For The First Time Ever, The Trump Administration Will Allow States To Enforce A Work Requirement On Medicaid Recipients
The policy could be put into practical effect as early as tomorrow. The Washington Post reports the Trump Administration early this morning issued guidance that allows states to cut off Medicaid unless people covered “have a job, are in school, are a care-giver or participate in other approved forms of “community engagement”. Medicaid has offered health care support to poor people without this type of requirement for nearly half a century.
This isn’t something that’ll go into effect instantly, nationwide. (At least not for now). It’s something individual states have to request permission to do. But there’s no shortage of (mostly red) states lining up to participate. 10 are already asking for waivers allowing them to. Kentucky is at the front of the line; it could get permission as early as tomorrow.
Republicans, especially in the House have made no secret of wanting comprehensive legislation making social safety net programs much smaller. Restricting access is probably the easiest way to do this. So they’ll definitely be keeping an eye on how these first steps play out.
Since this issue is something the Trump Administration has been considering for a while, the Kaiser Family Foundation already has a very detailed analysis of the impact of this change, which you can find here.
Editorial: Why Democrats Must Not Trade DACA For Trump’s Wall
We agree with Trump: a federal judge’s decision we told you about to block the President from ending DACA will never hold up. (Although we think it’s a sign of a robust and vigorous court system, not a “broken” and “unfair” one). We believe it’s very possible the judge issuing the ruling doesn’t even think it will. Nor did doors Trump slammed shut open back up because of the ruling. Dreamers couldn’t extend their protection yesterday, they still can’t extend it today: the Department of Homeland Security’s website is pretty clear on that. (And as if to put an exclamation point on Trump’s immigration stance, federal agents raided 7-11’s across the country. ICE says it’s actually a continuation of a program President Obama introduced, to crackdown on franchise owners who employ undocumented workers. However, there’s no arguing Trump’s approach isn’t hugely flashier).
We hope it’ll turn out to be a moot point anyway, with Congress coming to an agreement that will allow undocumented immigrants who came here as children to stay in the country. Problem is, right now Trump says that won’t happen without giving him at least an $18-billion dollar down-payment on the wall. You can watch his latest exchange with a reporter on that here:
If you drill down into Judge William Alsup’s ruling (which we’ve linked to in its entirety here), he makes a crucially important point, and it’s one The Chaos Report has been making for months. (These are Judge Alsup’s words, not ours):
When Trump first took office, many Republicans opposed his wall on the grounds that it was expensive and unnecessary. But opposition to that (and so many other things) has melted away on that side of the aisle as Trump has shown more interest in signing things than the content of what he’s signing, gaining Republican support by blindly supporting Republicans on taxes and other things.
We’ve also often said Trump’s wall is almost an inevitability. There’s nothing Trump wants more. He needs a grand monument to himself above all else. An indelible mark of his Presidency. And it’s an easy thing to trade away: because aside from putting an undue burden on American taxpayers, it’s mostly symbolic; doing far less direct damage than a lot of other social and environmental policies Trump wants to enact.
That’s part of why both the Washington Post Editorial Board and Conservative thinker Rich Lowry in Politico Magazine are urging Dems — as Lowry puts it — to “Buy Off Trump With The Wall”. To which we would add a one-word prefix: “Don’t”. It’s a tragic waste of political capital, especially when Democrats have the power to get DACA without it. It might involve a government shutdown, and some bumps and bruises. But this is one case, unlike tax cuts or health care, where Democrats ultimately do have the votes. If they’ve got the backbone.
Democrats need to trade the wall for something they really, really need that Trump truly doesn’t want to give them. Not for something that we (and the judge) thinks Trump actually wants anyway (plus he’s said so).
Democrats buckle on this, and it’s all over, Trump wins. He’ll know he can push them around forever (or at least until the next Congress).
From “100%” Willing To Testify To “We’ll See What Happens”
In an exchange with Fox News’ John Roberts, Trump no longer promises open access to him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (He’d promised that unfettered access one day after fired FBI Chief James Comey accused the President of lying about their conversations).
You can watch that exchange right here:
NBC News broke the story earlier this week that Trump’s lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s team about a questioning session for Trump since December. However, they are reportedly pushing alternatives to a face-to-face sit-down, like written responses to questions, or an affidavit.
Separately, the Washington Post reports Mueller added a cyber security expert to his team last November. The fact that nobody found out about that until just now, is a testament to the virtually leak-free environment in which Mueller is operating.
A Lot Going On Right Now Will Impact Elections In 2018 And Beyond
• The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could make it easier to remove people from voter logs. Right now in Ohio, if a registered voter doesn’t vote for 2 years, they’re mailed out a notice requiring them to confirm they still live in the state, haven’t passed away, etc. If the voter does not reply, and continues not to vote, they are removed.
Now, federal law prohibits states from removing voters from voter lists based on failure to vote. However, Ohio argues voters aren’t being removed because they don’t vote, they’re being removed because they’re not replying to the notices. About 70% of the notices sent out go unreturned.
Although the court won’t rule on this for several months, based on questioning by the Justices, scotusblog believes the more conservative Justices appear to be in agreement with the state.
• California Senator Dianne Feinstein is (or was) facing a tough primary, with the strong possibility of a challenge from the Left, seeking “new blood” in the Democratic party. Well, her reelection bid may have just gotten a whole lot easier thanks to one Trump Tweet:
• California Republican Representative Darrell Issa announed he will not seek a 10th term in Congress. Issa was one of the few Republicans who voted against the Trump/Republican tax cuts, objecting to the loss in deductibility of state and local taxes that would particularly hurt residents of high tax states like California. Apparently he determined that even with his “no” vote on that, passage of the bill is still tantamount to political suicide.
• That means a record 31 Republicans will not run for reelection in November (and there could be more to come). Now before y’all go running into the streets hootin’ and hollerin’, Fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver has a word of caution: he believes the possibility of Democrats regaining control of the Senate (even though they’d only have to flip 2 seats) is being overstated. That’s because nothing will change the fact that Democrats are defending 26 seats, Republicans only 8. It would mean Democratic Senators would have to hang on to all their current seats, and also win in Nevada and Arizona. According to Silver, “it may be the worst Senate map that any party has faced ever.” On the bright side, Silver says Democrats’ chances to win back control of the House are being underrated.
• A judge in Alabama threw out a challenge to that state’s Voter ID law, which requires in-person and absentee voters to display a photo ID. The judge saying “it is so easy to get a photo ID in Alabama, no one is prevented from voting”. The lawsuit was originally filed by the Greater Birmingham Ministries and Alabama NAACP.
• Finally, our favorite political story of the day: after a panel of judges ruled North Carolina’s election districts a no-go for this year’s elections, the state Republican Party issued a defensive statement, which read in part: “A “gerrymander” is by definition & common understanding a strange looking “monster” drawing.” Which led some journalists to point out one of North Carolina’s districts looks exactly like a monster:
Or when combined with a neighboring district, like a monster devouring a squirrel:
Smaller, But Still Significant Developments On Taxes And Healthcare
• The Washington Post reports the Trump Administration is pushing very hard for employers to take less out of their employees paychecks, so they’ll see more of an immediate benefit out of the recently passed tax law. But that’s causing a new wave of confusion over at the IRS. That’s because taxpayers can be penalized at the end of the year for paying too little, whereas if you pay too much, that’s just fine.
• And now that Trump and Republicans have taken the part out of Obamacare that requires citizens to buy health insurance, the state of Maryland is leading the charge to put it back in, at least on a local level. What’s unique about Maryland’s approach, as reported by Vox, if a citizen is penalized for not buying insurance, instead of going into a general fund (as it did on the federal level), the fine they pay would count as a downpayment on their health insurance.