Tag Archives: tea party

Tide Turning on Voter ID Suppression

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picture from http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/01/17/court-overturns-pennsylvania-voter-id-law/

New Orleans   As long as Republicans realize that their appeal is to a minority segment of the United States population, but fortunately for them, one that votes more steadfastly that Democrats, they will try to erect barriers in the road to voting since we do not have automatic suffrage.  You would think that would be matched with constant efforts by the Democrats to expand the electorate and lower barriers, but who knows if that’s true?  But no matter, as long as it all works this way, the push and pull to limit and expand voting access will be a constant in the political wars, democracy be damned.

The far right though seems to be having some particularly bad problems with voter identification.  Courts seem to be clearer and clearer that it’s just plain not legal.

Recently a Wisconsin federal judge ruled that voter IDs so clearly and overwhelmingly targeted minorities in that state that they ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act in addition to the 14th Amendment.

An Arkansas judge threw out voter IDs as well.

In Pennsylvania after several tries at mandating voter IDs, despite there never having been a single case of in-person voter fraud in the state, the Governor has now announced that he will not appeal his most recent loss in court at trying to establish voter IDs.

It’s hard not to conclude that at least the voter ID part of the voter suppression effort is increasingly a losing cause.

Now no less than Tea Party darling, libertarian Republican, and possible Presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, has cautioned his Republican buddies that it’s time to drop the voter ID obsession from their program.  He says it’s hurting the party.  He even stated in Memphis, where he continues to try to distance himself from earlier remarks he has made indicating tepid support, if not opposition, to previous civil rights legislation, that the voter ID campaign is alienating African-Americans.

Voter suppression is no doubt alive and well, but you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing, and with the momentum gaining in the courts and politicians now feeling the breeze, finally voter identifications, a well-recognized suppression-only effort often called a “solution looking for a problem,” may be fading from the conservative top ten.

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Subverting Competition in Healthcare May Force Price Controls

ruralhealthclinic-jeuaNew Orleans   There are obvious glitches in the Affordable Care Act that the politicians will handle.

One of them, as I’ve argued before, is going to be extending the deadline for enrollment to escape penalties past March 31, 2014, and that assumes that the government doesn’t waive the penalties entirely for the first year, which will more likely be the action taken if there continue to be huge systemic problems in enrollment.  The reasons are simple.   Politicians won’t take the heat from something that is obviously not fair to their citizens.   It is equally obvious as President Obama has argued that come hell or high water, they will fix the online process.   This is his legacy program and he does not want the enrollment problems to be in his official biography and eventual obituary.

Interestingly, there is another huge political problem looming in the Senate that perhaps was not as anticipated, but may have been the most effective obstacle created by the continued Republican rearguard actions, especially at the state level where half of the governors and their state legislatures have blocked Medicaid expansion and state managed marketplace exchanges. That problem, as a recent New York Times article indicated, lies in the widely disparate pricing for policies in rural areas, where healthcare is scarcer anyway.   No matter how urban the country is now, we have become no small number of Tea Party Congresspeople coming from areas where rural interests still dominate, and the weight of more rural states is still strong in the Senate where population is irrelevant to voting strength.

Talk about the irony of being hoisted by your own petard!  We have a private insurance company dominated healthcare model in the Affordable Care Act, because ideologically the notion of government managed and run healthcare like Britain or Canada was past the pale.  Our system would privilege private insurers and get the job done through the almighty power of free competition, by God!  Well, it turns out, not surprisingly, when politicians refuse to expand the insured base through Medicaid expansion and delay the marketplaces, then private insurers don’t want to come into those states, and these same market forces leave one or two companies in those situations with a virtual monopoly for providing the coverage, and prices do not go down, but in fact even in some situations increase.  So from place to place in rural areas, rates for the same coverage may be three and four times higher.   You can feel the political heat from here!

The solution would be that the government caps prices, but price controls might even be more inflammatory for the real conservatives than the problem they have now created, probably inadvertently given the low level of economic education even by supposed free market advocates.   As conservatives get over the fact that they can kill Obamacare and are forced to reckon with the ongoing reality of its impact in their districts, this will be a problem they will not be able to avoid.   It’s going to be interesting to hear the contorted arguments and watch the policy gyrations as they argue against price controls that would balance the cost for all Americans, and try to figure out a way to put the government’s finger, if not whole fist, on the scale to get some cost balance, since that’s only fair and their constituents are going to be calling for it, and loudly.

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