Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Last Call For It's Still About Suppression

Just another friendly reminder that new Republican voter suppression efforts in a dozen states will definitely lower turnout in the 2016 election, because voter ID laws are designed to keep people of color, the elderly, students, and the poor from voting at all.

In November, 17 states will have voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. Eleven of those states will require their residents to show a photo ID. They include swing states such as Wisconsin and states with large African American and Latino populations, such as North Carolina and Texas. On Tuesday, the entire 15-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans is to begin hearing a case regarding the legality of the Texas law, considered to be the most stringent in the country.

Supporters say that everyone should easily be able to get a photo ID and that the requirement is needed to combat voter fraud. But many election experts say that the process for obtaining a photo ID can be far more difficult than it looks for hundreds of thousands of people across the country who do not have the required photo identification cards. Those most likely to be affected are elderly citizens, African Americans, Hispanics and low-income residents
“A lot of people don’t realize what it takes to obtain an ID without the proper identification and papers,” said Abbie Kamin, a lawyer who has worked with the Campaign Legal Center to help Texans obtain the proper identification to vote. “Many people will give up and not even bother trying to vote.” 
A federal court in Texas found that 608,470 registered voters don’t have the forms of identification that the state now requires for voting. For example, residents can vote with their concealed-carry handgun licenses but not their state-issued student university IDs.
Across the country, about 11 percent of Americans do not have government-issued photo identification cards, such as a driver’s license or a passport, according to Wendy Weiser of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. 
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), compares his state’s new voter-ID requirement to what is needed for “boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed.” Texas officials, who say the laws are needed to combat possible voter fraud, recently said in court papers that the Justice Department and civil rights groups suing the state are not able to find anyone “who would face a substantial obstacle to voting.” 
But former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. has called the costs associated for voters seeking a photo ID a “poll tax,” referring to fees that some Southern states used to disenfranchise blacks during the Jim Crow era of laws enforcing racial segregation between the late 1800s through 1965.

And that's exactly what these new laws do: make it specifically more difficult for people who don't have the proper IDs to get one, and then keeping those people from voting.  Yes, the law does keep some people from voting Republican (mainly the elderly) but the effect is far more prevalent for groups that favor Democrats.

Republicans of course are fine with that, because that's the point.  Turnout among black voters, Latino voters, and students gave Barack Obama wins in states like North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin on the way to two terms, while coming very close to wins in Indiana in 2008.  Republicans are trying to make sure that never happens again.

Bottom line: if GOP voter suppression laws were in place in 2012, and flipped Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Wisconsin to the Republicans, Mitt Romney would be president right now.

2016 is going to be a lot tougher than Democrats realize, and the key to that is massive voter registration NOW.

Meet The Old Boss, Wish He Was The New Boss

Given the less-than-thrilling choices ahead of us this November, America is starting to miss Barack Obama as president already. I'm right there with them.

As the race to succeed President Barack Obama rages around him, the man who currently sits in the Oval Office has hit his highest approval rating since his second inauguration, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows. 
Fifty-one percent of registered voters say they approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared to 46 percent who disapprove. 
The last time more than half of the electorate gave Obama a thumbs up in the poll was in January 2013, when Obama took the oath of office after his successful re-election campaign against Republican Mitt Romney. His approval rating sunk as low as 40 percent before the 2014 midterm elections but subsequently rebounded, particularly since primary voting in the 2016 presidential race got underway at the beginning of this year. 
Obama's approval rating remains dismal with self-described Republicans, who disapprove of his performance by an 88 percent to eight percent margin. It's nearly the inverse image for Democrats, who approve of the job Obama is doing by 88 percent to 11 percent. And more than half - 54 percent - of independents give Obama high marks, compared to 44 percent who do not. 
Voters overall were less enthusiastic about the idea of electing Obama to a third term in office if such a move was allowed by the Constitution, although about four-in-ten respondents said they were willing to entertain the idea. Fifty-nine percent said they would not consider voting for a third Obama term, while 39 percent said they would consider it. That's compared to 34 percent who said they would consider voting for a third term for Bill Clinton in September 2000.

Granted, 2000 wasn't exactly Clinton's best year, but still, where was Dubya in spring 2008? Somewhere in the 20's by now?   Seeing Obama above water despite the daily programmed hatred of the man by the right-wing noise machine just goes to show you that if Republicans were reasonable instead of being the bugnuts party of Trump, Obama would be staking out future real estate on Mount Rushmore.

It tells you just how badly we're going to miss the guy, despite my grumblings about his foreign policy.

OK GO: This Too Shall (Not) Pass

Earlier this month I talked about Oklahoma being in such a budget hole that Republicans were seriously considering taking Obamacare's Medicaid expansion as the state's oil boom turned into an oil bust.  Now however it looks like Republicans would rather close down dozens of hospitals and nursing homes rather than admit they took help from the first black president.

A bill to expand Medicaid eligibility in Oklahoma so that the state could tap into an infusion of federal funding available under the Affordable Care Act appears to be dead, the state's Senate leader said on Monday.

With just one week remaining before lawmakers are set to adjourn, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said there isn't enough support in the Republican-controlled Senate to approve the plan. A proposed $1.50-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes to help pay for the state's share was defeated in the Oklahoma House last week, and Bingman said that proposal is also likely dead for the year.

"I think part of the (plan) is the expansion of Obamacare, and I think the Senate has been pretty clear for the last six years that we don't want to expand that portion ... because Oklahoma can't afford it," said Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

The plan called for expanding Medicaid eligibility to about 170,000 uninsured low-income Oklahomans and shifting about an equal number of currently Medicaid-eligible pregnant women and children onto the private market. Because of Republicans' bitter resistance to the federal health care law, the plan was dubbed a "rebalancing" instead of an expansion since the overall number of people on Medicaid was projected to stay the same.

If the plan had received federal approval, the federal government would have covered 95 percent of the state's Medicaid costs. That figure would have decreased to 90 percent of the share in 2020.

Without more funding, the state's Medicaid agency has said it would have to impose 25-percent cuts to the reimbursement rates paid to Medicaid providers, a slash so deep that many hospitals and nursing homes have said they would be forced to close their doors.

Oh well.  I guess this is what happens when you put fanatics in charge of your state government. Republicans would rather do nothing and kick out elderly nursing home patients and close dozens of rural hospitals than take taxpayer money to keep even basic health care facilities open.

I guess if you kill off all the poor people, then your Medicaid problem is solved, right?


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