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Democrats Successfully Force their Hand During Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Negotiations

Democrats Successfully Force their Hand During Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Negotiations

Just a quick update on the outcome of the coronavirus stimulus bill negotiations.

Mitch McConnell attempted to ram through $2T spending bill that focused more on boosting big business than providing care for thousands of Americans suffering and dying from severe cases of COVID-19 (and thousands more to come) and alleviating the financial stress put on millions of Americans who suddenly became unemployed because of the coronavirus. Charles Schumer and the Democrats rightly objected to the Republican Senate’s bill and fought to focus on people instead of big business. The Democrats got much of what the wanted in the bill.

The New York Times reports:

The resulting measure is an attempt to sustain the workers and businesses that are losing income as vast sections of the American economy are shutting down under quarantine orders and to help the economy rebound quickly once the pandemic abates.

It includes direct support for companies large and small that have lost all or most of their customers in recent weeks, and direct payments to low- and middle-income families. The package also includes measures meant to encourage companies to keep employees on their payrolls even if their businesses have shuttered temporarily — and it increases aid to workers who are laid off anyway or have had their hours and wages cut back.

The measure will be the third legislative action taken by Congress this month to address the pandemic. Mr. Trump previously signed both a $8.3 billion in emergency aid and a sweeping package providing paid leave, free testing and additional aid for families affected by the pandemic into law.

In the final measure, lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would extend unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits, officials familiar with the unfinished agreement said. Democrats said that it would allow workers to maintain their full salaries if forced out of work as a result of the pandemic.

In the interim, lawmakers also agreed to provide $1,200 in direct payments that would apply equally to workers with incomes up to $75,000 per year before phasing out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000. Families would receive an additional $500 per child.

We haven’t seen a senate compromise of this magnitude in a very long time. Probably not since Mitch McConnell said in October 2010, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”.

Bravo Democrats. It’s your time to lead. Keep doing it and do it well, then maybe President Trump will be a one-term president.

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Senate Republicans don’t care about people. They only care about big business, corporate donors, and their extremely wealthy friends. We knew that when a Republican controlled senate passed President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. It gave huge tax cuts to corporations and provided a big tax loophole for pass-through income. The bill was advertised as a move that would lower taxes for workers and help businesses expand by providing them with more cash. Most workers saw very small decreases in their taxes and some actually saw their taxes go up a little, but businesses were left with a lot more cash in pocket and they used it to buy back their own stock to line the pockets of their already obscenely rich corporate executives. They did not increase investment any more than they would have otherwise and they did not provide any substantial increases in wages or benefits for workers. Some cities and states saw increases in wages because they mandated higher minimum wages themselves. Republicans in congress refused to increase the minimum wage like they always do.

Trump’s tax-cut was an expensive failure.

So they were fine with their 1.5 Trillion Dollar tax cut for the rich, but they aren’t so fine with a new and much needed coronavirus stimulus bill that will cost somewhere between one to two trillion dollars if most of that money is funneled to the people who really need it – the unemployed workers.

The Democrats focused their efforts on people first, not profits first. They would direct the money to the millions of people in the service industry (restaurants, bars, hotels, ride-share drivers, salon workers, dental hygienists, etc.) who are all out of work. This is a huge sector of our economy. Workers need cash to buy food, pay rent and mortgages, and obtain healthcare – all urgent stuff. The stimulus bill should provide that urgent aid first. A one-time check in the $500 to $1,200 won’t provide the long-term aid they are going to need.

The spending should cover the cost of extending the unemployment insurance for at least a year or two. It should probably force large employers to provide sick pay for as long as is necessary for their workers to recover from COVID-19. The bill should prevent people from losing their jobs because of government-mandated work stoppages. It should make sure that everyone afflicted with the disease gets the healthcare they need regardless of whether or not they have insurance. To put it simply, the stimulus bill can’t be about “creating jobs” right now. It should be all about alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the outbreak, because it can’t help put people back to work until the pandemic is gone, and it looks like that isn’t going to happen for months.

The Republicans’ bill includes $5B for a corporate slush fund. It’s weak on worker retention and has loopholes. It’s treasury lending section is vague. It doesn’t provide provisions to protect people from evictions and foreclosures. It provides zero money for state and local governments. Is that because the states hardest hit are blue states? No additional spending on SNAP when the program will obviously be under extreme pressure. No direct payments for people who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. It offers no help for the uninsured and no help for people with student loans.

What this all adds up to is, as James Martin wrote in The New York Times today, a Moral Evil. That’s suffering caused by the actions of individuals or, in this case, the inaction of individuals. And even worse; the deliberate redirection of resources that should be used to alleviate suffering of the most vulnerable people to the least vulnerable, most wealthy people in our country. That’s right. Who do you think will be the recipients of a slush fund?

Maybe enough Republicans in the Senate will read The Bible tonight and decide to do what Jesus would do (from the James Martin column):

Needless to say, when caring for someone with coronavirus, one should take the necessary precautions in order not to pass on the infection. But for Jesus, the sick or dying person was not the “other,” not one to be blamed, but our brother and sister. When Jesus saw a person in need, the Gospels tell us that his heart was “moved with pity.” He is a model for how we are to care during this crisis: with hearts moved by pity.

I’m not betting on it.

Democrats’ Aim Should Be Universal Coverage – Improving the ACA is the Right Vehicle

Democrats’ Aim Should Be Universal Coverage – Improving the ACA is the Right Vehicle

I get why the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is obsessed with enacting Medicare-for-All as the vehicle to universal coverage. I do. There’s no question that if we got it right, it would be both far more equitable and cost-effective than the present chaotic patchwork of a “system” that we’re currently lumbered with. I was raised in England and I know what a blessing the National Health Service has been, warts and all, in providing first class health care to everyone and without driving any of anybody into bankruptcy.

I also understand only too well the frustration of forever being told that it simply can’t be done, that the odds are stacked against it. How do we know unless we try, right?

Nevertheless, reality must intrude. First, as we have already seen with the few states that have tried to add a public option to their ACA markets that the health care industry will wage total war on any suggestion of even a modest expansion of of a public health care option. And when I say the health industry, we’re talking the insurance companies, the hospital industry, the pharmaceutical industry and much of the medical profession, particularly specialists, surgeons and the hospitals each of whom gain the most from the present lack of price controls on any but Medicare patients, and who will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way. Added to the health industry’s implacable opposition will be the Republican Party and the entire right-wing universe complete with relentless fear mongering and lies. And they will have a powerful issue that lends itself to demagoguery. Socialized medicine! Egads!! The fact that they’ve called the ACA, modest insurance reform at best, the same thing will of course be lost in the din.

Second, a total reform of the entire US health care system, one that dwarfs the enactment of the ACA, will require the support of most Americans, 180 million of whom currently have employer-provided health insurance which most of them believe is just fine, thank you very much. And Democrats would be asking them to give that up and see their taxes increase to boot – a hard sell even though insurance premiums will go away. All of this on the promise that expanding Medicare to include everybody, entirely rationale but something we’ve never tried before, would be better. And then there’s the seniors who are currently well satisfied with their Medicare and will be scared into believing (by you know who – see above) that somehow they will lose much of what they have if their health care is folded into a national scheme for the whole population.

In short it will not merely be an uphill struggle to enact Medicare-for-all but the policy equivalent of free climbing Half Dome in Yosemite National Park and to believe otherwise is delusional.

But there are other ways to universal coverage. In fact there are many models among developed countries that have achieved and did so with a system that incorporates private insurance albeit heavily regulated. Switzerland is one, for example. Check this link to the non-partisan Commonwealth Fund for a thumbnail sketch of the Swiss system and that of other developed nations from whose systems we can draw lessons .

Which brings us to the Affordable Care Act. Like all compromises on huge and complex pieces of legislation, the ACA is manifestly imperfect and in need of substntial improvement, for example by vastly reducing out-of-pocket expenses and greatly expanding the income cut off to receive premium subsidies. Yet the law has significantly increased the number of people with health insurance whilst proving unexpectedly resilient in surviving GOP efforts to repeal it and the Trump administration’s attempts to weaken it. If Democrats win the White House and Congress in 2020, they have an opportunity to undo all the damage of the Trump era and to make the ACA a far bigger success in providing affordable health coverage to a vulnerable population.

As well, Democrats have other costly priorities to address such as climate change and relieving our kids of the huge debt burden of college loans, to name but two. A full throated battle for a single payer health system will suck all the political oxygen out of the air and leave us with little energy to seriously tackle those issues. And that would be a tragedy.

Voting in Republicans to control the Congress and more states is a truly dumb idea.

Voting in Republicans to control the Congress and more states is a truly dumb idea.

In the first two years of his presidency Barak Obama and a Democratic majority in Congress saved the United States auto industry from bankruptcy, enacted a stimulus package that effectively cushioned a collapsing economy and likely prevented another Great Depression, passed the Dodd Frank law to make it much less likely we will suffer another banking meltdown in the future and, last but not least, enacted the Affordable Care Act which is already driving down the rate of medically uninsured Americans and promises to reduce it still further in future years.

In 2010, however, a Republican takeover of the US House of Representatives effectively ended any possibility for further problem solving from the federal government as the GOP House majority, and a filibuster-happy GOP minority in the US Senate, blocked additional efforts to boost the economy and, indeed, sought to do further damage to it by slashing government spending at a time when the private sector was still contracting.

Despite the GOP’s destructive efforts, however, the US economy has improved significantly albeit much more slowly than would have been the case had we enacted another stimulus heavy with infrastructure spending, as Obama and Democrats wanted. In fact, congressional Republicans by their unprecedented obstructionism have behaved as though they wanted the economy to remain in the tank just to score political points.

And they appear to have succeeded. Polls show it is all but certain that the country will vote next Tuesday for full Republican control of the Congress, and an expansion of that party’s control of governorships and state legislatures. Even millennials seem to be deserting Democrats, and lukewarm support from women cannot balance strong support for the GOP among (white) men. In short things appear pretty bleak.

But it would be useful to know what policies embraced by Republicans have won the support of the electorate in this election cycle.

Is it the Republican desire to unravel environmental laws and rules such as those to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants or to drastically expand drilling for oil and gas on public lands and off-shore? Is it their enthusiasm for slashing food aid and other crucial support for America’s poorest citizens?

Or perhaps it is the GOP’s oft-stated intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip 10 million Americans of their newly acquired health coverage that appeals to the electorate? But there again, maybe it’s the party’s economic agenda to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy while blocking any move to increase the minimum wage that attracts voters?

Many believe the 2014 midterm elections don’t matter but I disagree and here’s just one example from The New Republic  to illustrate why.  To summarize, if the conservative and somewhat erratic GOP governor of Maine is defeated, 70,000 low-income residents of the state stand to gain health insurance through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. If he‘s re-elected, they don’t. That’s pretty simple but the lives of real people who struggle every day will be affected.

In 2010 a wave of GOP state-level victories led directly, as in Maine, to a denial of health care coverage for millions of Americans. Let’s not make the same mistake in 2014.

All elections matter so get off your duff; make the right choice and VOTE on November 4th!

Democratic Presidents have the Advantage over Republicans when it comes to Economic Growth

Democratic Presidents have the Advantage over Republicans when it comes to Economic Growth

You can read about it here or here, but the graphs (via Vox.com) tell you all you really need to know .

Start with this one on GDP since the second Truman Administration.

Democratic GDP Dominance

Democratic Presidents following Republican Presidents presided over stronger growth in every instance except Reagan’s second term compared to Carter’s term. But if you average Reagan’s two terms and compare it to Carter’s one, it’s close to a tie. Obama’s first term was far superior to Bush’s second and, by all current indicators, his second term will be much better than Bush’s first term in spite of Republican obstructionism.

What’s really interesting is this graph (via The Atlantic).

Democratic Economic Indicator Dominance

Democrats have led in every category for the past 70 years. Coincidence? I don’t think so. And just think how much better our economy would be doing now if Republicans hadn’t been kneecapping Obama and the Democrats every step of the way for the past six years.

Based on what the Republican’s and their phony policy wonk Paul Ryan have been peddling as their economic solution for the past six years, if a Republican were somehow to be elected in 2016, the economy would surely suffer if they were able to implement their plans to cut taxes for the rich and corporations and to drastically cut entitlement programs and repeal Obamacare.

So come this November and then again in November 2016, do the right thing: Vote for Democrats. It’s good for the economy and it’s good for you.

The 2014 midterm elections need not be a disaster for Democrats

The 2014 midterm elections need not be a disaster for Democrats

Conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats are in for a drubbing in the 2014 midterm elections. After all, polls show that Obama’s approval rating is at or near its lowest point in his presidency. The generic question of which party you will support in the next election now favors Republicans. And Obamacare may yet yield further frustrations in the New Year, particularly if computer glitches with the “backend” processing of enrollees on Healthcare.gov lead many to believe they have coverage when they do not.

Nevertheless, Democrats have a prospective domestic policy agenda that could help to confound CW – if they can summon the wisdom, courage and energy to push it forcefully.

For the 2014 campaign, Democrats can present their overall vision as one that maintains and even strengthens the social safety net for all Americans, increases the hourly wage of our lowest-income workers, and seeks to boost an already improving economy while simultaneously improving America’s international competitiveness. Key features:

A strong push to increase the minimum wage. Polling shows a strong majority of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage. The president has proposed a national raise to $10.00 an hour. Some cities are considering an increase to $15.00 an hour, as one municipality in Washington State (SeaTac) has already done. Fast food workers have staged nation-wide demonstrations in support of higher pay for workers on minimum wage. With so many low-wage workers struggling to make ends meet without resorting to government assistance, it’s an issue whose time has definitely come.

Extending long term unemployment benefits. Republicans may face a backlash to their unwillingness to include such an extension in the budget deal concluded recently by Democratic Senator Patti Murray and GOP Congressman Paul Ryan. GOP reasoning that losing their benefits will provide a necessary kick in the butt for these unfortunates to find jobs is contradicted by most of the available evidence. Lack of effort is not the problem; studies show that employers are less inclined to hire the long term unemployed. The public’s sympathies, not to mention the genuine pain that will be inflicted on up to 4 million unemployed Americans over the next several months if this federal program is not extended, make this a compelling issue for Democrats.

Switching to offense on the Affordable Care Act. Whatever its initial travails, the ACA is starting to settle down and show its promise. About 2 million Americans have enrolled in private insurance plans through Healthcare.gov or state websites thus far, and more have signed on directly with insurance companies. An additional 4 million have enrolled in Medicaid in the last few months mostly under the ACA’s expansion but also including some who qualified previously but never enrolled. There is reason to believe that many more will enroll before the enrollment period expires on March 31st. Republicans, meanwhile, not only lack a health care reform plan of their own but are doing everything they can to impede the only one on the table. Most egregiously, 25 GOP dominated states have deprived 5 million of their own low-income workers of an opportunity to be covered under an expanded Medicaid. This can only work to the detriment of the GOP. Whether it comes quickly enough to help Democrats is an open question; but the latter at least have something substantive to argue for, whereas Republicans are left to do what they do best – nothing. Unless carping, bemoaning and obstructing is viewed as doing something.

Beyond these three issues, it’s past time for Democrats to produce a progressive tax reform bill that addresses the disproportionately favorable treatment received by the rich that has characterized tax legislation since Ronald Reagan. While raising rates for wealthy individuals, particularly on unearned income, such a bill could lower corporate tax rates significantly while ensuring that profitable corporations actually pay taxes. If President Obama is serious about making income and wealth disparity the defining issue of his second term, this is a good place to start.

Finally, Obama and Democrats need to push much harder for a significant investment in our crumbling infrastructure and to restore cuts to science and technology research spending. Not all debt is created equal; the benefits of investments in infrastructure, science and technology and education will more than justify borrowing the money to pay for them, a lesson Republicans never fail to grasp.

The contrast between an agenda such as this and a GOP one that consists primarily of destroying health care reform, not raising taxes on even the mega rich and slashing programs for the poor and middle class in their phony crusade for fiscal rectitude, is one that Democrats should not be shy of drawing in 2014.

John F. Kennedy was proud to be a Liberal

John F. Kennedy was proud to be a Liberal

Conservatives started bashing Liberals Around the time John F. Kennedy ran for president, but he did not dodge the label. He embraced it.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal”? If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal”. But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal”.

Not many of today’s Democrats would dare say out loud what Kennedy said over fifty years ago.

On this fiftieth anniversary of his death, we Democrats need to honor his spirit and not shy away from the “L Word”.

From the disorderly chaos of the splintered Republican Party, the Democrats formed a spine.

From the disorderly chaos of the splintered Republican Party, the Democrats formed a spine.

Today the Republicans finally realized that almost everyone in the country despises them and that, as a result, they lack the political capital necessary to force President Obama and the Democrats to defund the duly enacted Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. Instead their Tea Party Tantrum went pretty much exactly how the Democrats said it would: “It’s all there black and white – clear as crystal. You get NOTHING! You Lose!  Good DAY Sir!

We watched like Scooter here…

Mr-Fish-The-Horror sm

… but it was kind of like watching a Marvel Comics film. There may be a lot of drama along the way, but we knew who was going to win.

Jonathan Chait explains why in this excellent post for New York Magazine:

Most of the analysis has focused on the mind-boggling stupidity of Republicans in Congress, who blundered into a debacle that failed in exactly the way they were warned it would. The episode will be retold and fought over for years to come, perfectly emblemizing the party’s internal disorganization, mindless belligerence, and confinement within an ideological echo chamber that sealed out important warnings of failure. A grassroots revolt forced Republicans to shut down the government two weeks before the debt ceiling deadline, serving to weaken the party’s standing at the moment they hoped to hold the default gun to Obama’s head. (It’s possible the lesson they’ll take away from their failure will only be not to shut down the government and threaten default at the same time, requiring another showdown.)

But it also represents a huge Democratic success — or, at least, the closest thing to success that can be attained under the circumstances. Of the Republican Party’s mistakes, the most rational was its assumption that Democrats would ultimately bend. This was not merely their own recycled certainty — “nobody believes that,” a confident Paul Ryan insisted of Obama’s claims he wouldn’t be extorted — but widespread, world-weary conventional wisdom. Democrats would have to pay a ransom. Republicans spent weeks prodding for every weakness. Would Senate Democrats from deep red states be pried away? Would Obama fold in the face of their threat?

Part of what undergirded Democratic unity went beyond a (correct) calculation that it would be dangerous to pay any ransom at all. Democrats seemed to share a genuine moral revulsion at the tactics and audacity of a party that had lost a presidential election by 5 million votes, lost another chance to win a favorable Senate map, and lost the national House vote demanding the winning party give them its way without compromise.

I wish this episode was the last fart from a rotting corpse, but I know better. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachman and company will wage another losing battle or two before they lose the war.

America Stuck in Neutral

America Stuck in Neutral

There’s not much to say about the disgusting failure of the United States Senate to muster sixty votes to expand background checks for gun purchases that hasn’t been said already. Suffice it to say that if we can’t even agree to close a loophole that allows dangerous people such as felons and certified nutcases to purchase firearms through a legal seller, there can be no better example of our country’s abysmal dysfunction.

I’m not a big fan of Maureen Dowd but a recent column on President Obama’s failure to use his office effectively to get a better result on the gun bill did resonate with me. To some extent I accept the sharp rebuttal from his defenders that it’s unfair to blame Obama when the real problem is a radical GOP that provided just five votes for the expanded background checks and only one (Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois) for bans on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. The fact remains, however, that in addition to the four Democrats who voted down the expanded background check, ten also failed to support a ban on high capacity magazines and fifteen the banning of assault weapons – both of which were used in the mass shooting of children and teachers at Newtown.

Yet just four months into his second term, the president overall seems to have reached a dead end, and with him the country. The goals he set out in his most recent State of the Union address are laudable and dead right for the country – universal pre-school, significant investments in infrastructure and scientific/technological research and development to name a few key ones – but seem completely out of reach in the current political environment. And the president has suffered from a number of self-inflicted wounds as well.

In the debt ceiling debacle of 2011, for example, which yielded the monstrosity that is sequestration, it is clear he miscalculated the willingness of Republicans to tolerate steep across the board defense cuts which, in turn, led him to agree to omit tax increases from the automatic trigger, as he had originally proposed. We now have harsh cuts to worthwhile programs in the discretionary budget that disproportionately affect children and the poor. To add insult to injury, Democrats have retreated the first time the public at large actually felt the pain of sequester cuts and, in the process, handed the GOP a significant victory.

Another example is the fiscal cliff negotiations wherein he effectively held all the cards yet won a paltry $600 billion in new revenues; inequities such as the favorable tax rates enjoyed by hedge fund managers and the likes of Mitt Romney on his unearned income remain.

And the president seems almost passive in the face of the outrageous refusal of Senate Republicans to allow his nominations for federal district and appellate court vacancies and even some agency heads an up or down vote. Added to which is the fact that he has been slow to send up nominees for many such appointments. Things will hardly get better in the future as Republicans become increasingly confident of gaining control of the Senate in next year’s midterm elections. This does not bode well should a Supreme Court vacancy arise.

That the country is stuck in neutral is indisputable. And while it’s possible another Democratic incumbent with keener political and negotiating skills could have done better, you really have to wonder how much difference it would have made. The GOP has moved so far to the right it really has become a radical party, home to anti-tax and pro-gun zealots as well as Tea Party fanatics. It is clearly more intransigent and obstructionist with a Democrat in the White House now than it was even in the Bill Clinton years; to the point of a willingness to be destructive to the country’s economic interests if doing so furthers its ideological aims.

The reason is not hard to see in considering the yawning chasm between Blue and Red America, a development even the vapid editorial writers of The Washington Post have noted. And the GOP, driven by a base that brooks no compromise, will have ample opportunities for even more mischief in the days to come, what with the debt ceiling looming again. And next year when Obamacare kicks in and suffers inevitable teething troubles, the situation will be just ripe for exploitation by a party that couldn’t care less if millions of Americans don’t have adequate health insurance.

Like I said, with Democrats trying to move us forward and Republicans taking every opportunity to drag us back, we are stuck in neutral.

And what does all this presage? Merely that if you think things are bad now, just wait.

Gallup’s misery index highlights emptiness of GOP’s vision for the country.

Gallup’s misery index highlights emptiness of GOP’s vision for the country.

The competing visions of the Democratic and Republican parties are clearly on display in their respective budget blueprints for the next decade. The Democratic vision includes the preservation of a strong role for government in providing a decent social safety net for the nation’s disadvantaged. The GOP on the other hand would slash government programs for the poor, cancel the expansion of health care insurance to millions of uninsured Americans, cut taxes on the rich and continue the sort of deregulatory policies that facilitated the financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession of 2008.

It seems reasonable to ask where the GOP’s path would lead us and for the answer, a glimpse is provided by consulting Gallup’s annual Wellbeing Index, useful insight into the state of the states in terms of health, happiness (or misery), access to government services and other measurements.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the most miserable states are predominantly in the South, with their elevated rates of poverty, violence, medically uninsured and low level of government services. Not coincidentally, the South is the heart and soul of today’s Republican Party. Take Kentucky, the home state of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He has a lot to say about the need for small government, and his red state is certainly an exemplar of GOP ideology so let’s see how that’s working out (thumbnail sketch from MSN Money 24/7):

Most miserable No. 2: Kentucky

Well-being index score: 62.7

Life expectancy: 76.2 years (seventh lowest)

Obesity: 29.7% (sixth highest)

Median household income: $41,141 (fourth lowest)

Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.1% (sixth lowest)

Kentucky has one of the lowest proportions of adults with at least a high school diploma, and the state’s median income is the fourth-lowest among all states. Kentucky ranked second from the bottom in terms of physical health.

Twenty-nine percent of state residents indicated they had health problems that prevented them from doing age-appropriate activities, a higher proportion than residents of any state except West Virginia.

Not a pretty picture and it mirrors the situation in most other Southern states. What’s more their record has been consistent. The region has promoted its business-friendly, non-unionized, low tax environment for many years, yet as evinced in the data on Kentucky – fourth lowest median income in the nation and sixth lowest percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma – the failure of southern states to invest sufficiently in their human capital continues to keep them mired at the bottom in most measurements of wellbeing.

Yet the failure of their low-tax, low government service model at home has not deterred McConnell and the GOP from trying to impose their failed ideology on the rest of the country. Most of us I suspect would rather not go there; turning out to vote on the next election day and every one thereafter is one way to make sure we don’t.