May 23
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, left, addresses his supporters following his victory in the republican primary Tuesday, May 20, 2014, at the Mariott Louisville East in Louisville, Ky. Behind him at right is his wife Elaine Chao. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, left, addresses his supporters following his victory in the republican primary. (Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press)

• The other day, Greg noted that Republicans are getting less and less coherent when it comes to talking about the Affordable Care Act, now that the law seems to be working rather well. But Sen. Mitch McConnell has his colleagues beat. Kentucky’s ACA health exchange, known as Kynect, has been a spectacular success. So how to accommodate yourself to that reality? As Joe Sonka reports, McConnell held a news conference today, during which he was asked what he would do about the newly insured people who would lose their insurance if the ACA were repealed. Here’s what happened:

Noting that McConnell didn’t answer his question — nor the one before it, though McConnell was accusing Alison Lundergan Grimes of avoiding ACA questions — Arnold followed up, asking “Should Kynect be dismantled?” McConnell gave this jaw-dropping one-sentence reply: “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question here.”

Let’s get something straight here: Kynect could not have existed without the Affordable Care Act, and it would cease to exist if the Affordable Care Act ceased to exist. There would be no people eligible for the expanded Medicaid — the large majority of those who signed up through Kynect — and there would be no exchange for people to sign up for affordable private insurance with federal subsidies. Saying that Kynect is unconnected with the ACA or its repeal is just mind-numbingly false. The ACA and Kynect are one in the same.

But I’ll bet you McConnell said it with a smile.

• A new report shows that the number of uninsured residents of New Jersey plunged by 38 percent, and will probably go down even further, as the Affordable Care Act was implemented. This law is obviously a failure.

• As Dave Weigel reports, Republicans’ own polling is showing them that vowing to repeal the ACA isn’t a political winner, so they’re already shifting their campaign rhetoric away from repeal and toward all the improvements they want to make in health care:

With more and more Republicans putting primaries in the rearview, and having nothing to fear from a right-wing challenge, there’s going to be more of this evolution. And it all grows out of polling. People still despise the term “Obamacare,” especially in the states that will decide control of the Senate. But, as Democrats keep whimpering, people really like aspects of the law when submitted to a blind taste-test. The solution? Oppose “Obamacare,” but promise blandly that you’ll keep and fix all the aforementioned nice parts.

Their deep and sincere concern for Americans’ health is truly an inspiration.

• The AP reports that Republicans all over the country are struggling to adapt to the shifting ground on marriage equality, where what used to be an asset for them has become a liability.

• Steve Benen elaborates on President Obama’s remarks that Republicans are the ones causing gridlock in Washington:

The substance of this is hard to deny. The president argued, accurately, that on the major issues of the day, Democrats deliberately pursued moderate solutions to pressing problems. On immigration, Obama’s proposal enjoys bipartisan support and is similar to what Bush/Cheney recommended. On climate, Democrats could have adopted a command-and-control model, but Obama instead endorsed a cap-and-trade plan comparable to what McCain/Palin proposed.

On taxes, Democrats have pushed for modest reforms that would leave tax rates broadly lower than when Reagan was in office. Even on health care, the Affordable Care Act is a centrist solution built on Mitt Romney’s model.

Look, it isn’t too hard to understand: when President Obama began advocating these policies, as far as conservatives were concerned they immediately became the very definition of radicalism.

• Recent polls have shown Democratic Georgia Senate nominee Michelle Nunn leading her potential Republican rivals. The first post-primary poll, this one by Republican firm Rasmussen, shows the same thing.

• Zachary Roth reports that “We’re still more than five months from midterm elections, but already Republican voting restrictions are causing chaos in states across the South, and in some cases, blocking access to the ballot.” As the tech folks say: a feature, not a bug.

• Igor Volsky looks at the Veterans Administration and finds that the health care it provides is some of the best in the country. The problem isn’t care, it’s access.

• Conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru suggests that one way Republicans might counter momentum for increasing the minimum wage is to focus on increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit. But as Ed Kilgore observes, the EITC used to be popular with Republicans but isn’t anymore:

… the EITC has been largely responsible for eliminating federal income tax liability among low-income Americans. And that has become a deep source of grievance, and even of conspiracy theories, among conservatives at both the elite and grassroots level…

Even if they didn’t rely on EITC cuts to pay for upper-end tax cuts in their budget schemes, Republicans seem to have developed a moral aversion to the EITC that’s more important to them than finding a sensible alternative to minimum wage increases. So Ponnuru is almost certainly barking up the wrong tree.

• Republicans often say they can’t pass immigration reform because they don’t trust that lawless Obama to enforce the law fairly. So Sen. Harry Reid has called their bluff: “Let’s pass immigration reform today. Make it take effect in 2017.”

• Kevin Drum says we don’t even need to wait for their response, because we know what it will be. “Republicans just aren’t willing to cross their base and pass something. The lawlessness story has never been anything more than a pretense, so Reid’s offer won’t change anything on that front.”

• And finally, today is World Turtle Day. So do your part and be nice to a turtle.