The Money Republicans Waste to Spite Obama

Kevin DrumKevin Drum wrote the best headline I’ve seen all week, Red States Spent $2 Billion in 2015 to Screw the Poor. It is based upon a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The information from it alone is amazing. It looked at data for fiscal year 2015. And it found that states that accepted the Medicaid expansion saw their Medicaid expenses go up by 3.4%. But for states that did not expand Medicaid, their Medicaid expenses went up 6.9% — even more than the recent average of roughly 6.1%. Let’s be clear here: this isn’t per capita spending; this is total spending. So the Medicaid expansion states are covering vastly more people and seeing their costs rise much slower.

Drum looked at what the red states spent on Medicaid in 2014 ($61 billion), and took the difference in the growth rates. So in 2015, they spent $65.3 billion. But if they had taken the Medicaid expansion, we can assume their costs would only be $63.1 billion. Thus, they did indeed spend more than $2 billion. Now I’m not sure that we can say that they did it specifically to screw the poor. That was certainly the result. But I think it is more correct that they don’t have a cogent explanation for why they haven’t taken the Medicaid expansion. It seems to be some ridiculous notion that if they just hold out, Obamacare will be destroyed. (Even if you grant that this might have once been a reasonable notion, it no longer is.)

The other side of this is that the states that have opted out of the Medicaid expansion are still paying into it. That’s what’s so crazy about the whole thing. The states that did not expand Medicaid are still paying a combined total of $20 billion in taxes for a program that they refuse to accept benefits from. This is in distinct opposition to how these people look at Social Security. Conservatives always justify taking the commie plot Social Security money under the rationale that they paid into it. And they are right! But here, no way.

Of course, we all know what’s really going on. The people don’t think in these terms. In fact, they wouldn’t even care about this issue if the party elites and Fox News hadn’t made such a big deal of the fact that Obamacare was the end of freedom as we know it. But these people don’t look at budgets. They don’t see that billions are going out for the program that they refuse to accept benefits from. But the Republican legislators and governors do. But they keep going with this because they are cowards and they’ve been trapped by their own “cunning” plans.

The good news is that numbers like these indicate the the red states will soon start taking the Medicaid money. We just have to wait until Obama is out of the White House. Then the conservatives will forget that they ever said he was born in Kenya. And they will forget that he was determined to destroy America. And, “Oh, look at all this money we’re throwing away; it just makes sense to get back money we are forced to send to the federal government!” And for the first time in a long time, these Republicans will be right.

Democrats Would Get Rid of Hillary Clinton If They Thought There Was a Scandal

Andrea TantarosI’m writing this before Hillary Clinton testifies before House Select Committee on Benghazi. I don’t expect anything to come from it. None of the Republicans actually want to hear what Clinton has to say, because they aren’t trying to figure out what happened in Benghazi in 2012. We already know this. They are, as usual, just trying to create a lot of smoke. And I’m with Brian Beutler that they will probably be pretty nice to her. At this point, they are more in damage control mode. But it hardly matters. The conservatives of this country are fanatical about this.

Last Wednesday, Crooks & Liars published, Fox News‘ Andrea Tantaros Has Conspiracy Laden Meltdown After Joe Biden Speech. It doesn’t have anything to do with Joe Biden, of course. It is just that it is always a good time to talk about Benghazi! Tantaros went on about a grand conspiracy in the White House and even in the Democratic presidential race (Bernie Sanders is in on it too!) to stop the truth about Clinton’s evil doings from getting out. She said, “They’re all singing on the same song sheet because they’re all in on it!” This is the thinking of the conspiracy mind. Never mind the facts or even any internal consistency.

“They’re all singing on the same song sheet because they’re all in on it!” —Andrea Tantaros

Think about this. Why would the Democratic Party want to protect Hillary Clinton if she had some deep dark secret? The reason that Democrats love Hillary Clinton is actually not personal, except in the sense that she is a woman and we would all like to elect a woman president — all else being equal. But the main reason Democrats like Clinton is because we think she’s a strong candidate. If there was any indication that there were anything behind these allegations, she would lose almost all of her support. Most Democrats can find other candidates that they agree more with.

So what does Tantaros think is going on? That Hillary Clinton is a political time bomb? That the entire Democratic Party — including the people running against her — are willing to cover for her so she can get the nomination and then lose the general election to Donald Trump? That’s madness. What’s more, wouldn’t Joe Biden have already leaked information to sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign? And more important: wouldn’t he have been right to do so?! I have a lot of problems with the modern Democratic Party, but it is well managed. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have become the star of the party if she had any of the baggage that the Republicans claim.

On the other hand, in terms of a political machine, the Republicans are a mess. This is why they allow this kind of stuff. Every time they take a wild swing at Clinton that misses, they look that much more ridiculous. And it makes their claims that much more difficult to accept. In the case of Tantaros, it is crystal clear: her problem is not with anything that Hillary Clinton ever did; her problem is with Hillary Clinton as a formidable presidential candidate. When you make Chris Wallace seem like a sage, you know you’ve gone on tilt.

Morning Music: Tinariwen

Emmaar - TinariwenIn my regular work, I have two bosses. One is the owner, but I don’t deal with him directly all that often. So I think of my boss as Toni. She’s a really interesting person. Really. Interesting. She’s a mother of three, but wilder than I’ve ever been. She picks up homeless people and lets them sleep on the couch. She’s a juggler who busks on the street. Whereas I close the drapes and hide inside, she rushes to meet the world head on. In fact, she has recently had run-ins with black bears and a cougar. She terrifies me, but I enjoy living in a small way through her.

She’s very interested in what she refers to as “African blues.” It is mostly music of the Sahara — most especially Mali. You may remember that I featured some musicians from the region some time ago, Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté. But I don’t know much about it. And so I thought it would be interesting to do a week of my boss’ favorite music. She sent me a collection that is focused in Africa, but isn’t exclusively so.

We start with what I believe is her favorite band, Tinariwen. They are definitely influenced by Touré — but I doubt there are many musicians from the region who haven’t been. You can definitely hear why she calls them African blues. It’s incredibly compelling music. Sometimes, when people listen to foreign music, they don’t get much out of it. For example, when Ravi Shankar performed at the Concert for Bangladesh, the audience applauded after his group tuned up. He famously said, “If you like our tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing even more.” But this music is distinctly western, so the listener can appreciate what is different about it.

Here is “Islegh Taghram Tifhamam” off their most recent album, Emmaar. It’s very laid back, but they can rock. I might come back to them later in the week with another tune. They deserve it.

Anniversary Post: King George III

Conservative Ideal: King George IIIOn this day in 1760, George William Frederick became King George III. He is probably most notable for being king during the creation of the United Kingdom. But it is hard to take kings of this period forward all that seriously. From the 17th century onward, the monarchy lost more and more power. Certainly by the reign of William and Mary at the end of the 17th century, monarchs understood that their grasp of power was weak. And Parliament clearly had the power by the time of George III.

There has been much written about George over the years — much of it bad. But it doesn’t make much sense to me. Nothing would have been much different if someone else had been king. As it is, the man was crazy as a loon in 1788, which is depicted in The Madness of King George. And despite the way it might look in the film, he stayed crazy until his death in 1820. So for well over half his reign, he was insane, and the country did just fine.

I can’t help but quote my favorite line from the film, “Who can flourish on such a daily diet of compliance?” The monarchy exchanged the constant threat of death for the life of a much beloved pet. But even at the time of George, they still hadn’t fully accepted that idea. So they got compliance and maintained their delusions of power. But the truth is that had it come down to it, Parliament would have destroyed George III and the future George IV.