The Iowa caucus, block-granting Medicaid, clean water, and the economy

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    Catching Our Eye:

    So it begins

    We are barreling toward the first 2020 caucus.

    Here’s the latest polling.

    Here is FiveThirtyEight’s primary forecaster.

    And here is a primer from CBS News on how the caucus process works.

    Block-granting MedicaidCleveland.com’s Laura Hancock is reporting, “Will Ohio embrace Trump’s Medicaid plan? Lawmakers’ reactions are mixed.

    “State Republican lawmakers, who have a supermajority in the Ohio General Assembly, said Thursday they want to learn more about the proposal out of Washington to cap a portion of Medicaid dollars.

    “President Donald Trump’s administration announced a new Medicaid program called Healthy Adult Opportunity, which would be voluntary for states. It would dole out health care bucks in the form of a block grant – or capped amount of dollars – for non-disabled adults aged 65 and younger…

    “The decision on whether Ohio were to switch to block grant funding would fall on the administration of Gov. Mike DeWine.

    “The legislature could force Ohio Medicaid to take a block grant, as it did when it imposed the department to create work requirements.”

    Clean water. The Columbus Dispatch editorial board is writing, “Rolling back clean water rules makes no sense for Ohio.

    “A 2017 report by the Greater Ohio Policy Center found that the state needs to spend $27 billion over the next 20 years to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to provide clean drinking water and adequate treatment of wastewater and stormwater. Allowing the destruction of natural water systems will only raise that cost.

    “Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio plan is poised to invest $172 million in protecting Ohio’s waters, with a heavy emphasis on preventing the nutrient pollution from farm fields that feeds the algae blooms in Lake Erie and other Ohio lakes each summer.

    “What sense is there in eviscerating the fundamental federal water-protection rules that have made Ohio so much cleaner since the Cuyahoga River burned in 1969?

    “Republicans who care about Ohio’s future should cast off partisan blinders and speak out against this shortsighted and destructive rule.”

    You made me promises, promises. New Yorker columnist John Cassidy is writing, “New reports show that Trump’s economic promises were empty.”

    “The core of Donald Trump’s platform is that his policies have produced what he touts as “The Greatest Economy in American History!” The truth is very different. By enacting a huge tax cut, in late 2017, that was heavily slanted toward corporations and the rich, Trump and the Republicans gave the economy a temporary boost—in 2018, it grew at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent—that has now faded.

    “In the fourth quarter of last year, G.D.P.—the broadest measure of activity in the economy—expanded at an annual rate of 2.1 per cent, the new report from the Commerce Department showed. Taking 2019 as a whole, G.D.P. grew at 2.3 per cent. These growth rates are nowhere near the four-per-cent growth that Trump promised in 2016. Instead, they are in line with the average growth rate since 2000, which is 2.2 per cent. And this ho-hum outcome has only been achieved at a tremendous cost. The federal government is now running an enormous budget deficit and accumulating vast amounts of new debt, which will burden taxpayers for decades to come. After three years of Trump’s Presidency, in fact, the United States is starting to look like one of his highly indebted business ventures.

    “This year, the new report from the C.B.O. says, the deficit will be about a trillion dollars. Ten years from now, it will be roughly $1.3 trillion.”

    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.