs is a cosmetic makeover — a fresher, younger face to sell the same old defunct orthodoxy. Oh, and a last-minute turn to someone like John Kasich would, in its own way, have similar implications.

What we’re getting instead is at least the possibility of a cleansing shock — of a period in the political wilderness that will finally force the Republican establishment to rethink its premises. That’s a good thing — or it would be, if it didn’t also come with the risk of President Trump.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, March 21, 2016

March 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Federal Budget, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Will Jindal Make It To Caucus Night?”: In Weaker Financial Position Than Candidates Rick Perry And Scott Walker Were Before They Quit

On January 10, 2016, Bobby Jindal will without question obtain one of his heart’s great desires: liberation from any further obligation to the People of the Gret Stet of Loosiana. As noted here often over the past couple of years, the Gret Stet has become less and less fond of its often-absentee governor, and at the moment he’s doing better in presidential polls in Iowa than he is among the Republicans who know him best.

Three weeks after he becomes a former governor, Iowa will hold its Caucuses. But as third-quarter fundraising numbers drift into view, the question is whether Bobby has enough money to super-size his lunch order, much less organize an effective Caucus performance. Here’s The Hill’s Jonathan Swan:

The presidential campaign of Republican candidate Bobby Jindal looks barely viable, with the Louisiana governor finishing the most recent fundraising quarter with just $261,000 in the bank.

Jindal’s campaign spent more than it raised, taking in $579,000 and spending $832,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30.

And here’s the hammer:

The Louisiana governor is arguably in a weaker financial position than former candidates Rick Perry and Scott Walker were before they quit the race last month.

While Perry had less cash in hand than Jindal — the former Texas governor had just $45,000 in his campaign account last quarter — he at least had a well-funded supporting super-PAC.

Both Perry and Walker benefited from super-PACs that had more than $15 million that they could spend to boost the candidates. But the main pro-Jindal super-PAC, “Believe Again,” disclosed contributions of $3.7 million in its midyear report.

Now Bobby’s also got a “dark money” 527 nonprofit group plumping for him, and all the outside groups pulled in a reported $8 million as of July. But the Super PAC’s been spending some serious coin on Iowa ads, where Bobby’s actually been doing more paid media than anybody else. So it’s unclear how much is left to get Jindal to the end of the year (Super-PACs and 527s only report semi-annually). What he really needs is some fresh evidence he’s doing as well in Iowa as a September NBC/WSJ poll indicated, which placed him tied with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio at 6%.

For now, I’d guess Bobby’s staff probably isn’t going to get paid for a while, and non-campaign groups will do more and more of what the campaign ought to be doing. But his money troubles have already caught the attention of media vultures, who will be watching his campaign closely for signs of non-vitality. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, The Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 16, 2016

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, GOP Campaign Donors, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Jindal’s Trumpism-Without-Trump Tax Plan”: His Distinctive Tax “Idea” Is One Of The Dumbest In The Conservative Arsenal

With all the excitement going on this week, I totally missed the fact that my favorite Republican presidential candidate, the Gret Stet of Loosiana’s Bobby Jindal, released a tax plan, or at least a tax-based messaging document. WaPo’s Catherine Rampell informs us it’s everything you’d expect from the candidate who’s offering the GOP Trumpism Without Trump:

Jindal — who once declared that the Republican Party needed to stop being the “stupid party” — decided he, too, wanted to pander to stupidity.

That is, he decided to out-Trump Trump.

In a sprawling, largely detail-free plan released Wednesday, Jindal tried his hand at the tax-cut buzz saw. On a static basis, the Tax Foundation estimates, Jindal’s proposal would cut revenue by $11.3 trillion over the next decade.

That’s in the same ballpark as Trump. Yet rather than denying or trying to draw attention away from the gigantic hole he intends to blow in the budget (as Trump and Bush, respectively, have done), Jindal touts it with pride.

“Governor Jindal’s plan reduces the amount of money the federal government will be able to spend,” his Web site boasts, invoking long-ago disproven “starve the beast” rhetoric. The main effect of previous attempts to “starve the beast” through tax cuts, as Jindal surely knows, has not been spending decreases, but subsequently legislated tax increases.

But here’s the fun part:

Jindal’s plan is also, impressively, even more regressive than Trump’s. While Trump would raise the after-tax incomes of the top 1 percent by a mere fifth (21.6 percent), Jindal would increase their incomes by a full quarter (25 percent).

Then, in addition to lowering taxes on the rich, Jindal — but not Trump — would raise taxes on the poor.

Yes, you read that right. Jindal wants to engineer a reverse Robin Hood, taking money from the poor to give to the rich.

As Dylan Matthews explains at Vox, Jindal’s plan would eliminate the child tax credit, the standard deduction, the personal exemption, and the dependent exemption, with the very explicit goal of making everybody, even the poorest Americans, pay income taxes (hey, he does keep the EITC, but maybe that was an oversight!). So in effect his most distinctive tax “idea” is one of the dumbest in the conservative arsenal: going after the “lucky duckies,” the 47% who don’t pay income tax (though they do pay payroll taxes, state and local sales taxes, property taxes, etc. etc.).

At least Bobby’s being consistent: he spent years unsuccessfully trying to get Louisiana to shift from an income tax to a sales tax system for financing state government. Don’t want those job creators to have to pay taxes if they can instead be borne by those proles lucky enough to work for them, right?

Maybe the very conservative voters of Iowa, with whom Jindal is spending most of his time these days, like this approach; you should not underestimate the power of resentment of those people when two or more conservatives gather. But I dunno: as with his efforts to be Mr. Christian Right in a crowded presidential field, I suspect most voters otherwise attracted to Trumpism-Without-Trump would also prefer Jindalism-Without-Jindal.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 9, 2015

October 10, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Tax Policy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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