poorrichardsnews asked:

Hi Joe, I wanted to drop you a note and say that you are correct that I missed key details from the article because I was in a hurry and only skimmed the article. The report here is of the results of Obama 2009 changes to the work requirement to food stamps, not the July changes to welfare reform. I made the necessary changes to the post. It's been a long week, but there's no excuse for sloppy writing. Thanks for keeping me honest.

And thank you for this refreshingly classy note. My own reblog was needlessly antagonistic in places, which has no place in the type of dialog I’d like to see here. I still disagree with a great many of your conclusions in the article, but that is nothing new.

Also, thank you for noting the update in the post, rather than making edits and doing nothing to note the original version that was published.

Together, let’s build a community where the clash of ideals is fierce, but where these differences need not define and forever divide us.

Ugh! Mitt Romney already going squishy on Obamacare


Dear Paul Ryan,

Would you please explain to Mitt Romney why he’s wrong about mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Please insist to him that he stay strong for a full repeal of Obamacare.  

growing weary,

The American People

from TPM:

itt Romney said Sunday that he likes parts of ‘Obamacare’ and will keep key provisions involving pre-existing conditions and young people.

“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place,” he said on NBC’s “Meet The Press. “One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.”

The remarks could have huge implications as they signal a marked shift from Romney’s strong, unequivocal support for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which he has consistently held since the Republican primaries.

Politically, the pivot risks drawing the ire of conservatives, who have been adamant that Republicans repeal the law in its entirety if elected. It’s a major gamble that could reflect Romney’s need to win over more independent voters, who support those provisions.

From a policy standpoint, however, the coverage guarantee for pre-existing conditions is economically untenable without other provisions of ‘Obamacare’ — most notably the individual mandate that requires Americans purchase insurance, which experts say is necessary to broaden the risk pool and prevent an upward spiral in costs.

read the rest

The author here is right.  The individual mandate is the only mechanism that makes guaranteed coverage work.  The two are inseparable.  You cannot mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions without also mandating that all Americans buy health insurance.  To do so would with 100% certainly bankrupt the American healthcare system.  

And why in the world would he continue the mandated freeloading of 26 year olds on their parents health insurance?    

These things have already raised the cost of healthcare premiums.  Premiums will not go down until they are repealed. 

Hopefully Romney will come out and clarify his remarks by saying that health insurance companies are allowed to do so if they can negotiate it but not that they’re mandated.  

Fellow conservatives, I would encourage you to contact Mitt Romney and make your voice heard. 

I hate to break it to everyone against Obamacare, but these provisions are here to stay. Every year they stay in place public support for them grows, and Republicans are already having to adjust their positions as a reflection of this. The only possible stumbling year will be 2014, but after that the window of opportunity even for staggered dismantlement of the system closes. This was our Social Security fight, for better or worse (I say better), and it will become equally as entrenched.

The effort by Romney appears to be the first example of a political campaign using such extensive data analysis.

Obviously I haven’t seen this new data-mining system, but from the article (and talking with some conservative friends on the campaign) it sounds like what the Democrats have had for years now. I can pull anybody up and get their score on an index of how liberal they likely are, how likely they are to vote, and what their expected contribution should be. This data is generated via a mix of campaign voter files, c3 and c4 groups plugging in their own data in exchange for access to the system, and purchased consumer information (such as magazine subscriptions, etc.).

"Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape," Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: "I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things."

This man sought nomination for the Presidency of the United States, and is now lobbing softball after softball to Akin to help him weather this. Despite your feelings on both mainstream candidates this November, whoever wins will use the margin of their victory as proof of general support for their party’s values. Even your inaction is, itself, an action.

Choose wisely.

It was tough going. In 2008, campaign organizers could muster 1,000-person crowds with a single e-mail blast. This time, only a handful of potential volunteers would show up – and those who did wanted to vent as much as they wanted to help. “The first meetings they had, these young organizers out there are really hearing it,” says Figueroa. “They actually had to organize to get people to show up. A good, solid 10 to 15 minutes of material about ‘what the hell we expected’ and ‘what didn’t happen’ and ‘why we’re so disappointed.’” The challenge for the organizers was to listen – and then to turn the passion around, telling the disgruntled supporters that they had a choice to make: Give up and let the Republicans take back the White House, or get to work again and fight for four more years.

The 21-19 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate — mostly along party lines — came after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell asked legislators to soften the bill following protests on Capitol Square and mocking on national television, including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Saturday Night Live.’’

Oh, by the way, there was an amendment offered on the floor to mandate insurance coverage of this medically unnecessary diagnostic procedure. It was rejected along party lines. As Senator Saslaw said to the Republicans just prior to voting,

"I wish you all voted the way you campaigned."

Virginia’s War on Women: An Explanation

A lot of folks have asked me something what is in the water at the General Assembly Building in Richmond, to have all these crazy bills this session. I wish I could say there was something in the water, because at least then we could easily solve the problem. Unfortunately, the real issue is a little more complex, with a number of specific circumstances which come together to form Coen Brothers levels of absurdity.

 First, it begins with people like Delegate Marshall. Delegate Marshall is an incredibly conservative individual. He introduced the constitutional amendment that limited marriage to a man and woman (since passed), a law that purports to exempt Virginia from federal healthcare reform legislation (since passed), legislation to have Virginia mint its own currency (failed), and most recently, the personhood legislation (now failed) that made “fetus” synonymous with “person” in all instances of the state code. He’s also running against George Allen for the Republican nomination in the Senate this year, because the former isn’t conservative enough. In essence, he lives and breathes puritanical social policy and conspiratorial libertarian economic policy. And I can only fault him so much for it, because unlike many politicians, he honestly believes in it as the right stances to better the commonwealth as a whole. His district is very conservative, and while he routinely has Democratic challengers, he has never had a serious threat to his re-election.

In years past, the more extreme bills submitted by Delegate Marshall have died quiet deaths in either the House or Senate, because there were enough moderate Republicans and (any type of) Democrats to kill these bills in subcommittees. Both sides had a reason to pursue this, aside from whatever convictions they had: Democrats legitimately opposed these bills and would be rewarded politically for doing so, while the public fallout for Republicans on a macro-level would jeopardize whatever narrow control they had over either chamber.

However, this political calculus has changed in the past decade for the Republicans. Nationally, those who self-identify as “Very Conservative” has increased as a percentage of affiliated Republican voters. Especially with the more recent growth of the Tea Party (whose polled views on social issues do not match their hands-off approach with economics) and its focus on becoming active in local issues, the Republican Party as a whole has found itself having to grapple with a base demanding greater ideological purity than in the past. To understand the real implications of this, however, requires us to think about something called redistricting.

Redistricting happens once every ten years in Virginia, and this past election was the first to happen since our most recent redistricting. Since every district has to have a roughly equal amount of voters, and the population moves over time, we need to redraw the lines of each political district to match the growth or loss of people therein. The problem is that the agency in charge of this in Virginia (and most states) is the legislature, the very people whose political careers depend on being re-elected. And with the advent of GIS technology and the growing amount of consumer data on each voter that allows us to predict their political opinions, they are able to slice and dice these districts into such a way that they will never face a credible challenge by the opposition party. If my district were 60/40 Democrat to Republican, the only real challenge I’m going to face is from a primary. And this is extremely important for understanding what is going on in Virginia, because who votes in a party primary?

The most extreme members of that party.

So just to recap, you’ve now got a system that:

  1. Makes any credible challenge to re-election shift from the general election to the primary.
  2. For Republicans especially, has a growth in self-identified “Very Conservative” voters, being spurred to local voting by groups such as the Tea Party.
  3. Was just redistricted, ensuring the highest degree of structural bias toward one party or another in how the districts are drawn.
  4. Has recently given Republicans control of both chambers of the legislature as well as the executive branch.
  5. With a proliferation of online tools and blogs, has made what happens at the General Assembly far more transparent and public.

So what happens if you are a moderate Republican, in a biased district, and a very conservative colleague introduces something like the personhood bill? What happens when you’ve got a blog with a large, active readership that is holding elected officials feet to the fire if they vote the “wrong” way on similar bills? What happens when there is so much transparency in the system that you can’t kill the bill in the dead of night?

 You have a choice: Vote the way you believe, and possibly lose your seat in a primary challenge from the right for a single vote, or vote for it and hope it gets killed down the line. We’ve just seen what most people will do in that situation, barring the national spotlight and a governor who wants to be vice president.

And due to that political tragedy of the commons, we as a commonwealth lose. We could blame Delegate Marshall for his beliefs, or the people that voted him in. We could blame the cowardice of those who knew it was a bad bill but voted for it regardless. We could blame the perverse outcomes of an incredibly transparent system. But by my eye, the real threat to representative democracy is a system where elected officials get to decide who elects them, rather than the other way around. Where they must pander to the most extreme 1% of their district to guarantee re-election.