Republicans expect to have a successful year in 2014 congressional races, but the gubernatorial terrain looks far less favorable. A fascinating analysis this week found that incumbent GOP governors who've accepted Medicaid expansion are in far better electoral shape than Republicans who refused to embrace the health care policy.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has been in the latter category -- the Republican had balked at Medicaid expansion and he's trailing badly in most polls -- though as Greg Sargent reported yesterday, the governor just announced a big shift.
In another sign that the politics of Obamacare continue to shift, the Medicaid expansion is now all but certain to come to another big state whose Republican governor had previously resisted it: Pennsylvania.
The federal government has approved Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's application for the state's own version of the Medicaid expansion, without a handful of the conditions Corbett had hoped to impose.... Corbett just announced that he will accept the expansion that has been offered, perhaps with some last-minute changes -- expanding coverage and subsidies to as many as half a million people.
As a substantive matter, this is an important breakthrough. Pennsylvania is the nation's sixth-largest state by population, and with a stroke of the governor's pen, nearly 500,000 low-income adults are poised to gain access to medical care. For many, this may ultimately be a life-saving policy.
Corbett's move also means there are now 27 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have embraced Medicaid expansion, including every state in the Northeast except Maine.
As for the politics, it's fascinating to see the degree to which health care politics have been turned on their ear. Here we have a Republican governor, down in the polls, looking to improve his standing with voters. What does he do? Corbett runs towards the Affordable Care Act, not away from it. For all the assumptions about "Obamacare" being an electoral albatross, the evidence to the contrary keeps getting in the way.
Indeed, this is arguably part of an important emerging pattern.
For good or ill, President Obama sometimes offers candid, shorthand assessments without much regard for how they'll be perceived by the political world -- or how easily the comments might be taken out of context. From a distance, I get the sense he just doesn't care what offhand phrase might send the Beltway into a tizzy and generate a half-dozen Politico items. After nearly six years on the job, Obama just seems to have bigger things on his mind.
But those of us who regularly swim in these waters -- and who've internalized Republican talking points to the point at which we can visualize Fox News segments before they even air -- tend to see the pointless uproars coming.
President Obama pushed back against media reports of planned U.S. military action against ISIS in Syria on Thursday, stressing that the administration is still determining the next steps to take in the region.
"We don't have a strategy yet," Obama said at a Thursday press conference, adding that there would be "military, political, and economic components" to the fight against ISIS.
The moment the six-word sound bite was uttered, you could almost feel the manufactured outrage take shape, which is a shame because in context, this latest shocking development wasn't especially shocking.
Look at the transcript. A reporter asked the president, "Do you need Congress' approval to go into Syria?" Obama's obvious point was to challenge the premise of the question -- to assume that the United States is poised to use military force in Syria is premature. The Obama administration has already spent three weeks launching several dozen airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, but because Syria is a much different story, the White House is still consulting with allies and talking with Pentagon officials about the next step.
And in a nutshell, that's the story. That's the basis for the latest political-world uproar. A reporter asked whether Congress needs to approve a mission in Syria and the president said there is not yet a mission to approve. Why is this scandalous? It isn't.
Rick Tyler, former director of the "Winning Our Future" superPAC, talks with Rachel Maddow about the effective use of middle class, working Americans in political advertisements, like those being run by Michelle Nunn against David Perdue in Georgia. watch
Rachel Maddow alerts viewers that Democratic candidate for Senate from Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, will make a rare appearance on national media and join MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night's show. watch
Craig Carper, Capitol reporter for WCVE Public Radio in Richmond Virginia, talks with Rachel Maddow about the corruption trial of former Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, on the eve of closing arguments. watch
Rachel Maddow announces a crowdsourcing effort to keep a tally of legislators who publicly call for Congress to fulfill their duty and formally take up the question of authorizing military force in Iraq in prosecuting a war on ISIS militants. watch
The Rachel Maddow Show has decided to start a running whip-count for members of Congress who have signed letters, or said publicly, that Congress must vote on military authorization for the use of force in Iraq or more recently for potential U.S. military action in Syria. Below is our running tally so far.
We hope that you can help us keep our running tally up-to-date. If your member of Congress joins or drops off this list, please let us know. We hope this can be an authoritative source of members of Congress who are not wussing-out of their constitutional responsibilities to take a vote on these matters. Keep us posted!
* Crisis in Ukraine: "Asserting that Russian soldiers and armaments had crossed into Ukraine to support the separatists, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine canceled a trip to Turkey on Thursday, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription for the armed forces."
* United Nations: "Alarmed members of the U.N. Security Council demanded Thursday that Russia remove its fighters from a new front in the Ukraine crisis, while the U.S. ambassador accused Moscow of having 'outright lied.'"
* Middle East: "President Obama said he will send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East in an effort to build a coalition of 'strong regional partners' to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria."
* The media seemed a little too preoccupied with the president's suit this afternoon, but Obama's press conference covered quite a bit of substantive ground, with Q&A on Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, immigration, and the economy. Here's a transcript.
* Gillibrand's right: "MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell is less than surprised by the revelations of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) about being subjected to sexual harassment by her congressional colleagues.... 'We all had our stories of whom you'd not get in an elevator with and whom you'd protect your young female interns from,' Mitchell told her guests."
* Keep an eye on this: "Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called on GOP leaders to launch a floor debate on the Obama administration's use of force against Islamic militants in Iraq. But the House minority leader stopped short of insisting that lawmakers vote on the issue, as some of her liberal troops are urging."
* Not the first time: "Immigration protesters ambushed Rep. Paul D. Ryan Wednesday as the Wisconsin Republican signed books at a Barnes & Noble" in Thornton, Colorado.
* The same general was suspended from his duties last year: "An Army general who was found to have mishandled an accusation of sexual assault has been forced to retire with a reduced rank, the Defense Department said on Wednesday."