Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

State lawmaker picks a fight over Medicaid 'experiment'


State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, one of the Legislature’s sharpest critics of the Affordable Care Act, is ready to pick a fight over the Medicaid “experiment” contemplated by Gov. Nathan Deal. From Andy Miller at Georgia Health News:

This year’s General Assembly approved the state’s potential request for a Medicaid waiver in the fiscal 2016 budget. But Spencer cites a May 22 letter from Daryl Robinson, counsel to the state attorney general, that says the General Assembly may not amend provisions of general law through an appropriations act.

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The line item in the 2016 budget allowing a waiver process “does not constitute proper authority,’’ Spencer told GHN on Wednesday. “Whoever slid that into the budget was misinformed.’’

Spencer has written Clyde Reese, commissioner of the state’s Department of Community Health, informing him of the opinion from the attorney general’s office. Spencer’s letter was also signed by state Reps. David Stover (R-Newnan), Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) and Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock).

Here's the letter in question from Attorney General Sam Olens' office:

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Inspired by the recent visit of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of our number-crunching friends sent us a note comparing Ohio and Georgia’s record for selecting presidents.

In general elections, Ohio has the best track record of any of the largest states. Since 1948, it has voted for the winner every time except 1960, when it voted for Richard Nixon over Kennedy. John That’s 16 out of 17 times, or 94 percent.

In contrast, Georgia's track record is nearly akin to a coin flip – 53 percent. Since 1948, it has sided with the losers eight times: Adlai Stevenson (1952 and 1956), Barry Goldwater (1964), George Wallace (1968), Jimmy Carter (1980), Bob Dole (1996), John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012).

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"Some of you may remember we had a pretty vigorous campaign in 2008."

Those were some of the first words out of Hillary Clinton's mouth when she addressed a Democratic women's conference in South Carolina on Wednesday. She spent the next few minutes assuring the crowd she had Barack Obama's back once she conceded -- weeks after her double-digit loss to him.

"I went to work for him because he and I share many of the same positions about what should be done in the next presidency," Clinton said.

Her schedule, including meetings with minority business owners and speeches to black lawmakers, telegraphed her campaign's goal of trying to heal the wounds of the bitter 2008 campaign.

She may have been too focused on the last war: Missing from Clinton's return visit to South Carolina was any mention of Walter Scott, the black man whose shooting death by a police officer in April sparked protests in North Charleston. The officer was charged with murder.

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A sobering note comes this morning from Larry Sabato and his Crystal Ball: If elected, Clinton could become the first Democratic president in nearly 200 years to never control the House of Representatives while she’s in office.

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On the Republican side, the field keeps growing. Wednesday was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's launch. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Courting voters who he said had been abandoned by both parties, Rick Santorum launched his second campaign for the White House with a pledge to battle the allied abuses of big government and big business.

Mr. Santorum spoke Wednesday in Cabot, Butler County, not far from where he grew up on the grounds of the Veterans Hospital that employed his parents. The former U.S. senator sounded themes that found resonance with the evangelical voters who had been the basis of his victories in 11 Republican nomination battles in 2012. But he also amplified the populist economic message that had fueled his first political victories.

Sounding like the candidate who decades ago won an upset in a Mon Valley congressional district in the wake of the collapse of the steel industry, he said that the economic drift of recent decades had “hollowed out” the prospects of American workers. “Somewhere along the way someone changed the rules and both political parties left them behind,” he said.

This morning, former New York Gov. George Pataki joined him. From Time:

Former New York Gov. George Pataki launched his long-shot presidential bid Thursday with a video announcement on his website and a rally planned for later in the day in New Hampshire.

The Republican left office in 2006 after serving three terms, including during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which factor heavily into his announcement. The four-minute video features Pataki speaking directly to the camera and walking in Lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center site retelling his experiences in the months and years after the attacks. After a montage of patriotic imagery, it closes with footage of Pataki gazing at the newly rebuilt One World Trade Center building

“We need to recapture that spirit, that sense that we are one people,” Pataki says. “When we do, we will stop empowering politicians and empower ourselves with the opportunities to have an unlimited, bright future.”

Neither man cracks the newest national Quinnipiac poll. And remember, these things matter a lot more now to make the debate stage.

The survey shows a five-way tie with Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Maro Rubio and Scott Walker all earning 10 percent. They are followed by Rand Paul (7 percent), Ted Cruz (6 percent), Donald Trump (5 percent), Chris Christie (4 percent), Carly Fiorina (2 percent) and John Kasich (2 percent). That would be your hypothetical debate field.

This leads us to our tweet o' the day, from Politico senior politics editor Charlie Mahtesian:

Those two governors: Pataki and Texas' Rick Perry.

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Among the advantages of bringing the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County: If you’re tcommission chairman Tim Lee, former coach Bobby Cox will show up at your next Tuesday fundraiser and pose with anyone who ponies up at least $1,500 for two tickets.

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Some disturbing news out of Augusta. From the Chronicle:

Leon Nathan Davis III, 37, admitted Wednesday in U.S. District Court that he intended to join Islamic State militants in Syria last November. The penalty for the federal crime is up to 15 years in prison. Davis has been in custody since his arrest on Nov. 24 at the Delta check-in station at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, FBI Special Agent Gytis Zunde testified Wednesday.

For more than a year, Davis has been under investigation after postings on social media sites indicating he had been in contact with members of the Islamic State, Zunde said.

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue weighed in on the news, via press release:

“Terrorism takes many forms. It is alarming to hear that an individual from Augusta was supporting ISIS in our own backyard. This is yet another reminder of the global security crisis we face around the world and here at home. Our federal and state law enforcement officials are on the job every single day fighting threats from ISIS and other terrorist organizations. We need to continue to make sure they have the necessary national security tools to prevent future threats as well.”

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Here's a talker from the Washington Post: The number of immigrants here illegally appears to be falling:

As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades. The nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, according to demographers at the Pew Research Center.

A key — but largely overlooked — sign of these ebbing flows is the changing makeup of the undocumented population. Until recent years, illegal immigrants tended to be young men streaming across the Southern border in pursuit of work. But demographic data show that the typical illegal immigrant now is much more likely someone who is 35 or older and has lived in the United States for a decade or more.

Homeland security officials in the Obama and George W. Bush administrations — who have more than doubled the Border Patrol’s size and spent billions on drones, sensors and other technology at the border — say enhanced security is driving the new trends.

 


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.