1. Poetic justice. Shorter: states that had tight-fisted approaches to health care in general and medicaid in particular are worried about the burden imposed by the health care reform law. Longer: “But even with more federal help, the challenge for states like Alabama, Arkansas and Texas that now offer only limited Medicaid coverage will be substantial.” Opinion: Cry me a fucking river. Texas, for example, restricts Medicaid to working parents who earn 20% of the federal poverty level. With the new law allowing medicaid access to families of four at 133% of the poverty level, or slightly over a comfortable $29,000 per year, who in hell was Texas covering in the first place? I’m not going to draw the obvious connections between this generally enlightened trio. The state I spend the majority of my US time in, Oregon, has relatively solid coverage, so they’re not going to get hurt too bad.
2. Obligatory British election. The Tory lead is holding relatively steady at about 4 points. As I’m not in the office, I don’t have my vote share -> seats matrix handy, but this smells strongly of a Labour plurality in seats. If the difference in seats between the Tories and Labour is close enough, Nick Clegg will be there, ready and willing to officiate. I’d like to see a formal Lib-Dem / Labour coalition in the event of a hung parliament, but I’m not counting on it. I suspect we’ll have a minority government, from either party, that will hobble on for a year at most.
Don’t get too excited by this new MORI poll of the marginals. While the Reuters headline needlessly downplays the Conservative’s chances as a result of this poll (the swing to the Tories in these seats according to this poll still outperforms their swing nationally) the poll covered constituencies won by 10% to 18% in 2005. This represents a liberal interpretation of “marginal”.
The annual budget doesn’t seem to have caused much of a stir, save for how it’s going to hammer Universities with cuts of up to 14% in the UK (but we knew this already) leading to a large number of compulsory redundancies amongst academic staff. Fortunately, our top leaders, the Vice Chancellors, see their pay increase 10% to 20% in the last year alone, with many earning more than the Prime Minister (who I am to understand has a less demanding job). Full disclosure: the VC of my institution earns more than Gordon Brown, but we’re enterprising, so we can get away with it.
None of us should worry, really. This being the Labour government, we have been offered 20,000 additional university places for students for the next academic year in the same budget that slashed university funding by £900 million through 2013. I don’t know how they do it. It’s magic.
The other aspect of the budget that has pissed people off is the 10 pence tax rise on (hard) cider of all things. Cider’s sort of popular down here in the Southwest, and Devon, Somerset, and Dorset (real) ciders can be some of the best in the world. It’s a good thing my partner scheduled her visit to Plymouth for last week, where she consumed a fair amount of the local cider, saving ten pence a pop.
3. I have been unplanned in my absence from blogging duties for the past couple of weeks. Work has dominated, with the end of term, admin duties, several manuscript reviews to write (when it rains it pours), and the two papers I’m presenting in San Francisco at the WPSA (this upcoming Thursday no less) and Chicago towards the end of April at the MPSA dominating my time. Also, add in weekends playing single dad to my daughter, and the visit of the aforementioned occasional cider drinking love of my life for a week from Oregon, I’ve had precious little time for much else. I’m off to the US for a month on Tuesday, so I’ll have more time. Hint: if you’re an editor of a political science journal just itching to send off a manuscript for my perusal, and are not one of the three who have sent me manuscripts in the last month, now is the time to do it.