* The United States used to have the wealthiest middle class in the world. But the New York Times’ new data journalism site The Upshot says that’s no longer true:
While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades. After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
It’s another reminder that the more we learn about inequality and stagnant wages in America, the worse the picture looks.
* According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, over 155,000 of the 225,000 Arkansans (or nearly 70 percent) who qualified for the state’s Medicaid expansion have signed up for the program. That’s 155,000 people who didn’t have health insurance but now do. #disaster
* Meanwhile, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced today that health care signups through Kentucky Kynect have hit 413,000. This again raises the question: Is there a point at which Alison Lundergan Grimes can more directly engage the consequences of Mitch McConnell’s repeal stance? Remember, McConnell wants everything to be about Big Bad Obamacare, but he would also do away with Kentucky Kynect. — gs
* Speaking of Southern states with Senate contests, Nate Cohn points out that although the Democrats’ Southern incumbents may be threatened, in recent years Southern Ds have had a great deal of success in Senate races. In 2012, he notes, “every Southern Democratic incumbent won re-election in the Senate and ran well ahead of Mr. Obama. In Missouri, West Virginia and Florida, Senators Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin III and Bill Nelson won Southern states by double-digit margins.”
* North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis has claimed Dem attacks on him over former staffers having, ahem, inappropriate relationships with lobbyists are false. Factcheck.org notes that there is not really anything false about those attacks, after all. Dems will continue to hit Tillis on ethics and his record as state House speaker.
* Here’s a sign of what’s to come: A new ad from incumbent Colorado Democratic senator Mark Udall hits his opponent hard on abortion and birth control. “It comes down to respect,” says the narrator, over shots of many women looking concerned and disturbed. More broadly, “personhood” could become an issue in multiple Senate races this year.
* Now that we’re in the midst of the data journalism explosion (bubble?) everybody and their brother is going to have a mathematical model to predict how the Senate elections will come out. Jonathan Bernstein helps you to be a smart consumer by explaining what to look for in all the models.
* Good reminder from Lynn Vavreck: The Senate races are not likely to come down to swing voters; the outcomes will be about whose core voters turn out. Note the chart showing the steep dropoff among Dem voters from 2008-2010.
* Dylan Scott has a good piece detailing how legislators in Kansas and Georgia have recently passed bills to prevent a future governor from accepting the free money the federal government is offering to expand Medicaid, in the unforeseen event that a Democrat should become governor.
* Brian Beutler explains what those bills really mean about GOP opposition to the Medicaid expansion:
That’s real commitment. Unfortunately, it’s commitment to the position that their poorest constituents should remain uninsured in perpetuity — no matter who’s running the state or the country, or whether other states show health, economic or other gains as a result of expanding their Medicaid programs.
* Steve Benen with a good post noting that the politics of Obamacare are turning out to be a lot more complicated than Republicans ever anticipated, whether they are willing to acknowledge it or not. — gs
* Fernando Espuelas has a good piece explaining to Republicans that all their back and forth on immigration (maybe we’ll pass a bill, no we won’t, maybe we will) is taking a tremendous toll with Hispanic voters:
On my radio show every day, and on social media 24/7, I am part of a conversation where responsibility for both the failure of comprehensive reform, and the acrid discourse surrounding it, is laid at the feet of Republicans exclusively…This political battle is now personal. Just like the Tea Party fervor of 2010, driven by a single-minded focus to oppose President Obama, these online Latino groups share a similar obsession with throwing Republicans out of office.
* And yet, as Charlie Cook explains, even if that’s true, the reality is that Republicans will most likely do quite well in 2014, even without doing a thing on immigration to fix their problem with Hispanics:
The bottom line is that while Republicans will probably do very well this November, with better than an even-money chance of winning a Senate majority and a lock on holding the House, the GOP will still emerge with a demographic and political millstone that they will have to contend with in 2016.
* And the Republican rationale for not extending unemployment insurance is that UI allows people to lie around their luxurious homes, drinking Dom Perignon and eating caviar when they could be out working in the jobs that are just waiting for them if they’d get off their lazy butts. Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney went out and talked to some people who had lost their unemployment benefits to see how things are going for them.