Matthew Dowd/USA Today:

After Boulder shooting, Atlanta and COVID-19, getting back to ‘normal’ isn’t good enough

Republicans are focusing on the myth of voter fraud and ignoring the truth of gun violence. Let’s not return to that normal. Let’s make America better.

The tragic loss of life in the shootings in the Atlanta area and in Boulder, Colorado, is a reminder of how the “normal” isn’t something any of us should want. These shootings had become all too common before the pandemic and are once again reminding us of the lack of leadership that had and has become the norm in America. Long before COVID-19, we watched as many Republican politicians refused to make lessening gun violence a priority and shine light on the hate that exists toward others in America. And today we see the same.

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Ryan Cooper/The Week:

There is no immigration crisis

Here’s what’s happening: in short, the number of people trying to cross the border has skyrocketed over the past month. There has been a particular surge in unaccompanied children — according to the Department of Homeland Security, average apprehensions of unaccompanied children have increased from 313 per day last month to 565, on average. It’s unclear why this is happening exactly, though presumably it has something to do with a new president who isn’t such a racist maniac, and the hope that vaccination is beginning to beat back the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

Now, there are genuine challenges here. Tens of thousands of people trying to sneak across the border is, at a minimum, unsafe (many have died trying to do so). And as Felipe De La Hoz writes at The New Republic, unaccompanied minors are a particularly thorny issue — the Biden administration wants to avoid the negative press of “kids in cages,” but one can’t simply turn young children loose with no one to care for them. The natural solution is to house them in a decent facility for a short time while host families are located. But then again, the facilities for caring for these kids are typically underfunded and loosely regulated, and often run by unscrupulous contractors with a history of abuse.

But all of these problems are, in principle at least, easily fixable. 

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Victor Shi/USA Today:

From insults to property damage to killing: After Atlanta, Asian American fear escalates

Behind every anti-Asian attack is a reminder of why words matter, especially from presidents. Biden is changing the tone after Trump’s COVID rhetoric.

Make no mistake about it: President Trump’s scapegoating of China was not by chance. It was deliberate. It was methodical. It was meant to stoke fear, anger, and mistrust against the Asian population. And as such, Asian Americans were the first to pay a price for it.

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Max Burns/Daily Beast:

Georgia GOP Goes All Out to Suppress Black Votes Amid MAGA Civil War

In a one-two punch of authoritarian maneuvering shocking in both its scope and its severity, Republicans are fighting to hollow out the right to vote for millions of Black and brown Georgians. And what they can’t take away in the state Senate, the GOP plans to gut with a new Trump-aligned secretary of state.

With MAGA Congressman Jody Hice now fighting to unseat noted Trump enemy and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Republicans are making clear there is no room in the party for officials willing to stand up against Trumpian authoritarianism.

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Laura Packard/USA Today:

As the Affordable Care Act turns 11, Biden’s COVID stimulus helps it live up to its name

We’ve been playing ACA defense since 2010. Now we can finally imagine health care as it should be and help Biden keep moving toward universal coverage.

Exactly 11 years ago, then-Vice President Joe Biden watched President Barack Obama sign the Affordable Care Act into law. It was the only health care expansion in America over the past decade — until now.

The ACA originally offered subsidies to low-income families and full price insurance for many middle-class and high-income families. Through Medicaid expansion, poor and working-class families could access free or low-cost care. This meant that the richest and poorest could afford care, but the people in the middle were often left out.

That changed when President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan this month. Its goal is to help everyone and bring health care within reach to all. It doesn’t matter how much you make, you will pay no more than 8.5% of your income on insurance premiums in the individual market. This reframes the ACA as a much more universal program, like Social Security or Medicare. It also includes incentives for the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid to cover their poorest residents, if they choose to take it.

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KHN:

Democrats Eye Medicare Negotiations to Lower Drug Prices

Democrats, newly in control of Congress and the White House, are united behind an idea that Republican lawmakers and major drugmakers fiercely oppose: empowering the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of brand-name drugs covered by Medicare.

But they do not have enough votes without Republican support in the Senate for the legislation they hope will lower the price consumers pay for prescription drugs. That raises the possibility that Democrats will use a legislative tactic called reconciliation, as they did to pass President Joe Biden’s covid relief package, or even eliminate the Senate filibuster to keep their promise to voters.

Regardless, Democrats hope to authorize Medicare negotiations on payments for at least some of the most expensive brand-name drugs and to base those prices on the drugs’ clinical benefits. Such a measure could put Republicans in the uncomfortable position of opposing an idea that most voters from both parties generally support.

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Perry Bacon Jr/FiveThirtyeight:

Why Democrats In Congress Need Biden’s Approval Rating To Stay In The Mid-50s

Why should we focus on presidential approval ratings when we are thinking about next year’s midterms? For two reasons. First of all, we don’t yet have a lot of other data to rely on. In most House and Senate races, it’s not even clear who the (non-incumbent) candidates will be. Most pollsters aren’t yet asking respondents the so-called generic ballot question — “If the next election were being held today, would you vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate?” And while generic ballot polling has historically provided a reliably rough preview of eventual midterm results, “rough” is the key word here. FiveThirtyEight’s average of pre-2020 generic ballot polls suggested that Democrats would have a sizable advantage in last year’s House races (a popular vote margin of around +7 percentage points, about 50 to 43), but the final results were more narrow (about +3 points, 51 to 48).

Second and more importantly, presidential approval ratings in recent years have been a decent indicator of what will happen in the midterms. In the last four (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018), the incumbent president’s disapproval rating was higher than his approval, and in all four cases, the president’s party lost a sizable bloc of House seats. (The Senate results aren’t quite as tied to presidential approval.) The last time the president’s party gained House seats in a midterm election was in 2002, when George W. Bush had sky-high ratings in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. So, when we talk about the pattern that the president’s party nearly always loses congressional seats in the midterms, part of what seems to be happening is that the American electorate becomes somewhat disillusioned with a president after electing or reelecting him (or wants to check his power) and then backs the opposite party’s congressional candidates.

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