October 21, 2013

* This is big: Ohio GOP governor John Kasich has successfully forced through the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Ohio. How did it happen? Good old political legerdemain.

This maneuver is easily explained by the polls. The Medicaid expansion is hugely popular, and it seems plausible that the state Republican elite arranged it this way so the Medicaid expansion could go through without having to have a floor vote on it, which might have incited primary challenges or killed their majority. Wrangling aside, this is a huge win. Ohio is the seventh-largest state, and this will expand Medicaid coverage to 275,000 people at a stroke.

Dems are seeing some notable polling gains from the shutdown fight, with an 8-point lead over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot in a new CNN poll. It remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to hold on to this going into 2014, but it suggests a political strategy: a return to responsible governance.

* Josh Marshall takes a look at an important question: will big business abandon their “no enemies to the right” strategy? Back in the old days, the wealthy have been part of reform coalitions, the Tea Party has not been great for business these days. He focuses mainly on the Chamber of Commerce, but I would also add that there is a lot of ostensibly left-leaning wealth in Silicon Valley that might become more politically active in the future.

* The latest issue of the Washington Monthly is out, and it’s got some great stuff:

– Stephanie Mencimer takes a deep, reported look at the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, whose rape case against Kellogg, Brown and Root was dismissed in civil court. It’s a long story but well worth your time. 

– Timothy Noah examines why Americans aren’t moving around like they used to. The culprit? Housing prices.

Laura Kasinof examines the fraught gender politics around women in the military and PTSD. As she writes, this goes much deeper than whether women are “tough enough” to serve in the armed forces.

* Sally Kohn has a very interesting piece about bulling her way through the exchanges in New York to finally get health insurance, after many false starts and website glitches. As she details, it was a colossal pain in the neck, but this highlights an irony: the current system is so atrocious for many people that they’ll endure a lot of unpleasantness from Obamacare to get to the end.

* Jonathan Chait has the latest on the conservative insistence on acknowledging only the bad news about Obamacare, lavishing attention on it when liberals criticize implementation while never acknowledging any of the good news those same liberals are offering:

Only the negative liberal coverage has pierced the conservative information bubble, as evidence that even die-hard Obamacare lovers recognize the law is failing. It would be nice if these kinds of admissions against interest persuaded conservatives that liberal journalists are not the mirror image of their own hack pundits but informed policy reporters whose analysis is worth listening to in its totality. Instead it has roughly the opposite effect.

* Some rare unequivocal good news as Chris Christie gives up his lawsuit against same-sex marriage. New Jersey is now the 14th state (plus DC) on the gay marriage bandwagon.

* Australia is seriously on fire, folks: “Three large wildfires burning in southeastern Australia could merge into one colossal ‘mega-fire’ and threaten the suburbs of Sydney, officials warned Monday.” Ever since earlier this year when they had to add a new color to their heat maps to properly display record-breaking temperatures, Australia has been positively hammered by climate change. Maybe they ought to reconsider axing that carbon tax.

* Brad DeLong postulates that the Republican base is facing a “moral and psychological crisis — that the coastal cities are not just more decadent and more hedonistic and more non-white but also richer and more entrepreneurial.”

* Alec MacGillis notes that Republicans are apparently going to start holding hearings about why the Obamacare rollout has been such a mess, and notes that this is the sort of thing you do when you want to improve some program, not strangle it. It’s not out of the question that Republicans might help cement Obamacare’s exchanges in the popular imagination as something that every American deserves, even if it’s just by accident.

* Matt Yglesias reports that the administration is still not saying when Healthcare.gov will be fixed. The backup phone system is good, but it’s clearly not how the administration planned it, and it needs to be fixed pronto.

* And a great piece from Lydia DePillis on how outdated and risky the government’s tech procedures are. If nothing else, the Obamacare rollout fiasco ought to inspire people to take a hard look at government procurement and contracting procedures.

What else?