Four Pinocchios for Jeb Bradley Op-Ed on Medicaid Expansion

The Godfather of Medicaid Expansion in New Hampshire, State Senator Jeb Bradley, is back at it.  In an oped in today’s Concord Monitor, Bradley argues that extending Medicaid Expansion makes “fiscal sense.” 

First, some background.  Medicaid Expansion is part of Obamacare.  It is supposed to provide coverage to people whose incomes are too high for standard Medicaid eligibility but too low for Obamacare premium tax credits.

In brief, Obamacare was written so that only people with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line qualify for subsidies.  Traditional Medicaid only covered certain individuals making up to 48 percent of the federal poverty line.  Medicaid Expansion, which raises eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty line was how Obamacare chose to fill this gap.

However, the United States Supreme Court ruled, when it upheld Obamacare in 2012, that States could not be forced into expanding Medicaid.  This allowed States the leverage to obtain “waivers” in return for expanding Medicaid.

In 2014, the New Hampshire House was majority Democrat while the Senate was majority Republican.  The House, along with Governor Hassan, wanted New Hampshire to enter into expanded Medicaid.  The Senate, however, wanted to obtain a “waiver” to use Medicaid to pay for private insurance, and the House and Governor eventually agreed.  Details can be found here.

Republicans such as Jeb Bradley pledged that New Hampshire’s participation in Medicaid Expansion would end if federal funding fell below 100 percent.  In fact, the law was written so that Medicaid Expansion would “sunset,” that is end, at the end of 2016, which is when federal funding was scheduled to fall below 100 percent.  (Under Obamacare, federal funding of Medicaid Expansion is 100 percent in 2014, 2015 and 2016; 95 percent in 2017; 94 percent in 2018; 93 percent in 2019 and 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.)

Once Bradley won reelection, he began changing his tune, revealing that the “sunset provision” was in reality a bait and switch.  From a prior post:

According to Bradley, he and his legislative colleagues really didn’t mean it when they wrote the law to say that Medicaid Expansion would be ended if the feds didn’t pick up 100 percent of the cost. No, that sunset provision, Bradley now claims, was a just in case review mechanism, an exit ramp just in case the feds reduced federal funding too much in the future.

Funny, I don’t remember hearing that prior to the 2014 midterms. Moreover, Bradley’s explanation is counter-factual.

Obamacare specifically provides that the federal government pays 100 percent of the cost of expansion in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Then the federal match is pared back to 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019 and then 90 percent in 2020 and beyond. It would stay at the 90 percent level unless the Congress changes the law.

So it was known when Medicaid Expansion was passed exactly what was going to happen to federal funding at the end of 2016 and thereafter. If the intent of the sunset provision was to provide an exit ramp if fed funding dipped too low, as Bradley now claims, it could have pegged at 90 percent or any of the intermediate funding levels that Bradley considered the floor.

The fact of the matter is that the sunset provision was needed to pass the law because it was known that the 100 percent federal funding was scheduled be ratcheted down to 95 percent in 2017.

So now let’s turn to Bradley’s most recent op-ed.  Bradley claims that “uncompensated care,” which he defines as health care that hospitals and other providers are legally obligate to provide for free, represents a $400 million stealth tax because these costs are passed on in the form of higher health insurance premiums.  Bradley further claims that Medicaid Expansion has reduced this “stealth tax” by $150 million:

Who pays for this uncompensated care? Everyone with an individual insurance policy or employer-sponsored coverage pays higher insurance rates as a result of these uncompensated care costs being shifted into insurance premiums. It’s a hidden tax that several years ago reached $427 million. That amount happens to be the largest single tax in New Hampshire, nearly $80 million higher than the next highest transparent tax – the Business Profits Tax. …

Since the original legislation passed in 2014, … uncompensated care costs have dropped by nearly $150 million … .

Bradley’s claims about “uncompensated care” have been refuted by the Kaiser Foundation.

To begin with, Kaiser reports that “uncompensated care” is a term of art, and that healthcare providers actually receive compensation for the vast majority of “uncompensated care.”  In 2013, nationally approximately $85 billion was classified as uncompensated care.  However, only around $21 billion was really uncompensated:

In total, these sources of government funding offset about two-thirds of the cost of providing uncompensated care to the uninsured population ($53.3 billion available in funds to cover $84.9 billion in uncompensated care). With an additional $10.5 billion in charity care that was provided by office-based physicians, there remains $21.1 billion in uncompensated care that is not covered by government funding or physician charity care.

Kaiser also reports that (1) there is no evidence that the uncovered uncompensated care is passed on in the form of higher premiums and (2) that the amount of uncovered uncompensated care is so small in comparison to total healthcare spending that it wouldn’t make a difference in the cost of premiums even if it were passed on:

Some argue that providers in fact cover the cost associated with providing this uncompensated care by charging higher rates to private payers, who in turn may charge enrollees higher premiums. However, there is no evidence that providers have charged private payers higher rates to offset rising uncompensated care costs. Further, the value of this uncompensated care is very small relative to total spending by private payers. In 2013, private health insurance expenditures were $925.2 billion, which means that even if all remaining uncompensated care costs were shifted to private insurers, it would represent only 2.3 percent of total private expenditures.

Bradley’s own numbers belie his argument.

According to Bradley, federal funding for Medicaid Expansion in New Hampshire amounts to $400 million.  Bradley puts the cost of “uncompensated care,” at approximately $400 million.  If Medicaid Expansion reimburses hospitals for uncompensated care, as Bradley claims, then we should have seen “uncompensated care” or the “stealth tax” drop from approximately $400 million to approximately zero.

Yet “uncompensated care,” or the “stealth tax,” only dropped $150 million.  The difference, $250 million, must have replaced private funding of healthcare.

A Comparison of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio on Taxes

Marco Rubio has gone after Ted Cruz’s tax plan on the ground that it involves a “VAT,” a value added tax.  Cruz has returned fire, asserting that Rubio’s plan involves higher taxes than his plan.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Rubio dismissed Mr. Cruz’s proposal as a “sneaky,” “dangerous,” “European” stalking horse for big government. A Cruz spokesman returned fire, saying Mr. Rubio’s lowest proposed individual income-tax bracket—15%—would be higher than Mr. Cruz’s top rate. “He taxes too much and his rates are too high,” said Rick Tyler.

The Wall Street Journal, in the same article, synopsized Cruz’s and Rubio’s tax-plans as follows:

Mr. Cruz, a senator from Texas, takes the more radical approach, proposing to scrap the corporate income and payroll taxes. He would replace them with a 10% individual income tax and what he calls a 16% “business flat tax” that resembles a value-added tax, or VAT. To some conservative economists, that’s an efficient way to collect revenue without distorting business decisions or weighing down growth.

Mr. Rubio, a Florida senator, wants to revamp the existing income tax with lower rates and more generous credits for families.

According to the WSJ, Cruz’s plan places a greater priority on economic growth, while Rubio sacrifices some economic growth for middle-class tax relief:

Broadly, Mr. Cruz’s view reflects voices within the party that want the tax code to be a neutral platform for economic growth, while Mr. Rubio attempts to fuse that supply-side orthodoxy with direct tax benefits for middle-income families.

The Tax Foundation explains Cruz’s “business flat tax” here.  In brief:

Ted Cruz has proposed combining the corporate income tax, the payroll tax, and some of the income tax into a single, larger, broader tax assessed on businesses. While the tax would be new in many respects, it would produce revenues from the same general kinds of economic activity taxed by the things it replaces.
It would not be similar to existing sales taxes, or the VATs in Europe, because it would not be levied on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

It’s complicated, so perhaps a better way of evaluating Rubio’s criticism of Cruz’s plan can be found in a Tax Foundation comparison of Cruz’s plan and Rubio’s plan:

the business transfer tax under Cruz’s plan includes corporate revenues minus business inputs and capital expenses. The corporate income tax under Rubio’s plan consists of corporate revenues minus business inputs, capital expenses, and payroll. The employer-side payroll tax under Rubio’s plan (which is unchanged from current law) also taxes payroll. So if you put together two taxes from Rubio’s plan (and fiddle with the rates), you can actually synthetically construct the business flat tax from Cruz’s plan!

In other words, Cruz and Rubio have far more in common than one would think from listening to Rubio’s criticisms of Cruz.  Again from the Tax Foundation:

these two plans have similar economic incidence. That is, ultimately both plans tax the same basic economic activities, like worker’s pay, and corporate profits net of expenses. But they differ somewhat in terms of legal incidence. That is, they differ in terms of who writes the check. Both contain some transparent taxes (such as the individual income tax) and some that are less transparent (such as the business transfer tax, the corporate income tax, or the employer-side payroll tax.) Ultimately the Cruz plan leans somewhat more on the less-transparent taxes, and it is fair for Rubio to point this out. But most differences between these two pro-growth tax plans are subtle distinctions, not stark contrasts.

On the flip-side, Cruz’s criticism of Rubio’s higher tax rates is also overstated.  From Ramesh Ponnuru writing at National Review:

Cruz contrasted his plan with Rubio’s by noting that Rubio’s would leave the top income-tax rate at 35 percent, much higher than the 10 percent in Cruz’s plan. But Cruz’s comparison ignores the way his business flat tax would hit individuals. The true top marginal tax rate in Cruz’s plan would be lower than Rubio’s, true, but not that much lower: A better comparison is 35 for Rubio vs. 24.4 for Cruz. And for people lower on the income scale, the comparison turns in Rubio’s favor: The marginal rate for couples making less than $150,000 a year would be 15 percent in Rubio’s plan and 24.4 in Cruz’s.

Personally, I like Cruz’s approach more:

The point of the Cruz plan, Mr. Tyler said, is to eliminate the targeted incentives and complexity that dominate today’s tax code. “That’s fundamentally how Washington gets its power,” he said. “If you go to an individual flat tax of 10% and a business flat tax of 16%, K Street [where many law and lobbying firms have offices] goes out of business.”

But the differences between the two plans are overstated, and both plans represent huge improvement over the existing tax scheme and the proposals of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Concord Monitor Shotguns the Clinton Kool-Aid

It’s not surprising that the Concord Monitor has endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.  The Monitor has seen Jeanne Shaheen (Governor 1997-2002, United States Senator 2009-2021), John Lynch (Governor 2005-2013) and Maggie Hassan (Governor 2013-2017) turn New Hampshire ever-bluer through incrementalism and was there in 2002 when gubernatorial candidate Mark Fernald lost in a landslide when he tried it Bernie’s way.

But the intellectual dishonesty of the Monitor’s endorsement should not go untold.  Indeed, reading the editorial is like chug-a-lugging a mug of the Clinton Kool-Aid.

There’s no mention of the failed Russian reset, Putin’s annexation of Crimea, Putin’s not-so-secret war against Ukraine, and Putin’s intervention in Syria to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

The misbegotten Libyan intervention is also ignored:

The unraveling of Libya is now close to absolute. … the very same NATO countries that dropped bombs on Libya in order to remove its government collectively ignored the aftermath once their self-celebrations were over.

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS, among other groups. ISIS yesterday released a new video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, which they carried out in Libya.

Not a word about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the Americans in Benghazi.  And not a word about how Clinton lied about it afterwards, claiming that the attack grew out of a spontaneous protest to a youtube video:

Hillary Clinton sent an email to her daughter, Chelsea, on Sept. 11, 2012 in which she asserted that an al-Qaida-like group was responsible for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, it was revealed on Thursday during the former secretary of state’s testimony to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

The email, which was revealed by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan indicates that Clinton knew early on that the attacks which left four Americans dead was carried out by terrorists. But as Jordan pointed out, Clinton and others in the Obama administration had already begun crafting the narrative that the attack was spontaneous and that the attackers were motivated by a YouTube video many Muslims found offensive.

No mention of the Clinton Foundation:

… it’s long past time to drop the fiction that the Clinton Foundation has ever been a charity. It’s a political shop. Bill and Hillary have simply done with the foundation what they did with cattle futures and Whitewater and the Lincoln Bedroom and Johnny Chung—they’ve exploited the system.

Most family charities exist to allow self-made Americans to disperse their good fortune to philanthropic causes. The Clinton Foundation exists to allow the nation’s most powerful couple to use their not-so-subtle persuasion to exact global tribute for a fund that promotes the Clintons.

Oh sure, the foundation doles out grants for this and that cause. But they don’t rank next to the annual Bill Clinton show—the Clinton Global Initiative event—to which he summons heads of state and basks for a media week as post-presidential statesman. This is an organization that in 2013 spent $8.5 million in travel expenses alone, ferrying the Clintons to headliner events. Those keep Mrs. Clinton in the news, which helps when you want to be president.

It’s a body that exists to keep the Clinton political team intact in between elections, working for the Clintons’ political benefit. Only last week it came out that Dennis Cheng, who raised money for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 bid, and then transitioned to the Clinton Foundation’s chief development officer, is now transitioning back to head up Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 fundraising operation. Mr. Cheng has scored $248 million for the foundation, and his Rolodex comes with him. The Washington Post reported this week that already half the major donors backing Ready for Hillary, a group supporting her 2016 bid, are also foundation givers.

And exposing America’s most secret intelligence didn’t rate either:

… Clinton’s constantly changing email story is rapidly falling apart. First, Clinton claimed there was “no classified material” on her private server — which turned out to be untrue. Then she claimed none of the intelligence on her server was “classified at the time” — which also turned out to be untrue. Now, in a National Public Radio interview last week, Clinton said there was no information that was “marked classified.”

But this is not a defense.

It is against the law to remove classification markings from classified information and enter it into an unclassified system — which is the only way this information could have found its way into more than 1,300 emails on Clinton’s personal server. There is no way to “accidentally” send classified information by unclassified email. Senior officials have separate computers in their offices for classified and unclassified information. The two systems are not connected. The only way information from the classified system can make it onto an unclassified system is for someone to intentionally put it there — either by taking a document that is marked classified and typing the information without markings into an unclassified email, or by putting a thumb drive into their classified computer, downloading information and then putting that thumb drive into an unclassified computer, as Edward Snowden did. In either case, it is a crime.

Actually chug-a-lugging a mug of Clinton Kool-Aid is an understatement.  The Concord Monitor endorsement is like shotgunning a 24 ounce can of Clinton Kool-Aid.

Republicans Will Lose Majority in New Hampshire House in 2016, as They Should

Back in September, I put up a post titled Not Much Point in Voting Republican in New Hampshire Any Longer.

I argued that the differences between the budget Governor Hassan had proposed and the budget the GOP Legislature eventually passed were minor and reflected Hassan’s priorities:

The bottom-line here is that the Republicans increased spending by approximately $650 million (after the government raises are added in) as opposed to the $800 million proposed by Hassan. That’s giving Hassan 80 percent of the increased spending she proposed. Another way of looking at it is that Republicans increased spending over 6.1 percent. While that is lower than the 7.5 percent proposed by Hassan, it is much, much higher than the rate of inflation. And the tax cuts, as shown above, are merely symbolic.

Voters who voted Republican in 2014 can legitimately ask: What’s the point in voting Republican? Despite having majorities in both houses of the Legislature, the budget is a same but less budget. While the much heralded tax cuts are merely symbolic.

Indeed, as I noted in other posts State Senator Jeb Bradley expressly said that the GOP had made Hassan’s agenda their agenda.  For example:

The budget passed by the Legislature did not attempt to do away with net metering, made no effort to end RGGI, and did not restrain spending. And all the GOP got in return was a token tax cut. Indeed, State Senator Jeb Bradley, an establishment man through and through, said that except for tax cuts the GOP and Governor Hassan shared the same priorities:

Summer is over and so is the budget standoff. Finally.

It was always business tax reductions that divided the governor and legislative leaders. There is a philosophical divide: the governor proposed higher taxes on businesses, legislators fought for lower taxes to make New Hampshire more competitive.

Today I learned that the House GOP wants to create a new car tax (which is being called a “fee”) to increase government spending by $50 million.  This is on top of the recent increase in the gas tax.

And a few days previously, I learned that the Senate GOP wants to increase net metering, which is a hidden tax on electricity consumers to fund crony capitalism:

Jeb.Bradley.Net.Metering

The election of 2012 suggests that the Senate map will allow the GOP to retain its majority in a Presidential year even if the Democrats take the top of the ticket.  The House is a different story.

But based on its record, the GOP doesn’t deserve to retain its majority in the House.

Shawn Jasper Uses “Civility” as Cover to Attack Conservatives

Shawn Jasper a nominal Republican who  was elected Speaker of the New Hampshire House by the Democrats and a handful of Republicans, over the choice of the Republican caucus, former Speaker Bill O’Brien, opened the House’s 2016 session by calling upon representatives to act with “dignity.”

While Jasper didn’t name any names, everyone knew he was talking about a Facebook spat that went viral between some Free-Staters and some conservative Republicans over the “Free-the-Nipple” issue and a Republican Representative calling out Hillary Clinton at a Town Hall for Hillary’s hypocrisy regarding claims of sexual assault against Bill Clinton.

New Hampshire’s liberal press, naturally, ate it up.  The Concord Monitor published Jasper’s remarks while Seacoastonline ran an op-ed attacking the GOP Reps involved in the “Free-the-Nipple” Facebook spat.

From Jasper’s remarks:

I ask everyone to think about that because every minute of every day, that is your title: honorable. You have a responsibility to act, at all times, honorably. We must and we should hold each other to those standards if this institution is to have the respect that it has had for centuries.

But Jasper’s actions have not been consistent with his words.  For example, shortly before the two incidents in issue a prominent Democrat State Rep called Jennifer Horn, the Chair of the GOP State Committee in New Hampshire, a racist on twitter:

Katbeep.3JAN16

As far as I can tell Jasper said nothing about this Democrat State Rep hurling this pungent epithet at Horn.  In contrast, Jasper demanded an apology over comments from a Republican State Rep that he considered offensive.  Horn, however, supported O’Brien over Jasper for Speaker.

I can also recall no condemnation from Jasper when a Democrat State Rep made sexist comments about a Republican running for the second Congressional District, comparing the Rep, Marilinda Garcia, who has a degree from Harvard to Kim Kardashian who has a sex tape.  Garcia was an ally of O’Brien.

Gee, anyone see a pattern here?

Jasper, himself, has hardly been a model of decorum and dignity.

Here he is rudely storming out of a legislative hearing after telling the Chairman that he has no respect for him:

YouTube Preview Image

And one of his first moves after being elected Speaker was to punish his political enemies, including a disabled veteran, by assigning them bad seats:

Speaker Jasper recently admitted that he assigned bad seats to certain Republican representatives, including a disabled Desert Storm veteran, as payback for not recognizing him as the leader of the Republican Party and continuing to support Bill O’Brien:

Thirteen vocal O’Brien backers seated in a single row in the House … . Right in the center is Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, … . Every time Baldasaro, a disabled veteran, wants to speak on the floor, his fellow O’Brien supporters will have to file out of their seats to let him through. …

Jasper said he doesn’t feel anyone in his office has acted inappropriately.

“People who have been disrespectful, do they really think I’m going to put them in a seat that is considered more desirable?” he said.

That’s “honorable,” giving a disabled veteran a seat to make him as uncomfortable as possible?

Jasper’s own actions make clear that his plea for civility was just a pretext to continue his attacks on conservatives.

Explaining the Trump Phenomenon to Former Governor Sununu

The New Hampshire Union Leader, also known as #DyingPaper:

DyingPaper

ran a guest op-ed yesterday by former Governor Sununu about -surprise, surprise, surprise- Donald Trump.

Some comments, but first I want to make clear that I am not planning on voting for Trump in the primary.  I have narrowed my choice down to three candidates and Trump is not one of them.

Sununu begins by comparing Trump supporters to the suicidal followers of cult-leader Jim Jones:

Most of us know “Drinking the Kool-Aid” refers to a commitment to an idea without comprehending the implications of that commitment. We remember that this phrase derives from the horrible tragedy of 1978 where 900 followers of Jim Jones died when he convinced them to drink a mixture of Kool-Aid and cyanide. What is often forgotten is that hundreds of others who did not want to drink the deadly cocktail were murdered by forcibly being given doses of cyanide.

Today Republicans find themselves in a similar position as many of our primary voters continue to support Donald Trump. … 

How is insulting Trump’s supporters going to convince them to shift their support to one of the Governors whom Sununu believes should be the nominee?  It’s going to have just the opposite effect.

Presumably Sununu knows this and his target audience is not Trump supporters, but the rest of the voters.  But why is Sununu gratuitously insulting voters without whom Kelly Ayotte cannot win reelection and his son cannot win the Governor’s race?  Perhaps Sununu assumes that Trump’s supporters have nowhere else to go and will vote for Ayotte and Chris Sununu despite the insults.  I think that this is a risky assumption.

Yes, some Trump supporters are despicable people.  But the vast majority are not.  There is no reason to compare them all to the followers of a madman.

Sunni explains the Trump phenomenon with the Trump-theory-de-jour, that voters are mad in 2015 because they were “over-promised” in 2014:

There is certainly justified anger among voters over the failure of our Washington leadership for not delivering on their promises that produced strong Republican results in the 2014 elections. The mistake of the leadership was their suggestion that control of the Senate would guarantee positive results instead of emphasizing that its only possible achievement would be to prevent more bad things from happening. 

Actually, Governor Sununu, bad things continue to happen.  From National Review on the recently passed omnibus spending bill:

Meanwhile, they capitulated on a host of other proposals. Despite serious concerns about the integrity of our refugee-vetting procedures in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the bill fully funds the government’s refugee-resettlement program, facilitating the president’s promise to settle 10,000 Syrians in the U.S. over the coming year. Despite revelations about outrageous criminal activity in America’s 340 “sanctuary cities,” the bill permits federal grants to those cities without adding any qualifying conditions. And despite a bipartisan effort to reform the cronyism-riddled EB-5 visa program, under which foreigners can obtain a green card if they invest a certain amount in a business that creates or preserves ten jobs for U.S. citizens, Republican leadership dismissed the reform effort and extended the EB-5 program as is through September.

Sununu argues that voters should look not at the Republican Congress, but at what Republican Governors and Republican controlled legislatures have accomplished:

That anger at Republican leadership in Washington has enraged our base and overshadowed the fact that Republicans at the state level — Republican governors and Republican controlled legislatures — have delivered on their commitments. They cut taxes, reduced the size of government, and defended individual rights. … 

I am aware that New Hampshire doesn’t have a Republican Governor, but when I look at the Republican controlled-legislature, controlled by the “establishment types” Governor Sununu lauds, I see a legislature that didn’t even really try.

The budget passed by the Legislature did not attempt to do away with net metering, made no effort to end RGGI, and did not restrain spending.  And all the GOP got in return was a token tax cut.  Indeed, State Senator Jeb Bradley, an establishment man through and through, said that except for tax cuts the GOP and Governor Hassan shared the same priorities:

Summer is over and so is the budget standoff. Finally.

It was always business tax reductions that divided the governor and legislative leaders. There is a philosophical divide: the governor proposed higher taxes on businesses, legislators fought for lower taxes to make New Hampshire more competitive.

Governor Sununu, the budget passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in New Hampshire made no attempt to reduce the size of government.  And to add insult to injury, the “establishment” is now poised to join with Democrats to continue Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Governor Sununu, if a significant number of GOP voters in New Hampshire do not believe and trust the GOP establishment, which Trump’s poll numbers suggest may be the case, it’s because they have good cause not to.

Who is the Real Marco Rubio?

When I listen to Marco Rubio, I find myself nodding in agreement.  Reinvesting in and modernizing our military, simplifying our byzantine tax code, repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a system based on tax-credits which would put Americans back in charge of their healthcare — among other things.  And he appears to be just the person to deliver such a powerful conservative message.

Young, eloquent, attractive, and a unique ability within the GOP Presidential field to reconnect the GOP and Hispanic voters:

For Mr. Rubio, assimilation meant embracing his American and Cuban sides with equal gusto. Celebrating Noche Buena with lechon asado — Christmas Eve with marinated pork — and then watching the Miami Dolphins on New Year’s Day. Speaking Spanish on Univision, English on Fox. Riffing on rap and dancing to Cuban music.

In West Miami, where Mr. Rubio began his political career and lives surrounded by Hispanic immigrants, he showed his cultural dexterity at a recent rally by joking that he would bring a Cuban pork roasting box to Washington. “Vamos a llevar una Caja China a la Casa Blanca,” Mr. Rubio said. His wife, Jeanette, who is Colombian-American, stood nearby.

It is this version of Mr. Rubio that has drawn Latinos to his corner, even as his tap dance on immigration continues to dampen enthusiasm. “He clearly understands and has lived the story of the immigrant,” said Javier Palomarez, the president of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Marco gets it.”

But then there was the Gang-of-Eight thing:

Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed just a handful of amendments to reach the Senate floor. One, from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, would have prohibited the legalization of illegal immigrants in the United States until after the administration could prove it had maintained “effective control” of the borders for six months.

Rubio voted against the Grassley amendment. Sen. Ted Cruz voted for it.

Another Republican amendment, from Sen. John Thune, would have required the completion of 350 miles of fencing along the U.S. border that Congress had ordered in 1996 but had never been completed. Thune specified that the fencing had to be in place before legalization could commence. Thune also would have required the completion of 700 miles of such fencing before illegal immigrants’ legal status could be made permanent.

Rubio voted against the Thune amendment. Cruz voted for it.

The other substantive GOP amendment allowed by Reid was from Sen. David Vitter. It would have delayed the granting of legal status until a biometric visa identity system first ordered by Congress in 1996 had been “fully implemented at every land, sea, and airport of entry” into the United States.

Rubio voted against the Vitter amendment. Cruz voted for it.

I cannot understand why Rubio would have opposed any of these amendments.

Rubio has since rejected “comprehensive” immigration reform, which is a euphemism for linking border-security to dealing with the 11 or 12 million people living illegally in the United States when there is no need for such linkage to secure the border.

OK, but then I look at the people Marco Rubio has tapped in New Hampshire to guide his campaign.  His top guy, Jim Merrill, is no conservative.  He’s an establishment guy.  Same for Drew Cline, the former editorialist for the New Hampshire Union Leader.  Another establishment guy.  Not the type of people comfortable with conservatives.

So who is the real Marco Rubio?

The Union Leader is the Democrats’ Best Friend

The Union Leader has endorsed Chris Christie.  I haven’t decided on a candidate yet, but Christie is certainly a finalist, as are Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others.

There are a lot of good things that can be said about Christie, but instead of making a positive case for Christie, the Union Leader is taking the low road and smearing his opponents.

On Sunday, the Union Leader asserted that Cruz and Rand Paul support dictators, when their actual position is sometimes the Devil you know is better than the Devil you don’t know, which our intervention in Libya demonstrates.

The day before that the Union Leader called Cruz a liar and Rubio a naive bungler.

Before that the Union Leader called Cruz creepy.

This is how the Union Leader has long operated.  National Review had this to say about the Union Leader during the 2008 campaign in a piece fittingly titled “Misled in New Hampshire”:

The Union Leader’s advocacy of John McCain has become so fierce and lopsided that it has practically transformed itself into a pro-McCain 527 organization. It has not formalized the arrangement, which is lucky for it: If it had, McCain would, on his campaign-finance principles, have to try to shut it down. …

In 1999, the Union Leader’s publisher Joe McQuaid told the Washington Post, “The Union Leader’s style is we don’t just endorse once.  We endorse every damn day.”

The Union Leader does not limit its support or attacks to just the editorial page.  For example, earlier this year McQuaid had his “reporters” conduct a jihad against Congressman Frank Guinta, a solid conservative who committed the unpardonable offense of winning without kissing McQuaid’s ring.  As I posted previously:

The Union Leader doesn’t just blur, but erases, the line between editorial and news. The most egregious recent example may be its fact-free jihad against Congressman Frank Guinta for what amounts to an accounting mistake in handling campaign contributions: … 

The beneficiaries of the Union Leader consistently taking the low road are the Democrats.  For example, if Cruz or Rubio is the nominee, we have, according to the Union Leader, a creepy liar or a naive bungler at the top of the ticket.

New Hampshire GOP Establishment’s Smoke-and-Mirrors Case for Continuing Medicaid Expansion

New Hampshire’s participation in Obamacare Medicaid Expansion, which extends Medicaid to individuals making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, will sunset at the end of 2016 because the federal government will no longer fund 100 percent of the cost.

Republicans in the State Senate, who could have blocked expanded Medicaid, repeatedly pledged, that New Hampshire’s participation would end if federal funding dropped below 100 percent.   Continue reading New Hampshire GOP Establishment’s Smoke-and-Mirrors Case for Continuing Medicaid Expansion

Maggie Hassan Unserious About Fighting Terrorism

Today from Maggie Hassan’s campaign, a twitter barrage implying that the GOP-led Senate and Senator Kelly Ayotte are hampering the fight against ISIS by not passing an AUMF (Authorization-For-The-Use-Of-Military Force): Continue reading Maggie Hassan Unserious About Fighting Terrorism