Repub Venality Open Thread: Rand Paul Stays True to His Principle

He has but the one: What’s in it for Rand Paul?

Rand Paul *and* Mitch McConnell. WHY, Kentucky?

Why now?…

Shocking news — work requirements don’t work

Benjamin Sommers** and others published an important study with a completely expected result on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.  They surveyed Arkansas to evaluate what was happening with employment and insurance coverage as a result of the state’s decision to implement work requirements for Medicaid:

We conducted a telephone survey to compare changes in outcomes before and after implementation of the work requirements in Arkansas among persons 30 to 49 years of age, as compared with Arkansans 19 to 29 years of age and those 50 to 64 years of age (who were not subject to the requirement in 2018) and with adults in three comparison states — Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas. ….

Our study had three primary outcomes: the percentage of respondents with Medicaid, the percentage of respondents who were uninsured, and the percentage of respondents reporting any employment. Secondary outcomes were the number of hours worked per week, the percentage of respondents satisfying any category of community engagement requirement (described below), the percentage of respondents with employer-sponsored insurance, and two measures of access to care — the percentages of respondents having a personal physician and reporting any cost-related delays in care….

estimate of changes in the percentage of respondents who were not insured was an increase of 7.1 percentage points (95% CI, 0.5 to 13.6; P=0.04).

Uninsurance rates increased more for the work requirement cohort than other cohorts.  This is not an unexpected result.  Almost every pre-waiver approval analysis projected significant enrollment drops due to increased paperwork friction.  The amount of friction would be a function of how user friendly the roll-out and implementation was; it was not a particularly user friendly process as the reporting system was online only with limited professional office hour availability that made reporting extremely difficult and unlikely for people who did not have reliable internet or worked jobs that did not neatly map to a 9-5 assumption.

Overall, more than 92% of the respondents in all four groups — and nearly 97% of the respondents 30 to 49 years of age in Arkansas — were already meeting the community engagement requirement or should have been exempt before the policy took effect.

Work requirements are targeted at an incredibly small cohort of people who might be able to work but don’t.  This is very wide spread pain to sort out the “deserving” vs “undeserving” working poor.

Employment declined from 42.4% to 38.9% among Arkansans 30 to 49 years of age, a change of −3.5 percentage points. The three comparison groups had similar decreases, ranging from −2.9 to −5.7 percentage points.

And work requirements did absolutely nothing for employment.

None of this is particularly surprising.  It is good that we have very firm evidence of the obvious as this type of evidence raises the bar in future litigation against arbitrary and capricious waiver approvals.  The current federal district court judge who is overseeing lawsuits against work requirements has held that work is not a fundamental purpose of Medicaid.  If the study had shown absolutely minimal to no net coverage loss as people shifted to exchange or employer sponsored insurance and significant income gains, then the administration’s argument that this was an evidence based experiment with plausible real gains could hold some water.  Instead, this study shows that work requirements are fundamentally paperwork requirements that culls enrollment without producing employment effects.




** DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsr1901772


Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Justin Amash, Libertarian

Like Dana Houle, I remember Justin Amash as a local (state) nuisance, carrying water for his deVos family patrons in order to help the proud Christianists of Western Michigan stay barefoot and ignorant. But unlike such ‘independent thinkers’ as Mike Lee or Little Prince Rand, he’s not a moron, and he doesn’t assume that everyone not Justin Amash is either lying or a moron or both. If he’s made the decision to cut line on the Squatter-in-Chief, well… He does have his Libertarian principles, but I’m halfway hoping he’s also the first defector before the flood.

For the supposedly well-disciplined and implacable Trump Brigades of the GOP, this is some very weak tea, per the Washington Post:

Trump privately has vented to associates about the Michigan lawmaker, who on Saturday became the first congressional Republican to raise the possibility of impeachment, citing the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations…

But on Capitol Hill, few Republicans are eager to punish the libertarian, who had a long history of bucking GOP leaders even before Trump was elected. Top Republican lawmakers and aides said Monday that kicking Amash out of the GOP conference or off his committee would only draw more attention to his apostasy. Instead, they have focused on isolating Amash and portraying him as an outlier. The House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group of which Amash is a member, also took a position Monday night “strongly disagreeing” with Amash’s comments…
Read more

Beyond Parody Open Thread: Erik Prince ‘Tutors’ James O’Keefe

And one can only wish that were a Far Side reference:

Blackwater founder Erik Prince arranged for political activist James O’Keefe’s conservative group Project Veritas to receive more than one round of “training in intelligence and elicitation techniques,” The Intercept reports. In 2016, the self-styled “guerrilla journalist” group reportedly got lessons from a retired military intelligence operative… In 2017, Prince next set Project Veritas up with a former British MI6 officer in hopes of turning the organization into “domestic spies,” according to report. At the time, O’Keefe posted social-media photos of the event at Prince’s Wyoming ranch, claiming he was training in “spying and self-defense” and planned to turn Project Veritas into “the next great intelligence agency.”

I’m going with a Thorstein Veblen explanation: Flushing the occasional million down the crapper attempting to educate an O’Keefe is an obvious demonstration, to one’s fellow glibertarian billionaires, that one has millions of dollars to waste.

Although, as Jack Crosbie at Splinter points out, it can reasonably be argued that Betsy deVos’s brother Erik is not, himself, all that bright

Today in Great Moments in Senatorial Debate: Senator Mike Lee Edition!

Senator Lee gave a speech delineating his opposition to the Green New Deal today as part of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s attempt to put the Senate Democratic caucus in a bind by making them take a stand either for or against one of the House Democratic caucus’s signature issues. Fortunately for us all, Senator Lee is, well, Senator Lee, which is sort of the Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of Senator Ted Cruzes. Or something… Even more fortuitously, Senator Lee posted a YouTube video of his remarks and posted a transcript of them at his Senate website.  He’s so considerate!

Senator Lee’s major proposal for resolving the problem that is climate change is to have more babies*, because one of them might actually come up with a good idea to resolve the problem at some point in the future.

This, Mr. President, is the real solution to climate change: babies.

Climate change is an engineering problem – not social engineering, but the real kind.
It’s a challenge of creativity, ingenuity, and technological invention.

And problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans!

More people mean bigger markets for innovation.

More babies mean more forward-looking adults – the sort we need to tackle long-term, large scale problems.

American babies, in particular, are likely going to be wealthier, better educated, and more conservation-minded than children raised in still-industrializing regions.

As economist Tyler Cowen recently wrote on this very point, “by having more children, you are making your nation more populous – thus boosting its capacity to solve [climate change].”

Finally, Mr. President, children are a mark of the kind of personal, communal, and societal optimism that is the true pre-requisite for meeting national and global challenges together.

The courage needed to solve climate change is nothing compared with the courage needed to start a family.

The true heroes of this story aren’t politicians or social media activists.

They are moms and dads, and the little boys and girls they are, at this moment, putting down for naps… helping with their homework… building tree houses… and teaching how to tie their shoes.

The planet does not need us to “think globally, and act locally” so much as it needs us to think family, and act personally.

The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution, but the serious business of human flourishing – the solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places: fall in love, get married, and have some kids.

I yield the floor.

This, however, wasn’t the most batshit insane part of Senator Lee’s audio-visual extravaganza. Pride of place for that honor goes to the graphics and images he used to help make his point.

President Reagan on a velociraptor wielding a machine pistol while the velociraptor carries a tattered American flag – this is apparently big on one of the Chan boards/sites:

A still image from The Empire Strikes Back of Luke Skywalker riding on a tauntaun on the ice planet Hoth:

A still image from the Hannah-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series Superfriends of Aquaman on his seahorse Storm from the early 1970s (in the earlier 1960s Filmation Aquaman-Superman Adventures Storm was white with gold ears – do not ask how I know this…):

A picture of a bunch of babies (awww!):

This is stupidity, disingenuousness, and bad faith on par with Kyle Reese’s description of the Terminator:

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

I don’t care if you’re Senator Booker who is claiming one of his key strengths is that he can, because he has in the past, work effectively across the aisle or Howard Schultz who keeps stating that as an independent centrist that he can work with both sides, THERE IS NOTHING HERE TO WORK WITH!!!!! There’s no difference to split here, there’s no accommodation that can be made here, and there is no compromise that can be reached. Right now, whether you agree, partially agree, or disagree with what the Democrats are proposing, you’ve got one party actually proposing solutions that have been thought through and one party that proposes the same four things no matter what is going on: 1) cut taxes, 2) cut regulations, 3) gut the social safety net and undo the New Deal, 4) and allow unlimited amounts of money in politics because money equals speech and corporations equal people. And, if there’s a crisis involving brown people with funny accents: 5) deploy troops to deal with them. The shame that is the United States in 2019 is that there is one party, the Democratic Party, that is dealing with reality, even if you don’t agree with what they’re proposing and then there’s this insanity being peddled by the Republicans.

At this point I’m about two weeks away from declaring myself Sub-Commandante Citizen-Leftenant Zero and storming a radio station… **

Which leads to one of my favorite political cartoons of all time:

Open thread!

* I’m sure at some point this will be rolled into an argument why Roe V. Wade must be overturned and abortion made illegal so we don’t accidentally abort the baby that will save us from the climate change crisis that Senator Lee doesn’t actually believe exists.

** This is SARCASM, lest someone eventually show up or use this to claim I’m advocating the overthrow of the US government or endorsing the use of low intensity warfare and political violence.