September 3

* There’s some good news for embattled Sen. Mark Pryor, and for working people in Arkansas:

Voters in Arkansas will decide whether to raise the minimum wage, Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) said Wednesday, after supporters turned in more than twice as many signatures as required to make the ballot…

State Democrats hope the measure will convince otherwise reluctant voters to turn out on Election Day. Supporters of a minimum wage hike are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates, the thinking goes. That would help Sen. Mark Pryor (D), who finds himself in a tough race against Rep. Tom Cotton (R).

Cotton opposes raising the federal minimum wage, and he has refused to take a position on the state initiative up until now. But even if he comes out in support of it, it’s good to remember that minimum wage initiatives almost never lose, and this one is likely to get more Democrats to the polls.

* In a typically balanced piece, Jonathan Cohn brings us more good news about Obamacare, this time in the form of a new report that shows it making progress in controlling medical costs, though the long term prognosis still remains up in the air. The fiscal scolds will be really psyched about this news, right? — gs

* After a string of defeats for opponents of marriage equality, a federal judge in Louisiana today upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Ian Millhiser explains why the judge’s decision reads like it was written by an undergrad pre-law major who hadn’t been paying attention in class.

* McClatchey has taken a look at the financing of the Medicaid expansion, and reports just how much GOP-run states like North Carolina that have opted out are giving up:

North Carolina taxpayers could spend more than $10 billion by 2022 to provide medical care for low-income residents of other states while getting nothing in return, a McClatchy Newspapers analysis shows…If the 23 states still rejecting Medicaid expansion stick with that decision, they’ll contribute $152 billion over 10 years to states that take the federal money, the analysis shows. North Carolina would be one of the top five contributors.

So rejecting the Medicaid expansion costs states a huge amount of money and leaves thousands of their citizens without insurance. But hey, it’s a small price to pay for giving Barack Obama the finger, right?

* And yet the politics of this issue continue to shift. Thomas Mills notes that neither Governor Pat McCrory nor Senate candidate Thom Tillis would comment for that story, almost as if they don’t see political advantage in talking about Obamacare.

* Speaking of the Medicaid expansion, which has been a big success in Kentucky, Jonathan Martin offers some of the wisdom Mitch McConnell shared with him on the subject:

McConnell criticized [Kentucky governor steve] Beshear for accepting the Medicaid expansion, calling it “a mistake,” and said he wanted to repeal the entire law “root and branch.” But when I pressed him about the politics of taking away Medicaid from those individuals that now have it, he suggested that was unlikely – even while still faulting Beshear for the decision. “I don’t know that it will be taken away from them,” McConnell said of the expanded Medicaid coverage. Speaking about Beshear and Kentucky’s state government, he added: “They’ve made the decision to expand it, they’re gonna have to pay for it.

In other words, we need to repeal Obamacare root and branch! Except for, you know, the good parts. Those’ll stay. And one more thing: McConnell’s grim warning about how Kentucky is going to have to pay for the Medicaid expansion? This study shows that accepting the expansion actually saves state budgets money.

* Sen. Kay Hagan has four new ads hitting Tillis on the education cuts he helped push through the legislature — see here, here, here, and here — and you can expect a relentless onslaught on Tillis over the issue from now until Election Day.

* Keep an eye on this: John Harwood details how restrictions on voting passed by Republican legislatures could affect close Senate races in November.

* Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn wants to make sure everybody remembers that Sam Nunn is her dad.

* Everyone knows that under Barack Obama, the population of undocumented immigrants has exploded, thanks to the failure to secure the border, right? Wrong. The number of undocumented today is pretty much exactly what it was when Obama took office, the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project reports.

* More and more liberals are advising Obama to push off his big move on deportations until after the election. Fernando Espuelas argues that anything that makes it more likely for Republicans to take the Senate could make legislative  immigration reform even harder to achieve.

* At the American Prospect, I discussed how Barack Obama is really good at making us feel hopeful and inspired, but not so good at making us feel angry and afraid.

* And in the campaign tracker video of the day, Scott Brown follows in Mitch McConnell’s footsteps and says: “Here’s the thing, people say, what are you going to do to create jobs? I am not going to create one job, it is not my job to create jobs. It’s yours.” I’m sure his opponent will not bother to mention this quote.