GOP Slowly Realizes Free Money Is Great!

When the Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act, conservatives' disappointment was tempered by one element of the ruling, which allowed states to opt out of the ACA's expansion of Medicaid. Obamacare might have survived, but at least they'd be able to stick it to poor people. The Medicaid expansion was perhaps the most critical part of the ACA, potentially delivering insurance to 30 million people who don't have it, but now Republican governors and Republican legislators would have a chance to give Barack Obama the finger and refuse to accept the giant pot of money the federal government was offering to insure their poorest citizens. (Though Medicaid funding today is split between the federal government and the states, the feds will pick up almost the entire cost of the expansion). Ironically, the states where Republican rule is firmest stood to gain the most, since they're the ones with the stingiest existing Medicaid eligibility standards, who would therefore see more people insured under the new rules.

When the Court's decision came down and Republican governors began declaring their intentions to spurn the funding and let their poor citizens remain uninsured, many predicted that once the checks started to get written, they'd come around. Unfortunately, the governors of some states with the largest uninsured populations—including Rick Scott in Florida and Rick Perry in Texas—are still holding out. But today, Ohio governor John Kasich announced that his state would be accepting the Medicaid expansion. Apparently, the fact that the federal government was picking up all the cost, plus analyses indicating that the state would reap further financial benefits from a population without so many uninsured (less uncompensated care for which the state eventually picks up the tab, increased tax payments from more productive workers and businesses, and so on) made it too good to pass up. There's also the moral question of allowing thousands of your citizens to get health coverage, of course, but Kasich didn't seem too concerned with that. In any case, he joins the Republican governors of Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Arizona in accepting the expansion. Hopefully he won't be the last. 

So They Say

"Can a man actually run the State Department?"

New Secretary of State John Kerry


Daily Meme: Tagg, You're Mitt!

  • One month ago, Democrats were biting their nails in fear that appointing John Kerry to Secretary of State would sign, seal, and deliver his Senate seat to Scott Brown.
  • Turns out Scott Brown has better things to do than run for a stupid Senate seat.
  • Turns out every single Massachusetts Republican has better things to do than run for a stupid Senate seat. 
  • But wait! What about the great dynasty of Republicanism comfortably perched in the root of New England? What about the Romney boys?
  • As soon as the Republican playing field had whittled down to nearly zilch, whispers of a Tagg candidacy began to mount. The Boston Herald saw "a pic on Saturday of his two sons getting a haircut at Frank’s Barbershop in Belmont, a neighborhood staple," posted on Twitter as a clear sign that Tagg was thinking about running.
  • And, as one adviser pointed out during the 2012 campaign, "If he ever did want to go into politics, he'd make a fabulous candidate."
  • Oh, nevermind. Turns out these signs and portents aren't a reliable way to predict someone's political ambitions at all. Tagg Romney released a statement today stating, "The timing is not right for me, but I am hopeful that the people of Massachusetts will select someone of great integrity, vision, and compassion as our next US Senator."
  • Well, maybe it's all for the best. The official legacy of Romneydom seems to be losing when it comes to the national spotlight. Tagg's just coming to terms with the inevitable before he too ends up at the La Jolla Costco.
  • And now there's more time for a family roadtrip to Kansas, where they can see dad's picture at the official memorial to our country's most renowned losers. 
  • But, there are four more! Ben Romney, Comedy Central's Indecision's 2012 Person of the Year, is an obvious second choice.
  • Or what about Ann Romney (The Boston Herald is apparently a Romney super fan on par with this guy)?

What We're Writing

  • Mike Konczal wonders about the pros and cons that come with Jack Lew's lack of experience on Wall Street as he goes into his nomination, and explains why the Treasury pick will be majorly important (even if it's not majorly exciting) this year.
  • Robert Kuttner takes a look at how the elections of Elizabeth Warren and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts might be heralding the end of static, institutionalized, and crumbling Democratic Party politics in the state.

What We're Reading

  • Frank Rich opines on the Oscar frontrunners and American politics: "As Lincoln portrays the politics we wish we had, so Django forces you to think about the unfinished business that keeps us from getting there just yet."
  • At last week's hearing, Lindsey Graham asked SecDef nominee Chuck Hagel who in the Senate had ever been intimidated by the Israel lobby. The answer, of course, was all of them.
  • The NRA has singled out Princess Leia, the Copa Cabana, Jews, and The Price is Right as 4 of the 12 "most threatening" enemies of guns.
  • Looks like Senate Republicans' only demand for staffing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that it be totally powerless. 
  • Stephen Walt thinks that the Super Bowl blackout showed off our infrastructural weaknesses to the world (or at least that we can't properly caretake a city that got hurricane'd eight years ago).
  • The NRA alleges that gun control laws are racist. It should know, since its original mission was pretty much to pass racist gun-control laws.
  • The Nation reminds us that activity in the face of demography is no vice. Population changes have not and will not award any party any permanent victory, and sitting on our laurels and waiting for it will have the opposite result. If we think Republicans are dumb for thinking that race=politics, then we probably oughta stop thinking it ourselves..

Poll of the Day

Rasmussen finds that Democrats lead Republicans by six points in their "Generic Congressional Ballot" poll for the week that ended on Sunday. It's a result that's as heartening for the Dems as it is meaningless, given that it ignores the nature of the voting system, the distribution of population by ideological bias, and most importantly the total perversity of the electoral system generated by Republican gerrymandering. But hey, still—winning!