Blanche Lincoln: A Vote for Health Care

blanceBoston Last week while in Memphis, it was natural to start thinking about Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Queen of Eastern Arkansas directly across the mighty Mississippi and a long stone’s throw from the Bluff City.  I found myself speculating about a race in Democratic primary between Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter and Senator Lincoln and picking up the phone and making some calls to old political hands in the Wonder State to see exactly what they were hearing and thinking.

On Halter the bottom line was easy to find.  He was opportunistic and ambitious, but no one felt there was any way that he was going to take a risk of rolling snake eyes in a primary and losing to Lincoln, and the odds for him to win would be huge.  He had dipped his foot into the Governor’s race when he first returned after a 20-year absence from the state, and within weeks was running for the relative safe haven of the lieutenant governor’s slot, which is a statewide post but with a light footprint.    He had a lot more dues to pay and the end of Governor Beebe’s time in 2014 was likely his best shot.

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Food Stamp Stigma

foodstampmapNew Orleans One day I write that receiving food stamps is the “new normal,” as we say in New Orleans, and the next day there’s a front page story in the Sunday Times by Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff with a headline that includes the words:  “stigma fades.” Wow!  Am I ahead of the curve or what?

Probably “or what?”

Looking county-to-county and expounding on the research of Professor Mark Rank of Washington University in St. Louis, there are plenty of “I told you so” points the story makes:

    • Almost 1 in 8 people in the USA are on stamps.  More than 36 million people.
    • Almost 25% of the nation’s children are on stamps.
    • Cities like Memphis, New Orleans, and St. Louis have more than half of their children on stamps.
    • Racial differences in participation are significant with 28% of African-Americans, 15% Latinos, and 8% whites.
    • The head of the federal program is clear that, in the words of Citizen Wealth, we need “maximum eligible participation,” and must enroll the 15-16 million people who are not yet enrolled.
    • The key one can find in reaching many of the new enrollees, as I have demanded in Citizen Wealth, is outreach.

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