Under former Gov. Steve Beshear's (D) leadership, Kentucky became a national leader in health care. The Bluegrass State implemented the Affordable Care Act to perfection and saw results that most states envied. No state has seen a sharper improvement in its uninsured rate.
Kentucky voters decided last year, however, to go in a very different direction, electing a far-right amateur, Matt Bevin (R), as their new governor, inadvertently endorsing his anti-healthcare platform.
The Republican, in his first year, has already scrapped Kentucky's state-based marketplace, choosing instead to direct consumers to the federal healthcare.gov, and now he's pushing to overhaul Kentucky's Medicaid-expansion policy, uprooting an effective system while demanding conservative "reforms."
Part of the problem with the debate is that the Bevin administration seems to have a unique understanding of health care coverage. Reporter Joe Sonka flagged this fascinating report the other day from the Courier Journal in Louisville.
"There has not been a historic drop in uninsured -- this is misleading," [cabinet spokeswoman Jean West's] statement said. "Medicaid is not health insurance -- it is a benefit program like SNAP (food stamps) or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) ... What we have seen is a historic rise in people on taxpayer-funded Medicaid."
Got that? It may look like a low-income Kentucky family has coverage, which means being able to afford a doctor's visit or a trip to the hospital, but that's because that family is covered through Medicaid.
And according to the Republican governor of Kentucky, Medicaid coverage shouldn't count as coverage at all because, well, because the Bevin administration says so.
In October 2012, just days ahead of the last presidential election, Donald Trump published a tweet directed at President Obama. "Why does Obama believe he shouldn't comply with record releases that his predecessors did of their own volition?" the Republican complained. "Hiding something?"
Four years later, Trump happens to be facing extremely similar questions. Every major-party presidential nominee since Watergate has, of their own volition, voluntarily released their tax returns for public scrutiny. Trump, however, is refusing -- despite having said he would release his returns, despite the precedent set by others, and despite the obvious need given multiple ongoing controversies.
Last night, as TPM noted, Fox News' Greta Van Susteren pressed Trump on the matter, and he continued to say he wouldn't disclose the materials.
Van Susteren pressed Trump, asking why he is unwilling to release tax returns that are no longer under audit, even if he still refuses to publicize his most recent documents.
"Most people don't care about it," Trump responded. "I've had very, very little pressure."
The GOP nominee may not appreciate this, but when a presidential candidate is hiding something, and brags that he's received "very little pressure," he's effectively inviting additional pressure.
In the same interview, Trump added, "I remember with Mitt Romney four years ago, everybody wanted his, and his is a peanut compared to mine. It's like a peanut. It's very small.... Now, they finally got it in September. He decided to give it. And they found a couple of little minor things. Little things that didn't mean anything.... They found a little sentence and they made such a big deal. He might have lost the election over that."
It's not clear what "little sentence" Trump is referring to from Romney's tax returns, but Trump nevertheless believes Romney's disclosure cost him politically -- which apparently is contributing to Trump's insistence on secrecy.
The U.S. economy is still growing; it's just not growing very quickly. CNBC reported this morning:
The U.S. economy grew far less than expected in the second quarter as inventories fell for the first time since 2011, but a surge in consumer spending pointed to underlying strength.
Gross domestic product increased at a 1.2 percent annual rate after rising by a downwardly revised 0.8 percent pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The economy was previously reported to have grown at a 1.1 percent pace in the first quarter.
While GDP growth of 1.2% can charitably be described as lackluster, the disappointment is compounded by the fact that economists has projected growth twice as strong.
The full report from the Commerce Department is online here.
The news, however, wasn't all bad. As CNBC's report added, "Consumer spending was responsible for almost all of the rebound in GDP growth in the second quarter. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased at a 4.2 percent rate. That was the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2014."
I've never known for sure exactly where the cliché started, though it's often attributed to "The West Wing." Faced with a serious challenge, the solution on the television show was to "let Bartlett be Bartlett." The results tended to be more effective when the president was encouraged to just be himself.
I thought about the phrase watching Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic nomination last night, because it's likely she and her team received all kinds of advice about that speech. She was no doubt given an endless stream of tips about what to say and how to say it, but in the end, the candidate and the campaign decided to "let Hillary Clinton be Hillary Clinton."
And it worked like a charm.
It's no secret that Clinton prefers prose to poetry, and she'll never be hailed as a legendary orator, so last night was partly about turning a perceived negative into a positive. Consider:
"It's true, I sweat the details of policy -- whether we're talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs. Because it's not just a detail if it's your kid, if it's your family.
"It's a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president."
Later in her remarks, she noted that in Donald Trump's convention speech, the Republican nominee "offered zero solutions." Clinton added, "[H]e doesn't like talking about his plans. You might have noticed, I love talking about mine."
Clinton was pitching a substantive, solutions-oriented candidacy. Trump may want to revel in post-policy bliss, rejecting wonky details as annoyances to be avoided, but Clinton reminded the nation last night that she actually cares about policy minutiae -- which is something voters should feel good about.
Because by the time the balloons dropped, one thing couldn't have been much clearer: in practically every way that matters, Hillary Clinton, the first woman to ever lead a major-party presidential ticket, is the anti-Trump.
Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, discusses Hillary Clinton's historic nomination as a cultural milestone, and puts the gap between Clinton and Trump into past political context. watch
Senator Cory Booker discusses how the Hillary Clinton campaign proceeds from the convention against the unconventional campaign style of Donald Trump in what will be an exceptionally long general election. watch
Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt, Republican strategists, talk about how Hillary Clinton's Democratic nomination acceptance speech will resonate with demographic groups beyond the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. watch
Chris Hayes outlines the liberal policy points Hillary Clinton covered in a portion of her Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech that made up in substance what it lacked in poetry. watch
Joy Reid describes how Hillary Clinton's Democratic nomination acceptance speech managed to absorb some traditionally Republican cues while accepting the more liberal Democratic Party from President Obama. watch
Chris Matthews postulates that the candidacy of Donald Trump has been a good thing for Democrats, reminding them of their American values and pushing them to remind the nation at their convention. watch
Third night in a row that Dems have prominently featured law enforcement officers and their family members at DNC.
An MSNBC panel discusses the additional challenges Hillary Clinton faces as the first female major political party nominee for the presidency of the United States of America in her address to the Democratic National Convention. watch
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.