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Matt Gaetz Has An Idea-- It's A Bad One That Targets Poor People... What A Surprise!

House Republican Brain-Trust

Normal people keep asking what exactly it is that the House Republicans want to end their performative temper tantrum and get on with allowing the Treasury to pay back the money Trump spent while he was president. We all know they want what Pence admitted today: privatizing Social Security, the conservative dream. But, even if Pence forgot, Republicans know that’s the third rail of American politics… so they say Social Security and Medicare are “off the table.” No doubt they plan to bring it up when they sit down in private to negotiate with conservative Democrats.

Meanwhile, the GOP House strategy chief is targeting Medicaid, long the object of Republican Party animus. ”Matt Gaetz is trying to convince his fellow Republicans to demand new work requirements for Medicaid as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The Florida congressman, who has been enjoying new influence within his party after leading the surprisingly effective conservative revolt in last month’s House speaker battle, recently broached the idea on Fox News. He tells Semafor that he’s now ‘socializing’ the concept among colleagues, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He specifically wants to tighten Medicaid eligibility rules on ‘able-bodied working-age adults,’ particularly in states which expanded the health insurance program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act. He said he sees it partly as a solution to recent labor shortages.”

Gaetz said his colleagues are enthusiastic [as is Joe Manchin, of course] about the idea, since it’s an old idea that conservatives have been pushing forever, but… it’s politically risky. Joseph Zeballos-Roig wrote that “It’s a colossal program currently covering roughly 84 million Americans, many of them elderly and children in lower-income households. Medicaid expansions have proven popular with voters in a string of state ballot referendums and the Trump administration’s failed attempt to slash it led to serious public backlash… A study in Health Affairs later found that, for those affected, ‘work requirements did not increase employment’ after 18 months. Separate research has consistently indicated that access to stable health coverage strengthens a person’s ability to keep their job. That may help explain why stripping insurance doesn't necessarily boost employment.”

And as far as expanding employment, the economy seems to be doing pretty well in that department, despite the interest rate increases by the Fed. Yesterday, the NY Times reported that the “labor market labor market unleashed a burst of hiring in January, producing another wave of robust job growth even as interest rates continue to rise. Employers added 517,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said on Friday, an increase from 260,000 in December. Underscoring the labor market’s extraordinary vibrancy was the unemployment rate, which fell to 3.4 percent, the lowest since 1969.”

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