Simple Answers to Stupid Questions


This concludes another edition of Simple Answers to Stupid Questions.

Posted in Elections, Governor

#PAGov Meltdown: Corbett Campaign Manager Accuses Terry Madonna of “Unfairly Influencing This Election With Bad Polls”

Tom Corbett’s campaign manager Mike Barley got a bit salty on the Twitters earlier because F&M isn’t skewing their polls to favor Republicans, and accuses Terry Madonna of “unfairly influencing this election with bad polls.”

Hey Mike, if you want to salve your emotions with some feel-good numbers maybe you guys should hire Mitt Romney’s polling firm to draw you up some fake numbers you can snuggle at night.

Posted in Elections, Governor

#PAGov: Doing Medicaid the Corbett Way Imposes Hefty Corruption Tax on PA Taxpayers

While it’s certainly great news for the hundreds of thousands of poor and middle class people who no longer need to live in fear that a random accident will destroy their finances all because the Republican Governor wanted to be a boob about things, there is a pretty hefty corruption tax attached to the price tag when we use the federal Medicaid money the Republican Way:

Mr. Corbett’s plan, submitted to the federal government in February, would not directly expand the state’s Medicaid program, but would offer federal subsidies to about 500,000 low-income Pennsylvanians to purchase private insurance.

Medicaid is more efficient than private insurance. People on Medicaid get basically the same access to care as people with private insurance, but for lower administrative costs.

Doing this the Republican Way is like running a leaking sack full of the federal Medicaid money down a long gauntlet of private insurance companies, as dudes grab money off the top before it gets to actual patients.

On the administrative side, if we just accept regular Medicaid, we could hire as few as 40 people to administer it. Doing it the Republican Way, we have to hire about 723 new state workers:

Pennsylvania’s ambitious alternative to expanding Medicaid – a private-market initiative that Gov. Corbett says is designed to save money – would require 723 new state workers, about one percent of the current workforce.

The projected number of hires, detailed by state officials, is far higher than most states have needed and surprised some public-policy experts. Many states are adding employees to review applications and confirm eligibility, and to implement all the changes required by federal law. Those new hires typically are in the dozens. New Jersey, for example, said the contractor that coordinates its health benefits hired 38 permanent employees and 62 temps.

“The enrollment system is heavily automated for Medicaid,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University. “This is not being done by ladies with shoe boxes and pieces of paper.”

Worst of all, Medicaid beneficiaries earning at more than 100% of the poverty line have pay premiums. The weird work search requirements didn’t make it into the federal proposal, but what you have here is essentially a benefit cut for Medicaid beneficiaries to finance a nice round of pointless grift for hospital corporations and for-profit insurance companies.

(h/t Post-Gazette)

Posted in Budget, Elections, Governor, Health, Issues

PA Working Families Makes its First Endorsement

New-to-Pennsylvania progressive organization Pennsylvania Working Families has been quietly plugging away this year, collecting signatures to put a local education control question on the ballot in Philly for this fall, and campaigining on minimum wage  in suburban Philly Republican districts , and now they’re making their first ever endorsement of Democratic Senatorial candidate Art Haywood, calling him a “champion of fair wages and good jobs.”

Art Haywood said of the endorsement, “As a strong Working Families Democrat, I am proud to accept the endorsement of PA Working Families. The name says it all about who I am running to represent. I am fighting to give raise the minimum wage, increase state funding for public schools, and reduce gun violence in our neighborhoods. I am excited to work in these fights with this group who shares my values. Together we represent change in Pennsylvania politics.”

Kati Sipp, Director of PA Working Families, “PA Working Families is thrilled to make Haywood our first endorsement, since he has made minimum wage and local control centerpieces of his campaign. Fighting for Pennsylvania’s working families isn’t just smart politics, it’s the right thing to do and we look forward to promoting candidates who are progressive champions like Art Haywood.

Since their launch, PA Working Families has focused on raising the minimum wage, paid sick days, and winning local control of the underfunded Philadelphia public schools.

This is just another victory for PA Working Families as they continue to increase their influence in Philadelphia, and throughout the state.  If Haywood can win the general election over the Republican candidate Robin Gilchrist, PA Working Families will have a voice in the Senate in the same year it launched, as well as the ears of many powerful members within the Philadelphia delegation.  Were that to happen, initiatives for a minimum wage increase and stability within the Philadelphia public school system would continue to gain traction.

While the rapid growth seems surprising at first, the people at Pennsylvania Working Families have listened to the citizens of Philadelphia, and because of their grassroots support, their influence has grown very quickly.  Back in May, the organization turned in 40,000 signatures to get a measure on the November ballot which promotes local control of the Philadelphia public schools.  As the school crisis continues to worsen and members of the GOP continue to vote against raises to the far-too-low minimum wage, expect the voice of Working Families to become even louder, especially if their new champion Art Haywood wins big in November.

Posted in Economic Development, Education, Greater Philadelphia, State Politics

Poll: Corbett at Lowest Polling Yet Against Wolf

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This race has been boring since the primary ended. Four in five respondents heard the Corbett attack ads and didn’t change their opinion. Corbett’s numbers actually got worse. He peaked against Wolf at 39% in July, and then started tanking again.


Posted in Elections, Governor

Keystone Politics: Emerged From Darkness

I suppose I owe everybody an explanation for why this site basically went dark for a couple months this summer.

After a long freelance journalism nightmare, I’m basically doing my dream job now, working for PlanPhilly full time, helping set the table for the 2015 Philadelphia campaigns and hopefully bringing the fun of built environment politics to a broader political audience.

I can’t promise there will be daily content here, but the statewide blog scene sucks so completely right now that I would be remiss to let this site fade into obscurity. You should sign up for the mailing list over on the side bar to make sure you don’t miss posts if you were a daily reader.

Here’s the deal going forward: I’ll continue to chime in here on polls and various policy issues, and we’ll be working with a few other writers to cover key state Senate and House races, and a handful of policy issues we feel have been unduly neglected this race (environment, transportation, municipal policy) and that we want the Tom Wolf transition team and legislative Democrats to be accountable for.


Posted in Miscellany

Video: Sophie Masloff Defends Land Value Tax Swap

Around 3 minutes in. Also a good moment for Jack Wagner.

(h/t Chris Briem)

Posted in Economy, Issues, Land Use

#PAGov: Republican Poll Confirms Corbett Non-Surge

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The surge of Republicans remembering they are Republicans continues!

This new Republican-affiliated Magellan poll shows more Republicans are coming home to the Republican nominee for Governor, after flirting with voting for Wolf for a time.

Corbett hit bottom around 30% against Wolf back in June, and his ceiling is probably somewhere around 40%. Note how Wolf is still at 50%. That’s why the Rothenberg Political Report just changed this race’s rating to Democrat Favored over Lean Democrat.


Posted in Elections, Governor

#PAGov: Corbett Ads Taking No Toll on Tom Wolf’s Polling

I bet Larry Ceisler’s been having a fun summer watching PoliticsPA go from being essential political reading to being less essential even than the Morning Call’s basically non-existent politics blog. What the hell yo?

Anyway, this was one of the worst polling analyses I’ve ever read, and I don’t know if it was intentionally bad for click-bait reasons, or if it was just bad-bad, but here’s what you need to know.

“Leaners” and “likely voters” are different things. One measures candidate preferences. The other is an educated guess about who’s actually going to show up. A leaner is somebody who’s leaning toward a particular candidate. And a likely voter is who a pollster thinks will vote. Nick’s post weirdly conflates these two things, to make a point that doesn’t make sense. Colleen K catalogs the derp at length if you want to get into it.

The rest of you will do fine just looking at this updated chart of the general election polling:

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What it shows is that Tom Wolf’s support is basically unchanged after a summer of ineffective Corbett attack ads, but some Republicans and right-leaning independents have remembered why they’re Republicans, so Corbett’s polling is climbing up from the basement a bit.

No surprise there. All the Keystone Politics writers have been saying this was going to happen for over a year now. The race is going to keep tightening a bit, but the fundamental shape of the contest is no different.

Posted in Elections, Governor

What the CBS/NYT poll about Wolf and Corbett ACTUALLY says

There was an uproar among political observers in Pennsylvania over poll analysis posted on PoliticsPA. I’d like to take readers through, point by point, so they may have a better understanding of what the data shows and does not show.

(1) The irrelevance of this single poll as a bellwether about the Pennsylvania governor’s race cannot be emphasized enough.

From the CBS News/New York Times Battleground Tracker’s own documentation of methodology: Continue reading

Posted in Elections, Governor, Miscellany, State Politics