In a new report out today, Scott Lilly dismisses the popular conception that Medicaid cuts would mostly affect lower income Americans who won’t go to the polls and therefore don’t pose much of an electoral threat to lawmakers. He argues that the massive Medicaid reductions in Paul Ryan’s budget (and any other cuts that the deficit ceiling negotiators are currently considering) would actually impact “a very broad swath of middle-class families who are far more likely to become reliant on Medicaid benefits at some point in their life than most currently realize.” Future seniors and disabled Americans use the most care, and would have the most to lose from any proposed reductions:
Read the full report here.
I don’t want to take it too seriously, but I think this Gallup data on who is and isn’t expressing satisfaction with their lives helps us understand which dimensions of economic inequality in America do and don’t matter:
What you’re seeing here is that being unemployed or being seriously poor is terrible. We ought to be working like crazy to reduce the number of people in that position. Beyond that, the gap between people making over $90k and the middle class is substantial, but it’s nothing compared to the routine decline in life satisfaction associated with getting old. Having a marriage break up appears to be disastrous for your well-being, but it’s not clear to me that there’s a real policy lever here.
U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford traveled to the central Syrian city of Hama yesterday, the “focal point” of the anti-government unrest there. A State Department spokesperson told the New York Times that Ford traveled there, along with French ambassador to Syria Eric Chevallier, “as a show of solidarity with the residents there.” Ford and Chevallier attended protests there today and videos posted on YouTube apparently show “protesters holding olive branches” and tossing “roses onto the American ambassador?s car.” One Syrian protester, a lawyer, said demonstrators were emboldened by the ambassadors’ visit. “We felt protected by their visit,” he said. “They obviously can’t fire on crowds with Western officials here so it was calm and peaceful today, and the crowds were huge.”
Via NY Daily News: A Brooklyn Catholic school rejected Assemblyman Joe Lentol’s “donation — saying they couldn’t take the cash because he voted to legalize gay marriage.” Lentol said he is “disappointed” with the school’s decision.
Yesterday, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) signed two laws targeting undocumented workers, including one that is closely modeled on an Arizona law recently upheld by the Supreme Court:
No person, either for himself or on behalf of another, shall employ, hire, recruit, or refer, for private or public employment within the state, an alien who is not entitled to lawfully reside or work in the United States. [...] For a third or subsequent violation, the appropriate local governing authority or licensing agency shall immediately suspend the violator’s permit or license to do business in the state for not less than thirty days nor more than six months and a fine shall be assessed that shall be not more than one thousand two thousand five hundred dollars for each alien employed, hired, recruited, or referred in violation of this Section.
Although the Court’s very recent decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting permits Louisana to strip away business licenses from companies that hire undocumented workers, the state’s attempt to fine employers unambiguously violates federal law. Under a doctrine known as “preemption,” Congress may invalidate state laws which conflict with a federal policy, and federal immigration law preempts ?any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ…unauthorized aliens.?
Although Whiting held that the express exemption for ?licensing and similar laws? allows states to enact a law which strips business licenses from companies that employ undocumented workers, the exemption only applies to licensing laws and not to general fines for business that employ immigrants. Any attempt to fine businesses in order to regulate their employment of undocumented workers is a clear violation of federal law.
Last week, Republicans boycotted a Senate Finance Committee markup of three pending free trade agreements due to their opposition to an expanded Trade Assistance Adjustment program being included within the deals. TAA aids workers who are displaced by international trade, and Republicans allowed the expanded program to expire back in February.
Making it clear that GOP opposition to helping the workers who are inevitably hurt by expanded international trade isn’t confined to the Senate, House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee refused earlier this week to even include TAA in their version of the trade deals at all. And when House Democrats proposed an amendment to insert TAA into the agreement, the GOP voted it down:
In the House, Democrats offered an amendment to include TAA in the Korea bill, but the effort was defeated by Republicans. The panel then approved the pact with Democrats voting no.
Last year, 280,000 workers were aided by trade assistance, with nearly half of them receiving aid under the expanded program that the GOP allowed to expire. And Republicans realize that the program is helpful to workers, as several of them have supported their constituents’ petitions to obtain benefits.
Expanding trade is going to produce winners and losers, so it is imperative that any expansion of trade include help for workers who wind up on the short end of the stick. Even 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said recently that he supports aid for workers who lose their jobs due to trade.
But the GOP has obstinately opposed providing such assistance, with Republican leaders saying that they will actively oppose free trade deals that include aid for workers. As Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — a staunch advocate of TAA — put it, Republicans “continue to want to do free trade on the cheap.?
I’ve got mixed feelings about the fact that TOMS, the seller of fashionista-approved canvas shoes that distributes a pair to a needy child every time someone ponies up for a pair for themselves, is partnering up with uber-conservative social issues group Focus on the Family to get their shoes to folks who need them in Africa. As Irin Carmon notes, ” Focus On The Family isn’t the only group TOMS could have turned to for collaboration, nor is it the only Christian group involved in charitable missions. It carries significant cultural and political baggage, for good reason.” And I would like to know how TOMS made the decision to partner with Focus on the Family, as opposed to other aid groups working in Africa that might have more effective distribution networks, and whether either partner in the deal’s imposed preconditions on the other.
But as long as Focus on the Family hasn’t made it part and parcel of the deal that they get to slip abstinence or anti-gay pamphlets in the shoes, or required TOMS to donate to abstinence-only education, or to do anything that has a negative effect on people’s health and safety and as long as the shoes get to people who need them rather than being diverted, I have a hard time getting incredibly upset about this. You don’t need to pass an ideological test to want to make life more livable for the world’s poorest people. If TOMS shoes make it easier for more African kids to walk to school, or for folks to get to health clinics, or make it easier for them to carry clean drinking water, that’s a good thing. This collaboration may not be good for TOMS brand in the long run, and I think it’s worth watching closely, but if it works out, it could help a lot of people.
Governors around the nation are fighting back against the Tea Party predations of the oil industry:
Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have pulled his state out of the regional carbon-reduction program. RGGI has been under non-stop attacks funded by the Koch brothers, and in making the veto, Lynch rejected the false claims made by opponents and recognized those benefits for the state.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) on Thursday said ?the state is pulling out of the unified command team overseeing the cleanup of oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline that leaked an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River late last Friday. Schweitzer accused ExxonMobil officials of not being transparent about the extent of the oil spill and the resulting cleanup effort.?
Gov. Bev Perdue (D-NC) signed an executive order to create the Offshore Wind Economic Development Task Force, in conjunction with her veto of Senate Bill 709, which would have pushed the development of offshore oil and gas, as well as onshore gas fracking.
The nation desperately needs climate hawks like these fighting for a clean energy future, especially as hopes for a national mobilization on greenhouse pollution needed to stave off catastrophic climate change have dimmed.
Latest GOP trick isn't exactly a strategic chokeholdNot content with just running fake Democratic candidates in the Wisconsin recall primaries, Republicans are now doing GOTV for those fake candidates as well.
Allies of one of the top GOP targets in the recalls, state senator Randy Hopper, are circulating flyers in his district trying to get out the vote for the fake Dem in the Democratic primary against his Dem opponent.
You can view the flyer, which was found and passed along by We Are Wisconsin, right here. It urges voters to go out to the polls to vote for one John Buckstaff against the real Democrat, Oshkosh deputy mayor Jessica King, a strong candidate against the vulnerable Hopper.
The idea here is to get Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary, which is allowed under Wisconsin law. If the fake Dems can win the primaries, then Wisconsin Republicans won't even have to face a real recall election.
However, this idea is half-baked, at best. The fake Democrats are going to get crushed by the real ones, since Wisconsin Democrats are using the July 12 primary elections to test out their field program for the main event on Aug. 9. Putting up any effort at all on behalf of the fake candidates will only lead to embarrassment, confusion and demoralization among the Republican rank-and-file when the those fake candidates get thumped.
So sure Wisconsin Republicans, go ahead and tell local voters to support someone other than the incumbent you are actually trying to defend. Also, keep encouraging your voters to get involved in something that is destined to be a massive failure. I'm sure that will only have positive repercussions for you when you are actually trying to turn out your voters to maintain control of the state Senate on Aug. 9.
Also for your amusement, via Defend Wisconsin, check out the 25-foot, inflatable balloon of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser choking a protester.
Full Disclosure: I'm the media consultant and senior strategist for the Janice Hahn for Congress campaign.
Special elections usually attract a lot of attention. They're correctly seen as referendums on the direction of Congress; a chance between[...]
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