I guess I’ve made it clear by now that I don’t think John Bolton should become Ambassador to the United Nations, on compelling national security grounds. But I have to admit I had a moment of sympathy for the guy while reading a Style Section piece in The Washington Post today, that lectured him about his haircut and fashion sense.The word “lecture” should be emphasized. At first, I thought the piece was just going to be a snarky little shot at Bolton’s rather noticeably eccentric personal touches, like his walrus mustache; this kind of stuff goes with the territory of being a public official. But no, Robin Ghivan was angry at Bolton about his appearance; furious at the “lack of respect” it showed for the Senate (that well known repository of sartorial splender and good grooming, right?); triumphant in the discovery of a class photo from 1970 in which Bolton had a nice, short haircut. I half expect a sequel in which Ghivan agonizes over the poor impression Bolton would make at the U.N., humiliating Americans in the eyes of the natty French and the expensively-tailored Italians.Maybe this Fashion Fascism just hit too close to home, since I generally get the same treatment on those rare occasions when I foolishly go on television. Let me tell you, people get livid about out-of-date hairstyles (ah, but no more, now that I regularly visit Jose of Capitol Hill for an au courant clip).But I hope Democrats don’t get on board this particular bandwagon. There’s an important swing demographic of Disheveled Male Voters who are watching this closely on television, sloppy hair spilling over untrimmed ears as they slosh beer on their cheap shirts.Let’s stick to Bolton’s record, which exemplifies the worst diplomatic impulses and national security lapses of the Bush administration. Forget his hair; the man’s got a sloppy and disrespectful point of view,
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
March 24: The Republican Case Against Medicaid Expansion Continues to Crumble
There’s another turn in a story we’ve all been following for over a decade, so I wrote it up at New York:
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law 13 years ago, and the Medicaid expansion that was central to the law still hasn’t been implemented in all 50 states. But we are seeing steady, if extremely slow, progress in the effort to give people who can’t afford private insurance but don’t qualify for traditional Medicaid access to crucial health services. The U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld the ACA also made Medicaid expansion optional for states. Twenty-four states accepted the expansion when it became fully available at the beginning of 2014, and that number has steadily expanded, with the most recent burst of forward momentum coming from ballot initiatives in red states like Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah. Now a 40th state is in the process of climbing on board: North Carolina. As the Associated Press reports, legislation is finally headed toward the desk of Governor Roy Cooper:
“A Medicaid expansion deal in North Carolina received final legislative approval on Thursday, capping a decade of debate over whether the closely politically divided state should accept the federal government’s coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income adults. …
“When Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, a longtime expansion advocate, signs the bill, it should leave 10 states in the U.S. that haven’t adopted expansion. North Carolina has 2.9 million enrollees in traditional Medicaid coverage. Advocates have estimated that expansion could help 600,000 adults.”
So what changed? Basically, over time the fiscal arguments North Carolina Republicans used to oppose the expansion began sounding increasingly ridiculous, AP suggests:
“GOP legislators passed a law in 2013 specifically preventing a governor’s administration from seeking expansion without express approval by the General Assembly. But interest in expansion grew over the past year as lawmakers concluded that Congress was neither likely to repeal the law nor raise the low 10% state match that coverage requires.
“A financial sweetener contained in a COVID-19 recovery law means North Carolina also would get an estimated extra $1.75 billion in cash over two years if it expands Medicaid. Legislators hope to use much of that money on mental health services.”
In other words, the GOP Cassandras warning that the wily Democrats would cut funding for the expansion in Congress once states were hooked turned out to be absolutely wrong. Indeed, the very sweet deal offered in the original legislation got even sweeter thanks to the above-mentioned COVID legislation. States like North Carolina appeared to be leaving very good money on the table for no apparent reason other than partisanship, seasoned with some conservative hostility toward potential beneficiaries. In this case, GOP legislators finally reversed course without much excuse-making. The AP reports:
“A turning point came last May when Senate leader Phil Berger, a longtime expansion opponent, publicly explained his reversal, which was based largely on fiscal terms.
“In a news conference, Berger also described the situation faced by a single mother who didn’t make enough money to cover insurance for both her and her children, which he said meant that she would either end up in the emergency room or not get care. Expansion covers people who make too much money for conventional Medicaid but not enough to benefit from heavily subsidized private insurance.
“’We need coverage in North Carolina for the working poor,’ Berger said at the time.”
That, of course, has been true all along. Final legislative approval of the expansion was delayed for a while due to an unrelated dispute over health-facility regulations. And the expansion cannot proceed until a state budget is passed. But it’s finally looking good for Medicaid expansion in a place where Democrats and Republicans are bitterly at odds on a wide range of issues.
There remain ten states that have not yet expanded Medicaid; eight are Republican “trifecta” states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming) and two others have Republican-controlled legislatures (Kansas and Wisconsin). Perhaps the peculiar mix of stupidity and malice that keeps state lawmakers from using the money made available to them by Washington to help their own people will abate elsewhere soon.